Monday, 30 June 2008

June 29th 2008

The Lapwing flock has increased to nearly 200 birds in the "dead field" near Sawbridge with 5 Hares and a Yellow Wagtail while the country lane to Grandborough had a Tree Sparrow. Nothing seen at Draycote Water with in the blustery conditions but on arrival we were treated to close views of two young Great-spotted Woodpeckers in the country park and on leaving a Hobby flew over.
Being Sunday, we managed a cooked breakfast at Long Itchington before going to Brandon Marsh where Graham still has a massive smile on his face and a gentle walk produced Oystercatcher 2 + 2 well grown young, Ringed Plover, Lapwing pair with 3 young, first returning Teal, many Sedge and Reed Warblers and a very showy Whitethroat in front of east marsh hide and 6 Buzzards, also saw my first Southern Marsh Orchids plus Azure, Common Blue, Small-eyed and Blue-tailed Damselfly
We had explicit instructions to back at Dave's for dinner on time so did not visit anywhere else and afterwards we checked Dave's moth trap which had a very smart Small Angle Shades. Late afternoon at home and Chaffinches and Bullfinches coming to feeders.


Saturday, 28 June 2008

June 28th 2008

The best nights mothing since I started, over 1300 moths of 120 species and still counting and the trap at home was just as good.
Out early checking the area around the Cranes may have gone down in but gave up after twenty miles and bum ache. Barn Owl, Little Owl, Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard 8 and Sparrowhawk for my efforts. Met up with Helen, John and Alfie for a walk out to farnborough bank but little seen tho earlier I had a Common Sandpiper in toft bay. After coffee I searched the country park and managed to find two Marbled Whites but it took ages to get this picture in the blustery conditions.

Marbled White
Little else seen apart from third summer Herring Gull in toft bay on the way out and by time I arrived home the rumour mill was indicating one of the Cranes had been found in /near Leamington Spa but i was too tired to Chase up details.


Friday, 27 June 2008

June 27th 2008

To put it simply - me and Dave are a pair of jammy b*****ds at the moment.
Coffee and cake at Draycote Water this afternoon where from the cafes balcony a Hobby came from no where and took one of the House Martins before the rest could sound the alarm. We then walked out to farborough spit where Dave spotted another or the same Hobby high over the valley but I could not find it and then he shouts "swans" and just as I picked them up thinking (swans are moulting this time of year) he commented that they had very long necks - oops and legs to which I replied "CRANES". Yep two Common Cranes were circling low and failing to find a thermal they went over bunkers hill wood and landed in a field on toft farm out of sight,next to the A426. As we started putting the news out they took off and flew low over toft bay towards Thurlaston and were watched as they suddenly dropped out of sight some distance behind lin croft point. Hoping they were down we shot back to car and raced to the A45/M45 roundabout but saw nothing and it was difficult to check adjacent fields because of the high hedgerows and Friday afternoon traffic so we went to Ling Lane on Lawford Heath where you get a commanding view of the horizon hoping for a flight view but had no luck though 3 Buzzards and 2 Corn Bunting were seen. From the size difference between the two they may have been a pair and certainly adults. Chatting afterwards we think that though it was warm the wind was too strong for thermals to form hence the low flight.
Blimey what a week we have had - Red Kite, Bee-Eater, Forester, Lilac Beauty, Small Rununculus and now Common Crane - I'm defiantly buying a lottery ticket this week and out tonight mothing so taking millions of pots.


Thursday, 26 June 2008

June 26th 2008

Needed to photograph this little beauty before I went out this morning which was trapped by Dave the previous night and one I have not seen before.

Lilac Beauty
Arrived at Draycote Water just as Bob Hazell found a Little Ringed Plover in toft bay. Earlier I had 4 Song Thrush in toft shallows along with singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler plus 2 Green Woodpecker 7 Lapwing and 2 Buzzards but little else in the blustery conditions. Stayed for the sun to come out which produce a Brown Argus in the country park amongst the many Ringlets and Meadow Brown's and a pair of Blue-tailed Damselfly's with a Hobby hunting overhead. After spending some time chatting with Bob & Francoise I managed the 2 Herring Gulls Bob had seen earlier and found a Common Tern before leaving.
Back out with Dave this evening down the valley but it started to rain so we ended up having coffee and looking at a moth he found at work. O boy it looks like its a Small Ranunculus and will if accepted only the 4th record for Warwickshire - just waiting for the county recorder to get back to us.

Small Ranunculus


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

June 25th 2008

Nothing to report today, its been a gardening, ironing and catching up with my bird and moth records day. Half way through the year and my Draycote list is on 147 and my patch list is a 172, not bad considering the furthest I have been is 8 miles from home. Mind you looking at me steed its taking its toll so off to the shops for one that's got a go faster stripe on and a softer saddle.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

June 24th 2008

Took the advantage of a very humid night to do some "lamping" in the valley and managed 10 species of moth. It does what it says on the tin? - you just use a very bright lamp and search for moths in a suitable location, catch them by net to identify before releasing, a very simple method of finding out whats about. By the time the battery went down dawn was breaking and managed 4 Barn Owls and 2 Little Owls. Moved on to another Barn Owl location and had three so pretty chuffed with the effort then went on to Napton Reservoir where relaxing over a brew managed to see Cetties, Reed, and Sedge Warbler plus Whitethroat and Chiffchaff.
Needed to be back home by dinner time so doubled back via Stockton Cutting and here the butterfly's were out and saw Green-viened White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown my first Marbled White of the year and over 400+ Bee Orchids. While going down the Flecknoe Rd the Red Kite flew over in the distance heading towards Shuckborough.
After lunch I saw at long last (7th visit) a Forester Moth at Ashlawn Cutting plus a few day flying moths and more butterflys including Large Skipper, Brown Argus (another first for the year)and Small Copper.
Next stop was Draycote Water but did not see much though chatting with Bob and Francoise they had between them managed Common Tern 3 and a Common Sandpiper in dunn's bay. Unfortunley the sun disapperaed so a feeble search with Bob in country park produced only few Meadow Browns and one Ringlet but did managed one of the Common Terns on the way out.
Back home and my own moth trap was heaving ending up with 22 species of 73 moths.


Monday, 23 June 2008

June 23rd 2008

Back to earth with a bump. Yesterdays strong wind has dropped but hasn't brought anything in and apart from the male Pochard, Lapwing 4, Buzzard 4 at Draycote Water the only other bird of note was some exotic duck in toft bay resembling a Hartlaub's Duck which originates from central West Africa so defiantly an escapee from some collection. Back home and the Coal Tits brought a brood in to the garden and there were two young Sparrowhawks enjoying this afternoon's thermals overhead.


Sunday, 22 June 2008

June 22nd 2008

Today's blog has a health warning - I am dumbfounded, on cloud nine and gloating.
The day started very quiet with me and Dave out early in the valley listening for Quail but no luck and it was so quiet I nodded off - oop's.
After checking on the Lapwing flock at Sawbridge we were returning to Grandborough Fields Farm on the Flecknoe Rd when our day changed dramatically with Dave spotting a Red Kite crossing the road in front of us and we were then treated to fanatic views for twenty minutes of it perched near Fox Covet where it was feeding.
This was Dave's first close view of Red Kite in Warwickshire.
Moved on to Draycote Water where the very strong winds made walking difficult but despite careful searching we could not find anything of note except for a single Curlew flying over heading west.
Heading for breakfast at Long Itchington on the minor road near Birdingbury Fields Farm our good luck continued with a low flying Whimbrel past the car and a Hobby hunting.
After having our appetite satisfied our next stop was Brandon Marsh and we had just reached Goose Pool when a small group of birders were walking swiftly towards us and my remark of you must all have the s***s was met with "Bee-Eater by the entrance". Bugger me, my jaw dropped and quickly did an about turn and shot through the visitors centre and up the entrance road where a small group of birders were gathered but did not seem to be focused on anyone spot but as we got closer there was a lot of hand waving and pointing and I soon had tickable views of the Bee-Eater perched on telegraph wires. Magically it stayed when we arrived at the entrance and was able to enjoy excellent close views as well as the stories of how it was found. One of the joint finders was Graham Rowling and his beaming face told everyone how he felt, the same for young couple who's names I don't know but will forever be grateful too, many many many thanks.
The next twenty minutes were spent on the phone and enjoying the bird when it suddenly got up and flew over our heads towards sheep field and become difficult to trace and showed according to bird guides briefly near Brandon Golf Course.
Bee-Eaters in Warwickshire are rarer than hen's teeth with the last record in 1886 so you can imagine the faces of those who were unable to connect with this multi-coloured gem. One of the nicer things that comes out of this event is that it backs up Dave Halls record last week and no doubt is the same bird. I believed you mate.
It was then back to centre for a coffee then a short walk where we found 60+ spikes of Common Spotted Orchid, Green Woodpecker and Blue-tailed Damselfly then on to Lawford Heath before going to Dave's for a great meal cooked by his daughter Jenny and to celebrate his wife's Christine's birthday. Happy Days you old git xxx.
Now home and still stunned that I have Bee-eater on my Warwickshire list.

Bee-Eater digiscope useing my camera and John Judges scope.

Its just flown. Those who have seen it are not running.


Saturday, 21 June 2008

June 21st 2008

Last night was humid and cloudy with rain starting around 4am producing the best garden moth catch of the year with 73 moths trapped of 30 species while half a mile from me between the Inwoods Farm and North Lodge on the Ashlawn Road this was mirrored with my best field catch of the year with 378 moths trapped of 81 species from two traps and two light sheets I was running so my evening was very busy. Bonus of Tawny Owl perched in the light of one of the traps and by the end of the session I had managed to add three moths to my Warwickshire list.
The rain came in with vengeance so rest of the day attending a family meeting so only a Sparrowhawk over garden, Buzzard over St Cross Hospital and a Spotted Flycatcher on the edge of Rugby Schools polo ground to report.

Barred Yellow, garden

Leopard Moth, garden

Common Emerald, Inwoods Farm.


Friday, 20 June 2008

June 20th 2008

Need to start today's blog with a thank you and an apology. The thank you is for the site's 10,000 visitor and the apology is for writing Smooth Snake in an earlier blog when I should have written Slow Worm. Luckily someone has kindly put me right.
OK now for the stuff you want to read about. Last night I had a Hobby go over garden and on the way to the pub we managed to find two large groups of Lapwing near Sawbridge. Counted over 130 between the two flocks which is quite unusual for this time of year so either late late migrants or failed breeders and we also managed to find two Grey Partridge very well hidden in long grass along the flecknoe rd.
Today, I was out with Dave this afternoon for our usual coffee and cake at Draycote Water and we had a Hobby near the entrance. Meeting up with Bob Hazell who had seen the first summer Little Gull earlier the three of us then went to view the orchids and while searching the area found a Common Blue Damselfly and Blood-veined moth.
On the way home via the valley we had 170 Lapwing and a Curlew.


Thursday, 19 June 2008

June 19th 2008

Mothing in Ryton Woods last night and did reasonably well till the rain and wind picked up but still managed 75 species of 295 moths including a few year ticks even after closing down one box trap and one light sheet because of the conditions.
Couple of hours shut eye then it was back out again to Draycote to see if these westerlies had brought anything in and rewarded with a 1st summer Little Gull off gray's barn though later it showed really well off draycote bank as it battled against the wind coming in very close. Three Common Tern, Buzzard 3, Raven and surprisingly for this time of year a male Pochard. Another search of car parks produced another Bee Orchid location with one plant, so that makes two new sites with four plants and despite the wind managed Blue-tailed Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue Damselfly, Speckled Wood 6 and Large Skipper 3.
Visited Ashlawn Cutting on the way home and managed four species of moths:- Shaded-broad Bar, Chimney Sweeper, Burnet Companion 4, and Commophila Aeneana 2.


Tuesday, 17 June 2008

June 17th 2008

A very early morning walk around Brandon Marsh after last nights mothing session produced Barn Owl, Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat 6, Cetties Warbler 3, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Oystercatcher 2, Shelduck 2 and Ringed Plover.
Back out again at mid-day to Draycote Water where it was very windy for butterflies but did managed to find Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Small Copper and Brimstone in the more sheltered areas of the country park and sailing club car parks and had the added bonus with a draycote tick in the shape of Smooth Snake sunning its self on a pile of rubbish and also a new location tick of three Bee orchids which is just as well as normal site in rainbow has none showing at the moment. Grass Snake in country park.
On the birding front I came away with good June counts for Canada Geese 174, Mute Swan 54, Tufted Duck 87 and Great-crested Grebe 84 while Garden Warbler are really doing well here with record breeding numbers and as I left there were two Common Tern and Gadwall 4 feeding in toft bay.


Monday, 16 June 2008

June 16th 2008

Some pratt lost his house keys yesterday so it was an eighteen mile bike ride looking for them at Ufton Fields. Luckily someone must have found them had hung um up on the fence where we were photographing the orchids, saved me the expense and hassle of a locksmith so many thanks who ever you are, not too mention the ungainly sight of me climbing in and out of kitchen window. Plenty of Buzzard today in the warm weather but little else apart from Whitethroats.
Called in at Draycote Water on the way back and managed family parties of Whitethroat and Garden Warbler in Country Park, five Linnets on farnborough bank, Gadwall 4 in toft bay and a Hobby. Also seen in the good weather were 3 Large White and 2 Common Blue butterfly's and one Yellow Shell moth.

Common Blue Ufton Fields

Common Spotted Orchid, Ufton Fields

Bee Orchid, Ufton Fields


Sunday, 15 June 2008

June 15th 2008

Birding wise a very quiet day with little seen in the Grandborough Valley, Calcutt, Napton Reservoir or Ufton Fields with the only highlights being family parties of Chiffchaff and Yellowhammers and Jay 2.


Saturday, 14 June 2008

June 14th 2008

Barn Owl pair with at least three young seen in valley this morning while searching for "jar". Met up with Alfie and John Judge mid-morning at Draycote where there were Gadwall 4, Black-headed Gull 5, Buzzard 5 and Oystercatcher 2 looking for somewhere to land.
After coffee joined up with Dave to visit Ufton Fields looking for orchids and managed Man, Common Twayblade, Bee, Butterfly, and Common Spotted with a Small Yellow Underwing moth amongst them so pretty chuffed with that and the bonus of meeting up with April & Bob Hazell and Jeff and Lady Wesson (sorry forgot your name and lady sounds cool). Few birds about but managed Mistle Thrush, Raven 2, Green Woodpecker and Little Grebe.

Butterfly Orchid, Ufton Fields

Common Twayblade, Ufton Fields


Friday, 13 June 2008

June 13th 2008

Friday the 13th - unlucky if you were thinking of going to Stockton Cutting and didn't. Spurred on by Dave's photos of Bee Orchid I visited this Warwickshire Wildlife Nature Reserve and while searching the overgrown quarry yard at the far end of the reserve i accidentally "kicked" a Nightjar off the ground, had no idea it was there and not sure who was more surprised me or the "jar" as it flew off to a nearby tree where it settle but was exposed to harassment by corvids and moved on and not seen again. A totally unxpected sighting.
Nightjar's are rare in Warwickshire so I am lucky in this being my third with one seen in mid eighties after the first in 76 and my first for the valley. News of its where abouts delayed in case it was a breeding bird tho not the right habitat but a check at night time and early Saturday morning revealed no sightings or calls. Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Green Woodpecker seen plus day flying moths Lattice Heath and Yellow Shell as well as Large Skipper, Common Blue and Green-veined White butterfly's. Coming home I checked Cock Robin Plantation but the place stinks of dog shitters so after seeing Blue-tailed Damselfly I cleared off quickly. Only Buzzard seen at Draycote Water this afternoon.


Thursday, 12 June 2008

June 12th 2008

After last night torrential rain I had intended to be out early but the body decided other wise and slept most of the morning so its been a day of garden watching which produced a few Swifts and a Magpie getting very frustrated with my moth trap as he could see the moths resting inside but due to the glass panels couldn't gain access for a free feed.
Buddy Dave sent me this photo of Bee Orchid just outside his place of work in Rugby which reminded me I need to check on the sites I have in the valley.

Out with Dave again tonight to Draycote Water where it was pretty quiet apart from a family party of Whitethroats, single summer plumage Black-headed Gull and 20 Lesser Black-back Gulls. The valley had 10 Lapwing including a pair acting if they had young, Green Woodpecker and 60+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls sitting amongst the sheep.


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

June 11th 2008

Early morning ride to Long Lawford in the faint hope of relocating yesterday's Bee-Eater but no luck though a Peregrine, Hobby and Corn Bunting brightened up the visit and decided the best way home as the morning traffic built up was by the Oxford Canal so got on at Newbold on Avon and off at Barby Lane. A rather pleasant journey with kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Great-spotted Woodpecker. Green Woodpecker 2, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Sparrowhark, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler for my efforts. Arrived at Draycote mid-morning meeting up with Francoise to chat about moths before searching the country park and lower car parks. Highlights were Whitethroat 8, Garden Warbler 4, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff and Hobby while from the comfort of the cafe managed to find Common Tern and Black Tern. Other species noted were Lapwing 2, Green Woodpecker 4, Gadwall and Grey Wagtail pair with two young.
This evening after our curry me and Dave went down the valley - yeah you guessed it and no they were not calling but we did have a flying Little Owl at Grandborough Fields farm also a few Stock Dove and one Lapwing


Monday, 9 June 2008

June 9th 2008

Still recovering from Saturdays mothing so did not get out till mid-day by which time it was a very pleasant 23c. Plenty of more breeding evidence at Draycote Water with fresh broods of Mallard, Great-crested Grebe, Garden Warblers and Whitethroats while the five young swans have moved in to toft shallows and seemed to be all ok ( same pair last year raised four young but lost them all). Highlight of the visit was an Osprey which came in just after 2pm to fish and once successful left and a Blue-tailed Damselfly. Couple of shots of the more colourful hawk-moths from Saturday.

Elephant Hawk-moth of which 23 were caught

Small Elephant Hawk-moth the only one caught.

With luck I am back out again tonight so heres hoping.


June 8th 2008

It was National Moth Night Last night so along with a few friends I arranged a full nights mothing session involving 20+ traps dotted all over Brandon Marsh supported by a very tasty b-b-q and on lookers so all in all it went pretty well with a provisional list of 114 species of 1080 moths which I am still compiling.
Before the session started some of us went for a walk to watch the bats feeding and managed to see Daubenton's, Common Pipistrelle and Noctule Bat.
On the trips around emptying traps in the night Cetties Warblers were calling with a few seen at day break, Grasshopper Warbler calling on newlands and also Oystercatcher while an hours watch at top pool after we had put everything away and released what we had caught after a photo session and the eyeballs were still open we managed Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Green Woodpecker and Buzzard 8. The last five including me and Dave that were left standing waited for the Diner at Long Itchington to open at nine and we had a very hearty breakfast before heading off home and bed jiggered. Just some of the many photos taken by me

Poplar Hawk-moth one of eight trapped.

Eyed Hawk-moth

Poplar Kitten

Obscure Wainscote a Brandon Marsh speciality

Gold Spot


Friday, 6 June 2008

June 6th 2008

Last night me and Dave spent an hour in the valley before going to the pub listening for Quail (have arrived just over the county border in Northamptonshire) but still no luck though we did have Stock Dove 3, Lesser Black-back Gulls 100 and a pair of Grey Partridge acting as if they had young nearby. Today has been busy getting ready for National Moth night tomorrow night checking all me traps, lights and torches work, I and my fellow moth'ers are running 18 traps so here's hoping. Hobby over garden mid-day and Greenfinches on feeders and while having coffee and cake this afternoon at Draycote Water we could only find a Buzzard and a very obliging Garden Warbler.


Thursday, 5 June 2008

June 5th 2008

Knee played up so decided not to wander to far and went to Ashlawn Cutting about a mile from my house looking for day flying moths once it had warmed up. No sign of the Forester a scarce moth in Warwickshire which this site is famous for but managed Burnet Companion, Mother Shipton 2, Silver-ground Carpet and a couple of micro moths that need identifying. Birds seen were Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Hobby 2 and Raven flew over while butterfly's included Red Admiral, Small Heath, Small White, Large White, Common Blue, Brimstone and Orange-tip. Back home and Buzzard 2 drifted over garden along with a few Swifts while Magpie, Sparrrowhawk, House Sparrow 2 and Blue Tit visited the garden itself.


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

June 4th 2008

Monday I rested the knee and Tuesday heavy all day rain forced another day of rest so with clear sky's and bright sunshine it was out on the trusty steed and down the valley with brief view of Turtle Dove as it flew across the road near Railway Cottages while Grandborough Fields Farm had Cuckoo, Whitethroat, Buzzard 5 and recently fledged Skylarks and Hill Rd had Great-spotted Woodpecker and Sedge Warbler. Draycote Water was very pleasant, bringing out the hoards which at the same time this welcome warm spell increased the bird activity with Common Tern 2, Turnstone, Buzzard 8, Gadwall pair, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker 2 and Lesser Black-back Gull 5 while the Mute Swans in toft bay have hatch there eggs with 5 bundles of fluff tucked under mum as she stood away from the nest and there are now two pairs of Great-crested Grebes with two young each. Butterfly's here were Common Blue and Small Heath while the moths on the cafe included Pale Pinion and Coxcombe Prominent. Decided to check out Cawston Spinney on the way home and rewarded with two young Lesser-spotted Woodpecker tho very mobile, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and plenty of warblers.


Sunday, 1 June 2008

June 1st 2008

A crap day. Woke to find the knee injury I picked up in Armenia had returned and I could hardly put any weight on it so it was a case of "hop along cassidy" when Dave picked me this morning. We did the valley and started well with a Cuckoo near Grandborough Fields Farm and 160+ plus Lesser Black-back Gulls between Sawbridge and Willoughby then it was on to Draycote Reservoir where my description of "its only early morning mist and will soon burn off" got us absolutely soaked as I limped to farborough spit. Only 2 Common Tern for our efforts. Dried out while doing a quick check on Napton Reservoir which had Whitethroat 4 and two broods of Long-tailed Tits then it started to rain again so we sheltered in The Diner, Long Itchington before moving on to Brandon Marsh.
Brandon was quiet with the best being Oystercatcher pair with young, Shelduck 2 and plenty of Reed Warblers but by now I had enough so we called it quits and went home.