Sunday 5th June 2005
1430 – 1700hr
Weather and Sky:
An improving afternoon after a sometimes wet and poor morning. Wind: initially W F3 swinging NW F3 @ c1512hr, becoming NW – NNW variable F2 before settling N F2 well before 1700hr. Temp: initially 13 dp 10 and finally 14 dp 9. Visibility: Ingleborough / Drax max. Cloud: initially stratus and stratocumulus 8ok, remaining similar but with deep cumulus over the Bradford – Leeds areas but becoming cumulus humilis from the west with veiling of altocumulus. Always more bright to the west and with terrific cloud banks building over the eastern side of the south Dales, obscuring some of the summits. Pressure: rising slowly throughout the day with 1016 in the afternoon.
A very "birdy" afternoon with lots of activity in the skies all in total contrast to yesterday. Initially an exceedingly large post breeding congregation of Starlings was wheeling and turning in the sky, covering a big area of it, over the in-bye to the south east. A quick estimate was in excess of 2500 birds. Also a post breeding group of 36 Lapwing was also up in the sky in this direction – obvious aggravation from something. A Sparrowhawk, now being mobbed higher and higher by a Carrion Crow was the obvious course. Some of the Starlings went off very high NNW and the rest went down. It is quite likely that there could have been similar numbers of Starling yesterday but that they just kept down. During the afternoon the mass flock was periodically up and high in the sky, with possibly a further two Sparrowhawks after them (certainly not the same one) and a Carrion Crow, of which lots were around, grounding one with its tallons and ragging it about. I don’t think it got away! Direction wise several groups passed me at the watchpoint, going NW and NNW, most likely sourced from the big congregation. As they passed some came down on the wires and in the tree tops before going on, but most went on low in "red arrow" fly past fashion. There were two waves like this that passed. The vast majority that were specifically seen were juveniles, but not exclusively so and not all were low either, with some further out over the valley to the NE, quite high. Starling were not the only active species as in conjunction with the change in the wind to NW at 1512hr, Swifts, not seen before this time were everywhere. A critical look at what was happening soon revealed that a wave of birds (typical feeding movement here), in either direction (SE – NW) were coming in from the SSE high above the full length of the Aire-Calder watershed as far as I could scope in either direction, obviously related to the interface of the slackening wind and change. Upon meeting the updraft out of the Worth basin and Airedale generally some were kettling up high in broad spirals, most likely after the insects on the draft. Some birds were so high that they could only just be made out. All in due course went on NNW and into the wind. I wouldent really like to say how many birds were involved, but they kept on coming for the rest of my visit, sometimes more over and towards the Bradford basin and sometimes more over the Worth as well as overhead (the most difficult to see). What must be a very late Ringed Plover, passed calling as it went, off the north end, on north. Just out of interest last two years lame Curlew is back at the same breeding site again!!
Birds in the Sky:
Starling c3000 but probably more.
(Very big groups also seen on fresh stubbles in Worth valley but not counted)
Swift feeding wave – very many > NNW
Ringed Plover 1 > N
Lesser black backed Gull 41 > NW
Black headed Gull 9 > NW
Herring Gull 1 > NW
Lapwing 5 > NW
Lapwing 36 post breeding flock
Canadas 4 with 2 + 4 goslings