Tuesday, 30 September 2008

September 30th 2008

Unconfirmed report of Common Crane seen by a non-birding dog walker at Rugby Radio Station yesterday so with nothing to lose gave the area between The Locks, Lower Hillmorton and the A5 (Warwickshire boundary) a good search in the rain but no trace. There were plenty of Wood Pigeons, 50 Meadow Pipits, 20 Linnets and first winter Stonechat.
Back home mid-morning and garden visited by Chiffchaff and Coal Tit and a House Martin flew south.
Draycote Water late afternoon was very windy with Common Scoter male out in centre towards valve tower, Shag 2 on training boats, Rock Pipit on farborough bank, Pintail 2, Goosander 3, Gadwall 6, Teal 24, Common Sandpiper 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker 4, Kingfisher 2, Wheatear and Grey Wagtail 2.


Monday, 29 September 2008

September 29th 2008

Could not get out till late afternoon so missed Dave Hutton and Steve Seal at Draycote Water who had Rock Pipit, Shag and 60+ Meadow Pipits along farborough bank while enjoying a photographing session and Francoise who had a Wheatear near the valve tower.

Shag and Kestrel by Steve Seal
I did not give myself time to find the reported Common Scoter male but did have first winter Kittiwake in roost along with first winter Med Gull and 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull. As I was leaving at least 30 Siskin over toft shallows and a Chiffchaff was heard.


Sunday, 28 September 2008

September 28th 2008

Both the pond and the valley were shrouded in fog so we worked Napton on the Hill which due to its elevation was bathed in sunshine and clear. Most productive area was the churchyard which had Spotted Flycatcher 4, Chiffchaff 2 and Song Thrush 10 while the quarry had Willow Tit and Swallow 2, Redwing and more Song Thrushes went over.
Brandon Marsh had Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe 50, Swallow 2, Whitethroat, Nuthatch, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Siskin 20 and Buzzards 8 but we missed the Spotted Redshank which had been present earlier. Spent some time on Lawford Heath watching Meadow Pipits heading south and met up with the bumbling bears.


Saturday, 27 September 2008

September 27th 2008

What a frustrating day at Draycote Water. The mist finally lifted after mid-day and though blue skies appeared, hazy sunshine made it difficult to pick out any day flying migrants and we (John & Alfie Judge, Dave Hutton, Steve Seal, Rich Dawkins and myself) had to put up with birders who either through ignorance or stupidity had no consideration for the bird, other birders or photographers and just barged up flushing the birds off after we had put in so much effort tracking them down. We have to accept that joe public will flush birds accidentally but birders should be capable of behaving differently (its field craft). At least two Rock Pipits remained but were frequently moving between farborough & toft bank, Kingfisher 2, Raven 2, Chiffchaff 3, Shags 2 immatures on boats in front of cafe, Snipe 3 over, Goosander 3 off farborough spit, Wheatear 2 by valve tower, Meadow Pipits 20+ with a few migrating over with Skylarks, and at least 6 Buzzards and Kestrels 3. Two Swallows feeding over country park with 10 House Martins and the last two pairs are still feeding young.

Rock Pipit

A good selection of moths on the walls of cafe with Sallow 2, Lunar Underwing, Snout, Canary Shoulder Thorn and Common Marbled Beauty.

Sallow by Bob Hazell
After 7hrs at pond moved on to dunsmore ridge and in two hours 20 Skylarks, 50 Meadow Pipits, 4 Siskin, 10 Houe Martins, 30 Swallows and 50 Lapwings moved south east and at least 2 Ravens and 10 Buzzards enoyed the sunshine.


Friday, 26 September 2008

September 26th 2008

Managed to get as far as Dunchurch before turning back due to the thick mist that appeared this morning. Ended up having breakfast in Sainsbury's and catching up with some domestics. A Swallow going west was the highlight of the morning. This afternoon went with Dave for our coffee and cake and joined by Steve, John and Bob. They had already seen 3 Rock Pipits so when we searched for them we pushed that number up to 5 which beats my October 1996 count of four. Shag 2 immature still present on boats.

STOP PRESS Common Crane flew over Rugby 1855pm and appeared to be looking for some where to land east of Rugby. Well done Mark and his sister who saw it independently go over there houses.


September 25th 2008

The cloud cover we have been experiencing all week is starting to break up and there was a small movement of birds at first light going south over bush hill, Flecknoe with Rock Pipit calling and Jack Snipe the best amongst Meadow Pipit 40, Chaffinch 20, Skylark 15 and a few Blackbirds. The Jack Snipe, my first for the autumn may have been local as it appeared to come off a nearby field.
Unfortunately this movement did not last long so moved on to Draycote Water where I met up with Kevin Grewcock on farborough bank and we enjoyed a Peregrine being mobbed by a Raven after it had attacked he local Starlings and a migrating Rock Pipit feeding on the shore line of the fishermen’s car park.
After Kevin left I met up with Mark Phillips and his good lady so another excuse for a coffee and by the time I left the café mid-afternoon the cloud had broken again and the resulting warm spell caused the local Buzzards population to appear and while checking numbers (10 counted) I spotted a dark phase immature Honey Buzzard over lin croft point heading south and had excellent views as it went overhead. I was soon on the mobile to John to gloat – dead chuffed as I thought I missed my chance of seeing one as the influx from last weekend appears to have died down.
Other birds seen included Shag 2, Goosander 3, Yellow Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, a few local House Martins over country park and Thurlaston village and 20 Swallows going west over sewage farm.
PATCH NEWS Kevin had been to Napton on the Hill earlier today and had Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and a Kingfisher. On the way to Draycote he had seen a Merlin near Broadwell.


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

September 24th 2008

Early morning walk around nearby woods produced Willow & Coal Tit, Treecreeper 2, Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker but nothing going over due to the dull overcast weather. Discovered a slow puncture so did not get to Draycote Water till late afternoon and the weather had not improved so little chance of any migrants getting past the coast and inland.
Redshank in toft was probably a local bird moving around and Garden Warbler in biggen bay may have been overlooked from the weekend. The 2 Shag immature on the training boats in front of café, Common Sandpiper between biggen bay and valve tower and the three Goosanders near the valve tower.
Considered staying for the roost till dark but dropping temperatures and dull weather persuaded me fish and chips were a healthier option? Did manage to find first year Med Gull and Yellow-legged Gull before giving up.
I have not mentioned moths for a while because the wet and cool weather for the last four weeks has caused numbers and species to decline rapidly so been experiencing low catches. Autumn moths are appearing among the last of the summer species such as Black Rustic, Blair’s Shoulder-knot, Lunar Underwing, Sallow and Barred Sallow.


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

September 23rd 2008

It was cool, breezy and overcast at first light and I’m thinking what the bloody hell am I doing out?, thirty minutes later and all is well with the world with roosting Tawny Owl in bunkers hill wood and yesterdays two Little Egrets were feeding quietly next to Bar-tailed Godwit 3, Dunlin and Water Rail on a pool near the River Leam. Very few small birds at first but as it became brighter managed 7 Siskin, Blackcap female and scared the wits out of three Grey Partridge on the footpath in front of me. There were a couple of hundred gulls loafing around various fields including a first year Yellow-legged Gull and Raven and Sparrowhawk went over. Decided to carry on walking to Grandborough and re-found the Stonechat before returning to Dunchurch
Arrived at Draycote just as the wind picked up and it rained heavily so failed the first time round but after it had passed I saw Ringed Plover 2, Common Sandpiper 2, Goldcrest 4, Swallow 2, House Martin 10, Raven, Goosander 3, Shag 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker 4. There were also two young Foxes playing on the shore in toft shallows.
Moved on to Napton on the Hill and gave the place a good search around the quarry, windmill and churchyard areas. Bullfinch 8, Siskin 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker were the best of the local population while migrants were represented by Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler in churchyard, 17 Meadow Pipits over the quarry and 5 Snipe inside. What looked like a Pied Flycatcher in the garden of the windmill showed briefly but I could not get a decent view from the entrance and this location is off limits to birders.


Monday, 22 September 2008

September 22nd 2008

No visable migration in two hours in poor weather this afternoon on dunsmore ridge, only a Green Woodpecker for my efforts. Bit more luck this evening with Dave in the valley with Snipe over grandborough fields farm and a large corvid roost forming nearby. On our way out a Barn Owl crossed the hill rd near valley farm.


Sunday, 21 September 2008

September 21st 2008

Out with Dave at first light to a cold (5deg) grandborough valley where we had Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, Buzzards 5 and Ravens 3 while having a brew and enjoying the sun rise. Met up with Steve Valentine and moved on to Draycote Water which still had hundreds of gulls hanging around being harassed by 2 Ravens and a first winter Yellow-legged Gull on our amble out to farborough spit where there were 3 Goosanders feeding close in and must have been part of the group of five that has been here for a while but it’s the first time I have had any of them on this side of reservoir since there arrival. Other birds seen included, single Shag immature resting on sailing boats, Wigeon, Gadwall, Meadow Pipits 4 and Yellow Wagtail.

Goosanders by Steve Valentine
After a breakfast at Long Itchington we moved on to Brandon Marsh which had 4 Swallows flying south, Buzzard 5, Snipe 26 on east marsh, Chiffchaff 2 including one calling and Nuthatch on the visitors center feeders. A large Grass Snake was in front of the east marsh hide.
As we left reports of Honey Buzzards in the county began to reach us so we decided to watch the sky from Lawford Heath and over the next hour we were able find Buzzards 13, Ravens 9 and 26 migrating Swallows south in three small groups. Also seen were Meadow Pipits 8, Corn Bunting and a first winter Shelduck. The nearby tip had at least 500 large gulls but did not have time to go through them as she who must be adored had my dinner ready at Dave’s.
Once fed and watered I worked the dunsmore ridge for two hours but again no HBs, just a steady movements of Swallows (90) all heading south in small groups, Siskin 2, Hobby, Raven 2, the large female Peregrine which I had seen at Draycote Water yesterday and my first Merlin of the autumn.
PATCH NEWS: of interest the total count of 16 Ravens today is a one day patch record for me and two of the six HBs reported in Warwickshire today were in my patch including one at Draycote.


Saturday, 20 September 2008

September 20th 2008

I was out before first light working the footpaths between the M45 and Grandborough village that criss-cross this area. Considering there has been little rain in the last few days the ground is boggy in places and not for the fashion conscious. Tawny Owl calling while still dark and a Barn Owl at first light was a good start to the day along with the 7 Snipe flushed off a damp field. The area has a healthy population of Yellowhammers, Linnets and Greenfinches feeding on the stubble fields while remaining summer visitors still present were Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Migrant Whinchat and Stonechat were found a half mile north of where they were reported yesterday so could be different birds. Bunkers Hill Wood had Great-spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Siskin. Kept an eye for anything going over but just had local Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. As I made me way back to Dunchurch a Lesser Whitethroat was feeding behind the houses at Toft.
Highlight of my visit to Draycote Water was the COMMON CRANE which flew over heading south at 11:20am. Well it was not a Honey Buzzard but who’s complaining, second one of the year. Lost of people activity, very warm, no wind and very few birds but managed a large female Peregrine chasing the gull flock, Shags 2 immature off hensborough bank and Goosander 5 near valve tower. Toft bay was full of fishermen so no trace of Common Scoter but did have Kingfisher, Buzzard 2, Common Sandpiper, Teal 18 and Raven while the disturbance by sailors and fishermen caused the Great-crested Grebes to congregate together in toft shallows and counted 177, a very good September count. Back home and butterflies are enjoying the last of my flowers with Comma, Large White, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue making an appearance.


Friday, 19 September 2008

September 19th 2008

Another day watching the sky but again saw nothing. I refused to give in. Brief visit with Dave to Draycote Water for coffee and cake this afternoon and enjoyed a juvenile Peregrine soaring low over the cafe.


Thursday, 18 September 2008

September 18th 2008

At last - blue sky’s once the mist lifted. Spent a couple of hours on Bush Hill, Flecknoe watching the first decent visible migration of the autumn involving 400+ Swallows, 20 Siskin 14, Meadow Pipits 40 and calling Crossbill and Brambling. Local birds in valley included Raven 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Snipe 4, Wigeon 20, Buzzard 5 and Sparrowhawk 2.
Draycote Water was tranquil with Kingfisher in toft along with Common Sandpiper 4 but I failed to find the female Common Scoter though it is still present. Only other birds noted were Shag 2 on the boats in front of cafe, Whitethroat in sailing club car park, Buzzard 8, Chiffchaff 4 and more swallows going south very high with the occasional Siskin and Meadow Pipit. Two immature and adult Hobby were around the country park
After mid-day went to dunsmore ridge again hoping for Honey Buzzard but though perfect conditions very little flew over apart from Buzzard 3 and Sparrowhawk.


September 17th 2008

WARNING - My computer screen is playing up - keeps blanking out so if I go off ether for a while I'm on the streets saving for a new one so be patient.
REDSTART UPDATE - Yesterdays bird in my garden returned that evening and appeared to go to roost in my neighbours holly tree.

Did not go out early hoping the Redstart would appear but no luck. Arrived at Draycote Water just after eight and there were four Kingfishers in toft shallows and the female Common Scoter was in toft bay amongst the Tufted Duck but flew off when fisherman's boats arrived but returned later in day. Ringed Plover 2 and Common Sandpiper 2 also in toft bay. Had a good look at the sewage farm and managed a migrant Sedge Warbler (local population have left) and a couple of Chiffchaff. Goosander's 5 were between valve tower and inlet while the Shags 3 were on the rocks off draycote bank and the Pintail's which I missed yesterday were off hensborough bank. They are worth an identification look being a female and a partial eclipse male.
After coffee I practiced what I preach and searched the high ground in the country park and hit the jackpot with a Wood Warbler in the small clump of trees by the top car park but it flew off down the hill and as I was searching for it managed to stumble across a Redstart(my 12th record here and second of the year) so put the news out and Bob Hazell arrived but it was elusive and over the next two hours only showed fleetingly. The Wood warbler was my sixth record of this species at Draycote Water but never did see it again. Couple of Vapourer moths flying around here.
Other birds dotted around the reservoir were Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Green Woodpecker 3, Yellow-legged Gull adult, Spotted Flycatcher in sailing club lower car park, Wigeon 30, Meadow Pipit 9, Yellow Wagtail 6 including a very yellow adult and as I was leaving one of the first winter Little Gulls was in biggen bay.
Plenty of birdwatchers about today so its pretty shameful that they don't put there records in the log book - especially as they look at it before going around (end of gripe).


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

September 16th 2008

Draycote was quiet this morning - easterly winds but too much cloud cover for any visible migration. Shelduck first year in toft was a new arrival and yesterdays 2 first winter Little Gulls off biggen bay otherwise it was the usual delinquents - Common Scoter female in toft, Shag 2 on boats in front of cafe, Yellow Wagtail 10 on farborough bank, Hobby over, Chiffchaff 5 and Common Sandpiper. Long chat with Bob and Francoise and finally managed to meet up with Mark Philips after communicating by e-mail for ages. He spotted the Hobby while I was thinking whats he looking at Helicopters for. Spent some time in country park but still no migrants.
After eight hours I gave up and went home and bugger me - there was a migrant in the form of a immature male Redstart in my garden - first one I have ever had in garden and it spent five minutes feeding before disappearing only to appear for thirty seconds an hour later.

Not the best of shot but did not have time to play about with me knobs.
If this has managed to get past the coast and cloud cover then tomorrow could be interesting - high ground and a heads up day I think.


Monday, 15 September 2008

September 15th 2008

Today's been a game of two halves - and I won them both. Out before first light to grandborough valley and rewarded with four Barn Owls then spent three hours on Bush Hill, Flecknoe looking for migrants and had 17 Siskin, 14 Meadow Pipit and 30 Swallows going west and there was a Spotted Flycatcher in the copse and Lesser Whitethroat in the gorse bushes. On the way home two Curlew were in a waterlogged field near Sawbridge and two Grey Wagtails in the stream that runs through Willoughby village.
In the afternoon I spent another three hours on dunsmore ridge hoping for a Honey Buzzard. The weekends influx on the east coast has some of them drifting inland but alas not on my shift but I did well with Hobby 2, Buzzard 5, Peregrine 2, a Common Tern flying towards Draycote and 27 Golden Plover.
Late evening visit to Draycote Water produced Blackcap male, Yellow Wagtail 2, Common Scoter female and Black Tern. The Osprey came in late and once it caught its dinner it again flew down the grandborough valley. There were at least 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost.


Sunday, 14 September 2008

September 14th 2008

The first couple of hours at Draycote Water this morning were spoilt by mist which took some time to clear and was responsible for me missing the Little Egret the Hall brothers had contacted me about, but it flew off disappearing in to the gloom. Another miss was the dark blob which flushed all the duck off the waterlogged fields adjacent the River Leam below hensborough bank. At least Wigeon 70, Teal 15, Pintail 2 immature/female, 17 Snipe and 300+ Canada Geese involved so what ever it was it scared the hell out of them. Once the mist had gone there did not seem to be much about that was different with the usual Goosander 5, Shag 4, Yellow Wagtail, Common Tern and Wheatear 2. Gave it an hour in the country park hoping for something to fly over but zilch, did get the chance to catch up with Steve Valentine, Hall brothers and Lee Johnson. Lee had a Greenshank go over earlier. Walked to toft with Steve where we had Buzzard 4 soaring together, Common Scoter amongst the Tufted Duck flock and a Hobby hunting above us.

Wheatear by Steve Valentine
Unconfirmed report of Osprey this morning but with so many eyes looking I reckon it was bull turd. Dragonfly's seen were Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter and Common Darter while there was also few butterflies with Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Brimstone seen.
Spent two hours this afternoon on Dunsmore ridge looking for Honey Buzzard but no luck.


Saturday, 13 September 2008

September 13th 2008

Yesterday's Osprey was fishing at 06:45am at Draycote Water this morning, making several attempts before being successful and flying off in to the mist down the grandborough valley. Six Black Terns including one adult, Common Tern juv, Common Scoter female, Wheatear 3, Yellow Wagtail 18 were all seen from the farborough bank while yesterdays heavy rain caused many gulls to hang around later than normal with Med Gull first year and Yellow-legged Gull 3 (2 first years and adult) amongst them. Autumn migration was represented by a Meadow Pipit, Siskin 4, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and Hobby in country park while overhead there were very few Swallows or House Martins. The Shags 4 and Goosanders 5 still present.
Worked the grandborough valley in the afternoon and it has certainly taken a battering from yesterdays storm with many flooded fields, streams and rivers and damaged crops. Highlights were the two Little Egrets feeding on the River Leam between Kytes Hardwick and Toft Farm, Wheatear along flecknoe Rd, Hobby, Little Owl, Great-spotted Woodpecker Granborough Fields and Bush Hill, Flecknoe had 4 Siskin.
Twit of the day goes to the dork walking around Draycote with his bins, tripod and scope still in there cases complaining there was not much to see.


Friday, 12 September 2008

September 12th 2008

The Grey Phalarope found by Bob Hazell was a good reward for the effort he puts in at Draycote and I was looking forward to seeing it once I had finished some domestic chores this morning. Big bloody mistake as it soon became obvious on my second lap that it was not around this afternoon. The bonus and you have to have a warped sense of humour like mine to appreciate it, but I was witnessing what can only be described as the mother ****** of all downpours. The heaviest rain I have seen and it went on for over two hours causing major local flooding. I had seen Tim Marlow earlier on draycote bank so appreciated his call to say there was an Osprey out in centre fishing despite the rain and when I reached the cafe managed to show it to the wardens as it came in very close. Later on I was joined by John Judge for coffee but as the rain did not stop he had to go and then the cafe closed so had no other choice than to bare the brunt of the storm - soaked. Once the rain stopped managed to add a few more birds to my day list and the highlights were Black Tern 3, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail 11, Common Redstart in sailing club car park, Shag 4 immatures, Wigeon 2, Common Scoter female, Spotted flycatcher biggen bay, Wheatear 5 and Swift 2 equalling my 4th latest record for this species. The bike ride home was home was chaotic with many roads flooded and some very inconsiderate drivers.


Thursday, 11 September 2008

September 11th 2008

Both mine and Dave's traps had Brindled Green and Lunar Underwing in them and once I had cleared both down it was off to Draycote Water just in time for a deluge to start just before eight. Well at least I was not the only hardy sole out in such weather meeting up with Neville later in the day. Not much change since my last visit with Shag 4 immatures on the boats in front of cafe, Goosander 5 near valve tower, 3 Black Tern out in centre along with 3 Common Tern. New arrivals were 5 Snipe feeding on the shoreline of the outlet and Redshank in toft. Numbers of Yellow Wagtails were down with only 2 seen. Other sightings included 98 Cormorant, Pochard male, Pintail female, Willow Warbler 2, Swallows 200, House Martins 300, Sand Martins 40 and Swift 2 while I missed Neville's Kingfisher and Wheatear. In the afternoon Terry Southgate had 2 Hobby and female Common Scoter and while catching up with my blogs I noticed one of my feeders had a very greedy Mouse which must have fell in - eat all the seed then could not get out.


September 10th 2008

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay Day three
After a restless night woke in the English Channel to a north westerly wind getting stronger and more westerly throughout the day. Plenty of Gannets and a few small birds were flitting about the decks eventually finding a Wheatear, Reed Warbler, White Wagtail 2 and Tree Pipit. As we continued up the English Channel there was again more bird activity with Harbour Porpoise, Great Skua 14, Artic Skua 2, Manx Shearwater 30+, Kittiwake 10, many more Gannets, 40+ Fulmars and Storm Petrel 3, and Puffin while waders were represented by Whimbrel 11 and Turnstone 3 all heading west. Minkie Whale was the star of the day and a welcome bonus. As we neared the Isle of Wight a flock of 17 Common Scoter went east and on approaching Portsmouth Harbor there were Common Tern 4, Sandwich Tern 2, Little Egret sitting on one of the anchored ships we passed and a Grey Phalarope flying towards land. After the usual security controls I disembarked with my normal wobbly leg syndrome and arrived home in time to put mine and Dave's traps on.


September 9th 2008

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay Day Two
I’m an old hand at this game so wasted no time when we docked in getting too Santurtzi Hill and getting soaked. It was obvious that there had been a fall of migrants with Wheatear 3, Willow Warbler 14, Spotted Flycatcher 2, Pied Flycatcher 16, Tree Pipit 10 around the cottage and picnic area half way up supported by a local Cirl bunting female, Sardinian Warbler 2, Melodious Warbler 2, Red-backed Shrike 3 and Stonechats 10. Further down the hill there were more Willow Warblers 10+, Blackcap, Turtle Dove, Garden Warbler 2, Firecrest, Pied Flycatcher 6, Serin 3, Cetti’s Warbler, another Sardinian Warbler and Zitting Cisticola 2. The bird of the morning was the Spotless Starling seen perched near the farm showing well and its been a few trips since I have seen one on the hill. Returning to the docks a male Black Redstart had been found by other birders near the railway bridge entrance and back on board there were Common Sandpiper, Turnstone 2, and Spotted Redshank in harbor along with thousands of Yellow-legged Gulls while the ship it self was attracted to the local Greenfinches and Chaffinches feeding on tit bits given by the passengers.
We set sail with the wind increasing from the south and within 20 minutes of leaving we had the first of three groups of Sabine’s Gull with parties of 4, 16 & 7 followed by a party of 15 Cory Shearwaters resting on the surface and 2 Balearic Shearwater ten minutes later going north. Over the next hour I had a small party of Common Dolphins (10+), Striped Dolphin 8, Sooty Shearwater being mobbed by two Great Skua, 20 Cory’s Shearwater and Cuvier’s beaked Whale 2 showing there pinkish heads and brown bodies then things were quiet for a while until 5 Common Dolphins started bow riding and while watching this I managed to see a Little Shearwater on the surface which fluttered out of the way, going down the port side. Activity increased late afternoon when a Sooty Shearwater 2, Grey Phalarope 3, Great Skua 4 and Common Tern went past with in a short period of each other then the first of 24 Fin Whales showed followed by 6 Long-finned Pilot Whales, 14 Bottled-nosed Dolphins and Sunfish 2 but all this activity was put on the back burner when an all dark petrel flew past heading south. It was unformed dark, forked tail showing no wing or rump pattern and had the size, shape and flight of Leach’s so presumably it was either a had dark pigmentation or was oiled. Still it got the heart beat racing and Leach’s is most unusual in the bay. Birds on board were a Chaffinch, Wheatear, Greenfinch and Yellow Wagtail.


September 8th 2008

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay Day One
The storms that had brought high winds and heavy rain to the south coast started to die down over night as we passed the French coast of Ushant. It was still breezy with occasional showers and ideal for picking up seabirds that had been pushed nearer the coast or disorientated by the weather. Plenty of the more common seabirds went by in good numbers while the highlights included Storm Petrel 24, Great Skua 8, Artic Skua, Manx Shearwater 15 and Sooty Shearwater. As we entered the northern part of the bay activity continued and over the next six hours managed Gannet 120+, Lesser Black-backed Gull 34, Greater Black-backed Gull 5, Kittiwake 12, Fulmar 42, Common Tern 12, Little Tern 1, Black Tern 4, Storm Petrel 6, Razorbill 10 and Great Skua 5 with a good passage of shearwaters that I was hoping for which included Sooty 5, Manx 17, Cory 48, Greater 2 and Balearic Shearwater 4. Once we neared the continental shelf then whale/dolphin activity started with the blow of a distant Fin Whale and over the next two hours managed to see 26 Fin Whale and blows of a further 11 animals though none were close, Long-finned Pilot Whale 4, Common Dolphin 60 and a distant school of dolphins on the horizon that could not be identified to a species. Other sightings for the day included Sunfish 2, Ringed Plover circling the ship, 5 Whimbrel heading east, Turnstone 2, a few Swallows picked up low over the sea heading south and on board there was a Whinchat and White Wagtail which had arrived in the afternoon and more excitingly a moth was found on deck eight which I managed to identify later as a Gem – a known migrant so must have come on board overnight.


Sunday, 7 September 2008

September 7th 2008

Scared the hell out of Hobby which was perched on the fence as I bombed down the hill towards the half way lane entrance just before 7pm. Mike was already around so we kept in touch. There was a little rain and it was obvious there had been a fresh arrival of Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears on farborough, draycote, & hensborough bank with at least 30 Yellows and 10 Wheatears with at least 6 on farborough bank and the fields below. One juvenile Artic, 2 Common & 5 Black Tern out in centre and mobile ringed Plover and Dunlin while Goosander 5 and Shag 3 still present.
Walking back towards wind surfing area I picked up a Osprey over country park and tried to get Mike on to it but it dropped to go down grandborough valley. The spinney on top of the country park hill was very productive with Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Hobby 2 all found and managed to catch up with Richard Harbird who I had not seen for some time. Went back to farborough bank and chatted to kay and max before heavy rain convinced me breakfast would be most timely and arrived at cafe as 3 Common Crossbills immature or females flew over country park. The down side to eating was that news broke of a Great Skua which had been seen heading towards toft and then pure panic broke out when some sources were reporting a Great Snipe. Communication break down but no sign of skua.


Saturday, 6 September 2008

September 6th 2008

Another day in paradise?, you guessed it - rained again. I had already been at Draycote Water since 7am when news of the Common Scoter male found by Mike Doughty-Lee broke and as I made my way to see it a Little Tern adult arrived from the south east following the same flight path that saw the arrival of 8 Common Terns earlier, over cafe towards rainbow corner. By the time I arrived in rainbow corner I could not see any 'white' terns at first but there were at least 5 Black Terns then managed a couple of Common Terns.
Hung around this area till 10am finding Goosander 5, Shoveler 9, Artic Tern 4 going south high, Golden Plover heading west 0955am and at least 6 Common Tern out in centre. Earlier I had a Whimbrel go over calling, 10 Yellow Wagtails, Wheatear and Shags 4 on fishing platforms / training boats. On my way home at mid-day I saw what I thought was a rufus tinged warbler dive in to the willow scrub left of hide but as I only saw it for a nano second will have to be the one that got away. After dinner the rain relented for a few hours so it was a bash the high ground session for me on Bush Hill, Flecknoe and Napton on the Hill but for all that effort (16 miles on top of the nine already done) not a sniff of a migrant. I swear I'm shrinking in this deluge and "Billy" tomorrow night will be a welcome break.


Friday, 5 September 2008

September 5th 2008

Heavy rain all day, easing at 4pm only to start up again. Arrived at Draycote early afternoon and struggled to see anything in the downpour so spent half an hour sheltering in hide and managed a Reed Warbler in the willows. A Chat to Lee who put me on to the Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank but failed to see the Common Tern, Yellow-legged Gull or Shag 3 John Judge had before my arrival. Really gave the place a bashing hoping for Grey Phalarope or Sabines Gull but no luck though some of the more sheltered areas had numerous calling Chiffchaff and then my luck changed with immature Siskin near the valve tower and Hobby hunting the many Swallows and House Martins. I stuck the weather out and was rewarded with a large group of Black Terns arriving at 17:35pm. Counted 59 and while watching these I picked up Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin 30+ and Spotted Flycatcher by the bench on lin croft point. Arrived home at 7pm and was just getting me gear off when a Sparrowhawk caught a Hedge Sparrow and sat on my fence and I watched mesmerised as it plucked and eat it. Only after 10 minutes when it flew off did I think of me camera - dumb bugger.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

September 4th 2008

I was out before first light to the valley again only to get another soaking though a Woodcock over grandborough fields farm did make up for it and along the flecknoe rd there was a Wheatear and Stock Dove 19 and the Basealy small holding had 4 Grey Partridge.
Arrived at draycote Water in another down pour but disappointingly the place seemed pretty quiet and it was not till I had completed two circuits and the rain had stopped that a few species showed themselves. Immature Artic Tern & Goosander 5 near valve tower, Common Tern 2 out in centre, Shelduck biggen bay, Yellow-legged gull adult in front of sailing club while 11 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Grey wagtail and Wheatear female were on farborough bank. The various weather fronts going over produced thousands of House Martins and Swallows over toft bay including 2 Swifts and 200 Sand Martin. By the time I had coffee in the cafe it was obvious that there seemed to be more Shag's about and though difficult to count I did managed 8 with 4 on fishing platform, 2 near outlet and 2 on lamb shoal point so presumably we have had another small influx. Also counted 62 Cormorants.
Another down pour on the way home put the final nail in the coffin regarding the weather we are having so went on line to book a cabin for tonight's sailing to Bilbao but could not get the one I wanted so booked instead for the sailing next week. If I am going to get wet every bloody day then I might as well do it bobbing up and down in the bay of Biscay.
Buddy Dave texted me on top of some mountain in Austria - just seen Golden Eagle, Crossbills and Nutcracker so a very happy bunny even if wifey is dragging him up and and down dale trying to slim him down.
This afternoon there was a break in the weather so attempted to get to Priors Marston just on the border of my patch where Redstart male and Short-eared Owl had been reported but gave up half way and did bush hill, Flecknoe instead where I had Wheatear, Redstart immature and 4 Raven.
Finally the forecast tomorrow is dire - heavy rain most of the day from the east so off your sofas and search the high ground - could be worth it.


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

September 2nd 2008

Arrived early at pond hoping that some of last nights waders may have stayed and was pleased to find a flock of 9 Turnstone on toft bank. This is my second highest flock I have ever recorded here and only two short of the eleven that were present on 16th August 1987. Another good sighting was the immature or female Redstart feeding along the boundary hedge below farborough bank heading for the bridal path.
A full circuit and a walk to inlet produced single Black Tern, Shag 2 on fishing platforms, single Goosander between valve tower and inlet, Green Woodpecker 8, Shoveler 12, Wheatear farborough bank, 3 Grey & Yellow Wagtails and a Great-spotted woodpecker. Also of interest were a Kingfisher in toft shallows, a group of 26 Long-tailed Tits and a lone Swift amongst the 50+ Swallows and Sand Martins. Met up with Pete & Linda Price and a walk home chatting to Francoise (she had Shelduck yesterday and 3 Gooosander today) before I remembered I could have ridden. Still another millimeter off my waistline - I wish.


Monday, 1 September 2008

September 1st 2008

Weather has been awful, low cloud and persistent rain but it did not put me off my intention of doing the roost at Draycote Water. At least 6 Yellow-legged gulls (adult, 2 Sub adults and 3 first years) and first year Caspian Gull seen but the sighting of the day was a mixed flock of waders which circled a couple of times looking for somewhere to land this evening. The flock contained Dunlin 8, Sanderling 2, Turnstone 1, Knot and 10 birds I did not get to grips with. Also present were 5 Shag, 3 Goosander, 2 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 5 Shoveler and 2 Common Sandpiper. By the time I arrived home (after stopping off for a we dram - medicinal purposes of course)I was drenched.


August 31st 2008

Last nights mothing session at Combrook was eventful to say the least though on the species side we did not get as many as we had hoped for though numbers were very high but we did have 12 Roe Deer wander pass. Just don't mention mud to Dave so too cut a long story short Dave dropped me off at home at 2.15 and we were back out in time for Draycote Water to open at 7. A walk out to toft bay was slightly marred by the mist but managed Wheatear, Turnstone 2 juveniles, Yellow Wagtail 6, Yellow-legged Gull sub-adult and Shags 2 on fishing platforms. Joined by the Hall brothers in toft and added Wigeon, Teal 3 and Shoveler 4 but no sign of any terns and met up with Di on the way back.
Usual breakfast at Long Itchington and then it was on too Brandon Marsh where fatigue took over and as we had the east marsh hide to ourselves - nodded off only to be woken from my horny slumber by hundreds of snappers setting up. Green Sandpiper 2 and a few Whitethroats seen when the eye balls did stayed open. Rain started just after mid-day so called it a day. Many thanks to FF for your moth sightings - I am just about to up date my records so very much appreciated.