Thursday, 31 December 2009

December 31st 2009

First port of call this morning was Calcutt with the 2 Barn Owl showing then on to Napton Reservoir where there was another Barn Owl plus Water Rail, Cetties Warbler and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Back home at mid-day 7 Siskin flew over the garden but no sign of Brambling then it was out with Mark but two heavy sleet showers put paid to our attempt at the roost at Draycote Water and all we managed was one Great-northern Diver, distant male Smew, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 11 Goosander. I started the year with Barn Owl so it was fitting that the last bird of the year was Barn Owl down the Southam Road hunting just before dusk.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

December 30th 2009

Despite a bitterly cold north easterly, 80% of wash still frozen and drizzle towards the end of the day Dave, Colin and I enjoyed a winters day birding in Cambridgeshire trawling the area for owls and swans visiting both the Welney Wetland Trust and the Nene Wash at Endernell.
Red Kite: I was a sleep when one flew over the A605 in Northamptonshire
Buzzard: three on the Nene Washes was unusual
Marsh Harrier: immature over our heads at Welney and at least two on the Nene Washes
Hen Harrier: ringtail on the Nene Washes late afternoon.
Peregrine: a large female perched in the middle of the Nene Wash giving excellent views.
Barn Owl: one at 10am along the access road to Welney and one hunting at dusk on the Nene wash
Whooper Swan: 700 near Poplar Farm, Nene Wash, 2000 on sugar beet field near Lakeside while Welney had 200 plus on site or in nearby fields. Many family parties noted
Bewick’s Swan: small family groups seen as we neared Welney
Egyptian Goose: 2 at Welney
Common Crane: 3 were reported at Nene on the 23rd but we could not find them and had the frustration of hearing one calling as it flew over at dusk but we could not see it.
Water Pipit: 2 on Nene Wash.
Red-legged Partridge: 20 in 2 groups seen between March and Welney.
Stonechat: male on Nene Wash
Ruff: 5 seen from the café at Welney
Golden Plover: 15 over Welney
Linnet: 300 seen from the café at Welney
Welney despite the frozen conditions and some of the footpaths flooded had thousands of Wigeon with smaller numbers of Pochard, Mallard, Teal, and Pintail while Nene Wash being shallower had hardly any open water and dull conditions made viewing difficult.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

December 29th 2009

Chris accompanied by Neville and Graham gave me a lift to the pond for my monthly walk and with time to kill we walked out to farborough spit managing the male Smew before it disappeared and meeting up with the Hall brothers who put us on to 2 Ruddy Duck. The many Lapwing and Starling below farborough spit were put up by a Peregrine which spent well over 5 minutes patrolling the sky over toft bay before drifting off north. After meeting up with others for a walk in a bitterly cold easterly wind to the valve tower we saw one female Common Scoter distantly, just one Great-northern Diver which stayed on the surface for long periods giving excellent scope views and the male Smew was relocated back at the valve tower. Also around were 10 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 5 Shoveler, 2 Green Woodpecker, Buzzard, 5 Goosander and a Muntjac
We moved on in the afternoon seeing 15 Golden Plover and 3 Buzzard on Lawford Heath but we failed to find any Bitterns or Barn Owls even though we stayed till dark. Did see 2 Buzzard, 2 Kingfisher and another Muntjac.
Excellent day lads and thanks for the laughs.


Sunday, 27 December 2009

December 27th 2009

A magical day on my planet
Started the day trawling the valley with Dave looking for owls in the valley concentrating on the Hill and Flecknoe Road but we had no luck so just before first light settled down to a coffee watching the Southam Rd field. We did not have to wait long before the Barn owl appeared followed by a Long-eared Owl that flew across the Southam Road from the direction of Draycote Water. As the light improved a post roost of gulls started gathering in the fields on the opposite side of road and we managed an adult Yellow-legged Gull before two dogs appeared from the nearby farm and flushed them. As they flew off we picked out an adult Glaucous Gull as it passed us.
Did not appear to be any new arrivals at the pond as we walked too rainbow corner managing the 3 female Common Scoter, 2 Great-northern Diver, 70+ Pochard while the male Smew had moved back to the eastern side of reservoir and was near the visitors centre.
After a turkey free breakfast we arrived at Brandon Marsh just in time to get brief but poor views of a Bittern flying over goose pool but we need not have been down hearted as we had brilliant close views 15 minutes later as one flew towards the carlton hide before veering off and out of sight. It was reported showing well on the west marsh but no sign of it by the time we arrived but in the area we had 40+ Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and 20 Long-tailed Tit. Also seen around the reserve were Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Snipe and another Treecreeper.
Stopped off at Lawford Heath with only a few birds around the farm but the adjacent fields held 70 Golden Plover, 300 Starling and hundreds of distant gulls and corvids. Back at Dave’s and he had Light Brown Apple Moth and Dark Chestnut in his trap.

Just a reminder that I have a walk on Tuesday 11am and the weather is not promising but I will still be there unless the snow plough on me bike can’t cope.


December 26th 2009

After a stunning meal at my sisters yesterday I had a desperate need of some exercise before going Dave’s so by first light I was watching both Barn Owl and Woodcock from rainbow corner Draycote Water. The owl was quartering rough hill before heading towards Birdingbury village while the timberdick flew over and appeared to land in “the lump” below draycote bank
The roost was slow to leave so managed 3 adult Yellow-legged Gull and a good count of 278 Greater Black-backed Gull before they dispersed while the 3 female Common Scoter, 2 Great-northern Diver and male Smew were all off draycote bank. At least 34 Goosander counted though some left to feed elsewhere and other sightings included 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Green Woodpecker, 7 Lesser Redpoll, 12 Snipe, 15 Siskin, Kingfisher. Best views go to a Peregrine perched on the valve tower.
No sign of the Brambling in my garden late morning but Redwing, Coal Tit and over wintering male Blackcap appeared while the overnight mild temperatures produced a Winter Moth in my trap.
Rest of day spent trying to stop myself from starving to death and playing the dreaded Wii getting my butt kicked at Tennis, Golf, Archery, and Boxing.


Friday, 25 December 2009

December 25th 2009

Barn Owl Southam Rd Dunchurch 07:00
Female Brambling garden 10:00
rest of day eating for England


Thursday, 24 December 2009

December 24th 2009

Another cold day on the patch but the thaw is on its way. There was no sign of the Great White Egret at Wormleighton Reservoir which is supposed to be still present, Jack Snipe in the overflow culvert and a Woodcock in the wood at the back while the hedgerow opposite the house held 5 Tree Sparrow. Also around were 4 Reed Bunting 2 Buzzard, 2 Coal Tit and Sparrowhawk.
On the way to the pond called in at Napton Reservoir with Water Rail, Green Woodpecker and Cetties Warbler seen and near Calcutt the Barn Owl was seen hunting at mid-day.
Draycote Water had all its present guests with 2 Great-northern Diver, 3 female Common Scoter, male Smew from draycote bank while other birds present included 19 Goosander, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail, female Pintail, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Buzzard, 76 Golden Plover, 2 Coal Tit and Willow Tit.

They say Christmas is just like another day at the office. You do all the work and the fat guy in the suit takes the credit.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

December 22nd 2009

A foggy morning was slow to clear and it felt extremely cold doing the roost Draycote Water this evening with 5 adult and a second winter Yellow-egged Gull, first winter Med Gull and a first winter Iceland Gull between the valve tower and steps arriving at 15:40.
Also present were 2 female Common Scoter off inlet, 2 Great-northern Diver out in and draycote bank, male Smew off draycote bank heading towards the valve tower, female Pintail, 23 Goosander, 6 female Shoveler, 27 Goldeneye, 34 Gadwall, Kingfisher, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 16 Siskin, 2 Grey Wagtail, 140 Golden Plover over heading west and 44 Cormorant.


Sunday, 20 December 2009

December 20th 2009

Another stunning winters morning birding with a light overnight snow shower clearing to blue skies bringing the tempature down to a crispy -5c and Dave managed to pick up a Long-eared Owl just before dawn down the Southam Road but no sign of any Barn Owls.
We then moved on to the Hill Rd and explored the footpaths to Dunchurch and Woolscott in time to appreciate a Short-eared Owl as is went over heading towards Willoughby and the area was full of pigeons and corvid as they left there roost including 3 Ravens while at least 500 Linnets were feeding on seed heads. On the way back 30 Golden Plover flew in and 4 Buzzard seen.
Draycote Water was hard work with 2 Great-northern Diver, 33 Gadwall, 2 female Common Scoter and 12 Goosander seen on our walk to Rainbow Corner then we moved on to Rookery Hall Farm, Lawford Heath where an extensive search found 5 Corn Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer and one Tree Sparrow amongst the 100+ Chaffinch. The biggest surprise was the Jack Snipe that flew off from the back of the farm after being flushed by a cat and there were at least 100 Golden Plover between the old barn and the tip plus 3 Buzzard and a few winter thrushes.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

December 19th 2009

With the temperature down to -6.8c at first light I thought Colin had lost the plot when he turned in to Livingston Avenue, Long Lawford this morning so we could search the brook between the A428 and the railway line bordered both sides by housing. Bugger me with a dodo feather the Great White Egret was just yards away before it flew over the A428 to rest in a stubble field by the junction with Lawford Heath Lane before flying off towards Lawford Heath and out of view. We moved on to Clayhill Lane in case any birders were around to give them a heads up but not a soul seen.
We then had a look at Lawford Heath managing 3 Corn Bunting by the cow pens of Rookery Hall Farm and 300 Lapwing in a field off Ling Lane but nothing of note amongst the gulls on the tip before arriving at Draycote Water with the sun encouraging the temperature up to a balmy -4.4c.
This cold spell has brought in a few more Teal, a sleeping party of 8 Shoveler off rainbow and Goosander increased to 11 males and 8 females. The male Smew spent most of the morning off farborough bank till flushed by a rescue boat and while searching for the Great-northern Diver I found a Slavonian Grebe off draycote bank. Also seen were 6 Meadow Pipit, 300 Canada Geese and 2 Grey Wagtail.
The catering unit was open so we thawed out under the influence of a bacon and egg butty and I was home in time to see 5 Fieldfare in the garden before going back again.
The second Great White Egret of the day was in a the tall trees behind Wormleighton Reservoir on arrival it then flew down to rest in adjacent field and also in the area were 50 Fieldfare, 60 Redwing, Lesser Redpoll, Raven, Kingfisher, 6 Goosander female, 5 Snipe Treecreeper, Willow Tit, Nuthatch and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker while on the way back to the car 2 Corn Bunting and 16 Tree Sparrow were in the hedgerow of the disused railway line.
By the time we reached Calcutt 2 Barn Owls were already out hunting at 15:45pm and a Little Owl was on a farm shed roof just before the turning to Broadwell.
Apparently my Slavonian Grebe has been re-identified as a Black-necked Grebe by some observers so either they were both present or I need a new hobby – who cares – it’s never over till the fat duck sings.


Friday, 18 December 2009

December 18th 2009

Friday again so it was out with Dave this afternoon and we had at least two Great-northern Divers together in rainbow corner Draycote Water while there may another bird present but we never saw all three on the surface at the same time. The male Smew is also present but very mobile and last seen off farborough spit. Plenty of gulls coming in to the roost early with at least 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls present and the only other bird of note were 6 male and one female Goosander and 70 Redwing over. Because of the freezing weather and Dave dressed in his civvies we moved on to the valley for warmth but only managed a Fox and 2 Hares. Earlier in the morning while it was snowing hard I had a Heron and 200 Redwing going over the garden south.


Thursday, 17 December 2009

December 17th 2009

The last 48 hours on planet Richard has been dull, damp and depressing so the first sign of a break in the cloud cover this morning had me out with Bob for a walk around Draycote Water joined by Kevin and Francoise. The combination of a brisk north easterly wind and near freezing conditions made the wind chill uncomfortable on ones delicate skin but it did not stop us from relocating the male Smew that arrived on Sunday near the valve tower and distant but more prolonged views of the mobile Great-northern Diver out in the centre. Also seen were the 2 long staying female Common Scoter, male Blackcap with 15 Bullfinch by the culvert, 4 female & 2 male Goosander near valve tower, 7 Graylag (feral), 152 Teal, 27 Pochard, 32 Wigeon, 25 Gadwall, Buzzard, 2 Green Woodpecker, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Muntjac near the sewage farm.
With no chance of anything hot at the visitors centre Bob, Kevin and I moved on to Long Lawford at 1pm letting the car heater thaw us out and after a short wait the Great White Egret flew in from the direction of the sewage farm but did not settle for long and disappeared the way it came. Kevin continued searching while Bob and I visited JJs for brew then joined Kevin after he had relocated the egret between sewage farm and the mill. The bird was in a ditch feeding and at times virtually impossible to see before it walked out in to the adjacent field to preen and rest while the mother of all snow storms descended briefly on us.

Great White Egret - the top 3 by Kevin Grewcock and the bottom one by Bob Hazell

If your thinking of visiting pond you better check - last year they closed the place because of snow and ice in car park and its going to get much colder for the weekend though its debatable how much snow we will get.


Monday, 14 December 2009

December 14th 2009

Finally got to grips with the Great White Egret a mile west of Long Lawford when it flew down the River Avon from the direction of Church Lawford. Well worth the soaking. That’s two GWEs in the county – magic – now all they have to do is survive the big freeze and hang around till the New Year.

Great White Egret taken by the Bumbling Bears yesterday in much better conditions than today.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

December 13th 2009

Out with Steve and Dave this morning looking for owls down the Southam Road but failed miserably to see or hear any so moved on to Wormleighton Reservoir where we had good views of the Great White Egret perched in trees on the north side, excellent numbers of Goosander (10m & 9f) for this location, Buzzard, 3 Kingfisher and 2 Roe Deer.

Great White Egret Wormleighton Reservor by Steve Valentine

Brandon Marsh was quiet with only 4 Snipe and 2 Goldeneye seen on the reserve and despite extensive searching failed to see the male Brambling by the visitors centre feeders having to make do with good numbers of Great Tit and Blue Tit along with single Coal Tit and Nuthatch.
The Long Lawford Great White Egret was seen yesterday by John’s uncle and turned up again this morning but it gone walk about by the time Dave and I arrived early afternoon.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

December 12th 2009

Excellent day weather wise and my group enjoyed getting to grips with the 2 female Common Scoter and the Great-northern Diver from rainbow corner this morning despite being mobile. Earlier when I arrived via the Half Way Lane entrance there were 7 Lesser Redpolls in toft shallows, Yellow-legged Gull adult flying around toft bay but I couldn’t locate the Green-winged Teal.
Other sightings on the group walk towards the inlet were 3 male and one female Goosander and a Grey Wagtail on the outlet.
After lunch I joined Steve Valentine on another search for the teal in toft bay but they were jittery and well spread out so came up zilch again, adult Caspian Gull in the pre-roost and one Buzzard over toft bank.


Friday, 11 December 2009

December 11th 2009

Today’s freezing fog was slow to burn off for our Friday coffee and cake session this afternoon so we visited Brandon Marsh instead of the pond and it paid off with a Bittern seen flying over Newlands at 15:20pm. Unfortunately we were in the wrong place for a prolonged view but even a peep is better than nothing. Other sightings included 60+ Lesser Redpoll, 10 Siskin, Kingfisher, male Goldeneye, 2 Snipe and back in the car park a female Blackcap.
We gave the Avon valley the once over on the way home for the Great White but no obvious sign though we did manage to find the Mute Swan flock which had gone walk about for the last few weeks in a field by the side of the A425 near The Grange between Bretford and Church Lawford on the Lawford Heath side. Hard to count from a moving car but estimated around the 30 mark.
Wrap up warm tomorrow and even if visibility is down to zero I will still be at the pond hoping it will lift.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

December 10th 2009

I managed a single Barn Owl and Woodcock down the Southam Rd this morning with the fields opposite holding a first winter Caspian Gull in the post roost gathering before they dispersed for the day. Also in area were 100 Fieldfare, 300 Redwing, 17 Pheasant, 1000+ Wood Pigeon, 140 Stock Dove and a very large mobile finch flock.
Draycote Water was a lot brighter than of late with a light westerly wind and the Great-northern Diver was near B buoy accompanied by 2 female Common Scoter and the male Green-winged Teal was mobile due to disturbance by hedge slashers and wombats walking close to the shoreline. The highlight of the morning was a Red Kite over toft bay heading north. On a more local front some duck species have increased with Teal 103, Gadwall 29 and Goldeneye 32 but Wigeon numbers are still poor.
Also seen were 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 150 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare, 3 female & one male Goosander, adult Yellow-legged Gull, Chiffchaff, female Blackcap both in country park, 15 Bullfinch and a Curlew over west.
Back home I have loaded the garden with bird food ready for the cold front that’s due to arrive so I expect the 3 December Moths at the pond today and the Mottled Umber and Winter Moth in my garden trap last night will be some of the last I may see for awhile.
It’s forecasted to be foggy tomorrow but hopefully the visibility on Saturday will be Ok for my walk starting at 10:30am. Target species will be the Common Scoter and Diver if they are still around. The outside catering unit should be open for coffee, tea etc but at the moment it no longer operates in mid week and there are no plans to open the café in the visitors centre till the proposed development of the visitors centre and surrounding area is completed, 2000 and what ever.
Finally the Swift / Avon Valley Great White Egrets is still giving me the run around having been seen last weekend at Long Lawford and on Tuesday it was reported flying over Newbold on Avon going up stream. Wormleighton bird seen today.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December 8th 2009

Two Barn Owl and a Raven down the Southam Rd at dawn before moving on to Hill Rd where there were Buzzard, 15 Yellow Hammer and 8 Skylark along with a few Redwing and Fieldfare. Next area I searched was Grandborough Fields Farm with another Raven and a distant Stonechat hopefully returning to winter for its 3rd year. Nothing of interest along the Flecknoe Rd or Calcutt but a stunning Cettie’s Warbler decided to give very prolonged views at Napton Reservoir. Also seen here were Green Sandpiper again and Kingfisher. Returning along the A426 there were a few Lesser Redpoll near Kites Hardwick
Draycote Water was dull and quiet so decided to stay for the roost managing the adult Caspian Gull and 4 adult and 2 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls. Also seen were Green-winged Teal, 32 Goldeneye, 19 Gadwall, 7 male and 2 female Goosander and Kingfisher.
Just made it home in time to put me glad rags on then it was out with JJ and Helen for a christmas meal.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

December 6th 2009

Weather this morning was fowl with strong winds and heavy rain and after a few attempts to search for owls soon realised we were wasting our time so we scuttled off for breakfast till it stop just before 9am.
A quick look at the pond showed very little change except for the water level rising and only birds noted were the female Common Scoter in rainbow corner, 5 male and one female Goosander off Draycote Bank and the male Green-winged Teal in toft bay.
Next stop was Brandon Marsh where we met up with Colin and Sara for a walk to the west marsh but no sign of any Bitterns and as we continued on to the Carlton Hide we had at least 30 Lesser Redpoll and 10 Siskin. Only 8 Snipe seen on east marsh so we went looking for the reported large redpoll flock and found it by the Wright Hide, at least 70 birds including 4 Siskin.
Kingfisher on the River Avon at Wolston and Dave had a male Blackcap in his garden this afternoon.


December 5th 2009

Early afternoon visit to the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire for a taste of winter birding with a Bittern on Eldernell Pit showing all too briefly as it crossed the pit and there were at least 100 Fieldfare, 200 Redwing and 15 Siskin in the surrounding hedgerows and a Marsh Harrier hunting near Lord Holts Wood. On returning to the car park for another layer we then walked out along the Nene Way footpath heading east with Water Pipit, Kingfisher and Stonechat seen on the edge of Morston Leam that runs parallel with the footpath.
Continuous scanning of the March Farmers area of the wash produced ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 Marsh Harrier and 3 Short-eared Owl with a Barn Owl to finish off and another Barn Owl was seen near the Barnwell Country Park Oundle as we headed for a meal just outside the village.


Friday, 4 December 2009

December 4th 2009

A bright morning with ground frost so nipped down Southam road to watch the Barn Owls hunting just before dawn before returning home for some domestics.
Back out in the afternoon with Dave for our coffee and cake session at the pond but the outside catering unit was closed again so after a quick walk to farborough spit we went else where then checked on Lawford Heath.
The pond had 2 Shelduck, 7 Goosander, 30 Wigeon and 14 Gadwall but no sign of the Great-northern Diver and made no attempt for the Green-winged Teal. Lawford Heath was very quiet with just a Buzzard worth noting.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

December 3rd 2009

After a mild night which resulted in both Winter and Light Brown Apple Moth in the garden trap it’s been a grotty with rain in the morning eventually lifting. Sparrowhawk and Golden Plover over garden with 2 Coal Tit and 3 Goldfinch on the feeders. A walk around Cock Robin Plantation this afternoon produced Treecreeper and Willow Tit while 8 Bullfinches were in Sainsbury's car park


December 2nd 2009

After a very damp grey misty morning I decided to work the Avon Valley between Long Lawford and Brandon village in the afternoon looking for the Swift Valley Great White Egret that was seen over the weekend. It’s not the easiest of area’s to work as you are unable to get close to the River Avon as one would like and the viewing from the road or footpaths is limited. The Little Egret at Clayhill Lane, Long Lawford was half hidden giving poor views as it fed in a stream but no sign of the Great White. I chatted to some non birding dog walkers who had a seen large white bird fly down stream on Monday near Kings Newham so sounds as if it’s still around. A Kingfisher at Bretford and Kings Newham, 30 Wigeon near Kings Newham, 22 Golden Plover over Church lawford, Goosander female near Bretford and plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in the area. Ended the visit at Brandon Marsh where 2 Bittern on west marsh were well hidden in the reed bed and as I was leaving a Barn Owl hunted the sheep field towards the golf course end.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

December 1st 2009

With clear sky’s and little wind overnight Grandborough valley was down to -3c with a heavy ground frost and I froze me bits off waiting for any owls to appear in the fields between Bunkers Hill and Southam Road eventually rewarded with 2 Barn Owl and a Short-eared Owl while both Little and Tawny Owl were heard. Two Ravens were seen and heard as they flew towards the pond.
Before visiting the pond I worked the Hill and Flecknoe Road loop with 12 Golden Plover and a large tit flock at Gymswood consisting of at least 12 Great, 23 Blue 22 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Goldcrest along the Hill Rd, 5 Mistle Thrush in Grandborough Village and 2 Buzzard, Corn Bunting, Little Owl and Grey Partridge along the Flecknoe Road plus well over 500 Redwing and Fieldfare in the area.
Arriving at Draycote Water we have had two new arrivals with a Red-breasted Merganser female between lin croft point and farborough spit and a female Common Scoter off the inlet. The Great-northern Diver was still present and despite the very calm waters it still remains mobile and elusive while the Green-winged Teal was commuting between grays barn and toft bay. Plenty of other birds around topped by a male Merlin hunting Fieldfare and Redwing in the fields behind farborough spit and a female Brambling with the Chaffinch flock in toft shallows. Also seen were 16 Gadwall, 25 Wigeon, 2 female Goosander, 50+ Teal, 39 Pochard, 22 Goldeneye, 400 Redwing, 100 Fieldfare, 200+ Lapwing, 7 Siskin, 2 Snipe, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail.
A Severn Trent notice in the visitors centre states the reservoir is at 69% capacity due to limited amount of water it can draw due to low rainfall this autumn. If we have a dry winter it could mean more habitat for waders and even the islands (last seen in the early 90s) may appear in the spring but on the down side some birds seem further away than ever looking for deeper water.
This afternoon the cold spell brought in Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch to may garden which are both uncommon visitors for me.


Monday, 30 November 2009

November 30th 2009

I had a look around Long Lawford this afternoon for the returning Little Egret but no luck and on the way home via Lawford Heath managed Peregrine and 3 Corn Buntings.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

November 29th 2009

At long last a decent days birding.
The weather forecast was dire but Dave and I took a risk searching for owls down the Southam Rd at first light finding 2 Barn Owls hunting and hearing three Tawny Owls before a deluge had us running for the car and down the road to Calcutt. We had just passed Broadwell village when a Woodcock flew in front of car and by the time we arrived at Calcutt the rain had stopped and we had our third Barn Owl of the morning hunting the plantation.
We then moved on to Napton Reservoir where despite the high water level, more habitat destruction by Severn Trent and some effort to reduce the size of the reed bed we still managed Green Sandpiper, 2 Water Rail, 2 Cetties Warbler, male Goldeneye, 5 Pochard, 5 Gadwall and 9 Snipe.
Next stop was to check out Friday’s report of Great White Egret at Wormleighton Reservoir and on arrival we thought it had gone when it suddenly flew from its hiding place across the reservoir to land briefly on the shoreline before returning to perch in the tall trees at the back. Stunning views before a Buzzard moved it on. Local fishermen reckon its using the reservoir as a roosting spot. Also present were female Goosander, Green Sandpiper, 10 Tree Sparrow, 10 Bullfinch, 2 Raven, 3 Buzzard and a Marsh Tit.
After breakfast we looked at Brandon Marsh where there were 4 Siskin and Lesser Redpoll by the visitors centre, 14 Snipe and a pair of Goldeneye on east marsh while the feeding station had Willow Tit and Nuthatch. Locals now think there are 3 Bitterns on site with 2 on newlands and one on west marsh seen at the same time this morning.
Our final destination of Lawford Heath produced 2 Corn Bunting and a Buzzard
There were very large numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing at most of our destinations today especially in the Napton and Wormleighton areas.
Dave managed a Winter Moth and Light Brown Apple Moth in his garden trap while I trapped zilch.


November 28th 2009

A dull cold roost this afternoon produced 3 adult and a third winter Yellow-legged Gull and a first winter Med Gull at Draycote Water. The Great-northern Diver and Green-winged Teal are still present there along with 15 Gadwall, 6 Goosander, 5 Green Woodpecker, 2 Jay, 4 Siskin and Kingfisher.


November 27th 2009

Chris Godding who found the Great White Egret yesterday rang to say it was still present on the old arm at the Swift Valley Nature Reserve early morning so Dave and I went looking for it in the afternoon and despite working the valley all the way to Churchover we had no luck. One has turned up at Pitsford Res, Northamptonshire so could be that bird and last weeks Great White at Wormleighton Reservoir has been reported as still present. Despite the drop in temperature I managed a Feathered Thorn in the moth trap.


Thursday, 26 November 2009

November 26th 2009

It was another windy night with occasional rain showers becoming clear, dry and blustery by dawn. Bob picked me up just after 8am and while he did his circuit I checked out the reservoir from the shelter of rainbow corner. With some sensational sea birds being reported in the country John, Bob and I live in hope for a petrel or skua but alas it wasn’t today but there were two new arrivals with a Shelduck by the outlet and 2 Redshank in rainbow corner. The elusive Great-northern Diver was distant off biggen before appearing briefly close in shore off hensborough bank before disappearing again and a Peregrine was very high over biggen looking for its next meal.
By the time I had my coffee and butty 14 enthusiastic souls joined me for a walk to toft bay with the windy picking up and becoming a wee bit chilly. There were opportunities to look at a group of Gadwall and some male Goldeneye before I gave them the challenge to find the immature Ruddy Duck amongst a group of Tufted Duck but the highlight was a Buzzard that circled over our heads giving excellent views. We arrived in toft bay and the group soon became acquainted with the male Green-winged Teal as it dabbled in the shore line foam doing its best to hide amongst the 60+ Teal present along with more Gadwall and a few Wigeon.

One of my souls had seen a Great White Egret earlier in morning at the Swift Valley Country Park Rugby and managed a record shot with his camera phone and could have been the Brandon Marsh bird.

I have to thank JJ for putting me on to this snippet of info which has appeared in my local paper the Rugby Advertiser in its fishing round up page which quotes the following comment from the long serving Draycote Water fishery manager Keith Causer and his wife Margaret that "The Fishery is closing in 2010 to facilitate alterations to the Visitor Centre and car parking and that Severn Trent Water will be making public their plans for the scheme shortly” Hopefully they will come clean in what’s going on but every time we ask they say zilch.


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

November 24th 2009

It was to windy for my little legs yesterday which was probably a big mistake with Kittiwakes, Leaches Petrels and Gannets recorded in the severn estuary and a Grey Phalarope found in the north of the county so I wasted no time in getting to the pond for first light this morning.
The Green-winged Teal was in its regular place in toft bay just right of the hide but still too distant for a decent photo and adult Kittiwake was off farborough spit with a group of Black-headed Gulls where I was lucky enough to have a first winter Caspian Gull fly past close. Continued to rainbow corner and spent the next two hours in cool gloomy blustery conditions hoping something would fly in but apart from a brief view of the Great-northern Diver I was not having much luck. Only other birds noted were 14 Gadwall, 7f & 2m Goosander, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Raven, 4 Lesser Redpoll and 20 Meadow Pipit. Met up with Bob in the visitors centre for coffee and he had not fared much better than me so back to my place to photograph a December Moth that Dave caught over the weekend. Bob found a well hidden Winter Moth on the visitors centre wall earlier.

Winter Moth Draycote Water

December Moth Bilton Rugby
I have a guided walk this Thursday at 11am and we will go looking for the Green-winged Teal in toft bay and have arranged with Severn Trent some more walks in the new year and a couple of extra walks that fall on a Saturday over the winter period. The dates and times are:-
Saturday 12th December 2009 10:30am
Tuesday 29th December 2009 11am
Saturday 9th January 2010 10:30am
Thursday 28th January 2010 11am
Thursday 25th February 2010 11am
Thursday 1st April 2010 11am


Monday, 23 November 2009

November 22nd 2009

Out with Dave this morning down the Grandborough Valley looking for owls managing Little Owls at Woolscott and Millholme Bridge while after dawn we saw 3 Buzzard and very good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing with 500 of each.
Draycote Water had the Great-northern Diver and Green-winged Teal but little else apart from 3 Goosander, 13 Gadwall and Grey Wagtail while Brandon Marsh produced 6 Snipe, 80 Shoveler, Kingfisher, 2 Sparrowhawk, Coal Tit, Willow Tit and near the visitors centre a group of finches included at least 30+ Siskin and 10 Lesser Redpoll with a possible Mealy Redpoll but the light was very poor. We ended the morning on Lawford Heath with 4 Tree Sparrow around the buildings of Rookery Hall Farm.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

November 21st 2009

Light winds and clear spells last night gave me a belated opportunity to look for the meteors from the Leonid shower which was best on the 17th but still a few showing if you are patient enough and can stay awake.
Out this morning with John and Alfie for a walk to farborough spit, Draycote Water in gloomy and breezy conditions with the Great-northern Diver off farborough spit but mobile covering large distances between dives. No obvious new arrivals and only birds of note were Yellow-legged Gull, 250 + Lesser Black-back Gulls, Buzzard, 3 Goosander, Ruddy Duck, 100 Redwing, 10 Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail.


Friday, 20 November 2009

November 20th 2009

Dave and I met up with Colin at Brandon Marsh this afternoon and greeted with the news that a Great White Egret was seen flying over the reserve this morning. We managed a few Siskin, single Lesser Redpoll and Sparrowhawk on our way to the East Marsh Hide where we had 12 Snipe, close views of a Water Rail and 2 Goldeneye.
After 40 minutes we were treated to a brief but distant flight view of the Great White Egret as it flew a short distance over Newlands. We moved on to the Olive Bench hoping it might appear again giving closer views but alas it was not to be.
Only other bird of note was a Peregrine over Lawford Heath as we traveled to Brandon and later on JJ had 4 Corn Bunting here after recording the GND and GWT at the pond.
Remember my Bay of Biscay trip back in August well Colin has just sent me pics of the Minkie Whale and Curvier's Beaked Whale we saw so just had to share with you.

Curvier's Beaked Whale

Minkie Whale
both by Colin Potter


Thursday, 19 November 2009

November 19th 2009

Strong winds continue battering the pond but it’s not bringing anything in yet so apart from a brief flight view of the Great-northern Diver, 8 female and 3 male Goosander, distant view of Peregrine and Buzzard over biggen bay and 39 Pochard in rainbow today was hard work and disappointing considering other localities in the county attracted Great White Egret and 2 Great-northern Divers. Bob Hazell had the Green-winged Teal in toft.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

November 18th 2009

Another day where the gale force winds were far too strong for me so I had intended to stay in but with sea birds starting to appear in the Severn Estuary I was not surprised at the news of a juv Pomarine Skua at the pond this morning. Unfortunately I got the news early afternoon and despite searching with John and Bob there was no sign of it. Only birds of note seen by me were 5 Goosander and 3 Shoveler while John managed Great-northern Diver and Yellow-legged Gull and the Green-winged Teal had been reported as still present by other observers.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

November 17th 2007

Me and the bike scrounged a lift to Napton Reservoir early this morning before using the rest of my energy reserves getting to Draycote Water where luckily Bob helped me out and gave me a lift home. Napton had a Little Owl perched on the roof of the stables and a Barn Owl nearby while the reservoir was pretty quiet with only Cetties Warbler and Water Rail noted.
At Draycote Water the male Green-winged Teal was showing in front of the hide in toft bay, Woodcock flushed by the footbridge in toft shallows, Rock Pipit frightened off by the remote controlled grass cutters chugging up and down the bank and flew towards toft bay while the choppy waters made seeing the Great-northern Diver very difficult though it seemed to be favouring the rainbow area today. Other sightings included 2 Raven, 2 Peregrine, 3 Sparrowhawk and 6 Goosander while I missed a Merlin reported by other observers. Both Sprawler and December Moth were on the walls of the visitors centre and at home I trapped Winter Moth and Mottled Umber.


December Moth

Mottled Umber

Winter Moth
all photos by Bob Hazell


Sunday, 15 November 2009

November 14th 2008

Last nights conditions were awful but still managed to trap a Mottled Umber.
I had no stamina for fighting the gale force winds (gusts of over 40mph recorded locally today) with me bike this morning so I was grateful to JJ for a lift to the pond with Alfie. The strong winds made viewing difficult and we struggled to locate the male Green-winged Teal in toft bay and apart from 400 Lapwing and 2m & 1f Goosander there was little else on offer.
We attempted a look at Daventry Country Park, Northamptonshire for a possible Baltic Gull but the heavy rain never let up so we called it a day.


Friday, 13 November 2009

November 13th 2009

I needed yesterday to recuperate from the Brown Shrike trip so was looking forward to this mornings birding and a little disappointed to find it raining heavily when I woke. Luckily it stopped just after dawn allowing me and Dave a chance to look for owls and visit the pond.
A Long-eared Owl flew over the set-a-side field down the Southam rd and a Little Owl was perched on the roof of a barn along the same road the other side of Kites Hardwick. A quick look at the valley only produced 200 Fieldfare at Nethercote.
A walk out to toft bay, Draycote Water was quiet but we eventually located the male Green-winged Teal found by Bob Hazell yesterday feeding on the shoreline before meeting up with Colin Potter on farborough spit.

Green-winged Teal by Bob Hazell
Only other birds worth noting were a Dunlin, 6 Golden Plover, 4m & 2f Goosander and a Great-northern Diver before we decided to call it quits and head for breakfast at Long Itchington. A search for moths around the visitors centre produced Sprawler which bob Duckhouse kindly photographed for me, 2 Feathered Thorn and December Moth.

Sprawler by Bob Duckhouse
After breakfast we visited Brandon Marsh but apart from 6 Snipe it was very quiet and our visit was not helped by heavy rain.
Late afternoon thousands of gulls flew over my garden heading for the roost at Draycote Water including a first winter Glaucous Gull easily spotted by its biscuit colour against a leaden sky.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

November 11th 2009

Dave had the day off and wanted to see the long staying Brown Shrike at Staines Moor, Surrey so I wrapped up warm and kept him company. Another day of low cloud and mist cleared as we neared Heathrow Airport and we were treated to excellent views as the bird hunted for food. At one stage the bird flew towards us and landed on the small reed bed in the river near the concrete bridge giving views down to 20 feet with a Kingfisher in the background. Also seen were 9 Ring-necked Parakeet, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Green Woodpecker, Cetties Warbler, Stonechat and 12 Long-tailed Tits. On the way down we only spotted 2 Red Kite as we neared junc 6 of the M40 because of the weather but on the way back we managed 31 between junc 2 & 6 including 9 perched in a single tree. Another highlight was stopping at Beaconsfield services where there were 2 Green-brindled Crescent, Feathered Thorn, Angle Shades and Satellite moths on the side of the building.
By the time we arrived back in the midlands the mist had hardly lifted in this area and it was a lot colder so we called in at the pond and chatted to Bob & Francoise over coffee before ambling out to rainbow corner. Two of the four Redshank bob found earlier were still present, the Great-northern Diver was near the valve tower before moving to biggen bay and the adult Yellow-legged gull was off the inlet. Highlight of the visit was the Snow bunting which came in over our heads calling and heading towards the sailing club before turning back appearing to go down behind hensborough bank.
Back home and I have finally caught a moth after 5 blank days – a micro which I’m still trying to identify while Dave managed a Winter Moth and Feathered Thorn.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

I was climbing the walls wanting some fresh air and though it was a dull grey overcast morning with light rain a text to Bob soon had me at the pond and we pottered to the valve tower and back. I was shattered but a happy bunny and even if it was not the best of day’s bird wise because of the weather there was still plenty to see.
No sign of the Lesser Scaup which has not been seen for a few days but the Tufted Duck were back in numbers and well spread out so hopefully its still around. Great-northern Diver was feeding near P buoy out in the centre with a pair of Common Scoters and Goosander nearby. Eight Shelduck circled the reservoir and landing briefly before heading off east.
Other birds seen were 2 Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, 100 Redwing, 30 Fieldfare, 25+ Pheasant, 15 Goldeneye, 3 Green Woodpecker and adult Yellow-legged Gull.


November 9th 2009

I am still trying to fight off the last remnants of my illness so I continue to bore you with the past.

November 12th
1978: Ferruginous Duck
1980: m Merlin
1988: 2m Scaup, Brambling, 2 Bewick’s Swan
1995; 2m&1f Red-crested Pochard, f Scaup, Peregrine, Water Rail, Turnstone

November 13th
1982: Artic Skua, f Red-breasted Merganser, Ruff
1983: Velvet Scoter, m Red-breasted Merganser
1985: Pomarine Skua
1988: Woodcock
1991: Great-northern Diver, 3 Bewick’s Swan, 3 Brambling, Long-tailed Duck
1993: 3 Eider, m Red-crested Pochard, 4 Common Scoter
1994: m Red-crested Pochard
1996: Little Stint, Bewick’s Swan, Black-tailed Godwit
1998: Iceland Gull, 2 Great-northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe


Sunday, 8 November 2009

November 8th 2009

Back in history and I have skipped 8th & 9th as they were pretty dire.

November 10th
1982: f Common Scoter
1983: Long-billed Dowitcher, Brent Goose
1984: Grey Partridge 24
1985: Short-eared Owl, Great-northern Diver,3 Snow Bunting
1988: 1m & 2f Snow Bunting
1990: 2m Common Scoter, Grey Plover, 800 Golden Plover, Ruff, f Snow Bunting
1991: Great-northern Diver, Peregrine, Long-tailed Duck

November 11th
1980: f Scaup, Slavonian Grebe, 3 Bewick’s Swan, 4f Common Scoter
1981: Black-throated Diver
1985: Pomarine Skua
1995: 2m Red-crested Pochard, Rock Pipit, f Scaup, Water Rail
1997: Great-northern Diver
1998: Great-northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe


Friday, 6 November 2009

November 6th 2009

Both Bob Hazel and Max Silverman are my hero’s at the pond today. Its been a pretty poor week at the pond and the weather was not that enticing this morning but with Bobs persistent he came up trumps with a Great-northern Diver today and Max probably got a few of Warwickshire’s listers out this afternoon with a Purple Sandpiper by the outlet. I sure would have love to have seen the purple blob but I’m still confined to barracks so will have to live on the memories of the seven I have seen before involving nine birds. Only one of my records stayed longer than a day.

Purple Sandpiper by Max Silverman

More from the past

November 6th
1980; f Scaup, Lesser Redpoll
1982: m Hen Harrier, f Common Scoter, 16 Goldeneye, 5 Dunlin
1983: Rock Pipit, Stonechat
1987: 2 Rock Pipit
1988 2 Bewick’s Swan, Nuthatch
1993: 5 Bewick’s Swan, 4f & 1m Eider, m Red-crested Pochard, f Common Scoter, Woodcock, fw Med Gull, Rock Pipit
1998: 6f Common Scoter

November 7th
1981: 28 Bewick’s Swan, Kingfisher, m Bearded Tit
1982: Grey plover, 7 Dunlin
1985: 5 Snow Bunting
1986: Marsh Tit, 26Goldeneye
1988: Great-grey Shrike, Brambling, 2 Bewick’s Swan
1993: 4f & 1m Eider, m Red-crested Pochard, f Common Scoter, Short-eared Owl, Chiffchaff
1998: 2 Great-northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, 4f Common Scoter

and in recent times JJ had a Franklins Gull on the 6th in 2002


Thursday, 5 November 2009

November 5th 2009

Its official – it’s swine flu so here is another couple of day’s from the past.

November 4th
1978: Great-northern Diver, 3 Short-eared Owl, Little Owl
1979: Slavonian Grebe
1983: Rock Pipit
1987: Rock Pipit

November 5th
1980: Rock Pipit
1081: Green Sandpiper, m & f Bearded Tit
1983: Barn Owl
1986: Jack Snipe
1987: m Hen Harrier, Brambling, Rock Pipit
1995: 6 Brent Goose, f Ring-necked Duck, 3 Whooper Swan, Red-crested Pochard, f Scaup


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

November 4th 2009

Thanks all the e-mails, text and for logging on but unfortunately I am ill so this enforced boredom has enabled me to look at my old diaries. Here’s a taste of what I have seen at the pond on the selected dates pre 21st century going back before some of you were born. I will try and keep this theme going until I can get out again – soon I hope

November 1st
1981: m Firecrest, Shag
1985: Bewick’s Swan
1991: 2 Great-northern Diver, Peregrine, Ruff, 2 Little Stint
1995: Red-necked Grebe, Rock Pipit
1998: 7f Common Scoter, 2 Great-northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Raven

November 2nd
1979: Slavonian Grebe
1985: 19 White-fronted Geese
1986: Marsh Tit
1987: 3 Bewick Swan
1991: Great-northern Diver, Merlin, Peregrine, 2 Little Stint, f Long-tailed Duck, Short-eared Owl
1993: 3 Brent Geese
1995: Rock Pipit, 12 White-fronted Geese
1996: Bewick Swan, Ruff, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, Short-eared Owl
1998: Great-northern Diver, 2 Black-necked Grebe

November 3rd
1979: Common Scoter
1982: Ruff, Pintail
1984: 6a 3fw Kittiwake, 2a 1fw Little Gull
1987: 6 Brambling
1990: f Merlin, Rock Pipit
1991: Great-northern Diver, Peregrine, Long-tailed Duck, Little Stint
1993: 4f Eider, m Bearded Tit
1996: Bewick Swan, 3 Little Stint, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 137 Shoveler, 146 Gadwall
1998: Black-necked Grebe Great-northern Diver, Knot


Saturday, 31 October 2009

October 31st 2009

After a damp night the rain stopped just as I arrived at the pond and it was obvious as I cycled past the male Goosander near the fishing pontoon that there were very few passerines around and I could find no trace of yesterdays Black Redstart.
On the other hand if duck is your thing then there was a big increase in numbers with migrating parties of Teal, Pochard, Gadwall and Wigeon resting between hensborough bank and valve tower. The duck count was 68 Wigeon, 145 Teal, 59 Pochard, 28 Gadwall with female Pintail and 9 Goldeneye (at least 3 male) dotted amongst them and of course the Lesser Scaup.
I tried my luck in the country park as the low cloud lifted but nothing was moving so when JJ and Alfie arrived it was time for coffee and bacon butty with a side order of adult Yellow-legged Gull sitting on the pontoon buoy waiting to be snapped before we went to hensborough bank to look at the duck. Unfortunately just as we arrived they become jittery with the start of the sailing and were on the move but we did manage to find at least 9 Pintail just as Dave & Rich joined us and a different adult Yellow-legged Gull.
After we split I took a look at toft bay just before leaving and the Lesser Scaup was among the tufted flock and at least 4 Pintail while Dave & Rich were photographing one on the other side of the reservoir.

Pintail female by Dave Hutton
Also seen today were male 2 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Raven, 10 Meadow Pipits, brief view of Merlin and Kingfisher.


Friday, 30 October 2009

October 30th 2009

Although there was still some overland migration this morning the low cloud and murky conditions made viewing difficult so gave up after an hour observing from the garden. The total count was 180 Starling, 90 Fieldfare, 80 Wood Pigeon, 25 Skylark, 10 Redwing along with a few finches and pipits. It had petered out by mid-morning as the weather improved.
5 Fieldfare greeted Dave on his arrival at my place at dinner time and we shot down to the pond to see the female/immature Black Redstart that Bob found on the roof of the sailing club. The bird was catching plenty of insects much to the annoyance of the local Pied Wagtail and Robin.

Black Redstart by Bob Hazell

Black Redstart by Max Silverman
The Lesser Scaup was off hensborough bank which was awake and feeding with 4 Shoveler and 8 Pochard nearby.

Lesser Scaup by Max Silverman
Back home and there was prolonged flight of gulls returning to the pond to roost, estimated around the 6000 mark going over the house and this was flitting around the kitchen.

Red Green Carpet


Thursday, 29 October 2009

October 29th 2009

While doing me domestics this morning there was a small passage of migrants going over the garden with at least 120 Fieldfare, 230 Wood Pigeon and 50 Redwing counted plus a few wagtails and finches before going to the pond for my guided walk.
On arrival at the pond there was a Kingfisher near the hide, 2 Jay, 22 Redwing over and 2 Golden Plover heading east before chatting with Bob Hazell who had seen a male Goosander earlier which I managed a distant view as it flew in to toft bay.
I had 11 enthusiastic souls for my walk and as a few wanted to see the Lesser Scaup we took a slow stroll to rainbow corner finding 4 female Goldeneye off the wind surfing area and the Lesser Scaup was among the Tufted Duck flock off hensborough bank. Though showing well it never lifted its head up while we were present and only did so for Bob for a few seconds in over the 2 hours he spent with it.
Continuing on to rainbow we managed 2 Sparrowhawk, brief flight views of a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail 3 Buzzard and a few Stock Dove.
Also present today were a Peregrine, Raven, a few flocks of Starlings going west with a total count of over 400, at least 153 Fieldfare west, 2 more Sparrowhawk and a female Pochard plus Comma, 2 Red Admiral and 4 Vapourer.

My next walk is November 26th at 11am.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

October 28th 2009

A cracking morning for visible migration with 3563 Fieldfare, 1089 Wood Pigeon, 340 Starling, 756 Redwing and 156 Skylark counted heading south west down the valley in 3 hours. Plenty of other blobs and dots I couldn’t get to grips with and back in Rugby a Swallow flew west over Sywell Leys at 11am.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

October 27th 2009

A Barn Owl was perched on the hay bales behind the cow and silage pens of Rookery Hall, Lawford Heath before being disturbed by farming activity and flew off in to the early morning rain and murk. Later on there was at least 2 Corn Bunting, 12 Yellowhammer, 60 Chaffinch, 10 Greenfinch, 4 Tree Sparrow and 67 Collared Dove, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 8 Long-tailed Tit, Jay, 2 Shoveler, 3 Teal dotted around the heath.
There were plenty of large gulls between Blue Boar and Potsford Dam Farms’ but nothing special amongst them and the fields adjacent to the A45/M45 roundabout contained 12 Redwing feeding in the hedgerow.
A House Martin was over Thurlaston village near the old windmill as I cycled passed and was also seen over Draycote Water later.
The pond was quiet because of the damp conditions with only Grey Wagtail in toft bay, 20 Meadow Pipits farborough bank and a distant Shelduck in biggen bay to show for my efforts so after a coffee I took a chance on the country park as the cloud was breaking.
Well it paid off handsomely with 557 Fieldfare, 17 Redwing, 112 Starling, 234 Skylark and 10 Siskin over in an hour but ground to a halt as soon as the cloud came back and a light shower started. As I started to leave a very nervous and hungry female Scaup arrived in toft bay and showed well enough in the scope to rule out any tampering with its gene pool. Also 2 female Goldeneye.
Also seen were 2 Comma, a Vapourer in the country park and on the visitors centre wall a Rush Veneer a migrant and November Moth agg.
I presume the Lesser Scaup is still present but as the fishing season has been extended by one week for bank fishermen the Tufted Duck flock is mobile. Also of interest to pond watchers is that the water level continues to drop and farborough spit is starting to show with fishermen able to wade out another 30 yards.
After dinner a further 148 Fieldfare and 40 skylark flew over my garden.
Finally I am doing one of me walk this Thursday at 11am. Meet in the visitors centre. Considering the disturbance in toft bay if on arrival there are no duck in toft bay I will walk towards the inlet instead – if your late just check with reception which way I have gone.


Monday, 26 October 2009

October 26th 2009

Late afternoon visit to the pond for the roost in calm and mild conditions for this time of year produced 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull and a first winter Med Gull off franklins point. Also seen were 12 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Siskin in biggen bay, 3 Jay, Grey Wagtail, 3 Redwing and 4 Goldeneye. There were at least 35 Magpies in toft shallows.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

October 25th 2009

Dave and I were out and about early and just managed to avoid the Hare sitting in the middle of the road while it was still dark but despite our efforts we failed to find any owls along the Southam rd thou we did manage a total of 7 Raven flying towards the pond and plenty of corvids, pipits and finches moving locally. Also Great-spotted Woodpecker seen and Siskin heard.
Draycote Water was again disappointing with very little activity. 20 Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtail and 2 Green Woodpecker on farborough bank, Lesser Scaup and female Goldeneye in toft bay and Chiffchaff in country park the highlights plus a Green-brindled Crescent on the side of the visitors centre.
Lawford Heath was a lot more fun with 4 Corn Bunting, 14 Yellowhammer, 50 Collared Dove, 60 Chaffinch, 2 Tree Sparrow, Brambling, 4 Buzzard, 4 Cormorant and a Sparrowhawk seen from the old farm building on ling lane.
Brandon Marsh had 23 Pochard on east marsh along with plenty of Lapwings, Shoveler and 14 Snipe but we missed the Jack Snipe and Peregrine. The warm weather brought out at least 10 Common Darter, 2 Migrant Hawker and single Southern Hawker as well as a Vapourer Moth. A few Redwing moving west noted.


October 24th 2009

Overnight journey to Trow Quarry, South Shields, Durham and there was no need to consult our instructions as the place was alive with birders and though not my scene these days the UK’s first record of Eastern Crowned Warbler just had to be seen. This eastern beauty was present in some small sycamores in the quarry sharing its location with a Yellow-browed Warbler.
We had planned for a day out so despite the conditions we traveled down the coast to Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve, Yorkshire where on arrival the Red-flanked Bluetail was near the feeding station – another eastern beauty showing well and distant views of the Red-backed Shrike.
It was then on to Flamborough Head to see the Dusky Warbler which did not to give its self up as easily as the last two goodies but showed eventually. Two Snow Bunting over and a Black Redstart nearby.


Friday, 23 October 2009

October 22nd 2009

There was a decent spell of clear weather over night before clouding over again by the morning encouraging some migrants to move with 134 Starling, 14 Skylark and 5 Redwing over the garden while sorting my traps out just after first light. Unfortunately the movement did not last and by the time Dave and I arrived at the pond this afternoon and walked out to toft bay it was dead as a Dodo and not helped by Joe public and kodak fiddlers walking the shoreline and trillions of fisherman. Eventually found the Lesser Scaup and a search of the area revealed 9 Buzzard and a distant hirundine over Kites Hardwick.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

October 22nd 2009

There have been breaks in the low cloud today enabling a few migratory flocks of Starling and Redwing to be seen in the valley along with a Stonechat on the Hill Rd, 2 Siskin in Grandborough and a Little Owl near the double barns on the Flecknoe Rd. Also in the area were 2 Snipe, 2 Buzzard, 14 Skylark, Raven and 48 Stock Dove. Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Yellowhammers more noticeable.
Briefest of looks at Draycote Water produced Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Buzzard, and Lesser Scaup in toft bay. Ringed Plover juvenile in grays barn
After a late afternoon shower 4 House Martin and single Sand Martin, 14 Redwing and a lone Fieldfare flew over garden all heading south so things are on the move at last.
Tonight is calm and mild with a check on the trap a few minutes ago producing my 8th Merveille du Jour for the year.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

October 21st 2009

Overnight rain cleared by the morning but the low cloud cover continues.
The Lesser Scaup was with 8 Tufted Duck off the pontoons at first light making sure I could find it before the fishing boats moved and it went walk about. Only other birds of note was a Stonechat behind rainbow corner that’s been here a few days but likes to wander down to the River Leam so not the easiest bird to track down and a Chiffchaff in toft bay. Bob came round for a chat in the afternoon and a session with me moths – at least they keep arriving and when the sky started to lighten a Sparrowhawk and Meadow Pipit flew over garden.

Feathered Thorn

Dark Chestnut


Green-brindled Crescent - a bright individual


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

October 20th 2009

A day full of potential with low cloud, drizzle and a fresh south easterly wind but in reality it was hard work with Draycote Water having a late Swallow heading south over toft bay and a winter plumage Sanderling crossing the reservoir the only decent returns from 5 hours of searching. Only others birds of note were 4 Snipe in toft bay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 10 Redwing and I failed to locate the Lesser Scaup amongst the scattered tufted duck flocks. On the wall of the visitors centre there was a Sprawler, November Moth agg and Spruce Carpet.
Napton on the Hill was just as tough till eventually 3 Brambling showed themselves on the grounds of the old works below the quarry and there were 2 Willow Tit, 4 Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker in and around the churchyard.


Monday, 19 October 2009

October 19th 2009

Managed to catch up with the Fisher Mill Pit, Middleton Hall R.S.P.B. Glossy Ibis in the north of the county thou embarrassingly I arrived without my bins oops having left them on the kitchen table so very grateful to Clair and Jack for letting me borrow there’s. Not much point in hanging around without optics so returned home and spent a couple of hours later in the day exploring the footpaths between Sawbridge, and Flecknoe. Walking towards Wolfhamcote from Sawbridge there were 19 Redwing feeding in the hedgerow and a lone Curlew. Wolfhamcote its self was quiet though near the disused railway line there were 2 Grey Partridge, 7 Meadow Pipit, 2 Buzzard, 3 Raven and 15 Linnet. Near Netherecote 5 Tree Sparrow and 16 Chaffinch were around the out buildings of the farm but no sign of any Brambling that had been reported. Between Nethercote and Flecknoe there were 45 Golden Plover resting and another 5 Tree Sparrow. Returning back via the country lane between Flecknoe and Sawbridge a Barn Owl was out hunting, 2 Buzzard, 4 Redwing and Snipe flew over.


October 18th 2009

Just after 8am Dave, Colin and I were on the cliffs at Hunstanton, Norfolk watching the over night migration continue its westerly direction hugging the coastline. In one hour we managed 9750 Starling, 860 Chaffinch, 100 Meadow Pipit, 100 Skylark, 80 Brambling, 60 Siskin, 3 Whooper Swan and single Rock Pipit and that’s just the ones we could i.d. and logged so we must have missed a lot more. Just after 9am it became slightly warmer the wind dropped and cloud cover came in and the rush started to slow. One of the exposed sandy spits as the tide receded held 5000 Knot and on the sea we managed 100 Common Scoter, 10 Great-crested Grebe and 4 Red-breasted Merganser plus a few Brent Geese and Shelduck.
Peregrine seen as we passed Holme-next-the-Sea moving on to the R.S.P.B Reserve at Titchwell where a slow walk along the footpath to the beach produced 3 Cetties Warbler, with one seen and 2 calling, Swallow heading west, calling Water Rail and Water pipit, 3 Rock Pipit, 2 Little Egret, 2 Bearded Tit, 29 Snow bunting over with 26 of the same seen on the beach. The open water and brackish marsh held many Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail plus Grey Phalarope and Little Stint among the Redshank, Grey Plover 1000 Golden Plover and Ruff. A ring-tail Hen Harrier flew low over the marsh and landed in a bush that held a Redstart.
Unfortunately just before we reached the beach a low flying plane and hang glider flushed all the coastal birds off the shoreline so they were well spread out by the time we arrived and though there were good numbers of Brent Geese, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Knot, Grey Plover and Sanderling we could not find the Purple Sandpiper. Sea was quiet with a distant flock of 50 Common Scoter, female Goldeneye, 2 male Eider just off shore and 10 Great-crested Grebe. The highlight was a juvenile Marsh Harrier coming in off the sea. The migration continued with 2600 Starling logged and a few Chaffinch and Skylark. Just as we were leaving 1000 Pink-footed Geese flew over.
After lunch we decided to work the area around the houses and bushes at the end of Hunstanton Golf Course at Holme-next-the-Sea but despite our efforts it’s was very quiet except for more Starlings going over and another 3000 logged. A Cetties Warbler heard along the River Hun and a Marsh Harrier and 200 Pink-footed Geese on the adjacent Marsh.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

October 17th 2009

Draycote Water was hard work this morning. Overnight arrivals of 9 Shelduck with 2 still present till the sailing started and 8 Shoveler. The Tufted Duck flock was way down in numbers and scattered around the reservoir because of so much activity and I was in the right place at the right time when a small flock of Tufted landed off lin croft point and contained the Lesser Scaup and a pair of Red-crested Pochard before they got kicked off again. Only 5 Pochard seen, female Goldeneye and Snipe in toft bay. A 3hr session from the country park produced 516 Starling, 58 Skylark, 84 Redwing, 9 Fieldfare plus 2 flocks of Golden Plover (14 & 6) all going west. Also 6 Raven, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine noted while sky watching.

2 Comma seen


October 16th 2009

Gave the patch a rest. At least 400 Redwing over garden in the morning. Sparrowhawk and 2 Coal Tit in the afternoon. Bob came round to photo some of last nights catch.

Juniper Carpet

Spruce carpet

Yellow-lined Quaker


Thursday, 15 October 2009

October 15th 2009

Last night was overcast and mild resulting in a good catch of moths including Yellow-lined Quaker but the low cloud turned to drizzle by the morning and when Mark Phillips and I arrived at Draycote Water the drizzle had become rain and visibility was appalling. Despite the conditions we spent 2hrs walking out to toft bay and back and managed a stunning Tree Pipit among the 60+ Meadow Pipits on toft bank, Snipe and a Kingfisher that spent 15 minutes fishing in toft shallows but very little else and were unable to locate the Lesser Scaup among the 250 Tufted Duck in the bay.
By the time we arrived back at the visitors centre we were drenched and cold so it was back to Rugby for twenty minutes in the tumble dryer then out again to Long Itchington for grapefruit with a side order of bacon and eggs.
Once heartily warmed the rain was slowing up so I decided we might be in for some movement if it stopped so we went back to the pond and walked out towards the valve tower.
Though colder than this morning and a damp feel to the air the visibility was much better and we managed to locate the Lesser Scaup off hensborough bank and from saddle bank we saw 33 Pochard, 22 Wigeon, 2 eclipse male Pintail and watched 4 Dunlin and a Snipe land on the inlet.
After getting better views of the Snipe and Dunlin from saddle bank a juvenile Raven landed just 20 feet away and took no notice of us and on our way back as the sky’s briefly brightened 3 Curlew and a Bar-tailed Godwit circled the reservoir before leaving to the south and another Dunlin arrived. Spent time in the country park but the clouded had darkened and nothing was moving.
Also seen were 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and 48 Stock Dove


October 14th 2009

Spent 90 minutes on Dunsmore ridge looking for migrants going over and managed Ring Ousel heading south west among a thrush flock. Total count was 54 Fieldfare, 764 Redwing, 145 Skylark and 7 Siskin.

Barred Sallow in my garden trap by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

October 13th 2009

There has been some remarkable visible migration reported in some parts of the country today with some observers watching tens of thousands of birds passing over coastal and inland locations.
That make my little effort from the country park, Draycote Water rather pointless in mentioning but I always get a kick in watching birds passing over knowing they have come hundreds of miles with many more to travel. Best I could come up with in a 90 minute session was 250 Starling, 71 Fieldfare, 122, Redwing, 103 Skylark and 2 Siskin plus a flock of 1500 Wood Pigeon in the valley disturbed by a Peregrine. New arrival today on the reservoir was a female Red-crested Pochard found by Bob. The Lesser Scaup was back in grays barn after getting fed up with being pushed around by fishing boats and did not show well. Also present were Rock Pipit, 4 Pochard, 11 Wigeon, 3 Raven, 5 Buzzard, Redshank, Swallow and 8 House Martin.
Insects seen were Comma, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Vapourer Moth 2 and Green Brindled Crescent while my third Slow Worm for the reservoir was sunbathing away from the lica abusers and pram pushers on a quiet sunny embankment.

Vapourer Draycote Water
Bob came round to photograph a few moths and more Redwing were going over so after he left I went to dunsmore ridge and managed in a 90 minute session 364 Redwing 88 Fieldfare 134 Skylark, 16 Golden Plover and a Brambling plus 3 local Buzzard and 2 Raven.

Red-line Quaker by Bob Hazell

Green-brindled Crescent by Bob Hazell


Monday, 12 October 2009

October 12th 2009

Today has been dry with plenty of sunshine so spent the early part of the morning searching Lawford Heath after yesterdays rain with 3 Tree Sparrow near the junction of Lawford Heath Lane and The Crescent, 2 Corn Bunting on Ling Lane with another perched on the hedge of Heath Farm. A female Merlin was hunting near Lawford Lodge Farm. Also 2 Raven, 2 Buzzard, 44 Skylark, 24 Yellowhammer, 14 Redwing, 150 Meadow Pipit while the pool near the nursery had Kingfisher, 3 Goldcrest, 4 Teal, 3 Shoveler and a Shelduck.
Arrived at draycote mid-afternoon too a noticeable amount of Buzzards activity with at least 16 on view at any one time and possibly as many as 25 in the area. The constant searching of the sky revealed Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Raven. The Lesser Scaup was still in toft along with 4 Gadwall, 2 female Goldeneye and immature male Ruddy Duck but I missed the Green Sandpiper by minutes. On toft bank there were 2 Rock Pipits with another on hensborough bank with a female pintail sleeping amongst the Mallards and while searching the roost 2 Curlew circled the reservoir and a single House Martin flew south. The Roost held 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and first winter Med Gull.
Also present were Kingfisher, female Blackcap, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Green Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker.


October 11th 2009

Luckily last nights weather was dry and mild so both Dave and I had good moth catches with Dave managing 19 moths of 12 species including Feathered Thorn and I had 22 moths of 9 species with 3 Red-line Quaker and 9 Blair’s Shoulder-knot.
After a look for owls in the valley we met up with Di and Steve for a walk out to toft bay, Draycote Water this morning in poor light and rain. The duck flock were widely scattered in small groups and I eventually found the Lesser Scaup on the north side up against the bank near the culvert. Light and distance made for poor viewing but once the fishing boats came out the flock ended in toft bay and gave reasonable views. Also present were a day time calling Tawny Owl, 50 Redwing over toft shallows, Rock Pipit on farborough bank near visitors centre and 2 Raven in toft bay.
After breakfast with Steve we took a look at Lawford Heath and there were plenty of larks, pipits, gulls and sparrows but the rain and wind made viewing difficult so moved on to Brandon Marsh where we saw 19 Snipe, the long staying Greenshank and a few Wigeon arriving. Vapourer Moth and Comma butterfly also present when the rain stopped.

By late evening the night sky was clear and crisp so spent a few hours exploring the Milky Way with a good passage of Redwing heard going over.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

October 10th 2009

Yesterdays Twite/Linnet episode has been learning curve for all those present and Bob Duckhouse’s photo and further investigation on calls confirmed they were Twite. So what was the problem, well despite my first instincts, jizz, plumage and small yellow bill I couldn’t shift me brain from thinking they had to be juvenile Linnet because that’s what they sounded like. Even those who thought they heard a typical Twite call over ruled their heads when they called again and sounded like Linnets. In the evening I checked a number of source’s but that only fogged the issue as some books show first winter Linnet with a grey bill and not juv plumage and few mention the variety of calls. Moral of this story is stick to your instincts. I’m wearing a hair shirt for the rest of the year as punishment. The last one I saw here was in 2001.
Once the low cloud shifted early morning there was a small passage of birds over the garden with 13 Skylark, House Martin, 52 Starling in 3 groups, Siskin and 12 Redwing seen in an hour all heading in to a light south westerly.
Mark and Mason took me to the pond this afternoon and though it was not the best time to go it was their first opportunity to see the Lesser Scaup and we were treated to reasonable views as it rested and preened among the 600 Tufted Duck. There were very few birds along the dam walls due to a constant stream of walkers and the reservoir was full of fishermen and sailors so little else seen. Vapourer Moth on farborough bank.

On the mothing front I trapped a worn migrant Dark Sword Grass last night and this evening I spent a couple of hours sugaring but attracted zilch.


Friday, 9 October 2009

October 9th 2009

It was a clear night with a light easterly wind.
Spent the morning searching in the valley around the Flecknoe / Wolfhamcote / Lower Shuckburgh area looking for yesterdays Pink-footed Geese by which time it had clouded over. A Whinchat was near the canal bridge at Lower Shuckburgh, Stonechat by the Railway Cottages, Flecknoe and 2 Crossbill flying towards Shuckburgh Hall but no sign of the geese. Also seen were 5 Tree Sparrow, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Swallow, 2 Raven, 4 Buzzard and Sparrowhawk while the only visible migration was of 2 Fieldfare going south.
A phone call from Scillies put me on to the news of 3 Twite at the pond so in to warp drive but all I and a few other searchers could find were 3 straw billed juvenile Linnets. Also seen were 2 Rock Pipit, 3 Raven, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, 3 House Martin, 2 Swallow, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 18 Stock Dove, 4 Grey Wagtail, 200 Lapwing, Ruddy Duck, Pochard and Lesser Scaup. Other observers reported Wheatear and Fieldfare but no sign of Red-breasted Merganser or Black-necked Grebe.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

October 8th 2009

While checking the garden trap just after midnight the cloud finally started to break up with Fieldfare and Redwing heard calling and the temperature down to 2c by dawn.
It’s been pure magic today at the pond arriving just after 8am and taking nearly five hours just to get to the visitors centre from toft shallows (just over a mile) because there was so much on offer. This included 2hrs on farborough spit enjoying a small passage of migrants as the clear skies slowly clouded over again with a light northerly wind.

Lesser Scaup: eclipse male was pushed around all morning by boat fishermen so much that it could not be found in the afternoon. Hopefully it went somewhere quiet and will return to toft overnight.
Red-breasted Merganser: Bob Hazell found an immature off dunns bay and I managed distant views before it became flighty and I could not find it in the afternoon.

Red-breasted Merganser by Bob Hazell
Black-necked Grebe: Bob again found one some way out off draycote bank and later it was heard calling as it drifted out towards the centre. Still present mid-afternoon.
Grey Plover: one flew over farborough spit at 10:55am and presumably the same went over draycote bank at 12:20pm.
Snow Bunting: one flew west over farborough spit behind a party of Skylark at 10:10am.
Pink-footed Goose: seen from the country park five flew down the Grandborough valley and appeared to land near Lower Shuckburgh. Good candidates for being wild birds more than the plastics that turn up in a Canada flock.
Rock Pipit: 2 were on farnborough or toft bank.
Peregrine: one hunting corvids near the country park
Siskin: 3 over farborough spit
Lesser Redpoll: 3 over farborough spit
Skylark: 86 flew over farborough spit heading west in small groups.
Also seen were:-
26 Swallow, 6 House Martin, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 14 Buzzard, Ringed Plover, 17 Wigeon, Pochard, 3 Raven, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, 4 Bullfinch and 2 Snipe.
Many thanks to Bob, Max, Francoise and Dave for a fun day and Dave kindly sent me some great shots of the Yellow-legged gull.

Yellow-legged gull by Dave Hutton


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

October 7th 2009

After a damp night the wind turned north east with low temperatures, overcast and despite the forecast slow to brighten. Biggest surprise in my moth trap was a Light Emerald. All my previous 46 records garden records fall in either June & July though in recent years a second generation can appear in Warwickshire in September/October and I have one record from Brandon Marsh in August 2006.

Light Emerald

This afternoon I tried Napton on the Hill for migrants and managed a Reed Warbler in the churchyard but it was not as good as I was hoping with only 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Swallow heading east and 3 of the local House Martins
A brief look at Napton Reservoir produced an eclipse male Pintail and near Broadwell there were 3 Fieldfare.
Arrived at Draycote Water in plenty of time for the roost so searched for Rock Pipit but could only find one of the 5 that John Harris had earlier in the day. Roost was good but distant and only found one adult Yellow-legged Gull. Hanging back for a couple of hours after dark a Tawny Owl kept me company when I ran a light sheet. Unfortunately it was cool but attracted Yellow-lined Quaker, 2 Sallow and Blair’s Shoulder-knot.


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

October 6th 2009

Magic, woke to low cloud, light mild south south easterly wind and light rain so getting to the pond was a priority and I was lucky that Colin Potter was on his way there and kindly offered me a lift. We arrived at 8:25 and farborough bank had over 100 Meadow Pipit and while checking them out a Red Kite flew over our heads being mobbed by corvids and as we watched it fly down the eastern end of Grandborough valley towards Northamptonshire more Meadow Pipits could be seen flying south.
Further along farborough bank a Yellow Wagtail was seen and the first of many groups of hirundines flew past. Our total count was 180 Meadow Pipit, 160 House Martin and 80 Swallow with some lingering to feed over the sailing club car park or the country park. Once we arrived in toft bay then the Lesser Scaup was easy to find as the wind was forcing the tufted flock to seek shelter close to toft bank and I had the best view since its arrival despite the rain starting again.
While hoping the rain would cease a Snipe flew out of toft bay and 2 Golden Plover crossed the reservoir and from farborough spit we found a distant adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst 10 Lesser Black-back Gulls. Hung around in the café for a while but as the rain continued we called it quits.
Also seen were 3 Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Blackcap and 30 Goldfinch and back at the car park a Fieldfare flew over.
Back home I had time to do a few domestics then it decided I needed a change of scenery so back out again to Paxton Gravel Pit, Cambridgeshire to see the Buff Breasted Sandpiper and Glossy Ibis that have been there a couple of days. The first winter Glossy Ibis was on show when we arrived from the southwest corner of Diddington Pit but had a wait for the Buff Breasted Sandpiper to show. Also seen were 2 Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk and Little Egret


Monday, 5 October 2009

October 5th 2009

I gave birding a miss today preferring a day with the paintbrush.

Lesser Scaup still present and Max Silverman took this shot when it landed near him in toft bay this morning and Bob recieved info on one of Draycotes Mute Swan that was ringed near Stratford on Avon a couple of years ago.

Garden had a little more activity of late with Sparrowhawk, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Coal Tit, 12 Long-tailed Tit and a Goldfinch.


Sunday, 4 October 2009

October 4th 2009

Day started with 3 Tawny Owl calling from bunkers hill wood.
On our walk out to toft bay, Draycote Water there was a Whimbrel in the field next to the sewage farm and a Yellow Wagtail among the pipits. Met up with Bob H and Steve V in toft bay hoping the Lesser Scaup would appear, it did in the end but we were long gone and all we saw were 4 Grey Wagtail, 12 Swallow, 5 House Martin and 14 Skylark.
Brandon Marsh had Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker on the visitors centre feeders, Greenshank on teal pool, 3 Snipe and plenty of duck on east marsh pool and 6 House Martin briefly. Also seen were single Chiffchaff, 7 Jay including a party of five, 6 Buzzard and 40 Common Darter.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

October 3rd 2009

To say the pond has been windy today would be the understatement of the year with prolonged spells of over 30mph and a number of gusts in the excess of 40mph and by god don’t my little legs no it. Me and Trog are buggered fighting the elements all day.
I was just leaving for the pond when the eclipse male Lesser Scaup was relocated near the valve tower. When I arrived there were very few duck in toft bay and not much to see until 2 Rock Pipit flitted along the shoreline near the toilet and as I checked out the pipits along toft bank there was at least one Yellow Wagtail still present and 6 House Martin and a lone Swallow over Thurlaston village with another 3 Swallows seen by the visitors centre later.
From the vantage point of farborough spit I spotted a distant male Common Scoter and watched a wind surfer who was having the time of his life flush all the Tufted Duck that were off draycote bank.
After coffee I was just starting to get grips with the Lesser Scaup that had returned to grays barn when a couple of walkers flushed the duck as they ambled down to the shoreline – luckily it went in to toft bay where it spent most of the afternoon. After a prolonged lunch in the Dun Cow at Dunchurch I decided to return but missed the probable Manx Shearwater seen distantly by Steve Valentine so hopefully other visiting birders had better views and report it. Because of the conditions decided to stay for the roost hoping that a Sab’s Gull might appear and struggled to get decent views as the gulls were tossed about and not helped by the arrival of a Great Skua which took great delight in beating them up looking for scraps.
Other birds seen were 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Long-tailed Tit, Raven, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, 6 Gadwall and 56 Teal. Also a Weasel.

Leaches Petrels off the north west coast today so keep an eye out tomorrow – me and Dave will.


Friday, 2 October 2009

October 2nd 2009

Woke early too broken cloud so did Napton on the Hill and witnessed the first visible migration of the autumn with Snow Bunting, 34 Skylark, 2 Redwing, 6 Fieldfare, 32 Swallow and 2 House Martin all flying south over the windmill/quarry area of the hill. Unfortunately it clouded over and migration trickled to a halt.
When I arrived home Francoise brought round a possible female November Moth she had trapped last night. I’m only saying poss as I don’t believe in dissecting the poor buggers wedding tackle to eliminate confusion species Pale November Moth and Autumnal Moth.

November Moth agg. by Bob Hazell
I met up with Dave in the afternoon for coffee at Draycote Water meeting up with Mo & Terry for a chat before walking out to toft bay. The Lesser Scaup was still in grays barn but the distance and with one drab bird resembling another drab bird you really need to walk to grey barn to get a reasonable but restrictive look. Unfortunately on our return to the café at 4pm there were some walkers who walked the whole stretch of the grays barn/toft bay shoreline so hopefully it has not cleared off.
There were still 3 Yellow Wagtail among the 30+ Meadow Pipit and 3 House Martins over toft bay and the only other birds of note were female Goldeneye, 2 Raven and Buzzard.
We went to check on the pipit field along hill rd in the valley but the farmer has now rolled it and not a pip in sight. Further on there were plenty of Skylark and Yellowhammers with the odd Meadow Pipit.