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


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