From the Undergrowth: Winter scenes have given us some great shots

Blue tit. Photo by Graham Haigh
Blue tit. Photo by Graham Haigh

Seven hardy individuals met on Saturday, December 13, to complete the planting of the hedgerow we began to plant up in December 2013 (other members were completing the first aid course they had been attending).

A big thanks to Allan, David, Ben, Dominic, Joe, Jane, Alan and Robin. They planted a total of 150 trees which consisted of Hazel, Blackthorn and Hawthorn and had been donated by the Woodland Trust. It was a cold and frosty day so thank you for the hard and productive work.

The year ended with the bird count at the reserve standing at 86 species - four more than last year. Let’s hope for 90 species in 2015.

Highlights of the year were Green Sandpiper, Pintail Duck, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Mandarin Duck and the elusive Water Rail.

Around Calderdale it was a bumper year for rare species with sightings of an Eider Duck, Hoopoe, Montague’s Harrier, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Wryneck, Woodlark, Richard’s Pipit, two Great Northern Divers, Rough-legged Buzzard and Icelandic Gull. A total of 167 species recorded.

This is a record year for the keen, out in all weather group from the Calderdale Birds, This is another good website worth looking at. Four of our group set off at 6am on January 2 to North Cave nature reserve. With high winds blowing we thought it may be a wasted trip but at least we could clear out the Christmas cobwebs. But how wrong can you be?

There were a large variety of ducks on the lakes, two Little Egrets and a flock of around eight hundred geese flew in and landed on the lake. After three hours it was time for coffee and then off to Blacktoft Sands in search of Marsh Harriers and we were not disappointed - Marsh Harriers flying all over the reserve, three and four at a time. What a spectacle.

But this was not the highlight. Suddenly a call of Hen Harrier came from fellow watchers. What a magnificent bird and extremely rare. Then it was gone.

It could not get better than this, or could it? What’s that on the tree over the other side? All scopes and cameras turn and focus and the call comes - it’s a Merlin, yet another of the rarest birds of prey in Britain. It just goes to show you shouldn’t let the weather put you off getting out and about.

Things are now moving towards a small visitor centre and toilet facilities and we hope to have these in place in the next few months after refurbishment is completed, then we will be able to offer refreshments and comfort breaks to all our visitors.

Events for 2015 will include moth and bat nights, pond dipping and an open day with displays and refreshments, walks and talks, plus other as yet to be arranged events. Keep an eye on the website for details.

Our first event of the new year is Meet the Birds (the feathered variety) and will be held at Cromwell Bottom on Saturday, January 10. Join members of the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group at the bird feeding area for a morning of watching and learning about the many visitors to the feeders any time between 10am and noon.

Follow the bird signs from the car park opposite the pallet works. Cromwell Bottom is signed from the main A6025 Elland–Brighouse road, HD6 2RG. Donations to the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group welcome.

We intend to expand our events programme, but if you are a member of an organisation and want to visit or want a presentation, we will be happy to arrange things.