Thursday, 31 January 2008

January 31st 2008

Hard work getting to pond in driving sleet and high winds. Lesser Scaup back in its usual place off the second car park in toft bay showing well and Coal tit amongst the Great Tits on the feeders near hide. Two male Common Scoters were out in centre but moved on when the wind surfers came out and may have gone in to toft bay. Iceland Gull first winter found in roost at 1645hrs and the Glaucous Gull first winter arrived at 1655hrs when it was picked up in flight coming in from a south easterly direction over wind surfing area. Though not fool proof the white winged gulls seem to settle in the centre between A & M bouy from my regular viewing point off hensborough bank. Great-northern Diver came in close off rainbow late afternoon when earlier it had been elusive out in centre. Buzzard 2, Grey Wagtail inlet, Lesser Redpoll 3 toft bay, Stock Dove 40, Lapwing 300 and on leaving there were at least 50+ Magpies going to roost in toft shallows.


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

January 30th 2008

Forgive me father for i have sinned, went out of county. Trip to Norfolk to see the White-crowned Sparrow at Cley next the Sea which showed well then looked at the Shore Larks near east bank. Other species in the area included Snow Bunting, Marsh Harrier, Red-throated Diver, Twite and Long-tailed Duck.

White-crowned Sparrow by Steve Seal

Recieved text messages from Bob Hazell and John Judge that the Lesser Scaup is still present being found in toft and showing well.


January 29th 2008

No sign in valley of any leo's, one Barn owl hunting distantly otherwise apart from two Buzzards and a few winter thrushes very quiet. Draycote seems to have lost the Lesser Scaup after nearly two months in residence. Along with Bob Hazell we searched extensively but no trace.

Lesser Scaup by Steve Seal

Bob saw it yesterday so it may have gone overnight along with the male Smew which could not be located as well. Great-northern Diver still present and distant though Bob managed to get some good shots near valve tower on his walk round.

Great-northern Diver by Bob Hazell

Lesser Redpoll 5, Buzzard 2 Goosander 22 and Chiffchaff were the other highlights and duck numbers seem low. Larger gulls came into roost late but managed first winter Iceland & Glaucous Gull between 1630-1640pm before losing the light by 1700hrs also three adult Yellow-legged Gulls and one first winter.


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

January 28th 2008

First foggy spell since the 1st January so watched garden most of morning. Very productive with 17 species actually in garden and 8 others seen flying over. Highlight was the male Bramling perched briefly late morning, a Goldfinch which I dont get very often, 2 Bullfinch, and pride of place went to the female Grey Wagtail which spent an hour wandering around garden even bathing in a water filled plant holder.
Out tonight with the wheelbarrow and genny moth trapping up the road in Cockrobin plantation. First field session of what I hope will be a productive year. Min temperature 5 deg and trapped from 1800-2100hrs managing 24 moths of five species so not a bad effort. Spring Usher 7, Chestnut 8, Pale brindled Beauty 6, Early Moth 2 and a Dotted Boarder.


Sunday, 27 January 2008

January 27th 2008

Out with Dave today, did the valley first but failed to find any Long-eared Owls but were treated to fantastic views of Barn Owl which hunted close and perched just yards away from us and still out hunting in broad daylight at 7.30am possibly indicating a short supply of food in area. Raven, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Buzzard and Skylark also in area.
Draycote was bright and sunny with male Smew off farnborough bank, Great-northern Diver out in centre and 12 Goosander near valve tower. Steve Seal was taking photos and though we did not have chance to chat he could be seen from hensborough bank kneeling to get this shot.

Breakfast at Long Itchington then on to Brandon Marsh. Plenty of duck but little else. Shoveler 80, Gadwall 55, Goosander female, Pochard 60, Goldeneye 2, Snipe 2 and Buzzard.

Rookery Farm, Lawford Heath had 1500 Starling, 2000 Fieldfare, 500 Redwing, 100+ Chaffinch and 3 Tree Sparrow feeding around farm buildings or adjacent fields then it was back to Dave's for lamb dinner and wine so missed the opportunity to do roost with John Judge and the Hall Brothers.

I trapped Pale Brindled Beauty last night and Dave had Mottled Umber


Saturday, 26 January 2008

January 26th 2008

Have you ever wandered the Warwickshire countryside at 4.30pm - strongly recommended it - tranquillity at its best. From Willoughby explored the minor roads between Flecknoe and Sawbridge checking on a number of Barn Owl locations, managed one along with calling Tawny and Little Owl. Chilled out further along valley with a cup of nescaf finest waiting for the Long-eared Owls and rewarded with two along with two Barn Owls, 4 Hare's and Mutjac Deer before moving on to Napton Reservoir. Cold and windy with Ruddy Duck, Goosander, both of which are not common here, 20 Siskin and a calling Water Rail which I could not find even though it sounded just feet away.
Heading back via Broadwell picked up Red-legged Partridge, many Stock Dove a few Yellowhammers and Sparrowhawk. Arriving at Kites Hardwick I had a majestic Red Kite fly low over road between the River Leam and the Golf range clubhouse heading east. Fast as I could get me little legs turning was unable to catch up with it and must have stayed low as i did not see it again. Red Kites in this area are still a rarity. On arrival at Draycote every man and his missus were out walking along farnborough bank so gave it a miss.


Friday, 25 January 2008

January 25th 2008

Coffee and cake day with Dave with a very strong westerly wind in our faces when we walked to rainbow corner. A few gulls were arriving early and seeking shelter from the inlet so we systematically went through them. Managed to find a second winter Med Gull at 2.20pm and another at 3pm but no sign of last Sundays Silver Gull which we were hoping for. Only one first winter Yellow-legged Gull seen but it was to early for the most of the big gulls and it was not worth waiting for the roost to build up as it was obvious that they would settle miles away and be head on. We did note one bird resembling a Common Gull which had a slate grey mantle, white head, black beady eye, no mirrors in primaries and a dark bill. The Great-northern Diver showed well though distant for a few seconds before disappearing, 10 female and 2 male Goosander and on the walk back to car park we had a close fly by of a Raven struggling in the wind.


Thursday, 24 January 2008

January 24th 2008

Another day of blue skies, high cloud with the wind much stronger than expected with a chill that "beet rooted" your complexion. Day started well with male Bramling in the garden along with a pair of Bullfinch.
The pond was choppy so the Great-northern Diver was elusive, male Smew in toft bay and the now very harassed Lesser Scaup in grays barn. One pratt seen going out in wellies to get closer - castrate um - can't be long before it decides to leave if this selfish behaviour continues. Lesser Redpoll 5 near hide, 14 Gadwall, 60 Pochard and two Kingfisher in toft noted. Field next to sewage farm had 100+ mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwing
Met up with Bob and Francoise who had crippling photos of the Great-northen Diver performing in front of her yesterday (jammy bugger). Rest of the conservation is for after the watershed.
Bob and I did the roost but the gulls were distant and nothing was seen till after 4pm when we managed to find 6 adults and 2 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Caspian Gull adults. Bob's boss April saved the day with a phone call that brought in a first winter Iceland Gull just before five so I just love your hair cut - honest. Earlier in the day Bob had an adult winter Med Gull with some Common Gull but no chance of any Meds tonight as most of the smaller gulls were off biggen bay.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

January 22nd 2008

Smew by Steve Seal
Blue skies, high cloud, and a light frost was most welcome on arrival at the pond. The Lesser Scaup was with the 40+ Pochard and Tufted Duck flock in grays barn while 3 Lesser Redpolls fed quietly behind the hide. Male Smew again off valve tower and the Great-northern Diver continued to be elusive being distant off valve tower, close in off rainbow or not seen at all by some unfortunates. Depending on where you were standing on toft bank a Stonechat could be seen in the sewage farm and a Chiffchaff along the perimeter hedge. Peregrine performed over cafe and I was joined by Bob Hazell and Pete and Linda Price where we chewed the cud over such delights as gull id, field craft, lists and the price of peas. Roost tonight decided to be distant and strung out over the centre of reservoir but managed five Med Gulls (two first winter, two adult winter and a second winter), three adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a Glaucous Gull first winter came in at 1640pm.
Other birds of note were Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Goosander 10, Goldeneye 25, Cormorant 82, Great-crested Grebe 206 Grey Wagtail and a Buzzard. On the down side some pratt was trying too hard to get too close to the Lesser Scaup in grays barn late afternoon - read the bloody signs - stay off the shore line, o a pity I was so far away, just fancied a chat in braille - thwak !!!


Monday, 21 January 2008

January 21st

Blackcap male in garden this morning along with Coal Tit and Bullfinch. Yesterdays gull with red bill might have been a Silver Gull, Australian species so presumed escapee, all very interesting and have spent the morning checking Internet for photos and it could have been one. John Judge found one in 2003 and reminded me I saw it but i can't remember.


Sunday, 20 January 2008

January 20th 2008

Before dawn we had Barn Owl and 'leo' in the valley and probably due to the high winds and rain overnight they both stayed out longer than normal giving reasonable views also 2 Hare and a Fox. Nearby flooded fields held a number of Starlings and gulls including Yellow-legged Gull adult and a Buzzard looking for worms close to the road.
On to Draycote and a walk out to valve tower produced the male Smew, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and 14 Goosander while the return trip finally rewarded us with views of Great-northern Diver three hundred yards off outlet before it went back in to centre.
After breakfast we went to Brandon Marsh via Lawford Heath and had two Ravens over heath with one very close and another Fox.
Brandon Marsh held 4 Goldeneye, female Goosander, Snipe, Coal Tit and 9 Lesser Redpoll.
The River Avon between Kings Newham and Bretford was flooded holding many Teal and over 50 Mute Swan plus many winter thrushes.
Back at Draycote we intended to do the roost till dusk but we struggled against the poor light and though conditions were similar to Friday the majority of roost was much further out. Dave must be learning from the master as he found an adult Med Gull in rainbow corner and then proceeded to cause me a heart attack when he found gull with all red bill - pure panic but after a phone call to JJ came to me sense's and calmed myself. It was a summer plumage Common Gull but in all the years I have been gulling I have never seen this type of bill colour on a common. Bill looked shorter and the crown flatter but rest of plumage identical to Common Gull. The Great-northern Diver came in close to outlet but was flushed by a boat and flew off towards biggen bay and after circling for awhile it was lost out of sight but did not appear to be leaving.


January 19th 2008

The valley was pretty wet after so much rain. Farm buildings just outside Willoughby on the road to Sawbridge held 70 Chaffinch, 2 male and one female Bramling, 16 Tree Sparrow while the adjacent maize field had two Corn Bunting.
Between Sawbridge and the Old Railway Station Cottages a very bedraggled Barn Owl was still hunting at mid-day and flushed a couple of Snipe. Grandborough Fields Stonechat still present and a distant Raven, Napton Reservoir was pretty dead apart from a burst of song from a Cetties Warbler which gave only poor views.
Little Egret flew across the River Leam at Kites Hardwick towards the back of Golf Range and must be the one doing the 'grand tour' of the south west side of Rugby. Ivy covered trees by the bridge had a well hidden Little Owl with just its head showing.


Friday, 18 January 2008

January 18th 2008

Coffee and cake with Dave this afternoon at pond then a walk to outlet. Roost was building up early with large numbers of Common Gulls and Black-headed Gulls trying to get as much shelter from the wind and swell as possible from rainbow and draycote bank. Close scrutiny showed many variations amongst the Common Gulls, some with pure white heads and a few with so much streaking on head they almost looked hooded. Two adult winter Med Gulls were very close in giving great views and as the gull numbers increased we had three adult Yellow-legged Gulls and one adult Caspian Gull. While watching roost we were treated to fantastic prolonged views of the Great-northern Diver 150 yards off outlet on the surface for at least ten minutes before it went back out to the centre, two Ruddy Duck in rainbow, Kingfisher fishing off the rocks and 10 Goosander. Mike Doughty-Lee rang from valve tower to find out what we had seen and he reported he had seen the Little Egret off lin croft point. Dave could not stay long so we left before the bigger gulls arrived. Smew and Lesser Scaup still present today though we never saw them.

Spring Usher in trap last night.


Thursday, 17 January 2008

January 17th 2008

Bramling female returned to my garden feeder this afternoon along with 10 Greenfinch, 8 Chaffinch, 2 Bullfinch, Coal Tit and a male Blackcap briefly.

Moth trap had a Pale Brindled Beauty - also trapped the same moth on 15th


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

January 16th 2008

Did not expect to be at pond today but permits, visa's etc all sorted for Caucasus so took the advantage of lift from Tim Marlow. Tim wanted to see Smew but from farborough bank we found it miles away near valve tower so walked back to outlet for a better view and in the time it took us to get there it had flown into toft. Searched for Great-northern Diver but failed to see it while we waited for roost to build up. One good thing about doing the roost with someone with the same interest in gulls is being able to concentrate more and we found 14 adult, three second winters and two first winter Yellow-legged Gulls, two adult Caspian Gulls plus two others that looked good candidates but we were not 100% sure and a different first winter Glaucaus Gull than the one on I had on Tuesday. Had bumped into Bob Hazell earlier who had the diver, Lesser Scaup, Raven and a Chiffchaff but no sign of yesterdays Little Egret which had been seen after I had left.

Later in evening went into valley with Dave to look / listen for owls - one Tawny Owl calling close but the highlight was the clear skies showing Orion's belt really well.


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

January 15th 2008

A puncture in this mornings deluge did not go down too kindly with my temperament and the morning was a washout with only the Smew male briefly off farnborough bank, Lesser Scaup first winter male in toft and distant views of Great-northern Diver to show for sticking out the elements. After 2pm the rain lifted though the gloom persisted and constant sweeps of the reservoir showed no sign of the Red-necked Grebe so presumed gone and the GND was a little closer but seems to be content feeding in an area about five hundred yards off valve tower. Have not aged it yet but may be an adult. One Golden Plover over, Oystercatcher in biggen bay and a female Pintail. Intended to stay for roost but after having an early first winter Med Gull the next shower threatened so called it quits.

Out of county tomorrow so next post may not be till Friday


Monday, 14 January 2008

January 14th 2008

No trip to pond today - decided to work the ridge between Hillmorton and Dunchurch which has a number of well grown gardens and wooded grounds of a private school and and hotel / conference centre plus the Warwickshire Wildlife Nature Reserve at Ashlawn Cutting. Wind was blustery and dry till mid-day when the rain came in. Not the most outstanding of habitat but beggars can't be choosers and the most productive area was the grounds of the hotel where I managed to see Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Willow Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker Goldcrest and Jay. The large trees near the school held a well hidden roosting Tawny Owl and a few more Nuthatches. On my way home I have to pass Cockrobin Wood where i managed to find at least five Lesser Redpolls.

Another storm is due tonight bringing another deluge for the area so if your driving to Draycote Water on the A426 beaware of flooding either at Kites Hardwick coming from the south or if coming from Dunchurch then at the bottom of Toft where recent road works have blocked the drains causing floods by Toft farm entrance - was passable down centre of road Saturday but the whole area is waterlogged so take care. Me - well I have a short cut via Halfway Lane so bike won't need floats and intend to be there. Just love weather fronts.


Sunday, 13 January 2008

January 13th 2008

Bad dose of luck, interest or motivation today. Out with Dave first light in valley but the briefest sighting of an owl sp was marred by not getting the cup of coffee out of me hand fast enough. On to Draycote where the high winds and poor weather made viewing difficult and apart from the Smew male landing in front of us off farnborough bank and the Lesser Scaup still in toft we struggled something rotten. Thought I saw the Red-necked Grebe off the coast of Leamington Spa and Dave thought he had the Great-northern Diver but as both were not recorded by others we may have been totally wrong.
Next stop was a hearty breakfast in long Itchington before moving on to Brandon Marsh, here the River Avon had flooded so some parts of the reserve inaccessible and we only had a male Goldeneye and Green Woodpecker. The Greylag flock held plastic Barnacle and Bar-headed Goose. Left for Lawford Heath via Wolston and our luck improved with a Little Egret in front of St Margaret's Parish Church Main Street. This might have been the Long Lawford bird or one pushed off by rising water levels from the Avon. Lawford Heath had large numbers of thrushes with an estimate of 3000 Fieldfare and a 1000 Redwing from just two fields. No sign of Little Owls, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow or any large gulls to get our teeth into.


Saturday, 12 January 2008

January 12th 2008

Red-necked Grebe by Steve Seal

Heavy overnight rain produced lots of surface water and caused flooding in the grandborough and leam valleys. Managed to get some detailed sketches and notes of 'leo' so hope I can get a painting completed next week.

Arrived at draycote to 70+ Siskin in toft shallows and a Grey Wagtail. By the time I located the Lesser Scaup still playing peek a boo under the willows in grays barn there were many birders out looking for the Red-necked Grebe but it was giving eveyone the run around till Steve Seal found it off outlet and tracked as it paddling across the pond till it showed really well off farnborough bank. A few of us went for coffee and chat and you have never seen so many birders move so fast when Bob Hazell texted the finding of a Great-northern Diver by Pete and Linda Price off picnic area. Unfortunately there was some heavy sailing going on and took awhile to locate it close to draycote bank towards valve tower but it became very elusive. Male Smew by valve tower. Other sightings included Kingfisher 2, Buzzard 3, Redshank flying down the flooder River Leam from Hensbough bank a brief visit from a first winter Glaucous Gull and 200+ mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare in fields behind farnborough spit.
A cold wait for the gull roost which was slow to build up but managed a first winter Glaucous Gull (same bird?) which a few birders got on to and by dusk had managed 10 adult and 4 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 adult Caspian Gulls and adult Iceland Gull. As I left the Great-northern Diver was feeding and preening out in centre.

Of interest (to me) the Great-northern Diver is my 28th record involving 54 birds, the 5th for an arrival in January and has been on my Draycote year list now 28 out of the 32 years I have been doing the place.


Friday, 11 January 2008

January 11th 2008

O the luxury of heated seats. Out with Dave for our end of week coffee and cake at Draycote. Weather had been crap all day and did not let up while we were there but managed to get the Red-necked Grebe from the cafe. Only about two hundred yards out. We risked a walk to farnborough spit but apart from a flock of Goldeneye we had very little else in a north east wind with cold driving rain.
Time to kill so we toured the grandborough valley and found two bedraggled Buzzards, flock of 70+ Chaffinches and three Roe Deer.


Thursday, 10 January 2008

January 10th 2008

Purple patch day. Overnight winds continued with out abating this morning so cycling was difficult if not down right dangerous at times. Took some finding but the Red-necked Grebe at 8am was some 400 yards off the sailing club and going out further so not very good views then amazingly it reappeared in front of cafe by the platforms at 1010am after being flushed by a speed boat and gave stonking views to myself and the severn trent staff but after ten minutes it again drifted out of sight until it was relocated off farnborough spit. Bob Duckhouse rang just as I had found it again and came but again it disappeared to be replaced by a Slavonian Grebe. We split with Bob going back towards the sailing club to search that area and I searched toft where I managed again to relocate it and get Bob on to it by the car park in toft with chemical toilet. By then the winds had got stronger and it started raining so sheltered in hide - bit dudey but managed to scope the male Smew and first winter Lesser Scaup sheltering under the willows in grays barn. On the down side had to share it with half a dozen ramblers who were as quiet as bloody elephants on heat so soon put them in there place.

Other sightings were a very elusive Red-breasted Merganser female between valve tower and biggen bay finding it difficult to cope with the swell. Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Siskin 10 toft shallows, Lesser Redpoll 2 biggen bay, Sparrowhawk, and a Buzzzard. Chatted to Jeff Wesson who had done the reservoir clockwise and had little to report tho he would have had the wind in his face most of the time.

Back home checking me Draycote records the Red-breasted Merganser is my 39th, Slavonian Grebe 31st and the Red-necked Grebe 23rd with the last one in October / November 2005.


Wednesday, 9 January 2008

January 9th 2008

Problem with all this biking me-larky is it makes you tired so apologises for a late blog. A day of two halves, early start in the grandborugh valley then back home for a few domestic duties ending the day with a late finish at pond. Twenty five mile biked today so not surprising I crashed out on sofa. Grandborugh was a great success with two Barn Owls, Raven, Grey Partridge, Tree Sparrow 4 and a Corn Bunting which I have not seen in valley for a few years. Also some very good views though distant of 'leo'. Late arrival at pond for roost so a only brief look at Lesser Scaup and Smew just to make sure they were still there. Wind had picked up so it was not easy doing roost and it was a non-birder who asked if I had seen the hensborough bank Red-necked Grebe so got distant views of that before resuming. Found out later Kieth Warmington had found it so I owe you one Kieth. Many of the Herring Gulls adults are now showing white heads so not so easy picking out the yellow-legs but managed to find three adults and one adult Caspian Gull. Other birds of note were Kingfisher, 2 Ruddy Duck, Grey Wagtail, Buzzard and 3 female Shoveler.


Tuesday, 8 January 2008

January 8th 2008

Turned down a lift to Norfolk partially because I did not feel up to it but also had the forlorn hope that the strong westerly winds we have been experiencing over the last 36 hours would bring something in, so on arrival at pond it was pretty obvious that I made the wrong decision. Place seem like a morgue - very little activity. The Lesser Scaup in the same place as last time and the male Smew off farnborough bank though that proved to be pretty mobile today being seen in toft bay and off draycote bank. Toft shallows held a few Siskin and a Buzzard flew over while 140+ Wigeon were trying to feed on the grassy bank in toft but the rising water levels are bringing them ever closer to the perimeter road and disturbance so very nervous. Meadow Pipits 8 near the beginning of farnborough bank, 10 Gadwall in toft shallows and two Green Woodpecker in Country Park the only reportable birds of note. Stopped to look at log book but no one has had a pen for Xmas.

Went home via the grandborough valley to seek permission off some of the farmers to enter there land. Response were at different ends of the scales, one couldn't do enough for me and another wanted me hung, drawn and quartered. Overall a positive result. Little seen as I biked home in increasing winds.


Sunday, 6 January 2008

January 6th 2008

This morning was one of those good to be out days with a very clear sky's and a hard frost as me and Dave searched the grandborough valley just before dawn. Rewarded with two Long-eared Owls hunting a set-aside field with fly over views of Barn Owls as a bonus. The Long-eareds hunted well but soon disappeared with daylight improving. A scarce bird in Warwickshire and a potential breeder so not disclosing exact location. As we left a Stonechat appeared plus a few Redwing, Fieldfare and two Buzzards.

Draycote Water was very calm and sunny by 8 o'clock and as we walked farnborough bank with Kevin Grewcock towards toft there were at least 386 Greater Black-backed Gulls still loafing around - many of them immatures and confirms the increase in numbers this winter with possibly as many as 800 or more roosting here. Male Smew was off farnborough bank and the Lesser Scaup looked great close inshore in good light. No sign of Long-tailed Duck. Searching alders in toft shallows we had over 60 Siskin in a loose flock. The return trip produced first winter Yellow-legged Gull, two Grey Wagtails, a very smart looking Sparrowhawk and off farnborough spit a sweep of reservoir produced 328 Great-crested Grebes - a significant rise in numbers from last week.

Our final destination was Brandon Marsh where we had 2 Coal Tit, 4 Treecreeper's, 10 Siskin, 20+ Long-tailed Tits, male and three female Goldeneye and a brief view of a Cetties Warbler


Saturday, 5 January 2008

January 5th 2008

Enjoyed last nights programme on the Snow Leopard and JJ gave me some sites to help with the identification of the Northern Fulmar. Seems likely it was of a intermediate race.

This morning took the opportunity of good weather to visit the grounds of Rugby Radio Station an old hunting ground of mine when I first took up birding which I had not done seriously for some years. Most of the mast's have now gone and a decision is to be made to turn it to a massive housing development. Presently its typical sterile arable land but managed to find a lone Curlew, a few Snipe, plenty of Wood Pigeon which took the interest of a Peregrine, 100+ Fieldfare and a single Marsh Tit.


Friday, 4 January 2008

January 4th 2008

End of week catch up with Dave at Draycote this afternoon but the weather closed in so we missed the chance to see Long-tailed Duck seen earlier off lin croft point by JJ and Bob Hazell. Smew had moved to draycote bank so we made do with a few Goosander then called it quits as the gloom turned to rain. Lesser Scaup still present in toft bay.


Thursday, 3 January 2008

January 3rd 2008

Out before the milkman, coalman and candle stick maker checking on off road owl sites in the grandborough valley. Absolutely freezing, colder than cold - enough to loose your bits in a very strong north easterly wind.

Two Barn Owls and a Little Owl in an old barn just outside of village.

Grandborough Fields farm
Barn Owl hunting, Stonechat immature feeding at the side of road and two Ravens overhead (struggled to see Barn Owl in December and now have 5 in three days)

Draycote Water
Intended to work the place to boost my year list up and get some database counts but never expected the triple whammy that was dealt me. Having seen the Lesser Scaup first winter male in toft, the male Smew. a few Redpoll & Siskin in toft shallows I passed the sewage farm to count the Canada Geese and found two White-fronted Geese and a Jack Snipe amongst them. One was extensively marked with heavy barring on chest so possible greenland race but will need to look that up. Continuing to valve tower I had Raven, first winter Yellow-legged Gull and Shelduck female. After a coffee break received a call from JJ regarding a Long-tailed Duck in toft so doubled back with Bob Duckhouse and blow me down there it was off farnborough spit tho distant. It was very active feeding every few minutes and we got so cold that we did not hang around to age it. From the views obtained it might be a first winter male. This is my 12th record here and the last was a first winter male which over wintered in 2002/3.
After a warming up in cafe I stayed for the roost and while finding 3 adult and 2 first winters Yellow-legged Gulls and one adult Caspian Gull I noticed a bird amongst the many Black-headed Gulls and it was a Fulmar showing a greyish cast on face lighter than crown becoming more washed out on chest and flanks. Possiblie has a bit of 'northern' in its genes. Not sure if it had arrived earlier and had been overlooked (went past Long-tailed twice with out seeing it)or came in to roost but certainly a strange record. My last records of Fulmar was also in January and September of 2004 and is my 6th record. Also seen were Snipe, Kingfisher, Great-spotted & Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest and many of the more commoner species. Magical end to a stunning day with three species seen that I did not record here in 2007.


January 2nd 2008

A day of domestic duties - i hate ironing!. Biked in to town along Ashlawn Road and Barby Road into a bitterly easterly wind. A few Fieldfare & Redwing near the Water Tower and a Great-spotted Woodpecker opposite was the only highlight apart from a Coal Tit in Sainsbury's car park on the way back. Back home doing me moth records and no sign of the Bramling amongst 14 Chaffinches & 12 Greenfinch but a Buzzard soaring high and a pair of Bullfinches on feeders kept my attention. Weather getting colder so pond tomorrow - will need me long johns.


Tuesday, 1 January 2008

January 1st 2008

Out with Dave early and rather surprised to be surrounded by thick fog which took some time to clear but the morning was broken up by having breakfast at Draycote with the cream of Warwickshires birders tho it had nearly gone by mid-afternoon.

At last we had success with the Barn Owl and managed to find two and had the bonus of two Woodcock flying over.

Draycote Water
On to pond where already by 8 o clock a few hardy souls were making there way to toft bay. Lesser Scaup first winter male just about observable in the gloom and the male Smew off farnborough bank in similar circumstances, also at least 20 male & 13 female Goosander in a loose flock also off farnborough bank. Several Siskin over then it was off to cafe for breakfast. By the time we had finished the fog had only lifted slightly and Joe Public were now coming out in force so we left pretty sharpish.

Lawford Heath
Tree Sparrow amongst a flock of 100+ Chaffinch and still many Fieldfare and at least three Buzzards between here and Bretford.

Bit too noisy for me with barge folk, dog walkers and a few who had to much pudding over the festive period but we managed Marsh Tit 2, Coal Tit 3 and Nuthatch at the feeder station.

Writing blog and my Bramling female is busy feeding so not a bad start to the year. Also had the bonus of trapping a Mottled Beauty last night and one was also on the wall of cafe at pond. Both were excellent specimens.