I have to be careful what I wish for..But…

Yes it certainly is a true saying.  But I went out today the sun was shining and Blue tits were singing, two Robins were showing early signs of courtship and the woodland bulbs our group planted in October were nearly ready to burst into flower.

Daffodil with flower head at Raw Nook NR.

Everything seems to be showing signs of spring.  Now this is where the saying comes in….WE REALLY NEED  TRUE WINTER TO START.  It is mid January mild enough to cut your lawn!

However, a very mild winter can play havoc with hibernating animals, trees/shrubs/plants may start to spring into life, then insects may come out to feed, then if there is a late winter much ecological damage can be done.

Staying with the present theme there were few ducks on the ponds at Toad Holes Beck and very few winter thrushes about today.

Christmas birdwatch, sightings update and seasonal greetings…

As I write this blog the big day is nearly here and at last I managed to do a Christmas birdwatch in our recording area. The morning started off well with a Mute Swan (probably a local bird from Harold Park) flying E over Caldene fields.  A total of 32 different birds were recorded with an excellent count of 11 Bullfinches observed feeding in both Raw Nook Nr and TH beck.  I also found a nice flock of 18 Linnets at Caldene fields, a species that appears to be showing slight signs of recovery. Sadly no Greenfinch were recorded at TH Beck.

Recent sightings:

A Tawny Owl was calling from RN Nr on 17/12 the same day as 42 Pink footed geese flew S over CFs

Received a report from Chris at Oakenshaw who had a Ring necked Parakeet in his garden on the 11/12.  He photographed the bird so it will be interesting to see if it is the RNP locally named ‘ Matilda ‘ who spent last winter in the Low Moor area but has not been seen this year so far.

And finally:

A very merry Christmas

And a happy and safe

New Year…


To all readers of

This site

Migration trends of three Finch species passing through Low Moor Bradford…

I have been studying diurnal migration at Caldene fields for many years and it is interesting to note how the population trends of some finch fluctuate year by year.

I thought I would look specifically at three common finches the Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch which are locally common and breeds in the local area.  However, in autumn these finches migrate through our area allowing counts which gives yearly data on the numbers of individual passing through.

Yearly totals on the left.    

Years on the bottom

My data is not definitive but give an ‘indication’ into how well the species has done in a particular year.

It’s interesting to analyse the data which shows the Goldfinch is the commonest finch observed and in 2016 it appears to have been a good year.  In addition I have noted an increase of local flocks of feeding Goldfinches.

The Chaffinch is not as common on passage as the Goldfinch but migration counts increased fairly dramatically in 2017 & 18.  The reason I believe this has happened is that there has been a good influx of continental Chaffinches arriving to spend the winter here especially this year.

The Greenfinch nationally is down in numbers and the downward trend started around 2012 and sadly numbers have not really increased although they appear to have leveled out during the last two years at this site.  There are no longer any sizable flocks of feeding Greenfinch observed in our recording area.

Kingfisher alert…

Just received an email from Andrew who was walking in Toad Holes Beck on 23/11/18 when he saw a Kingfisher sitting amongst the Reedmace at the middle pond. Andrew watched the bird for a good 30 minutes.  Fingers crossed this Kingfisher may spend the winter with us so if your in TH Beck keep a look out…



Visible migration comes to an end…

Did an hours visible migration today and I think it is fairly safe to say that the main autumn migration is now over.  I’m sure there will be a few late staggers or cold weather movements but no main arrivals…..But this is bird watching so anything is possible.  During today’s watch I noticed 4 local female Bullfinches enjoying the fruit of the Rowan but interestingly there were very few thrushes about.

Workday and recent sightings

On Saturday we had another workday which was well attended.  The task was to clear the Toad Holes Beck entrance at Furnace Road and to remove old hedge cuttings from Furnace Road.

Initially the task looked like we would never get in done but as we all got stuck in it took about 2 hours and the job was complete.

Recent sightings: 14/11 all flew south, 4 Whooper Swans, 21 Brambling and the star bird a Hawfinch at Caldene fields. 17/11 a Common Buzzard was found sitting in a tree at Toad Holes Beck.

Birstall Scout group meeting…

Yesterday I attended at the Birstall Scout groups meeting and gave a presentation to twenty 8 to 10 years old scouts on ‘ The importance of Insects ‘

I took along a moth trap, a Bee nesting box, observation vessels and various photos so it was a hands on experience for the audience of the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts.

When I asked the scout leader how long he wanted the talk to last ‘ About a hours fine ‘ I thought the children would be getting bored after half an hour.  But I was wrong their enthusiasm for the subject and their own wildlife experience’s like how they had built Insect Hotels was simply brilliant and I answered the final question at 8.30 meaning the talk lasted one and a half hours…

I was really pleased with the wildlife knowledge these children had and some of the questions they asked were beyond their years.  So to all at the scout group keep up the excellent work you are doing..

Three good things about today…

An excellent watch today with a site first and two other good birds. Firstly a party of Crossbills came in low from the N and appeared to be landing at the watch point at Caldene fields before moving off S. Then a party of Redwings came in again from the N at a reasonable height followed by a Woodcock giving brilliant views !. It’s not uncommon to disturb Woodcock in the Raw Nook NR area in autumn. I have always thought these birds had move down from a local breeding site during the autumn/winter period.  However, to have a genuine migrant bird moving through I’m not too sure!. Then around 09.30 as the rain and low cloud increased a ‘ Blast from the past ‘ ( As Yellowerhammer used to regular at CFs ) a low flying calling Yellowhammer came in from the S and moved N. Three reasonable sized parties of Fieldfare also came in from the N.

Looking N/E from Caldene fields.

Even though it was misty today the colours of autumn are beautiful this year.

A welcome sight…

Saw two Grey Partridge today not within our recording area but on the outskirts.  This is very welcome news in that at the same location last spring a single bird was observed.  The species used to be fairly common in our recording area and it was not uncommon to see Grey partridge regularly at Caldene fields sadly those days have long gone….but maybe,  just maybe they may return..

There was a good movement of Fieldfare passing S/W through our area this morning a total of 2,144 flew S/W and 93 to the N.


During the last two days I have recorded 29 Brambling passing through or stopping off in our area.

The one above was one of a pair that stopped off at the watch point.  So keep an eye out in your gardens and bird feeders for these attractive finches that have come to spend the winter with us…


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