The Elves are back…

Yesterday I visited Raw Nook Nr. The site was fairly quiet with Robins in full song inspired by the mild weather. Talking of the mild weather speaking to a dog walker he told me that during the last couple of early evenings he had seen a Bat flying around on the reserve. The bat is probably a Pipistrelle which has temporally woken up from hibernation.

What was nice to see was the lovely Scarlet Elf Cup mushrooms which are now showing really well. They can be seen from the main path. I counted at least thirty on show.

Did you know that in European folklore, it was said that wood elves drank morning dew from the Scarlet cups. Now who am I to say there are no wood elves down in Raw Nook Nr….hang on what that in the photo….

2019 visible migration statistics…

Pink-footed geese moving N/W

My visible migration is conducted from the watch point at Caldene fields, Low moor and gives a good indication of individual species and numbers of species passing through and beyond our immediate area.

2019 was an average year with a total of 72 species recorded. Field observation hours totaled 238 whereas I spent 212 hours in the field during 2018.

Highlights: Individual species observed : Ring Ouzel, Curlew, Harrier Sp, Great White Egret, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Whooper Swan.

+ = increase on 2018 total. – = decrease on 2018 total.

Autumn totals of Finches observed: Goldfinch 3,560+ . Linnet 61-, Greenfinch 315 +, Bullfinch 130 +, Lesser Redpoll 30 -, Brambling 26 -, Siskin 161 +

Thrushes: Redwing 22,035 +, Fieldfare 12,773 +,

Starling: 5,332 –

Pink-footed Goose: 8,716 +

End of year bird watch…

Today I thought i would have a bit of fun and see how many birds I could observe in the Low moor & Oakenshaw area. I started at Caldene fields and quickly found the normal garden birds followed by Pied Wagtail and a nice feeding Grey Wagtail.

Raw Nook Nr produced a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a number of Bullfinch. I entered TH Beck and had a quick scan for my old mate the Otter..but no luck. However, I found a Water Rail which will probably over winter at the site. My list stood at 30 species. I then went to Harold Park lake and added Mute Swan, Tufted duck, LBB Gull and Canada Goose.

Tufted Duck at Harold Park lake

I then moved onto Park dam and found 3 Little Grebe but sadly no Great Crested Grebes were found at either site. So the final tally was 37 different species with no sightings of a Greenfinch or Fieldfare.

Lucky escape…

Had a close encounter of the Sparrow Hawk kind today at Caldene fields. I was photographing a female Sparrow hawk whilst hiding behind a bush.

Everything was fine but suddenly the birds posture changed….

And it flew directly at me. I ducked down and covered my face…What I hadn’t realised was a House Sparrow was hiding just above me….So I had a luck escape….sadly the House Sparrow didn’t..


Since the sighting of the Otter at Toad Holes Beck I have made daily visits not only to the top pond but also the two lower ponds. Sadly there has been no further sightings in our area. This leads me to think that the elusive Otter may have been passing through or commutes to our waterways and now may be anywhere in the south Bradford area. I am scaling down visits to casual ones but would urge anyone out walking to keep an eye out for special visitor.

Moving on I have now finished visible migration in our recording area for this year. However, recently there has been a nice influx of Goosander passing through with 13 on the 30/11, 2, 3/11 and 1 on the 5/12.


An early start today at Toad Holes Beck where I had seen the Otter proved unsuccessful. So around 09.00 I searched the two lower ponds and beck but again with no joy.

Research suggests Otters can move a fair distance during a day so the animal may have left the area however, they are shy and very elusive so could be in the undergrowth…will check again in the locality.


Never in a million years did I ever think I would be writing my blog about an Otter sighting! But I am. After finishing my visible migration watch this morning I thought I would go into Toad Holes Beck to see if any duck species were about. I was scanning the reedbed at 09.45 when I saw a dark object moving in the reeds.

I first thought it was either Moorhen or a Coot. Then suddenly out popped an Otter….I thought it can’t be but it climbed out of the water on to a flattened area of Reedmace and started to have a scratch in full view. It then slid into the water and swam again giving good views to a nearby bank and out of sight.

I was elated….but then a bit down as I did not bring my camera. So I headed home and returned with my camera and waited and waited in all about a hour….but no sign.

So what a brilliant record for our area…I will update again in the next few days with a photo….fingers crossed.

Bullfinches doing well…

Data from watching visible migration as I do at Caldene fields can provide valuable information on the ongoing status of some of our common birds. An example of this is the Greenfinch which has declined by some 59% over the last ten years. To illustrate this point on a local level I recorded 1,662 Greenfinch in autumn 2008 in 77 hours of observations. This autumn 275 Greenfinch have been recorded in 220 hours!….very sad!

However, in contrast the Bullfinch seems to be doing better.

Totals of the left and years at the bottom

As the graph illustrates there appears to be an upturn in numbers since 2018 where 212 hours of observations were conducted and 220 hours in 2019.

Male Bullfinch heading N over the watch point

In fact I recorded 19 Bullfinch on passage with a further 3 present on the 19/11 which is a site record. So early signs suggest the species may be doing well…lets hope the Greenfinch follows suit.

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