Sunday, 30 November 2008

November 30th 2008

I had a pre-arranged coach trip to the Norfolk organised by one of our friends who runs a birding class locally but the weather was against us and it never stopped raining so combined with a strong north wind and dropping temperatures it was not one of our better days. Common Scoter 150+ and a few Eider off Hunstanton, 2 Marsh Harrier Holkham Freshmarsh and first winter Kittiwake in the car park at Wells Wood with 3 Little Egret nearby the reward for getting drenched.


November 29th 2008

Well the 20 Eider, 2 White-billed Divers and Lesser White-fronted Goose could have been at Draycote Water this morning but with visibility down to 20 yards one will never find out. The thought of spending money on others woke me up early so knowing it was pointless looking at reservoir I decided to get the steed out and check out toft shallows despite the freezing temperatures – much better than moping at home. A Kingfisher perched on the footbridge as I arrived soon disappeared along with the Fox that came within feet of me before it saw me. A careful approach along the path produced the hope for Brambling with male and female feeding quietly in the leaf litter and occasionally coming out in to the open to drink with a few Chaffinches giving excellent views. Also present were very large numbers of Siskin and though counting was difficult as they moved through I managed a very respectable 89 along with 4 Lesser Redpoll. No Long-tailed Tits in shallows but 24 were crossing half way lane as I left.
John Judge and I had agreed to keep an eye on the weather in case it lifted in time to do the roost but the fog hardly lifted so knocked that idea on the head.


Friday, 28 November 2008

November 28th 2008

Early morning walk to Cock Robin Wood and Plantation before Sainsbury’s opened produced 2 Nuthatch and 2 Goldcrest. Out with Dave this afternoon for our Friday coffee and cake session and Draycote Water was overcast with a light south easterly breeze. Turned in to a social event with many friends in café so only saw three Great-northern Divers together by the fishing platform and a couple of male Goosander flying around as we ran out of time for a wander. Only a single Buzzard seen in valley. Weather for tomorrow is yuk with freezing thick fog forecasted to be very slow in clearing so looks like its Christmas shopping unless I can come up with something better to do with my money.


Thursday, 27 November 2008

November 27th 2008

Draycote Water was dull and overcast with a strong south west wind especially early afternoon with the odd light shower. Finally caught up with the recently elusive Red-necked Grebe off toft bank with the female Common Scoter nearby and on the opposite north bank a female Mandarin Duck sitting under trees on the north shore 200 yards east of lin croft point with a few Teal and a 100+ Tufted Duck. I still think they are plastic even though they are on the British list so this Mandarin was my 13th record involving 14 birds but I have not seen a male here since 1996. The female Smew was difficult to see in the choppy waters off lin croft point and was reported later in rainbow corner and toft bay so very mobile. The two farborough bank Great-northern Divers were fishing together just off the platforms and the other two were off draycote bank between inlet and valve tower. Also off farborough bank were 3 Curlew near the farm house and the female Merlin was perched though distant on the farms entrance road fence before it flew towards sewage farm and toft bay. Toft shallows early afternoon was extremely busy with a roving tit flock involving 45 Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Goldcrest 3, Treecreeper 2 and also in the same area were Great-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail 14 Siskin, female Brambling, 8 Bullfinch and Kingfisher. Other birds seen were the first winter Shag, female Ruddy Duck, 23 Goosander, 25 Pochard and Green Woodpecker 4.
Bike ride home was productive with Raven over Dunchurch, Lesser Redpoll 4 in Waring Way, Dunchurch and Nuthatch in Cock Robin plantation. The garden feeders have been pretty quiet recently and late afternoon only Coal Tit was the most notable bird present.


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

November 26th 2008

I decided that looking for last Sundays Long-eared Owl at Draycote Water early this morning was worth another effort in case the bird was still present.
All though overcast and cold there was little wind and I was lucky enough to have an owl species fly away from me the length of the “lump” but as it was still six o clock and pitched black I did not get enough on jizz to be certain which species. Heard distant Tawny and Little Owl from the direction of nearby Draycote village and scared me self to death when a Badger shuffled past.
Checked the feeders by the ranger’s yard at first light before any disturbance and managed a male and female Brambling, Treecreeper, Willow Tit, and Coal Tit while 3 Green Woodpeckers and 50+ Redwing were in the country park. Would have stayed longer but got cheesed off with birders asking "what yer got" - even sneaked behind a tree for a pee and some pratt followed me.
Out again mid-afternoon for the roost and between the M45 bridge and toft shallows there were 56 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit 16, Goldcrest 3, Wren 5, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail while toft bay had 2 first winter Med Gulls in the pre-roost in toft bay along with the female Common Scoter. In the main roost off the “steps” the first winter Glaucous Gull arrived at 3:55pm with at least 6 Yellow-legged Gulls (2 first winters and 4 adults) another Med Gull in the form of a second winter and my first female Smew for the winter was seen in flight. Also present were 4 Great-northern Divers, another group of 30 Siskin feeding near the golf course and 17 Goosander. Red-necked Grebe is still present off farborough bank though I did not see it myself and missed the Merlin and Common Sandpiper seen by others.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

November 25th 2008

WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE Draycote Water 1030-1200hrs showing down to 8ft – bloody wonderful – just a pity a falconer was attached. Certainly attracted an audience of birders and walkers as they posed for photo’s but it was not being flown which is lucky as the Cormorants, Little Grebe and Duck crapped themselves when it appeared and scampered.
OK back to real birding. It was a sunny day with a chilly north westerly wind with new arrivals since my last visit being in the shape of more Goosander’s and a female Brambling. The Goosanders were off valve tower before dispersing with 15 female and 9 male while the Brambling was found when Mark, Francoise and myself checked out the feeders in the ranger’s yard. At least four Great-northern Divers were dotted around the reservoir but there seems to be no trace of the Red-necked Grebe so it may have gone while the Common Scoter female was still in toft bay and the Shag first winter by the fishing platforms. I had a Peregrine go over early morning while Mark had two mid-morning and the Water Rail was still around and at least four Kingfishers seen , no doubt due to the cold spell we are experiencing and at least 17 Siskin still in toft shallows. Part of the day was also taken up socially – chatting to Bob H, Bob D, Mark and Francoise as well as all those admiring the eagle. Also seen were Pochard 25, Wigeon 30, Goldeneye 22, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker 3, Yellowhammer 35, Skylark 18, Buzzard 2 and I had a good look at the Common Sandpiper – just double checking as Spotted Sandpiper has been found in Staffordshire recently. I intended doing the roost but the beautiful sunset made the light conditions very poor.


Sunday, 23 November 2008

November 23rd 2008

Were you one of those who decided you would be better off staying by the fire or curled up under the duvet this morning – wimp.
A clear frosty night with a light flurry of snow turning to freezing rain then become a heavy downpour, and guess who was out in it. Pretty obvious – me – plodding away and despite the many discomforts (and there were loads) ended up with two year ticks for my Draycote Water list so now home and cosy and all my gear in the tumble dryer.
All five Great-northern Divers were on show with two off farborough bank, one in rainbow corner, one by the valve tower and one in dunn’s bay and the Red-necked Grebe was two hundred yards off farborough spit with the Common Scoter female still in toft bay. The first draycote year tick was a very bedraggled Long-eared Owl being mobbed by Magpies as it tried to roost in hedgerow near valve tower and the second year tick was a Corn Bunting feeding with 44 Yellowhammers between rainbow corner and inlet. The bunting was a good find as they are declining in this area and the Yellowhammer flock is a good number for here these days as it also another species declining.
Good birds kept coming in with two Dark-bellied Brent Geese arriving just as the skies cleared and the sun came out but unfortunately it was bad timing and the sailing boats appeared and flushed them off after only a 15 minute rest. Some unknown observer had a Grey Plover and Peregrine and Sparrowhawk hunted for food over the country park which had a female Brambling and Willow Tit. Toft shallows had 20+ Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 2 female Brambling and on the other side of the M45 there were 2 more Lesser Redpoll with a party of Goldfinch and as another shower arrived I decided to call it a day. Other birds seen were 3 Green Woodpecker, 2 Little Owl, Water Rail, 38 Pochard, 2 male Shoveler, Ruddy Duck male, 19 Goosander, 18 Goldeneye, 8 Gadwall, Grey Wagtail and 17 Long-tailed Tits with 5 Goldcrest.
Patch News: My little sis (she who must be obeyed) had a Barn Owl near the gibbet hill roundabout (A426/A5) this morning (use to drag um out of town and string um up in the good old days) and John Judge’s dog flushed a Woodcock near Long Lawford.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

November 22nd 2008

Extremely cold this morning due to the wind chill – froze me bits off. Two Barn Owls still out hunting first light at Calcutt with Woodcock making a brief appearance in the adjacent plantation along with 8 Siskin while the disused railway cutting had 14 Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll 2, Willow Tit, Buzzard 2, Fieldfare 400 and 200 Redwing.
Napton Reservoir had Lesser Redpoll by the entrance, Little Owl on the roof of the stables and Grey Wagtail while the reservoir held 10 Teal, 6 Gadwall and more winter thrushes in the surrounding hedgerow and a party of 34 Long-tailed Tit.
Retracing my steps back in to the valley I had a Raven at Broadwell, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk by the double barns along Flecknoe Road and Buzzard 4 but a noticeable lack of small birds around and along the Hill Rd.
Glaucous Gull first winter, Yellow-legged Gull 4 (2 adults and 2 first winters) and Caspian Gull adult were all in the roost at Draycote Water along with 2 first winter Med Gulls. Great-northern Diver 3, Common Scoter female seen.
Patch News- Mark Philips had a Barn Owl crossing the Leicester Rd, Rugby by Central Park and Premier Inn this morning.


November 21st 2008

Very overcast with a strong cold north westerly wind when I met up with John and Dave for coffee this afternoon at Draycote Water, we made no effort to explore the area so only 2 Great-northern Divers off fishing pontoons and 58 Lapwing to report. A drive round the valley was just as crap.


Thursday, 20 November 2008

November 20th 2008

I felt a lot better when I woke so was down the valley just after first light with 250 Golden Plover in fields behind Willoughby village cricket club along with a few Fieldfare and Redwing and two Grey Partridge in the left hand field just before the village of Sawbridge. Very little seen between Sawbridge and Grandborough but things started to change once I was on the hill rd with 500 Fieldfare and 200 Redwing near valley fields farm, a stunning female Merlin perched by the side of the road giving very prolonged views (out came the sketch book) and a Little Owl by barn farm. Other birds seen in this area were 2 Raven, 2 Buzzard and 4 Lesser Redpoll.
Draycote Water was cooking on gas. The Red-necked Grebe was 200 yards off farborough bank drifting further out till it re-appeared late afternoon in toft bay. Great- northern Divers on occasions were just as elusive though by early afternoon all five were showing (three off draycote bank and 2 near fishing pontoons). Toft shallows had up to 36 Siskin 4 Lesser Redpoll 2 Chiffchaff and 3 Brambling.
New arrivals included a female Common Scoter in toft bay and the Goosander flock has increased to 18 while 5 White-fronted Geese flew low over toft bay 3pm and may have landed near toft farm. Also seen were Kingfisher 2, Jay, Pochard 12, Goldeneye 16, Buzzard 3, Peregrine, Water Rail, Shag, Little Owl.
Bob and Francoise had the hybrid Peregrine over draycote bank at mid-day which appeared over toft bay just before dusk scaring the brown stuff out of the gull roost and Adie had a male Merlin.
Feathered Thorn on wall of cafe - don't think we will see many moths for a while once this cold spell reaches us on Saturday.


November 19th 2008

Tried to make it to Draycote Water but had to turn back – no energy. Still a few Siskin and Lesser Redpolls between M45 bridge and toft shallows.
Patch News - Common Sandpiper and Water Rail were seen by Mark Phillips at Draycote Water plus all the usual stuff. John Judge had adult and first winter Yellow-legged Gull on Lawford Heath tip.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

November 18th 2008

Despite the coughing and spluttering threatening my field craft credibility it was gorgeous day weather wise at Draycote Water today managing a very impressive list before fatigue took over late afternoon arriving home desperate for bed.
On arriving the hedgerows between the M45 bridge and toft shallows was heaving 50+ Siskin, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 12 Long-tailed Tit, 5 Goldcrest and a few Chaffinches while on my departure the flock were more spread out but included 17 Blue Tit, Chiffchaff and Treecreeper.
The Red-necked Grebe was a hundred yards off farborough bank and became more distant as the day progressed so the photographers had to contend them selves with one of the four Great-northern Divers which was fishing near the pontoons. Met up with Rich Dawkins and Dave Hutton for coffee and later a chat with Francoise and Mike Doughty. There were 11 Goosanders (4 male and 7 female) off the inlet and at least nine of these arrived last Sunday according to F. Other sightings today included 7 Dunlin going over heading west, Sanderling circled reservoir before deciding to go south, Little Owl, Kingfisher, 2 Buzzard, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 18 Skylark, 20 Meadow Pipit and Raven.


Monday, 17 November 2008

November 17th 2008

OK I'm a wimp - bloody man flu has me buggered so did not bother going out. Patch News - 57 Mute Swan and 88 Golden Plover in the avon valley between Bretford and Kings Newham.


Sunday, 16 November 2008

November 16th 2008

Not the best of days – overcast and drizzle becoming drier and brighter to show Dave’s friend the valley, Draycote and Brandon Marsh.
Two Buzzards at Woodbine Farm and 500+ Fieldfare was all we could muster in the valley and Draycote Water from farborough bank had the Red-necked Grebe and at least two of the 5 Great-northern Divers with a few Goldeneye out in centre. Brandon Marsh was a little more productive with 44 Snipe, 3 Goldeneye, 20 Siskin, 4 Jay, 2 Lesser Redpoll, Treecreeper, 21 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Coal Tit but we missed the Nuthatch and Marsh Tit.
Patch News – Mark Phillips had the Little Owl this afternoon by the double barns, Flecknoe Rd and yesterday a Peregrine was seen perched near Sawbridge.


Saturday, 15 November 2008

November 15th 2008

Out early to find the sixth Great-northern Diver at Draycote Water but however hard I tried I only counted five with four out in centre and one near valve tower before they split. From my observation point off draycote bank it transpired we were having a heavy does of the sofa and what’s about brigade so kept out the way concentrating my efforts on the “lump” and the “fishing pond”. Managed to find Treecreeper, Siskin 12, Tree Sparrow, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll 4, Jay and Kingfisher which was a good haul for this part of the reservoir and a Ringed Plover was on the outlet. Distant views of Shag.
I used the National Cycle Way Route 41 from Draycote village to Birdingbury, planning to join the Grand Union Canal at Gibraltar Bridge before using the towpath as a route to Flecknoe so I could explore the valley. There were 10 Bullfinch, single Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest 3, Jay 3 and Great-spotted Woodpecker along the cycle route while the canal part of the journey was most enjoyable with a Peregrine, Teal 17 and Water Rail on nearby Napton Reservoir, plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing in the hedgerows and a field near Lower Shuckburgh had 100 Golden Plover. Kingfisher flew past. Left the canal near Mill Farm and went to Grandborough Fields Farm where 2 Stonechat and 2 Red-legged Partridge were present with nearby Fox Covet having 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Along Flecknoe Rd there were more Fieldfare and Redwings, many Yellowhammers, Bullfinch 5, Raven 2 and the double barns produced Little Owl, 3 Buzzards and the highlight of the day when a Crossbill female or immature flew overhead here calling heading west. The hedgerow between the large open barn and Grandborough village had 2 Brambling amongst the 12 House Sparrows and the road to Willoughby had Snipe 2, Raven and Buzzard 2.
Question – have you been to the pond recently?, have you put your records in book – with no records or very few e-mails to the Draycote web site being received then its on the cards this facility will end – make it so.


Friday, 14 November 2008

November 14th 2008

Still five Great-northern Divers at Draycote Water with unconfirmed reports of a possible sixth which has been hard to verify as they are very mobile with three off farborough bank, one near valve tower and one between the “steps” and dunns bay. The Red-necked Grebe was by the fishing pontoon enjoying its 15 minutes of fame from the visiting photographers and the Shag was anywhere between valve tower and Y buoy. Other sightings included a dozen Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, Water Rail, many winter thrushes and Buzzard. Running short of time so me and Dave did not have time to do the valley justice and only saw a couple of Buzzards in a quick drive through.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

November 13th 2008

I was due in Oxford today for my annual lobotomy but I’ve been fighting a cold so did not want to pass it on to those having chemotherapy so a day at home. Not a bad thing considering the lousy weather we have had today.
Not much to report just Long-tailed Tit 3 and Coal Tit 2 on the garden feeders with 6 Wood Pigeon gobbling up any leftovers underneath. Patch News - John Judge had a Barn Owl yesterday evening in the valley north of Grandborough village.


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

November 12th 2008

I set up a portable moth trap at Brandon Marsh last night and with no intention of hanging around I was out early this morning to inspect the catch and though it dropped to 5 degrees I still managed 5 moths of four species. Light Brown Apple Moth 2, November Moth agg, Yellow-lined Quaker, and Winter Moth. The Barn Owl was out hunting sheep field and the returning Bittern flew across newlands from east marsh but not much else accept plenty of water. Returning back home to drop the gear off I had a Kingfisher at Wolston and on Lawford Heath managed Sparrowhawk, Raven and 6 Tree Sparrow. Once fed and watered it was back out to the pond with brighter skies so intended to do the roost. Bob, Francoise and Ollie found a male Snow Bunting in toft bay and all three took some stunning pictures.

Snow Bunting by Bob Hazell
Unfortunately by the time I arrived it was mobile appearing along toft and farborough bank a couple of time and only giving flight views. Spent 2 hours on farborough spit checking the area for Great-northern Divers and there are now FIVE. This is my highest count actually on the reservoir though I did have 4 on res and 3 flying over west on 16th November 2005. A good area to view them is off draycote bank if the one from farborough bank isn’t performing. As you can tell from Bob’s brilliant photo they can be awesome.

Great-northern Diver by Bob Hazell
Red-necked Grebe spent most of the day by the fishing pontoons so another bird that gave the many photographers a good time though it moved off towards farborough spit mid afternoon when a sailing class got to close to it. Another good bird was the Short-eared Owl found by visiting birders below farborough bank and a draycote year tick for me. Other birds seen were Shag, Siskin 4, Green Woodpecker 2, many Redwing and Fieldfare around the perimeter, Buzzard 2 and a few Linnets and Skylarks. Stayed for the roost and the light finally improving managing the first winter Glaucous Gull from hensborough bank then moved to farborough spit where the smaller gulls due to the north west wind were in very close and found 3 first winter and 2 adult winter Med Gulls amongst the thousands of Black-headed and Common Gulls before they moved in to the main roost.

A poor effort from me of the Red-necked Grebe

Part of the roost and sunset from farborough spit


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

November 11th 2008

There are at least 3 Great-northern Divers at Draycote Water with a possibility of a 4th. One is off farborough bank, one off valve tower and one in dunn’s bay while this afternoon one was seen flying in to reservoir from the east and landed out in centre. Unfortunately it could have been one of the three attempting to leave and spotted coming back but as I spent some time looking across the reservoir at the time I thought I would have seen it circling. Another interesting sighting today was of two adult Peregrine’s one of which was very large and its plumage much lighter, almost two tone with dark primaries contrasting with the rest of its wings and body plumage and the head whiter so have not ruled out the possibility of a hybrid. Only new arrival seen was a female Brambling in the country park and other sightings included the Red-necked Grebe off farborough bank but more distant in the strong south west winds, first winter Shag, a very confiding Shoveler resting by the fishing platforms, 48 Golden Plover, 11 Pochard in toft bay along with 12 Wigeon and 6 Gadwall. There were two Kingfishers in toft shallows pool as I was leaving this afternoon plus 30 odd Teal.

Dunchurch Cricket Club had a first winter Med Gull feeding on its flooded pitch as I cycled past home.


Monday, 10 November 2008

November 10th 2008

Another fast moving depression went through last night so it was a mad dash to pond early morning before the next deluge of rain was due. There were two Kingfishers in toft bay along with 4 Siskin in toft shallows. The elusive Rock Pipit was on toft bank while in the fields below had a first winter Med Gull feeding in a mixed gull flock. The flock kept being flushed so suspect the Merlin was about but did not see it and the Little Owl was in its favorite place. Towards the fishing pontoons off farborough bank the Red-necked Grebe and one of the immature Great-northern Divers were close inshore and showing extremely well while the second bird was off the sailing club along with the first winter Shag. In rainbow corner there were female Ruddy duck, another Kingfisher and 2 Buzzards while in the right hand hedgerow of the field behind inlet there were 2 Tree Sparrows and also seen were Jay 2, Grey Wagtail, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. New arrivals were by the valve tower with male Stonechat on the fence of the purification works while a first winter Kittiwake and 3 female Common Scoter were further out. The expected rain came in so it was a damp journey home brightened by an impressive flock of 35 Long-tailed Tits crossing the old A45 just outside Dunchurch.

Red-lined Quaker (lower) and Feathered Thorn in last nights trap despite the weather.


Sunday, 9 November 2008

November 9th 2008

A fast moving depression went through last night with high winds and heavy rain followed by clear skies but alas when we got to Grandborough Fields Farm at first light it clouded over and started raining heavily so a total wash out, only 3 Buzzards seen. It had stopped raining by the time we got to Draycote Water and the Red-necked Grebe and 2 Great-northern Divers were still present along with a Kingfisher in toft bay, 100 Golden Plover over and amazingly the Merlin female was seen again as it flew over the country park.
Lawford Heath had hundreds of winter thrushes, Starlings and 3 Tree Sparrow but very few Chaffinches due to the farmer covering up his silage so no Bramblings while Brandon Marsh was very poor due to high water level with 4 Goldeneye being the best we could find.
PATCH NEWS. Steve Valentine took these shots of the Grandborough Fields farm Stonechat this morning and John Judge had two Peregrine near the A426 / Flecknoe Rd junction and I had 2 Feathered Thorns in my moth trap.


Saturday, 8 November 2008

November 8th 2008

Overnight rain cleared with just the occasional rain shower but very blustery. The fields and hedgerow around Grandborough Fields Farm were very active with more thrushes counted than yesterday and a Barn Owl out hunting mid-morning. Also in area were Stonechat male and female, Grey Wagtail, Raven 2, Buzzard 3, Skylark 13 and Brambling 4 plus two Foxes and four Hares. Conditions underfoot for the walk to toft lagoons were pretty soft and hard work but rewarded with a male Stonechat and Little Owl and a diversion to the edge of bunkers wood produced a Marsh Tit the first for area for some time and a Nuthatch.
Arrived at Draycote Water but it was very busy so after a glance at the Red-necked Grebe, Little Owl, Shag and a longer look at the newly arrived Great-northern Diver I cleared off home. John Judge phoned to offer a lift for the roost mid-afternoon and we were on our way when the Bumbling Bears rang to tell us they had two adults and one immature White-fronted Goose so on our arrival we legged it to farborough spit and the geese were still present in the field below. Little Owl was also showing and there are now two Great-northern Divers off farborough bank so that will bring out the county's sofa brigade tomorrow. Bumbling Bears also had a Rock Pipit on toft bank. The roost was gathered off rainbow corner and close but the light was appalling and struggled to find anything until JJ found an adult winter Med Gull just before dark and we had put our gear away.


Friday, 7 November 2008

November 7th 2008

The overcast conditions cleared this morning with lovely sunshine though gathering clouds mid morning showed the next front to arrive is not to far away. Out with Dave for our Friday coffee and cake session this afternoon and meeting up with Bob before a walk out to farborough spit. Red-necked Grebe showed very well and had a few admirers though some should be drug tested after thinking it was a Great-northern Diver? Also showing was the Little Owl and while watching this with Ollie and Francoise the Merlin shot past leading us a merry dance trying to keep up with it. Meadow Pipits 40, Fieldfare 35 and Shag only other birds of note.
A drive along Flecknoe Rd produced one Stonechat at Grandborough Fields Farm and a flock of 500 Fieldfare and 100 Redwing feeding just right of the farm, 3 Buzzard also seen.
Steve Seal had a good session with the Red-necked Grebe this morning so no apologises for publishing more pictures as they are bloody good. Cheers mate.


Thursday, 6 November 2008

November 6th 2008

The last 36 hours on planet Richard has been bloody awful with low cloud and persistent drizzle resulting in low motivation bordering on suicidal tendencies so more than grateful when Steve Seal rang to say he was on his way to pond with Dave Hutton and would pick me up. Dave has just passed his test so he was driving – well done mate but you can take the stabilizers off now you’re legal.
The weather was still dull and overcast but at least the rain had stopped when we arrived at Draycote Water and a walk along farborough bank soon located the Red-necked Grebe showing well and as photos were being taken I picked the first of six Little Gulls and we had 5 adults and one first winter and a first winter Med Gull which flew over our heads.

Red-necked Grebe by Steve Seal
Decided to have a coffee hoping it would brighten up later and met up with Francoise who had potted up a December Moth so we soon had that on a log for a photo session. Feathered Thorn also noted.

December Moth
Joined by Bob Duckhouse and Bob Hazell we went back out as it had brightened slightly and viewed the Red-necked again and a look from farborough spit produced adult winter Med Gull in toft bay which then landed in the fields behind us. A Common Sandpiper was on the wall of toft bank feeding on insects and could be set to over winter and a sweep of reservoir produced 230 Great-crested Grebe and 3 Shoveler but no sign of the Little Gulls so they must have moved on. Unfortunately the rain came in so we left and back home a bit of bird activity with 2 Coal Tit and a Goldcrest in the garden.

Photo of one of the Sprawler we have had recently


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

November 4th 2008

Arrived at Draycote Water just in time to be shown a first winter Med Gull feeding in a mixed gull flock below farborough spit and the Little Owl nearby. Red-necked Grebe still present though it spent most of the morning off the sailing club before returning to farborough bank.

Red-necked Grebe by Bob hazell
I gave the reservoir a good search taking advantage of no wind but could not relocate yesterdays scoter's or diver. Met up with Bob, Francoise and Lee in cafe and while enjoying a coffee spotted a small falcon fly in from the right and it landed on the wall of farborough bank - stunning female Merlin. Other birds seen up to mid afternoon were Shag first winter, Yellow-legged Gull 2 adults, Sparrowhawk, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Pochard 24, Goldeneye 8 female and 4 male, Raven and counted 181 Great-crested Grebes plus three escaped Cape Shelduck.

Cape Shelduck by Bob Hazell
The low cloud started breaking up mid-day and this resulted in 50+ Skylarks going over and I stayed for roost putting Lee and Bob on to a first year Glaucous Gull I had found and there were another 4 adult Yellow-legged gulls in the roost. Surprisingly there were very few large gulls arriving in comparison to yesterdays roost but on the plus side there was a massive jump in Common Gulls numbers with an estimated ten thousand present.
Two more Sprawlers were on the cafe wall and on the way out Common Pipistrelles were hunting over windsurfing car park and near hide while two Noctule bats were feeding along farborough bank.


Monday, 3 November 2008

November 3rd 2008

Overcast with a light north north east wind this morning and not very motivated when I went out to check the moth trap just after eight. Had removed the top and about to check the egg boxes when I heard a Firecrest call and the bird was located in my neighbours Holly tree and watched down to six feet before it flew in to an apple tree two doors down – garden tick (well I was in the garden). Hung around the kitchen in case it returned but apart from 120 Fieldfare and 40 Redwing going east I never saw it again and as Sainsbury’s beckoned I could not afford the time searching for it.
Out this afternoon to Draycote Water with the wind much stronger searching for yesterdays Red-necked Grebes and one was off farborough bank 300 yards from the café and reasonably close – well that’s until you look through the my view finder. First winter Shag was still present and a nice party of one male and seven female Common Scoter were 500 yards off draycote bank. All though it was a grotty evening with poor light I decided to stay for the roost and managed another view of the Kumliens Gull adult and it looked spot on but would like better conditions to be 100% certain. Also seen were 3 Med Gulls with 2 adults and a first winter along with 2 Yellow-legged Gull adults.
While watching the roost a Great-northern Diver adult still in partial summer plumage appeared in the middle of it – but it seems to be one of those buggers that like to swim miles under water and never appeared in the same place twice so no wonder I hadn’t spotted it earlier. Also present were Little Owl, Shoveler 3 female, Goldeneye 4 including adult male, Wigeon 19, Redwing 100, Fieldfare 40 and Raven 3.
Two other highlights for the day were 2 Sprawler on the window of the café and a Common Pipistrelle Bat near the hide as I was leaving.


Sunday, 2 November 2008

November 2nd 2008

Another day out of the county meant I missed the Red-necked Grebes at the pond which was not surprising considering the atrocious weather last night. Strong north east winds with heavy rain experienced overnight here in the midlands had died down by the time we reached Norfolk at first light. Great day with many highlights including:-
*watching hundreds of ducks migrating in to the wash off Hunstanton with the best being a male Long-tailed duck.
*watching migrating Goldcrest's come in off the sea at Titchwell and start feeding round our feet.
*seeing Dave's face after a 90 minute wait when the Red-flanked Bluetail eventually showed - priceless and a tick for him.


November 1st 2008

Out early and the wind was north easterly with a bitter wind chill and managed to last two hours on Bush Hill, Flecknoe before my body screamed out for warmth. Plenty of thrushes going over with 200 Fieldfare and 500 Redwing along with 700 Starling, 100 Chaffinch, 50 Meadow Pipit, 40 Skylark and a stunning Short-eared Owl flew lazily past along with 10 Brambling, 5 Siskin and 3 Lesser Redpoll. Earlier I had seen two Barn Owls so a great start to the day though it did not feel like it as I tried to get me little legs working the steed.
There were Stonechat, Great-spotted Woodpecker 2, Raven 2 and Grey Partridge near Grandborough Fields Farm and nearby Woodbine Farm had a Buzzard on a recently killed rabbit which reluctantly flew off as I went past. Further down Flecknoe Road there were 60+ Linnet, Golden Plover 45 and a large tit flock containing Long-tailed 23, Great 6, Blue 12 and at least 3 Goldcrests. Migrants continued to go west with at least 500 Fieldfare, 1200 Redwing, 800 Starling counted but difficult to keep on the road when your head is in the air so it wasn’t long before I ended up in the ditch. Nothing broken accept my pride.
In the afternoon met up with John Judge to do the roost – no doubt the start of many to come. Weather was dire with poor light and strong winds making it hard work. Managed one Yellow-legged Gull and Med Gull adult with a possible Med Gull plus a bird showing the characteristics of adult kumlieni but too far to away to be certain


October 31st 2008

Still in the middle of this cold spell with a north westerly wind and temperatures struggling to reach 7 deg and as I was not meeting up with Dave today I wander over to Lawford Heath early afternoon then did the roost at Draycote Water. The heath had 3 Brambling amongst the Chaffinch flock at Rookery farm along with 6 Meadow Pipit and a male Merlin perched and taking a keen interest in the activity around the farm. Also seen were Little Owl, Red-legged Partridge 3 and Yellow-legged Gulls 2 adult.
Draycote water still had the Water Rail in the north east corner of toft shallows and one of the Shags decided to show itself to me but the roost was difficult to work and only saw 2 Yellow-legged Gull first winter and adult while over head 12 Siskin flew south. Earlier this morning I had a party of 19 Long-tailed Tits go through the garden.