Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bird Race at St Ives, Bingley - Sunday 13th May 2012

Thanks for all the young birdwatchers who joined us in our Bird Race at St Ives, Bingley, on Sunday 13th May. We split into two teams (Jackdaws and Cuckoos) and set out to find as many bird species as we could in 90 minutes.

In a close-run competition, the Jackdaws won with total of 32 birds seen or heard! The Cuckoos were a close second with 29. Well done to everyone!

The winning team with the Bird Race Cup!

Here's the combined list all the birds we identified:
Canada Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Woodpigeon, Pheasant (with chicks!), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Jay, Magpie, Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbrid, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Starling, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, and Chaffinch. Phew!

We used our best identification skills, listening for calls and identifying birds by their plumage and behaviour. We visited as many different habitats as possible – something St Ives has lots of: broad-leaf woodland, conifer plantations, a lake, meadows, pasture, heathland and even a bog!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Update on the Nestboxes in Deep Cliff Wood

Friend of the Airedale Otters, Shaun Radcliffe from the Bradford Ornithological Group, has been keeping an eye on our nest boxes in Deep Cliff Wood in Harden. You may remember Shaun from the visit to Stockbridge Nature Reserve last September. He recently visited the wood and sent us this report:

After the early morning rain had cleared, I arrived at the wood bathed in sunshine. Having not been here since I helped to put up the boxes, the wood is now changed in that the ground is covered with plants such as Bluebell and Lesser Celandine, the latter just showing its bright yellow flowers. The Bluebells will be out in about a week’s time.

The whole area was full of bird song and I noted Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Robin, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Coal Tit were the songsters. The Nuthatch in particular was very vocal.

Two birds that have migrated here from warmer climates were also singing, sometimes in the wood but also moving about to nearby sites. The Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler are very similar in size and overall appearance although the Willow Warbler is more yellow but their song is very different. The easiest song to recognise is the Chiffchaff which has a call similar to its name “zip-zap, zip zap” whereas the Willow Warbler’s song is more tuneful with a cascade of fluty notes.

Although I did not see any birds entering a nest box, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful as many birds were seen in pairs. One Blue Tit was collecting some nesting material but I lost track of where it flew off to. The material was old sheep’s wool fluff which is found on the ground and pulled it free to use.

Two other birds seen on the ground were Blackbird and Song thrust, both collecting worms so there may be nests nearby.

Other birds seen in the wood was Woodpigeon and Treecreeper but in the distance I also heard a Green Woodpecker.

It may take some warmer weather to encourage the birds to start a family as they rely on the availability of many insects to feed their young.