Frog spawn and signs of spring…

As yet there are no signs of any Frog spawn at either Raw Nook NR or Toad Holes beck. However, over the years my records indicate that the third week in March is a average time for spawn so maybe there’s a way to go yet…

The Blackthorn shrubs at TH Beck are in flower at the moment and are looking lovely and with a bit of sunshine there could attract some mining bees.

Six Siskin were at Caldene fields on 4/3 suggesting they were moving birds.

Of interest in the very warm weather in February were the sighting of 2 moth species on the 27th at Caldene fields. I have never had a winter records of either the Common Plume or Grey shoulder-Knot….both records sent to Yorkshire moths.

Nature Play Walk a great success…

My perception of the Nature Play Walk arranged by Sarah from the YWT was probably an audience of around 10 people would attend. I was wrong as 26 adults and children some from the Shipley area greeted us at Victoria park in Oakenshaw.

We started off on our nature walk in Toad holes Beck admiring the lovely Hart’s tongue fern and the children looking out for the resident Coots as we slowly made our way to Raw Nook NR.

Once there Sarah talked about mosses and mini beasts and the children added more and more leaves to their collections.

The next challenge on the reserve was for the children to find the delightful Scarlet Elf cup (fungi)…Thankfully ( with a bit of help) all the children found the magical fungi

Whilst Sarah was explaining about the delights of the Hazel catkins to the enthusiastic audience I set the children a challenge to find a pine ( Scots) tree and it’s cones. Their little legs were off…and soon their hands were full of pine cones…

So as the walk ended and smiling faces were evident I thought the real winners of the walk are the next generation as they enjoyed and discovered ‘ URBAN ‘ biodiversity which is only 4 miles from Bradford city centre..

With special thanks to Sarah and YWT.

Australian pair pay a visit…again

In December 2010 a pair of Chestnut Teal spent two days at the fisherman’s pond at Toad Holes beck. I photographed the pair as they were escapees possibly from a wildlife collection. The duck originates from southern Australia but is kept in captivity both in the UK and Europe.

Then on the 21/3/2012 a pair turned up at the pond at Caldene fields. Given a two year lapse I thought there was a good chance they were the same birds.

Today at the middle pond at TH beck I found another pair which were very wary and kept swimming into the reeds for cover…

If these are the same birds that puts them at around 10 years old…hmm.. I just wonder now if the species has bred somewhere and these are the off spring…Then again ‘ Who knows ‘

Kingfisher and a surprise at Harold Park…

On Tuesday there was a kingfisher at Toad Holes beck giving excellent views as it sat out in the open…however, no camera! So today I went down with the camera and guess what the Kingfisher was still there but there was no way it was going to pose for a photo…Also flying low over the site was a Common Buzzard which is always a welcome sight.

I then went to Harold Park lake. Although not in our recording area I am interested in the gulls and ducks that may turn up there. And look what was there on the ice…A ringed Black headed Gull the third I’ve found at the site

I did some research and found the gull was ringed (J7RR) as a chick in Stavanger Norway on 16/6/2013. It appears to have been sedentary in the Oslo region and spent at least two winters there. This is the first time it has been recorded in the UK. I have updated my sighting onto the Norwegian’s gull ringing site for the birds migration continuity.

Wildfowl safety comes first…

On Saturday myself and other members of the Low Moor & Oakenshaw conservation group held our monthly work day.  However, there was a rather a compassionate flavour to work…Let me explain.  The Woodlands country park at Oakenshaw has an island in the middle of a large pond.  Now that island is used by various wildfowl as a refuge from predators and probably a spring nesting site.

However, the sluice gate at the far end of the site was blocked by mud, tree debris and leaves thus causing the island to become flooded…so some in their wellies cleared the debris and others did an excellent litter pick around the site.

The work was a huge success ! and the water poured through..

A great job. I’m sure our feathered friends will now sleep once again in safety on the island instead of the waters edge.  OH! nearly forgot ( as I’m never off duty ) heard or saw Coal Tits, Bullfinch, Coot, Moorhen, LT Tits, Blue/Great Tit, Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock.

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…



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