Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wheatears - Oxenhope 2004

Wheatears - Oxenhope 2004
As promised ……
During 2004 BV and RHP made almost daily visits to a total of five localities in the Oxenhope (West Yorkshire) area, which were known as "staging posts" to attract Wheatears passing through the district. A total of 862 passage Wheatears were counted. The period when visits were made was during the month of April, the first half of May, and finally the month of August (excluding 3rd – 9th). No visits were made in March or September.

All of the sites contain primarily in-bye / rough pasture, bounded by dry stone walling, often in a derelict state of repair. All of the sites are on the perimeter of white or black moorland. All sites are readily accessible by vehicular access.

The sites visited were:

Trough Lane, Oxenhope
Leeshaw Reservoir, Oxenhope
Fly Flat (Warley Moor Reservoir)
Nab Water Lane, Oxenhope
Rough Top, Paul Clough

It should be noted that these are not the only sites to attract "staging" passage Wheatears in the area, thus the totals are only a very incomplete sample.

Comparison of daily counts on the summery chart shows that birds moved on daily from Leeshaw, Fly Flat and Nab Water. It was therefore assumed (BV) that they did the same from the Trough Lane area. The total number of Wheatears recorded / counted during these visits was 862. The main aim of the study was to record a sample of the number of "Wheatears" passing through the area, which was previously known to be considerable, therefore no attempt was made to racially separate the birds seen.

*****As I currently have no proper means of introducing photograps to these "blogger" pages I am unable to post the Excel histograms, but I hope the following summery will suffice (DCB).*****

Below is an overview of the summery:

April 2004
Total Number of Wheatears
Trough Lane: 326
Leeshaw Res: 25
Fly Flat: 18
Nab Water Lane: 18

First half of May 2004
Trough Lane: 82
Leeshaw Res: 36
Fly Flat: 15
Nab Water Lane:1

August 2004
Trough Lane: 183
Leeshaw Res: 5
Fly Flat: 73
Nab Water Lane: 73
Rough Top, Paul Clough: 5

It can be seen that Trough Lane during each period had by far the highest numbers of birds.

During April 2004, the first record was of four present on 6th April. Up to ten were then seen daily until 17th April. Peak of daily totals (cumulative total from all sites) was between 17th and 26th when 20’s, 30’s and 40’s present were regular. During the final days of April numbers reduced back to daily single figures.

During the first half of May 2004, double figure counts, with up to 29 (peak 6th May) were present daily until the 10th May, from when numbers gradually reduced until a single on 15th May. It is not known if birds were present during the second half of May as no visits were made.

During August 2004, sixteen were present during the first two days. Then no visits were made between 3rd – 9th . During the final half of the month, 25 – 30 birds were regularly present daily. These totals were considered by BV to be a record number for the nineteen days counted in August.

Very many thanks to Brain Vickers and Rodney Proctor.

BV / RHP / DCB. 13-04-2005

Background to the above presentation of Wheatear records in the Oxenhope area.
Wheatears 08-04-2005
Thanks for that Brian.
I am intending to do a little précis of your Wheatear records, and Rods from last year for these pages. If anyone doesn’t know Brian and Rod had a total of 862 passage Wheatears at four well known staging posts in the Oxenhope area. This "huge"? (or maybe not so huge?) count was obtained by sheer dedication to purpose with almost daily visits during the migration season. Well done Brian and Rod – KEEP THE RECORDS COMING!! Wheatears are primarily nocturnal migrants but they are still usually "on the creep" in the direction of their goal during the day. There one minute – gone the next and as such class as visible migration, in any case they are too good to miss out! Larger congregations can hang around for a while, but give them an hour and they are usually off!
Many thanks,

Watchpoint 13-04-2005

Members only watchpoint 13-04-2005
Wednesday 13th April 2005
0810 – 1000hr
Weather and Sky:
A very gradually improving morning, a real doldrum day with us here, right in the centre of an absolutely flat weather col. Calm winds with falling sleet gradually improving to rain, sky obscured throughout and poor visibility. Wind: initially NW F1 @ 0630, reducing to flat calm by 0800hr, remaining similar until 0930 when air picking NE F1 up (it was hardly F1 – could only be distinguished by the drift of steaming breath) and remaining similar. Temp: initially 4 dp 3 @ 0630, remaining 4 (3deg C @ wp) dp 3 through out. Despite the cold temperatures and sleet, feeling remarkably warm. Precipitation: light rain overnight. Vertically falling large flakes of sleet at watchpoint initially, softening to light rain by 0900hr and further reducing to drizzle by 1000hr. Visibility: initially variable 18km max NW and E, reducing to variable 5.5km max NW and E. Cloud: initially low stratus (unusually high base and = nimbostratus? ), all hill routes and Pennine ridge open initially but upon cessation of sleet, base becoming very ragged, also st fractus, closing all ridge routes but low cols remaining open. Remaining similar but starting to lift by 1000hr. Pressure: despite the col, falling steadily over night to 1013 by 0630 and continuing to fall 1009 by 1000hr.

Absolute deep initial silence and tranquillity in the skies initially with only the songs of Woodpigeon in the wood and the retching song of Stock Dove (I hope it wasn’t really being sick!) at the shed, breaking the un-natural silence. Occasionally a Goldeneye would bray, but no sound from vis on the wing at all. The night migrant Wheatears and Willow Warbler had gone. A doldrum day in all respects with virtual cessation of Meadow Pipit flow and infact cessation of virtually all bird movement with the exception of the albas which were the "birds of the day". These in relative terms were moving much more strongly than usual with a good total of 18 mainly NW, none were on the deck. Despite the sleet and rain, these were still bounding fourth at varying flight levels and ranges. Things noted were that firstly, preferred flight direction had shifted from N to NW (quite a few were using the wave wall as a leading line – both high and low) and secondly, two of the birds, that could be heard were making the smooth "zilip"!!! flight calls (first of the year) with which I have over the last few years become much more confident with. If anyone has the time or inclination, most definitely worth checking out the wagtail congregations to see what can be found. Otherwise things were very thin, with a lot of the interest coming from the wall to wall, surround sound of the resident wading birds wading birds, all very much in evidence once the rain began to stop.

Moving Birds:
Meadow Pipit 4 > NW
alba 18 > NW