Saturday, 31 October 2009

October 31st 2009

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

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


Friday, 30 October 2009

October 30th 2009

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

Black Redstart by Bob Hazell

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

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

Red Green Carpet


Thursday, 29 October 2009

October 29th 2009

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

My next walk is November 26th at 11am.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

October 28th 2009

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


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

October 27th 2009

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


Monday, 26 October 2009

October 26th 2009

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


Sunday, 25 October 2009

October 25th 2009

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


October 24th 2009

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


Friday, 23 October 2009

October 22nd 2009

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


Thursday, 22 October 2009

October 22nd 2009

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


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

October 21st 2009

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

Feathered Thorn

Dark Chestnut


Green-brindled Crescent - a bright individual


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

October 20th 2009

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


Monday, 19 October 2009

October 19th 2009

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


October 18th 2009

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


Saturday, 17 October 2009

October 17th 2009

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

2 Comma seen


October 16th 2009

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

Juniper Carpet

Spruce carpet

Yellow-lined Quaker


Thursday, 15 October 2009

October 15th 2009

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


October 14th 2009

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

Barred Sallow in my garden trap by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

October 13th 2009

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

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

Red-line Quaker by Bob Hazell

Green-brindled Crescent by Bob Hazell


Monday, 12 October 2009

October 12th 2009

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


October 11th 2009

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

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


Saturday, 10 October 2009

October 10th 2009

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

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


Friday, 9 October 2009

October 9th 2009

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


Thursday, 8 October 2009

October 8th 2009

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

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

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

Yellow-legged gull by Dave Hutton


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

October 7th 2009

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

Light Emerald

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


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

October 6th 2009

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


Monday, 5 October 2009

October 5th 2009

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

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

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


Sunday, 4 October 2009

October 4th 2009

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


Saturday, 3 October 2009

October 3rd 2009

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

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


Friday, 2 October 2009

October 2nd 2009

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

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


Thursday, 1 October 2009

October 1st 2009

It has been remarkable mild over the last two nights with a min temp of 13c in the garden resulting in some decent catches with first of the autumn Green-brindled Crescent and Feathered Thorn, plus up to 6 Blair’s Shouldered-knot and 14 Common Marbled Carpet while my 3rd, 4th & 5th Merveille du Jour of the year will not please most of my trapping friends who are still waiting for one this year. Oops
By the time I got to the pond there was a north north west wind with broken cloud so I was hoping that this might encourage a bit of migration but was not expecting Bob Hazel to find a Scaup sp in grays barn. As I had a guided walk to complete he and Dave Hutton stayed with the bird for over four hours and were confidant that it was a male Lesser Scaup. I had seen the bird earlier but from a distance so spent an hour with the bird this afternoon and apart from not seeing the wing bar it ticked all the boxes for me. I originally thought it thought it was a first winter but other authorities think its an eclipse male. My second record for the pond and third for the county. A just reward for the effort Bob puts in to the place.
Earlier the walk was successful with Jack and Liz enjoying good views of Meadow Pipit, Teal and Dunlin and while watching three Buzzard soaring over toft bay they were joined by a Raven.
Other birds seen today were three groups of Swallow heading south (14, 6 & 3), 8 House Martin over toft bay briefly and 4 over Thurlaston village, Rock Pipit in toft bay, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Hobby over country park, Wheatear juv briefly on farborough bank, Chiffchaff in toft shallows and Jay.

Lesser Scaup by Bob Hazel

Lesser Scaup by Dave Hutton

Both Dave and Bob did well to get these images as the bird is not close so if your coming you need a massive lens and going on to the shore line wont help - it just swims away.

On the way home I managed a late Spotted Flycatcher at Lions Farm, Rugby Rd and tonight over 3000 gulls have flown over the house on there way to the pond.