Thursday, 31 December 2009

December 31st 2009

First port of call this morning was Calcutt with the 2 Barn Owl showing then on to Napton Reservoir where there was another Barn Owl plus Water Rail, Cetties Warbler and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Back home at mid-day 7 Siskin flew over the garden but no sign of Brambling then it was out with Mark but two heavy sleet showers put paid to our attempt at the roost at Draycote Water and all we managed was one Great-northern Diver, distant male Smew, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 11 Goosander. I started the year with Barn Owl so it was fitting that the last bird of the year was Barn Owl down the Southam Road hunting just before dusk.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

December 30th 2009

Despite a bitterly cold north easterly, 80% of wash still frozen and drizzle towards the end of the day Dave, Colin and I enjoyed a winters day birding in Cambridgeshire trawling the area for owls and swans visiting both the Welney Wetland Trust and the Nene Wash at Endernell.
Red Kite: I was a sleep when one flew over the A605 in Northamptonshire
Buzzard: three on the Nene Washes was unusual
Marsh Harrier: immature over our heads at Welney and at least two on the Nene Washes
Hen Harrier: ringtail on the Nene Washes late afternoon.
Peregrine: a large female perched in the middle of the Nene Wash giving excellent views.
Barn Owl: one at 10am along the access road to Welney and one hunting at dusk on the Nene wash
Whooper Swan: 700 near Poplar Farm, Nene Wash, 2000 on sugar beet field near Lakeside while Welney had 200 plus on site or in nearby fields. Many family parties noted
Bewick’s Swan: small family groups seen as we neared Welney
Egyptian Goose: 2 at Welney
Common Crane: 3 were reported at Nene on the 23rd but we could not find them and had the frustration of hearing one calling as it flew over at dusk but we could not see it.
Water Pipit: 2 on Nene Wash.
Red-legged Partridge: 20 in 2 groups seen between March and Welney.
Stonechat: male on Nene Wash
Ruff: 5 seen from the café at Welney
Golden Plover: 15 over Welney
Linnet: 300 seen from the café at Welney
Welney despite the frozen conditions and some of the footpaths flooded had thousands of Wigeon with smaller numbers of Pochard, Mallard, Teal, and Pintail while Nene Wash being shallower had hardly any open water and dull conditions made viewing difficult.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

December 29th 2009

Chris accompanied by Neville and Graham gave me a lift to the pond for my monthly walk and with time to kill we walked out to farborough spit managing the male Smew before it disappeared and meeting up with the Hall brothers who put us on to 2 Ruddy Duck. The many Lapwing and Starling below farborough spit were put up by a Peregrine which spent well over 5 minutes patrolling the sky over toft bay before drifting off north. After meeting up with others for a walk in a bitterly cold easterly wind to the valve tower we saw one female Common Scoter distantly, just one Great-northern Diver which stayed on the surface for long periods giving excellent scope views and the male Smew was relocated back at the valve tower. Also around were 10 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, 5 Shoveler, 2 Green Woodpecker, Buzzard, 5 Goosander and a Muntjac
We moved on in the afternoon seeing 15 Golden Plover and 3 Buzzard on Lawford Heath but we failed to find any Bitterns or Barn Owls even though we stayed till dark. Did see 2 Buzzard, 2 Kingfisher and another Muntjac.
Excellent day lads and thanks for the laughs.


Sunday, 27 December 2009

December 27th 2009

A magical day on my planet
Started the day trawling the valley with Dave looking for owls in the valley concentrating on the Hill and Flecknoe Road but we had no luck so just before first light settled down to a coffee watching the Southam Rd field. We did not have to wait long before the Barn owl appeared followed by a Long-eared Owl that flew across the Southam Road from the direction of Draycote Water. As the light improved a post roost of gulls started gathering in the fields on the opposite side of road and we managed an adult Yellow-legged Gull before two dogs appeared from the nearby farm and flushed them. As they flew off we picked out an adult Glaucous Gull as it passed us.
Did not appear to be any new arrivals at the pond as we walked too rainbow corner managing the 3 female Common Scoter, 2 Great-northern Diver, 70+ Pochard while the male Smew had moved back to the eastern side of reservoir and was near the visitors centre.
After a turkey free breakfast we arrived at Brandon Marsh just in time to get brief but poor views of a Bittern flying over goose pool but we need not have been down hearted as we had brilliant close views 15 minutes later as one flew towards the carlton hide before veering off and out of sight. It was reported showing well on the west marsh but no sign of it by the time we arrived but in the area we had 40+ Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and 20 Long-tailed Tit. Also seen around the reserve were Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Snipe and another Treecreeper.
Stopped off at Lawford Heath with only a few birds around the farm but the adjacent fields held 70 Golden Plover, 300 Starling and hundreds of distant gulls and corvids. Back at Dave’s and he had Light Brown Apple Moth and Dark Chestnut in his trap.

Just a reminder that I have a walk on Tuesday 11am and the weather is not promising but I will still be there unless the snow plough on me bike can’t cope.


December 26th 2009

After a stunning meal at my sisters yesterday I had a desperate need of some exercise before going Dave’s so by first light I was watching both Barn Owl and Woodcock from rainbow corner Draycote Water. The owl was quartering rough hill before heading towards Birdingbury village while the timberdick flew over and appeared to land in “the lump” below draycote bank
The roost was slow to leave so managed 3 adult Yellow-legged Gull and a good count of 278 Greater Black-backed Gull before they dispersed while the 3 female Common Scoter, 2 Great-northern Diver and male Smew were all off draycote bank. At least 34 Goosander counted though some left to feed elsewhere and other sightings included 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Green Woodpecker, 7 Lesser Redpoll, 12 Snipe, 15 Siskin, Kingfisher. Best views go to a Peregrine perched on the valve tower.
No sign of the Brambling in my garden late morning but Redwing, Coal Tit and over wintering male Blackcap appeared while the overnight mild temperatures produced a Winter Moth in my trap.
Rest of day spent trying to stop myself from starving to death and playing the dreaded Wii getting my butt kicked at Tennis, Golf, Archery, and Boxing.


Friday, 25 December 2009

December 25th 2009

Barn Owl Southam Rd Dunchurch 07:00
Female Brambling garden 10:00
rest of day eating for England


Thursday, 24 December 2009

December 24th 2009

Another cold day on the patch but the thaw is on its way. There was no sign of the Great White Egret at Wormleighton Reservoir which is supposed to be still present, Jack Snipe in the overflow culvert and a Woodcock in the wood at the back while the hedgerow opposite the house held 5 Tree Sparrow. Also around were 4 Reed Bunting 2 Buzzard, 2 Coal Tit and Sparrowhawk.
On the way to the pond called in at Napton Reservoir with Water Rail, Green Woodpecker and Cetties Warbler seen and near Calcutt the Barn Owl was seen hunting at mid-day.
Draycote Water had all its present guests with 2 Great-northern Diver, 3 female Common Scoter, male Smew from draycote bank while other birds present included 19 Goosander, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail, female Pintail, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Buzzard, 76 Golden Plover, 2 Coal Tit and Willow Tit.

They say Christmas is just like another day at the office. You do all the work and the fat guy in the suit takes the credit.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

December 22nd 2009

A foggy morning was slow to clear and it felt extremely cold doing the roost Draycote Water this evening with 5 adult and a second winter Yellow-egged Gull, first winter Med Gull and a first winter Iceland Gull between the valve tower and steps arriving at 15:40.
Also present were 2 female Common Scoter off inlet, 2 Great-northern Diver out in and draycote bank, male Smew off draycote bank heading towards the valve tower, female Pintail, 23 Goosander, 6 female Shoveler, 27 Goldeneye, 34 Gadwall, Kingfisher, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 16 Siskin, 2 Grey Wagtail, 140 Golden Plover over heading west and 44 Cormorant.


Sunday, 20 December 2009

December 20th 2009

Another stunning winters morning birding with a light overnight snow shower clearing to blue skies bringing the tempature down to a crispy -5c and Dave managed to pick up a Long-eared Owl just before dawn down the Southam Road but no sign of any Barn Owls.
We then moved on to the Hill Rd and explored the footpaths to Dunchurch and Woolscott in time to appreciate a Short-eared Owl as is went over heading towards Willoughby and the area was full of pigeons and corvid as they left there roost including 3 Ravens while at least 500 Linnets were feeding on seed heads. On the way back 30 Golden Plover flew in and 4 Buzzard seen.
Draycote Water was hard work with 2 Great-northern Diver, 33 Gadwall, 2 female Common Scoter and 12 Goosander seen on our walk to Rainbow Corner then we moved on to Rookery Hall Farm, Lawford Heath where an extensive search found 5 Corn Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer and one Tree Sparrow amongst the 100+ Chaffinch. The biggest surprise was the Jack Snipe that flew off from the back of the farm after being flushed by a cat and there were at least 100 Golden Plover between the old barn and the tip plus 3 Buzzard and a few winter thrushes.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

December 19th 2009

With the temperature down to -6.8c at first light I thought Colin had lost the plot when he turned in to Livingston Avenue, Long Lawford this morning so we could search the brook between the A428 and the railway line bordered both sides by housing. Bugger me with a dodo feather the Great White Egret was just yards away before it flew over the A428 to rest in a stubble field by the junction with Lawford Heath Lane before flying off towards Lawford Heath and out of view. We moved on to Clayhill Lane in case any birders were around to give them a heads up but not a soul seen.
We then had a look at Lawford Heath managing 3 Corn Bunting by the cow pens of Rookery Hall Farm and 300 Lapwing in a field off Ling Lane but nothing of note amongst the gulls on the tip before arriving at Draycote Water with the sun encouraging the temperature up to a balmy -4.4c.
This cold spell has brought in a few more Teal, a sleeping party of 8 Shoveler off rainbow and Goosander increased to 11 males and 8 females. The male Smew spent most of the morning off farborough bank till flushed by a rescue boat and while searching for the Great-northern Diver I found a Slavonian Grebe off draycote bank. Also seen were 6 Meadow Pipit, 300 Canada Geese and 2 Grey Wagtail.
The catering unit was open so we thawed out under the influence of a bacon and egg butty and I was home in time to see 5 Fieldfare in the garden before going back again.
The second Great White Egret of the day was in a the tall trees behind Wormleighton Reservoir on arrival it then flew down to rest in adjacent field and also in the area were 50 Fieldfare, 60 Redwing, Lesser Redpoll, Raven, Kingfisher, 6 Goosander female, 5 Snipe Treecreeper, Willow Tit, Nuthatch and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker while on the way back to the car 2 Corn Bunting and 16 Tree Sparrow were in the hedgerow of the disused railway line.
By the time we reached Calcutt 2 Barn Owls were already out hunting at 15:45pm and a Little Owl was on a farm shed roof just before the turning to Broadwell.
Apparently my Slavonian Grebe has been re-identified as a Black-necked Grebe by some observers so either they were both present or I need a new hobby – who cares – it’s never over till the fat duck sings.


Friday, 18 December 2009

December 18th 2009

Friday again so it was out with Dave this afternoon and we had at least two Great-northern Divers together in rainbow corner Draycote Water while there may another bird present but we never saw all three on the surface at the same time. The male Smew is also present but very mobile and last seen off farborough spit. Plenty of gulls coming in to the roost early with at least 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls present and the only other bird of note were 6 male and one female Goosander and 70 Redwing over. Because of the freezing weather and Dave dressed in his civvies we moved on to the valley for warmth but only managed a Fox and 2 Hares. Earlier in the morning while it was snowing hard I had a Heron and 200 Redwing going over the garden south.


Thursday, 17 December 2009

December 17th 2009

The last 48 hours on planet Richard has been dull, damp and depressing so the first sign of a break in the cloud cover this morning had me out with Bob for a walk around Draycote Water joined by Kevin and Francoise. The combination of a brisk north easterly wind and near freezing conditions made the wind chill uncomfortable on ones delicate skin but it did not stop us from relocating the male Smew that arrived on Sunday near the valve tower and distant but more prolonged views of the mobile Great-northern Diver out in the centre. Also seen were the 2 long staying female Common Scoter, male Blackcap with 15 Bullfinch by the culvert, 4 female & 2 male Goosander near valve tower, 7 Graylag (feral), 152 Teal, 27 Pochard, 32 Wigeon, 25 Gadwall, Buzzard, 2 Green Woodpecker, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Muntjac near the sewage farm.
With no chance of anything hot at the visitors centre Bob, Kevin and I moved on to Long Lawford at 1pm letting the car heater thaw us out and after a short wait the Great White Egret flew in from the direction of the sewage farm but did not settle for long and disappeared the way it came. Kevin continued searching while Bob and I visited JJs for brew then joined Kevin after he had relocated the egret between sewage farm and the mill. The bird was in a ditch feeding and at times virtually impossible to see before it walked out in to the adjacent field to preen and rest while the mother of all snow storms descended briefly on us.

Great White Egret - the top 3 by Kevin Grewcock and the bottom one by Bob Hazell

If your thinking of visiting pond you better check - last year they closed the place because of snow and ice in car park and its going to get much colder for the weekend though its debatable how much snow we will get.


Monday, 14 December 2009

December 14th 2009

Finally got to grips with the Great White Egret a mile west of Long Lawford when it flew down the River Avon from the direction of Church Lawford. Well worth the soaking. That’s two GWEs in the county – magic – now all they have to do is survive the big freeze and hang around till the New Year.

Great White Egret taken by the Bumbling Bears yesterday in much better conditions than today.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

December 13th 2009

Out with Steve and Dave this morning looking for owls down the Southam Road but failed miserably to see or hear any so moved on to Wormleighton Reservoir where we had good views of the Great White Egret perched in trees on the north side, excellent numbers of Goosander (10m & 9f) for this location, Buzzard, 3 Kingfisher and 2 Roe Deer.

Great White Egret Wormleighton Reservor by Steve Valentine

Brandon Marsh was quiet with only 4 Snipe and 2 Goldeneye seen on the reserve and despite extensive searching failed to see the male Brambling by the visitors centre feeders having to make do with good numbers of Great Tit and Blue Tit along with single Coal Tit and Nuthatch.
The Long Lawford Great White Egret was seen yesterday by John’s uncle and turned up again this morning but it gone walk about by the time Dave and I arrived early afternoon.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

December 12th 2009

Excellent day weather wise and my group enjoyed getting to grips with the 2 female Common Scoter and the Great-northern Diver from rainbow corner this morning despite being mobile. Earlier when I arrived via the Half Way Lane entrance there were 7 Lesser Redpolls in toft shallows, Yellow-legged Gull adult flying around toft bay but I couldn’t locate the Green-winged Teal.
Other sightings on the group walk towards the inlet were 3 male and one female Goosander and a Grey Wagtail on the outlet.
After lunch I joined Steve Valentine on another search for the teal in toft bay but they were jittery and well spread out so came up zilch again, adult Caspian Gull in the pre-roost and one Buzzard over toft bank.


Friday, 11 December 2009

December 11th 2009

Today’s freezing fog was slow to burn off for our Friday coffee and cake session this afternoon so we visited Brandon Marsh instead of the pond and it paid off with a Bittern seen flying over Newlands at 15:20pm. Unfortunately we were in the wrong place for a prolonged view but even a peep is better than nothing. Other sightings included 60+ Lesser Redpoll, 10 Siskin, Kingfisher, male Goldeneye, 2 Snipe and back in the car park a female Blackcap.
We gave the Avon valley the once over on the way home for the Great White but no obvious sign though we did manage to find the Mute Swan flock which had gone walk about for the last few weeks in a field by the side of the A425 near The Grange between Bretford and Church Lawford on the Lawford Heath side. Hard to count from a moving car but estimated around the 30 mark.
Wrap up warm tomorrow and even if visibility is down to zero I will still be at the pond hoping it will lift.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

December 10th 2009

I managed a single Barn Owl and Woodcock down the Southam Rd this morning with the fields opposite holding a first winter Caspian Gull in the post roost gathering before they dispersed for the day. Also in area were 100 Fieldfare, 300 Redwing, 17 Pheasant, 1000+ Wood Pigeon, 140 Stock Dove and a very large mobile finch flock.
Draycote Water was a lot brighter than of late with a light westerly wind and the Great-northern Diver was near B buoy accompanied by 2 female Common Scoter and the male Green-winged Teal was mobile due to disturbance by hedge slashers and wombats walking close to the shoreline. The highlight of the morning was a Red Kite over toft bay heading north. On a more local front some duck species have increased with Teal 103, Gadwall 29 and Goldeneye 32 but Wigeon numbers are still poor.
Also seen were 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 150 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare, 3 female & one male Goosander, adult Yellow-legged Gull, Chiffchaff, female Blackcap both in country park, 15 Bullfinch and a Curlew over west.
Back home I have loaded the garden with bird food ready for the cold front that’s due to arrive so I expect the 3 December Moths at the pond today and the Mottled Umber and Winter Moth in my garden trap last night will be some of the last I may see for awhile.
It’s forecasted to be foggy tomorrow but hopefully the visibility on Saturday will be Ok for my walk starting at 10:30am. Target species will be the Common Scoter and Diver if they are still around. The outside catering unit should be open for coffee, tea etc but at the moment it no longer operates in mid week and there are no plans to open the café in the visitors centre till the proposed development of the visitors centre and surrounding area is completed, 2000 and what ever.
Finally the Swift / Avon Valley Great White Egrets is still giving me the run around having been seen last weekend at Long Lawford and on Tuesday it was reported flying over Newbold on Avon going up stream. Wormleighton bird seen today.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December 8th 2009

Two Barn Owl and a Raven down the Southam Rd at dawn before moving on to Hill Rd where there were Buzzard, 15 Yellow Hammer and 8 Skylark along with a few Redwing and Fieldfare. Next area I searched was Grandborough Fields Farm with another Raven and a distant Stonechat hopefully returning to winter for its 3rd year. Nothing of interest along the Flecknoe Rd or Calcutt but a stunning Cettie’s Warbler decided to give very prolonged views at Napton Reservoir. Also seen here were Green Sandpiper again and Kingfisher. Returning along the A426 there were a few Lesser Redpoll near Kites Hardwick
Draycote Water was dull and quiet so decided to stay for the roost managing the adult Caspian Gull and 4 adult and 2 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls. Also seen were Green-winged Teal, 32 Goldeneye, 19 Gadwall, 7 male and 2 female Goosander and Kingfisher.
Just made it home in time to put me glad rags on then it was out with JJ and Helen for a christmas meal.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

December 6th 2009

Weather this morning was fowl with strong winds and heavy rain and after a few attempts to search for owls soon realised we were wasting our time so we scuttled off for breakfast till it stop just before 9am.
A quick look at the pond showed very little change except for the water level rising and only birds noted were the female Common Scoter in rainbow corner, 5 male and one female Goosander off Draycote Bank and the male Green-winged Teal in toft bay.
Next stop was Brandon Marsh where we met up with Colin and Sara for a walk to the west marsh but no sign of any Bitterns and as we continued on to the Carlton Hide we had at least 30 Lesser Redpoll and 10 Siskin. Only 8 Snipe seen on east marsh so we went looking for the reported large redpoll flock and found it by the Wright Hide, at least 70 birds including 4 Siskin.
Kingfisher on the River Avon at Wolston and Dave had a male Blackcap in his garden this afternoon.


December 5th 2009

Early afternoon visit to the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire for a taste of winter birding with a Bittern on Eldernell Pit showing all too briefly as it crossed the pit and there were at least 100 Fieldfare, 200 Redwing and 15 Siskin in the surrounding hedgerows and a Marsh Harrier hunting near Lord Holts Wood. On returning to the car park for another layer we then walked out along the Nene Way footpath heading east with Water Pipit, Kingfisher and Stonechat seen on the edge of Morston Leam that runs parallel with the footpath.
Continuous scanning of the March Farmers area of the wash produced ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 Marsh Harrier and 3 Short-eared Owl with a Barn Owl to finish off and another Barn Owl was seen near the Barnwell Country Park Oundle as we headed for a meal just outside the village.


Friday, 4 December 2009

December 4th 2009

A bright morning with ground frost so nipped down Southam road to watch the Barn Owls hunting just before dawn before returning home for some domestics.
Back out in the afternoon with Dave for our coffee and cake session at the pond but the outside catering unit was closed again so after a quick walk to farborough spit we went else where then checked on Lawford Heath.
The pond had 2 Shelduck, 7 Goosander, 30 Wigeon and 14 Gadwall but no sign of the Great-northern Diver and made no attempt for the Green-winged Teal. Lawford Heath was very quiet with just a Buzzard worth noting.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

December 3rd 2009

After a mild night which resulted in both Winter and Light Brown Apple Moth in the garden trap it’s been a grotty with rain in the morning eventually lifting. Sparrowhawk and Golden Plover over garden with 2 Coal Tit and 3 Goldfinch on the feeders. A walk around Cock Robin Plantation this afternoon produced Treecreeper and Willow Tit while 8 Bullfinches were in Sainsbury's car park


December 2nd 2009

After a very damp grey misty morning I decided to work the Avon Valley between Long Lawford and Brandon village in the afternoon looking for the Swift Valley Great White Egret that was seen over the weekend. It’s not the easiest of area’s to work as you are unable to get close to the River Avon as one would like and the viewing from the road or footpaths is limited. The Little Egret at Clayhill Lane, Long Lawford was half hidden giving poor views as it fed in a stream but no sign of the Great White. I chatted to some non birding dog walkers who had a seen large white bird fly down stream on Monday near Kings Newham so sounds as if it’s still around. A Kingfisher at Bretford and Kings Newham, 30 Wigeon near Kings Newham, 22 Golden Plover over Church lawford, Goosander female near Bretford and plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in the area. Ended the visit at Brandon Marsh where 2 Bittern on west marsh were well hidden in the reed bed and as I was leaving a Barn Owl hunted the sheep field towards the golf course end.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

December 1st 2009

With clear sky’s and little wind overnight Grandborough valley was down to -3c with a heavy ground frost and I froze me bits off waiting for any owls to appear in the fields between Bunkers Hill and Southam Road eventually rewarded with 2 Barn Owl and a Short-eared Owl while both Little and Tawny Owl were heard. Two Ravens were seen and heard as they flew towards the pond.
Before visiting the pond I worked the Hill and Flecknoe Road loop with 12 Golden Plover and a large tit flock at Gymswood consisting of at least 12 Great, 23 Blue 22 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Goldcrest along the Hill Rd, 5 Mistle Thrush in Grandborough Village and 2 Buzzard, Corn Bunting, Little Owl and Grey Partridge along the Flecknoe Road plus well over 500 Redwing and Fieldfare in the area.
Arriving at Draycote Water we have had two new arrivals with a Red-breasted Merganser female between lin croft point and farborough spit and a female Common Scoter off the inlet. The Great-northern Diver was still present and despite the very calm waters it still remains mobile and elusive while the Green-winged Teal was commuting between grays barn and toft bay. Plenty of other birds around topped by a male Merlin hunting Fieldfare and Redwing in the fields behind farborough spit and a female Brambling with the Chaffinch flock in toft shallows. Also seen were 16 Gadwall, 25 Wigeon, 2 female Goosander, 50+ Teal, 39 Pochard, 22 Goldeneye, 400 Redwing, 100 Fieldfare, 200+ Lapwing, 7 Siskin, 2 Snipe, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail.
A Severn Trent notice in the visitors centre states the reservoir is at 69% capacity due to limited amount of water it can draw due to low rainfall this autumn. If we have a dry winter it could mean more habitat for waders and even the islands (last seen in the early 90s) may appear in the spring but on the down side some birds seem further away than ever looking for deeper water.
This afternoon the cold spell brought in Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch to may garden which are both uncommon visitors for me.