Saturday, 31 May 2008

May 31st 2008

Another warm humid day. Out early for a check on the Barn Owls in the valley and pleased to say by there activity they must be feeding plenty of young so that's a bonus these days and further on in the valley lots of other species are also busy with there young. Draycote was quiet on the birding front with only Lesser Black-back Gull 10, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern 2, Buzzard 5 and many Pied Wagtails feeding young but did managed to spend some time with John and his son Alfie and the Price's. The cafe had Pale Tussock, White Ermine, Brimstone and Poplar Hawk-moth seeking shelter while an hour in the country park produced Common Blue and Peacock butterflies and Burnet Companion moth. After dinner and dodging the potential thunderstorms visited one of the quarries just outside my patch looking for butterflies and managed 8 species with Small Blue 2, Large Skipper, Dingy skipper and Small Heath new for the year. Also managed Silver-ground Carpet and dead chuffed when I flushed a Sandy Carpet which was a lifer for me. On the feathered front the best birds were a Little Ringed Plover, Hobby and Lesser Whitethroat and heard a Cuckoo on the way home.
Back at home Bullfinch male and female visited garden briefly and this evening at least 8 Swifts feeding overhead.


Friday, 30 May 2008

May 30th 2008

Last nights "quailing" produced zilch but we will keep trying and we did have a surprise in finding 150+ Lesser Black-back Gulls in field just outside Willoughby before the rain came arrived.
This afternoon it was with Dave for coffee and cake at Draycote Water then a walk out to farnborough spit where Common Tern 7, Buzzard 5, Whitethroat 2 and Garden Warbler were seen before we trawled the valley yet again. Highlights were a Lapwing 2, Cuckoo calling, Raven, Whitethroat 3, Red-legged Partridge 2, Buzzard 6 and plenty of Yellowhammer's and Skylarks. Last nights Lesser Black-backed Gulls were only seen in the air and were thermalling towards Napton Reservoir.
The old trap despite the rain is still doing well with many highlights last night including this Muslin Moth.


Thursday, 29 May 2008

May 29th 2008

Another damp and mild night filling my trap with goodies, still trying to identify some of them but the day broke warm and dry and it wasn't long before blue skies appeared and that yellow orb thingy started shining - so it was off to the pond for 9am. A couple of Dunlin flew across reservoir to vanish but 2 Common Sandpipers were tracked down to biggen bay and about 9:30 three Oystercatchers could be heard calling and were picked up over the sailing club and then watched as they spent some time circling looking for somewhere suitable to rest, not sure how they were doing but were seen in flight when I left at 12:30. This warm weather had the warblers out feeding and tho many are now nesting and not in full song managed to find Willow, Sedge 2,and Garden Warbler 3 along with Blackcap and Whitethroat 4. Hobby was over the entrance again with another reported in biggen bay along with a Cuckoo, Swift numbered only 50+, Common Tern 4, Green Woodpecker 2, Buzzard 5 and a Kingfisher in toft bay. Butterflies seen were Peacock, Large White, Small White and Brimstone.
Back home putting my bedding plants in I had Buzzard overhead followed by Hobby with butterflies represented by Comma, Small White and Brimstone. Out again later with Dave "quailing" and if the weather holds up then a mothing night beckons.
STOP PRESS - 1605. Just finished on the computer and went in to kitchen for a brew and there in front of me about 100ft up and 150 yards away was a Red Kite just floating past heading east being mobbed by I presume the same Hobby I had seen earlier - bring it on - magic.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

May 28th 2008

Last nights very mild weather turned to thunderous rain early morning producing heavy mist which meant I waited in vain for it to clear but then the rain came in again - yuk. The garden has a family of Blue Tits, the odd Magpie, Greenfinch, House Sparrow and a few Swifts overhead so all in all a mind numbing day. On the plus side my moth trap benefited from the humid weather with 15 species of 29 moths including three to add to the year list - Rivulet, Green Oak Tortrix and Poplar Grey and Dave popped round this evening with a few of his moths to id, he caught 21sp of 58 moths.


Tuesday, 27 May 2008

May 27th 2008

Planned to meet Steve Seal mid morning but I arrived late so straight to cafe for coffee and chat joined by Dave Hutton and Bob Hazell and between them they had already seen 2-4 thousand Swifts, 100 Sand Martin, Oystercatcher, 8 Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Great-spotted Woodpecker and two Yellow Wagtails while after Steve and Dave had left for the Stilt Sandpiper in Leicestershire we were joined by Peter and Linda Price who had heard at least two Cuckoo's and seen a Hobby. As for me I spent two and half hours chatting eventually lifting me bins to count 9 Common Tern and a Buzzard before leaving so thought Id better show willing so checked the grounds of the Dunchurch Park Hotel and Conference Centre, Dunchurch finding a Spotted Flycatcher and Coal Tit.


Monday, 26 May 2008

May 26th 2008

A trip out with Dave to fetch some bedding plants was a good excuse to visit the pond in case any Fulmar's had arrived on the still very strong north easterly winds but all we came away with were 4 Common Tern. A trip around the valley produced very little as the rain started so it was back home a little disappointed. Managed to last about five hours before I was bored so went back out to pond in the evening despite the rain and was rewarded with 2 Sanderling in rainbow corner and a Knot resting on draycote bank so well worth coming back cold and wet.


Sunday, 25 May 2008

May 25th 2008

Dave picked me up at 6:30 just as the predicted rain started and we spent 45 minutes in the valley listening for Quail without any success before moving on to Draycote Water. The north east wind and rain had increased so suitably suited and booted we walked out to toft bay seeing 400+ Swifts, Yellow Wagtail 2, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin 2, Common Tern, and a pair of Gadwall while on farnborough bank there were 15+ Linnets and a few Goldfinch. Returning to car somewhat refreshed but at least dry we had breakfast at the Long Itch Diner before moving on to Brandon Marsh. The rain became heavier as we walked out to the east marsh hide to enjoy Little Ringed Plover 2, Redshank 3, Oystercatcher, Sand martin 50+, Shelduck and Common Tern 8. Little of note from the carlton hide and we were returning pass the central marsh when Dave heard an unusual call which after a short wait was traced to a pair of skulking Water Rails using contact calls to encourage 5 (day old) chicks as they passed in front of us to follow mum & dad - only my second sighting of Water Rail chicks and Dave's first - magic. Little else seen so moved on to Lawford Heath where a very bedraggled looking Corn Bunting sang from its post then it was on to Dave's for a very welcome dinner.


Saturday, 24 May 2008

May 24th 2008

While mothing out side me patch last night I managed a roding Woodcock, brief views of a Tawny Owl flying across one of the rides and a Barn Owl on the way home flying across the A45 between the Stretton upon Dunsmore roundabout and the Princethorpe flyover. An hours kip, quick check on my own trap and breakfast then it was back out to Draycote Water where the very strong north east winds brought had down 200+ Swift to feed low over toft bay but I could only find one of yesterdays 15 Common Terns before finding an adult Little Tern off the sailing club just after 1015am but it only stayed a few minutes. Other birds of note were Hobby over main entrance, Buzzard, a few more Lesser Black-backs Gulls going through and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Met with Pete & Linda Price in cafe for coffee and they had seen two Hobbies earlier together over draycote bank. On leaving just after 1 o'clock a Grey Plover came in over toft bay calling as it flew past me close. A very smart bird in full breeding plumage heading towards rainbow. Heard Sedge, Reed, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, and Whitethroat but the wind and vegetation made viewing difficult so did not see many.
Back home late afternoon I had two Magpies, Wood pigeon 6 and Collard Dove in the garden. Weather looks crap tomorrow and Monday so yippee me and Dave will get soaked.


Friday, 23 May 2008

May 23rd 2008

Woke up to my best moth catch of the year, 20 species of 34 moths after a mild cloudy night including Poplar Hawk-moth, Pale Tussock, Bright-line White-eye, Scalloped Hazel and Rustic Shoulder Knot.

Pale Tussock

Bird life in the garden is in full breeding mode with young Blackbirds dodging the Magpies who are intent on having them for dinner plus a few Wood Pigeon. Only air activity has been the six regular Swifts overhead and 3 Lesser Black-back Gulls heading north east. Out with Dave for coffee & cake at Draycote Water this afternoon then a walk to toft bay producing Buzzard, Great-crested Grebe 60+ Common Tern 15, Lesser Black-backed Gulls 17 and Mute Swans have increased to 12 including the nesting pair. In recent years this species has used the reservoir to moult but with high water levels I wonder if they will still feel safe and continue this habit. Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Blackcaps heard. Other interesting sightings included 3 Common Blue Butterfly's and the walls of the cafe had Poplar Hawk-moth, Buff Ermine and Coxcomb Prominent moths while a Powdered Quaker was along toft bank.


Wednesday, 21 May 2008

May 21st 2008

Back to bread & butter birding with a very early start to the valley before first light to catch up with the progress of the valley's Barn Owls so pleased to observe all three pairs actively feeding. Spotted Flycatchers have returned to valley with single birds seen at Sawbridge and Broadwell but little else of note till Napton Reservoir which had Reed, Sedge, Cetties Warbler and a Hobby hunting over the reservoir. Whitethroat, Blackcap, Buzzard, Garden Warbler and Yellow Wagtails recorded on the way home.
Cleared down moth trap at dinner time with the best of a small catch being White-spotted Pug and Muslin Moth.
Back out again for evening visit to Draycote Water which had male and female Common Scoter asleep out in centre, 4 Common Tern and a Greenshank went over east calling loudly. Also seen were Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sedge Warbler 2, Garden Warbler 2, Whitethroat 3, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Buzzard 4. Stayed late to do some moth trapping in the country park but a pleasant evening soon turned chilly so gave up at one o'clock. Caught 15 species of 34 moths. Tawny Owl and Little Owl heard.
A few butterfly's were seen today including Holly Blue, Small White, Large White, Orange Tip and Green Hair-streak while dragonfly's noted were Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly. Sleep beckons.


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

May 20th 2008

Well that's the holiday done and dusted. Spain was as it said on the tin, warm and relaxing but I found it strange to adjust to different languages, food, time zones and heat so quickly after Georgia and Armenia so that's a learning curve for the future. Key birds of the Tarifa area were Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Flamingo's while in the grasslands and agricultural areas we managed Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Cream-coloured Courser while Calandra lark, White Stork and Bee-Eaters were common. Other highlights were migrating Black kites over the straits of Gibraltar, Monarch and Southern Swallowtail Butterfly, a number of Lizard species and Long-finned Pilot Whales with the African continent in the back ground.
Back home and last nights trapping produced Heart and Dart and Angle-shades. It seems apart from the White-winged Black Tern I haven't missed much at the pond though a few waders were present at the weekend and the valley apparently is dead but we will soon sort that out tomorrow.

Turnstone, Draycote Water 18th May by Pete Hall
Just been going over me holiday notes and looks like from the three country's visited I saw 260 species of which 13 were new for me so my Western Paleartic list is looking very healthy.


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

May 13th 2008

Well the last few days of the holiday were hectic as we managed to add Grey-necked Bunting, See See Partridge and Radde’s Accentor to the list of birds that were new for me while other species added to the holiday list included Black Vulture, Sombre Tit, Paddyfield Warbler, Crimson-winged Finch, Pale Rock Sparrow, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Bimaculated Lark. Came away with great memories of good birds, scenery and very hospitable people.

Arrived home just in time to put the trap out and though not as warm as everyone has been telling me it has been, I did catch my first Pine Beauty so pretty pleased with that. Just a record shot - have'nt time for artistic pleasure.

Only home for a day so its been a quick whiz round with the mower, repack and sort the domestics out before I travel to Spain with Dave and friends tomorrow for six days, should be a bit more relaxing and at a much slower pace.
Had planned a quick visit to the pond but ran out of time so had to content myself with Swifts and Sparrowhawk over garden while Magpie 2, Collared Dove and Bullfinch were welcome visitors.


Saturday, 10 May 2008

May 10th 2008

Holiday to Georgia, Armenia and Spain - so far
High altitude birding in Georgia gave me new birds in the form of Caucasian Snowcock, Caucasian Grouse, Great Rosefinch and Guldenstadts Redstart on and around Mount Kezbeg along with Green Warbler and Caucasian Chiffchaff which depending on your views on taxonomy some count as full species these days. Moved south in to Armenia and have been on the road travelling the full length of the country visiting more outstanding habitat. Due to the changes in altitude the weather has been interesting - from blizzards and freezing to clear sky's and very warm. In Amernia new birds have included Armenian Gull, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Rufous-tailed Wheatear, Finsch's Wheatear, Upcher's Warbler while the supporting cast of White-throated Robin, Red-fronted Serin, Snowfinch, Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater, Lammergeier, Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatcher and many others has put the holiday list well over the 200 mark with a few days to go. Not all plain sailing - failed to find Caspian Snowcock and Mongolian Finch which I needed. The people, friendly and hospitable, food great, vodka ball busting and the ancient monastery's awesome.

POND NEWS - someone found a White-winged Black Tern at draycote today, buddy Dave went to see it and texted me and Steve Seal e-mailed this photo with it sitting with Black Terns - isnt the world small. Luckily I have four records and missed three others so no one is going to meet Vlad the Impailer. Normally a short stayer.


Sunday, 4 May 2008

May 4th 2008

Chiffchaff and Whitethroat heard when clearing moth trap at first light and a male Bullfinch seen. Out with Dave for shortened version of our normal Sunday jaunt. The turf field still held one Wheatear but no sign of yesterdays two White Wagtails seen by Mark Phillips and little else seen in valley on our way to Draycote. On our arrival we had two Whitethroat in car park and the walk to toft produced three more plus Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Common Tern 5, Common Sandpiper 2 and Swifts 300+.
A quick breakfast at Long Itchington then an hours walk at Brandon Marsh which produced Garganey male, Ringed Plover 2, Shelduck 2, Shoveler male, Teal pair, Redshank, Common Tern 8 and Kingfisher from the east marsh hide. Warblers were very much in evidence with 10 Cetties heard including three which showed really well, 14+ Whitethroats and plenty of Sedge and Reed. Also seen were Jay, Cuckoo and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Garganey by Steve Seal

Only bird of note on Lawford Heath was a Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Well that's it from me for awhile unless I find some run down tinternet cafe and get a chance to update you on my efforts in Georgia, Armenia and Spain. Health and Safety warning - don't find something while I am away - still not managed to claw back the Collared Praticole in 96 which arrived as I took off for Slovakia, much to the delight of my closest friends - well they were friends.


Saturday, 3 May 2008

May 3rd 2008

Managed to get to the valley mid-day, later than expected but surprisingly (last night was clear) there were still Wheatears 3 in the turf field and exploring the track between here and Grandborough including 'franks' fishing pool managed to find Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler while the Turtle Dove sitting on the track was my first of the year. TDs are getting pretty scarce around these parts along with the heard but not seen Cuckoo so hopefully they will hang around.
Rest of valley was quite with the usual corvids, Skylarks, Yellowhammers, Linnets, Buzzards and Kestrels and distant scope views of draycote showed it was busy with millions out for there constitutional enjoying this fine weather so decided to hide the steed and walked the footpaths between Grandborough and Dunchurch managing a flyover Hobby, Stock Dove 6, Long-tailed Tit 3, Little Ringed Plover, Sedge and Reed Warbler, Jay 2, Grey Partridge more Buzzards and a Willow Tit. On returning went to Draycote for the evening with Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail 2 on farborough bank, Black Tern 2, Common Tern 3 out in centre, Hobby over biggen Bay and Common Sandpiper 2 draycote bank.
Last nights moth trap had this Swallow Prominent.


Friday, 2 May 2008

May 2nd 2008

Out with Dave this afternoon to Draycote but the Wheatear seen by Francoise had disappeared due to disturbance so after seeing 5 Common Tern we felt it might be more productive in valley where near woodbine farm we had 50+ Common Gull, 30+ Black-headed Gull and 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull loafing around some of the flooded fields and at the turf field between Sawbridge and Willoughby there were still 5 Wheatears.


May 1st 2008

Blustery with occasional rain showers at Draycote Water this morning becoming brighter and warmer by mid-afternoon. A minimum count of 3000 Swifts on arrival with a few Swallows and the 20+ resident House Martins but by afternoon most had gone higher to feed while 4 Common Tern and one Black tern increased to Common Tern 7, Artic Tern 2 and Black Tern 2 after a down pour. Whitethroats and Garden Warbler have increased to six, Blackcaps seem to be having a record year, while other warblers present were Willow, Chiffchaff, Sedge 3 and Lesser Whitethoat 2. Also present were Green Woodpecker, Buzzard 3, Yellow Wagtail 2, two Dunlin in the field behind farborough spit, Lesser Black-backed Gull 10+, Greater Black-backed Gull, two Teal and at least two Hobby's following each other south over country park with a possible third or one of these two attacking Swifts earlier.
On the way home called in Cock Robin Woods with Garden Warbler, Blackcap 4, Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler 2, Treecreeper, Goldfinch and Orange-tip.
Over garden late afternoon were Swift 4, House Martin 2 and Sparrowhawk while a pair of House Sparrow called in briefly.
Dave had a spare 90 minutes after our meal this evening so took a ride around the valley and had 10 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail, White wagtail, 20 Pied Wagtails on the partially flooded turf field between Willoughby and Sawbridge. This is the largest count I have ever had in the valley and must have been the result of yesterday's heavy rain, also Stock dove 10 in hill Rd.