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).