I live in Cullingworth which is part of the Bradford Metropolitan District in the Pennines of West Yorkshire, this is a small village surrounded by countryside and has Hewenden Reservoir nearby. The birding bug began in February 2011 when my son Danny was looking on the internet with things related to Queensbury and found the West Yorkshire Birding blog by B.S. who just happens to be related to us. Well this caught Danny's imagination, he was twelve years old and had already shown an interest in birds in the garden and was eager to have a go himself. my knowledge of birds was very limited to everyday common species such as blackbird, Blue Tit, Magpie, Robin and Starling so we had a lot to learn.
We started off with an old set of binoculars and Danny had a smaller pair and went to Harden Moor but soon found spotting birds and getting a picture of them with our 5x zoom digital camera was not as easy as others made it look with very little to show for our efforts. We decided to set up our own blog calling it Dannysbirds where we could log what we see and put any pictures or snaps as Danny called them as a record and also for others to see. We also recorded weather conditions which was something that Danny had a particular interest in and was always his first topic of conversation. The next location was St. Ives near Bingley where there was a hide and a pond to see more birds and it meant getting a book about birds so we could try to ID them. Some of the first which were all new to us seen on the Coppice pond were Canadas, Coots, Moorhen and Gulls.
On a visit to a local garden centre we saw some birds in a tree as we parked the car, we had never seen anything like them before, I took a couple of pictures of them. They looked like an exotic bird from some distant land with a tuft on their heads and yellow and red markings on their wings. We put the pictures on the computer when we got home and started looking through our book and we finally found that there was no doubt they were Waxwings! A couple of years later I saw some in Cullingworth and was able to get some good pictures of them, not had any luck seeing them since though.
Rapters and Owls are two more groups of birds we encountered finding some locally and having to travel to Nature Reserves for others. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Perergrine Falcon, Buzzard and Red Kite have all been seen locally, others we have missed out on but you've always got possibilities in the future. Marsh and Hen Harrier have been seen at Nature Reserves, Little Owl is the most visible locally with barn, Tawny and Short-eared also seen with others yet to see.
Sometimes you can stumble on great local events, we did this not long after we had started in January 2013. We rolled up to Leeshaw Reservoir and found 35 Barnicle Geese on the water, a rare event locally. We informed B.S. who put the word out and many local birders were able to see them after relocating the birds in the surrounding fields.
One of the best sites we've been to in West Yorkshire is Swillington Ings which has been taken over by the RSPB calling the site St. Aidens. There are many birds we've seen here including Black-necked Grebe, Garganey, Bittern, Spoonbill and Cetti's Warbler. These are just a few of the many birds that can be seen at this location.