From the Undergrowth: Brownies keep a sharp look out on the reserve

Little Egret. Photo by Graham Haigh
Little Egret. Photo by Graham Haigh

On January 24, twelve young ladies plus helpers from the 4th Rastrick Brownies, Brighouse, came along to the reserve for the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch.

At 9.30am it was pouring down, but as the girls arrived at 10am their smiling faces drove away the clouds and the day became bright and sunny.

The girls were ably led by Gail, their Brown Owl. Lots of birds came down to the feeders that the Brownies had made and hung up around the feeding area.

As we left for a walk around the reserve a Yellow Brain fungus was found on the nearby fence.

As we walked members of the group answered questions and told of the history of the area including Tag Cut - the canal that was built around 1776, making it one of the earliest canals built.

On the reserve the sustained cold weather is bringing in more birds to the feeding station as the natural food supply diminishes.

Larger numbers of Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit are visiting the feeders along with Dunnock, Chaffinch and a few Redpoll plus Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and up towards Southowram Common Buzzard circle.

The ever present Robins run underfoot as you sit and watch but we have no Siskins this year. Although there are a few around they are not coming to the feeders.

A member of our group was sitting having his afternoon coffee when there was a loud bang on the window. When he looked outside laid on the floor was a female Sparrowhawk.

This was an opportunity for Bruce to try out his first aid skills newly acquired on a group course in December.

After a few minutes of care the bird revived and looked none the worse for her accident and a few moments later she flew away unscathed, leaving Bruce with a few marks on his hand from her sharp talons as he let the bird go from the wrong hand - the one without the glove (silly man).

A lady reported what she thought was a young swan in distress - further investigation found the swan was alright and it had a ring on its leg from this number.

It was found that this is a young swan which flew into Horton Country Park about 12/11/14 where it was ringed by Dan Sidley. Later it was with 690,691 and 887 at Harold park.

Those three are part of this year’s Park Dam brood. Two of them are back there now. This shows that small pieces of information can be invaluable.

Robin and Hugh from Calderdale Countryside Services have submitted a three year plan for North Loop, the 20-acre restoration site adjoining the reserve. If the plan is adopted, trees shrubs and wild flower seed will be needed, plus a lot of hard work but hopefully it will be another Calderdale success.

Out and about there have been sightings of Brambling at Crumlin and Manor Heath, Great Northern Diver at Mixenden Reservoir, Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwings, Feidfare, Redwing and Buzzard up at Jay House Lane.

Keep your eyes to the skies as there are large numbers of Pink Foot geese on the move.

A visit to Mere Sands and Martin Mere gave us some great views of Little Egret, as well as Pintail Duck - when seen close up they are quite stunning - as well as Goldeneye, another good looking bird.