Monday, 31 August 2009

August 31st 2009

Dave’s arrived back from his family holiday yesterday so we were out early checking on potential winter owl sites before arriving at Draycote Water at 7pm. Canary-shouldered Thorn, Large Yellow Underwing and Buff Footman on the walls of café then a walk out to toft shallows.
There had been a fall of Yellow and Pied Wagtails overnight with 30+ Yellow and well over a 100 Pied along farborough and toft bank though nearly all had moved on by the time we returned 2hrs later. Hobby adult flew past us over the sailing graveyard and 2 Wheatear, 2 juvenile Ringed Plover and 2 Black Tern seen on the walk out and on returning we managed 5 Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap in the perimeter hedgerow. Also present were over a 1000 Swallow/House Martin with 3 Swift and a few Sand Martin. My apologies to the gentlemen who joined us today at pond – I’m writing this and the brain refuses to give me your name – sorry but thanks for the company. Its an age thing.
Quick look at the valley produced very little apart from more swallows and martins.
In the afternoon we checked out Napton on the Hill and found a group of 6 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warblers along with a very young Spotted Flycatcherthat looked as if it had only just left the nest. The panoramic views were stunning and the good visibility allowed us to see the spire of Coventry Cathedral and other local landmarks some distance away. Raven, Willow Tit and 5 Buzzard also seen.
This evening there was a Southern Hawker in the garden and juvenile Peregrine overhead.


August 30th 2009

The wind finally dropped in the night and I was out early as the last night clubbers staggered home intending to work the footpath from Dunchurch to Grandborough.
At least 2 Barn Owl seen and another heard in the distance along with a Tawny Owl while at day break the lagoons had 2 Snipe, Little Ringed Plover and female Ruff.
Due to the clear night the morning was cold so smaller birds were slow to emerge but as the sun rose there were two good tit flocks with one numbering 50+ birds made up of mainly Great and Blue Tits but also included 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler and 6 Long-tailed Tits while the second was around the 30+ mark and contained 12 Long-tailed Tit and Coal Tit.
On returning to Trog the hedgerow bordering the M45 had many warblers including Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat and a Blackcap and down the Southam Rd the second large field on the left had a juvenile Wheatear and 3 Red-legged Partridge.
Decided to give the pond a miss and continued to work the valley but by this time it clouded over and apart from a visible migration of Swallows mid-morning heading south it was hard work with only a Wheatear along the Hill Rd and a Spotted Flycatcher at Sawbridge for my efforts.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

August 29th 2009

Although not as windy as yesterday there was still a brisk cool westerly at Draycote Water this morning and accounted for the dark phase Artic Skua arriving at 7:40am which came in over the over the golf course when I was counting the Swifts but continued south.
There were 2 Common Sandpiper, adult Ringed Plover, juv Little Ringed Plover and 6 Shoveler in toft bay and shallows. Massive numbers of hirundines high over the country park, toft shallows and biggen bay early morning. At least 500 Swallow, 500 House Martin and 50 Sand Martin with 8 Swift between biggen bay and valve tower and 4 over toft shallows. Little Tern juvenile appeared off the Sailing club at 10:10am but no sign of any common or black. Best sheltered area for warblers was the hedgerow between the top & bottom field of the country park with 2 Garden Warbler and 3 Lesser Whitethroat. Also seen were female Goosander off draycote bank, 3 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatear on farborough bank, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard 5, Teal 16 and Raven over valve tower.
In the afternoon I went down to Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire to see the juvenile American Black Tern, juvenile White-winged Black Tern and juvenile Black Tern. There had been very few records of this American race of Black Tern in this country and a useful i.d. lesson in case one turns up at the pond.
Moth numbers continue to be low because of the high winds and cold nights but I can still attract the ladies.


August 28th 2009

A quandary for me today?
Do I work the pond hoping the wind will bring in something or do I plod around Napton on the Hill for migrants even though last night was clear and everything might have cleared off.
Tim text mid-morning that there was no sign of Wood Warbler but Redstart still present and a potential for more stuff to be found so that did it for me. Arrived early afternoon after catching the bus and worked through the sheltered areas of the hill avoiding the brisk westerly wind and the ‘sheep’ who were all staring at the tree the Wood Warbler had been in hoping it would materialize.
It soon became obvious that Tim was right as a Grasshopper Warbler was found near Grove Lane and further searching of a group of warblers working there way through the gardens and hedgerows below the hill produced at least 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler and 3 Spotted Flycatcher. Another good migrant present was a juvenile Cuckoo being mobbed by a Raven near the windmill.
Called in to Draycote Water in the evening just in time for the heavens to open and the extremely strong winds made walking difficult along the banks but managed 2 distant juvenile Black Tern and 4 Common Tern from farborough bank along with Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover between farborough spit and toft bay. In toft shallows at least 5 Shoveler were trying to seek shelter from the wind along with a male Pochard and 14 Teal and a Green Sandpiper flew in.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

August 27th 2009

After yesterdays rain today was sunny with partial cloud in the morning becoming cloudier in the afternoon and warm so not surprising today has been about migrants brought down by yesterdays rain or birds showing well and very mobile after having a difficult time feeding in the recent conditions.
Birds recorded were:-
Black Tern increased to four off rainbow corner
Common Sandpiper 2 in the morning increasing to 5 in the afternoon
Little Ringed Plover one in toft shallows
Shoveler 2 in toft shallows
Whinchat juvenile between toft shallows and M45
Wheatear 2 juveniles and one adult male farborough bank
Yellow Wagtail 8 below farborough bank including a bird that Bob managed to remove a fishermen’s fly from its bill.
Whitethroat 9 between sewage farm and country park
Reed Warbler one toft shallow pond
Lesser Whitethroat 4 in perimeter hedge below farborough spit and one in sewage farm
Spotted Flycatcher 2 in perimeter hedge below farborough spit and one in country park
Garden Warbler 4 between sewage farm and country park and 2 in toft shallows
Also present:-
Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 11 Teal, 5 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Stock Dove, 2 Green Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin and 10 Sand Martin.
Other sightings included 2 Red Underwing, 14 Speckled Wood, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Large White, Green-veined White, Ruddy Darter and Migrant Hawker

John, Tim and I did the roost tonight hoping for a Sabines Gull and though the roost was impressive the light and wind were agaist us so we struggled. Earlier in the day Tim found a Wood Warbler on Napton on the Hill.

Arrived home in the dark and already 2 Old Lady in trap.


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

August 26th 2009

With the last remnants of Hurricane Bill due to drop some wet stuff on us today I had no intention of going out, but by 7am there I am being lashed by strong southerly winds turning south west and heavy rain on farborough spit, Draycote Water trying my best to rustle up a Skua or Shearwater.
Not a chance but at least the effort of being present when a weather front goes through paid off with juvenile Kittiwake and 2 juvenile Black Tern out in the centre and the small party of waders that had been brought down by the rain were resting on farborough bank included 6 partial summer plumage Dunlin, summer plumage Sanderling and a juvenile Turnstone. I lasted another hour but as my water proofs gave up on being waterproof I scuttled back home sharpish.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

August 25th 2009

I was clearing down my traps this morning after a very poor catch due to the drop in temperature when a Yellow Wagtail landed in the garden. Probably my first record of one to be seen strutting its stuff in the garden though it’s not uncommon to hear/see them go over.
I eventually ambled down to Draycote Water mid morning but it was hard work with so much disturbance. There was 8 Shoveler in toft bay, Greenshank and 2 Common Sandpiper in toft shallows plus a Little Ringed Plover but all were being kicked around by joe public walking the shoreline. Chatted with Bob and Francoise before spending an hour in the country park where I saw Great-spotted Woodpecker, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, 2 Buzzard, 4 Stock Dove and Spotted Flycatcher before a Hobby took an interest in the martin/swallow flock overhead. The area between toft shallows and M45 had Treecreeper, 5 Buzzard, Whitethroat and 2 Garden Warbler.
Butterflies were out but numbers down as the food supply dwindles. 2 Common Blue, Small Copper, 6 Painted Lady, Red Admiral, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 7 Speckled Wood, 2 Green-veined White, 20 Large White and single Small White.
Back home and I had Hobby, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard over the garden this afternoon.

Bob Hazell captured this image of a Lesser Black-backed Gull a few weeks ago and his investigation has led to finding out it was ringed on the 10th July 2008 at Havik, Karmoy, Rogaland, Norway.

Gold Spot by Bob Hazell. Dave and I are having an excellent year for this species and according to other moth'ers in the country there has been an influx from the continent over the last week.

Angle Shades by Bob Hazell


Monday, 24 August 2009

August 24th 2009

Last night’s mothing session in the allotments along Alywn Rd, Rugby was very good producing 668 moths of 68 species while both Dave and my traps continue to increase.
Once the traps were cleared down I popped down to the pond but even by 6:15am joggers and cyclists were already flushing the overnight arrival of Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears on a very light south then south east wind which was turning to the south west by the time I left the reservoir.
Kingfisher was in toft shallows on arrival with another two seen later while both toft and farnborough bank had up to 26 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Wheatear though none could be found three hours later thanks to the keep fit brigade. There has been a black Tern passage over the weekend so I was pleased with 2 found off draycote bank and a party of 18 arrived at 8:30am from the east but after a couple of feeding runs they took umbrage to the bullying they were getting from the Lesser Black-backed Gulls and flew off west.
Between the windsurfing area and inlet there was a noticeable increase in duck numbers and among the Mallard there was an immature Garganey and 9 Shoveler. I was in rainbow when a jobs worth checked the shoreline of the inlet and had to be content with watching 2 Ruff fly off west. Other water bird species seen were 46 Mute Swan, female Goosander and 25 Teal. Away from the water then warbler activity was noticeable with a juv Lesser Whitethroat near the picnic benches by the windsurfing area, 2 Whitethroat and 3 Blackcap in the sailing club car park, Garden Warbler and Spotted flycatcher by the outlet and 6 Willow Warblers by the sewage farm. Other sightings included 4 Green Woodpecker, 50 Swallow, 50 House Martin, 20 Sand Martin and 4 Long –tailed Tit.
The most notable insect sighting was a pristine Bordered Beauty found under the guttering of the toilet block in the country park and a very embarrassing attempt at balancing ones self on a fence and stretching to photograph it only resulted in it flying higher in to a nearby tree and loads of laughter from a car load of joggers.


August 23rd 2009

After yesterdays sixteen hour marathon in the field I thought I was in for a quiet day but went to Hollowell Reservoir, Northamptonshire to see the Pectorial Sandpiper along with 2 Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and a few Ringed Plovers. Before returning home a quick look at Pitsford Reservoir produced Garganey, 2 male Red-crested Pochard and 2 Little Egret.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

August 22nd 2009

A clear chilly night and probably the coldest we have had for sometime as I set out for Napton in the wee hours of this morning. With no traffic you get to hear a lot more and heard Tawny Owl passing Kites Hardwick and Stockton Cutting and Barn Owls were heard at Hill and Broadwell. Just as I was approaching Calcutt a Barn Owl drifted across the road and a Little Owl was perched by the entrance to Napton Reservoir.
I enjoyed a welcome cup of coffee at the reservoir from one of the Carp fishermen enjoying a great chat about our respective hobbies while 2 Barn Owls hunted a nearby set-a-side field and later there were Kingfisher, 3 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 4 Teal, 2 Snipe and a Yellow Wagtail present.
Continued on to Napton on the Hill by which time the sun was warming up a treat and in the churchyard bird activity increased with 3 juvenile Spotted Flycatchers indicating another successful breeding year, 4 Coal Tit, 3 Mistle Thrush plus a few of the local warbler population with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap noted. A good search of the quarry paid dividends with a Tree Pipit which was probably brought down by the heavy rains a few days ago.
I spent the morning watching the skies for raptor migration but saw only local Buzzard and Sparrowhawk though there was a large movement of Lesser Black-backed Gull with over 300 in small groups passing overhead. As I left there were 12 Long-tailed Tit and a Lesser Whitethroat along the lane to the church and another party of 14 Long-tailed Tit at Calcutt.
I stopped off at Birdingbury Bridge for refreshments taking the opportunity to explore the Grand Union Canal towpath between Gilk’s Spinney and High Clays Farm. Very few birds around but a few Butterflies and a couple Dragonflies species were on the wing.
Finally ended up at Draycote Water and hung around for the gull roost which is a good size for this time of the year and found adult and juvenile Med Gull and 6 Yellow-legged Gulls. Also present were 2 Dunlin, Goosander, Jay and Great-spotted Woodpecker.


Friday, 21 August 2009

August 21st 2009

The skies cleared last night enabling good views of Jupiter which is showing three moons with one on the left and two close together on the right. Moth numbers were well down due to lower temperatures than we have had recently.
The morning was spent catching up with my bird and moth notes, answering e-mails and a few domestics. When are they going to invent a machine that washes, irons and puts away your clothes and does a bit of dusting and shopping. Yeah I know, they already have and it’s called mum. Bless. I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog that the Osprey showed again.
I was out with Dave this afternoon arriving at the pond just in time to shelter in the café as it tipped it down. Once the rain had cleared it was very blustery with one gust recorded at 32mph and our walk out to farborough spit was quiet till the sun came back out then 8 Swift suddenly appeared over biggen bay and started feeding franticly followed by 2 summer plumage Golden Plovers which flew over heading west. Only other birds of note were Buzzard and a recently fledged Pied Wagtail.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

20th August 2009

The wind was a key feature at Draycote Water today being very blustery with gusts of 30mph and the occasional shower. Highlights of a long visit were the juvenile Knot that arrived in rainbow corner after heavy rain, juvenile Black Tern by the fishing pontoons as the wind picked up and a juvenile Merlin over farborough spit. Other species included Goosander female, Common Tern, Greenshank, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher in the country park, Grey Wagtail, 8 Gadwall, 6 Teal and female Shoveler. The tree hackers have also returned to toft shallows.
Last night I managed to attract 4 Old Lady moths in to the garden using a sugar solution smeared on to a fence post that I made from fermenting apples, two tins of treacle, molasses, urine and stout.
Out with Dave for a quick tour of valley this evening but very quiet with only 3 Buzzard and 100+ Swallows seen.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

August 19th 2009

The very humid cloudy night was good for moths with my trap full this morning with nearly 200 moths of 40 species. The best was my 3rd Old Lady of the year which was not in the trap but feeding on liquidised apples that had been fermenting in for a while. This was the first that was in decent enough condition to be photographed.

Old Lady
Feeling whacked from the last few days so did not go out till early evening to Draycote Water mainly for a bit of fresh air after such a warm day. Female Ruff in biggen bay along with Garden Warbler and Sedge Warbler, Common Sandpiper near valve tower, Goosander and Teal off inlet, Spotted Flycatcher toft shallows and Osprey flew in at 1850hrs catching a fish and flying down the leam valley. Other sightings included Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Willow Warbler and Buzzard. The roost was impressive but not in the mood for staring.

Birds at pond while I have been away included Little Egret and Turnstone.

Debbie has reminded me that I resume my walks on the 27th of August at 11am and with migration starting there should be something to see - fingers crossed.


August 15th to 18th 2009 Bay of Biscay

Mini Cruise travel and boarding
Day one

It’s that time of the year folks when we like to go looking for big ‘fish’ and this time we had Colin Potter and Richard Cox for company so once we had picked them up from Coventry and Bristol we headed for Beauly Road Station in the New Forest, Hampshire. Traffic was heavy and the journey took longer than expected so we were grateful for the chance to stretch our legs wandering around the heath managing to see 3 juvenile Dartford Warbler, 4 juvenile Redstart 10 Stonechat and 2 Peregrine talon grappling over our heads before a pleasant meal in the nearby hotel. Once fed and watered we moved on to Portsmouth where once the normal formalities were completed we boarded the P&O ferry the Pride of Bilbao and departed just a few minutes late.

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay
Day two

Sea conditions were calm with a less than one meter swell as we sailed down the English Channel overnight. Dawn broke to cloud cover with good visibility and warm air as we approached the coastline of NW France with the island of Ushant in the distance. In the hour before breakfast we managed a few Gannets and 3 Harbour Porpoise.
At breakfast time we were lucky to be allocated a window table overlooking the bow and the excellent viewing conditions meant we picked up Cory’s and Manx Shearwater, 3 Storm petrel and 8 more Harbour Porpoise.
After breakfast time we settled down on deck 8 port side spending the rest of the day keeping our eyes peeled. Between 9am and 12am we had 44 Storm Petrel, single Leaches Petrel, Basking Shark and 32 Harbour Porpoise. At 12:20pm we spotted a Minke Whale breaching a mile in front of the ship and as we approached it continued to breach another 10x and went down the starboard side. Colin and I went to see if it would surface close and were treated to stunning views as it cleared the water in front of us just 200 yards from the ship. It left Colin grinning like a cheshire cat for the rest of the day as his stunning shots were soon appreciated by the holiday makers onboard. Among all this excitement we saw 19 Harbour Porpoise 3 Great Skua, 33 Storm Petrel, 5 Common Tern including 3 resting on driftwood and 2 distant large shearwaters that could have been Cory’s.
As we continued south in the northern part of the Bay of Biscay over the next five hours we added to our list a further 26 Harbor Porpoise, 2 Basking Shark, 4 Long-finned Pilot Whale and 34 Bottlenose Dolphin. Surprisingly we saw Fin Whales quiet early with the first at 15:10pm followed by three others and a distant ‘blow’ and then another two at 16:30pm and 17:10pm plus another ‘blow’ but Common Dolphins stole the show with our first 12 at 15:30pm then 6 at 17:10pm and at 18:35pm an estimated 1000 surrounded the ship and we were treated to fantastic views. We only watched the ones on the port side and our count was over 450. Sea birds in this period included 67 Storm Petrel and 34 Great Skua including a group of 7 and 11 and birds on board were 2 Willow Warbler and Wheatear and the other sighting of note was 4 Sunfish including one over 5ft.

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay
Day three

After a quiet night we were first in the queue to disembark in Bilbao, Spain in very humid conditions and low cloud that turned to rain. Unfortunately we had a 40 minute wait for a taxi and then we stupidly gave the wrong directions ending up on the hill opposite the one we wanted with a motorway in between so not the best of starts. As the rain continued we tried to retrieve the situation by exploring the area we were in and though we struggled at first we started picking up the odd species and our perseverance paid off as we found an area that despite the conditions was heaving with bird life and we were soon running around like headless chickens. In just a two hundred meter square patchwork of smallholdings, fields, hedgerows and a few trees we managed 30 species including 3 Cirl Bunting, Tawny Pipit, 2 Cetties Warbler, Nightingale, 4 Melodious Warbler, 2 Sardinian Warbler, 6 Red-backed Shrike, 12 Black Redstart, 4 Serin and 2 White Wagtail so we were happy bunnies on our way back to the dock.
The rest of the day was spent traveling north through the southern part of the Bay of Biscay with the sea condition still very calm and the cloud cover eventually breaking to bright sunshine. Only 30 minutes out we saw Baleric Shearwater followed by 3 Cory’s and 12 Bottlenose Dolphin then it went quiet till Dave shouted Cuvier’s Beaked Whale at 14:20pm when he spotted two animals underwater heading directly for the ship who swung right at the last minute and surfaced before one started breaching. Another two were seen at 15:30pm and they performed really well on the surface and then both started breaching at least 8 times.
Other sightings included 2 Fin Whale on the surface as the ship passed, 2 large Bonito Tuna boils, 35 Common Dolphin, 30 Striped Dolphin, 3 more Cory Shearwater, 6 Storm Petrel and a single Artic Skua. Also of interest was a Hummingbird Hawk-moth flying around the decks.

Mini Cruise Bay of Biscay
Day four

We surfaced after we had passed the NW French coast and though we don’t normally see much on this section of the trip we surprised ourselves by finding 5 Long-finned Pilot Whale at 10:30am and a Sooty Shearwater flew close by at 10:45am. The last two highlights were a juvenile Great-northern Diver sitting on the surface at mid-day and a Blue Shark close to the ship off the Isle of Wight. We arrived back at Portsmouth to a very humid night with plenty of moths seen as we retraced our steps back home with Dave dropping me off just after midnight.

Final count at sea was:
8 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale, 4 Cuvier's Beaked Whale, 9 Long-finned Pilot Whale, 46 Bottlenose Dolphins, 498 Common Dolphins, 34 Striped Dolphins, 88 Harbour Porpoise, 3 Basking Shark, 1 Blue Shark and 4 Ocean Sunfish.
Seabirds included 7 Cory's Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 6 Manx Shearwater, 153 Storm Petrel, 1 Leaches Petrel, 37 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 5 Common Tern, Great-northern Diver and 3 Cormorant.
Land birds included Dunlin, 2 Willow Warbler and Wheatear
Moths included Setaceous Hebrew Character, Flame Shoulder and Large Yellow Underwing which were found the first night sailing down the channel (probably already on board when we sailed) and Hummingbird Hawk-moth 3 hours out of Bilbao


Friday, 14 August 2009

August 14th 2009

Bingo - despite a chilly night the partially clear skies meant I managed 5 Meteorites burning up in the atmosphere.
Out with Dave in the afternoon with Draycote Water the first port of call where we met up with Bob and Francoise who had seen the Shag earlier and reported a second bird present so wandered off to the valve tower meeting Dave Hutton and Rich Dawkins on the way. They had just seen a Wheatear along draycote bank and a Whimbrel go over calling so managed views of the Wheatear and the 2 Shags along with female Goosander, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern and 6 Gadwall before returning the way we came. I needed to pick up my bins from Focus Optics at Corley but I have no idea if we saw anything on the way as my eyelids wouldn’t stay open. Next stop was Brandon Marsh where an early evening walk produced Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 2 Buzzards.
Both Bob Hazell and Dave Hutton have kindly sent me photos of the Shags at the pond and its very much appreciated.

Shag by Dave Hutton
Bob had a Sallow Kitten on the cafe wall as well as 4 Red Underwings round the Rangers Office where he also found a Chocolate Tip.

Shag by Bob Hazell

Thursday, 13 August 2009

August 13th 2009

I took the cycle route 41 to work Napton on the Hill managing Garden Warbler, 6 Whitethroat, Bullfinch, 4 Jay and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker along the disused railway between Draycote and Birdingbury villages, Whitethroat, Sparrowhawk 14 Stock Dove and Spotted Flycatcher between Birdingbury and the Birdingbury Bridge over the Grand Union Canal. Nearby Stockton cutting had Whitethroat, Treecreeper, Garden Warbler, Jay and 12 Long-tailed Tits. A Red kite was over Napton on the Hill mid morning before it headed off North West.
All the usual butterflies and dragonflies noted today.
Bob found a Shag at the pond on the pontoons and by late afternoon it was by the inlet. Moths he found were 6 Red Underwing and a Dingy Footman around the Rangers office and the cafe had Yellow-tail, Dingy Footman, Chinese Character and Lime Speck Pug.

Lime Speck Pug by Bob Hazell at Draycote Water today

Chinese Character by Bob Hazell this one in my trap earlier in week

Oak Hook-tip in last nights trap


August 12th 2009

Baked by Daves wife Chris and eaten by me. No news as I stayed in to accept my subjects gifts and offerings.


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

August 11th 2009

What a lovely day it turned out to be on Planet Richard.
Started off dull and overcast as I entered the valley and by early afternoon I was basking in lovely sunshine and snoozing away behind a hedge at Broadwell. After yesterday’s rain the birds were keen to play catch up and there was plenty of activity with the highlights being:-
Spotted Flycatcher: single bird seen at Sawbridge and a family party of 4 at Flecknoe
Raven: one over Wolfhamcote
Tree Sparrow: at least 5 at Nethercote
Buzzard: a lot of activity for a change with at least 8 seen including a young bird with a damaged wing feathers – probably collided with something.
Hobby: two adult birds seen with one over Flecknoe and one along the Flecknoe Rd.
Sedge Warbler; a surprise appearance of one near the bridge over the River Leam between Sawbridge and Willoughby and two at Napton Reservoir
Red-legged Partridge: party of nine
Lapwing: at least 15 over Nethercote and 40+ in fields near Flecknoe
Kingfisher: one Grandborough fields and one at Napton Reservoir.
Snipe: one at Napton reservoir
Common Tern: one at Napton Reservoir
Also seen were Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker and many Skylarks and Yellowhammers feeding in some of the recently harvested fields and one lone Swift in the morning over Willoughby.
Butterflies in the valley were:
Large, Small and Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Comma, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Small Copper

Returned via the pond with 3 adult and a first year Yellow-legged Gull in the roost, Common Tern, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Common Sandpiper, Spotted Flycatcher in biggen bay, Garden Warbler, juv Coal Tit in grays barn, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Sparrowhawk and 2 Buzzard.
Back home and once my traps had been set up then the clear night sky was just begging to be explored especially as it’s the best night to view the annual appearance of the Perseids meteor shower. This shower owes its appearance to the yearly passage of the Earth through the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle though unfortunately the presence of the Moon meant only the brightest of the meteors could be spotted. The Moon was well worth scoping – fantastic and Jupiter was showing with its four moons.


Monday, 10 August 2009

August 10th 2009

The traps were heaving this morning and it took me over an hour to clear them down and another hour to identify everything so by the time I put me washing on and had me oatabix half the morning had gone. 220 moths of 47 species with the catch dominated by 70 Large Yellow Underwing, 26 Marbled Beauty 21 Riband Wave,12 Willow Beauty and 10 Common Rustic aggs. Highlights included Chinese Character, Pale, Iron, Pebble, Swallow Prominent, Least Yellow Underwing and a few micos. Weather crap today so only bird to report was a Sparrowhawk over the garden this morning and early this evening there was one perched on the back garden fence briefly.

Gold Spot by Bob Hazell which was in Daves trap the other night.

Red Underwing at Draycote Water by Bob Hazell


Sunday, 9 August 2009

August 9th 2009

Draycote Water was hard work this morning when we walked out to the valve tower with hardly any birds calling or flying despite the sunshine and the only birds of note were the usual adult Yellow-legged Gull loafing around the fishing pontoons with a Herring Gull adult, party of 9 Sand Martin and 2 Common Sandpipers that were being kicked about by the early rush of cick-a-lists, walkers and lica wearers. The Green Sandpiper that flew over hensborough bank while chatting to Andy appeared to gain height and continued north west and considering the state of the local rivers after last weeks rain this was probably a bird looking for somewhere more suitable to feed more than an overnight arrival. Only other birds of local interest were Grey Wagtail, male Gadwall and a notable increase of Little Grebes since the beginning of the month.
Wappenbury Wood was just as quiet and as the cloud started to build up the butterflies were reluctant to perform but managed 3 Purple Hairstreak, Silver-washed Fritillary and small Skipper. The few birds noted included at least 3 Nuthatch, 24 Bullfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 4 Buzzard. Moths here were Shaded-broad bar, Vapourer and Pebble Hook-tip.


Saturday, 8 August 2009

August 8th 2009

Out looking for owls long before first light and the effort paid off with a Long-eared Owl seen drifting across the second field of the double grassy field off the Southam road at 4:20pm. Tawny Owl heard and 2 Barn Owl seen.
Moved on to Draycote Water and gave it a quick lap with moths represented by 2 Red Underwing, Dusky Sallow, Six Striped Rustic and Purple Thorn on the wall of the rangers office and Grey Pug, 3 Common Footman and 2 Riband Wave on the café wall. A migrant Greenshank was in rainbow corner, Goosander still off valve tower with Common tern off-shore, Little Ringed Plover and 3 Common Sandpiper toft shallows and Great-spotted Woodpecker over sewage farm. A few Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and Garden Warblers noted before leaving for the valley.
First hour in the valley was a struggle with very little to grab the attention until a possible distant Marsh Harrier juvenile floated behind bunkers hill but the brief view was not conclusive so that’s one that got away. My walk to Woolscott from Grandborough produced 2 juvenile Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Whitethroat and Grey Partridge.
Back home the neighbours buddleia has been hosting large numbers of butterflies in recent days and a count of 58 Painted Lady, 36 Large White, 2 Small White 3 Green-veined white, 23 Peacock, Comma and 3 Small Toirtoishell were pretty impressive while overhead its been quiet with a single Sand Martin heading south east mid day and 10 Swallows feeding early evening.
Finally I have received reports of Clouded Yellow and Hummingbird Hawk-moth in Rugby today so keep your eyes peeled.


August 7th 2009

It finally stopped raining just before dawn leaving the garden in a very sorry state but at least the umbrellas put over the moth traps gave the hardy ones who were out and about somewhere dry to hang out. Started brightening up after 10am with a small passage of House Martins and Swallows heading south while over 300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls headed south west over the garden..
Met up with Francoise, Bob and Dave for coffee at pond in the afternoon watching 3 Black Tern and 2 Common Tern and another large movement of gulls then looked for Lee’s Red Underwing seen earlier in the day and found 5 around the rangers yard along with Buff Footman, Dagger sp and 2 Single-dotted Wave.
Next port of call was Napton Reservoir and as we passed Calcutt it was disappointing to see that four of the set-a-side fields that have had regular Barn Owls in the past have gone under the plough. At Napton we had 5 young Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, pair of Common Tern feeding young and a Common Sandpiper. Very few butterflies here due to the policy of cutting grass so short but many Common Blue Damselflies amongst the shoreline vegetation as well as a few Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselfly plus 2 Black-tailed Skimmer. Also 3 Brown Hawker.
This evening there was a sudden appearance of 40 Swifts over garden for 10 minutes feeding high up then just as quickly as they appeared – gone.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

August 6th 2009

Last nights weather with broken cloud, moonlight, little wind, humid and a light shower just before dawn meant just one thing this morning to this ornithological god, get your butt to the pond a.s.a.p.
I arrived just after 7am with 5 Black Tern present out in the centre which built up to 22 birds by 9am and these were joined by 7 Common Tern while the female or immature Garganey that had also arrived overnight took umbrage to the flotilla of fishing boats pushing it about in toft bay that it soon became mobile. Another interesting sighting that took me and Bob Hazell by surprise was the arrival of 7 Snipe which is probably the highest count I have had in August for quite sometime if ever. Also seen were Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, a Hobby perched in a dead elm tree, Yellow-legged Gull adult, 8 Long-tailed Tit, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and 55 Mute Swan. Only one Swift seen as the majority seem to have departed yesterday. The rest will trickle through till early September.
This morning’s bright sunshine brought out the butterflies in huge numbers with well over a thousand counted from the 5 areas checked with the country park, sailing graveyard and the area at the end of toft bank in toft bay the most productive. Moths found on the café wall included Barred Umber, Riband Wave and a Dagger sp while Bob found a Dusky Sallow.
Heavy rain again since 2pm so itching to get back out tonight but it never stopped and unfortunatley Dave goes rusty if he gets wet.


August 6th 2009 Moths

Iron Prominent

Straw Underwing

Silver Y

Ruby Tiger

Purple Thorn

Magpie Moth


All taken by Bob Hazell who has been helping me photograph some of the moths I have been catching over the last few days. Puts my efforts to shame. Well done mate and I am sure my readers will appreciate your efforts.


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

August 5th 2009

Last night was humid with heavy rain which meant at first light I was unable to check my traps so just covered them up to prevent the local Blackbirds from helping themselves and went back to bed.
I surfaced again mid-morning to the delightful sight of a male Redstart in the garden for the second year in a row but this individual was very elusive due to the weather and briefly showed twice. Early afternoon when the rain finally stopped a large flock of small birds went through the garden and included 19 Long-tailed, 6 Great, 12 Blue and 4 Coal Tit plus 2 Goldcrest and a Whitethroat. Nearly all were juveniles.
Early evening visit to the pond produced a Sanderling in biggen bay, 3 Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Goosander, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and 2 Green Woodpecker. The gull roost was already forming and contained juv Med Gull and 5 Yellow-legged Gulls.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

August 4th 2009

The grotty conditions overnight brought down this young Whinchat which was found by Mark Phillips and I on toft bank as we walked to toft shallows, Draycote Water this morning. Unfortunately it was being kicked about by joggers and walkers but Bob managed this great shot before it flew towards the perimeter hedge and not seen again.

Whinchat by Bob Hazell
While we were enjoying this bird 14 Common Tern arrived as another shower came in but they continued on there way heading east followed by 3 Little Ringed Plover.
Back at the visitors centre there were 2 more Little Ringed Plover by the sailing pontoon while earlier on our arrival we had a juv Ringed Plover resting on farborough bank.

Also seen were at least 6 Willow Warblers, Mistle Thrush and Common Sandpiper in toft shallows, 3 Grey and one Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank and plenty of Swifts, Sand Martins and Swallows overhead.
My garden trap had these


Sallow Kitten
I also went out with Mark, Mason and Phillip mothing last night at Draycote Meadows and managed quiet a few species in the short time we were doing it. Photos later.


Sunday, 2 August 2009

August 2nd 2009

I spent the day with Dave looking for Damselfly and Dragonflies at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire managing nine species including Emerald Damselfly which was new for Dave. Unfortunately the blustery conditions meant my kodak fiddling efforts were not compatible to my impatient nature so the results were petty poor. In the more sheltered areas there were plenty of butterflies species around with 11 recorded with Peacocks in very good numbers plus Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Common Tern and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Earlier in the day we had walked the Earith Drain and there were hundreds of Common Blue and Painted Ladies plus Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk.
Back home the garden was sheltered and sunny so enjoyed 9 Painted Ladies, 15 Swallow’s all heading south.

Red Admiral Wicken Fen

Common Darter, Wicken Fen

I know what this but do you?


Saturday, 1 August 2009

August 1st 2009

The overnight rain arrived earlier and more prolonged than forecasted but that did stop me having a ball with me moths managing 120 of 46 species. All thanks to every candle I own burning brightly.

Hornet - this beasty nearly had me when emptying the traps

After a couple of hours sleep and before the next rain front arrived I was passing Toft down the Southam Rd, Dunchurch at the delightful hour of 04:40hrs when a Tawny Owl was spotted perched and just further on a Barn Owl was hunting around Bunkers Hill.
Continued on to pond and though damp managed a good collection of species with the best being a Black Tern resting on a buoy off hensborough bank and 8 Yellow-legged Gull and juv Med Gull seen before they left the roost. Other species seen were Goosander off inlet, 3 Shelduck out in centre and there was Oystercatcher, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin dotted around the reservoir and the supporting cast included 10 Swift, 30 Sand Martin, Gadwall, Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Green Woodpecker, Teal, Gadwall and Whitethroat. The next front arrived so called it a day and drenched time I got home.
Entertained by Mark and Mason who came round for a chat this afternoon otherwise the rain ruined the rest of the day.