Monday, 31 December 2007

December 31st

Well that's it another year and reports show we should have Lesser Scaup and Smew to put on to our 2008 year list tomorrow. Managed to see 166 species at Draycote this year tho Black-necked Grebe failed to make it on after a run a nine years.

Not been out today so extra food under the bird table but no luck on the Bramling. Pair of Bullfinches and a Sparrowhawk made a mad dash over garden were the highlight.

December 30th
A great day out with friends - why do i sleep so easy in a car. Trip to the Wildfowl Trust at Welney, Norfolk via St Neots. Plenty of Whooper Swans, ducks and Water Rail at Welney but the Cattle Egret failed to show at St Neots.
On the return from dropping friends off we searched for owls in the Grandborough Valley between A45 and A426. Again no luck but a surprise sighting of 4 Red Deer next to Grandborough Fields Farm was a first for me in valley and only 4 miles from home.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

December 29th

Draycote Water
Very strong winds and heavy rain last night so out early on bike wrapped up to take on the elemients but had extreme difficulty in finding any birds and it took me three hours to locate the Lesser Scaup first winter male and male Smew in grays barn tucked up against the shore underneath the willows. The conditions made very poor viewing - far to choppy for my delicate stomach and bloody hard to cycle in. I managed to hear a Rock Pipit flying over hensborough bank and at least 3 Ruddy Duck, 100+ Cormorants, 230 Great-crested Grebe, 16 Goosander, 120 wigeon, 50 Teal, 10 Gadwall and two Kingfisher were logged. On the way out via cycle route 41 between toft shallows and M45 there were at least 10 Siskin.

Second visit to do roost with John Judge. The winds seemed stronger and more westerly but the light was appalling and we were joined by Jeff Wesson who was more on the ball than we were and managed to find at least two Yellow-legged Gulls. Poor return considering it was one of those rare evenings when the gulls were much closer than they normally get.

More rumours - Slavonian Grebe valve tower and female Smew toft bay but no one seems to know who actually saw them. Will have to wait - on one of my rare trips out of county tomorrow.


Thursday, 27 December 2007

December 27th

A need to burn off those festive calories

Another unsuccessfully dawn visit for the Barn Owl. Plenty of set a-side but may be this years appalling summer weather may have taken there toll, certainly not as common as the last two years. Only seen 3x in 8 visits this winter and not one decent pro-longed view.

Draycote Water
Another walk out to valve tower, mild and breezy with only a five Ruddy Duck and 12 Goosander seen on the outward trip though the return was more enjoyable when Dave spotted flock of 21 Golden Plover heading west and a Peregrine and Kestrel performing an aerial battle above our heads and a distant Sparrowhawk. Grey wagtail and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the lower car park and very long distant views of the male Smew off farnborough bank from the comfort of the cafe. No attempt made to see the Lesser Scaup which was still present today.

Lawford Heath
Thousands of Fieldfare and Redwing and a few gulls loafing from nearby tip plus two Yellowhammers (scarce this winter around here).

No sign of the nearby recent Dark-bellied Brent Goose, two Buzzards seen perched

A long overdue visit to this feeder station along side the Grand Union Canal. not much seed left so must remember to bring some next time but we had excellent views of two Marsh Tits and Nuthatch. Also two Mistle Thrush with more Fieldfare and Redwing.


Wednesday, 26 December 2007

December 26th

Draycote Water
Very few folks about this morning. First winter male Lesser Scaup still present in toft bay and the male Smew off farnborough bank. The alders in toft shallows held a very active flock of 40+ Siskin and 12 Lesser Redpoll. Also seen were a Little Owl (gray's barn), Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper (valve tower) and male Pintail near inlet.

female Bramling again under my garden feeder and female Blackcap also made a brief visit.

Monday, 24 December 2007

December 24th

Again out with Dave for the roost at draycote but the poor weather conditions (gloomy) made viewing difficult and we only found 2 first winters and one adult Yellow-legged Gull.


December 23rd

Draycote Water
Me and Dave Cox walked to toft bay but the thick freezing fog made birding difficult and even the long staying Lesser Scaup failed to appear out of the gloom tho on the walk back along farnborough bank the male Smew showed briefly so the visit was not a total failure.

Brandon Marsh
Arrived to the news that the Bittern had shown in front of East Marsh Hide and the empty hide indicated it was not on show but after five minutes of searching the reed bed left of hide the bird was found and watched for the next fourty minutes. One Water Rail, 2 Coal Tits and 10 Siskin also seen.

The Dark-bellied Brent Goose still in field between Bretford and Church Lawford.

Rookery Farm, Lawford Heath
Tree Sparrow 5 feeding on silage a flock of 50+ Golden plover flew over west.