Thursday, 30 October 2008

October 30th 2008

Thousands of thrushes south over garden at first light but was disappointed when I arrived at Draycote Water as they were migrating further east over Bush Hill, Flecknoe and few took a westerly route over pond. Water Rail in toft shallows was a welcome visitor - sightings have dropped off in recent years since the sewage farm became mechanised and the beds dried up. Duck numbers have increased slightly with more Wigeon and Teal though still low for this time of year and a sub adult male Goldeneye joined the 4 ladies. Highlight of the day was the Red Kite drifing south at 11:14am mobbed by an army of corvids. Also seen were 1200 Starling, Shoveler 3, Gadwall 9, Common Sandpiper in toft bay, Dunlin on shoreline in front of cafe, and Peregrine 2. Mark phillips had the Little Owl again.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

October 29th 2008

It was another clear night dropping to at least minus 3 so it was bloody cold with icy roads and the remains of yesterdays snow still laying on the high ground as I entered the valley at first light. This unseasonal cold spell certainly brought the owls out and I had my best count for sometime with 4 Barn Owl, 2 Little Owl and a Tawny Owl around the Sawbridge / Willoughby area and once the sun rose then smaller birds became very active along the roadside hedges picking up 8 Reed Bunting, 42 Chaffinch, 12 Yellowhammer, Blackcap female, 130 Fieldfare and 38 Redwing between Sawbridge and Grandborough Fields. The Stonechat was still at Grandborough Fields Farm along with 13 Skylarks 2 Mistle Thrushes and Sparrowhawk. Checked the double barns area along the Flecknoe Road but no sign of Snow Bunting or Long-eared Owl all though there was some commotion in the next field which may have indicated the owl’s presence. In the time allowed walked the Grandborough to Dunchurch footpath as far as the lagoons. Reed Bunting 4, Skylark 12, Linnet 150, Fieldfare 76, Redwing 35, Meadow Pipit 12, Chaffinch 180, Brambling male and Stonechat male.
Back in Rugby for domestic duties gave me a chance to check out my garden feeders with Coal Tit 3, Chaffinch 6 and plenty of Blue and Great Tits plus a brief visit from a Goldcrest. This also gave me a chance to check the moth trap and was surprised to find a Common Marbled Carpet in there, just shows how hardy these little critters are.
John Judge rang informing me of two more Whooper Swans at Draycote Water so out again after dinner. The sunshine did not make me feel any warmer and the Whooper’s which were both adults were in toft bay before flying off south.

Whooper Swan
Through out my visit there were a small groups of migrants going over and my total count was an impressive 4000 Starlings, 530 Skylark which is the largest movement I have recorded here for this species, 100 Chaffinch, 200 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare, 9 Reed Bunting and.6 Lesser Redpoll. Decided to stay for roost and conditions were ideal with no wind though the temperature did plummet and recorded adult Yellow-legged Gull and adult winter Med Gull before my extremities said they had enough. Also present were Kingfisher 3, Common Sandpiper, Siskin 2, Shoveler 5, Gadwall 11, Pochard 4, Goldeneye 3 and Little Owl 2.
Checking my records today’s and yesterdays Whooper Swan records were my 13th and 14th record involving 78 birds and only recorded in 12 out of 32 years so shows they are still a scarce bird around these parts in comparison to Bewick Swan for which I have 59 records of over 600 birds and recorded in 26 out of 32 years.


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

October 28th 2008

Last night was clear and frosty with early morning fog so dug out me long johns, hat, scarf and gloves for the ride to Draycote Water. Fog soon lifted and pretty impressed that there were two birders already out but reality soon kicked in when they didn’t even give the Whooper Swan immature a glance as they walked passed. Other new arrivals included 14 Reed Buntings, 4 Shoveler and another Little Owl making it two for the day but no sign of Little Gull or Shag so I am sure they have gone. A steady stream of Starlings went over heading south west with a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Also seen were Great-spotted Woodpecker 3, Green Woodpecker 4, Gadwall 8 and Kingfisher.
Left for Lawford Heath just as the rain started so struggled to keep dry when I got there and though there were still plenty of finches around I gave in when the skies darkened hoping I would be home before it dropped but alas another soaking.


Monday, 27 October 2008

October 27th 2008

If yesterday was the worse birding day of the year putting me in a right old mood then today in comparison has been absolutely magical leaving me with a grin as wide as Jo Brand’s derrie air. The day had started on the downside with my first nil return since April from my moth trap due to the clear skies and drop in temperature but if this counted against the moths then the birds gained by enjoying a day of no rain and wintry sunshine.
Went out after dinner to Lawford Heath checking the two finch flocks that depending on food availability could become residential this winter. The first near the Coal Pit / Lawford Lane junction is a mixed flock of Chaffinches and Greenfinches of about 150 birds with 10 Redwing and 4 Mistle Thrushes while the Rookery Farm site has at least 200 Chaffinches, adult and immature Brambling plus 3 Tree Sparrows, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipits 5 and Collared Doves 78 with nearby Little Owl, Raven and Buzzard.
Decided to give Draycote Water a miss and concentrated time and effort on the valley and hit the jackpot by the double barns along the Flecknoe Road with a half hidden roosting Long-eared Owl in the far hedgerow being mobbed by Magpies and finches and while enjoying this a white-winged bird flew past and after some searching found it to be a immature / female Snow Bunting that attached itself to a small Linnet flock.
As I passed the next house on the right a Hen Harrier flew over lazily heading north. Full adult male looking resplendent as it went past yards away from me and I watched it flying over the country park at Draycote Water so hopefully someone else was sharing my good fortune. Other birds seen were Stock Dove 46, Tree Sparrow 2, Fieldfare 30, Sparrowhawk, Raven 2 and Buzzard 2 and further down the road the Stonechat was at Grandborough Fields Farm along with a brief glimpse of a distant Barn Owl.
Clocks have gone back now so a dodgy bike road home in the dark along the A45 with high speed traffic but at least I can be seen in my new fluorescent jacket - look like a fairy but if it save me from crushed nuts who cares.


Sunday, 26 October 2008

October 26th 2008

A crap day in paradise.
Heavy rain
Little Owl, Grandborough Valley
Heavy Rain
nothing at Draycote Water apart from Willow Tit in CP
Heavy rain
Brambling male, Chaffinch 200 Collared Dove 60 Lawford Heath
light rain
Snipe 44, Black-tailed Godwit Brandon Marsh
Peed off
back to bed


Saturday, 25 October 2008

October 25th 2008

Locally the wind moved to the south east for a couple of hours in the night before swinging back to south south west just long enough for a mid morning rush of thrushes through the dunsmore gap and down the Grandborough valley. Fieldfare reached 2300 and Redwing 1100 with 200+ Blackbirds noted along with the usual Starling flocks and 100 Golden Plover. One of the highlight was a White Wagtail amongst the “pieds” feeding on the old maize field between Sawbridge and Willoughby which has recently been ploughed and raked. We dont get many of these in the area being mainly a spring migrant and a Merlin imm/female racing along the hill rd could be one thats hanging around for the last few weeks.
A long overdue visit to Napton Reservoir produced a very elusive Water Pipit near the car park but little else and no Cetties Warbler so not sure if they still remain here.
As the wind picked up Draycote Water looked inviting but was hard work and though the usual Little Gull was present I could not find the Shag and spent too long in biggen bay freezing me nuts off trying to get to grips with a small warbler giving appalling views in the shore line willows, not the right shape or size for a chiff/willow but never showed for more than a nano second and wasn’t calling. Other birds of note were Yellow –legged Gull first winter, Redshank, Long-tailed Tit 10, Little Owl at the new location, Green Woodpecker 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit 30+, Grey Wagtail 3, Kingfisher inlet, Buzzard 2, Sparrowhawk and Goldeneye 2.
Late evening in the valley eating out gave an opportunity to listen for owls – Little and tawny calling


Friday, 24 October 2008

October 24th 2008

Out with Dave this afternoon to Draycote Water and it was deader than dead. Met up with Stephen in cafe and Mark and his dad on toft bank. Little Gull still in toft bay. A ride round the grandborough valley was more productive with a Peregrine hunting Starlings over the Hill Road and the Stonechat has returned for its fourth winter to Grandborough Fields Farm. Decided to return to Draycote water for the roost and shocked myself by finding my earliest ever Iceland Gull by three weeks with a second winter individual in the roost along with first winter Med Gull and 3 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls. The Iceland could be one of last winters first year birds returning tho early birds tend to move through.


Thursday, 23 October 2008

October 23rd 2008

On the principle that if we did not go for anything specific then Dave could not dip for the third time in a row we headed for Norfolk on spec. Breakfast at Kings Lynn at first light showed that there was some migration going in land with Whooper Swan 5 and many passerines despite the south west wind.
Arrived at Hunstanton and spent an hour watching migrants hugging the coast line as they came in and many passed just feet away from us. Counted Starling 9500, Chaffinch 2500, Redwing 98, Fieldfare 40, Meadow Pipit 32, Skylark 17, Greenfinch 10, Siskin 7, Snow Bunting 5 and a Robin. There were thousands of Wood Pigeon in the fields between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton so we never counted those still arriving.
Next stop was Titchwell but the 5000 Pink-footed Geese in a roadside field near Thornham were worth a stop and some feeble attempts to photograph them. By the time we arrived at Titchwell only Starlings continued coming in with another 7000 counted, Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill, Avocet 5 and Water Pipit were the best birds on the marsh while the coast has 20 Snow Bunting giving excellent views, a Jack Snipe coming in off the sea and 50 Common Scoter off shore. On returning to the car a Firecrest was calling but difficult to find in the high winds.



Wednesday, 22 October 2008

October 22nd 2008

Had a good session of visual migration over Bush hill, Flecknoe early morning for a couple of hours with Wood Pigeon 250, Starling 134, Fieldfare 53, Redwing 45, Meadow Pipit 45, Skylark 34, Chaffinch 23 and 100+ which went unidentified plus a few Blackbirds all heading in a south westerly direction. Nothing exciting but good to see. Earlier near Sawbridge I had two Barn Owls still out hunting at first light and four Snipe while further down the valley along the Flecknoe road 2 Grey Partridge were in Cym & Dave’s Basealy small holding along with a single Corn Bunting and nearby 20+ Stock Dove, Buzzard and 2 Raven. Too many pushchairs and joggers for my sanity so gave Draycote a miss till late afternoon but very little about apart from the Shag and Little Gull. Interestingly Mark Phillips had a Little Owl at a new location for Draycote so hopefully it will take up residence. Another Atlantic depression is on its way so fingers crossed it will bring something.


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

October 21st 2008

There was a small passage of Starlings and Wood Pigeons at Draycote Water this morning but little else moving at first light after yesterdays strong winds. First winter Little Gull remains in toft bay and the Shag was on the training boat with plenty of Meadow Pipits on farborough bank. After coffee things started to liven up with a first winter Pomarine Skua spotted flying purposely across the reservoir at 11:03 but it went straight over hensborough bank heading south. Looked a smart individual in good light and my 6th record. This was then followed by 2 Golden Plover circling before heading north west, 2 Brambling going south west calling and a Sparrowhawk mobbing a Raven. A party of 12 Long-tailed Tits in toft shallows, 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Buzzard, 3 Green Woodpecker and 2 Kingfisher by the inlet were the best of the rest. Late afternoon visit to the valley produced very little apart from 3 Golden Plover and 2 Buzzard.
Back home and another "mervin" in the trap - well just.

Merveille du Jour on the end of my traps actinic light.
Patch News - a House Martin was over Napton on the Hill on Sunday.


Monday, 20 October 2008

October 20th 2008

Snow Bunting flew over calling while watching the roost at Draycote Water this evening after a very stormy day - my second record of the year. Two first winter and one second winter Yellow-legged Gull in roost and a possible third winter Caspian Gull. Earlier I had seen the first winter Little Gull in toft bay, first winter Shag off draycote bank and four female Goldeneye out in centre.


Sunday, 19 October 2008

October 19th 2008

Out at first light with Dave to the grandborough valley which was calm and quiet with only Little Owl and Red-legged Partridge calling until 7:30am when the first of 200+ winter thrushes went over and this movement was continued in the hour we spent at Draycote Water with 600 Fieldfare and 400 Redwing all heading south west. There were also smaller numbers of Meadow Pipit and Skylark doing the same thing. Met up with Steve Valentine who had seen the Shag and first winter Little Gull earlier while we were searching the café walls for moths and managed 2 Feathered Thorn and my first ever Sprawler. Unfortunately it was a worn individual but my poor quality photos showed the key head and leg markings to clinch a tick.

Feathered Thorn
After breakfast we all went to Brandon Marsh and more thrushes were seen going over on route but the predicted cold weather front arrived and with the wind increasing and cloudier this put paid to any more visual migration and Brandon could only offer the long staying Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Snipe, 2 Sparrowhawk, 20 Siskin and 5 Jay’s.
Change of scene in the afternoon with a walk around Fineshade Wood, Northamptonshire with Red Kite 17, Marsh Tit 2, Nuthatch 3, Siskin 20, Stonechat and female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Barn Owl flew across the A14 on the way home..


Saturday, 18 October 2008

October 18th 2008

Entered valley just before first light and a Little Owl was on farm buildings just outside Willoughby village then worked the county road between Sawbridge and Flecknoe, another Little Owl perched and at the same time Mark Phillips had one at Grandborough Fields Farm so at least three in the area. The Flecknoe to Wolfhamcote to Sawbridge area was very quiet with Stock Dove 14, Snipe 2 and Teal 3 the highlights. No sign of any little owls as I passed Grandborough Fields but did have brief views of Kingfisher, Raven 2 and the first of many Fieldfares with 20 going North West. Hid the steed by the barn at Grandborough and worked the footpaths to toft farm fishing lagoons and managed Snipe 6, Wigeon 2 and another group of mixed winter thrushes heading north with Fieldfare 30 and Redwing 10.
Nearby a very tasty set-a-side field was worth working and in an hour managed to see Red-legged Partridge 3, Linnets 150, Reed Bunting 10, Skylark 20, Meadow Pipit 140, Chaffinch 10 and Stonechat while overhead another 30 Fieldfare, 2 Buzzards and 3 Raven. Returning to my bike a pale lark flew past near the barn but could not get any other features looking in to the sun so remains a mystery. Retraced steps but no sign.
From Hill Rd you could see Draycote Water was heaving with Joe public enjoying the mild weather so on arrival I worked farborough and toft banks and left by the half way lane entrance. Rock Pipit amongst the 30+ Meadow Pipits, distant views of Shag, Common Sandpiper, Pintail female, Kingfisher 2 and first winter Little Gull in toft bay along with Chiffchaff and 12 Siskin in toft shallows.
Lawford Heath had 100 Meadow Pipits, 70 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare going over west with the silage barns holding Tree Sparrow 6 and Corn Bunting. Cycling back towards Rugby along Ling Lane and a Red Kite adult flew overhead as it came off the tip. Flew back in so may still be around.
Back home and the garden had its first returning Siskin on the feeders while the moth trap had November Moth agg, Red-lined Quaker, Blair’s Shoulder-knot and Sallow.


Friday, 17 October 2008

October 17th 2008

Up at five raring to go, then climbed back in to bed – motivation of a dead snail. Resurfaced at 9am just as Steve Seal rang and we arranged to meet at pond at 11am. The man’s a hero – rang back and offered a lift so that gave me time to enjoy breakfast and the garden. Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Greenfinch are still in small numbers on feeders and they are spending longer in garden along with Coal Tit, Magpie and Dunnock. Overhead 5 Redwing and a single Fieldfare flew west.
Draycote Water was quiet with one first winter Little Gull remaining in toft bay (take a close look at the neck of this bird – it has a fly fishing hook embedded in it) and photographable views of the lapwings on farborough bank then met up with Bob and Francoise for coffee who had the Shag earlier near the valve tower.
The wonders of communication - phone call from John Judge who is still on Scillies (300+ mile away)that there was a Red-breasted Merganser off the inlet and we are sitting in cafe oblivious to is presence just a mile away so we asked Steve Valentine who was on that side of reservoir to check it out and as soon as he did we legged it and managed distant views from Hensborough bank. Cheers Steve. My second record of the year and 40th in total involving at least 51 birds. Unfortunately by the time I came back with buddy Dave it had flown to dunns bay and was just a distant speck. Common Sandpiper flew across Biggen bay.
Late afternoon at home and 1500+ Lesser Black Backed Gulls flying over garden heading for draycote to roost.


Thursday, 16 October 2008

October 16th 2008

Another trip - Day out with Dave in Norfolk and we enjoyed a Peregrine hunting over Cley marshes but it also flushed off the Wilsons Phalarope which then became extremely elusive and we never got to grips with it in 5hrs of searching. Dave's second dip in a row. It showed well again late afternoon long after we had gone.
Very strong westerlies so apart from Little Stint, and Spotted Redshank 2 amongst the waders, Marsh Harrier 2, Little Egret 8 around the reserve with Razorbill 2, Guillimot and Red-throated Diver all going west off shore it was not one of our better days.
No more trips planned for a few days unless something bionic turns up so its back to the bread and butter of birding tomorrow doing my patch, when I have caught up with my sleep - I'm shattered.
A very smart Green-brindle Crescent in my trap.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

October 15th 2008

I’ve been in the emerald isle adding Little Blue Heron to my Western Paleartic list with a juvenile at Letterfrack, County Galway which has been around for nearly two weeks and then managed to see the Philadelphia Vireo at Kilbaha, Loop Head, County Clare which is my second record this side of the Atlantic (first was on Scillies 1987) and could not resist a look at the Snowy Owl female at Belmullet, Co Mayo. Only my 4th record of this stunning owl,the last in 1990 so well worth the search.
There were plenty of other birds to be had and some awesome scenery so another successful trip.
Soon as I arrived home it was a check on Draycote Water as there was very little news on the place. Two female Goldeneye out in centre were my first returning birds of the winter, one Little Gull first winter in toft bay, Rock Pipit on farborough bank, Redwing 3, Kingfisher in toft, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Buzzard 2


Sunday, 12 October 2008

October 12th 2008

Next time Dave wants a change of scenery I am going to buy him some floral wallpaper which will be more pleasant to the eye than the thick drifting fog that greeted us at Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire this morning.
Just east of Peterborough this area is well worth a visit especially in winter with the possibilities of owls, harriers, waders, swans and duck and has a special place in my head but today we struggled though we did meet one of the locals who was extremely helpful and informative. Eventually the fog lifted and we managed a male Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, 5 Stonechat, 4 Redwing and Fieldfare before moving on to nearby Sutton Gault for the Glossy Ibis.
Unfortunately luck was not on our side as it had flown over the waiting crowds just seconds before we arrived so we moved on to the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust reserve at Welney for dinner. The temperature was in the 20s by early afternoon and Dave spotted the 2 Common Cranes on the east side of the reserve and at least 2 Marsh Harriers hunting nearby. Though wintering numbers have still some way to climb we did have very good counts of Golden Plover, Lapwing and duck and as the reserve is well known for its wintering wild swans and we were treated to at least 350 Whooper Swan either on the reserve or in nearby fields which have only just started to arrive in the last few days to spend the winter here. Little Egret also seen.
Patch News: Steve Valentine had a female /immature Merlin near Grandborough Fields Farm and a Little Owl calling this morning.
Dave has just e-mailed me – he had 2 Merveille du Jour in his trap last night.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

October 11th 2008

With the present weather system over the UK producing very little migration here in the midlands I concentrated on the grandborough valley for local birds and any earlier migrants that may have stayed on since I last worked this area.
Dawn broke to grey cloud turning different shades of pinks and purples as the sun rose and it was a great backdrop for the Barn Owl that was still out hunting near Ox House. I walked the footpath between Dunchurch and Grandborough village with the thick hedgerow bordering the M45 holding a large tit flock working its way towards the A426 motorway bridge and consisted of Long-tailed 34, Great 5 and Blue Tits 11 and also included a lone Chiffchaff and 4 Goldcrest.
Many of the fields have been ploughed now but careful searching showed they held various numbers of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Linnets accompanied by the occasional Reed Bunting and the most numerous species of bird present were the corvids with Jackdaws, Rook and Crow in there hundreds along with a few Magpies and a Jay from the nearby Bunker Hill wood. There are still a few stubble and set-aside fields remaining and though some are off the public footpath I worked them as best I could and managed to locate a Stonechat between Bunkers Hill wood and Whitehall Farm.
Stock Dove numbers were higher than I normally have when sticking to the roads and other birds seen were Buzzard 3, Raven 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Redwing 5, Red-legged Partridge 2 and a few more Skylarks.
Highlight of the morning was the Black-tailed Godwit on the fishing lagoons and from it’s washed out appearance may be the one Bob Hazell had at Draycote Water last Wednesday and certainly lacks the peachy appearance of the Brandon Marsh bird which was still present there in the week.
Arrived at Draycote Water and the 2 first winter Little Gulls were still in toft bay, Common Scoter off draycote bank but could only find one Shag and one Goosander. Other sightings included Gadwall 6, Grey Wagtail 2, Meadow Pipits 30, Ruddy Duck 2, Bullfinch 6, Siskin 3 and Buzzard 4.
Brief look at Lawford Heath with Raven 2, Buzzard 2, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow 5 and Meadow Pipits 10 all noted.
Late afternoon and my garden had two Brimstone Butterfly's while my moth trap had my second Merveille du Jour of the year along with Blair's Shoulder-knot, Brindled Green, Common Marbled Carpet, Light Brown Apple Moth, Lunar Underwing and Pink-barred Sallow.
Dave's desperate for a change of scenary so we are off to the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire tomorrow.


Friday, 10 October 2008

October 10th 2008

I eventually surfaced after yesterdays trip feeling wasted. Dave and I did our normal Friday routine of coffee and cake then a walk out to farborough spit followed by a ride around the valley. Glorious sunshine, high cloud and blustery winds but that's the highlight of the day. Very little seen apart from Shag, four Buzzards and a Little Gull at the pond and a few Meadow Pipits in the valley.


October 9th 2008

Overnight journey to Nanjizal Valley, Polgigga Cornwall and a long day in the field was well worth with it good views of the Alder/Willow Flycatcher. Might be a credit crunch but certainly not effecting the scores present for this potential new bird for Britian and though most present thought it was Alder they are very difficult to separate in the field and later in day it was trapped and confirmed as a first winter male Alder Flycatcher. Plenty of other birds in the area that I dont see on my patch so all in all a good day out.


October 8th 2008

Migrating over my garden this morning were 30 Redwing, 20 Skylark, 5 Meadow Pipit, 5 Wigeon and 2 Fieldfare while the feeders are attracting Greenfinch 16, Chaffinch 4, Reed Bunting female and Coal Tit 2. My moth trap had Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, Setaceaous Hebrew Character, Blair’s Shoulder-knot and Lesser Yellow Underwing.
Draycote Water late afternoon had Dunlin and 2 first winters Little Gull in toft bay, Common Scoter male off draycote bank, Shag 2 on the training boats while in the roost there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a first winter Med Gull. Also seen were Buzzard 4, Sparrowhawk 2, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker 4.
Missed Steve Seal who took some good shots of the long staying Little Gull and Common Scoter.


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

October 7th 2008

With south east winds and rain predicted I went to Napton on the Hill hoping for migrants. The Barn Owl at Calcutt flying across the road in front of me was a good start to the day and the first couple of hours after dawn were very productive with 30+ Redwing, 40 Skylark, a very late Swift and 10 House Martins going west. In the churchyard there were plenty of Song Thrushes and one Spotted Flycatcher still present. Two Ravens were at Broadwell.
Draycote Water was blustery but warm with occasional showers and it took me over three hours to finally locate the Grey Phalarope which was seen from the wind surfing area out in centre of reservoir some distance away between D and N buoy feeding and making short flights. Needed luck and scope to see it.

Grey Phalarope by Steve Seal taken yesterday when it was a lot closer
In between the showers a Black Tern arrived and left while there was a trickle of House Martins (28) and Swallows (4) heading south though one or two may have remained. The conditions were ideal for windsurfing which unfortunately caused the Common Scoter male to become very mobile appearing all over the place eventually settling off rainbow corner.
Other migrants today included a Yellow Wagtail on draycote bank and a few Redwings on the boundary hedges while the long staying Wheatear, Little Gull 2 first winter and Shags 2 remained but could only find one Goosander.
In the grandborough valley a Short-eared Owl was hunting along the hill rd and six Ravens with a few Stock Dove in the area.


Monday, 6 October 2008

October 6th 2008

After yesterday’s drenching decided to stay in, big mistake as I woke to blue skies and my mood did not improved when news of a red-necked phalarope at the pond yesterday was announced this morning. Apart from some goddess you have never heard of the only other bird I have always wanted to see on my patch is a RNP. This would have been a draycote’s tick for me so slightly disappointed when it was relocated and re-identified as a Grey Phalarope. Still a year tick as I had dipped on the previous one.
Arrived as soon as I could and it was just off the valve tower feeding in its usual manner of spinning – makes you dizzy just watching it and very active with occasional short flights. Still present late afternoon but attracting the attention of the gull roost. This is my 8th record at draycote. Nearby the Common Scoter male showed well and in my haste to get from one side of ressy to the other I passed the 2 Little Gulls, 2 Shag and the Goosanders. Surprisingly there are four again so not sure where three of them have been for the last few days. Other sightings included Raven 2, Common Sandpiper, 60+ Meadow Pipit, Wheatear and Redwing 4 going over. Many thanks to all those who kept me informed of the Grey Phals where a bouts till I got there and to Dave Hutton for sending me these photos.

Grey Phalarope by Dave Hutton - Looks as if the bird may be blind in left eye.
Bob Hazell found a November Moth agg on the wall of cafe. Agg behind the name means it can’t be safely identified from similar looking species November Moth, Pale November Moth and Autumnal Moth with out genitalia examination but I am not in to cutting moth bits up.


Sunday, 5 October 2008

October 5th 2008

Out with Dave just before 7am in atrocious conditions as we searched our way to toft shallows with the rain coming down in sheets and by the time we returned the wind had swung from south west to north east in very poor visibility. The highlight was a Tree Pipit amongst the Meadow Pipits (my latest Draycote Record)and Rock Pipit both on farborough bank, Kittiwake first winter toft bay and the two first winter Little Gulls in toft shallows. Only other birds of note were two Shags and a Green Woodpecker before we sought shelter in the cafe at Long Itchington and we were pretty reluctant to leave as it was still raining.
Arrived at Brandon Marsh to an almost empty car park and the walk to teal pool, east marsh and carlton hide produced only 12 Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit and Cetties warbler before we finally gave in to the elements.
After drying out at home Dave picked me up for dinner and just as the rain stopped a large unidentified bird of prey flew over nearby Cock Robin Wood being mobbed by the many corvids including two Raven's.
A late afternoon walk to Dunsmore Ridge where at least 4 Redwing were flying west and a Swallow south.
Despite the rain last night my moth trap had Silver Y, Blair's Shouldered-knot, Sallow, Light Brown Apple Moth and an Orange Ladybird


Saturday, 4 October 2008

October 4th 2008

A cold start to the day not helped by a very strong south to south west wind increasing in speed as the predicted weather front comes ever closer. Common Scoter male near the valve tower, Little Gull 2 first winters in toft and Shag 2 all still present while new arrivals were a Black Redstart immature on toft bank near the sewage farm, the 15 House Martins feeding in rainbow and a Rock Pipit found by Kay and Max on farborogh bank. Best sighting of the day goes to the Mervielle du Jour on the cafe wall (a first for draycote)and also caused draycote's first moth twitch with a few locals coming down to see it. Unfortunately it wasn't close enough for me to get a decent photo with my box camera but both John and Bob have bigger equipment than me and soon got some shots off.

Merveille du jour by John Judge
Rest of the visit was hoping for some bionic flyover to warm me up but all I got for my troubles was a Snipe and failed to relocate the Black Redstart. It may not have gone far - just looking for somewhere more sheltered with less disturbance.
WEATHER WARNING. Forcast is for heavy rain tonight and tomorrow morning so could lead to localised flooding.


Thursday, 2 October 2008

October 2nd 2008

Ambled out after 9am to Draycote Water and disappointingly despite the wind there seemed to be no obvious new arrivals even though I stayed most of the day. Little Gull first winter was off biggen bay and still remained late afternoon moving to toft bay where it showed well and the Common Scoter male was off draycote bank and thanks to Bob Hazell's diligence one of his photos show the bird has been ringed.

Common Scoter male by Bob Hazell
The 2 Shags were pretty elusive for most of the day and did not show well till after 3pm when they returned to the training boats.
Due to someones misfortune the Air-Ambulance landed mid-day opposite the entrance and its low arrival flight flushed a Little Egret off the River Leam and it flew up stream into the grandborough valley. The same disturbance flushed 12 Siskin which flew over country park and 3 Lesser Redpoll which landed near the sailing club car park. Other sightings included Wheatear 3 draycote bank, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Green Woodpecker 2.
No sign of Rock Pipit, Goosanders, Pintails or House Martin and not sure if it was successful in getting its brood off or the urge to migrate was stronger. Certainly its food supply has dwindled with very few insects about.
Missed the Dunlin and Yellow-legged Gull seen by John Oates and the Swallow by Bob and Francoise.


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

October 1st 2008

Strong winds and heavy rain overnight found me on farborough bank, Draycote Water at dawn and rewarded with a first winter Little Gull struggling past very close before turning and sheltering in front of hide in toft bay. The overnight conditions were responsible for a steady passage of Skylarks flying over reservoir in small groups with at least 260 counted heading west and the flocks of duck (mainly Wigeon and Mallard) coming off the River Leam showed the route a Marsh Harrier immature was taking as it flew west down stream and no doubt another victim of the weather. Same goes for the Grey Plover going west and it was certainly a day for birds of prey with a stunning male Merlin perched on the fence of the sailing club lower car park before it started hunting the 40+ Meadow pipits on farborough bank. No sign of any Rock Pipits on farborough bank but there was a new arrival near the valve tower with the long staying Wheatear nearby. Other highlights of good morning was a Swallow heading south, one House Martin still trying to get its brood off, Kingfisher 2, Green Woodpecker 3, Goosander 3 and Common Sandpiper. The two Shag were on there usual spot on the training boats before being pushed out by a gang of Cormorants.
Had to leave mid-day and with many Leaches Petrel being seen off the Cheshire coast my fingers are crossed for one tomorrow. For some unknown reason when ever there’s crap weather this time of year I seem to be able to attract a Merveille du Jour to my moth trap