Friday, 29 February 2008

February 29th 2008

Not sure my plan of action today. Checked garden moth trap and pleased to find Pale-brindled Beauty, March Moth, Light Brown Apple Moth, Common Quaker and Dotted Border and a Raven flew over calling loudly. Adult male and two female Brambling ignored me while they were busy enjoying breakfast.
Decided to risk it and do the roost at Draycote. Wind had picked up by late afternoon and was getting stronger with rain so not very pleasant but managed to find first winter biscuit coloured Glaucous Gull. Interestingly Greater Blacked-backed Gull numbers are going down rapidly and it wont be long before the roost diminishes although there should be still something to see over the next few weeks - he said hopefully.


Thursday, 28 February 2008

February 28th 2008

Out early checking on Long-eared Owls in grandborough valley before the weather deteriorates tomorrow, mild and calm. Both were seen hunting before they did there usual disappearing act before dawn. Two Barn Owls in same area and another more distantly on the other side of road. Other birds of note included Red-legged Partridge 4, Stonechat male and female, Yellowhammmer 4, Raven 2, Buzzard 3 and Skylarks. Hares 8 and one very old looking male Fox also seen. Entrance to Napton Reservoir had Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and Lesser Redpoll. On the reservoir there were Teal 2, Wigeon female, Goosander female, Pochard 4 and Meadow Pipit while a Mutjac was skulking in hedgerow.
Returning home called in at pond briefly to see the Lesser Scaup first winter male showing well in toft bay along with Chiffchaff by hide, Kingfisher and another Fox.
Pale Brindled Beauty, Dotted Border 2, Grey Shoulder Knot in last nights trap.


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

February 27th 2008

Morning spent watching garden feeders and mending a picture knocked off the wall by last night’s earthquake in Lincolnshire. Adult male and female Brambling, Magpie 3, Jackdaw 2, Wood pigeon 7, Collared Dove, House Sparrow 2 and my first Reed Bunting of the year. Visited Draycote in the afternoon via the half way lane entrance and had 20+ Redwing and a Brambling going over and the Lesser Scaup male was under the willows in grays barn, toft bay with Tufted Duck and Pochard 40+ along with Ringed Plover and Chiffchaff. Farborough bank had 25+ Meadow Pipits. Was joined by Tim Marlow and two guys from Leicestershire to do the roost and though the wind died down they were distance but we still managed two first winter Glaucous Gulls and a very white first winter Iceland Gull. This is a new bird and that makes at least 4 Iceland’s we have had this winter including the Kumleins Gull and along with at least 5 Glaucous Gulls its becoming one of our best years for white winged gulls. Black-headed Gulls seemed to favor the east side of reservoir and were too distant to look for Meds. Common Quaker in moth trap last night.


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

February 26th 2008

Heavy rain and high winds this morning, Managed as far as Dunchurch then turned back. Second attempt in warm sunshine and a strong breeze more productive with a Little Egret seen flying along the Millholme Brook between The Elms and Barn Farms heading towards Grandborough. Raven 2, Buzzard 2, Stonechat 2, and Yellowhammer 8 also in the area along with a few Fieldfares. Tried searching for the Stonechat found by Mark Phillips on Hill Rd yesterday, no luck but nice to know there are more in the valley. Perched Buzzard and Great-spotted Woodpecker seen.
Thurlaston Bridge, Kites Hardwick had roosting Little Owl in the river bank ivy covered trees, roving party of 20+ Long-tailed Tits, Treecreeper and a Red-legged Partridge.
Draycote late afternoon was very blustery looking more like the seaside than inland water and the windsurfers were enjoying it. Lesser Scaup still present in toft bay and still attracting the odd admirer while a Shelduck male was in biggen bay on shore line. Other sightings included Gadwall 12, Ruddy Duck, Goosander 18, Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Jay, Lesser Redpoll 2, Skylark 4 and 5 Shoveler. The roost was hard work in the strong winds and did not help with the identification of possible first winter American Herring Gull - seemed to have most of the characteristics but wave motion and distance made it hard to rule out hybrid though I did not think it showed any odd parentage. First winter and second winter Glaucous Gulls and two adult summer Med Gulls seen.


February 25th 2008

Lawford Heath had roosting Little Owl, Yellowhammer 7, Tree Sparrow 2, Fieldfare 1000, Corn Bunting, Raven 2 and 30 Golden Plover. Female and male Brambling in garden along with Siskin 2, Jackdaw 2, Magpie 2, Collard Dove 4, House Sparrow 2 and a fly over Buzzard. Garden Blackbirds down to six - Sparrowhawk pounced on a male then started plucking it on lawn before flying off with it.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

February 24th 2008

Went out of county this morning with Dave to a site in Oxfordshire in a very scenic valley with the focus on two large set aside fields. In two hours from first light we managed to find Barn Owl, Buzzard 10, Short-eared Owl 5 of which two were sitting on the roadside hedge on arrival, female Merlin hunting the smaller birds, Stonechats 2, Raven 2 and a stunning ringtail Hen Harrier which quartered the set-aside before drifting off south. Score’s of Red-legged Partridge, 2 Muntjac Deer and earlier on the way down while still in Warwickshire we had Barn Owl hunting the roadside verge on the Fosse Way near the Southam / Leamington Spa roundabout.
Moved back in to Warwickshire and on to Cross Hands Quarry mainly to check out the site for a moth trapping session later in the year and a quick look at the Rollwright Stones – a stone circle from the Neolithic & Bronze age.
Little seen at the last two stops so we moved on to Brandon Marsh where we missed the Bittern but had Shelduck 2, Snipe 6, Kingfisher, Cetties Warbler, Goldeneye female and Ringed Plover. On the way back to Dave’s for dinner we did a quick stop on Lawford Heath but only hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing seen.
Did the roost at Draycote with John Judge but the weather closed in so we struggled in the downpour but it cleared after an hour leaving ideal light conditions. Managed 7 Med Gulls which is this winter’s highest count so far (4 adult summer, 1 partial summer, and 2 second winters. One first winter Glaucous Gull off inlet soon disappeared but returned later along with the second winter Glaucous Gull. Third winter Yellow-legged Gull and a possible adult Caspian Gull also seen.
Oak Beauty in trap last night.


Saturday, 23 February 2008

February 23rd 2008

Out early to valley with a full moon and clear skies but mist and light drizzle at first light. Long-eared Owl must have heard me muttering after showing briefly again before dawn as it made a re-appearance in very good light perched high on a hedge for a few minutes. My best views so far. Raven 5, Buzzard, Great-spotted & Green Woodpecker, Brambling flying over south calling and the Stonechat male on roadside hedge. Coming back from Focus Optics this afternoon with Dave we had 40+ Golden Plover flying over Lawford Heath village. Brambling female and two Bullfinch on feeders. Common Pipistrelle hunting over garden at dusk. Hebrew Character in trap.


February 22nd 2008

Brambling female and immature male briefly in garden - this mild weather is bringing out the Gardener's so more disturbance than usual.
Coffee and cake at pond with Dave then a walk to toft bay. Very little seen with Meadow Pipits 12 on farborough bank and a very rufus Buzzard sitting on fence of sewage farm.
Pale Brindled Beauty in moth tap.


Thursday, 21 February 2008

February 21st 2008

Visit to draycote this afternoon produced Lesser Scaup under the willows in gray's barn with the Pochard / Tufted Duck flock. Quick chat with Francoise then called in to cafe for a brew; Sparrowhawk hunting for Pied Wagtails on farborough bank then on to rainbow corner where an adult Bewick's Swan was resting (flew off 6pm). The gull roost was building early with high numbers of Black-headed and Common Gulls by 4pm which included 4 Med Gulls (first winter, second winter, adult in full summer plumage and adult in partial summer plumage) and 3 adult and one first winter Yellow-legged Gull. Larger gulls did not come in till later with two biscuit coloured first winter Glaucous Gulls at 5:30pm and Iceland Gull first winter soon afterwards. Other species seen included Lesser Redpoll 3, Siskin 6, Goosander 31, Gadwall 14, Goldeneye 19, Shoveler 2, Snipe 2, Buzzard, Raven, Long-tailed Tit 8 Graylag Goose 2 and 2 Red-legged Partridge. Pipistrelle and Noctule Bat flying around toft. Still three Brambling in garden this morning.


February 20th 2008

Three Brambling still coming to garden feeders. Late visit to Draycote to do roost in better conditions than the previous day. Pale first winter Glaucous Gull near OL bouy and adult winter Med Gull off sailing club. Lesser Scaup first winter male still in toft bay and Woodcock over country park again.


Tuesday, 19 February 2008

February 19th 2008

The six mile bike in freezing fog with poor visibility to Brandon Marsh tested my will power not to turn back so the Barn Owl near the sheep field and flight views of the Bittern a rare and elusive winter visitor in this area over newlands paid dividends to my stubbornness. Also Kingfisher, Water Rail 3, Cetties Warblers 2, Siskin 4, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Jay 4, Treecreeper 2, Marsh Tit, Shelduck 2 seen and one Oystercatcher on golf course.
The back lanes from Wolston to Lawford Heath produced a Corn Bunting, a small party of Yellowhammers, roosting Little Owl, Buzzard and Raven. Lawford Heath itself had plenty of Fieldfare, Buzzard 2, Raven 2, Golden Plover 20, and Corn Bunting but no sign of yesterdays reported Grey Plover. The new pool which is back of the fishing pool Coal Pit Lane had Teal Shoveler and Kingfisher. Rookery Farm had 2 Tree Sparrow amongst the Chaffinches and Starlings feeding on the silage and the Collard Dove flock had increased to 75.
Another Raven flew over the A45/M45 junction and Tree Sparrow in Halfway Lane Dunchurch with a few House Sparrows.
Arrived at Draycote Water just as the sun was breaking through which unfortunately did not succeed in burning off the mist, searched toft shallows for any redpoll or siskin but no luck except for flushing a Snipe and Kingfisher. Lesser Scaup male was in toft bay and at least 16 Goosanders. The roost was hard work trying to peer through the muck in a cold easterly wind with only one first winter Med Gull seen off hensborough bank before I moved to the wind surfing area and had two more Med Gulls both in full summer plumage. Some of the larger gulls were in close but no sign of any glauc's. Little Owl flew over hide as I was leaving and Golden Plover heard calling. By the time I got home I had been out in freezing conditions for 13hrs, biked 20 miles, tired, hungry and a cold bum.


Monday, 18 February 2008

February 18th 2008

A Nuthatch flew across the road just past Sawbridge, a most unusual record for this part of the valley. Searching area produced 2 Snipe 7 Siskin, 8 Yellowhammers, Treecreeper, 4 Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Brambling calling as it moved south, 60 Stock Dove and 4 Red-legged Partridge, plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare. Cycling past Woodbine Farm, Grandborough Fields accidentally flushed a Peregrine from its roadside post - just feet away, a stunning bird also Buzzard and Raven on the ground in the same field and two of Draycote's female Goosanders flew down valley heading east. Called in at Draycote to warm up, Lesser Scaup was still in toft bay, 250 Wigeon, 40 Pochard, Lesser Redpoll, Chiffchaff by hide and 2 Green Woodpeckers.
I had stocked the garden up well for this cold spell so an hours watching after dinner saw Brambling 3, Siskin 2, Coal Tit, Bullfinch 3, Chaffinch 12, Greenfinch 5, Blackbird 6, Woodpigeon 2, and Collared Dove.

Lesser Scaup by Steve Seal taken last Saturday


Sunday, 17 February 2008

February 17th 2008

Minus -9c in valley and it felt like it. No sign of any Barn Owls, brief views of Long-eareds, 4 Raven, 2 Tawny Owls calling, Great-spotted woodpecker drumming and a male Stonechat. Napton Reservoir was partially frozen with 4 Great-crested Grebe, female Goosander, and 13 Pochard, Snipe, Woodcock over and a number of winter thrushes.
Heading for breakfast at Long Itchington we saw 2 Raven flying over Marton and by the time we reached Brandon Marsh temperature up to -6c. A Cetties Warbler showed in front of East Marsh hide feeding at the base of reed bed and Water Rail showed in same area. Plenty of Teal, Shoveler, 2 Shelduck, 4 Snipe, and Carlton Hide had Water Rail out in open. Treecreeper 5 and Marsh Tit also seen.
Great views of Little Owl roosting on Lawford Heath, Buzzard and many Fieldfares.


Saturday, 16 February 2008

February 16th 2008

Very cold -4, clear skies with a heavy frost this morning. Over 5000 gulls were heading north east over garden from there roost at Draycote as I scraped the ice off me saddle. Two Ravens flew over the allotments along Thurlaston Rd, Dunchurch as I cycled to pond. The Lesser Scaup was with 4 Tufted Duck in toft bay and three Shelduck landed in toft bay going to sleep only to leave an hour later. Met up with Dave Hutton and Steve Seal after scanning the reservoir looking for Great-northern Diver but had no luck so walked back with them to the Lesser Scaup and this time it was close inshore just off the first car park in toft bay. Duck numbers down though when the sailing started at least 40 Pochard, 80 Cormorant and 200 Great-crested Grebe still present as they moved from centre of reservoir in to toft bay. Not much else seen apart from a 8 Gadwall, Kingfisher and two more Raven over cafe. As I was leaving 18 female and 10 male Goosander were together off toft bank.
Back home the feeders had 3 female Siskin and female Brambling while 2 Long-tailed Tits flew over. John Judge and Dave Hall picked me up the for roost and along with Steve Valentine we managed 3 Glaucous Gulls (typical first winter biscuit coloured, first winter very pale and a second winter) and 3 Med Gulls (second winter and two adults in summer plumage). If your going to draycote tomorrow - then DON'T - they have a big road race on so if you manage to find somewhere to park you may get run over by Paula Radcliff look a likes – bless. Me - I'm staying away.


Friday, 15 February 2008

February 15th 2008

My first Lesser Redpoll for the garden this century when it joined four Siskin and three Brambling's on the feeders.
Dave had to cancel our Friday coffee and cake session at the pond so decided to look for owls late afternoon/evening in the valley. Napton reservoir had a very showy Cetties Warbler, Kingfisher, Lesser Redpoll 2, Water Rail and male Shoveler amongst the Mallard and Coot. First Barn Owl of the evening was out hunting by 4:15pm over the paddocks along the entrance road to reservoir so I then moved to Calcutt where two more Barn Owls showed at 5pm along with a couple of Ravens and a Jay. Hoping to get there in time I moved on to the Long-eared site and saw a Peregrine over Broadwell and managed to be in time for two more Barn owls just as light went so then waited in the cold for a any Leo’s. Heard Raven, Red-legged Partridge going over and eventually had what looked like the Long-eared Owl flying over road in front of me at 7pm. Gave it longer in case it returned but as temperature dropped I gave up for a long cold traffic busting bike ride home.


Thursday, 14 February 2008

February 14th 2008

Woke up feeling on top of the world - pity the weather did not reflect that, cold, dull and overcast as I cycled to the valley. Barn owls at Sawbridge took umbrage with the Little Owls they are sharing barn with, getting very agitated when the Little Owls took up positions on the roof - normal place the Barn Owls prefer. Further on I was to late for any Long-eared Owls though one Barn Owl was still out hunting at 8am. Two pairs of Stonechat, 3 Red-legged and one Grey Partridge and 4 Raven's over. Cycling back home I managed Tree Sparrow, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 23 Golden Plover near Willoughby cricket pitch, 32 Long-tailed Tits crossing over the A45, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and another Little Owl perched in old tree near the prison.
Garden feeders had 4 Brambling (two female, one adult winter and one immature male), 4 Siskin, 3 Bullfinch, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Doves and 2 Coal Tit.
Back out again for roost at Draycote. Lesser Scaup still in toft bay and starting to look smart as it enters adult plumage. Great-northern Diver out in centre, Shoveler, Ruddy Duck female, Pintail female in biggen bay, two Great-spotted and one Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Treecreeper, 2 Jay and 10 Bullfinch. The roost was hard work with poor light, cold and light wind and managed to find first winter Glaucous Gull, first winter Med Gull, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and 2nd winter Caspian Gull.


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

February 13th 2008

No bird news. Day spent getting all the ticks in the boxes, cancer still in remission so thats the good news - the bad news is that I have more time to find something good. Moth trap had three Pale Brindled Beauty's last night on the side of trap and a Dotted Border was found roosting in a watering can.

Pale Brindled Beauty


Tuesday, 12 February 2008

February 12th 2008

Another clear cold night so surprised to find Chestnut and Early Moth in trap. Female Brambling joined by a different male than the one I had at the weekend and another female came in later, blimey - haven't seen one for ages and now I have three. Siskin female, Bullfinch 3, Blackcap male and a Raven over calling.
Got to Draycote for roost late so did it off biggen bay and managed to find two first winter Med Gulls and distant views of first winter Kumlein's Gull and first winter Glaucous Gull. Both of these came in to roost very late. Lesser Scaup still in toft bay, Great-northern Diver swam past me close in and three Lesser Redpoll in biggen bay.

No post tomorrow.


Monday, 11 February 2008

February 11th 2008

Out with John early. Long-eared Owl gave limited views as it hunted and seen briefly perched on top of distant hedge, needs to take some lessons from the Barn Owl which again perormed well. Green Woodpecker, Red-legged Partridge 2 and distant Tawny owls calling with 3 Raven heading west just after dawn. Five Hares in one field.
Napton Reservoir was our next stop where we saw 8 Pochard, Kingfisher perched and a calling Cetties Warbler while a look at Lawford Heath produced a single Corn Bunting.
Draycote Water was still quiet mid morning but the crowds soon arrived - forgot the kids were off for half term but we managed 23 Meadow Pipits on farborough bank, Buzzard hovering over sewage farm, Lesser Scaup in toft bay opposite the hide, twenty plus Goosander, 223 Great-crested Grebe, 2 Shoveler, 43 Pochard and the Great-northen Diver showed a number of times between valve tower and rainbow.
My home feeders gave me my first garden Siskin of the year.


Sunday, 10 February 2008

February 10th 2008

Venus and Mercury were low in the eastern sky as we drove into a frosty -3 valley. Totally unexpected were the Long-eareds perched in roadside bush but soon disappeared replaced by a lone Barn Owl hunting well. Also in area were Raven 5 flying overhead high, Buzzard 3, Great-spotted Woodpecker drumming, Sparrowhawk, Stonechat male and a few Yellowhammers and Skylarks. Many Hares seen and one Fox.
At Brandon Marsh we had Shelduck, Snipe, Marsh Tit, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Jay 3, Treecreeper 3, and a flowering bush by the visitors centre held the attention of Small Tortishell and a Bumblebee species.
Feeding station at Cathiron had Marsh Tit 3, Willow Tit, Coal Tit 2, and Nuthatch 2 and there were still a few winter thrushes in the adjacent fields. Back at Dave's his moth trap held a Common Quaker.


Saturday, 9 February 2008

February 9th 2008

Very long day out in the field. Out at five down the valley managing 5 Barn Owls at two locations, 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Little Owls and earlier not far from home I had a Tawny Owl go over just outside Dunchurch. Good weather kept me in valley all morning picking up Red-legged Partridge 8, Raven 2, Tree Sparrow 16, Buzzard 3, Sparrowhawk, Snipe 2, Long-tailed Tit 12 and Yellowhammer 5. Pint and pie then on to pond, as predicted every buggy from mothercare was out - place was heaving so never bothered with Lesser Scaup and met up with Kevin for a quick coffee then on to hensborough bank for roost. Many of the larger gulls were coming in early probably because of the local tips being closed but they were distant so hard work. In all there were 19 of us doing roost including Hall brothers, John, Gareth, Tom and a few I don't know. Never seen so many gull watchers on site and eventually the Kumlein's located around 4pm and Glaucous Gull first winter later on. Only another gull of note was a Yellow-legged Gull adult and there were a couple of candidates for first winter Caspian but light going. Four Pipistrelle between hensborough and toft bank. Stayed out late to watch a glorious sunset then study the constellations finding Cancer, Leo and Hyydra among the more common ones. Mars and Saturn also seen. Home and received messages that a female Peregrine was on the deck near Grandborough and a Barn Owl hunting at 4pm at a location I don’t often visit in valley.


Friday, 8 February 2008

February 8th 2008

Garden very active this morning with Brambling female joined by a male in nearly full summer plumage, two female and one male Bullfinch with one of the local Peregrines hunting high overhead. After the weekly shop took advantage of the weather and cycled to Hillmorton managing to find Nuthatch, 2 Siskin, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove and Sparrowhawk.
Its Friday so coffee and cake with Dave at pond this afternoon but saw very little on our walk to rainbow corner and no one has bothered to write in log book - may be its time it was ditched. Dave was unable to stay for roost so lucky enough to see Tim and Mike Doughty-Lee who offered me a lift home. Paid off as the Kumlien's Gull found at 1623pm, first winter Glaucous Gull at 1640pm (no sign of the other first winter), a second winter Glaucous Gull 1705pm and adult and second winter Yellow-legged Gull also noted. Ringed Plover flew over south. Two Hares in fields behind hensborough bank and a Pipistrelle Bat hunting at at dusk. Julian who had joined us had seen the Lesser Scaup but still no sign of the Great-northen Diver.
If your thinking of doing roost tomorrow then consider getting there either early or possiblie after 3pm. Good weather is predicted and that will certainly bring out the joggers, cyclists, buggy pushers and all, so parking could be difficult.


Thursday, 7 February 2008

February 7th 2008

Out this afternoon with Tim checking fields around Lawford Heath tip for any large gulls. Nothing of note and plenty of Fieldfare then we joined up with John for roost at Draycote and had 3 adult and a first summer Yellow-legged and first winter Caspian Gull while waiting for the bulk of roost to arrive. Light became very poor and had difficulty with those further out but found two adult winter Med Gulls before John split to view from draycote bank. By five to five I was ready to pack up when John rang to say first winter Glaucous had just flown in and while searching for it I spotted the first winter Kumlien's Gull bathing and John had another first winter Glaucous Gull arrive so we soon had all three in roughly the same area. Kingfisher perched feet away off outlet and Raven over. Back in the country park me and Tim had a Woodcock go over our heads. Woodcock was only Tim's second record and is one of those hard to get species for many a Draycote listers.

Not sure if I am doing roost Friday night but the weather looks good for Saturday with a light southerly wind and little cloud cover so be there if you can.


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

February 6th 2008

Another night of rain, clearing by early morning. Still breezy as I cycled down the A45 with Tawny Owl calling near the prison and the same or another one calling in Willoughby village. The Long-eared Owls were hunting in the gloom quartering field and interacting with each other before doing there usual trick of disappearing before daylight. Two Barn Owls were more obliging staying out till well after daybreak when the pair of Stonechats started foraging nearby. Returning home came across a good group of finches with 20+ Tree Sparrows. The A45 was extremely busy but managed to see Buzzard and 10 Cormorants heading east in to Northamptonshire.
Tim Marlow rang just before dinner offering a trip into valley so planned to be picked up at one thirty but due to some work issues arrived at two so we decided to do roost instead and notified John Judge to meet us in café.
After meeting up with John we walked to rainbow corner where with in thirty seconds of setting up John found a second winter Med Gull just off the inlet (1535pm) and as I panned to where John was looking the first thing I saw was an Iceland Gull which I called out only to realize seconds later it was a Kumlien’s Gull – so I shouted even louder. Frantic discussions took place and urgent phone calls made for plumage details and hybrid pitfalls while Tim moved round towards the inlet to get closer views and we then joined him taking mental notes over the next twenty minutes before it flew off towards toft then turned to land in biggen bay. Lots of back slapping as this was a Warwickshire tick for all of us even though at the moment it’s only a sub-species of Iceland Gull. All those nights spent watching roost this winter finally paid off – no pain, no gain. By 1555pm it flew back to inlet where more good views were obtained and joined by a first winter Glaucous Gull. By this time the wind had dropped and the light perfect so we all systematically panned checking as many gulls as we could and managed to find another first winter Glaucous Gull, two second winter and one first winter Caspian Gull and two first winter and one adult Yellow-legged Gull. Great-northern Diver was seen briefly when the Kumlien’s Gull was in flight, Kingfisher flew in to rainbow corner, two Raven landed behind us before flying towards draycote hill near Birdingbury and at least 16 Goosander noted. Stayed till we lost the light for viewing gulls and as I was packing up and folding the tripod away looking down towards the water a Snow Bunting possibly a female flew passed us towards rainbow corner and though I shouted I couldn’t get Tim or John on to bird and a quick search failed to relocate it. This is my 18th record of Snow Bunting involving 23 birds at Draycote and my first in February.


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

February 5th 2008

Struggled to meeting at pond in very mild strong south westerly winds this afternoon. Six Mistle Thrushes and one Willow Tit were between M45 bridge and cycle route entrance while the Lesser Scaup was being tossed about by the waves just east of grays barn and Chiffchaff by hide. Pochard 40, Teal 40, Gadwall 10 and Cormorants 84 in same area and 12 Meadow Pipits on farborough bank.
Decided to stay for roost and turned out to be one of those rare roosts when a combination of wind speed, wind direction and heavy windsurfing activity forced all the gulls close in between rainbow corner and hensborough bank giving some of the best views of the year. Med Gulls 5 (2 first winter, 2 second winter and one adult winter), Caspian Gull 3rd winter, two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and first winter Glaucous Gull only 200 yards off shore (thats close in draycote terms).
The elusive Great-northern Diver was seen in flight circling reservoir, Shelduck off inlet, Curlew looking for somewhere to land and 2 Ravens over rainbow. Weather turned stormy so home in a downpour.


Monday, 4 February 2008

Rough as a badgers armpit when I woke, must be bubonic plague or black death but wont be sure till the autopsy so a day watching feeders or curled in front of fire feeling wow is thee. Plenty of activity in garden with 8 Chaffinch, 14 Greenfinch, 3 Bullfinch and two Great Tit hogging feeders while the five regular Blackbirds seem intent on beating anything up that lands under them. Willow tit, Coal Tit and male Blackcap all made brief apperances and a lone Cormorant flew west.

Pete Hall sent me this superb shot of Lassie the Lesser Scaup taken yesterday at Draycote Water, certainly a better looker than when I found it over two months ago.

Recieved info that the Great-northern Diver has not been seen since friday so looks as if pond will be going into one of its lean spell till bad weather or early migration takes off.


February 3rd 2008

Apologises for late posting, not feeling so good when I got in from todays outing at dinner time and slept till 2200hrs just in time for superbowl - chess with testicles.

Calcutt Barn Owls were very active today with one out hunting till 7.31 while earlier we had one fly close by us carrying prey which it soon devoured while perched in hedge giving great views.
Met the local owl 'police' - a local farmer who monitors the area taking number plates and enquiring on what we were doing - excellent - nice to know they are getting some protection.
Napton Reservoir was cold and windy with Pochard 3, Kingfisher, Fieldfare, and distant Water Rail scampering along far bank with another heard calling otherwise very quiet with very low duck numbers. In to valley bumping in to Hall brothers and Steve Valentine so chance for a bit of piss taking and chat about the good old days. Stonechat pair, Raven over barking, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove, Buzzard, Fox and a lucky sighting of a Corn Bunting flying over as we left. Breakfast at Long Itchington (it never settled) with Steve Valentine. Brandon was poor only Kingfisher, Snipe and another Fox. Met up with Terry & Mo so chance to discuss our spring trip to Spain and moth trapping. Lawford Heath was very windy around the barns with thrush numbers starting to dwindle.


Saturday, 2 February 2008

February 2nd 2008

Out early to a farm in the north of the vally which has a good reputation for being nature friendly. Successful visit with Barn Owl quartering set-side field, Tawny Owl pair roosting, many woodland birds including a Nuthatch, Willow Tit, Treecreeper, Great-spotted Woodpecker and one of my most rewarding views of Woodcock sitting motionless in the leaflitter just yards away. Met up with the farmer and we chatted while watching a Corn Bunting on the edge of his sunflower strip before a hearty breakfast. Also noted were Tree Sparrow and a healthy number of Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and both species of partridge.
Lesser Scaup was back in gray's barn under the willows when I arrived at the pond mid-afternoon with adult winter Med Gull in the pre-roost gathering of Common and Black-headed Gulls in toft bay. Golden Plover 78 were in the field behind farborough bank. The roost off rainbow had adult winter Kittiwake which moved out to centre then joined by Pete, Dave & Jon Hall but by this time the gulls were head on so we moved to inlet where they showed really well. Had at least three adult yellow-legged Gulls but no sign of any white winged gulls. Twenty Goosander flew in to join the 18 already counted and male Shoveler was off the inlet.


Friday, 1 February 2008

February 1st 2008

Early morning walk to Sainsbury's in bright sunshine with a chilly wind produced Goldcrest, Coal tit, 4 Siskin calling as they went over Montague Road and a large female Sparrowhawk beating up the local Starlings.
On my return it was domestic bliss ironing and keeping an eye on the feeders. House Sparrow and Carrion Crow made it on to the garden year list otherwise apart from four Collared Dove pretty quiet.
Coffee and Cake with Dave at pond then a walk in strong winds to rainbow where we managed views of the Great-northern Diver along draycote bank and an early arriving adult Yellow-legged Gull. Arranged to meet John Judge to do roost but just as things were looking up the wind increased and the sleet/snow moved in and we experienced a complete white out. Did not look as if it was going to stop so we struggled back to JJs car seeing only a calling Green Woodpecker.
Of interest the weather station at Church Lawford 5 miles north west of draycote recorded average wind speeds of 28mph this afternoon with a gust of 52mph. Tomorrow the wind should decrease and though very cold with wind chill it should be good for the roost. So be there.

Great-northern Diver by Bob Hazell