Wednesday, 30 April 2008

April 30th 2008

Going stir crazy with the weather so eventually went out in the rain this evening to Draycote Water deciding not to take the scope - a big no no as there were many 'commic' terns at 19:50hrs along with Black Tern 8.
Common Sandpiper 2 and Ringed Plover in biggen bay, plenty of Swifts and Swallows, Gadwall 2 and Teal female in toft bay. Other birds seen included Mistle Thrush 2, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and many warblers calling when the rain stopped.


Tuesday, 29 April 2008

April 29th 2008

The makings of a cracking morning were spoilt by mist so took the time to re-pack my suitcase for Sunday's big getaway. Once Swifts appeared over my garden it was time to do Draycote where there were plenty of them over Draycote bank and even more when a Hobby arrived, approximately 1000+ with 500 Swallow and House Martins 200 well spread out across the reservoir. Out in the centre there was a small passage of Artic Tern 6, Common Tern 8 and later in the afternoon Black Tern 2 as the rain showers arrived which also brought in female Ruff and Dunlin to gray's barn landing amongst the fishermen. Also seen were Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler 3, Garden Warbler 5, Common Gull 40+ immatures, Lesser black-backed Gull 20, Gadwall 2, Common Sandpiper, Yellow wagtail, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard 10. Mink was seen in sewage farm. Showers turned to heavy rain so called it quits.


Sunday, 27 April 2008

April 27th 2008

Dragged me and Dave down to pond with both of us suffering from lack of sleep but soon woke up with plenty about and plenty of others missed. A walk to toft bay produced one adult and two first summer Little Gulls, Common Tern 4, Artic Tern, while farnborough bank surprisingly had Common Sandpiper 4, Dunlin 4, and Whimbrel but missed the Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Sanderling. One Swift very high up while warblers were much in evidence having Reed Warbler 4, Sedge Warbler 3, Whitethroat 4 and Garden Warbler 3.
We had arrived in grandborough valley when news came that we had missed Wood Warbler and Little Tern. You win some, and you lose some but we decided on a mega breakfast insted of going back - sound descision as they were not seen again. Only birds of note in valley were Buzzard 4 and Whitethroat.
All the time we had breakfast there was a moth on the cafe wall which I had dismissed as Early Tooth Stripe but on closer inspection it was a Streamer so the moral of the this episode is "he who makes a pig of him self will go blind".
Moved on to Napton on the hill looking for any migrating raptors but had no kuck apart from the local Buzzards and a calling Cuckoo.
Next stop was Brandon Marsh where there was no sign of Garganey but we had stunning views of Lesser Whitethroat, many Garden Warblers and Cetties Warbler. Also present were Common Tern, Shelduck, Ringed Plover and Redshank.
On the way home we had Corn Bunting and Little Owl.
Due to the warm weather we had many butterfly's including Holly Blue, Peacock 8, Small Tortishell, Brimstone 4, Large White 4, Orange-tip 2 and Speckled Wood.
Can't resit repeating this photo by Steve Seal even though it appears on other sites

Grasshopper Warbler, Brandon Marsh


Saturday, 26 April 2008

April 26th 2008

A chilly valley before dawn but the predicted warm air came in by mid-morning making a very pleasant day with plenty of summer visitors and some migrant surprises. Concentrating on the area between Dunchurch and Grandborough I was pretty chuffed in hearing a Grasshopper Warbler which is a scarce bird in the valley and after a little patience I managed to track down to the centre of a bramble bush and further on near a fishing pool a male Whinchat was feeding on the edge of a field no doubt fueling up before pushing north. Other birds in area included Sedge Warbler 2, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer 8, Sparrowhawk 2, Buzzard 5, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Red-legged Partridge 2 and a Cuckoo.
Met up with Dave mid-morning back home to load tonight’s mothing gear having Swift, Sparrowhawk and Sand Martin going over then it was down to Draycote Water which by dinner time was crawling with walkers, runners, and buggy pushers so concentrated on the water where Black Tern 3, Common Tern, and Artic Tern 4 were dodging the sailing fraternity and in toft bay a Black-tailed Godwit tried to land near gray’s barn where a Sedge Warbler was calling. Also seen were Common Sandpiper, Swifts 50, Yellow Wagtail 4, Whitethroat, Goldcrest 4, Long-tailed Tit 4, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk 4, Buzzard 6 and a Hobby. As I was leaving via the half way lane entrance a Little Egret flew over M45 heading towards toft or Thurluston village but I did not have time to go back and check – moths are calling, well I hope they are as its been a poor season so far.

PATCH NEWS – Honey Buzzard reported over Draycote (bird guides) and Red Kite flew over JJs garden in Long Lawford while Black-necked Grebe reported at Draycote (warwickbirds). South winds and rain for tomorrow so could be a tern passage - well that's what I have told Dave he's only having 5hrs sleep for.

The mothing session went well at Brandon Marsh with approx 20sp caught including some unexpected ones (list to follow).

Pebble Hook-tip

After setting up traps nine of us wandered down to newlands getting Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo, Barn Owl 2 as well as Pipistrelle, Noctule and Long-eared Bat. Home 1 o'clock Sunday morning.


Friday, 25 April 2008

April 25th 2008

Out with Dave this afternoon for our usual coffee and cake then a walk to farnborough spit having nearly all the same species that Bob Hazell had this morning. Common Tern 3, Artic Tern, Little Gull first summer out in centre, Yellow Wagtail 7 along farborough bank, and many Swallows, House Martins feeding over lin croft point with Swift 9. Country Park had two Green Woodpecker feeding on ants giving close views.
Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk and Swallow over garden this morning.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

April 24th 2008

My rest day lasted till breakfast when I was offered a lift to Brandon Marsh from my non-birding neighbour. A very pleasant morning in between the showers with my first Garganey 2 of the year, along with Redshank, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Ringed Plover, Cetties Warbler and Hobby while the Grasshopper Warbler showed briefly. Also seen were Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, a distant flight view of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and a Whimbrel flew over car park calling.
Lawford Heath had a Little Owl looking pretty miserable perched on telegraph pole during a hail storm.
Evening visit to Draycote with Dave produced 7 Artic Tern, first summer Little Gull and 20 Yellow Wagtails before the rain came in so we toured the valley only finding 4 Buzzards and a Green Woodpecker then it was off to the pub at Cubbington for our usual birders night.
Garden is pretty quiet these days so pleased with the appearance of Goldfinch late afternoon.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

April 23rd 2008

Out before first light to Draycote Water to see if "Frankie" was still present considering there was no news from the roost last night but got me self distracted by 4 Whimbrel feeding on the grass bank in toft bay. As for the Whimbrel they soon departed when the first runners and fishermen descended before 7am. Little Gulls 8 adult and one first winter, Artic Tern 2, Common Tern 4 Wheatear male, Yellow Wagtail 10+, Linnets 10 and a Meadow Pipit on farborough bank.
Started working the valley with a Fieldfare near Kites Hardwick but the heavens opened so back home to change and wait till it cleared.
Second visit and Draycote was heaving with Artic Terns as many groups varying in numbers adding up to 224 passed through in an hour with another 53 remaining all afternoon and at least 30+ still present at 2000hrs but there was no sign of "Frankie" in roost which is a lot smaller since the weather has improved and they were coming in a later as well. Also doing roost were By Bob & April Hazell and Steve Valentine and we managed Med Gull adult and second summer and two adult and one first winter Little Gull. Other sightings included Great-spotted Woodpecker, Gadwall 4, Buzzard 9, Shelduck 5 and Bob Hazell found a Pintail hybrid possiblie crossed with Gadwall which showed in rainbow late afternoon. A Whimbrel flew in late evening and tracked by April Hazell as it circled reservoir to fly in to rainbow corner and settle on dam wall till flushed by some shapely lica wearers. Stevie V managed to get me bike in his car so good chance its a rest day tomorrow.
Bright-line Brown Eye and Brindled Pug trapped last night.


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

April 22nd 2006

Out this afternoon in the improving weather conditions calling in briefly to Draycote Water on my way to Napton on the Hill managing to add Garden Warbler and Artic Tern 5 to my pond's year list, also seen were 3 Common Tern and 4 Little Gulls adults, Wheatear, Swift 4, Ringed Plover and Dunlin.
Near Hill a Hobby was hawking overhead and by the time I arrived at Napton on the Hill it had warmed up a treat making it a hard work checking the hedgerows, fields quarry and churchyard. Apart from the resident common birds there seemed little evidence of any migrants until late afternoon when a male Ring Ouzel appeared near the windmill after being unintentionally disturbed by a dog walker, which then flew to the south side of "windmill" (the bird that is) and out of sight, only other bird of note were 2 Swifts over village.
Evening visit to Napton Reservoir listening to Reed, Sedge, and Cetties Warbler and a Kingfisher watched catching and swallowing its prey. Barn Owl seen on the way home.
Butterfly's today were Peacock, Orange-tip, Green-veined White and Brimstone.
Animals seen were Fox and Stoat.
Moths trapped last night at home included Angle Shades and Lesser Swallow Prominent

Angle Shades

PATCH NEWS - JJ had a Cuckoo calling at Flecknoe and Bob Duckhouse had 14 Artic Tern at Draycote Water.


Monday, 21 April 2008

April 21st 2008

Yippee, at last a bit of sunshine today though there is still a fresh north easterly wind making the roost at Draycote Water challenging to say the least. The Franklins Gull was found at 1840hrs from the valve tower but with it being so far a way and bobbing up and down something rotten those present took the gamble of going back to hensborough bank to view and we had reasonable views near 'M' buoy till it moved further out. John Judge managed this record shot.

Also in the roost were Med Gull adult, and Little Gull 1st summer and adult summer while earlier in the afternoon there were at least 3 adult and one first summer present off sailing club along with 2 Common Tern. Also seen were Wheatear male below farborough spit, Common Sandpiper 2, Yellow Wagtail 16, Buzzard 2, Sparrowhawk, Gadwall 2, Teal 4 and three Whimbrel went over west. Change in cloud cover meant that the majority of the Sand Martins we have had for the last few days have gone with only 50+ left along with 80 Swallows, a few House Martins and one Swift remaining along draycote bank while the first Orange-tip butterfly of the year was near the hide


Sunday, 20 April 2008

April 20th 2008

There was a fair bit of movement today at pond starting with the roosting Franklin's Gull 2nd summer leaving 06:50 with Common Gulls. The gloom turned to rain with 2 Brambling males still near inlet and 200 Swallows feeding low behind rainbow corner which were unsuccessfully attacked by a Merlin. Missed the Bar-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover that went over toft bay but eventually found the Turnstone on the raft, all three waders were found by members of Colin Potters class. Also seen were Common Terns 4, Yellow Wagtails 8, Blackcap 16, Willow Warbler 20+, Chiffchaff 4, Whitethroat, Treecreeper 2, Common Swift 2, Buzzard and Goldcrest 4 but I never got to grips with a possible female Ring Ousel in the 2nd field behind rainbow corner only showing twice in an hour and both times in drizzle and briefly. My visit finally ended with me missing the Artic Tern and Little Gull seen by Tim Marlow. In the Grandborough Vally I had 2 Fieldfare, hill rd, 4 Buzzards near grandborough fields and House Martin over Sawbridge. PATCH NEWS - Merlin, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper and Yellow Wagatil 4 Napton Reservoir, Ring Ousels 3 still at Napton on the Hill and Grey Partridge near Grandborough seen by the Bumbling Bears but I am wet, cold and hungry so save um for another day.


Saturday, 19 April 2008

April 19th 2008

Out mid-morning to Bush Hill, Flecknoe working the low cloud and high ground theory but failed miserably so having chatted up one of the local farmers and pigging out on sausages to die for I decided to try again as Napton on the Hill was picking up Ring Ouzels (4) and working the trig point area between the two public footpaths I managed a male and female Ring Ousel plus female Redstart so pretty chuffed with the effort. Hill Rd had Fieldfare and Sparrowhawk but the valley seemed subdued because of the weather.
Arriving at Draycote Water there was no sign of yesterdays Black-necked Grebes but the Sand Martins had increased to 1500 with Swallows numbering 200+ though House Martins did not seem to have increased and amongst all this activity my first Common Swift of the year. Only Common Sandpiper and 8 Yellow Wagtails noted, then the rain came so it was in to the cafe till closing time meeting up with Kevin Grewcock who had found four male Brambling but I only find one in a brief search. The Franklin's Gull came in to the roost at appro 1830hrs along with adult Med Gull and Common Tern to be enjoyed by a few hardy souls who did not mind getting rusty and many thanks to the Bumbling Bears who gave me and my steed a lift home and to SH for his comments about this blog - bless.


Friday, 18 April 2008

April 18th 2008

Black-necked Grebe by Steve Seal

Black-necked Grebes by Steve Seal

Out before dawn to Draycote Water with Tawny Owl seen on the way flying across road near Lion Farm, Rugby Road, Dunchurch. On arrival at Draycote the Franklins Gull (now correctly aged as a 2nd summer bird) was located at dawn and seen to leave the roost at 0600hrs returning at 1920hrs where 28 members of its fan club were waiting. In what turned out to be a cracking day I found two summer plumage Black-necked Grebes in toft bay by the 2nd car park and it was then I discovered I had mobile problems so thanks to Francoise for letting me use useing her mobile and getting the news out and while waiting for Steve Seal an Osprey came in 1300hrs from the south east and caught a fish at its first attempt and flew off west. Dinner with Steve joined by Kevin Grewcock then back into toft bay where there were over 40 Yellow Wagtails. Also seen were Great-spotted & Green Woodpecker, Teal 4, Linnets 12, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, two Little Gulls till mid-day, Common Sandpiper and Buzzard. Interestingly their were 100 Sand Martins at 0800, 300 mid-day and well over 1000 by mid-afternoon with 50 Swallow and 10 House Martin though apparently they had increased by early evening. Many thanks to those who ensured every body got on to the gull - it was not easy at that distance in choppy waters and to those who gave me lifts to valve tower and back to me bike - very grateful as the east wind was a nightmare going home so you saved me little legs. POND FACTS - BNG is my 35th record involving 44 birds and the Osprey was my 36th record involving 40 birds. Blimey 15hrs in the field - I want union rights.

Yellow Wagatil by Steve seal


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

April 16th 2008

Early bird catches the worm, male Ring Ousel brought down by the overnight low cloud in the quarry, Napton on the Hill watched from the public footpath until it moved behind windmill and out of site, also present Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Nearby Napton Reservoir had Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Teal, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard 2. Grandborough Valley was productive with Stock Dove 15, Grey Partridge 2 and summer migrants were more noticeable with Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff recorded. My first Cuckoo of the year was at grandborough fields. Back home and Blackcap singing from apple tree two doors down, Magpie 2 in garden, Wren carrying nesting material and Buzzard over.
News broke of the Franklin's Gull at Brandon Marsh but could not bike over as I was cooking for Dave before we went owling - well that was the plan - untill another call said Jeff Wesson had found a Redstart near outlet, Draycote Water so we went looking for both (I still fed him). Ended up concentrating on roost and thanks to Richard Harbard it was found at 7;40pm and JJ put us on to it - magic - a Draycote tick for me and brings my Draycote list to 244.
We had a little time to spare so went owling in grandborough valley but only heard Tawny Owl and Snipe.
John Judge is having problems with his web site but should be on line a.s.a.p

A very happy Richard

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

April 15th 2008

Finished off yesterdays domestic duties then went in to valley early afternoon to confirm permission and check out location of two areas I will be moth trapping next week (i have faith that it will warm up). Morning sunshine soon dissappeared becoming cloudy with a light south west wind and occassional showers.
Caught up with Reed Warbler at Napton Resvoir also present were Sedge Warbler, Cetties Warbler calling and a Common Tern heading north and Yellow Wagtail near the horse paddock.


Monday, 14 April 2008

April 14th 2008

Halfway through domestic duties when JJ offered a lift to Draycote hoping for a view of the Black Redstart but no sign of it as we searched with Bob Duckhouse. Yellow Wagtail 10 on farborough bank dodging the mowers, Sand Martin 400+ came down when a hail storm hit us, Buzzard 4, Sparrowhawk, Teal 6, and a lot more singing Blackcaps on site with with at least 6 heard between country park and toft and having coffee afterwards with Mike who had walked all the way round, he had at least another six on the west side and the hybrid tufted duck. Two Common Tern out in centre.
My patch list for the year now stands on 153 species + 2 sub-species with my Draycote list on 129 + 2 sub-species.


Sunday, 13 April 2008

April 13th 2008

Out with Dave and Neil his friend from Linconshire who was up for the weekend so we showed him the valley but apart from Buzzard 3, a few Linnets and Red-legged Partridge 2 it was deathly quiet. Moving on to pond we had 600+ Sand Martin, Swallow 10, House Martin 3, Yellow Wagtail 3, Gadwall 3 and Blackcaps 2 singing as well as a chance to chat with Pete & Dave Hall about there Oman trip (check the Bumbling Bear Link for some great photos). (after we left they had Chiffchaff 11, Willow Warbler 4 and Blackcap 6)
Breakfast at long Itchington was superb and we arrived at Brandon Marsh to Sand Martin 100+ and a few Swallows hawking over the reserve. Just walking the east side of reserve we had Chiffchaff 8, Willow Warbler 2, at least 10 calling Cetties Warbler including one that showed really well and a calling Grasshopper Warbler on newlands. East Marsh had Ringed Plover 2, Redshank 2, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher 2, Snipe 8, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and a few Shoveler. Also seen today here but not by us were Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat and the log book showed the Bittern was still present yesterday.
Back home in the afternoon news broke that a possible Ring-necked Duck was at draycote so a mad dash with JJ found us legging it to toft bay but it turned out to be a hybrid but well worth the shout so thanks DL & JP and it was they who had a Black Redstart in the alpaca field so after a prolonged search I relocated but it was never close and at times very elusive. Also present were Buzzard 8, Teal 3, Yellow Wagtail had increased to 7 but hardly any Sand Martins. I missed the two Sanderling seen by JJ and the Hall brothers as it passed over and the Halls had two Reed Warbler at Napton Reservoir as well as Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 4 and Grey Wagtail earlier.


Saturday, 12 April 2008

April 12th 2008

Mark Philips had 35 Fieldfare coalpit lane, Lawford Heath yesterday so along with my ten in the valley its not surprising then as I left the house at 6:30 two flew would fly over garden heading north. Early morning visit to Draycote before the crowds arrived with Common Sandpiper and Dunlin 2 on the rocks of draycote bank (hardly any shore line due to high water levels) a late female Pintail near inlet, Gadwall 3, Wigeon 2, Siskin 4 over rainbow corner, Yellow Wagtail 4 on farborough bank along with Meadow Pipit 6 and Ringed Plover over calling. Returning home via cawston woods Lesser-spotted Woodpecker heard only, Blackcap, Chiffchaff 6, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting 4, Nuthatch 2, Treecreeper and a Long-tailed Tit 5.
Managed to get out again early evening deciding to try the roost and had Whimbrel as it flew around hoping to land but in the end it went north east. Roost is very small these days but still held Med Gull adult and Common Tern 2 on x buoy,


Friday, 11 April 2008

April 11th 2008

Osprey over garden 09:40 heading towards Draycote and Chiffchaff feeding in garden for ten minutes also two Sparrowhawks over. Out with Dave in the afternoon to Draycote and had a wintery feel with hail showers and a cold blustery wind. Our walk to toft produced at least three flocks of Sand Martins heading north numbering 300+ with House Martin and 10 Swallows with them and 4 Yellow Wagtails on farborough bank. Only other birds of note were Gadwall 3, Wigeon 2, Linnets 2, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard. Hill Road was quiet with 9 Stock Doves feeding with hundreds of corvids but no sign of any Golden Plover though Green Farm, Sawbridge had 10 Fieldfare and nearby a few Tree Sparrows were on the feeders of railway cottages with many House Sparrows.


Thursday, 10 April 2008

April 10th 2008

Good to be out. Valley was cold and sunny becoming warmer and cloudier with a light south west wind. Dave Baseley found a Wheatear yesterday in the horse paddock, Grandborough Fields and that was still present along with Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard 2 and Linnets 4 while nearby Barn Owl, Raven, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Mistle Thrush 2, Red-legged Partridge 2 and a group of eight Cormorant flying south east had already been noted. Biking through Broadwell I picked up singing Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Tree Sparrow and Raven while Napton Reservoir was more active than of late with Siskin 4 along the entrance road, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Swallow 3, Teal, Reed Bunting 6 and a late Snipe. Coffee and bacon butties by the quarry, Napton on the Hill over looking my patch with Swallow 13, House Martin 2, Chiffchaff 4, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Raven, Buzzard 4 and checking the old orchard near the Church I found a stunning migrating male Redstart happily feeding and preening occasionally going in to the adjacent gardens also Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Yellow Wagtail and Coal Tit.
The Tomlow, Stockton and Hill areas produced the usual common hedgerow birds plus Buzzard 6, Stock Dove 4, Little Owl and Sparrowhawk.
Draycote Water was busy with White Wagtail and Wheatear male on farborough bank also chiffchaff 4, Willow Warbler, Blackcap 2, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Goldeneye female and Goosander female out in centre, Buzzard 8, Sparrowhawk 2, Teal 3, Jay, Goldfinch 6, Meadow Pipit 4, and Yellow Wagtail 2 on draycote bank.
Lawford Heath had Raven, Kingfisher, Chiffchaff, Corn Bunting, Blackcap, Buzzard, Sand Martin, Wheatear 2 and a late Fieldfare.
Quiet a few Pipistrelle out this evening on my walk back from hospital and 100+ Lesser Black-back Gulls heading for the roost at Draycote.
Animals seen today were Roe Deer, Muntjac, Hare, Rabbit, Squirrel, Fox and Stoat - butterfly's were Peacock, Comma and Red Admiral.


Wednesday, 9 April 2008

April 9th 2008

A walk to Hospital of St Cross, mid-day with at least 5 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warblers, a female Siskin in the hedgerow near Inwoods Farm, B4429, Treecreeper near Fitzjohns, Barby Road. On the return Buzzard near the Water Tower B4429. Garden feeders had a brief visit from a Coal Tit and Cormorant overhead heading west. Peacock butterfly late afternoon and a Pipistrelle hawking insects at dusk.


April 8th 2008

Day spent at home, apart from the usual Sparrowhawk displaying, Kestrel, Buzzard 4 and the Grey Heron little else seen in the morning while mid-afternoon a Fieldfare flew over calling heading north and this evening 2 Swallows headed north east. Luckily at first light I had a singing Willow Warbler briefly which is out of the ordinary and could be followed by its song as it explored neighbouring gardens before realising he was in the wrong sought of habitat and disappeared.


Monday, 7 April 2008

April 7th 2008

Unfortunately a family illness has curtailed my exploits for a while so Dave kindly took me out tonight to clear me head. A drive round the valley produced a Sparrowhawk sitting on its kill in the driveway of a house in Sawbridge and the Hill Rd produced single Swallow, Fieldfare and 8 Golden Plover also 4 Buzzards in the general area. Garden very quiet now with only a Grey Heron seen.


April 6th 2008

Like everyone else in Warwickshire we woke to the novelty of having a couple of inches of snow so the countryside looked magical. Out with dave and our first stop was in the grandborough valley where we managed to watch a Barn Owl making its last flight of the evening looking splendid against a white background. Little else seen there apart from 3 Great-spotted Woodpeckers and 8 Skylarks so we checked hill rd and 14 Golden Plover were still present.
We arrived at Draycote just in time to see a Peregrine fly over the entrance and as we walked to toft bay the wind had picked up to give us a chill factor so it felt pretty strange to see Sand Martins and Swallow our summer visitors flying over snow. In a short visit we managed Fieldfare 4, Redwing 6, Chiffchaff, Sand Martin 60, Swallow 2, House Martin 2, Buzzard 6, Sparrowhawk 2, Gadwall 2 and Teal 3.
After a pro-longed breakfast we the went to Brandon Marsh and had, Redshank 2, Ringed Plover 2, Oystercatcher 2, Sand Martin 40, Swallow, Kingfisher 2, Chiffchaff 8 and Willow Warbler 3 and as fatigue set in we stood on Lawford Heath for twenty minutes to wake up but saw very little apart from Raven 2 and Buzzard 4.


Saturday, 5 April 2008

April 5th 2008

Little sleep after last nights party and trapping session at Lower Shuckburgh to get out before the weather front moved in - mild at first but temperature dropping with sunny periods and rain at mid-day and sleet late afternoon. Draycote Water still has a few gulls roosting with 150 Common Gull, 60 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 20 Great Black-backed Gull still loafing around, adult summer Little Gull in biggen bay and Common Sandpiper on farborough bank near valve tower. Also seen were migrating Shoveler with a small flock of 7 out in centre resting, Willow Warbler, Sparrowhawk, 28 Stock Doves, 100 Sand Martin and Golden Plover heading north.
Napton on the Hill was heaving with visible migration as the weather front arrived and I counted Meadow Pipits 340, Fieldfare 35, Redwing 10, Skylark 29, Brambling 2, Lesser Redpoll 4, Swallow 4, Sand Martin 60 all pushing north while near the windmill there was male Wheatear and male Stonechat and the hedgerows produced at least 5 Willow Warbler, Blackcap 2 and Chiffchaffs 40+.
Napton Reservoir produced my first Sedge Warbler of the year, 30 Sand Martin, Swallow 2 and Cetties Warbler / Water Rail heard. A Swallow was already back on its breeding grounds on a farm near Tomlow and a another flew over Gibraltar Canal Bridge. Rain was threatening as I biked down flecknoe rd with a lot more birds about than my last visit and passing between The Elm and Woodbine Farms a Short-eared Owl flew low across the road followed by many Rooks from a nearby rookery and were mobbing it mercilessly and trying to gain height they followed it for sometime before returning while the owl continued east. This was then followed up by an Osprey heading for Draycote Water over Grandborough village being reported by fishermen at Draycote Water at 1130am. Other species seen were Raven 2, Redwing 2, Buzzard 7, Chiffchaff 3, Blackcap male, Long-tailed Tit 8, Red-legged Partridge 2 and Jay. While all this was going John Judge found his second Marsh Harrier in just over a week with a female over the war memorial (A45/B4455 roundabout) on the west side of my patch.
Returned home to watch the grand national and pick up my mobile (forgot it and missed everyones calls - sorry) then returned to Draycote Water which had Common Tern, a House Martin off lin croft point which were firsts of the year for me, Yellow Wagtail on hensborough bank and Med Gull adult summer.
My trapping session at Lower Shuckburgh went well with 103 moths of 17 species including Yellow Horned, Water Carpet, Red Chestnut and Shoulder Stripe while my trap at home had 8 moths of 6 species. A shame this cold front is going to put the knockers on it for awhile.

Early Grey

Shoulder Stripe


Friday, 4 April 2008

April 4th 2008

Best catch of the year so far with 11 moths of six species including Early Grey and Satellite. Grey Heron low over garden 7am looking for someone's pond and a free breakfast, 2 House Sparrows, 2, Bullfinch on feeders and Long-tailed Tit briefly but looks as if the Bramblings have gone.
Coffee and cake with Dave this afternoon at Draycote but very quiet with only 5 Sand Martin, one Swallow and 40+ Meadow Pipits a heading north plus two Sparrowhawks and 5 Buzzards.


Thursday, 3 April 2008

April 3rd 2008

Out later than I intended so a pleasant surprise to see a Barn Owl still out hunting at 8:00am between Sawbridge and Railway Cottages, Flecknoe in a area I don't normally check for owls and an even bigger surprise near Grandborough Fields when a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker flew over. Wheatear male was between Grandborough and Grandborough Fields feeding in a horse paddox, Hill Rd was quiet apart from a few Yellowhammers, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard 3 all on the ground.
Arrived at Draycote after the walkers had arrived so very little on the dams though a Wheatear had been seen earlier. At least 7 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, Blackcap but no hirundines and very few duck with only Teal 4, Goldeneye 5, Wigeon 2 and Gadwall 2 worth mentioning. Other birds seen included 6 Buzzards, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Green Woodpecker. While having dinner in cafe 2 Oystercatcher circled joined by Redshank and an unidentified wader but with high water levels and many fishermen there is hardly any shoreline for them so they moved off north. On leaving located the male Wheatear in field below toft bank and as the sun came out I managed six more Buzzards on the way home.
Soaring Buzzard and Goldfinch on feeders my garden highlights.
Just started gardening when one of the farmers on my patch rang to say he thinks he has an Osprey perched in tree but got there to late and was now believed to be a very pale looking Buzzard. At least he rang. On the way home I had a Yellow Wagtail near the dung heap Grandborough Fields first for the year.


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

April 2nd 2008

Very little to report - spent early afternoon on the footpath that runs along side the M45 over looking the valley. I was hoping for a distant view of yesterdays Marsh Harrier but only had Buzzard 3 and Teal 2 flying east from Draycote and very little calling. Garden feeders have suddenly gone very quiet with only pairs of Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, one House Sparrow and two Sparrowhawks circling overhead.


Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April 1st 2008

Well last nights trapping session was ish - some nice moths but not as many as I was expecting but still managed 61 moths of 13 species of which two, Shoulder Stripe and Oak Beauty were added to my Brandon Marsh moth list which is now on 253. Managed to see Barn Owl and Tawny Owl.
Little sleep as last nights weather, light south wind with clear Sky's then cloudy becoming a breezy south west with a light rain shower looked promising for migrants so cycled to Napton on the Hill very early morning seeing Barn Owl and hearing two Little Owls calling on the way. Part of the morning searching the hedgerows, churchyard and the old quarry paid off finding a male Wheatear and White Wagtail in quarry along with 2 Chiffchaffs, a male Brambling was in the main hedgerow parallel to the lane to windmill along with a male Blackcap and the churchyard produced a Willow Warbler my first for the year and two more Chiffchaffs, Sparrowhawk and male Siskin. Cycling back towards Draycote called in at Napton Reservoir getting Kingfisher, Reed Bunting 5, Sand Martin 2, Siskin, Redwing 23 going north and male Wigeon. Another Willow Warbler and Treecreeper in Millbank Spinney, Broadwell and male Wheatear, 7 Golden Plover including one in full summer plumage, Curlew in same field and Raven along Hill Rd. By now the wind had picked up so coffee at Leam Valley Golf Centre, Kites Hardwick which had 10 Linnets feeding around the car park and many Pied Wagtails including one White.
Draycote was very blustery with first summer Little Gull this evening off valve tower, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 50 Sand Martin, one Swallow and 5 Goldeneye in bay. Toft Bay had Willow and Long-tailed Tit in gray's barn, Chiffchaff 3 and Willow Warbler in toft shallows and Sparrowhawk and 4 Buzzards over.
By the time I got home my hip was stiff as a eunuchs imagination but my Bramblings have made it to April with two coming in early evening. Butterfly's seen today were Comma 2, Brimstone 4, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.
STOP PRESS - Marsh Harrier 1st summer male, Barn Owl, Fieldfare 10 seen 1930hrs by Mark Phillips and his son near Grandborough Fields- well done.