The Birds

We get a great variety of birds year round at the farm; nearly every type recorded in the dales. Not sparrows, though. There's plenty of them in Pateley Bridge, but they keep a wide birth from our house. But then it is named Sparrowhawk Farm and there's no shortage of these birds of prey overhead.

I have been running around with a bog-standard camera, trying to get good photographs of the birds around the farm (there's a female kestrel hovering over the gorse fifty feet away as I write). Things may improve if I get a long lens for Xmas. Until then, I'm going to list the birds I've seen and link to the RSPB website, which has photographs and, most importantly, recordings of bird calls.

This is absolutely not a complete list of the birds seen around Sparrowhawk Farm, rather some birds that I have positively identified. I'll be adding plenty to this list, in particular the gulls, geese and ducks that make Gouthwaite Reservoir, just a mile away, such a terrific birdwatching site. Equally, the moors around Nidderdale are home to a host of rare species.

Passerines
Swallow They float around the house in summer. I've put up a ceramic nest to attract them.
Pipits and Wagtails - Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail Pipits are fiendish to spot, but not the wagtails, that love nothing better than pecking, suicidally, on the road to Wath.
Starling One of my most vivid childhood memories was the first time I saw starlings, en masse, a bait ball in the sky.
Crows - Jackdaw, Magpie, Jay Magpies raid the bins, jays hug the woods by the house, crows stick by the river, but the stars are the jackdaws, who are everywhere. Their 'plink plink' calls are the soundtrack of Nidderdale.
Warblers - Garden, Willow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest In summer, the gorse behind the house is noisy with warblers, who rarely appear other than the garden warblers who sing from an overhead wire.
Thrushes and allies - Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing While redwings and fieldfares are uncommon vistors, song and mistle thrushes are around most days, hogging the rowans.
Tits - Blue, Coal, Great, Long-Tailed With no sparrows about, the tits rule the roost and the bird feeders (not counting the robins). The pecking order is: great, blue, then coal and long-tailed equal fourth.
Woodpeckers - Greater Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Green Both spotted woodpeckers have paid fleeting visits to the bird feeder. The green woodpecker is more common (and vocal) further afield.
Treecreeper Pity the poor treecreeper, with its wary and unsuccessful attempts at the bird feeder!
Wren The king of birds in Greek mythology and, just ahead of robins, my all time favourite.
Finches - Brambling, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet Chaffinches are the most numerous visitors to the house. With the bullfinches and goldfinches, they breed in the gorse and scoff the nigella seed feeder. I've only ever seen one startlingly orange brambling and a handful of linnets.
Yellowhammer I've only seen them a couple of times on telephone lines in the field beside the house.

Waders, Gulls and Auks
Lapwing We get flocks of lapwings on the pasture fields at the edge of the moor.
Redshank A common sight on Dallowgill moor.

Owls
Barn, Tawny, Little Owls are Megan's favourite birds and a highlight of the summer was seeing a barn owl flying half an hour before sunset. While they are devilish to spot, we see and hear Tawny's often around the woods and Little's perching on the stone walls alongside the moor.

Birds of Prey
Buzzard Always seen over the fields at the edge of the moors, or the woods by the house.
Hen Harrier Spotted on the grouse moors above Nidderdale. I've seen one just once.
Hobby I look and look on the moors above Skrikes Wood, where these birds are seen. One day...
Kestrel We have a pair, almost constantly hunting behind the house. Many more at the edge of the moors.
Kite I first started noticing kites in the dale three years ago, now as common as buzzards.
Merlin Not uncommon in upper Nidderdale. I've seen them around Wath and Middlesmoor.
Peregrine
Fairly commonly seen over Nidderdale. I'd seen them, but not been 100% sure, until a hawker confirmed a pair heading high and fast, updale.
Sparrowhawk I love catching sight of these birds low over the woods by the house, or tracking along the dale.