It’s time for the wet winter jobs

Repoll. Photo by Graham Haigh
Repoll. Photo by Graham Haigh

All the planning is done now, so it’s time for putting on the waders and wellies.

Over the next few months, Calderdale wildlife volunteers will be seen in and around the lagoon, wet woodland and Sphagnum bog areas cutting reeds and trees down. This is all part of maintaining the ecology of the nature reserve and has to be done during the winter when the birds have finished breeding.

Buzzard. Photo by Graham Haigh

Buzzard. Photo by Graham Haigh

The Sphagnum bog is a rare thing in the Calderdale area and over the years trees have started to colonise it. This would eventually dry out the bog killing the Sphagnum, so they need to be taken out and the area left as a bog, but this is a huge task and may take a few years.

Work at the reserve has paid off and Calderdale birders at Cromwell Bottom were lucky enough to recently see Whooper and Mute Swans, large flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings, plus large numbers of Pink-footed Geese passing over.

The new bird feeders and trees have also attracted Siskin, Bullfinch, Goldcrests and Jays. Two rare sightings on the lagoon caused excitement amongst the local birders as a Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail were spotted. Rumours of a Water Rail on the lagoon had been circulating for a few weeks and finally it was confirmed.

The Green Sandpiper turned up out of the blue, and this species is a somewhat plump wader with a dark greenish-brown back, legs and wings, greyish head and breast and white underparts, The back is spotted white to varying extents, being maximal in the breeding adult, and less in winter and young birds.

As well as these numerous exciting birds, Jays, Bullfinch and various Tits were seen, and on October 23 a Redpoll was spotted. This is an early sighting for this winter visitor from the far north (the only one so far).

In the rest of Calderdale, Dotterel, Scaup, Knot, Snow Bunting, a Rough legged Buzzard and five Long Eared Owls have also been spotted, but the birders’ favourite is a Woodlark, which is the first recorded in Calderdale since 1953 and if that is not impressive enough, on the same day a Richard’s Pipit was spotted in the same area.

Richard’s Pipit (Anthus Richardi) is a medium-sized bird which breeds in open grasslands in Northern Asia. It is a long distance migrant moving to open lowlands in the Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Richard’s Pipit is a rare but regular vagrant to Western Europe and the bird was named after the French naturalist Monsieur Richard of Luneville.

The wildlife blog has passed through the 150,000 mark this month and the birders would like to thank all the followers and hope to continue providing pictures and news of interest to every one (but cannot promise pictures from the Maasai Mara each month).

The birders give thanks to Allan for the brilliant pictures and if you have not seen Allan’s latest photos it is well worth a look on the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group blog.