Waders

OYSTERCATCHER    Haematopus ostralegus   
Common migrant breeder/passage visitor.
The trend of early returners continues, and in January there were reports of up to three at Cononley Ings, a single at Stockbridge, two at Lindley Wood Reservoir and six at Otley Wetland. During February, many more locations had attracted these distinctive birds, culminating in 51 at Bolton Abbey on the 25th. On 8th March, a Group record count of 140 had congregated at Thruscross Reservoir and a week later 44 were present at Lindley Wood. Birds at Cononley in late November and December could indicate even earlier movements.   By the end of March pairs were noted on their breeding territory in a large number of locations. Most had chosen to nest near rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but two pairs chose a corrugated roof in Keighley. In May chicks were reported from breeding pairs at Kex Gill and Denton Moor, where a single bird was ringed. Other pairs were seen at many places including Buck Park Quarry where they were using an old tractor tyre, at Leeshaw Reservoir and in the vicinity of the Barden Reservoirs, where four nests were counted. The two breeding pairs at Weecher Reservoir were often seen with their broods probing the greens on Baildon Golf Course. An adult bird was seen to outwit a weasel whilst protecting a juvenile at Keighley Moor Reservoir.
Oystercatcher                          photo: Brian Sumner
Golden Plover                         photo: Brian Sumner
GOLDEN PLOVER    Pluvialis apricaria   Resident breeder/passage and winter visitor.

There were not the huge flocks which we have come to expect at known sites where this species usually assembles in the winter months. Numbers were of a relatively modest size in the period from January to May, with 500 in a field alongside Ilkley Moor, 320 at Whetstone Gate and 283 at Glovershaw, all in April. Other three-figure counts over 200 were at Middleton and Sandwith Moors and Moorside Lane, Oxenhope. Closer inspection of the flocks at the Oxenhope site, in the Reva/Glovershaw area and on Middleton Moor showed that they contained birds of the northern race.   Breeding was confirmed at two sites on Rombalds and Keighley Moors where four pairs, two of them with chicks, were reported. At Glovershaw, adults with juveniles were seen feeding on the Golf Course on 13th June and breeding probably took place at Lower Barden Reservoir, Lippersley Pike and on Oxenhope Moor, where birds were active during May and June.   During early autumn a flock of 1500 birds was seen on Sandwith Moor and others of between 120 and 150 were at Silsden Ings and at Barden Scale.
GREY PLOVER    Pluvialis squatarola   Fairly irregular and scarce passage migrant.
As in 2014 there were just two records, both from the Oxenhope watchpoint. The first bird was on 8th October and the second three days later.
LAPWING    Vanellus vanellus   Resident breeder/passage and winter visitor.
The 300 records submitted, in line with last year, included the huge winter flocks which we have traditionally attracted. Numbers in excess of 500 were recorded at Denton Hall, and Silsden Ings where 800 were present on 1st February, and in the first three months of the year there were also three-figure counts at Shelf Moor, Redcar Tarn and Otley Wetland. In the final months of the year, large flocks again gathered at Sandwith Moor and Cononley Ings, where 1000 at the former was surpassed with one of 1900 at the latter on 17th December.   There were breeding reports from many sites, but in most cases outcomes were inconclusive and actual numbers of juveniles were difficult to determine. About 25 pairs were spread across the fields at Glovershaw, 30 more were stationed on Whetstone Allotment, 15 in the Leeshaw area and 10 on Middleton Moor. Careful observations at Denton Moor, Reva, Redcar Tarn, Otley Chevin, Slippery Ford, Leeshaw Reservoir and Heights Lane (Bingley), all referred to breeding activity and at most of these chicks were seen. Post-breeding flocks of up to 300 were seen at Lindley Wood Reservoir, Glovershaw and Leeshaw during August and September.
Lapwing                                 photo: Nigel Priestley
Little Ringed Plovers              photo: Nigel Priestley   
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER    Charadrius dubius   Migrant breeder/passage visitor.
Reports covered six locations, three in the north and three in the south of the area. At one of the northerly sites a bird was seen on the very early date of 25th March, (the earliest on record) with two here in early April and a single on 2nd June, but no further information was submitted. The second and third sites in this region both concerned pairs where successful breeding was reported.   In the south, at a well-watched site, the pair in residence failed to breed, but there was a better story at another where juveniles were often seen. Throughout July adults with immatures were seen on the shore line, and at the end of that month, the consensus pointed to four young successfully fledged.   At a third moorland location, telescope views revealed that a female was sitting on four eggs. The nest was assiduously watched over the next few weeks as the adults protected the area, including once when a grazing sheep got too near!. The eggs hatched on 15th June and at least two chicks were seen, both of which were ringed on the 18th. By July the young had been moved to the water’s edge where they and the female were seen regularly until the final sighting of a juvenile on 2nd August.
RINGED PLOVER    Charadrius haticula   Passage visitor and erratic breeder.
Once more high shorelines at our reservoirs and other wetlands have considerably limited opportunities for this species and the 20 records, though better than last year, are a pale shadow of the times when much drier conditions prevailed.   Seven locations featured, with pairs seen at Lower Barden Reservoir in April and May, at Swinsty Reservoir in July and at Carr Bottom Reservoir at the end of May. Single birds were reported at Redcar Tarn and Keighley Moor Reservoir in mid-April and another individual was by the boathouse at Warley Moor Reservoir on 22nd June.    Emphasising the point made earlier, there was much more activity at the partially drained Leeshaw Reservoir where singles and duos were seen regularly. Individuals were reported on eight occasions from 20th June to 4th August and two were present on 30th June and again on three dates in August. During this time a non-flying juvenile was watched, providing the Group’s first breeding record since 2003. Another well-grown juvenile seen at the end of August had clearly not been raised at this site.
WHIMBREL    Numenius phaeopus   Uncommon passage migrant.
There were three records all in the south of the area. The call of a flying bird alerted the observer as it flew over Keighley Moor Reservoir on 20th April and the second passed Warley Moor Reservoir on 17th May. The third visitor was photographed as it took off from the second location on 12th July.

CURLEW    Numenius arquata
Common resident breeder and passage/winter visitor.
This species remains strongly attached to our area despite its rapid national decline, as during the period 1994 to 2010 UK numbers have dropped by 46%. We still attract birds to areas of rough pasture and moorland where their plaintive calls were heard and breeding occurred.   At four places, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Glovershaw, Hawksworth Moor and Keighley Moor, juvenile birds were seen in various stages of development. Adults, displaying and defending territory were seen at up to 40 other sites at which breeding may have taken place, though no further information was forthcoming. Post-breeding flocks gathered in the late summer, building to impressive numbers overwintering and on passage, particularly at Cononley Ings, Sandwith Moor and Denton, where 300 were counted in the field opposite the Hall.
Curlew                                                       photo: Nigel Priestley
BAR-TAILED GODWIT    Limosa lapponica   Increasingly scarce passage migrant
Ten birds circled Warley Moor Reservoir (Fly Flatts) on 14th March, and then headed off towards the east. This was a record haul, surpassing the previous highest of eight birds at Otley Wetland in May 2006.

RUFF    Philomachus pugnax   Uncommon passage visitor.
After the exceptional year of 2014 when ten birds were reported, this year proved a huge disappointment with just one record. It was a bird picked out amongst a flock of Lapwings at Cononley Ings on 30th October.

SANDERLING    Calidris alba   Uncommon and irregular passage migrant.
A single bird was present for two days at the end of July at Keighley Moor Reservoir. This was the second consecutive year this species has been reported.

DUNLIN    Calidris alpina    Fairly common passage migrant/scarce and sporadic breeder.
A haul of 23 records was very respectable, considering the optimum conditions for waders were below expectations. All of these reports, with one exception, came from the south of the area, with Warley Moor and Leeshaw Reservoirs scooping the majority.   
At the Fly Flatts site, on 22nd March, 30 birds were counted as they fed along the water’s edge before flying off in the direction of Oxenhope a day later. Throughout May, June and July, single birds and duos were found here, and three birds on 25th May. At Leeshaw Reservoir, allowing for some overlapping of daily totals, there were up to three birds during the period from 25th June to 5th July. Elsewhere there were four other reports: two on Cononley Ings on 13th March, a single at Silsden Ings on 16th March, one on a small pond near Redcar Tarn and a bird at Fewston Reservoir, the only northern area record, on 27th August.

COMMON SANDPIPER    Actitis hypoleucos   Migrant breeder/passage migrant.
This is a reasonably common summer visitor along our rivers, around lakes and reservoirs, illustrated by the 100 or so records. The first bird was seen on 14th April at Warley Moor Reservoir and there followed daily sightings from many places, with a maximum of 11 seen at the Fly Flatts site. Within a few days, the birds were displaying on territory and the breeding process was underway.     On the 31st May a pair with a juvenile was reported at Kex Gill, whilst at Keighley Moor Reservoir in early June a bird was sitting on four eggs. Regular checks showed that the bird continued incubating until about the end of the month when close inspection revealed, as expected, an empty nest and the brood had moved to a safer area. Other pairs with juveniles were also seen at this location and at Strid Wood, Lower Barden Reservoir and Warley Moor Reservoir.    With the breeding process completed, birds were seen leaving the area in late July and August and passage birds were seen at Eldwick Reservoir, Redcar Tarn and Ponden Clough. The final record was a bird at Keighley Moor Reservoir on 3rd September.

GREEN SANDPIPER    Tringa ochropus    Increasingly uncommon passage migrant and occasional winter visitor.

The numbers of these birds have dwindled considerably, and this year’s reports showed no change to this downward trend. Allowing for overlapping of sightings, there were seven records, the first of which was a bird seen at dusk on 13th June from the Oxenhope Watchpoint (DB). On 22nd July there was another sighting at nearby Warley Moor Reservoir and on the last day of that month a bird stayed for a further three days at Keighley Moor Reservoir. During August a bird flew up from the river bed at Norwood Bottom on the 7th and in the middle of the month one was seen in Denholme Clough. There was a record from Otley Wetland on 24th August and the final report was the sighting of two birds on the river at Burley-in-Wharfedale on 28th October.

GREENSHANK    Tringa nebularia   Increasingly uncommon passage migrant.
Just three records, all of them in August, were very much in line with the two previous years. On the 9th a bird was seen at Lindley Wood Reservoir and on the 24th one arrived at Keighley Moor Reservoir in the early evening before flying off south-east. The final record was at Fewston Reservoir on 28th August.
REDSHANK Tringa totanus 
Migrant breeder/passage and occasional winter visitor.
Unusually, a bird was sighted at Warley Moor Reservoir on 4th January, but the main influx into the area began in March, during which Cononley Ings attracted up to 10 birds, and nearby Silsden Ings had nine on 3rd April.  Following the dispersal of birds to moorland breeding grounds, contributors recorded pairs and witnessed evidence of breeding activity at 16 sites. These are indicated in the chart below which shows 22 possible breeding pairs, which produced at least five juveniles.   The high levels of water in reservoirs and lakes, and hence the lack of suitable muddy conditions deterred any further visitors.                                                                                                                              photo: Stephen Lilley
JACK SNIPE    Lymnocryptes minimus    Uncommon but annual passage/winter visitor.
Last year’s profusion of records was not repeated. This was due almost entirely to access being denied to a private patch of land at Braithwaite Edge, where wintering birds often gathered. There were also no sightings from Soil Hill. However, we did have two records: a bird was flushed from a soggy field at Apperley Bridge which also contained Common Snipe on 1st March and another was seen in similar circumstances at Otley Wetland on 31st January.

WOODCOCK    Scolopax rusticola    Resident breeder, passage /winter visitor.
This is a species that is probably much under-recorded. It requires late-evening visits to woodlands in May and June, where patience may well be rewarded with the sight of male birds performing their ‘roding’ flights. Stainburn Forest and Timble Ings have long been the best places to see these interesting events and this year at least four birds performed at the first site and a couple at the latter. Birds were also in action in the old station area at Queensbury, at Barden Bridge, and up to possibly three others were at a private woodland. Outside of the breeding season birds were invariably flushed: this occurred at Lower Barden and Lindley Wood Reservoirs, near Redcar Tarn and on Hazlewood Moor.
 Common Snipe                                                                 photo: Stephen Lilley
COMMON SNIPE Gallinago gallinago
Resident breeder; passage/winter visitor.
This year there were 11 double-figure counts, all but two of them during the winter months when birds congregated in damp areas, in particular those at Apperley Bridge, Braithwaite Edge, John O’Gaunt’s, and Otley Wetland. At the first site, 30 were recorded on 12th February and daily visits until the 18th showed an average count of 16 birds. At Braithwaite Edge four visits from 1st January to 13th March revealed an average of eight birds, with a maximum of 17 on the final date. The two other double-figure counts were during early April, when birds had returned to their breeding territories at Fly Flatts and at Glovershaw, where at least six pairs were performing their courtship displays.  

Drumming and courtship displays were seen at 14 locations, but only at Bradup, where two juveniles were seen, was breeding confirmed.
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