Wednesday, 31 December 2008

December 31st 2008

Minus 4 overnight and freezing fog – not the best of conditions but an early visit to Addison Rd / May Lane junction was productive with 12 Waxwing in trees by Bernhard Court before flying off north.
By the time I arrived at Draycote Water the freezing fog had hardly shifted and was very slow to clear throughout the day with temperature struggling to get above freezing.
Coal Tit and 5 Mistle Thrush in toft shallows and adult winter Med Gull in toft bay with many Black-headed Gulls that were slow to leave the roost. Eight Snipe were frozen out from the shoreline in toft and Red-necked Grebe, male Smew, 2 Great-northern Divers, streaky the adult winter Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Shags were along farborough bank. Popped in to café to say my farewells to the staff – lost there jobs as the café is closing today – a mobile café will be on site at weekends till another firm bids for the tender – the seating area and shop is open to public as normal. Not a good start for the year for um. Country Park was quiet and the feeders in the ranger’s yard were empty though a Willow Tit was seen with 23 Long-tailed Tits and a Grey Wagtail nearby. Have put a request to ST to fill them for tomorrow.
The Red-throated Diver was out in centre and could just be seen in the gloom otherwise it was quiet till a very impressive flock of Shoveler arrived – 148 counted and a male Pintail off grays barn along with 30, Pochard, 80 Wigeon and 100 Teal. At least 40 Siskin and 2 Lesser Redpoll were feeding in alders in toft shallows, 9 Golden Plover flew over and then – bingo – 5 Waxwing flew over heading for half way lane so gave chase. (my 3rd Record for the pond). Searched from Dunchurch village to the A45/M45 roundabout but cleared off pretty quickly - to many men from the press (M45 closed due to incident) no sign of any and was just turning in to Windmill Lane, Dunchurch when one flew over heading back towards Draycote.
Marks father in law had a Red Kite yesterday over the straight mile (B4453). That’s it – another year – a few of us are year listing tomorrow, meeting up at Draycote Water tomorrow then having breakfast at the Little Chef (approx 1000-1030) on the A45 near Dunchurch. If you are going to pond don’t leave it to late – its normal for Joe public to come in big numbers on new years day so parking becomes limited. Birders have been turned away in the past. Weather could be just as bad as today so dress up warm. Finally i hope you have enjoyed the read and many thanks to those who have been supportive over the last year especially buddy Dave – we have shared some crackers this year mate so here’s hoping.


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

December 30th 2008

I was out with Dave this morning checking on sites for New Years day visiting the valley, Draycote Water, Lawford Heath and Addison Rd, Rugby. The afternoon was spent road testing Trog ending up at Draycote Water.
Luckily we had none of the very low temperatures and freezing fog that were forecasted though it was still cold with a fresh easterly wind. No Barn Owls seen till we arrived at Calcutt where we managed 2 just after dawn and we had a very interesting chat with the local farmer who keeps an eye on them. Our local council in there wisdom have demolished the nearby bridge they were roosting in and he reckons that this has reduced sightings by 50% this year. Certainly more difficult than ever and the wet summer reducing vole numbers has not helped. He saw a Red Kite here last week and has seen the odd Stonechat in the plantation. We also saw Raven and Green Woodpecker.
Surprisingly Draycote Water was void of birders as we watched 3 Great-northern Divers, Red-necked Grebe and male Smew from farborough bank before walking to valve tower. The Red-throated Diver was showing well near the inlet but became more difficult appearing near the valve tower, hensborough bank and out in the center. It’s feeding well and can spend well over a minute underwater resurfacing miles from its original position.

Red-throated Diver
The 4th Great-northern Diver was by the valve tower and off inlet we had 2 Shoveler and amongst the finch flock we had a Linnet and Corn Bunting.
Lawford Heath had 2 Buzzards, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 8 Yellowhammers but little else except for a Buzzard following the plough and another search around Addison Rd, Rugby failed to find any Waxwing.
After dinner went out to road tested Trog and searched the Addison Rd / May Lane junction with no luck and was cycling up Hillfield Rd towards Plexfield Rd when a flock of 8 flew over heading north. Dave had 5-10 in trees back of Bernards Court as he drove past while out shopping.
The roost at Draycote was a lot more productive than of late with 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and first winter Med Gull.
"Blue Lobster" informs me of a Ring-necked Parakeet in valley at Willoughby recently. See comments 28th Dec.
Dave found this in Bloom's Garden Center yesterday

Mottled Umber


Monday, 29 December 2008

December 29th 2008

Out buying a new bike? – The steed finally gave out – even with no saddle, brakes, handlebars and wheels she did me proud. The latest speed machine (Trog) has go faster stripes - unfortunately they still don’t make bikes with heated saddles. On the way back home we looked around the Addison Rd / May Lane area and the local estates but no luck on the Waxwing flock which had increased to eight yesterday though elusive.
Well its two days to the end of what’s been a brilliant patch year and already planning the next, won’t be doing anything different on the patch – just continue plodding away but will try to do more paintings and make more visits to Eldernell, Cambridgeshire. My wish list for 2009 is Red-necked Phalarope and American Wigeon for the pond and be pretty chuffed with either Stone Curlew or Dotterel for the valley. Mind you I wouldn’t mind a few claw backs – Surf Scoter, American Golden Plover and Collared Pratincole at the pond all have a story attached as to why they are on my friends list and not mine.


Sunday, 28 December 2008

December 28th 2008

Although home late I was out early. Down to minus 2 overnight with a north easterly wind making it even colder. Entered valley off the A45 via the minor road to Woolscott and watched two Barn Owls intent on hunting so they ignored me and passed just feet away. Another Barn Owl was hunting the county lane from Woolscott to Sawbridge and two more were back of the village before I continued to Wolfhamcote where my sixth of the morning crossed the canal heading towards Flecknoe.
With no chance of a cooked breakfast today a few nips from the hip flask while I took a time out at Wolfhamcote before returning to Sawbridge checking the hedgerows with plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing along with 5 Goldcrests.
Along the Flecknoe Rd there were a few Yellowhammers and Raven near Fox Covet and male Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards at Grandborough Fields Farm. Distant views of Draycote Water showed that it was getting busy so decide to stay in the valley and worked Hill Rd before taking the footpath to the fishing lagoons. Tree Sparrow 4 in Willoughby, Water Rail on the lagoons along with 8 Teal and 20 Golden Plover near Beck Hill was my reward until coming back into Grandborough where 2 Waxwing were perched on wires and trees at the junction of Hill and Grandborough Fields Rd before flying towards the church – yippee a new bird for me in the valley.

Arranged with Dave to meet John and the bumbling bears to do the roost and while waiting for them we had a Great-northern Diver some distance out. (they had Peregrine over country park) Another Great-northern Diver was close in rainbow corner and Dave Hall’s shout of Red-throated Diver was ignored until I realized he was serious and it was even closer so we had stunning views. A first winter, it moved to hensborough bank for awhile then later it was seen in the middle of the roost and someway out. This is my 18th record for Draycote involving 22 individuals and has the privilege of being my 177th bird of the year setting a new draycote record for me and also my 188th bird for the patch. Checking my records only 2 of the 18 have been long stayers so fingers crossed we can keep it till the New Year. What a beauty (Dave not the bird).

Red-throated Diver by john Judge
The hybrid Peregrine with jesses flew past hensborough bank but on the minus side the six of us failed to find anything apart from a single Yellow-legged Gull in the roost and once cold set in and the talk got on to Pete’s superb cooking (makes mince pies you would kill for)it was time to call it a day.


Saturday, 27 December 2008

December 27th 2008

A long overnight journey for a day out in Cornwall started with a Barn Owl hunting the motorway verge north of the M4/M5 junction and another flew across the A30 on Bodmin Moor. The key bird we were going for was the first winter Snowy Owl which was on the moor below Sperris Quoit south of the coastal B3306 three miles south west of St Ives and after a short walk it was located on its regular fence post, a magnificent beastie, showing well. Also in the area were Stonechat, Raven, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Short-eared Owl and female Merlin. After breakfast in Penzance we searched nearby Jubilee Pool for Purple Sandpipers and found 17 and a first winter Iceland Gull off shore heading for Newlyn while a search of the sea at sandy Cove produced both Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe. No sign of last weeks Pacific Diver in St Ives Bay, just 3 Great-northern Divers or the Bittern at Long Rocks pool so moved on to Helston Boating Lake to see the first winter Ring-billed Gull and found two present with over wintering Yellow-browed Warbler nearby. Ended a good day adding Chough to the day list. Apparently we had another Barn Owl on the way home but I was fast asleep – what a surprise.


Friday, 26 December 2008

December 26th 2008

A Barn Owl between Tollgate and Manor Farm as we entered the valley at 06:45 was the only bird of note in what turned out to be a very poor visit.
Draycote Water faired a little better with 2 Great-northern Diver, Shag, Red-necked Grebe and male Smew off farborough bank but nothing new has arrived for awhile now. A female Merlin was seen on Lawford Heath on the way to Brandon Marsh which unfortunately was dead apart from 3 Coal Tit and female Goldeneye.
Decided to visit the May Lane/Addison Rd junction for yesterdays Waxwing but no sign and with busy dinner time traffic I was certain we had no chance until I spotted 5 resting in tree on the opposite side of the road to where they are feeding. Quick phone calls soon had Mark, Mason, pa Phillips, John, April and Bob present but we then had to go as dinner was ready.

Waxwing by John Judge

Waxwing by Bob Hazell
Five is my second highest count in the county.


Thursday, 25 December 2008

December 25th 2008

Draycote Water was closed today to cars with access only via route 41 only so I had the reservoir almost to myself apart from a few mince pies running round.
There were 2 Kingfisher in toft shallows along with 2 Lesser Redpoll and 4 Siskin. Red-necked Grebe, male Smew and 3 Great-northern Divers off farborough bank. The feeders in the rangers yard had Coal and Willow Tit plus 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker while the country park had 2 Green Woodpecker and Treecreeper. First winter Shag was in front of the sailing club, Common Sandpiper windsurfing area, 3 immature Ruddy Duck rainbow corner, 23 Goosander off inlet and the 4th Great-northern Diver by the valve tower. Little else till grays barn where 3 Goldcrest, 5 Siskin and 12 Long-tailed Tits and the female Pintail off shore.
Waxwing have finally arrived on my patch and managed to react quickly to the news of one near the junction of May Lane and Addison Rd Rugby just in time to avoid being late for my Christmas dinner. My 8th county record with the last in 2004.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

December 24th 2008

Out looking for owls down the Grandborough valley and rewarded with Barn Owl near Lodge farm on the A45 then two more at Sawbridge, and one still hunting at 0815am at Calcutt. Four from three sites was well worth the effort. Supporting birds included Little Owl at Sawbridge, Tawny Owl heard at Grandborough and Broadwell, Woodcock over Calcutt along with 5 Bullfinch and 2 Siskin. Napton Reservoir had 2 Kingfisher, Water Rail and female Goosander and Goldeneye amongst the 8 Gadwall, 10 Pochard while the entrance road had a Grey Wagtail and Lesser Redpoll with a Med Gull adult winter loafing around with a few Common Gull. Retracing my steps back to Broadwell there were 2 Ravens near Gibralter bridge and Great-spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper in Millbank spinney. Along Flecknoe Rd there were 4 Buzzards, 100 Lapwing and a single Tree Sparrow but at Grandborough Fields there’s not much left of the sheep carcass and the smell may have been responsible for attracting a distant Red Kite seen briefly over the sky line towards Grandborough village. 2 Ravens present.
By the time I arrived at Draycote I had missed the gang so I hope Santa gives you what you all want? – I know what I would like to give you? – bless.
Another poor roost – I seem to have lost me touch or the goodies have gone to the north of the county, 2 Yellow-legged Gull adults the best I could find plus the 4 Great-northern Divers, Common Sandpiper, male Smew, Red-necked Grebe, Shag, Snipe and Pintail female.


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

December 23rd 2008

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with
good health and good birding.

It was another mild night with light drizzle. Did the roost with Mark and Mason but apart from adult Yellow-legged Gull failed to find anything interesting in the roost at Draycote Water though the huge amount of Common Gulls and 400 Greater Black-backed Gull present were impressive. Common Sandpiper feeding by the windsurfing area and 2 Great-northern Divers only birds of note.


Monday, 22 December 2008

December 22nd 2008

Another cloudy mild night with light drizzle early morning so took the opportunity to run a moth trap at Draycote Water overnight and managed 11 Winter Moth, 3 Mottled Umber and a December Moth. On the birding front all the usual suspects present with 4 Great-northern Diver, Common Sandpiper, 2 first winter Shag, Red-necked Grebe and male Smew while the supporting birds included Oystercatcher over calling, 27 Goosander mainly on the west side of reservoir, Kingfisher, 4 Green Woodpecker, Peregrine, Yellow-legged Gull (old streaky) and Lesser Redpoll. Mid afternoon and conscious that I need to make room for my forth coming Christmas blowout I walked to Ashlawn Cutting – nothing special just a few Fieldfare and Redwing 5 Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker and tons of dog crap.


Sunday, 21 December 2008

December 21st 2008

Another mild night with 4 Winter Moth’s in the garden trap. A wander round the valley with Dave produced 5 Raven and a Fox on the sheep carcass along with 18 Magpies while nearby a Buzzard, Kingfisher and another Fox but no sign of any owls.
Draycote was blustery with 3 Great-northern Divers off farborough bank along with the Red-necked grebe and another Great-northern off valve tower. Among the 500+ Black-headed Gulls in fields below farborough spit were a second winter and last nights first winter Med Gull that still has some juvenile plumage on head and mantle. The gulls were very jumpy and after meeting up with Kevin Grewcock and finding the male Smew off toft bank we were lucky enough to have a male Merlin go past. Lawford Heath had 2 Peregrine, 3 Buzzards, Tree Sparrow, 40 Skylark, 20 Yellowhammer, 120 Collared Dove and 500 Fieldfare near Rookery Hall.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

December 20th 2008

Very mild overnight so December Moth and 2 Winter Moth were not unexpected nor was the heavy rain so not worth going out till this afternoon. Invited to JJs for dinner so we did the roost at Draycote Water and managed to find 3 Med Gulls (2 adult winters and a first winter still retaining some juvenile plumage on head and mantle). The streaky headed adult Yellow-legged Gull which has been here on and off since the summer was on the fishing platform along with a very brown first winter Shag which from its plumage is different to the one hanging around the valve tower. Only other birds seen were Common Sandpiper, 2 Great-northern Divers and 18 female and 12 male Goosander. On the way to JJs there were many Winter Moths emerging so could be a good night for them.


Friday, 19 December 2008

December 19th 2008

You have a chance for a good day when you wake up and a Little Owl is sitting on your garden fence – magic. The morning was spent planning the last few birding days of the year working out which locations to check so we have some idea what to go for on 1st January and of course somewhere to have breakfast.

Smew by Bob Hazell - you can't get bored with this beauty
Ou this afternoon with Dave to Draycote Water and met up with Bob Hazel for a chat before we wandered out to farborough spit.Only 2 Great-northern Divers were seen off the fishing platform though Bob had seen four earlier and the Red-necked Grebe and male Smew were further along farborough bank. Off the spit many gulls were gathering for the roost early but nothing of note found and 3 Buzzards flew over. Not much in valley till we reached Grandborough Fields where we found a group of mixed corvids feeding on a dead sheep which included 5 Raven.


Thursday, 18 December 2008

December 18th 2008

Another cracking day and good to shared it with Dave.
Arrived at Nene Washes, Eldernell, Cambridgeshire as dawn broke and watched two Barn Owls hunting the drier fields in front of the car park before walking to check the fields holding water west of Lord’s Holt. Plenty of duck especially Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pintail and some of the 150+ Whooper Swan were very close before they left for there feeding grounds. After a cup of coffee we did the east side where there were more flooded fields which held some impressive numbers of duck and waders. Approximate count were Golden Plover 1000, Lapwing 3000, Ruff 40, Black-tailed Godwit 20, Dunlin 20, Berwick’s Swan 4, Teal 500, Wigeon 1000, Pintail 300 and many Shoveler, Mallard, and Gadwall. The nearby Decoy Wood had 2 Buzzard and 2 very smart Peregrines which remained perched for half an hour. Amongst all the duck and wader activity the 2 adult Cranes looked magical and showed very well before they moved to feed behind wood. These two could be the birds we saw in October at Welney that are wintering in the area. Also seen were female Marsh Harrier, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Siskin 12.
Now we were cooking on gas so with fingers crossed we went to Coveney where just south of the village we had a twenty minute wait for the Rough-legged Buzzard to show. At first it was distant seen perched in tree and on ground but eventually had some cracking flight views. New bird for Dave so he’s a happy bunny.
There were plenty of Whooper Swan in the fields between Coveney and Welney and after dinner at the Welney Wetland and Wildfowl Trust reserve we went for a walk. The main observatory and wing hides remain open to visitors, but all other footpaths and hides are closed due to increased water levels. The A1101 between Welney village and Suspension Bridge is closed. Access to the Welney Wetland Centre is always possible from the A10 at Littleport or Ten Mile Bank during times of flood. Duck and wader numbers were distant though one small group on raised grass held 3 Bean Geese but to see the reserve in this state is certainly impressive. Egyptian Goose in field behind centre and 500+ Golden Plover.

Mottled Umber by Bob Hazell
Good to see Bob has finally recovered from his illness and back in the field, he had a good day at Draycote Water seeing all the usual suspects and managed to relocate the Red-necked Grebe along farborough bank and Mottled Umber on wall of cafe.


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

December 17th 2008

A Cracking Day
Overnight rain cleared to a clear frosty morning with clear skies and good visibility for a change so checked on Draycote Water at first light then the Grandborough valley in the afternoon.
Toft shallows had 3 Siskin, Treecreeper and Kingfisher while Water Rail, 2 Snipe, Willow Tit and 3 Goldcrest were in gray’s barn and the male Smew was mobile off farborough spit.

Smew by Terry Southgate
Three Great-northern Divers were together off the fishing platform loafing on the surface plus Grey Wagtail and the windsurfing area had the long staying Common Sandpiper. Rainbow corner was very productive with a Peregrine, male Merlin with in minutes of each other and a roving flock of 26 Siskin and the leam valley from rainbow produced 2 Buzzards, 200+ Fieldfare, 3 Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 17 Pheasants and Corn Bunting which flew over calling heading towards the country park. The Goosander flock by the inlet included 17 female and 8 males along with Kingfisher, 2 female Shoveler and female Ruddy duck and the 4th Great-northern Diver was by the valve tower. Biggen bay had male Blackcap, Treecreeper and another 2 female Shoveler. Also seen were Green Woodpecker 4, Bullfinch 9, Lesser Redpoll 2 and Sparrowhawk.
Back out again early afternoon and spotted adult Glaucous Gull flying over the Rugby Rd, Dunchurch possibly heading for Draycote just a couple of minutes after leaving home so perfect timing.
Walked the waterlogged footpath between Dunchurch and Grandborough in the afternoon, heavy going but sure worth it with a Short-eared Owl flushed from a stubble field east of Bunkers Hill wood along with 4 Snipe and a nearby Willow Tit and male Stonechat. Nearing Grandborough village there were plenty of winter thrushes with one field alone having over a 600 Fieldfare. Also seen were 4 Tree Sparrow amongst a party of 30+ Yellowhammers and 67 Golden Plover. Decided to stay late and do some “trunking” in Bunkers Hill wood and rewarded with a hunting Barn Owl and perched Tawny Owl while moths found were Winter Moth 5, Chestnut, and Mottled Umber.


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

December 16th 2008

Thick fog this morning so gave Draycote Water a miss and carried on to Draycote village and worked the national Cycle Route 41 to Birdingbury Bridge (dis-used railway line) and the footpath from Birdingbury Bridge to Manor Farm, Draycote and back hoping for the shrike. The cycle route had 14 Bullfinch, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Green Woodpecker and 4 Goldcrest while the footpath had hundreds of Fieldfare, 30+ Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, 3 Jay, Red-legged Partridge and 3 Buzzards. Arriving back at Birdingbury Bridge a Little Owl was feeding on the ground. The Journey home via Birdingbury, Leamington Hastings, Hill, Kites Hardwick and Dunchurch was pretty quiet with the area still misty and very few highlights - apart from some dodgy drivers, best would be the Marsh Tit at Birdingbury and 3 Raven near Kites hardwick.


Monday, 15 December 2008

December 15th 2008

JJ rang early telling me Kevin G had found a male Smew off farborough bank –unfortunately I had Christmas shopping to complete so it had to wait until later in the day. Well done Kevin though it will mean the kodak fiddlers will be back, very few of them have been around since the red-necked went walk about. Terry kept me informed of its whereabouts as did Colin and Sara who had spent some time searching for the shrike – no luck but they did find a male Stonechat between Home Farm, Bourton and the Birdingbury Bridge plus 40 Wigeon grazing by the side of the River Leam.
Once Sainsbury’s had been ticked off the list it was down to the pond early afternoon with a Coal Tit, Grey Wagtail, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker and 12 Siskin in toft shallows, two female Ruddy Duck and a Kingfisher in toft bay, Shelduck asleep in grays barn and 14 Golden Plover over. The resplendent male Smew seen along with 4 Great-northern Divers, Common Sandpiper and the first winter Shag. Scope views of Corn Bunting behind the inlet and the roost held Glaucous Gull first winter, Yellow-legged Gull 2 adults and one first winter and adult winter Med Gull. Curlew flew over late and Little Owl calling as I passed biggen.


Sunday, 14 December 2008

December 14th 2008

Out with Dave working the valley and yesterday’s rain was heavier than we realized with many areas flooded but found a way through and rewarded with a perched Barn Owl south of Sawbridge while still dark and another flew pass by Grandborough Fields Farm after first light. Also 2 Tawny Owls heard and 2 Buzzard seen.
Arrived at Calcutt to late for any owls so on to Napton Reservoir finding Water Rail, 2 Kingfisher, 11 Gadwall, 25 Teal, 20 Pochard and many Fieldfare in the adjacent fields.
Draycote Water had 3 Great-northern Divers by the fishing pontoons and one by valve tower with 250 Great-crested Grebe dotted around the reservoir but no trace of the red-necked. With so much flooding around duck numbers have increased with well over 150 Wigeon 80 Teal present and only other bird of note were 35 Golden Plover.
After breakfast Brandon Marsh was underwater so we only managed a short walk but still managed 2 Water Rail, 6 Snipe, Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk and nice group of 60+ Siskin near the visitor centre.
Lawford Heath was a hive of activity with 60+ Skylark, 150 Collard Dove and 100 finches by Rookery Hall with many corvids, 400 Fieldfare, 100 Redwing, a few Meadow Pipits, 3 Buzzards and 17 Long-tailed Tit nearby.
Back out again after dinner for the roost at Draycote Water with slightly better light conditions than of late and managed the first winter Glaucous Gull and a first winter Yellow-legged Gull off dunn’s bay plus male Merlin hunting the adjacent golf course and biggen bay shoreline. Also seen were Yellowhammer 12, Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Common Sandpiper and Snipe.


Saturday, 13 December 2008

December 13th 2008

Strong winds and heavy rain overnight continued for most of the morning easing off slightly by mid-day but still a wet, dreary day. The milder temperatures helped to catch only my second moth since November 18th with a Winter Moth in the trap last night following a Scarce Umber which was trapped on the 10th.


Friday, 12 December 2008

December 12th 2008

Out early looking for the shrike, working the theory there is more chance of it being in the area between villages of Draycote and Birdingbury than off draycote bank where everyone seems to be twiddling there toes, Unfortunately the area has very few footpaths with many of the fields having tall hedgerows so not easy to work but ideal for the shrike – less disturbance.
Extremely cold -2 with a sleet shower and after three hours by which time it was raining I only had a probable brief sighting some distance away perched before it dropped down north east of draycote hill, Birdingbury so I gave up for the comforts of central heating and food. Birds seen included Barn Owl by the Princethorpe flyover (A45/A4071), Tawny Owl perched in trees along the straight mile (B4453 near Tile Barns), Kingfisher near Birdingbury Bridge and Corn Bunting between Birdingbury Bridge and Bourton village. Also seen were 4 Siskin, 23 Yellowhammer, 300 Fieldfare, 200 Redwing, 100 Stock Dove, 2 Raven and 2 Buzzard.
Out again this afternoon with Dave to Draycote Water for our usual Friday coffee and cake session and a walk to rainbow corner. A Common Sandpiper was resting on the sailing pontoon with two Great-northern Divers nearby and a third by the valve tower. From rainbow we attempted to do the roost but visibility was poor so concentrated on the smaller gulls nearby and managed adult winter Med Gull very close in to hensborough bank, adult Yellow-legged Gull flew past and 23 Goosander but the star was a Jack Snipe that circled over our heads before landing in the field behind inlet. There were lots of Fieldfare, Redwing and Stock Dove between rainbow and draycote hill.
APPEAL –apart from the usual plea regarding your records – you will miss the book when it goes I need Scaup (check nail) and Bewick’s Swan for my year list at draycote – one short of my 1995 record so get out there and find um for me. Already set a patch record for myself – 186 with the furthest one just eight miles from home – credit crunch listing at its best


Thursday, 11 December 2008

December 11th 2008

Did the roost with Mark this evening but we struggled in the gloom and found only 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and 3 Great-northern Diver seen earlier.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

December 10th 2008

No sign of the Great Grey Shrike at Draycote Water found by Mark and Francoise this afternoon so spent one and half hours searching the fields next to the reservoir before I found it half a mile away near draycote hill. On the down side I could not get it on to my draycote year list but it’s a good patch bird being only my third record with one in May 1979and one in the winter of 83/84 so it was long overdue.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

December 9th 2008

Overnight rain turned frosty as it cleared. The Gull roost at Draycote Water held Iceland Gull first winter, Glaucous Gull first winter, Yellow-legged Gull 2 adult winters and a Med Gull adult winter which was well worth freezing your bits off for. The four Great-northern Divers still present (3 farborough bank and one near valve tower) along with the elusive first winter Red-necked Grebe off dunn’s bay. Also seen were Pintail female, 6 Ruddy Duck, 9 female and 4 male Goosander off draycote bank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and 14 Long-tailed Tit while a Woodcock flew towards the country park and a distant Tawny Owl heard.


Monday, 8 December 2008

December 8th 2008

Out with Dave again but apart from a stunning deep pink sunrise worth looking at there were no sign of any owls or Stonechats around Grandborough Fields Farm and little else in the valley. Draycote was quiet with only 4 Great-northern Divers (3 in same scope view off fishing platform), 8 Goosander and 440 Canada Geese worth mentioning. Male Goosander flew over café in Long Itchington heading south. Rest of day shopping, getting gear for our birding trip to Gambia – sun and sand and life ticks.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

December 7th 2008

Out with Dave before sunrise to Calcutt checking the area for our visit on New Years day and the temperature was -3 with a heavy frost but at least the weathermen were wrong about the fog – none apart from some mist around Draycote and Kites Hardwick as we passed by. Woodcock low over our heads and a Barn Owl hunting close too the road but unfortunately the best viewing area from the bridge is off limits due to road works.
Draycote Water was cooking on gas with 200+ finches leaving their roost with at least one Brambling heard and a few Siskins. Coal Tit on the feeders in the Rangers Yard. Three Great-northern Divers were together off the fishing platform and showing well, 2 Redshank in toft bay and a Little Owl in the field below farborough spit before if flew in to hedge to roost.
The continuing cold spell has finally started bringing birds in as smaller waters freeze up with a good increase in Goldeneye numbers with 36 counted and 4 Ruddy Duck off the north shore, 264 Great-crested Grebes, 300+ Canada Geese and a year tick in the form of a male Red-crested Pochard in gray’s barn as it swam amongst the willows.
Breakfast in Long Itchington and a chance to thaw out then off to Brandon Marsh which was 90% frozen over and we arrived at carlton hide just in time to see the Bittern fly from newlands, also seen were 2 Water Rail plus another 2 heard calling, 4 Siskin, Nuthatch, 2 Treecreeper, 8 Snipe, 12 Gadwall and 78 Shoveler.
Lawford Heath had Coal Tit, 3 Buzzards, 6 Meadow Pipit, Tree Sparrow, 20+ Yellowhammer, 30+ Stock Dove and Corn Bunting all seen from the disused barn on ling lane. Back at Dave’s enjoying dinner and a male Blackcap was on his feeders. Late afternoon a Sparrowhawk scared the sugar out of my garden birds


Saturday, 6 December 2008

December 6th 2008

Took advantage of the clear cold spell in the weather to work the valley around the Woolscott, Sawbridge and Wolfhamcote area before tomorrow’s forecasted fog and Monday’s rain with a Barn Owl between Laurel and Tollgate Farm along the A45 just after first light and 7 Tree Sparrow and 5 Yellowhammer among a party of Chaffinches on the minor road between the A45 and Woolscott. No gulls were seen around Sawbridge Grounds but 150 Fieldfare and 30 Redwing present along with Green Woodpecker and Raven while the county lane between Woolscott and Sawbridge had 2 Red-legged Partridge, 7 Pheasants another Sparrowhawk, Blackcap male, 20+ Yellowhammer, 4 Siskin and 4 Tree Sparrow with more Fieldfare and Redwing. The county lane between Sawbridge and Flecknoe had Great-spotted Woodpecker, 6 Bullfinch and Little Owl.
Wolfehamcote had 4 Snipe, 6 Reed Bunting and 3 Teal near the Old Vicarage with distant Buzzard. Returning home along the A45 there was a Peregrine over the Onley Prison heading in to Northamptonshire and 56 Golden Plover in adjacent fields then my third puncture of the week so a 3 mile walk home.
John Judge gave me a lift to do the roost at Draycote Water and with the Hall brothers we managed a first winter Glaucous Gull near the valve tower. Also seen were 12 Goosander and 2 Great-northern Divers from the café and Francoise had the Common Sandpiper earlier in the day. Both Jupiter and Venus seen in the evening sky as we walked back to the car park. Back out again half way through me dinner to see the Barn Owl that was perched on out buildings along Ashlawn Rd. Thanks sis.


Friday, 5 December 2008

December 5th 2008

The morning was spent at home watching the garden with 8 Blackbird, 3 Starling, 3 Dunnock, 6 Wood Pigeon, 2 Collard Dove, 8 Greenfinch, 5 Chaffinch, Winter Wren, Robin, 6 Blue Tit , 2 Great Tit and 2 Coal Tit while overhead Lapwing 3, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Rook, Crow and Jackdaw noted.
Down the pond with Dave in the afternoon for our coffee and cake just as it pissed down so we gave up after a feeble attempt to find something different other than the GND or RNG and drove round the Grandborough valley. Managed two Buzzards at Woodbine Farm, 50+ Fieldfare near Grandborough Fields Farm with more around Sawbridge and Sawbridge Grounds but bird of the day was the first winter Glaucous Gull in a field behind Sawbridge Grounds on the Grandborough to Sawbridge road resting among a flock of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. On the way out we had 10 Tree Sparrow by the side of the road north of Woolscott.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

December 4th 2008

Two puncture this mornings on top of the cold, wet and windy weather did not help my mood so I only have myself to blame for not concentrating as I biked along the Hill Rd in the Grandborough valley and flushed a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker from the entrance to Valley Farm and could only manage poor views of it flying away. Bloody good record for this part of the valley. Up till then the valley had been pretty dire so a lesson learnt which paid off further down the road when checking a group of Common and Black-headed Gulls that held a first winter Med Gull half hidden as it sat sheltering from the wind. Also in area were 9 Stock Dove, 6 Bullfinch 14 Yellowhammer, and a Raven.
The journey to Napton Reservoir was uneventful apart from many Redwing and Fieldfare feeding on any hedgerow that had not been decimated by the barbaric cutting methods of the local farmers use, and at the reservoir things are similar with a lot of “gardening” being done that is making the place pretty sterile and very little seen apart from Kingfisher and a Water Rail heard.
Cycling back along the A426 I had 2 Raven, 2 Buzzard and 4 Red-legged Partridge and arrived at Draycote Water in time to see Willow and Coal Tit but no Brambling’s near the Rangers Yard. The long staying Red-necked Grebe and 2 Great-northern Divers were off farborough bank, Little Owl was back in its usual haunt, 12 Golden Plover flew over heading west and Oystercatcher in toft bay before doing the roost. The light was poor again as another front came in but I managed 2 first winter Glaucous Gulls and a first winter Yellow-legged Gull while freezing me nuts off.
Also seen were the regular (if your lucky) female Merlin taking a keen interest in the 60+ Yellowhammers, first winter Shag and another 2 Great-northern Divers near the valve tower, 9 Siskin, Kingfisher, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker.


December 3rd 2008

Another cold night with a hard frost and ideal for a walk around nearby Cock Robin Wood & Plantation looking for birds effected by the conditions. Under the larger trees a number of finches were working the leaf litter and managed to find 5 Brambling among the 70 Chaffinch and 30 Greenfinch. Also in the area were 3 Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 4 Jay, 24 Blackbird, 56 Redwing, 34 Fieldfare, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 7 Siskin while 4 Snipe flying over east indicated they were having issues with the hard ground.
More birds in the garden than of late but nothing special and could finding nothing in the roost at Draycote Water.


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

December 2nd 2008

It was a cold night with snow and sleet showers mid-morning so did not rush out which paid off when a call from friend on my estate wanting to know what kind of bird she had at the bottom of here garden. The description was confusing so popped round for a look and rewarded with a Tawny Owl half hidden in her ivy covered tree and as we chatted came to realise there was a second bird present though this bird was a lot more secretive with only its face peering out of the ivy.
Draycote was cold and arrived too late to see the first winter Glaucous Gull seen by Bob and Francoise – nothing in toft shallows (what a surprise), all five divers on show at the same time and the Red-necked Grebe still present but distant. No new arrivals that I could find and duck numbers are still very low though Bob managed to relocate last weeks Corn Bunting yesterday and the only other of birds of note were 244 Canada Geese in toft bay plus 3 feral Greylag Geese, 22 Goldeneye, 9 Goosander, 2 Lesser Redpoll in toft, Coal Tit near the Rangers yard and 8 Siskin seen on the way out by the M45 bridge along with 5 Song Thrush.


Monday, 1 December 2008

December 1st 2008

A very cold day with the clear skies in the morning being a bonus compared to yesterday’s weather so gave the Grandborough valley a good search. Too late to look for owls but the marshy vegetation by the bridge between Willoughby and Sawbridge had 3 Snipe and my first Water Rail for this location while I failed to find the Stonechats at Grandborough Fields Farm but managed 2 female Brambling by the entrance to Woodbine Farm and 4 Lesser Redpoll just out side Grandborough village on the Hill Rd. Also 2 Tree Sparrow and plenty of House Sparrows.
Further along Hill Rd there were plenty of Redwing, a few Fieldfare and 5 Yellowhammers but the most productive area was on the busy A426 by Millholme Brook bridge with 8 Bullfinch, 30 Greenfinch, Willow Tit, Raven, Kingfisher, Little Owl and 3 Grey Partridge. Kites Hardwick village had a flock of 9 Long-tailed Tits and 4 Siskin flying over with a Peregrine by the golf range and 34 Golden Plover resting in the field opposite.
Draycote was busy with birders, bikers, pram pushers and walkers so took a look at Lawford Heath where I managed Kingfisher, 2 Teal, 3 Jay, 3 Tree Sparrows, 12 Golden Plover, first winter Yellow-legged Gull and 15 Stock Dove.
Garden feeders finally picked up with Carrion Crow, Magpie, Coal Tit, 6 Chaffinch, 4 Collard Dove and 7 Greenfinch this afternoon enjoying the extras I had put out.