January Sightings

January 2017
The mild and dry theme which has characterised the past few months, continued at the start of the year. These conditions probably stirred Pink-footed Geese into relocating from their wintering grounds in the east to those on the west coast. Notable movements were recorded on at least four days with the first skein seen on the 7th, when a total of 450 “pinks” flew over Oxenhope whilst another smaller skein of 75, flew low along the Aire Valley. Three days later, another 35 birds followed the same valley route and a week after that three skeins traversed the skies over Oxenhope. The last group of 80 birds, was seen from Ogden in the final week of the month (25th).

Waxwings were reported from seven different locations: 45 were attracted by berries in Yeadon (9th), 14 were seen by the station in Ilkley (11th), six visited Queensbury (13th), 70 gathered in a supermarket carpark on Canal Road (14th), 50 were in trees at the entrance to Farnley Hall (25th) and a flock of over 30 were near Nessfield School in Keighley (27th).

Little Egret is now a regular visitor and the three records probably refer to at least two birds. A report of one seen near Utley (13th) could well be the same bird that was watched along the Aire two weeks later, but the one at Leeshaw (17th) was certainly a different bird.

Tufted Duck numbers reached 32 at Silsden Reservoir and 22 at Yeadon Tarn where the solitary female Pochard still remained. In the north of the area, at Strid Woods, just 15 Mandarin Ducks were located, considerably down on recent winters.
On Soil Hill, at the beginning of the year, a pair of Stonechats and an elusive Snow Bunting was seen (8th) whilst the flock of Brambling in Strid Woods had reached 25. Tree Sparrows were present at Dobrudden Farm (Baildon Moor), over 60 Pied Wagtails were over-wintering at Dowley Gap and Dippers were paired up at Hirstwood Weir and Barden Bridge.  

At Northcliffe Woods (Shipley), five of the exotic Rose-ringed Parakeets were present and another was a surprise visitor to the West Lane area of Keighley. The other report of note concerned a Short-eared Owl which was seen in the Wyke area at the beginning of the year (5th).
January 2016
The mild, wet weather continued until the end of the month during which wintering Pochard at Yeadon Tarn totalled five along with 38 Tufted Ducks. 26 Wigeon and 16 Goldeneye were seen at Otley Wetland and eight more visited Hewenden Reservoir.

A huge flock of 327 Curlews were probing the fields at Ben Rhydding and 50 Golden Plovers flew over Whetstone Gate (both on 29th). It was on these moorland fringes that a Hen Harrier was seen hunting and three Short-eared Owls were also in the vicinity (8th).

The first Pink-footed Geese crossed the area in a small skein (8th) and up 16 Herring Gulls were seen at three locations in the south of the area. Two reports spoke of Blackcaps visiting Baildon gardens and three Chiffchaffs were seen at the regular spot at Dowley Gap. Four Ring-necked Parakeets visited a bird-table in Shipley and another pair were seen at Apperley Bridge.
January Images
Dipper - Nigel Priestley
Snow Bunting (left) - Brian Sumner
Red Grouse - Roger Nelson
January 2015
The weather during January was very mixed with pleasant sunny days, interspersed with storms and a couple of short periods of snow and ice.

The passage of Pink-footed Geese was reported on three occasions, a skein of 100 flew westwards over Ben Rhydding and a smaller one of 44 was seen over Ogden (14th). Six days later, in clear conditions, 150 passed over Baildon. Five Whooper Swans visited Leeshaw Reservoir (25th) and a Little Egret spent a couple of days in the Goose Lane area of Hawksworth (26th & 27th). Four Pochards were on Yeadon Tarn (4th) and a Gadwall had found a home on Harold Park lake, Wibsey.

Whilst the meadows were flooded early in the month, Cononley Ings attracted a Shelduck, 170 Teal and 120 Wigeon (10th). During that weekend, 400 Lapwings, with 100 Golden Plovers had settled around Chelker Reservoir and there was another sizable flock of 230 Lapwings at Redcar Tarn on the same day. Shelf Moor and nearby Raggalds Flood at Queensbury also had about 100 Lapwings each and there was an impressive flock of 130 Golden Plover on the edge of Baildon Moor (8th).

A pair of Stonechats were on the edge of Baildon Golf Course (8th), and single birds were recorded at Barden and amazingly a female was seen flitting through tall grasses at the side of the car park on Shipley Glen (20th). On the first day of the new year a Snow Bunting was watched at Warley Moor Reservoir (Fly Flatts) and a Chiffchaff was once more seen at Dowley Gap. A spectacular roost of 5000 Starlings had gathered near Steeton (7th) and a leucistic thrush, thought to be a Fieldfare, was with a flock of these birds near Bolton Abbey.
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