Hoopoe, Wryneck, Larks, Pipits

HOOPOE    Upupa epops    Scarce visitor
1988   A single reported from the Middle-Brook Estate, Fairweather Green, Bradford, was last seen on 12th November. In fact, this bird had been present for at least two weeks and was watched down to six feet by one fortunate observer who also obtained photographs. The bird’s arrival co-incided with several other records from around the country. Having been reported by one observer the bird was independently identified by a seven year old girl out for a stroll with her father. Unfortunately, the bird disappeared within hours of the news breaking. Nevertheless this represents on e of the highlights of this year’s report and might encourage observers to check less-watched areas.
1991   A bird was seen at Bolton Woods Quarries, Bradford, on 25th September and again on the adjoining playing fields two days later. It is also understood that one was present at Tong Park Reservoir for several days in April but no record of this bird was submitted.
1995   An individual spent approximately a week in the Valley of Desolation where it was seen regularly by the Head Forester of the Devonshire Estates. At times he was able to approach closely enough for confirmatory photographs to be taken.
WRYNECK   Jynx torquilla    Rare passage visitor
1992   A single bird at Barden Moor on 15th September was a new record for the Group. It was seen flying into and perched in a rowan tree before flying off across the valley. It should be noted that this sighting fitted in with national records which peaked between 17th and 21st September.
1996   The Group’s second record of this species was a veritable ‘garden tick’ for the Group Recorder when on e flew slowly over his garden into a strong westerly wind on 15th October.
2002   This was a great find at Paul Clough on 6th September during a visible migration watch, but was seen only by the finder and one other observer, before it disappeared into bracken, and could not be relocated.
2005   A bird was found in very foggy conditions at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 9th September, three years almost to the day since the last record at nearby Paul Clough (PC, RHP). Despite the weather, and its preference for feeding in dense heather, it gave satisfactory views to a handful of observers, but had gone by the following day.
2007   Comprising only the fifth Group record, a bird was seen at close range at Barden Scale on 18th September.
2010   A bird seen at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 9th September becomes the Group’s sixth record, but the second in three years.
WOODLARK    Lullula arborea    Scarce migrant
2010   Single calling birds overflew Thornton Moor Reservoir on 22nd September and 10th October, becoming the first and second Group records.

HORNED LARK    Eremophila alpestris    Vagrant
1997   On 27th November a single Horned Lark (thought to be a male bird) was discovered feeding in a grassy area at Mount Tabor, Pellon. Unfortunately this bird, a ‘first’ for the Group, could not be relocated the following day in rainy, foggy conditions.
2002   The Group’s second-ever record, and the first individual to stay long enough for a few observers to see it, albeit in atrocious weather. A bird, thought to be of the North European race E.a.flava, was present at Fly Flatts Reservoir on 2nd and 3rd November.
2003   An excellent find was of three birds on Soil Hill, Raggalds on the 10th and 11th November.    

RICHARD'S PIPIT    Anthus richardi    Vagrant
2001   A new record for the Group was a single calling bird, flying north at St. Ives on 29th September.
Shore Lark near Queensbury (Calderdale) in 2006 by Sean Gray 
A Rock Pipit at Leeshaw Reservoir, April 2011.                photo: Brian Vickers
ROCK PIPIT    Anthus petrosus    Scarce visitor
1988   Singles at Thruscross Reservoir on 16th March and Otley Gravel Pits on 15th October.
1989   A calling bird was seen flying south over Swinsty Reservoir on 30th October.
1992   A single bird was found at Esholt on 14th November.
1993   The first on 12th September was discovered at Paul Clough by one of the teams in the Group’s Bird Race and was identified as it circled calling with a large party of Meadow Pipits. This was followed by a second well-described bird at Chelker Reservoir on 2nd October.
1994   There were two reports: at March Ghyll Reservoir on 24th September and Silsden Reservoir on 7th October.
1995   Once again just two records with the first at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 22nd October when a bird came up from in front of the hide and then flew across the reservoir.
1996   There were only two records; the first was of a single bird flying north at Timble on 20th April, whereas the second was of a bird observed feeding by the side of a footpath on Denton Moor on 19th October.
1999   The year’s only records were from Thornton Moor Reservoir each day between 13th and 16th October inclusive. On 13th, 15th and 16th October, single birds were either present at that site then seen to leave north-west, or were heard and seen flying to the north-west. On 14th October, a party of four birds flew to the north-west, using the north-est dam wall pitching as a leading-line.
2002  Two records this year of a species which is not annually recorded. Both concern singles: the first at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 3rd October, and the second at Fly Flatts Reservoir on 3rd November, during what was probably the best spell of local birding for several years.
2004   A single bird was seen at Chelker Reservoir on 26th September.
2007   After two blank years, there was a bird at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 21st March. A bird seen at Leeshaw on 12th November, may have been Water Pipit (A. spinoletta), or the Scandinavian race of Rock Pipit (A.p. littoralis).
2008   A bird was found at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 7th October.
2011   A bird was located at Leeming Reservoir on 29th April.
WATER PIPIT    Anthus spinoletta    Scarce winter and passage visitor
Most recent sightings:
2002   The bird present at Marley Sewage Works at the end of December 2001 was seen on 1st January, and was located intermittently to 10th February. Another single showed well at Thornton Moor Reservoir on 5th May. In the second winter period, a further bird was found at Marley on 23rd November, and was still present on 28th December.
2003   Single birds were noted on various dates between 1st January and 23rd March at Marley Sewage Works (KM et al). A single had returned to this site by 8th December and was seen to the year-end.
2004   At Marley Sewage Works, a single was recorded on 21st and 27th February.
2005   At Marley Sewage Works, the area’s most reliable site for these birds, one was seen on 17th, 20th and 25th November, but not located subsequently.
2008   One at Snaygill on 7th December had apparently been present for several days.
2009   A bird seen at Snaygill on 21st January was almost certainly the overwintering one from 2008.
Water Pipit at Snaygill in 2009 and a Yellow Wagtail on the Wharfe at Gallows Hill in 2015.  Both photos by Stephen Lilley
YELLOW WAGTAIL    Motacilla flava   Uncommon migrant breeder/passage visitor (less numerous than in previous years)
Most recent sightings:
2009   With no breeding records, and only four reports, all of migrants, the poor showing of many previous years again prevails. A total of five birds were seen at Thornton Moor in August, and one was at Haverah Park in September.
2010   Compared to other recent years, a pleasing increase in the number of records. Two birds were at Weecher Reservoir on 20th June, and at Bolton Abbey on 7th September, with a single at Marley Farm the day after. Migration at Thornton Moor produced one record of flava wagtail species in May, two in April and September, and three in August.
2011  With seven records of 10 birds, the recent improvement has been maintained. In April, singles were seen at Leeshaw on the 20th, and at Oxenhope on the 25th. Return passage produced a total of four birds at Caldene Fields, and, in September, individuals at Barden on the 3rd and Warley Moor on the 11th, and two were above Riddlesden on the 8th.
2012   The recent improvement has, alas, been short-lived, as there were only three records in 2012. Spring migration produced singles at Otley Wetland on 14th April, and Caldene Fields on 6th May, and the one autumn report was of a bird at Menston on 2nd October.
2013   There was a slight improvement on 2012, but the number of sightings remains pitifully small. Two males and a female were reported at Dowley Gap Sewage Works on 17th April and on the 13th May a male bird was feeding on grass cropped by horses at a once traditional site by Knotford Nook. The other reports concerned six birds all seen within seven days at the beginning of September. Firstly there was a single bird at Lindley Wood Reservoir (2nd), then three birds flew south over Caldene Fields, and finally a couple briefly dropped into fields at Glovershaw (9th).
2014   The number of these birds locally, as well as nationally, has collapsed dramatically over the past 25 years, due to significant changes in farming methods. The species is now unable to sustain sufficient breeding numbers and sightings have become rare. However, there were two reports, the first being a female at Manywells on 17th April and the second a bird seen amongst horses at Faweather Farm, Sconce on 31st August.
2015   Two males seen near the show ground at Otley on 4th May were on passage, but another on the river at Gallows Hill in June and July, was possibly breeding, though this was unconfirmed. A bird was in Denholme Clough at the end of August and another was present at the watchpoint at Oxenhope on 15th September.
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