October Sightings

October 2016
The mild, benign weather continued to give perfect conditions for migration watching. Observers at Oxenhope recorded a nearby Turtle Dove (1st) and a week later scoped a Wryneck as it flew east. A Slavonian Grebe stayed long enough on Thornton Moor Reservoir to be positively identified (20th) and a Wood Lark passed overhead whilst repeating its rhythmic phrases.

A Black Redstart at Fly Flats, first reported on the 13th remained for at least two days. A second bird, this one a female was seen on the same day at the Oxenhope viewing point before it flew off into the mist. Lapland Buntings were also picked up here (1st and 29th) as they uttered their distinctive calls as they passed close by. A flock of Brambling at Ogden Reservoir which reached a high of 17 on the 19th were then followed by another one of similar size at Street Lane, Riddlesden (21st). A family of five Stonechats were watched at Glovershaw (10th) and two others were reported from here and at Scargill and John o’Gaunt’s Reservoirs towards the end of the month. Small numbers of Crossbills were seen in Stainburn Forest (8th) and a couple of good flocks of Siskin were reported from Otley and Queensbury.

The first signs of winter thrushes occurred on the 5th when about 30 Redwings found a heavily laden rowan tree at Storiths. At the Oxenhope watchpoint, 3260 Redwings passed over during a morning’s observation (8th) and four days later a mass surge of 125 flocks produced an aggregate 5,800. At Caldene Fields, another impressive aggregate of nearly 5,500 was recorded on the 17th. The first sizeable flock of Fieldfares also passed through here (18th) when 1444 were noted over this South Bradford watchpoint. This figure was surpassed on the final day of the month at the Oxenhope Watchpoint with 6226, which included two massive accumulations of 1800 and 1500.  

A female Ring Ouzel was watched before it disappeared into thick brambles on Soil Hill (16th). The following day at Oxenhope, three Ring Ouzels were picked out flying amongst Redwing and a single passed close to the observers a week later. The first sign of a possible Waxwing invasion occurred here, when one, possibly two birds were heard (22nd).

Pink-footed Geese, on their autumn movement, were first reported from the middle of the month. A skein of 300 passed eastwards along the Aire Valley on the 19th and the following day, two smaller but still substantial groups, took the same route. Another skein containing 150 pinks flew over Thruscross (30th) and over 200 were counted over the distant ridges by the Oxenhope birders on the 20th. During the month, a couple of Egyptian Goose were well-reported from the Scargill Reservoir area. Four, possibly five Whooper Swans emerged from the mist and flew over Baildon Moor on the 29th. Other small numbers had been seen previously from the Oxenhope watchpoint, with a sizeable 25 over the distant ridges on the 20th.

At Soil Hill on the 16th, a Jack Snipe was flushed from near the summit before dropping into nearby reeds, a Water Rail was seen feeding by reeds at Stockbridge (23rd) and a fisherman flushed a flock of 23 Snipe at John o’ Gaunt’s (31st). Three Shovelers (9th) and a couple of Gadwall (8th) at Park Dam and three Goldeneye on Leeshaw Reservoir (31st) were amongst the more interesting duck reports.

The month had started with 4,000 Meadow Pipits streaming southwards over Oxenhope Watchpoint and finished with 7,000 Wood Pigeons both here and at Caldene Fields. These events, and all those mentioned above, clearly showed what an exciting month it was.
October 2015    
October was a pleasant, mild month with light winds and foggy mornings which unfortunately affected visible migration watching at our main sites.

A Great Grey Shrike was picked up over Oxenhope watchpoint on 18th. It flew in a deeply undulating roller-like flight before swooping down into a partly leaved tree where it gave an excellent view. A Yellow-browed Warbler, the third such record, was seen amongst a feeding party in riverside habitat in the Riddlesden area (4th).

A female Hen Harrier, seen over Keighley Moor (20th) was fitted with a radio transmitter.  We have learnt that the bird, known as 'Highlander' was tagged in 2014 shortly after hatching. She twice attempted to breed in Bowland this year and each time, the males she paired with went 'missing'. She has wandered around several local moors away from the breeding season since first being tagged.

Despite relatively poor conditions for most of the viewing period the Redwing passage was recorded from 5th, with the main surge crossing the area between 13th and 17th when 17,000 passed the watch-point at Oxenhope and 10,000 flew over Caldene Fields. The Fieldfare arrival, as is usual, came a few days later with the main passage between 29th and 31st when 11,600 birds were recorded. Pink-footed geese movement from west to east was reported from 7th until 25th with day totals ranging between 164 (7th) to 950 (25th), the highest daily total.

A Common Scoter spent a couple of days at the beginning of the month on Keighley Moor Reservoir and late Wheatear was in this location on 20th. On that day two Stonechats were in this area and a single male was seen at Sconce earlier in the month (8th).

A modest 14 Mandarin ducks were on the Strid (12th) and a couple of Gadwall and five Wigeon were reported at Park Dam. Two Water Rails were present at Stockbridge by the 18th and migration watchers reported Grey Plovers on 8th and 11th.

A Short-eared Owl was hunting over Fly Flatts (2nd) and a Green Woodpecker was also watched whilst another of these attractive birds was seen on Hazlewood Moor. A few Brambling were noted on passage and one bird visited a garden in Riddlesden (17th).

Of further interest was a Black-headed Gull which was seen at Redcar Tarn on 21st October It was first ringed in the nest near Oslo, Norway on 12th June 2014. It was reported from other locations in the Oslo area on 12th July 2014, 16th May 2015 and 13th June 2015 before relocating to the Keighley area!
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