Thursday, 30 April 2009

April 30th 2009

I did a quick tour of Draycote Water before my scheduled walk started and managed 2 Common Tern, Whimbrel and Shelduck. Unfortunately the forecasted rain arrived as soon as we started to walk out to toft bay but luckily the hardy four that attended were rewarded with the amazing site of single Yellow, Pied, Blue-headed and White Wagtail all together on toft bank. The Blue-headed is a different bird to the one that I possibly had earlier in the week – less yellow on front and this was also noted by Lee. The Shelduck was still present and the Common Terns had increased to 5 with 100+ Swift overhead. Lee Johnson managed to get the group to hear the Grasshopper Warbler though it was out of my hearing range and the only other bird of note were 4 Buzzard.
Stuck around till mid afternoon finding 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Common Sandpiper hoping the rain would lift but in the end I gave in.

Bob Hazel relocated the Blue-headed and took this record shot in the pouring rain.


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Draycote Water could only offer up 300 Swift, 2 Common Tern, Grey Wagtail and a few warblers this morning. Two hours looking across the valley from the country park produce – zilch. Nearby the first Green-veined Orchids are starting to flower. By the time I left there were plenty of butterflies about though they were mainly whites and my first Large Red Damselfly showed in toft shallows. This afternoon it was more sky watching off the Dunchurch ridge but little going over.
Doing another walk tomorrow so your more then welcome but bring your wet gear as the weather could be awful but on the good side the wind should be in the south east.
Mark Phillips had 20 Yellow Wagtail tonight and 4 Fox cubs.


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

April 28th 2009

Still no electrics so out early and the pond had 4 Common Tern and 2 Artic Tern but little else at first in the dull overcast conditions. As it brightened up a yellow wagtail sp showed very distantly on farborough bank and may have been a female Blue-headed Wagtail but could not get to grips with it. Over 100 Swifts were feeding high over the centre of reservoir along with 80 Sand Martin, 60 House Martin and 50 Swallow. Also seen were 3 Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 8 Bar-tailed Godwits flew in to toft bay as I was leaving.
Decided hot food was required so called in to the Little Chef on the A45 and while getting stuck in to an early starter a Red Kite flew over heading towards the heath being mobbed by a Sparrowhawk. I followed shortly and though the kite had moved on there was plenty about with Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler in the bushes surrounding the various fishing pools and the old barn had at least 2 Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail. I hung around as the sun came out hoping for more birds of prey going over but apart from another Sparrowhawk and 6 local Buzzard there was little movement.
Magic – electrics back on. My garden this afternoon had Peregrine, Swift, Sparrowhawk and 5 Buzzard overhead.
Back out to Draycote Water early evening and the afternoon rain had brought in Black Tern.


April 27th 2009

Definitely not a day for staying on the sofa with rain most of the day and the wind going from south east to north west back to south east so this afternoon it was on with the wet weather gear and a look at Napton on the Hill.
I was already doing a good impression of drowned rat by the time I got to the hill but the first two birds seen soon put a smile on me face, Grasshopper Warbler and Whinchat on the right as you bike up the hill (ok I walked) to the church. From the Windmill looking down to the quarry and the old factory site there were 3 Wheatear, another Whinchat along with 4 Yellow Wagtail in the area and plenty of Swifts.
The rain finally eased off so moved on to Napton Reservoir where Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler were along the entrance road and Hobby over the car park along with a Cetties Warbler perched out in the open.
Spent too much time chatting to farmers so arrived too late to do pond justice and missed the Osprey that was seen at 8pm and over the Flecknoe road at 8:20pm. Little Owl calling along Half Way Lane at 9:30pm.
Some dork had cut the mains so no power when I got in - marvelous.


Sunday, 26 April 2009

April 26th 2009

The 2 Wheatear and a Whinchat found along Hill Rd in the valley this morning delayed us getting to the pond so we missed the Sandwich Tern by seconds found by John Richardson which had been sitting on a buoy just off the sailing club as we walked down the steps near the visitors centre. All three of us searched hoping to relocate it and Dave’s shout of a tern flying fast towards the valve tower put us on to bird far smaller than expected - adult Little Tern which we followed as it flew down the length of the reservoir and straight out. A Warwickshire and Draycote Water tick for Dave and both terns were Draycote ticks for John so two happy bunnies.
Not much else about with more Swift over Thurlaston, Oystercatcher, 3 Common Tern, Yellow Wagtail, 12 Goldfinch, 5 Gadwall, but missed the Shelduck.
Brandon Marsh was alive with warblers especially Whitethroats which seemed to be everywhere and on east marsh there were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, Oystercatcher, Snipe and a fleeting glimpse of a Cetties Warbler. Also from here we had 20+ Swifts, 3 Sparrowhawk and 10 Buzzard. A walk around the reserve produced Garden Warbler, more fleeting views of gropper and 2 Lesser Whitethroats plus at least 10 Orange Tip butterflys.


Saturday, 25 April 2009

April 25th 2009

Not a day for being on the sofa. Similar to last Thursday the weather was forecasted to be south east with a rain front coming in about nine so wasted no time in getting down the pond for 6am and felt a little frustrated that I had only 2 Common Tern, 2 first summer Little Gull, 6 Swallow and 5 Yellow Wagtail but the rain arrived an hour earlier than predicted and as it started to ease off the first birds started to appear with a Ringed Plover going over north east followed by 2 Artic Tern and one Sandwich Tern that flew in to toft bay before leaving.
A male Wheatear was next to arrive feeding on toft bank followed by 4 more Common Tern arriving from the east and 25 Common Swift were found high above the reservoir along with 160 Swallow 40 House Martin and 10 Sand Martin.
You can never be everywhere at times like these so two visiting birders gripped me off with an Osprey, 4 Whimbrel and 3 adult Little Gulls while I was looking for warblers. A least 2 Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler seen amongst the many Blackcaps, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff and just as I was leaving a male Whinchat was on the footpath fence of the Alpaca field. Other sightings included 3 Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, 2 Shoveler, male Teal, 3 Green Woodpecker and Herring Gull immature but I could not find the Great-northern Diver.
Just after mid-day I took up the opportunity to see the 8 Whiskered Tern in Derbyshire – had been 11 yesterday which is unprecedented in this country – usually one or rarely two but eleven!!!!, by the time we arrived at Willington Gravel Pits numbers had been up to 10 from the 3rd platform. Also seen were Whinchat and a Hobby. On the way back called in at Crossington Meadows LRWT, Leicestershire where one of the 2 Pectorial Sandpiper was still around on plover meadow before a welcome evening meal out.
Last nights trap had Brimstone Moth and Pine beauty in my trap bringing my Warwickshire species count to 75 for the year.

Pine Beauty


Friday, 24 April 2009

April 24th 2009

Willow Warbler in garden at first light and the mildest night of the year brought my best moth catch of the year with 11 species and 21 moths including two new for the year in Bright-line Bright-eye and Shuttle-shaped Dart.
Abandoned the ironing to look for the male Black Redstart on Lawford Heath but had no luck but I was in the right place for the Marsh Harrier female that went over heading east. Also seen in the area were 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Blackcap, 3 Shoveler and a summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwit circling the heath over Bernard’s.
Out with Dave again this afternoon to Draycote Water and it was dead – two hours on farborough bank produced 2 Yellow Wagtail, Swallow and a tailless Raven and apparently it was pretty quiet yesterday. Valley just as bad with only 5 Buzzards noted. Rain front supposed to be coming in so hopefully that will stir things up.


Thursday, 23 April 2009

April 23rd 2009

Woke to red skies and a trap full of moths including my first Chocolate Tip of the year plus Powdered Quaker and Waved Umber amongst the 7 species present then it was off out with Dave to Cambridgeshire. No fixed agenda – just good to be doing something different, I don’t have to ride the bike and Dave isn’t behind a desk.
Arrived at RSPB Nene Wash reserve and walked a short way along the long drove surrounded by 100s of Snipe, Redshank, 5 Shelduck and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. On our return to the car a male Garganey and Wigeon were across the road with the Garganey out in the open and showing well. Next stop was Eldernell where a walk on both sides of the Nene Way from the car park produced 10 Marsh Harrier including 4 males, 2 Little Egret, 60 distant Ruff, 3 male Garganey, 3 Greenshank and Yellow Wagtail supported by a calling Cetties Warbler, 10 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatcher, Kingfisher and more Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank.
Hunger sent in so dinner at Welney WWLT over looking Lady Fen that they are reverting back to fen land where 6 Avocet and 3 Shelduck were resting. The reserve was a hive of activity with 6 Whooper Swan still remaining from the wintering flock, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit all very close in and in various stages of summer plumage along with 3 male and one female Ruff with the males just lacking there ruffs. Also in good numbers were Avocet with 60+ present, 6 Common Tern, male and female Pintail, 30 Shelduck, more Snipe and Redshank, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 100+ Gadwall and 150 Mute Swan. Missed the Med Gull and Spotted Redshank.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

April 22nd 2009

It’s been another glorious day of sunshine and light variable winds becoming cloudy and turning to the south west then south so spent the afternoon cycling to Napton on the Hill with at least 7 Buzzards going over very high heading north which could have been migrants (3+2) while another 8 local one’s noted along with 2 Sparrowhawk. Other birds included a Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 4 Bullfinch, Stock Dove, 4 Lapwing, 3 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Meadow Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail plus a few Linnets, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Chaffinch.
Napton on the Hill had the usual warblers with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcaps the most common followed by Whitethroat. Single Garden Warbler seen in the quarry along with Bullfinch and Linnet, 3 Mistle Thrush churchyard and a Swift over. Butterflies on the hill were 3 Brimstone, 1 Green-veined White, 3 Small White, 8 Large White and 2 Comma
Draycote Water this evening had first for the year in Hobby over the treatment plant. Common Tern was on OL buoy, Great-northern Diver out in centre and 3 Whimbrel over heading north east. Also seen were 3 Gadwall, 2 Teal, female Pochard, 3 Mistle Thrush, 3 Yellow Wagatil, 6 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 4 Chiffchaff and 5 Willow Warbler.
Moth trap has gone quiet again but 2 Brindle Pug worth mentioning.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

April 21st 2009

Out just after 8am with sunny skies and little wind though the air temp still had last nights chill in it. Unfortunately no soon as I had arrived at Draycote Water you could tell it was going to be a struggle with very few birds moving or calling so half the morning turned in to a social do with Bob and Kevin. Only one immature Little Gull remained, Great-northern Diver, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were the best I could muster between toft shallows and visitors centre. Two hours watching for fly over’s from the country park produced 5 Buzzards together but nothing else so met up again with Bob to go over our objections regarding the re-location of the fishery in to toft.
As the cloud cover started to build up the wind increased so decided to hang on and rewarded with a Red Kite flying north over toft shallows 2;15pm spotted by John and Mark Spragget. The bird appeared a little washed out and had no wing tags and showed well then ten minutes later Terry Southgate rang to say he and Maureen had one still soaring over Bush Hill, Flecknoe. It was a different bird as Terry’s had feather missing on each wing while ours was fully intact. I stayed for over an hour on toft bank searching the horizon and hoping it would come my way but 2 Sparrowhawk, 8 Buzzard and a steady trickle of Swallows going through was all I could find. Also seen were 4 Gadwall, 2 Teal, Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk, and a Wheatear.
Back home and more Swallows going over plus a very high Grey Heron being mobbed by corvids.


April 20th 2009

Glorious sunshine with little wind at home while the valley and Draycote Water were shrouded in early morning mist so delayed going out till later. Sound decision as I had Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 5 Sand Martin going over the garden plus butterflies in the shape of 3 Large White, Comma, 2 Orange Tip and my first Holly blue of the year. My moth trap had 2 Lesser Swallow Prominent.
Grandborough Valley was very pleasant this afternoon with migrating summer plumage Golden Plover in the bean field, near the double barn, Flecknoe Rd and a Little Owl standing vigilant on the old manure heap near Grandborough Fields Farm. A ride along the canal to Napton Reservoir produced Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Sparrowhawk and a few butterflies including 2 Orange Tip, 2 Comma, 3 Peacock, and numerous Large White and Small White.
Napton Reservoir had 2 Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, two Yellow Wagtail, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and pair of Gadwall. On the way home did a detour to catch up with my first Grizzled Skipper of the year.
Decided to give the pond a miss and arranged to do a mothing session at Brandon Marsh as the evening temperature could be good for trapping and though the clear skies might have affected the numbers I still managed 72 moths of 14 species from two traps. Highlights were Muslin Moth, Early Tooth-stripe, Yellow-barred Brindle, Brindle Beauty, Marbled Brown and Lunar Marbled Brown. Birds seen were Barn Owl, Reed Warbler, Cetties Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail and Redshank.


Sunday, 19 April 2009

April 19th 2009

I suddenly remembered where my camera was in the middle of the night so when we got to Draycote Water I was more than relieved to see it still hanging where I had left it yesterday morning. Earlier we had a quick look at Hill & Flecknoe Rd managing 19 Stock Dove and 2 Red-legged Partridge.
With my happy head on we joined up with the bumbling bears on farborough bank who were putting the final touches to there identification skills before they go to the Isle of Scilly this week and pleased to report they can now separate Pied Wagtail from Mute Swan.
At least 20 adult and 4 immature Little Gulls were counted from farborough bank among the Black-headed Gulls and towards farborough spit we had Great-northern Diver and Greater Black-backed Gull. On the spit were 2 Yellow Wagtail and a Curlew circling overhead before it flew south and biggen bay had plenty of distant Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martins. Also seen were 2 Sedge Warbler.
After breakfast at Long Itchington we moved on to Brandon Marsh which was quiet with male Pochard, 2 Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, a very showy Sedge Warbler in front of the hide and 5 Snipe on east marsh and amongst the many warblers singing at least 6 Cetties and 3 Reed Warblers heard. The visitor centre had Willow Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker on the feeders but as sods law has it we were in the coffee shop when Graham found the 2 Whimbrel.
Butterflies seen at Brandon Marsh were 2 Orange Tip, 4 Small White, Speckled Wood, Comma, 2 Brimstone, 2 Green-veined White and 2 Peacock
Steve Valentine reported a summer plumage Slavonian Grebe in toft shallows in front of hide early evening so got there once I had finished the neighbours garden, but had lost the best of the light so hopefully it will stay for better views tomorrow. Common Pipistrelle bats were on the wing.
Patch News: Bumbling Bears had 3 Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Yellow Wagtail at Napton Reservoir and Clare Johnson had a Grasshopper Warbler at Wolfhamcote.


Saturday, 18 April 2009

April 18th 2009

It was still cloudy but a lot brighter than of late with a cold north easterly wind gusting over 20mph as I plodded my way round the pond with the sun eventually burning off the cloud by mid-day. No sign of any terns at 6:30am but more Little Gulls had come in overnight with an impressive count of 50 with at least 18 still present 11am. Numbers were made up of 33 adults and 8 first summers feeding over reservoir while 9 more adults were soaring overhead and left to the north west. This is my second largest count with 72 in April 2005 the highest. Unfortunately little else was seen in the morning in the way of migrants apart from 4 Yellow Wagtail and 14 Shelduck which is a very good count.
I chatted to a chap from Worcestershire who put me on to a calling Nuthatch - many many thanks – it took me a bit of time to track it down. They are very uncommon at the pond and my last record was in 2005 and I have only recorded it in 7 of the 34 years I have been doing the place. Hope your team one. Hung around till 2pm seeing my first Garden Warbler of the year and only other birds of note were Great-northern Diver, 8 Buzzard, 2 Teal, 55 Great-crested Grebe and 4 Gadwall though of interest to me was the Mute Swan numbers which are increasing with 22 plus a pair breeding. Since the late 1980s we have had a few Mute Swans summering here, 112 is the highest count although numbers are much smaller these days due to higher water level and disturbance from visitors.
Animals seen were Hare, Fox and Weasel.
Butterflies were 4 Green-veined White, Small White, 2 Brimstone and 2 Peacock
Garden late afternoon had Swallow, House Martin and Sparrowhawk over.
On the down side I lost me camera somewhere around the pond. Must have put it down to be nice to someone!!!. I only realised after the visitors centre was closed and an evening search was fruitless - even the Hen Harrier showing again this evening could not stop me from beating myself up. Shame, caught a cracking Lesser Swallow Prominent last night.


Friday, 17 April 2009

April 17th 2009

A dull morning with drizzle and a peep at the draycote weather cam proved it was pointless in going out in very poor visibility so played catch up with me notes.
Out with Dave this afternoon to Draycote Water and a walk out to farborough spit. There were still plenty of terns mainly in the rainbow area with at least 14 Artic and 12 Common Tern along with 9 adult and 3 first summer Little Gulls. Also seen were Buzzard, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Gadwall and 2 Teal. A quick look at the valley produced very little of interest apart from 3 Buzzard.
I went out again in the evening to Napton Reservoir managing my first Reed Warbler of the year and my first White Wagtail for this location. Also seen were 2 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Buzzard, female Shoveler, Artic Ten which is uncommon here and Cetties Warbler heard. On the way home a Little Owl, Raven and 2 Barn Owl.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

April 16th 2009

It was warmer last night than today as the next series of weather fronts from the north east came in bringing dull overcast conditions most of the day with poor visibility and heavy rain showers at 12:30 & 3pm. If you think it sounded bad – rest assure it was bloody awful but boy o boy today has been absolutely magical. Ding Dong, well worth soggy underwear, bins and notebook
The morning started by sorting me moths out ending up with 167 trapped for 23 species adding 3 to my Draycote Water list then it was off to hensborough bank for a 6:30am flask leering in to the gloom. The rest is history.
Osprey: its arrival was spotted by the gulls 7:20 am and they were not happy
Great Skua: one came 7:05 am in close to hensborough bank after arriving from the south west and beat up the gulls before disappearing in to the gloom. This is my 6th record, the last in 2002. Bird guides is reporting a Skua sp today but gives no time so not sure if its this bird or another. Apart from Francoise I never saw another birder till early afternoon.
Gannet: while counting the Little Gulls an adult stood out against the gloomy background as it crossed the reservoir 1:25pm just as the heavens opened up even more and visibility dropped. Waited an hour to look for it but alas it must have gone straight through. This is my 5th record with the last in 2002.
Little Gull: 2 adults all morning joined by another 34 adults at 1pm when the heavens opened. Just part of a large movement inland today.
Med Gull: first summer in amongst the 500 black-headed Gulls present
Kittiwake: adult found in gull flock 3pm
Artic Tern: 8 present most of the morning.
Black Tern: 4 came in at 1pm with the above, 2 still present 3:30pm
Sanderling: one in winter plumage on windsurfing area shoreline.
Ringed Plover: 2 over early afternoon.
Dunlin: 7 over early afternoon.
Wheatear: 3 on farborough bank – all females and all arrived after the mid-day deluge.
Great-northern Diver: still one present.
Yellow Wagtail: 10
Also seen were Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, 2 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 6 Gadwall and 2 Teal. Please note unless its an unusal migrant I will not be mentioning sites as we come in to the breeding season.

This is whats left of toft shallows after the timber hackers trimmed back a few over hanging branches so the public can trounce the place safely. Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit and Great-crested Grebe nests destroyed plus to the left is the area where GWT was hanging about in but alas no more.

Streamer, one of four trapped last night.


April 15th 2009

I spent most of the time today studying the plans of the proposed new Sailing Club layout which comes under Severn Trent Waters Draycote Water Visitor Improvements Plan that will also include the proposed relocation of Draycote Fishery.
A late afternoon visit to the pond produced 2 Artic Tern and Great-northern Diver but was too busy with the moths to see anything else.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

April 14th 2009

From the sounds of the contact calls a large party of Whimbrel flew over my house while I was hanging out the washing (00:30) heading north east.
Draycote Water when I arrived was clear but the clouds rolled in from the south east and hazy in the morning becoming brighter and windier in the afternoon.
Green-winged Teal: the male was still present at 6:30am well hidden amongst the willows in toft shallows but flushed by tree cutters on the board walk and never seen again.
Hen Harrier: the female showed again 3x between 10:45 to 11:45 in fields behind rainbow corner and was even watched soaring with a Buzzard.
Ring Ousel: male behind rainbow corner flushed by harrier 10:45
Little Gull: adult and immature.
Wheatear: male in morning and two in afternoon.
Great-northern Diver: could only find one.
Also seen were 4 Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail and remaining duck of interest were 10 Gadwall, 4 Teal, Wigeon and 3 Shoveler.
By mid-morning Buzzards were up and about in good numbers. Only a 6 Swallow and 3 House Martins noted
Besides Severn Trent allowing tree cutters to operate in the breeding season another downer was finding out I had no credit on me phone so apologies to those I never rang oops.

Butterflies today were 1 Small White, 3 Large White, 4 Orange-tip. 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 6 Peacock, 2 Green-veined White, 12 Brimstone, 1 Large Skipper and 2 Comma.

Herald in moth trap last night


April 13th 2009

A very frustrating morning. The cloud conditions we have had since last Thursday looked as if it would break in the night but instead we had mist and low cloud and very light south east winds which took a while to clear becoming hazy for most of the morning when it did. By the time I had been joined by the Bumbling Bears, the Hutton Crew and the Phillips duo on farborough spit I had been there an hour and seen zilch.
Eventually we found yesterdays four immature Little Gulls still out in centre along with an adult summer Med Gull which is probably the one recorded yesterday that I had missed and 2 Great-northern Divers including one in flight.
The Green-winged Teal was elusive until mid-morning when it was found just right of the hide in toft shallows. Also seen, Shoveler, Wigeon, 3 Goldeneye, Yellow Wagtail, Jay and Sparrowhawk
By late morning Joe Public had got off there sofa’s and were out for there Easter constitution in there hundreds so it was time to do a runner managing 4 Long-tailed Tit and a brief view of a Hobby in toft shallows.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking from Dunchurch to Woolscott in spring sunshine enjoying the peace and quiet – magic. Highlights were my first Garden Warbler of the year, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Grey Partridge, a very late Redwing for this area, 2 Sparrowhawk and 8 Buzzard while the more commoner species including Tree Sparrow’s were very busy doing what comes naturally at this time of year.


Sunday, 12 April 2009

April 12th 2009

We enjoyed a cup of coffee, watching the antics of a fox while we waited for the gates to open at Draycote Water this morning then our walk to toft shallows produced 5 immature Little Gull still present from yesterday influx, 5 Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank, a Whimbrel over toft bay and 4 Barnacle Geese flew over low heading north. I’d doubt if they are wild birds but interestingly they were followed five minutes later by 2 male and one female Goldeneye landing in toft bay then a further group of 9 female Goldeneye also arriving in toft bay so the jury’s out. The Green-winged Teal showed well right of the hide. Only other birds seen in the dull overcast conditions were 2 Great-northern Diver, male Shoveler, male Wigeon, 6 Teal, 10 Gadwall and a Herring Gull among the remaining Black-headed Gulls.
Next stop was Brandon Marsh and arrived just in time to see 4 Mealy Redpoll including a very bright male found by Colin and Sarah feeding on alders near the east marsh before they moved on towards teal pool. The east marsh itself held 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 15 Snipe, 3 Shelduck, oystercatcher, Kingfisher and close but brief views of Cetties Warbler while overhead a Swallow showed some characteristics of those I have seen in the middle east with a rusty red body and underwing covets.
The Cuckoo was found perched from carlton hide along with 3 Buzzard and though there were plenty of warblers calling we failed to see or hear Whitethroat, Reed or Sedge that had been reported. Another highlight of the day was being challenged over my views on kodak fiddlers from a very nice lady in the carlton hide. I hear what you say but I still hate them. Bless
My second visit to pond this evening and there were 2 Artic Tern near the valve tower, at least 3 immature Little Gulls and 4 Redshank were resting on draycote bank along with a White Wagtail and Little Owl between grays barn and toft shallows.


Saturday, 11 April 2009

April 11th 2009

I was at the pond by 6:20am and enjoyed 40 minutes of tranquility before the lica brigade arrived and observed the reservoir from farborough spit 6:30 to 9:30am then from rainbow corner 10:30am to 12pm finally arriving back at the hide 1300hrs and leaving shortly after. Plenty of activity in the morning due to the overcast conditions keeping the flies down low and they were being enjoyed by the gull, terns and duck before brighter weather early afternoon dispersed some of the birds as the wind varied in direction from NW to NE remaining light with the odd rain shower.

O so peaceful - looking west from farborough spit 6:30am - the clear skies from the west never arrived till this evening (scroll down)

No sign of Red-necked Grebe for the 2nd day running so it may have finally left and no sign of yesterdays Black-necked Grebe.

Sandwich Tern: I was showing a visiting birder the Little Gulls when one flew over our head towards the centre of reservoir before it returned and left to the north east at 8am
Green-winged Teal: today it has been showing well especially in the afternoon, right of hide in toft shallows and out in the open more often than not at 1pm.
Little Gull: there were 16 immatures off farborough spit at 6:30am with 6 remaining joined by an adult in partial summer plumage. By mid-morning they were on the surface feeding on the insects.
Artic Tern: Peter Findon found 3 off farborough bank out towards rainbow / inlet area and later there were at least 5 present from rainbow corner.
Common Tern: 2 with the Artic Terns.
Great-northern Diver: still 2 present out in centre and heard calling
Little Ringed Plover: one flew in to rainbow corner 11am.
Common Sandpiper: 2
Yellow Wagtail: 5 on farborough bank being kicked about by the crowds.
Red-legged Partridge: a very unusual record these days of one actually on the reservoir with one on the perimeter wall of farborough bank at 6:30am. It soon left when lica man raced past.
Black-headed Gull: 800 plus spent most of the visit out in centre
Sedge Warbler: one in sewage farm

Also seen were Shelduck 2, Shoveler 10 males and one female in toft bay, 10 Teal in toft shallows, male Wigeon, male Pochard toft bay, female Goldeneye toft shallows, 2 Oystercatcher by valve tower, Buzzard: 4, plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins while House Martins are already inspecting last years nesting site.

Green-winged Teal - record shot of it in the rain and gloom

Evening sunset at the pond tonight by Mason Phillips

Swallow over garden this evening


Friday, 10 April 2009

April 10th 2009

Out with Dave for a couple of hours to Draycote Water this morning enjoying the light south east winds and occasional rain showers before moving on to Lawford Heath.
The walk to toft bay produced 2 Shelduck on the far side of reservoir, 2 Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank, 2 Great-northern Diver off farborough spit and female Wheatear along toft bank. At least 6 male Shoveler in toft bay with 4 Teal and 6 Gadwall but missed the Green-winged Teal which had showed minutes before we arrived in toft shallows. Talking to other birders we also missed White Wagtail and male Wheatear. Lawford Heath was very quiet with only a single Swallow seen.
I went back out to Draycote Water late afternoon after a heavy rain mid-day and found summer plumage Black-necked Grebe in biggen bay, Common Swift over valve tower and the Hen Harrier showed again behind hensborough bank. Also seen were 18 Yellow Wagtail in country park, Sparrowhawk, 200 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow and 50 House Martin so well worth getting wet for.
Early evening spent at Brandon Marsh with Mark, Mason and John Phillips but alas the Avocet had moved on but we did manage 15 Snipe, 2 Oystercatcher, 5 Shelduck, 2 Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and a late female Goosander flew in 7:30pm. From the carlton hide a calling Cuckoo finally showed well perched opposite the hide, my first for the year and 300 Sand Martin overhead.
The mild conditions last night produced a very colourful moth trap with Waved Umber, Purple Thorn, Early Thorn, along with 2 Early Grey, 3 Clouded Drab, 3 Hebrew Character and Small Quaker

Waved Umber

Early Thorn


Thursday, 9 April 2009

April 9th 2009

The clear skies started clouding over in the middle of the night with rain showers through out the morning. There were two Oystercatcher on toft bay bank. This is the 4th day in a row this area has produced a wader species so the shoreline is going to be missed if the powers to be have there wicked way. The Green-winged Teal was flighty between toft shallows and grays barn returning to toft shallows and become very elusive and difficult to see under the willows. Rock Pipit still on farborough bank but little else and the Red-necked Grebe eventually seen out in centre and off biggen bay but distant and restless.
A three hour watch from rainbow corner produced the only visible overnight migration with a bedraggled Osprey at 7:30 am enjoyed by the early teal searchers and 200 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow and 10 House Martin over the sailing club. There were plenty of gulls at first light loafing around with 200 Lesser, Black-back and 2 Greater Black-backed Gulls. With two Great-northern Divers still present the rest of the day was quiet until 12 Yellow Wagtail appeared at 3pm on toft bank and small groups of House Martin and Swallow went through.
Also worth noting were 2 Jay, Corn Bunting, 3 Buzzard, 5 male Shoveler, Sparrowhawk 11 Gadwall, 4 Teal and in toft shallows 71 Great-crested Grebe counted in the afternoon.
Chiffchaffs have returned to my estate along with more Blackcaps than usual but Willow Warblers are still thin on the ground and had my first Swallow over the garden at 5pm

Great-northern Diver off hensborough bank 07:30am
For me this aint a bad shot considering I was not wearing me glasses

Bewarned its Easter so everyman and his umbrella could be at the pond so go early or late.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

April 8th 2009

With a strong westerly wind and gust of up to 30mph I gave the pond a quick early morning visit before retuning home for some domestics then out again mid afternoon.
As dawn broke there were 2 Great-northern Diver off draycote bank along with Grey Wagtail by the valve tower and 8 Dunlin flew over east. It was too windy for any warblers and even the Blackcaps were keeping quiet so the only other birds of note was the Red-necked Grebe in toft bay and 2 Wigeon nearby.
John Harris had a mobile Rock Pipit on toft bank and 5 Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank plus Small Tortioseshell butterfly.
I spent the afternoon on Napton on the Hill near the windmill and quarry looking north for two hours hoping for a migrating Osprey, Marsh Harrier or Kite to drift over while all the time there was a male Common Redstart 100 yards behind me.
I only got to know about it when a dog walker said she had seen a brightly coloured bird with a red tail flitting on the windmill entrance road when she walked past. By the time I got there it was nearer the windmill entrance eventually moving to the left hand side hedgerow. As for flyovers the only one seen was 2 Fieldfare along with six local Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. On the way home the Hen Harrier was quartering the field briefly near draycote water at 6:45pm and Bob Hazell had good views of it behind rainbow at mid-day.
Little Owl flew over my local Sainsburys at 9pm while stocking up for Easter.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

April 7th 2009

The only good thing about todays visit to Draycote Water was that I never killed anyone. Self restraint at its best.

I arrived just after daybreak in time to see both the Ringed Plover and Golden Plover that had been brought down by last nights rain resting on the rocks of toft bank till they were kicked off by runners and one Oystercatcher circulating reservoir while both the Red-necked Grebe and 2 Great-northern Diver were off farborough spit.
By this time the first of many of the ‘where is It’ brigade had arrived so cleared off to the west side of the reservoir enjoying the peace and quiet and a large mixed flock of martins and swallows that included 60 Sand Martin, 20 Swallow and 10 House Martin with a Dunlin and my first Common Sandpiper of the year on saddle bank. Red-legged Partridge behind rainbow corner.
I decided as I approached the inlet that it was not worth carrying on to valve tower preferring to retrace me steps to hensborough bank so that I had the sun behind me. All very logical.
Big bloody mistake as Steve Batt informed me that he had just seen a Citrine Wagtail on draycote bank giving me a full description of a summer plumage male including all the key identification clinchers. After picking myself up off the floor I legged it round there and searched everywhere but alas with all the walkers and runners about it had cleared off. I was bloody devastated that I had missed it but well done Steve – a stunning record.
Also seen or heard were 2 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 18 Blackcap, 4 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, female Goldeneye and 18 Buzzards dotted around the reservoir though some were distant soaring birds.
Finally caught up with the Green-winged Teal after it had gone walk about when the rangers went in to toft shallows in a dingy to retrieve the tern raft which has been abandoned there for the last three years.
Gripe of the Day. Can you please consider the welfare of the bird if you need to go on the lower levels of toft and farborough banks so that the migrants have somewhere quiet to rest and feed up after there migration. It’s bad enough that the walkers, runners, and pram pushers are kicking everything about – no need for us to do it.


Monday, 6 April 2009

April 6th 2009

Out early down the valley looking for owls then spent the first half of the morning wandering the valley looking and listening for summer migrants and any late winter visitors before I took up the opportunity to spend the afternoon and early evening on the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire.
There was a Barn Owl near Sawbridge out hunting after daybreak and a Little Owl on a telegraph pole nearby while Grandborough Fields Farm had 2 late Fieldfare with summer visitors in the form of my first Sedge Warbler of the year chattering away on Franks Pool and other warblers present in the valley included 3 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap at various locations and 4 Yellow Wagtails in a cattle field near Woolscott. Passing a few farms on me travels at least four had Swallows already on situ but the highlight was my first Little Gull for the valley with an adult in summer plumage heading west with 25 Black-headed Gulls.
Arrived at Eldernell after a pleasant journey which included 3 Red kite from the A605 between Oundel, Northamptonshire and Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and parked over looking the Nene Wash. Decided to walk the western side towards Bassenhally Farm first then returned to car before walking the east side to Poplar House Farm before we returning. Birding highlights included Water Pipit, 2 Garganey, 300 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ruff, Avocet, 4 Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, and Barn Owl.
Well if you have read this far you have realised I haven’t been to the pond today but have heard that the Green-winged Teal is still present and received text messages from Bob Hazell and Mark Phillips with news of a Little Gull, Yellow Wagtail, House Martin and Sand Martin.
Max Silveman took this cracking picture of one of the Yellow Wagtails today.

Last weekend was so busy I forgot to mention the appearance of another Warwickshire exile Steve Seal now residing elsewhere in my realm. Many of you will remember his cracking photos in the past well he still has the touch with these two cracking action shots of the Red-necked Grebe on Saturday.

Red-necked Grebe by Steve Seal

My garden trap has now started attracting Early Greys in good numbers


Sunday, 5 April 2009

April 5th 2009

Dave’s a queen!! He has two birthdays so we had limited time out birding this morning as we had another birthday meal to attend later.
There were clear skies last night so not surprisingly there was a ground frost this morning which reduced my moth catch to only two but it soon warmed up once we were out and about.
Joined by Dave’s friend Neil from Lincoln up for the meal we had 2 Red-legged Partridge on the Southam Road just before the entrance to Draycote Water while the reservoir itself was cooking on gas again.
The elusive Green-winged Teal was relocated in toft shallows showing under the willows opposite the hide by the Hall brothers, so pleased for Dave Hall after all the effort he put in yesterday. The Red-necked Grebe was off farborough spit drifting in to toft bay, 2 Great-northern Divers still present, a party of 8 Shelduck near the valve tower on arrival and later seen flying over toft shallows though some did return to reservoir, 4 Graylag, 4 Shoveler, 8 Teal, 14 Gadwall and female Goldeneye. There were 3 Yellow Wagtails in the field behind farborough bank feeding amongst the cattle and 15 Meadow Pipits on the banks but we failed to see the Hen Harrier and Rock Pipit seen by others while I also missed the Ruff and 13 Fieldfare seen by Dave, Neil and the Hall brothers because I went walk about much to there delight. Only other bird of note was a single Swallow.
Next stop was Lawford Heath and in an hour saw 20 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 5 Shoveler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, Sand Martin, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Tufted Duck and 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
After an excellent meal I went back out in the evening to Draycote Water and had my first Common Tern of the year off rainbow corner with 2 Curlew in the fields behind and the roost held adult Yellow-legged Gull and adult summer plumage Med Gull.

Patch News: female Marsh Harrier went over Lawford Heath at 1:15pm and I’ve received a number of e-mails reporting an increase in the numbers of Swallow, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcaps in the valley today.

Finally many thanks to those who have commented on how much you enjoy this blog – think I must have met half of you at the pond this weekend and to those who have sent me photos – will try and use them as much as I can.

Green-winged Teal and Great-northern Diver by Dave Morgan an exiled pond and valley birder up yesterday adding the GWT and Hen Harrier to his Draycote list. Hopefully he is still a few behind me - I am now on 245 so if I stay off the healthly food and keep taking the dram I could make the big 250. Mind you the last 10 took me 10 years so dont hold your breath.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

April 4th 2009

The weather is due to change tonight giving me a chance to stop burning the candle at both ends as I was out mothing last night grabbing a few hours sleep before setting off for the pond in the rain. Warmest evening of the year resulting in over 300 moths trapped from 23 species and also reflected in my home trap with 16 moths of 5 species.
Turned out to be an excellent day with plenty of birds in the morning and majority of the afternoon becoming a social do as the Red-necked Grebe and the Green-winged Teal were attracting many local birders and photographers.
Arrived at 6:45am with very low cloud in time to see a Black-throated Diver circling reservoir 7:00am joined by one of the Great-northern Divers and they may have flown off north together as there was no trace of BTD later and 3 GNDs were present all day with the two off the valve tower very photogenic. While others watched the Green-winged Teal in toft shallows they were soon frustrated again by fishing boats coming in to the shallows, even going past the hide and eventually the GWT flew to the inlet where it was last seen at 1:20pm and had not been relocated when I left at 5:30pm despite a lot of searching by Dave Hall. Please report any boats in this area to Severn Trent. Photographic evidence even better.

"O look theres a bird hide lets fish there"

Personally the bird of the day had to be the re-appearance of the ringtail (me thinks it’s a female) Hen Harrier seen from the country park and after some frantic phone calls and constant monitoring managed to add it to JJ and Bob Ds draycote list as she quartered the fields before drifting back in to Grandborough valley. Later on it was reported from behind rainbow corner and other parts of the valley.
Also seen were Grey Plover over, 7 Teal, female Shoveler, female Goldeneye, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 Fieldfare, Redwing, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 5 House Martin, 15 Swallow, 5 Sand Martin, 10 Gadwall, Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard and 2 Green Woodpecker
Birds missed were Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and female Pintail reported by others and a Heron sp by me that soared over rainbow mid-morning resembling a Purple but distance and bright sunlight put paid to any chance of it being confirmed. Bugger.

I said the photographers were around, what I forgot to say was they were also having fun. Great-northern Diver by Dave Hutton note the plumage change as spring approaches. Most mornings now see them very active in exercising the wing muscles with short flights.


Friday, 3 April 2009

April 3rd 2009

Dull and gloomy this morning so waited till this afternoon to visit the pond with Dave while Bob and Mark kindly kept me informed on the whereabouts of the Green-winged Teal for Dave as he needed it for his pond list, if it was around.
On our arrival just before 2pm it was in toft bay where we could scope it from the bank rather than miss out on the sunshine sat in the hide. The Red-necked Grebe was resting off toft bank, 3 of the Great-northern Divers were on the surface preening and at least 6 Buzzard and a Peregrine overhead. Orange Tip butterfly in country park.

Confirmation of the date and start times of the remaining walks I will be leading this year:-
30th April 11am
28th May 2pm
29th September 11am
29th October 11am
26th November 11 am
29th December 11am

Be aware of fishermen back casting on any of the banks at Draycote Water. We witnessed one guy have a hook pass inches from his face. Fishermen don't always look round to see if your passing.

The GWT was reported to be elusive this evening – hopefully its aggressive nature towards male European Teals and a likeness for the ladies means its on a mission more than a flight north.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

April 2nd 2009

I spent eleven hours at the pond today. Arrived at 6:45am but there was no sign of the Green-winged Teal, Black-necked Grebes or Avocet so did a circuit finding a male Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank, 4 Great-northern Divers off rainbow, Red-necked Grebe in toft bay, Curlew heading north and 3 male Shoveler.
Parked by the visitors centre which had Brindled Pug and 2 Hebrew Character resting on the walls then walked to valve tower by which time three of the Great-northern Divers were circling reservoir before settling back down and a Redshank feeding by the perimeter road on saddle bank. On my return from the valve tower I found a Twite feeding on the gravel edge of the draycote bank access opposite the old trout farm and over the next 20 minutes it was constantly disturbed by runners, walkers and pram pushers eventually disappearing towards rainbow corner. My last record at Draycote Water was in 2001.
I spent some time in the country park but the low cloud never lifted till 3pm but through the gloom managed a Peregrine, 16 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing then news broke of the GWT being relocated off the Inlet but by the time I got there it had been flushed off by a fishing boat and I had lousy views of it miles away near dunn’s bay.
Not until I had arrived back in toft bay mid afternoon that I found out why the GWT had been elusive, a fishing boat had gone in to toft shallows unaware it was a conservation area or so they claim? which may not be surprising considering Severn Trent have let the barrier disappear below the surface and it can’t be seen.
Also seen today were:- Sand Martin 10, House Martin, Swallow 6, Gadwall 18, Goldeneye 2 female and one male, Goosander female, Blackcap 5, Chiffchaff, 8 Goldfinch, Willow Warbler, Greylag Goose, Stock Dove 2, Teal 4 and Wigeon 2.
Just to put icing on the cake of a frustrating day buddy Dave trapped Dotted Chestnut in his home trap last night - a real rarity in this area and had not been seen for a hundred years until he trapped his first in October 2006 and now he has a second. I am not amused.

Dotted Chestnut


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

April 1st 2009

Another good mothing night and once the gear was stored away I enjoyed the tranquility before the first birders and fishermen arrived. Male Wheatear and White Wagtail were on farborough bank with the Red-necked Grebe off farborough spit and the 4 Great-northern Divers were all together off the inlet. The Green-winged Teal male was still in toft shallows for its third day along with 4 Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sparrowhawk, 4 Reed Bunting, Lesser Redpoll and male Shoveler.
Back home and my own moth trap had done well with 11 moths of 7 species including my first Early Tooth Stripe of the year.
With the clear skies becoming cloudy by mid-day from the east it was not too surprising I put my plans to do some domestics on the back burner with Bob Hazell ringing early afternoon with the amazing sighting of 7 Black-necked Grebe off the inlet. This must be a record count for draycote if not for Warwickshire and certainly beats my previous best effort of 3 in May 2001. More good news from John Judge ringing me that a Avocet was out in the centre of reservoir – turning out to be a purple patch day. Not to be out done by this finding lark I managed my first Draycote Willow Warbler of the year and my first Yellow Wagtail of the year early evening. And I missed Red Kite and Osprey.
Of interest the Red-necked Grebe has been present for five months – another draycote record, arrived looking like this

Red-necked Grebe by Steve Seal taken last November and will eventually go to the ball in all its finery

Red-necked Grebe by Jon Hall