Monday, May 03, 2010

Oxenhope.... swifts consolidate! 03-05-2010

Curlew overhead... a friendly local bird... (c) 2010

"watsonian" sun dappled Moors.... early am (c) 2010

N F2 rising N F3, 3degC rising slowly, 65km, 1/8 - 8/8 - 4/8, some hail, QNH 1024 rising.
0630 - 1230hr

A bitterly cold morning albeit with only a slight northerly blow initially. Sterile almost empty skies right up to c1015 when Swifts started to appear from the south. Just a few to start off with and all low, but the trend was increasing and by 1030 a condsiderable wave was coming through in much larger parties than yesterday. As I had wandered well away from the watchpoint just to get warm and alleviate hypothermia!! comparative counting was not possible so I set up station just above Clough Hole... the best I could do... and a good vantage point with the right topography to the south but without the all round vision of the watchpoint. Again Swifts were flooding up the in-bye in quite large but diffuse parties.... movement was patchy with sometimes nothing in view but then a large party coming through sequentially all sytheing past silently either side at head height. Still very little in the medium / upper sky except for the ever passing lessers which had now started to flow. The largest Swift party... a real whopper went on for ever at c75. A Hobby shot through low north late morning, just giving chance to get the face pattern before it was lost over the ridge!!! A look at the weather scenario on the rainfall radars showed considerable rain.... that blighting the south yesterday now over the Netherlands together with increasing hefty showers with associated instability advancing from the north east down the flat lands to the east of the Pennines. Low pressure to the east over the continent and high to the west over the Atlantic with the Swifts quite probably skirting the low, keeping in the better weather and into the wind... the autumn scenario in reverse direction? Home for lunch at c 1230, then back again by 1330......

Moving Birds am:
Swift c350 > N.... not directly comparable to yesterdays count
LBB Gull 62 > N
Goldfinch 5 > NW
Greenfinch 1 > NW
Hobby 1 > N at c 1145
Swallow 34 > N
House Martin 6 > N
Sand Martin 1 > N
large gull sp 1 > N
Sparrowhawk 1 > N
alba wag 1 > N
Wheatear 10

N F4, 7degC, 5000m to 65km, 7/8 deep cu sp, hail squalls, QNH 1027 rising
1330 - 1645hr

Upon return not a Swift to be seen (lunch time dearth?) until c 1420 when swirling parties at exceptional height began to appear in the open gaps between / below the gathering storm clouds... these seemed to be doing their best to keep to the clear but the stratocumulus was deepening and consolidating all the time and squalls could be seen to be advancing all the way round... the light became evil and the squall was upon us... pounding hail mixed with sleet at the beginning... not long before BS on Soil was overwhelmed as without shelter it really was grim. After the first a period of clear with more Swifts up high.... interesting that in this scenario none at all were low... all way up. Then another squall and then another with decreasing Swift numbers in the periods of clear... time for off!

Moving Birds pm:
Swift 92 > N not a comparable count to yesterdays
Swallow 21 > N
alba wagtail 1 > N
LBB Gull 24 > N noteably fewer than yesterday
Wheatear 3

House Martins first seen at home this afternoon at 1700hr... none yesterday or this lunchtime.

See below for A Trem's report of passage Swift and hirundine congregations down in the bottom of Airedale at Dowley Gap SW.... which ties in well with the passage noted up here on the tops.

Hail Squalls advance!... mid pm (c) 2010

Yet more Hail squalls... mid pm (c) 2010

Bad light o'rr the Moor... (c) 2010


Migrants passing through:
Dowley Gap SW
12.00hrs 300 plus birds feeding over filter beds, mainly Swifts and Swallows with a few House and Sand martin.

14.00hrs no Swift but 300c Hirundine, Predominately Swallows but plenty House and Sand Martin.