Treats for bird spotters in the damp and foggy gloom of winter

A robin at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve, Brighouse. Photo by Graham Haigh
A robin at Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve, Brighouse. Photo by Graham Haigh

We all know how November has been foggy and damp. If there is anything in the undergrowth it is difficult to see.

A trip out to North Cave, Blacktoff Sands and Fairburn Ings resulted in almost no birds to see - most strange - but one thing that has been seen is a Water Rail in the lagoon briefly popping in and out of the reeds.

This bird is quite rare with only about 1,100 territories in the UK, so why has it chosen to stay around Cromwell Bottom?

This has been the big discussion at the reserve. Is it the work done on the reed beds by making clearings and channels or is it a fluke?

Those that have spent a few wet weekends in the lagoon in wet wellies hope it’s their work that’s doing the job, so we will have to wait until spring and see if it stays. Only time will tell.

Also seen in the last few days are two pairs of Pintail ducks. This is yet another rarity for the reserve as they have not been recorded for a number of years and is the first recording for our group.

On Friday, November 21, eleven members of the Nidderdale Birdwatchers group visited the reserve and were given a guided tour.

The weather, although murky, did stay dry and they spent a good five hours exploring the area with Graham and a few of the group giving a detailed insight of the development of the site.

The Nidderdale Birdwatchers, who are based at Pateley Bridge, were founded in 2008 so, like us, they are quite a young group and their newsletters are an excellent quarterly publication. They can be found at along with lists of events and courses.

Anyone walking past the North Loop development during the last few weeks will have noticed the absence of the heavy machinery. This is due to the wet conditions that are causing safety problems on the hillside, so work has stopped for the winter, which is not what we would have liked but workers’ safety must come first.

A class from Lightcliffe Junior School designed Christmas cards based on Cromwell Bottom Reserve and five of the cards were chosen to be printed by our group and offered for sale at the school. It proved very popular with almost two hundred cards being sold.

In the coming year we hope to connect with more schools and youth organisations, so if you are involved with school or youth groups contact us because the next generation is the future of all conservation projects.

Around Calderdale Whooper swans, Barnacle Geese, Golden Eye, Goldcrest, Rough Legged Buzzard and Common Scoter are among the more interesting sightings this month.

Our plans for a visitor centre and toilet block are ongoing and we hope to see those in place sometime next year.

The committee and members of Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group would like to wish all our friends, members and readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We hope to see you all in the New Year.