Saturday, 28 February 2009

February 28th 2009

Down the valley before first light spending most of the morning walking between Dunchurch and Flecknoe managing 4 owl and 6 raptor species as well as a good supporting cast including one summer migrant. Owls were represented by 4 Barn, 2 Little, 2 Tawny and a Short-eared Owl which was hunting the north side of Bush Hill, Flecknoe while raptors seen were Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, female Merlin, Peregrine and the hybrid falcon. The Merlin was along Hill rd, Peregrine towards Woolscott while the hybrids route could be detected by following the mayhem it was causing among the pigeons and corvids. Surprise of the morning and probably the month was the male Wheatear between Barn and Valley Fields Farm which is usually expected to appear on its migration around the third week of March. My earliest date at Draycote Water is 8th March though normally the 20th-23rd is the average arrival date so this bird was is very early indeed and the first I have ever seen in February. Gob smacked!
Other species seen included 2 Stonechat, 100 Stock Dove, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Redshank, Corn Bunting, 25 Yellowhammer, 2 Cormorant, 4 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Tree Sparrow, 40 Canada Geese, 100 Fieldfare and 50 Redwing.
Last night was another mild night so the buildings at Draycote Water attracted 14 moths of 7 Species with 2 Chestnut, Grey-shouldered Knot, Light Brown Apple Moth, 2 March Moth, 4 Dotted Border, 2 Pale brindled Beauty and a Spring Usher. The Rock Pipit was elusive being pushed around by the walkers eventually found on the lower slopes of farborough bank and the Red-necked Grebe, male Smew and female Common Scoter were in toft bay with 2 Great-northern Divers off the valve tower. The roost had 1st winter Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull along with 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull and male Stonechat on the adjacent golf course. Woodcock and Barn Owl were seen on the way home.


Friday, 27 February 2009

February 27th 2008

Dave picked me up for our coffee and cake session at Draycote Water so took the opportunity to take a closer look at the Stonechats. Adult and immature male. Draycote was dire - after chatting with Bob and Mark we walked out to farborough spit and saw bugger all. This mild spell brought out Draycotes first butterfly of the year - Bob had this Brimstone

Max had this Rock Pipit still in winter plumage on farborough bank this morning

We drove around the valley but I fell asleep and missed it all and Mark went round this evening having Barn Owl and Peregrine.


Thursday, 26 February 2009

February 26th 2009

Severn Trent had asked me to lead a bird walk to toft and back today so it was a pleasant walk though a chilly wind seeing one of the Great-northern Divers off farborough bank on the surface for sometime, Red-necked Grebe off toft bank, 2 Dunlin going west and Oystercatcher circling the reservoir calling. The male Smew was in gray's barn and a Peregrine flew over Thurlaston village. Most enjoyable.
In the afternoon I spent sometime with Mark and Bob in the country park watching 2 distant Stonechat near the entrance and Bob found the hybrid falcon perched behind Kites Hardwick golf range and we watched it preening for awhile till it flew north going at least four miles before we lost it. As I left there was an adult winter Med Gull in the pre-roost gathering in toft bay and male Merlin hunting between halfway lane and old A45. Unconfirmed report of a Rock Pipit on site.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

February 25th 2009

A dull overcast morning with drizzle so did not get to the pond till early afternoon mainly to check for tomorrows walk I am leading on behalf of Severn Trent.
Red-necked Grebe was in toft bay and the 2 Great-northern Diver and male Smew were off draycote bank but failed to find the Brambling that was reported. In the fields near the entrance 3 Grey Partridge and immature Stonechat were seen from the country park and there were plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in the same area. Stayed for the roost but struggled with the light off farborough spit and once I had seen the first winter Glaucous and Iceland Gull I gave up. Also seen were 12 Gadwall, 10 Goosander, 23 Goldeneye, Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and 10 Meadow Pipit. Female Merlin was reported near Woolscott today.


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

February 24th 2009

In the valley before first light finding Sunday’s Barn Owl and Little Owl then a check on the moth trap at Draycote Water. The post roost gathering in the fields below farborough bank took priority and revealed adult and first summer Med Gull and first winter Iceland Gull. Checking the trap produced 8 species:- 7 Early Moth, 3 March Moth, 14 Pale Brindled Beauty, 3 Spring Usher, 10 Dotted Border, 2 Satellite, 6 Chestnut and 4 Tortricodes alternella.
Draycote Water was dull and misty so the phone call received regarding a Waxwing at Cock Robin roundabout was more than welcome and had me legging it back towards home but arrived too late – flew off east.
Breakfast at home and my first attempts at tiding up the garden before going back to Draycote Water for the roost. First winter Glaucous Gull again and first and adult winter Iceland Gulls with the first winter definitely a different bird to the one this morning lacking the light facial mark on its cheek. Also in roost was adult Yellow-legged Gull and also present were 2 Great-northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe, 16 Gadwall, Snipe, Lesser Redpoll, Great-spotted Woodpecker, male Smew, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk and 14 Redwing.


Monday, 23 February 2009

February 23rd 2009

It was another mild night with a light north westerly breeze. Garden moth trap had 2 Early Moth, 2 Pale Brindled Beauty and a Light Brown Apple Moth.
Last weeks female Hen Harrier is still in the area seen crossing the Southam road near the village of Hill heading towards Birdingbury following the River Leam before turning back and going down the valley towards Grandborough.
Napton Reservoir had 9 Teal, 2 Shoveler, Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker and 5 Meadow Pipit but failed to find anything of interest at either Calcutt or Broadwell. A brief visit to ‘marsland’ hoping the harrier might appear produced 4 Tree Sparrow, 50 Chaffinch, 4 Red-legged Partridge and Great-spotted Woodpecker while cycling back towards the A426 a Peregrine flew over the junction with Hill Rd.
The gull roost from the north shore at Draycote Water contained first winter Glaucous Gull and at least 3 Iceland Gulls with adult, first and second winter all between 5pm and dusk, also in roost were 3 Yellow-legged Gull and adult winter Med Gull while the Red-necked Grebe, Great-northern Diver still present.


Sunday, 22 February 2009

February 22nd 2009

Out with Dave at first light in the valley enjoying a Barn Owl down to ten feet for over 30 minutes before it successfully caught a vole and flew off to its roosting area. At Draycote Water there was a first winter Iceland Gull sitting in the field below farnborough bank and first winter Glaucous Gull seen leaving roost. That makes at least three different Iceland’s in the roost Saturday night. Off farborough bank 2 Great-northern Diver and a Red-necked Grebe but due to a marathon being held here we left as the hoards started arriving.
At Brandon Marsh we discovered a Bittern had been seen from the East Marsh hide and not shown for 30 minutes but good old Dave managed to relocate it as it came out of the second channel and we had it out in the open for five minutes before it sulked off. Magic – another year tick and my 12th year in a row that I have recorded this species on my patch. Willow Tit and 2 Shelduck seen.
Cathiron had 5 Coal Tit, 3 Nuthatch and a Marsh Tit at the canal side feeding station.


Saturday, 21 February 2009

February 21st 2009

Early visit to Draycote Water before the crowds arrived then a walk to Woolscott in the valley. Barn Owl flew across the Southam road opposite the entrance with 3 Green Woodpecker in the country park and the café had another good selection of moths on its walls with 3 Dotted Border, 2 Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Early Moth, and very smart looking Spring Usher. On the birding side 2 Shelduck off inlet and Oystercatcher circling were new arrivals otherwise it was the usual 3 Great-northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe and male Smew. In the valley it was quiet and I struggled until reaching ‘marsland’ which had 50 Chaffinch and single female Brambling. As the morning warmed up 3 Sparrowhawk were displaying, 3 Cormorant flew east, 14 Skylark went west. Also seen were 4 Buzzard, distant Raven and 3 Mute Swan heading for draycote.
Back home 140 Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading north over garden and Sparrowhawk displaying.
Back out again for the roost with John Judge and found a Yellow-legged Gull before being joined by the Hall brothers and Tim Marlow. Apart from adult winter Med Gull we struggled with the light and distance and it was not until the last 30 minutes that things took off when we found adult and second winter Iceland Gull and first winter Glaucous Gull. Another couple of Yellow-legged Gull were also seen plus 12 Goosander, 2 Great-northern Diver, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 20 Fieldfare, 14 Gadwall and Great-spotted Woodpecker. A timely phone call from Mark Philips and his family regarding a Barn Owl perched had us all rushing off for a view before the light went.


Friday, 20 February 2009

February 20th 2009

Last night started off mild and accounted for the Oak Beauty that was in my trap but unfortunately the temperature dropped by midnight and I woke to fog so pointless going out this morning which gave me chance to play catch up with some of my news:-

Bob Hazells photo of the falcon hybrid has enabled John Judge to do some investigation and he has managed to track down to its owner as well as its parentage, Gry/Saker x Peregrine Born 13/4/05 and lost at Bubernhall in 2007 and Graham Rowling reports that he saw it at Brandon Marsh on 25th January 2009 so its getting around.

Bob Hazell sent me this photo of the Red-necked Grebe taken yesterday and in comparison to the one on my blog taken 6th January by Dave Hutton shows the plumage changes its going through, especially the bill, neck and flanks. Now all we have to hope for that it to stay a couple of more weeks then the Kodak fiddlers will have a ball.

Red-necked Grebe by Bob Hazell

It was pub night last night and the first opportunity for the Gambian gang to meet up since we got back. Video evidence shows the Klass’s Cuckoo was in fact miss-identified and is a Didric Cuckoo, still a tick for everyone except me- all ready got one but on the plus side a Short-toed Eagle photographed could be a Beaudouin's Snake Eagle so a potential tick for me. Don’t you just love photography – it’s some of the dick heads behind the lens that do my head in.

I met up with Dave and Bob at Draycote Water this afternoon for coffee and cake then a walk along farborough bank looking at the Red-necked Grebe and Great-northern Diver and a chat with Pate Hall. Quick drive round the valley produced very little and looks as if there has been a big exodus. Three Buzzards including the very pale bird mentioned in previous bogs perched and a Sparrowhawk.

Dotted Border by Bob Hazell


Thursday, 19 February 2009

February 19th 2009

It was not as dull as yesterday so a trip to Draycote Water early morning for my sins then a wander around the valley biding my time before returning back to Draycote Water for the roost. Between the M45 and toft shallows there was 4 Siskin and a Lesser Redpoll but no sign of the Red-crested Pochard pair in toft bay. One of the three Great-northern Divers was also in toft bay and spent long periods on the surface while the male Smew and Red-necked Grebe off farborough bank also showed well. Only new birds noted seem to be the party of 12 Shoveler out in the centre, Dunlin flying over and Yellow-legged Gull in field off farborough bank. A look around the café for moths produced at least 10 with 4 Dotted Border, 3 Pale Brindle Beauty, 2 Early Moth and one unidentified micro.

Early Moth

I tried the footpath between Kites Hardwick and Valley Farm on the Hill Rd but very little apart from Buzzard and Sparrowhawk so returned back to Draycote Water finding first and second winter Iceland Gull in the roost.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

February 18th 2008

Draycote Water had 1st winter Iceland Gull in the roost along with adult Yellow-legged Gull in far from ideal conditions, overcast and dull. Also seen were 3 Great-northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe, 3 Buzzard, Jay, male Smew and 11 Goosander. Bob Duckhouse had 3 Dotted border and 2 Pale Brindle Beauty on the cafe walls. My own trap had March Moth and Dotted Border.
Many thanks to all those who e-mailed me regarding Bob Hazells picture of the hybrid falcon, seems it has a large hunting area being sighted at Marton, Brauston and Southam.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

February 17th 2009

Before charging off down the valley I had the pleasant surprise of finding a Chestnut and Spring Usher in my moth trap due to this mild spell we are experiencing at the moment, first moths of the year. Once in the valley the weather has certainly made a difference to the dawn chorus with Blackbird, Robin, Song Thrush and Hedge Sparrows all very vocal and many other species much more active with Rooks and Carrion Crow well in to nest building and courtship. Arrived too late for any Barn Owls but a Grey Partridge near Sawbridge was a welcome sight while the county road to Woolscott had drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker and female Blackcap. Plenty of Redwing near Grandborough Fields Farm along with another Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and good views of Kingfisher dispatching its prey with a swift bang on the head.
A search of ‘marlands’ produced 3 Raven, Sparrowhawk, 16 Reed Bunting, 34 Skylark, 40+ Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 4 Tree Sparrow and 7 Red-legged Partridge and as I was leaving a large mixed gull flock near the Flecknoe road looked as if it was worth checking out. The flock bigger than first realised and held 11 Great Black-backed Gull, 126 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1200+ Common Gull, 450 Black-headed Gull, 34 Herring Gull and a pristine summer plumage Yellow-legged Gull.
Draycote Water being half term had plenty of visiting birders and many went away chuffed to bits with the female Hen harrier (my 6th record and last in 2002) that coped with the blustery conditions as it flew along farborough bank at 11:20am after being flushed by farmer clearing fallen trees and earlier there were a pair of Red-crested Pochard in toft bay.

Red-crested Pochard male by Bob Hazell

Great-northern Divers by Francoise Farrington

Migrating flocks of Wigeon (150) and Teal (65) along with 24 Gadwall and 27 Goldeneye put duck numbers up but Mallard and Tufted, still dropping along with Goosander. The male Smew is now off farborough bank along with the Red-necked Grebe. Three Great-northern Divers still out in the middle and by mid-day disturbance increased so left via toft shallows where the boardwalk is nearly completed with 12 Siskin and Grey Wagtail between toft shallows and M45.

Bob Hazell managed to get these shots of the escaped hybrid falcon thats been in the area for sometime. A stunning bird


Monday, 16 February 2009

February 16th 2009

A few of you have contacted saying that when you bring my page up there is no content and have to go in to the archive banner. I am having no problems here so might be a blogger prob suggest that if you click on 2009 in the archive banner and it brings up the content OK, save it and delete your other link. Hope that helps. Might be the reason why I have suddenly had 300 hits in a day.

Decided a change of scenery and luck was needed so went to the Shawell Landfill Site between Rugby and Lutterworth just over the border in to Leicestershire. First winter Iceland Gull, first winter and near adult Yellow-legged Gull and adult Caspian Gull amongst the many gulls which are probably some of the ones that roost at Draycote water.

Iceland Gull by Bob Hazell

Went mid-afternoon to do the roost at the pond with male Smew which had arrived on Saturday, 3 Great-northern Diver, Shelduck and Ringed Plover and in the roost there were 2 adult winter Med Gulls, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull and albino Common Gull.


Sunday, 15 February 2009

February 15th 2009

Apart from plenty of laughs with Di and Colin then to put it simply we had a bad day in the field failing to find them anything we tried for. Highlight of a poor day were 22 Golden Plover over grandborough valley, Red-necked Grebe, Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Great-northern Diver at Draycote Water and Brandon Marsh just a Shelduck and 3 Snipe. Still theres always something to smile about - Clare from Halcyon, Gambia has named her new sheep after me. Wonder what the boy has on his garden list.

Daisy the sheep


Saturday, 14 February 2009

February 14th 2009

Out early this morning with overnight temperatures down to -2 in the more exposed places resulting in a sharp frost. Barn Owl flew across road between Woolscott and Sawbridge while a Little Owl was perched on a telegraph pole at Flecknoe Fields. Walked the footpath between Grandborough and Calcutt and rewarded with a day flying Barn Owl, Stonechat male and distant Peregrine attacking Lapwings though smaller birds were thin on the ground.
On my return Buzzard and Raven were seen along Flecknoe Road with 150 Stock Dove at the junction with the A426 before arriving at Draycote Water and walking out to valve tower where Shag and 2 Great-northern Divers were off shore with the third out in centre. At least 16 Goldeneye, 3 Shoveler and 12 Goosander seen along with Grey Wagtail, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and 3 Jay. Back at the cafe the Red-necked Grebe was a distant speck with better views off farborough bank and Treecreeper, Siskin, 2 Green Woodpecker and 4 Song Thrush were in the country park.
Back home and I'm being pestered by a gang of feral pigeon,s hogging the feeders - where's a sparrowhawk when you want one.


Friday, 13 February 2009

February 13th 2009

At last the catering facilities were open at Draycote Water so we could get a coffee this afternoon. Red-necked Grebe, Great-northern Diver, Buzzard and 200 Stock Dove off farborough bank.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

February 12th 2009

Cracking day on planet richard if you were willing to do a bit of dodging and a diving on the black ice after another cold night. Out early looking for the southam Rd owls finding 2 Short-eared and a Barn just after first light before spending five an half hours giving Draycote Water a real going over. The Red-necked Grebe was off farborough bank along with 2 Great-northern Divers and the third was off draycote bank along with the Shag. Two Bewick's Swans made a brief re-fueling stop before leaving east and there were a lot more snipe around with Bob Hazel and me counting over 50 Common Snipe in the fields below farborough bank and earlier 2 Jack Snipe were in toft bay. A few larger gulls were still loafing around with a first winter and the streaky headed adult Yellow-legged Gull plus adult winter Med Gull. Duck and grebe numbers are well down. Also seen were 16 Golden Plover, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel seen catching a vole in country park, Blackbird with an all white tail and 21 Goosander. Joined by Bob Duckhouse we had many Fieldfare and Redwing get up from the fields next to toft bay but we could not find what flushed them. Had a choice after leaving pond - food or owls so naturally I chose the owls and went in to the valley but could not add to this morning tally and only found a Raven. By the time I got home it started snowing again.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

February 11th 2009

Did not get out till mid-morning after a cold night with a heavy frost and just loading Trog and on the mobile (multi tasking) when a Goshawk circled slowly overhead, struggling to get any height and came over low while I gave Colin a running commentary. Garden tick.
Went looking for the Southam Road Short-eared Owls that were seen yesterday but no luck and continued on to Flecknoe Road where the pale Buzzard seen again. No sign of last weeks Brambling at Woodbine Farm though 2 Tree Sparrow were found amongst the Chaffinch flock and Grandborough Fields Farm had Raven, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.
Back to Grandborough then on to set a side field which was very quiet due to the Merlin male perched at one end with a Sparrowhawk at the other. Bramblings and Tree sparrows present among the Linnet and Chaffinch flock but they were reluctant to leave the safety of the hedge.
Draycote late afternoon had the usual suspects Red-necked Grebe, Great-northern Diver, Shag and adult winter Med Gull in roost but cut the session short to go back to Southam Road only seeing a Barn Owl at dusk.


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

February 10th 2009

Yesterdays rain continued overnight turning to heavy snow which turned the pavements and lanes in to slush and difficult to cycle on this morning. Draycote Water entrance and main gate is still closed on health and safety grounds and any access by foot is at your own risk. Those walking today were challenged by staff regarding access including me, I was one of those walking round - Oops.
Jack Snipe in toft bay with at least 12 Snipe in the field below farborough bank and the Red-necked Grebe still off farborough bank and in good light you could just make out slight changes in its plumage. Two Great-northern Diver and Shag off draycote bank with a Short-eared Owl working its way towards Draycote village and a Peregrine overhead mobbed by a Raven. Also present were 45 Cormorant, 150 Wigeon, 12 Goosander, 30 Teal and 30+ Goldeneye but no sign of Red-breasted Merganser probably due to the construction work on the outlet.
The Grandborough valley was cooking on gas with the set a side field still active with 200 Linnet, 100+ Chaffinch, 15 Tree sparrow, 10 Brambling and 2 Corn Bunting and the area further north had Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Peregrine, 9 Meadow Pipit, 7 Snipe and 24 Golden Plover. Also receiving reports of other Short-eared Owls.


Monday, 9 February 2009

February 9th 2008

Went to Draycote Water this afternoon with the light rain building up steadily and by the time I had left the roost it was coming down well. There were 12 Siskin in toft shallows and male Ruddy Duck near the willows in grays barn. Well spread out around the reservoir were 18 Snipe, 36 Goldeneye, 8 Shoveler and 24 Gadwall. Red-necked Grebe off farborough bank and 2 Great-northern Divers out in centre and as dusk fell at least 35 Goosander came late into roost. The gull roost had both second winter Iceland Gull and first winter Glaucous Gull along with adult winter Med Gull and adult Yellow-legged Gull from biggen bay. Also seen were Treecreeper, 17 Golden Plover over, Sparrowhawk, 2 Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 6 Bullfinch, 12 Long-tailed Tits and Kingfisher.


Sunday, 8 February 2009

February 8th 2009

Although it was -4 this morning it felt warmer than yesterday and as Dave drove round the valley we managed to find 5 Foxes and 3 Hares easily picked out against a white background and a very obliging Barn Owl flew past us close at Grandborough Fields Farm. A quick brew by the green barn just outside Grandborough village then a walk north to the set a side field where there was plenty of activity- you could hear them before seeing them with:- 300 Linnet, 200 Chaffinch 20 Meadow Pipit, 15 Tree Sparrow, 8 Brambling, 6 Reed Bunting, 4 Yellowhammer and single Corn Bunting and Lesser Redpoll. Just after Dave had suggest this would be a good time to see a Merlin a brightly marked male came in at lightening speed and took a Linnet long before the flock realized what was happening. Also seen was a probable Twite which proved to be very frustrating as the flock was constantly mobile – landing on the weed stems before dropping out of sight or dashing for cover in the nearby hedge and only seen for a Millie seconds at a time.
Standing still for over an hour meant we were in need of warmth and food but as Draycote Water was shut for the third day running we settled for a nearby Little Chef. Presume the reason for Draycote’s closure is the icy conditions of the car park in the country park so worth phoning them tomorrow if you are thinking of going to save a wasted journey as more bad weather may prevent it opening.
Brandon Marsh was open though there was not much about away from the small ice free pool on east marsh and no sign of the Bitterns that had been seen in the week. Nuthatch, 2 Shelduck, 4 snipe, 142 Shoveler and 19 Gadwall were the best on offer and our 6th Fox of the day from carlton hide.
Lawford Heath had Buzzard, 7 Golden Plover and 300 Starling but the finches were feeding in an area we could not check properly.
As Trog doesn't use the car park we went to pond for the roost via Cycling Route 41 and had just seen a male Red-breasted Merganser and Great-northern Diver when it started snowing and it was still going strong as dusk fell and saw nought of roost as it disappeared in to the gloom and a nightmare getting home.
There has been a very pale buzzard in the valley which we saw on Friday and thought it's paleness was exaggerated by the reflection of the snow and did not give us the impression of being anything else other than a Common Buzzard. Today some observes believe it to be a Rough-legged Buzzard - if its possible, I will check it again.

Have completed me Gambian blog Jan 28th


Saturday, 7 February 2009

February 7th 2009

It went down to -8 in the valley overnight and was still -4 when I left the house. Extremely cold and icy in places making for some dodgy cycling skills – I need stabilizers. Barn Owl and Little Owl near Sawbridge and a female Merlin near Woodbine Farm before working the valley between the Whitehall, Laural and Foxely Farm. Hard work underfoot and passerine numbers down considerably which is not surprising considering the weather and there was a large movement of Redwing and Fieldfare mid-morning. Another good flyover was Waxwing calling and heading south east. Sparrowhawk were very noticeable with 3 seen probably indicating how thin on the ground there food supply is with best of the smaller birds being single Corn Bunting, 5 Reed Bunting 2 Willow and Marsh Tit near Foxely Farm. The pale Buzzard with a rusty coloured head first seen yesterday still around and looked impressive against the snow. Also seen were Cormorant and female Goosander flying east towards Northamptonshire and did a careful check of the numerous gulls looking for any white wingers but mostly Common Gulls.


Friday, 6 February 2009

February 6th 2009

Its snowing again so giving my legs a rest - hope to be out later with Dave. Meanwhile folks I have just posted the first four days of our holiday in Gambia - look under 28th January blog.

Draycote Water was closed when we arrived this afternoon presumably due to the weather conditions and no idea if it will be open this weekend so we had a cuppa at Long Itchington Diner seeing Treecreeper and Muntjac in the hedgerow opposite. Did a tour of the valley but there was little activity with all the fresh snow about though we did manage a hundred Chaffinch at Woodbine Farm which included at least one Brambling. Also seen were 2 Buzzard, a few Fieldfare and a Sparrowhawk.

The Draycote Water Sailing Club web site is informing its members tonight that the site is closed tomorrow.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

February 5th 2009

Trog - oops forgot to put it away - a cold bum.

With heavy snow overnight I tried for the Grandborough valley this morning hoping for day flying and weather affected owls but the snow was deeper than expected so again I dumped Trog in Dunchurch again and continued on foot via the M45/Southam Rd bridge footpath. With at least six inches and still snowing my hunch paid off with 2 Barn Owls (distant one near Laural farm and one Whitehall Farm) and the Short-eared Owl was seen near Toft Farm and observed crossing the A426. At first there was a general lack of smaller birds in the area until nearing bunkers wood where 9 Reed Bunting, 2 Corn Bunting and 2 female Brambling were amongst the more common species.
My garden had a single Redwing and male Blackcap while overhead there was a steady movement of Fieldfare and Wood Pigeon heading south and a Sparrowhawk mid-day.
Arrived at Draycote this afternoon just in time to practice my snow balling skills on the local kids – can still hit the little dears. At least 4 Lesser Redpoll, 12 Siskin, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail between halfway lane and toft shallows, Willow Tit in grays barn and Water Rail in biggen bay before settling down to do the roost. Checking gulls against a white background is not everyone’s cup of tea and it ain't mine either - zilch. Two Great-northern Divers out in centre and a Tawny Owl heard near biggen bay.

Bird of the day was this Snowy Owl!!!! Mark Philips


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

February 4th 2009

Couldn't get out till late afternoon so planned to look for evening owls in the grandborough valley but ran out of time so tried for the Southam rd Barn Owl instead but no luck. Buzzard and 34 Golden Plover for my troubles. Snow Plough could be needed tomorrow?.


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

February 3rd 2009

A long overdue purple patch day with a good dose of MSL. Motivation – not easy getting out of bed to -3, laying snow, frozen saddle and black ice, Skill – managed to combine field craft and observation skills to identify a new valley bird for me and Luck – when I took a left instead of a right footpath and bumped in to a cracker just feet away.
Decided not to risk cycling in to the Grandborough valley choosing to leave Trog by the M45 / Southam Rd, Dunchurch Bridge and worked the footpath between here and the set a side fields that are interesting me at the moment. A fair amount of walking involved – well slipping and sliding, no pain no gain.
I had seen very little until walking between bunkers Hill and Whitehall Farm a blob flew past in to bright sunshine – alarm bells rang but failed to get any clinching details. Luckily I had predicted it would land back in wood so had the scope ready and after it circled a couple of times it landed before flying off east towards Tollgate Farm. Hawfinch male - a valley first for me and the last on my patch was in 2006 when we had an influx with up to 5 at Draycote Water.
Now that I had a smile on me face the cold disappeared and checking on the seeding areas I had laid out yesterday they had attracted 14 Tree Sparrow, 10 Reed Bunting and 2 Corn Bunting along with 50+ Chaffinches with a Marsh Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 50 Redwing in nearby Beck Hill. Most of yesterday’s damp areas were frozen so no sign of the Jack Snipe but Willow Tit seen and the set-a-side was a hive of activity with 300 Linnet, 150 Chaffinch, 40 Greenfinch, 18 Goldfinch, 5 Tree Sparrow, 4 Brambling and 6 Reed Bunting. Also in area were 6 Red-legged Partridge, Buzzard, 16 Stock Dove and Raven before retracing my steps back to Dunchurch and a cock up in my directional skills took me down the wrong path and straight in to a perched Short-eared Owl. Don’t know who was more surprised. I had seen one in the area sometime ago and one had been seen while I was away so probably the same bird, though I failed to see it on my last two visits. Back to Trog in a singing mood (god forbid) adding another Raven and 2 Red-legged Partridge to the list plus 2 Snipe, 14 Siskin, 4 Skylark and a female Merlin near the motorway. The final goody of the morning was the sight of 27 White-fronted Geese heading south east over the valley so with a skein that big and the present country wide weather conditions there’s a chance they could be wild and not plastic.
Mid-day, the cold weather pushed 9 Fieldfare in to my garden briefly and 2 Coal Tit also present.
Another attempt for white wingers at Draycote Water was far more successful with both 2nd winter Iceland Gull and 1st winter Glaucous Gull in roost though both came in late along with 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and adult winter Med Gull. Other sightings included 5 female Pintail arriving just before dusk, all 4 Great-northern Divers on the surface together off biggen bay, Shag and Red-necked Grebe off farborough bank, Little Owl in biggen bay and 33 Goosander roosted. Also present were Grey Wagtail, 300 Lapwing, 800 Wood Pigeon, 100 Redwing, 34 Siskin and Buzzard.


Monday, 2 February 2009

February 2nd 2009

I had stayed up to watch the Super Bowl last night so despite this morning’s -2 with laying snow, a cold easterly wind and occasional snow showers did not bother with sleep and in the Grandborough valley by first light. Cycling wasn’t too difficult on treated roads; you had to be a little more cautious on the back lanes especially carrying 10 kilos of bird seed on top of all the gear I normally have.
Two Barn Owls near Sawbridge and yesterdays Tawny Owl was calling and located to nearly the same tree. Went back to the set a side fields near Grandborough and put loads of seed out in a few sheltered areas so while waiting for the birds to arrive I searched the area north around the fishing pools and found 2 Jack Snipe in the area between the pools and the river, Willow Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, 6 Yellowhammer and Sparrowhawk, 4 Reed Bunting. Returning to the set a side a Barn Owl flew close by and the finch flock had arrived and was just as impressive as yesterday with 3 Brambling found and all were wary of the local Sparrowhawk. Also in area were 22 Yellowhammer, 6 Red-legged Partridge, 45 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing, Grey Partridge, 2 Buzzard and Raven. Returned home via Woolscott, Little Owl was on top of a telegraph pole and a flock of 12 Tree Sparrows near by.
No rest for the wicked and despite more snow showers it was back out mid afternoon to Draycote Water for the roost and failed to find the 2nd winter Iceland Gull Richard Harbird had in yesterday’s roost. Did have Rock Pipit and Grey Wagtail on draycote bank, 2 Great-northern Divers out in centre, 12 Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Green Woodpecker, Shag and 26 Golden Plover over. Unfortunately the snow which had been falling since early afternoon started getting deeper and deeper so it made coming home a struggle. Bless


February 1st 2009

Out with Dave down the grandborough valley looking for owls managing to find a perched Tawny Owl at Sawbridge before first light but failed to find any Barn Owls. Moved on to work the set a side fields between Grandborough village and the River Leam and the fields held a very large finch flock and over the next hour managed 250 Linnet, 150 Chaffinch, 20 Greenfinch, 20 Goldfinch and also 2 Tree Sparrow, 4 Reed Bunting and at least one Brambling. Also in area were 5 Red-legged Partridge, 5 Cormorant and 2 Raven.
We were pretty cold in the mind numbing chilly east wind so went to Draycote Water for coffee and egg and bacon butty before walking out to rainbow corner. Red-necked Grebe, 2 Great-northern Diver and Shag seen before moving on to Brandon Marsh which was very quiet with only 100 Shoveler, 2 Snipe and a Coal Tit to show for our efforts.