Monday, July 16, 2012

Evening lenticularis.... 2012-07-15

altocumulus lenticularis..... (copyright 2012)

Phenomenal mid level cloud... in anticipation of better things to come with a very Red Alert for tonight.... alarm set for midnight but in the event, cloud had deepened with rain on the northern horizon.... so no aurora for us here tonight.... Thanks for the message Sue!

Just had to post this link...... Opposite hemisphere but same cause!

Aurora Australis 14-15th July 2012

Harrop.... inproving rapidly! 2012-07-15

Sparrowhawk overhead.... (copyright 2012)

 Swift.... many W.... (copyright 2012)
 Black-headed Gull.... no masses yet!... (copyright 2012)
Lesser black-backed Gull.... many NW, at altitude.... (copyright 2012)

Harrop, (W Yorks, England)
Sunday 15 July 2012
Counting period: 12:24-15:45
Weather: wind West4, cloud-cover 5/8, visibility 40000m, temperature 14 ℃, QNH 1012 rising 1014, cloud increasing
Observers: Dave Barker

Moving Birds:

Lapwing 2 -
Herring Gull 1 -
Curlew 3 -
Swift 229 -
Black-headed Gull 9 -
Swallow 76 -
Lesser Black-backed Gull 132 -

Totals: 452 individuals, 7 species, 3:21 hours

Comments: Could see things had changed by mid morning and the sky was becoming active. Nothing special but a vast improvement on first thing. All Swifts west, LBBG's W and NW, BHG split between W and S, Lapwings W, Swallows W, Curlews NW. Sorry, spelling mistake in titles noted, but too late to alter it now... more haste, less speed!


Oxenhope.... a poor start! 2012-07-15

Early Mist over the High Moor...... (Copyright 2012)

Oxenhope, Bradford (W Yorks, England)
Sunday 15 July 2012
Counting period: 5:15-7:25
Weather: wind West3, cloud-cover 1/8, visibility 50000m, W F2 rising W F5, 1ok, 50km
Observers: Dave Barker

Moving Birds: Oystercatcher - 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 51
Black-headed Gull 3 -
Meadow Pipit 2 -
Totals: 57 individuals, 4 species, 2:10 hours
Comments: A poor morning noteable only for three Grasshopper Warblers still reeling


Nocturnal Listening - End June Update

Nocturnal Listening – End of June Update

A terrible month with only 13/30 nights even vaguely suitable and many of those had to be terminated prematurely for me in Airedale. Even most of the better nights were fragmented by rain and made useless by moderate to strong winds.  No nights suitable to get the other stations up and running! Continuing on from May, no more Swallows recorded. Dispersal evidenced by presence in and during gaps in the dawn chorus noted from the beginning of the month, firstly Dunnock, then Greenfinch, Common Partridge, Jackdaw, Wren, Goldfinch and just last week a Redpoll over and through calling for all it was worth. The dawn chorus, initially dense and preventative has for me now eased and is worth analysing, surely to improve more this month. Mistle Thrush have been around for a while but first recorded last evening at dusk. Blackbirds just over the last few days have started up with their enigmatic flight calls again. Other passerines, again more difficult and yet to check out.  Oystercatchers on several occasions and Curlews on the move from early June but mainly from mid month. Last night was particularly good for Curlews, just as it was starting to rain and the station was being shut down for the night after a glance on at the radar again showed little prospect till after dawn. The most interesting June passage bird for me has been another LRP, going through over dry land, miles away from water, well after dark. Many well spaced calls heard on approach and past in the silence of the night with only sheep as a backdrop. This was on the 17th, immediately following a period of exceptional rain which would no doubt have overwhelmed habitat terminally? Prospects for July little better, so perhaps a bad year to get started! Hopefully an Indian summer?? Again this evening more curlews over as heard thro the window in the gappy light rain but station shut as overnight prognosis (weather wise) is usless with near continuous rain forecast and even now showing on the radar.

A Bit more detail for those interested.....

Nothing to analyse tonight for me so some time to catch up and expand a bit! and yes,You,ve got in one Rob, but it shouldn't have been like that. Its a great pity the weather has been so poor as to me June is one of the most exciting months, when things really start to happen up here. The Curlews form big and very dramatic post breeding flocks as do the Golden Plovers and there is usually a good bit of movement through and most likely on at night, evidenced by vocalisation from the sky, especially prominent when elevated. This year very little of this has been apparent - not to say it hasn't been happening but just obscured by conditions or reduced. Just for the record my patch of moor was almost sterile even by early June, without doubt related to the terrible conditions.... and then even more and worse to come! Redshank, starting with the failures also start to leave the uplands an in-byes early as well and this often evidenced in the night sky but not this year. Oystercatchers have been difficult with the late spring movement seeming almost to merge into the early autumn disprsal. Swamp birds almost but not quite absent from the June night skies over Wharfedale, with none over Airedale. Was half hoping for a swift or crossbill but not happened yet. The siskin was heard moving during an afternoon, high over our local grave yard. Again Canadas en-route to moult sometimes vocal at night but again despite trying we missed out almost completely, one capture over Wharfedale with nothing over Airedale, as described later for Shelduck it is possible tho with the big congregations that a more local trend is developing. Shelducks should just have started but lots of time to go here yet.... sometimes vocal, at least over the high moors and waters, tho to date never from here. Leaving the coast at this time of year in the evening when suitable, right on the edge of dark is when I have managed to contact them in the past, very high or have them dropping in. Although the pattern in later years is reputed to be changing, with more now stopping in the west to moult. Never heard noise from the Scoters overland tho which at this time going the opposite way, so possibly passing in middle or opposite end of night for us in autumn and this might explain the apparent absence - but I wonder if anyone knows different re calling? """"re this, Nelson recalls a W Eagle Clarke record from 1879 on 24th April, ie the other end of the year when Clarke  recorded a most extraordinary migration of scoters at Skipton-in-Craven.... shortly after dusk birds were heard passing over head and continued during the night, many being bewildered and flying against chimney pots and houses. At the railway station they were immolated against telegraph wires and several were picked up on the following morning, one porter securing as many as seventeen. It was calculated that in all, one hundred and fifty had been taken, the majority of which were males.""""" Interesting that the birds were recorded first shortly after dusk, which fits with an evening west coast departure!  Herring Gulls (a very few) can sometimes be picked out on call from the lessers (thousands) as they pass. Small gulls, BHG's make a very small start with their evacuation from the colonies.... again only just a hint of this happening so far with a few captured over Wharfedale last month. July should see a massive change in gull passage as the colonies break properly and species diversity increases. Lapwings also on the shuffle with several captures mainly early in the month. LRP, the only unusual June wader... and was hoping for better, but time yet as autumn is only young.. Even after listening for only a few months, I am starting to grasp how migration at night is structured in relation to both species time and conditions, which may also affect calling  frequency and it really is interesting!!! Still addicted!

Nocturnat Listening - End May Update

Nocturnal Listening – End May Update

Just in case the technical stuff in the last postings put folks off and just to keep things going.... here a quick update on the birds during almost continuous overnight listening.  The last part of April and early May were washed out by the weather, not that it prevented migration (far from it!) but that it was just impossible to listen and unwise to try! When things got going again, thrushes had faded out and a lot of the wader passage over that time had been missed. More Oystercatchers, a few goidies, a Whimbrel, LRP and interestingly several Common Sands proving distinct nocturnal status. Still a few swamp birds audible in the overnight sky during the first part of the month with both Moorhen and Coot detected over land, miles away from any water. Cuckoos occasionally heard both in the night and sometimes in the dawn chorus. Passerines, whilst not so many identifiable to date, were interesting with quite a few unknowns requiring work when time available and experience gained... The most interesting finding tho was the very occasional contact calls from Swallows in the still and silent skies of the very early hours, in total darkness, hours before the onset of twilight and first robin of dawn. On two occasions quite high or distant, once then briefly quite close before silent again. Another occasion just a single double contact call and another with a bird heard contact calling for a few minutes before gone. Literature in some cases alludes to night migration cross seas and inhospitable terrain and subsequent arrivals at observatories at dawn, it also refers to night feeding in areas with artificial lights in the breeding season with adults bringing food to the nest in the dark, so the above listening observations are difficult to reconcile immediately... but keeping an ear to the situation as it presents its self. Enough to say that the first call, the single double contact call on the 5th May (actually the early hours of the 6th), initially unexpected and unrecognised was probably a moving migrant, as were maybe some of the others but more later on this after elapsation of time allowing further study. Occasional vis in the dawn chorus with flava wagtail detected on fly through, but generally and especially as the month has progressed the chorus has just become a terrible densely prohibitive, over modulated, raucous mat of sound, impossible to hear through and totally impossible to analyse.... thus emphasising the need re just one of the reasons to get your listening station as far away as possible from bird rich habitat with frequent close calling possibilities, where ever and whatever they are.... The chorus will however soon die back and mid/late summer and autumn should be workable at dawn and dusk, especially at open sites. I might just add that I am very much behind in analysing the overnight files so there will almost certainly be more to come when time permits. Some nights very little, but others, just like the pattern of vis, much better. After the trial this spring as an extension to my normal listening activities, I am now totally addicted to this automated form of listening, with unexpected arising and will be continuing on as conditions vary and permit through the year and running it parallel to the vis in the main season... really looking forward to listening through the night during a big thrush arrival, possibly even confirming one, and already have a calendar of other stuff ear marked for investigation. Other patterns of activity are also beginning to become apparent even with our brief study to date so it will be interesting to expand on and see how these develop in time.