Friday, 31 December 2010

December 31st 2010

Last throw of the dice for patch year ticks – zilch but though it was dreary weather wise we had a cracking visit.

Dave and I walked out to the valve tower at Draycote Water which was foggy with no open water until we reached the inlet where the pumps were on full blast clearing a channel for some of the duck present to use before throttling back to a trickle. The fog became mist and visibility improved showing most of the open water is between valve tower and dunns bay though there is a bit off farborough spit and a small pool out in the centre.Sightings included
Goosander 42 female & 28 male valve tower
Kingfisher stream below draycote bank
Lesser Redpoll unknown number behind inlet
Brambling female with 30 Chaffinch on outlet
Raven at least 2 present
Dunlin one on ice off inlet
Curlew 2 circling reservoir and calling before flying towards the grandborough valley
Bar-tailed Godwit circling with Curlew and following them
Also seen were Shoveler 8, Pochard 20, Gadwall 10, Green Woodpecker, Great-crested Grebe 176 and Little Grebe 6.
Met up with Steve Batt who had the male Smew and Barnacle Geese off farborough spit plus some Siskin and 2 Coal Tit.


Thursday, 30 December 2010

December 30th 2010

Dave’s not been a hundred percent (man flu) and I’ve been Billy no mates for a couple of days so despite the continuing fog we decided to go out this morning hoping it would improve, not a chance.
We did manage to see Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Little Owl while trawling around in the gloom and our walk to toft shallows Draycote Water showed only a small stretch of open water with a few duck present with a few more resting on the ice. Total count was 16 Pochard, 6 Goldeneye, male & female Shoveler, male Pintail, 120 Wigeon and 4 Barnacle Geese though these are probably of plastic origin.
Chris rang when Dave dropped me off home mid-morning so we arranged to have lunch at Brandon Marsh and see what the place could offer, only 70 Siskin, Jay and Nuthatch so took a risk and tried Draycote Water from the village end and surprisingly the fog had lifted slightly.
It certainly confirmed that 80% of reservoir is frozen though if the breeze continues it should break the ice up before New Years Day. Counts off draycote bank included 24 Goosander, 14 Shoveler, male Smew, 20 Pochard, 200 Wigeon and 12 Gadwall while Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost that was starting to build up.
Dave had a good moth catch last night with Chestnut, Satellite, 2 Winter Moth, Dark Chestnut and Scarce Umber.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

December 29th 2010

Weather wise it’s been very foggy and drab day spent at home apart from a walk to the shops when 10 Siskin flew over while the excessive feeding over the last few days in the garden paid off with a Yellowhammer male along with my regular Brambling.
The fog is due to the rapid rise in temperatures over the last 36 hours which means my moth trap is back doing what it catches best – moths. Amazing how quickly they react to mild temperatures and the 2 in my trap tonight are Winter Moths.

Winter Moth


Monday, 27 December 2010

December 27th 2010

Took a leaf out of JJs book and though the rivers in my neck of the wood are more like glorified streams it paid off with Jack Snipe and 7 Snipe found searching various stretches of the River Leam between Thurlaston Bridge and Beck Hill in the Grandborough valley plus a Woodcock feeding out in the open.
Plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in the hedgerows and 4 Waxwing on apples in the orchard in the hamlet of Toft.

Those close to me will be aware of my mothers long illness which sadly she succumbed too this afternoon – my thanks and appreciation go to the staff at Overslade House, Rugby who gave her the dignity and care she deserved.


Sunday, 26 December 2010

December 26th 2010

Took a break from visiting Overslade House and tried to catch up with some local birding with Dave looking for owls but the freezing fog and -12c put paid to that idea with only a Little Owl heard around Draycote Village.
Despite the poor visibility and the pond being officially closed we walked along cycle route 41 for some fresher air and it looks as if the place is completely frozen over. We could see two small stretches of open water with a few duck and coot on though there were over 60 Goosander flying around and a Bewick’s Swan calling but not seen. Also Raven over.
Luckily Lawford Heath was bathed in sunshine but as we arrived John Judge rang to say he had found a Bittern on his dog walking patch a couple of miles away and kindly agreed to stay with the bird while we raced over. The bird was 50 yards up stream from the footbridge from Lea Crescent, Newbold sitting among some vegetation in the middle of the river and showing well, a stunning find so well done John. Also Kingfisher seen while earlier John also had another new dog walking tick in the form of a Water Rail down stream from the bridge.

River Avon Newbold

Bittern digiscoped by John Judge

Once satisfied with our views we cleared off and searched the Church Lawford to Bilton area finding Little Owl, 12 Tree Sparrow, 14 Corn Bunting, 20+ Yellowhammer and 6 Buzzard but the best was 23 Pink-footed Geese Dave found flying low over Lawford Heath heading north west.
Early afternoon my garden feeders were heaving with female Brambling, 2 Redwing, Song Thrush, 3 Rook, 18 Chaffinch, Common Gull and 2 Coal Tit before I popped over to see the Waxwings in Hillmorton Rugby where at least 18 were feeding in Moat Farm Drive.
Steve Batt found a Waxwing near me in Alwyn Road today and had brief one in Lime Tree Avenue Christmas Eve.

Waxwing Alwyn Road Rugby by Steve Batt


December 25th 2010

Overslade House had Nuthatch and 2 Mistle Thrush in the morning and while walking to Dave’s for dinner a Woodcock flew low over Bawnmore Rd at 1:30pm.


Friday, 24 December 2010

December 24th 2010

In Rugby there were 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk and 12 Long-tailed Tits in the grounds of Overslade House while my garden this afternoon recorded male Brambling with the finch flock and 12 unidentified geese flying over west.
My little sister (she who must be adored) has had Waxwing recently along with Great-spotted Woodpecker in her garden in Lower Hillmorton while in Hillmorton the Waxwings are still present in Fenwick Drive.
Mark Phillips had a Peregrine near Bretford.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

December 23rd 2010

Draycote Water is still closed and will be for sometime

I had a flock of Waxwings a couple of times around the grounds of Overslade House, Rugby along with Raven and Buzzard and lots more Fieldfare and Redwing being recorded in Rugby gardens today.

JJ had a Med Gull hanging around his garden in Long Lawford most of the day and kindly sent me some shots.

Med Gull by John Judge


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

December 22nd 2010

Birding has had to take a back seat but I needed a break this afternoon so despite 6 inches of snow falling this morning I ventured out to clear my head.
Impossible to cycle so walked to Draycote Water which was hard work and on arrival the place was desolate and looks as if it’s still closed. I only wandered as far as farborough spit and the majority of the surface appeared frozen so expect a clear out of duck. The male Smew heading towards biggen bay and Waxwing in grays barn no doubt a wander from the many mobile flocks in and around Rugby were the highlights. At least 1200 Wood Pigeon moved south and many Fieldfares were doing the same otherwise not much else to report.

Over the last two days more Waxwings have been appearing locally with 22 Overslade, 23 Bilton, 30 Hillmorton, 4 Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, 2 Sawbridge and 4 Kites Hardwick. I have not had an opportunity to get photos so here’s a reminder of one we had in May Lane, Rugby in 2008 taken by John Judge

I never did get to see the full eclipse. I was out watching as the shadow progressed over the face of the moon but just as the last slither of the moon was on show the cloud came in and that was that – bugger.

This is what it should have looked like

Wishing you all A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
with good birding and health.


Monday, 20 December 2010

December 20th 2010

Not been out birding today but Pete had a 16 Waxwing in Dunchurch so they are still around.

Andy kindly reminded me about this event so found this article on the Guardian web site.
Lunar eclipse and winter solstice to coincide for first time in 372 years
Tomorrow's lunar eclipse over Britain will fall on the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – for the first time since 1638
The skies over Britain will turn a dark shade of red tomorrow morning as the moon moves into the Earth's shadow in a rare lunar eclipse.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are almost exactly in line, with the moon and sun on opposite sides of our home planet.
The alignment will cause the full moon to appear much dimmer than usual, but sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere will give the lunar surface a deep reddish hue at dawn.
The eclipse is due to begin at 5.28am, as the moon enters the lightest part of Earth's shadow, known as the penumbra. In this early phase of the eclipse, the moon will appear yellowish in the pre-dawn sky.
A more significant dimming begins as the moon enters into the darker part of Earth's shadow at 6.32am and becomes completely eclipsed at 7.40am.
For the first time in 372 years the lunar eclipse coincides with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. In addition, both sun and eclipsed moon will briefly be visible above the horizon – cloud cover permitting – in an unusual event called a selenehelion.

Unfortunately my local weather forecast is not brilliant with Snow followed by freezing fog and 51% cloud cover.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

December 19th 2010

The local weather stations at 5am were reporting an average of -6c so it was a shock to the system when Dave and I arrived at Napton Reservoir and it was -13c - still no pain no gain so off we went looking for owls managing just a Barn and frozen feet. Not a lot else about with most of the reservoir frozen over 200 Lapwing, 2 Raven, Waxwing calling but not seen and 100s of Fieldfare and Redwing.
Arrived at Draycote Water to a SITE IS CLOSED notice which put paid to that idea so trawled around the Dunchurch, Potsdam, Lawford Heath and Church Lawford areas managing 6 Buzzard, 8 Corn Bunting and 55 Mute Swan and Dave spotted 10 Waxwing in a tree in Dunchurch but they were flighty.
Brandon Marsh was looking like Siberia so after a good chat with Graham and a couple of Nuthatch we called it a day.
Pond will probably closed tomorrow due to the conditions not helped by the predicted freezing fog forecast for around here.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

December 18th 2010 extra

Apologies for delayed postings - problems with computer.


December 18th 2010

I checked the disused railway line that borders the Golf Course which becomes Cycle Route 41 to Birdingbury Bridge between Frankton and Birdingbury just west of the pond. It was mega cold, down to -8c with the wind chill and a thin layer of fresh snow and ice. Tawny Owls perched where the tree canopy covers the railway near the golf course.
By the time I reached Draycote Village smaller birds were active with 3 Nuthatch, 9 Bullfinch, 13 Long-tailed Tit and Treecreeper seen in the village then made my way up to the valve tower at Draycote Water and walked to rainbow corner. Still plenty of Goosander with 49 off the valve tower, 6 in rainbow and a further 12 seen in the distance off farborough bank along with the male Smew while 4 Dunlin, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail on inlet. On my return a Peregrine was over valve tower and the hedgerow down to Draycote Village had 18 Yellowhammer and Brambling.
I struggled to get up the hill out of Draycote due to the ice and became a cropper a couple of times so licked me wounds at Blooms Garden Centre reading no end of text reporting Waxwing from Cawston, Dunchurch, Wolston, Grandborough and Long Lawford so the patch is well and truly enjoying these gems – hope they will stay in to the New Year.
Lawford Heath had a day flying Barn Owl, 2 Raven and 5 Buzzard while Potsdam as the snow started falling had 19 Corn Bunting, 3 Tree Sparrow, 24 Yellowhammer and female Brambling struggling to find food in the conditions and 2 Waxwing were in Cawston on my way home though there favourite bush is running out of berries so don’t’ expect them to stay much longer.
Just outside my patch Dave L had 60+ Waxwing in Cubbington.


Friday, 17 December 2010

December 17th 2010

It was a bitterly cold night with the wind chill at 8am -6c so back to the thermals.
JJ and Kevin reported up to 4 Waxwing at Cawston this morning but when Dave and I had a quick look as we passed on our way to Brandon this afternoon they were not on show.
Brandon Marsh was like an iceberg and I may be settling for something as I couldn’t keep warm and shivered my way past 12 Siskin before we ditched out attempt at seeing the Short-eared Owl and headed for coffee and toasted teacakes.
A quick look at Potsdam on the way home produced 15 Corn Bunting, 2 Tree Sparrow and plenty of Chaffinch.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

December 16th 2010

There were 200 Linnets, 2 Green Woodpecker, 5 Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl near Grandborough this morning other wise the valley was quiet.
Draycote Water much the same as it has been with male Smew off farborough bank along with 36 Gadwall, 64 Goosander, 74 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 29 Goldeneye and 214 Great-crested Grebe. At least one female Brambling behind the inlet and 8 Siskin and Little Owl in toft shallows.
The rain and sleet cleared this evening so enjoyed the clear skies watching the Geminids meteor shower with a few others at Napton. Although it peaked 3 days ago there are still a few to be seen if you have the patience and can tolerate the cold though an owl fest kept us warm.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

December 15th 2010

Waxwings are following me about – a ride to the Post Office in Dunchurch and 2 were in trees on Dunsmore Heath dropping in to the back gardens along Coventry Road, 5 were in trees along Lime Tree Avenue opposite where 3 were feeding in the back gardens at Cawston. Over 20 were seen later in the day at Dunchurch while others were reported from May Lane and Bilton Road.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

December 14th 2010

It’s been a grey overcast day weather wise.
No sign of any Waxwings at the Dun Cow, Dunchurch when Chris and I had a look just before 1am and Draycote Water was again suffering from poor visibility so similar birds and numbers to yesterday apart from the addition of adult Yellow-legged Gull.
We moved on to Brandon Marsh for a coffee via Cawston and on our second attempt found 3 Waxwings feeding opposite the cottage so we parked up for better views and located 3 more in the gloom.
Bitterns had been showing earlier at Brandon Marsh but all we could manage was 2 Lesser Redpoll, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Snipe before looking for the Short-eared Owl and after a cold 20 minute wait rewarded with a couple of flight views and a longer view perched on bush.
Received reports of a Waxwing over the Grandborough valley and 4 Waxwing in Lytham Road, Rugby today and on our way home tonight we had over 40 Winter Moths in the car headlights.


Monday, 13 December 2010

December 13th 2010

The mist predicted this morning was in fact thick fog so after 4 hours in the field bashing away at our favourite haunts all Dave and I had to show for our efforts was a single Buzzard and with no wind it seemed it would never lift by the time we reached the pond.
Our walk to toft shallows peering through the gloom produced the male Smew, 25 Goosander, 30 Gadwall, 60 Pochard, 300 Wigeon, 400 Canada Geese, 7 Dunlin and 10 Siskin. On our way back the gloom turned to rain and visibility lifted slightly revealing over 500 Coot, 40 Goldeneye and 305 Great-crested Grebe out in the centre.
Having reached the car park and deciding to call it a day a timely text from Pete had us motoring at speeds touching warp factor to Dunchurch village where we dived in to the Dun Cow pub car park and viewed the 5 Waxwing that were in the tall tree on the adjacent Dunsmore Heath (name of a road).

crap pic by me

Back home and Mark text to say 5 Waxwing were at Cawston so popped over to see them then over to the local tip but with poor viewing from the surrounding roads meant it was a cross country hike up to me ankles in mud to peer through the trees for a better view hoping no jobsworth would see and located both the adult Iceland and Glaucous Gull. Also in the area were Sparrowhawk, Raven, Buzzard, and 7 Corn Bunting.

More Waxwings were reported in Rugby today with 3 May Lane/Addison Road junction and 2 along Dunchurch Road so keep um peeled.

What promises to be the best meteor shower of the year is hitting its peak tonight with The Geminid meteor shower, an annual mid-December event that will reach its height tonight and early tomorrow. The meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini (the Twins).

Also plenty of moths being reported, Dave had 2 December Moths yesterday while I have had single Winter Moth the last 2 nights.

Colin sent me a couple of his efforts yesterday - I am in both pics, can you spot me.

Don’t yer just love it when all your hobbies come at once – just like Christmas - WHAT IT IS CHRISTMAS.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

December 12th 2010

Frustration on Kings Lynn Station when the steam special pulled up short of the buffers leaving everyone with piss poor views of Sir Nigel from the end of the platform. We legged it out of the station and Dave made a dash to a nearby railway crossing where he stayed with the car while I ran the last 500 yards just as she was pulling away.

There wasn’t a lot about in Norfolk so we chose to spend some time watching the marshes around Burnham Overy Staithe but there was no sign of any Rough-legged Buzzards and the possible Northern Harrier had passed through minutes earlier and may have been one of the birds we passed on the other side of the village but could not find somewhere to park so unable to get convincing views. Most open water was frozen but still managed good numbers of duck, 3000 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Barn Owls, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier and a good mixture of waders while the hedgerows were full of Redwing and Fieldfares.
Titchwell was completely frozen but managed a few Pintail, 4 Avocet, 6 Whooper Swan, 500 Pink-footed geese, Siskin, Bearded Tit, 3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Little Egret and 2 Water Pipit while the sea had Great-crested Grebe, 10 Goldeneye, 6 Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and 1000 Common Scoter. A single Rock Pipit on the beach.

I arrived home to news of all sorts of goodies are on my patch today with Pa Phillips finding 7 Waxwing at Cawston among the best so plenty to go for over the next few days.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

December 11th 2010

Turned out that both steam specials in my area were arriving at the same time so had too decided which to go for so plumped for the Castle Class no 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe leaving Birmingham Moor Street at 8:24 heading for Paddington, London.
Dave kindly offered to take me to see it at Wormleighton which gave us time to do a bit of birding at both Napton and Womrleighton Reservoirs. Arriving before dawn at Napton we had Barn Owl then added Cetti’s Warbler, Raven and Curlew when the light improved while Wormleighton had 3 Coal, 2 Willow and 3 Marsh Tit plus Treecreeper, 5 Tree Sparrow, 3 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 3 Green Woodpecker, 500 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing.
The “mount” was going hell for leather when she passed us on time so very impressive then it was off to the Diner at Long Itchington for a hearty breakfast.

Dave Cox


Alan Anscomb

Back home and 20 Fieldfare headed south over the garden then it was out again down the Grandborough valley looking for owls but only Barn Owl put in an appearance although a close up encounter with a Woodcock was not to be sneezed at.

JJ and Alfie chose the other option and watched 60163 Tornado as she left Rugby and looking a lot more healthier than last time.

JJ & Alfie

Understandably not mentioned moths for while due to the sub zero temperatures we have had of late but this window of mild air certainly brought them out this morning with 2 Umber species and 30+ Winter Moth seen on route to Napton Reservoir. None in the traps but tonight is looking good with Winter Moth already in mine.

Many thanks to Dave, Alan and John for there photos


December 10th 2010

I checked the grassy field down the Southam road at first light and rewarded with a Tawny Owl and 3 Ravens plus 23 Red-legged Partridge before giving the pond a quick visit.
Finally caught up with the long staying Sanderling feeding along the wind surfing shoreline while a calling Redshank flew across the pond landing on the inlet. There are still plenty of duck spread out along the north shore dominated by the large numbers of Goosander with at least 75 counted on the reservoir with a further 34 seen leaving in groups for the River Leam so probably well over a hundred present.
The finch flock behind the inlet is still difficult to locate due to its mobility but at least one male Brambling noted. The male Smew was by the valve tower and other sightings included 43 Gadwall, 87 Pochard, Kingfisher, 3 Dunlin and 2 Grey Wagtail.
JJ has been doing well with gulls on the local tip with adult Iceland yesterday and adult Glaucous Gull today so Dave and I had a wander around the area this afternoon managing to find the Glauc in flight but not brilliant views – also Sparrowhawk plus 11 Corn Bunting and 2 Tree Sparrow at Potfords.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

December 9th 2010

Bob and I had to cut our trip to the pond short this morning so in the limited time we had we did a quick walk to toft bay managing at least 76 Goosander, 46 Gadwall, 60 Pochard, 200+ Wigeon, long distant views of the male Smew, 30+ Goldeneye, Dunlin and adult and 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull.
No doubt Red-legged Partridges are common as muck in your neck of the woods but around here we are lucky if we get a couple of singles in a year so to find a group of 36 and another of 9 viewing from toft bank was amazing.

Back home I had time to watch the female Brambling in the garden before spending the afternoon wandering along the Grand Union Canal between Birdingbury Bridge and the junction with the Oxford Canal including Napton Reservoir.
Highlights were 2 Waxwing on the eastern hedge of reservoir which flew off towards Calcutt Marina, female Merlin near the Ventor Marina and a Red Kite seen heading towards Shuckburgh being mobbed by 3 Ravens. Also seen were Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Brambling, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Snipe and hundreds of winter thrushes plus Little Owl and 2 Barn Owls at dusk.

Bit of a steam fest for me this weekend with two Steam Specials in my area on Saturday plus a goody out of Kings Lynn if we can get there and of course if this weather allows them to run.

hauled by 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe from Birmingham Moor St to London Paddington via Solihull, Dorridge, Warwick Parkway – no times published yet.

THE CATHEDRALS EXPRESS hauled by 60163 Tornado from London Euston to Chester – arriving at Rugby 10:01 departing 10:08 and returning 19:00 but only stopping for a minute.

Kings Lynn-London Kings Cross hauled by 60007 due to leave 09:54 but times not confirmed


December 8th 2010

Female Brambling turned up in the garden attracted by the increase in my finch flock numbers and while waiting for a bus in to town a Peregrine flew over my estate.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

December 7th 2010

It’s been another day of freezing fog with the temperature not rising above -2c all day and plummeting to -6c while doing the roost tonight at Draycote Water. I managed to locate the first winter Iceland Gull in a very large roost but eventually gave in to the cold and scuttled off home. Other birds noted were the male Smew commuting between pontoons and the valve tower, at least 87 Goosander at dusk, Grey Wagtail, 11 Siskin, 2 male Brambling and Little Owl.
Unfortunately more freezing fog is forecasted for around here tonight.


December 6th 2010

Freezing fog all day so only bird to report was a Barn Owl seen twice perched in the courtyard while attending the moth course at Brandon Marsh in the evening.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

December 5th 2010

A wander round the Grandborough valley in thick fog produced calling Tawny Owl and Raven this morning with Dave.
We decided that we needed a walk to build an appetite for breakfast and though visibility was down to 30 yards at Draycote Water we managed the male Smew, 40 Gadwall and 20 Goosander on our jaunt out to toft shallows. After breakfast and with no sign of the fog lifting we headed south to Wormleighton where it was bright, sunny and full of birds. Here we managed 4 Marsh Tit, 2 Willow Tit, 10 Tree Sparrow, 3 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Brambling, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 500 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing. Biggest surprise of the day here was a Red Admiral butterfly watched crossing the snow covered fields.
On the way back we had a look at Napton on the Hill with Buzzard, Nuthatch and a Chiffchaff kindly shown to us while Napton Reservoir had a Water Rail.
Unfortunately the messages and phone calls of 9 Waxwings in Rugby came just as I was being served mince pie and ice cream for the third time.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

December 4th 2010

Once the fog had lifted Dave and I went to the pond where there was plenty of activity with good numbers of wildfowl including the male Smew, 80 Goosander, 340 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 50 Gadwall, 40 Goldeneye, 100 Teal, 90 Pochard, 100 Cormorant, 6 Mute Swan and 6 Dunlin. Only other birds of note were the 2 Raven off draycote bank , Mealy Redpoll in the wind surfing car park with 6 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Brambling with the difficult to see finch flock behind the inlet.
After a late breakfast we did Napton on the Hill which was covered in hundreds of Redwing and Fieldfare plus 3 Raven and very brief view of a Waxwing near the windmill. Napton Reservoir had more winter thrushes and 10 Bullfinch but nothing else reportable.
John gave me the heads up of a Red Kite heading towards Rugby, Mark had a Green Sandpiper along the sow brook behind lytham rd while Pete had 2 Waxwing over Sainsbury’s this morning and my Black Redstart made a brief appearance on next doors roof late afternoon.


Friday, 3 December 2010

December 3rd 2010

Don’t you just love technology – gave the heads up to John, Dave and Bob as I tracked the Space Station over Cuba heading for the North Atlantic then passing over Cork, Swindon and London before heading away over Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Even with day break she was bright enough to be easily picked out 222 miles above my frozen world. She is predicted on similar track tomorrow at 6:07am and on Sunday at 6:33am though the forecast for here is crap.
OK back to the real world and freezing fog rolled in 8am till mid afternoon so kept an eye on the garden and bingo – adult male Black Redstart – garden tick. I took a record shot but not going to degrade my site with such a feeble effort. Sent it to Dave at work but he just called me a jammy b-----d.
Out with Dave this afternoon as the fog lifted driving around the valley – 200 Linnet, 3 Buzzard and 2 Raven plus hundreds of winter thrushes.
Hopefully the weather will improve as more Brambling and Waxwing have been seen today plus an influx of Woodcock.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

December 2nd 2010

Left the house while it was still snowing this morning and arrived at the pond at first light to the sight of over 15,000 gulls still present and managed to locate 4 adult and 3 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls among them along with a good local count of 340 Greater Black-backed Gulls.
Highlight of the visit was a Waxwing that flew over farborough spit followed by an impressive 58 going over the hide in toft bay heading towards Thurlaston village where they were seen in the tree tops before dispersing. Other new arrivals were 3 Oystercatcher in grays barn, 5 Dunlin on farborough spit and a male Smew off the pontoons (arrived yesterday).
Cold weather movements included 150 Golden Plover from three flocks heading west, 1200 Wood Pigeon south and 600 Fieldfare and 200 Redwing in fields between Thurlaston and Dunchurch.
Still plenty of finch activity behind the inlet with 23 Brambling, 2 Tree Sparrow and 3 Corn Bunting scoped among the many Linnets and Chaffinch.
Also present were Little Owl in alpaca field, 37 Goosander, 5 Shoveler, 174 Wigeon, 135 Teal, 12 Siskin, 7 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 225 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Buzzard.
Cycling was difficult in the freshly lying snow but checked out the valley for Steve Bs male Hen Harrier he found yesterday near Toft Lakes and though it had probably long gone a day flying Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl in the same field made up for it. Also around were 12 Tree Sparrow
Back at the pond for the roost with the wind chill at -7c managing first winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls in a very large roost estimated at 40,000 birds. Both birds came in very late.
Journey home was a nightmare as roads and pavements have started freezing over and its going to drop big time tonight – my garden is showing -5 and sheltered.

Many thanks to Kev, Pete and Cath for comments


December 1st 2010

I gained permission from the landowners this afternoon to check out the pheasant feeders and shooting cover between Draycote village and the River Leam and the numbers of finches and buntings using them grows as the cold spell makes its effects felt on our smaller birds. Total count from 6 areas checked were 350 Chaffinch, 240 Linnet, 80 Greenfinch, 45 Yellowhammer, 56 Brambling, 22 Reed Bunting, 15 Tree Sparrow, 12 Corn Bunting, 11 Skylark and 6 Lesser Redpoll.


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

November 30th 2010

More snow over night so had to bring my feeders in too defrost in front of the fire and fill the garden with food before going to the Draycote Water with Bob.
With temperatures just below freezing it felt almost barmy in comparison to recent days but soon realised the bitter north east wind could shrink your naughty bits.
A pair of Shoveler and female Pintail in toft bay the only new arrivals though a number of species have increased – most notably Goosander (43) and Wigeon (100). The highlight of the visit was the 20 Brambling in pheasant cover one field back behind the inlet. Though distant (you will need a scope) the majority were males so could be a lot more present and also in the area were 150 Chaffinch, 100 Linnet, 5 Lesser Redpoll and a probable Common Redpoll but it only showed briefly but certainly looked frosty enough.
Also seen today were Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Peregrine, 500 Fieldfare, 300 Redwing, 50 Stock Dove, 94 Cormorant, 15 Yellowhammer, 11 Bullfinch, 5 Snipe and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. The eleven Green Woodpeckers present today must be a site record, 8 seen by Bob on the north side including 5 together and 3 on the south and west sides.
A chat to the Rangers and they will make an assessment each morning whether to open or not – snow fall is one issue they have to take in to account but they are concerned of any melt re-freezing.


Monday, 29 November 2010

November 29th 2010

Cold weather movements over my garden included 45 Lapwing, 6 Siskin and 65 Fieldfare this morning while Overslade House had 2 Nuthatch and 23 Long-tailed Tit at mid-day.

35028 Clan Line was due through Rugby this afternoon on what I thought was a normal train movement from Crewe to Southall so taken by surprise when she came thundering past fully laden going like the clappers.

On the way home from our Moth course this evening we had a Barn Owl perched on the hedge along Ling Lane, Lawford Heath just before 10pm.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

November 28th 2010

You can’t beat a good start to the day. -11c
We were down the valley at first light watching the International Space Station (ISS Zarya) pass between Venus and the Moon.
Did not seem much in the valley so moved on to Draycote Water which unfortunately was covered in mist so walked out to the inlet waiting for it to clear.
Once it had lifted there had been influx of wildfowl as the smaller waters locally start to freeze over with a good count of 32 Goosander (6m), 90 Cormorant, 35 Gadwall, 120 Teal, 70 Pochard, 25 Goldeneye and 40 Wigeon among the many Mallard and Tufted Duck. A Redshank was in rainbow corner and 1500 Common Gull still loafing around.
Met up with Colin for breakfast then a walk around Napton on the Hill and if he wasn’t so big and bloody heavy I would wear him as a lucky charm as he found a Waxwing. The bird was on top of an Ash Tree on the right of the lane to the windmill before flying off towards the village, 2 Golden Plover over and hundreds of Redwing and Fieldfare present. Napton Reservoir had very little open water so home and a chance to warm up before doing the roost at Draycote Water where the temperature plummeted but a first winter Glaucous Gull, 2 male Brambling dunns bay and mobile female Smew between rainbow and toft made it worth while.

If going to pond over next few days check its open first and for local mist (caught us out this morning).


Saturday, 27 November 2010

November 27th 2010

Snowed overnight and did not get up above freezing all day.
The Brandon Marsh Short-eared Owl was hunting between newlands and the golf course while the Bittern did a fly by. Only other birds of note were Treecreeper, 30 Siskin and 4 Snipe.
Moved out of the county to East Carlton in Northamptonshire where a first winter Dartford Warbler showed in Wire Lane before returning to the Grandborough valley via Pitsford Reservoir where the long staying Great White Egret was still present along with 2 female Smew, Little Egret, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Curlew low over the causeway.
Another -9 bone chilling evening spent looking for owls managing 3 Barn Owls from two locations before giving up and falling asleep in front of a welcome fire - another six hours and we do it all again – magic.


Friday, 26 November 2010

November 26th 2010

With the wind chill -7 this morning, Bob and I had limited time to check the pond out -nothing new had arrived just the same birds we have been recording all week plus a very large Sparrowhawk perched and 3 Snipe.
Brandon Marsh this afternoon was almost frozen over, highlights were Water Rail, 5 Snipe, 25 Siskin and 15 Lesser Redpoll.
Out in the evening down the valley with Dave looking for owls and with no wind it was -6 with mist starting to develop. Heard Tawny and Barn Owl but the highlight was the Milky Way – awesome.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

November 25th 2010

Draycote Water was a lot more active today due to the freezing conditions which produced a number of good local birds. The first was 2 adult Whooper Swans that flew over sailing club towards inlet but continued west followed by a calling Twite over toft bay. The fields behind rainbow are difficult to observe but when a Peregrine attacked one of the 700 Wood Pigeon and 225 Stock Dove in the area a number of smaller birds seeking shelter dived in to the hedgerow between outlet and rainbow corner including a male Brambling.
Most of the duck were sheltering from the bitter wind along draycote bank or the north shore including the 2 long staying female Common Scoter, 32 Pochard and 5 female Goosander, good to see Teal increase to 72 birds. The Curlew is still in the field behind farborough spit and must be one of the longest stayer’s I have recorded for some time – normally one day wonders since farming methods started to change along the River Leam in the late 80s.
Other sightings included 32 Siskin, 12 Lesser Redpolls, 19 Goldeneye, Kingfisher, 3 Goldcrest, 80 Redwing, 30 Fieldfare, 9 Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, 40 Goldfinch, 2 Jay and 35 Long-tailed Tit in three groups.


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

November 23rd 2010

Out with Chris for nine and half hours in a bitterly cold wind doing the Grandborough Valley, Draycote Water, Napton on the Hill and Brandon Marsh but very little return for the effort we put in.
No Barn owls seen in the valley this morning but we managed 3 Raven, 25 Linnets and plenty of winter thrushes while Draycote Water had the 2 female Common Scoter and fly over Golden Plover. Interestingly there were 5 Goldcrest by visitor centre, the Great-crested Grebe flock has increased to 150 so may be we are due for a rare grebe and 28 Pochard counted sheltering under draycote bank.
Next stop Napton on the Hill but a single Raven, Sparrowhawk and more winter thrushes was all that was on offer though the scenic value was tremendous despite the wind chill.
Brandon Marsh had Nuthatch and 2 Lesser Redpoll including one watched bathing by the visitor centre as we had a welcome coffee but when we walked into east marsh hide we were informed we had just dipped on a fly over Short-eared owl (this could be a different bird to the one on sheep field although it wasn’t showing tonight), Water Rail showed a couple of times but I failed to get convincing views of the Jack Snipe among the 42 Snipe present on willow island. Other birds noted were Treecreeper, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jay, 2 Kingfisher, 25 Siskin, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
And if I thought it was cold today – wait till tomorrow – a predicted wind chill between -2 & -6c


November 22nd 2010

Afternoon visit produced the Curlew first reported last Friday still in the field below farborough bank, 2 Dunlin in grays barn and a mixed flock of 100+ Chaffinch and Goldfinch along the north shore. Two adult Med Gulls were in the roost in toft bay.


Sunday, 21 November 2010

November 21st 2010

The Barn Owl near Grandborough this morning treated Dave and I to exceptional display as it hunted in front of us for 30 minutes down to 10 feet, there was little else about so moved on to Draycote Water where it was bitterly cold due to the north easterly wind.
Unfortunately a big sailing race was on this weekend so most of the duck had been disturbed, 140 Lapwing and 3 male Goosander was all that we could manage.
Napton on the Hill produced 50 Skylark, 80 Stock Dove, 250 Redwing, 150 Fieldfare, 6 Mistle Thrush and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Sorry to say I preferred an afternoon under the duvet than looking for Waxwing at Brandon Marsh so gave them a miss – always tomorrow.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

November 20th 2010

No chance of any birding – far too drab, grey and misty.

Tornado finally limped in to Rugby Station early evening two hours late after losing steam in Staffordshire – in fact she was so slow John a mile further up the line was already home when I rang enquiring if he had seen it. When it arrived it could only manage walking pace and the excursion had to be terminated at Rugby.

I had forgotten how cold the station could be and froze my little socks off – then to add pain to my misery I missed my bus by a minute and had to wait 40 for the next one


Friday, 19 November 2010

November 19th 2010

A brief look at Brandon Marsh this afternoon produced 26 Snipe, Water Rail, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, 20 Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Goldeneye and 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker.
A bright moon made looking for owls easy tonight around Napton Reservoir with Barn and Little Owl but the highlight was the distinctive silhouette of a Woodcock over the car park.
Moved on to the valley hoping for more owls but the fog rolled in and by the time I arrived home visibility was very poor so don’t hang your hopes on the pond tomorrow.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

November 18th 2010

This Grey Heron spent 20 minutes on my neighbours roof this morning looking for Goldfish once the school run started.

Draycote Water was dull and grey with low cloud and a cool south east wind.
A male Pintail was the only new arrival this morning while the 2 female Common Scoters remain distant off draycote bank but no sign of any Red-crested Pochard.
A wildfowl count produced 18 Goldeneye, 38 Teal, 16 Pochard, 21 Wigeon, female Goosander (Bob found 2 others), 13 Gadwall, 200 Tufted Duck, 2 female Shoveler and 187 Canada Geese.
Only other birds of note were adult Yellow-legged Gull, Goldcrest, 2 Green Woodpecker, 14 Long-tailed Tit, a few Redwing, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail while Bob had 2 Dunlin.


November 17th 2010

It did not take long for the weather to change – overnight the south east winds slowly increased bringing rain by mid morning.
Managed to see the Short-eared Owl found by Colin on Monday over the sheep field, Brandon Marsh but did not have time to look for the Bittern.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

November 16th 2010

One look at the ponds weather cam this morning made it pretty obvious what I would not be doing this morning.

Arrived with Bob as the last of the mist was burning off at 12:30 and while walking along farborough bank I located 3 male and one female Red-crested Pochard the other side of reservoir off lin croft point (another male was found later bringing a total of 5 birds present). There was certainly a lot more activity today and our final tally included the 2 female Common Scoter but distant, Rock Pipit briefly being kicked about by walkers, joggers and pram pushers, Peregrine attacking the large corvid flock behind rainbow corner and as the roost built up there were 3 adult and one juvenile Yellow-legged Gull present but we did not stay for the full roost. Other sightings included Great-spotted Woodpecker, a fly in Dunlin, Raven, Buzzard, 16 Skylark, 30 Meadow Pipit, a few Redwings, 70 Stock Dove and 125 Great-crested Grebe.


Monday, 15 November 2010

November 15th 2010

Draycote Water was bathed in lovely wintry sunshine this afternoon after the mist had lifted and Fridays 2 female Common Scoter were still present off the inlet. There had been an increase in Tufted Duck, Great-crested Grebe and Coot numbers plus 4 goosander and 4 Wigeon but not much else. Did the roost and managed 2 of the four adult Yellow-legged Gulls present but missed the Caspian Gull.

I found tonight’s moth course on migration very interesting and for the third week in a row we managed a glimpse of a Barn Owl on the way home.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

November 14th 2010

The wind finally dropped over night bringing in the predicted fog so I wasn’t that surprised when I got to the pond at 7am and visibility was down to 30 meters but pretty miffed when it had not lifted by 11am. All I managed in the gloom was 4 male and 3 female Goosander, 10 Goldeneye, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 6 Long-tailed Tits.

The times of the next steam special going through my home town has just been released by Network Rail. LNER A1 Class 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado pulling The Christmas Coronation train from Edinburgh on Saturday 20th November is due to go through Rugby at 15:39hrs on its way to London Euston.


Friday, 12 November 2010

November 12th 2010

With the gale force winds slowly subsiding I was expecting some of the goodies reported in the Severn Estuary yesterday to come inland overnight but apart from 2 female Common Scoter reported on the pond by Bob then my afternoons jaunt with Dave was a failure.
A lot of weekenders wanted to know if the GGS was around so checked Napton on the Hill but the site was suffering from motocross riders whizzing around its regular feeding area, not a sniff and nothing on any of the surrounding overhead wires.
Moved on to Napton Reservoir but it has now been re filled with only 6 Pochard, Green Woodpecker and 12 Fieldfare of note while a look along Hill Rd was ruined by rain.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

November 11th 2010

It’s been a day of self preservation as this present weather system brought in early morning heavy rain, showers and gale force winds for most of the day with the pond recording gusts of up to 56 miles an hour which made it almost impossible to cycle. Highlight of the visit was a fly over Dark-bellied Brent Goose, adult Kittiwake and a Snow Bunting which flew low from rainbow towards the public picnic area. Not sure what was out in the centre - too rough but at least 5 Goosander and 13 Goldeneye noted plus a Redshank on draycote bank.
On the downside I got drenched, fell off twice and damaged me phone so gave up on the idea of doing the roost for yesterdays Glaucous Gull and with the wind still gusting at 30mph arrived home in record time.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

November 9th 2010

The strong north east winds certainly had a cold bite to it this morning when Bob and I went to Draycote Water making walking more difficult later as it increased but at least it stayed dry.
There were signs that things are changing at long last with the arrival of 6 Goosander (3 pairs), 2 Rock Pipit (farborough and hensborough bank) and a slight increase in duck numbers with 28 Pochard, 15 Goldeneye, 30 Teal, 15 Wigeon and 2 female Pintail.
Dunlin were hard to count with at least a minimum of 10 seen (8 flew in + 2 on farborough spit but also 2 in toft later and 4 seen leaving). Also noted were 5 Siskin, Buzzard, 3 Reed Bunting, 30 Meadow Pipits and small flocks of Starling going over but no real vis mig.

The Grandborough Valley had a Short-eared Owl and 4 Tree Sparrow at a private site.

I had forgot Id taken some Whooper Swan pics at Welney on Sunday so this is the best of um - wont bore you with the rest of a poor quality bunch


Monday, 8 November 2010

November 8th 2010

Like the rest of the country we are being battered by strong winds and horrendous rain making life uncomfortable for us cyclists. I knew I was letting myself in for a drenching but had to check on the pond just in case the big one arrived – would be rude not to have a welcoming committee present and god forbid if an outsider found it
As you can guess from my ramblings it was not there – Dunlin and Golden Plover the only birds of note and a puncture.
David Brown who is running our moth course brought in a Dotted Chestnut he trapped over the weekend for everyone to look at tonight – only a handful of records of this delightful moth in Warwickshire with three of those coming from buddy Dave’s garden. The photo below is the one he trapped in 2006 which was the first for the county in over 100 years. There is another picture of this species in my February 26th 2010 blog which was Dave’s third record.

On the way home we had a Barn Owl on Lawford Heath.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

November 7th 2010

Barn Owl hunting along side A14 near Rothwell, Northamptonshire on our way to the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire where we were hoping to see more owls but the downpour just after first light put paid to any owl activity. Once it cleared over 300 Whooper and 3 Bewick’s Swan flew over in various sized groups heading for there feeding grounds while 6000 Wood Pigeon departing their roost in Decoy Wood was impressive. Not much else so after another drenching we left.
Reports said the Cattle Egret 2k west of Guyhirn on the busy A47 could sometimes be out of view due to the undulations of the ground but with no one else about the bird posed for us on a fence post before feeding amongst the cattle, nearby a Little Owl on a pile of tires.
Now wet and shivering from the cold north easterly wind we dived in to the Big Chill for breakfast and a chance to dry our clothes.
The sun was out when we arrived at the village of Welney and again no other birders around but soon located the first winter Glossy Ibis which was a British tick for Dave before moving on to the nearby Wildfowl & Wetland Trust Reserve.
The reserve had a 60 Whooper Swan in front of the main hide that had remained from the majority (October count was over 1100) that were out feeding in the surrounding area and 11 Bewick, Swans which arrived and promptly drank, preened and fell asleep indicating fresh arrivals. Plenty of waders around that included Ruff, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe and a single Jack Snipe and every now again the reserve erupted in to the sky when a predator threatened. On one occasion the culprit was identified as a Saker Falcon cross that was wearing jesses. No sign of the reported Bearded Tits or Short-eared Owl but good numbers of Wigeon, Teal and Pintail.
On leaving a Tree Sparrow was among the finch flock, Peregrine over and 4 separate flocks of Whooper Swans totaling 300 birds between the reserve and Littleport including one poor individual that had collided with overhead cables.

Max Silveman sent me one of shots of the GGS in flight - cracking


Saturday, 6 November 2010

November 6th 2010

Bob kindley took me to see the LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 45305 pulling the Capital Five steam special from tysley to london Euston and we decided on a different location so went to Little Lawford. It was certainly belching out steam and smoke as it passed so the poor firemen must have been working his socks off. Yet again I clicked too early and have to rely on Bob to save the day. While we were there 7 Fieldfare flew over and a first year Buzzard sporting a white tail heavily barred looked impressive perched in nearby tree.

A brief stop at home then out again joined by April to see the Great Grey Shrike at Napton on the Hill which was out of site when we arrived. Once the crowds had drifted away it re-appeared in it usual place and was observed later at one of its larders feeding on a mouse. Only other birds of note were 6 Long-tailed Tit and a Sparrowhawk.


Friday, 5 November 2010

November 5th 2010

Today’s visit to Draycote Water was ruined by heavy rain with only 2 Redwing, 20 Meadow Pipits, Song Thrush and male Goldeneye seen along farborough bank before giving up and a flock of 200+ Fieldfare resting in trees at Grandborough Fields Farm were the only birds of note in the Grandborough valley.
Bob had come round earlier to photograph last nights catch, I’m quiet chuffed with the Dark Chestnut as it was one of the species highlighted on my moth course this week and Bob re-identified a Grey Shoulder-knot resting on a fence post that I had casually dismissed as a Blair’s – oops wasn’t wearing my glasses - at least the boy is learning.

Blair's & Grey Shoulder-knot

Dark Chestnut


Thursday, 4 November 2010

November 4th 2010

Water level rising again at Napton Reservoir with no visible shore line so only 4 Shoveler and 9 Pochard at first light and with the wind gusting over 20mph we had no chance of locating the bearded Tit (if still present) so the only other birds of note were 3 Meadow Pipit, 10 Redwing and 10 Fieldfare plus a Snipe flying over.
Moved on to Napton on the Hill and waited 90 minutes for the shrike but it failed to show as the wind got stronger so we cleared off for breakfast at Long Itchington.
On our return and joined by a couple of other birders the wind had increased so I put our chances at zero but luckily after 50 minutes I located the bird in flight along the entrance road and it landed on the fence posts 15ft in front of Pete and Chris before doing its normal hunting sallies from the telegraph wires. Raven in the field behind us and plenty of Skylarks other side of the canal.
Draycote Water despite recording gusts of 33mph had nothing to offer.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

November 3rd 2010

yesterdays Draycote Snow Bunting by Francoise Farrington but no sightings reported tody so far.

yesterdays Napton on the Hill Great Grey Shrike by Kevin Grewcock and still present today at 12:55pm same place.

Mondays Aythya by Bob Hazell. No sign since - Jury is out - either a aythya hybrid or juvenile female Scaup depending which camp you talk to. Me - its a duck?.

Not been out today - catching up with moth records and trying to sketch a pic of local church but keeping making the steeple lobsided.

British Rail have just published the times of the Tyseley-Euston-Tyseley steam train hauled by No 45305 on Saturday 6th November 2010. It will be stopping for pre-booked passengers at Nuneaton at 10:19 passing Rugby at 10:43 on route to London Euston. On its return journey it will be passing Rugby at 19:48 and dropping passengers off at Nuneaton 20:12 before continuing on its way. All time are approx and subject to change.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

November 2nd 2010

The day started with Bob trying to help me identify one of the smallest moths I have seen which Dave had trapped yesterday – looked unassuming with the naked eye but under a magnifier it was orgasmic – still not identified though we think it might be Phyllonorycter messaniella.

With strong winds and rain overnight we wanted to get to the pond as soon as possible but a look at the Great Grey Shrike that is still gracing Napton on the Hill was a must so we met up with Pete W, Kevin G and Jonesboy who had seen it earlier. Though it was out of sight on our arrival we did not have to wait long and soon enjoyed stunning views as the bird performed in front of us. Still plenty of Skylark in the field the other side of the canal and a large flock of Redwing and Fieldfare showed as we left.

Great Grey Shrike by Dick Jones

Next stop a very windy Draycote Water which had a well marked Mottled Umber and 3 Feathered Thorn moths by the ranger’s office then it was back to earth with a bump as the pond was dire again which was very frustrating considering the weather.

Mottled Umber by Bob Hazell

We tried relocating yesterdays possibly juvenile female Scaup but all we managed in an hour were 400 Jackdaws, 3 Goldeneye and a small but well marked Sparrowhawk.
Unknown to us the rangers had found a Snow Bunting on draycote bank on their early morning round so a text from FF saying she had seen one approx 11am but had flown was enough for us to try and relocate this gem. After a long walk and over an hour of searching it magically reappeared in front of us early afternoon and performed well despite the disturbance it was getting from Joe Public. I added 2 Goldcrest, male Blackcap and 4 Buzzard to our very short pond list and Bob had the Common Sandpiper again.

Snow Bunting by Bob Hazell

Back home and yesterday’s tit flock charged through the garden and was made up of 17 Blue, 6 Great, 11 Long-tailed and 3 Coal Tit plus Chiffchaff and 4 Goldcrest.

Can I just say a very big thank you to Dick, Kevin, Francoise and Bob for sharing there photos and will publish photos from Kevin and Francoise later.


Monday, 1 November 2010

November 1st 2010

Bob came round to photograph some moths in the morning.

Platyptilia gonodactyla



We popped down to Draycote Water in the afternoon where we could not make our minds up if the very distant aythya duck was a female Scaup or not but Bob persevered in getting a shot that might clinch the identification one way or the other. Not much else apart from 35 Stock Dove, adult and juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 5 Goldeneye, 600 Starling near the sewage farm with a few more going west and a Feathered Thorn moth on the visitors centre wall.
Back out again in the evening with Dave for our moth course at Brandon where an unidentified owl flew over the entrance and on the way home a trawl of the lanes around Lawford Heath produced a Little Owl late evening. Three Large Wainscot in the trap at Brandon


October 31st Extra

Cracked it - the fault was mine - Paul cashmore sent me these two vidoes he took of the Napton on the Hill GGS so enjoy.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

October 31st 2010

Just when your glass is half empty it becomes half full - magic

Great Grey Shrike by Andy Hale

The day started mild but dull with very low cloud and a light south east wind as Dave and I looked for owls down the Southam Rd before dawn but we only heard a distant Tawny though Dave was impressed with the 10,000 gulls that flew over low almost silently as they left the roost at Draycote Water long before we had any decent light.
We moved on to Grandborough where we had 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Raven, 4 Goosander flying south east, 40 Linnet, 12 Fieldfare while along the Hill Rd there were 50 Yellowhammer, 50 Chaffinch, 9 Tree Sparrow and a single Corn Bunting.
Even at 8am Draycote Water was like the M25 with bikers and runners whizzing around like blue arse fly’s so our walk was unpleasant only managing 7 Goldeneye, 40 Meadow Pipit and 3 Pochard when a call from Colin arranging to meet at the Long Itchington Diner for breakfast got us out of there sharpish.
Once fed and watered we decided on Napton on the Hill but after 45 minutes and only finding 6 Mistle Thrush, 4 Greenfinch and 7 Redwing in the gloom I was ready to throw my toys out the pram and call it a day but as we arrived at the quarry things started to change.

Great Grey Shrike by Andy Hale

The cloud started to thin with a little drizzle which was enough for small parties of Redwing, Starling and Skylark to fly over then Dave shouted LOOK in my scope – all I could see were Chaffinches then bingo GREAT GREY SHRIKE – yippee all is well with the world. The bird was on the telegraph wires over the old brickyard below us and once satisfied we put the news out and what seemed an endless wait for the first birders to arrive it continued to feed well and soon Paul C, Andy, Dave L, Paul A and Jeff were on the bird. Also seen were 2 Chiffchaff, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, 14 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Raven.
Many thanks to Paul Cashmore for the video ( having problems loading so hope to have that solved soon) and to Andy Hale for his photographs – very much appreciated and I hope to drag you out again as we are on a roll – Bearded Tit, Waxwing, Great Grey Shrike so may be Napton will give me a longed for Lapland Bunting next week.

Moral of the day - It’s not over till the fat lady sings even if sometimes it feels like she’s sitting on you.


Friday, 29 October 2010

October 29th 2010

A very low cloud base and a strong south east wind at first light meant that overnight migrants were easier to pick out as they flew over my garden with 16 Redwing, 12 Fieldfare, 10 Goldfinch, 22 Chaffinch and 11 Skylark.
Out with Dave this afternoon to Draycote Water but the south east wind was so strong we had difficulty standing up, spending more time making sure the scopes did not get blown over than actually using them so struggled to find anything. The only thing of interest was the thousands of gulls present at 3pm.
At last I can post - apologies.


October 28th 2010

There was a trickle of migrants going over the valley – mainly Chaffinch with the occasional small flock of Redwing and Starling while along the Hill Rd there were 10 Tree Sparrow, 2 Raven, 24 Yellowhammer, 45 Linnet and 5 Golden Plover.
No sign of the Bearded Tit at Napton Reservoir due to the increasing wind and the only birds of note were Kingfisher and Redshank.
I arrived late afternoon at the pond to the news that a Slavonian Grebe had been found earlier so joined its admirers before doing the roost which was not helped by the blustery conditions making life difficult but managed adult winter Med and Yellow-legged Gull off dunns bay, also present were Common Sandpiper between the inlet and valve tower, 5 Goldeneye including immature male, female Pintail in biggen bay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Jay, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 5 Siskin.
Could not blog tonight – message came up saying maintence taking place try again in 40 minutes and I was still trying hours later.


October 27th 2010

After a very mild night I was chuffed to find a December Moth in the garden trap along with 2 Juniper Carpets. Not been many moths about recently and this is my earliest Warwickshire record beating my previous records of one in the garden of 13th November 2008 and one at Draycote Water 6th November 2006 convincingly. Unfortunately I have allowed Bob a holiday again so my efforts are not worth showing here. Despite the weather being stunning I could not get out so had to be content with what went over the garden which was very little.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

October 26th 2010

Despite being windy, cold, dull and raining I tried Draycote Water for yesterdays Whooper Swans but not surprisingly they had moved on after resting from there migration. There was a good passage of Skylarks with well over 500 counted going over in small groups along with smaller numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare. Among them were two birds that need further investigation as I don’t possess the grey matter to remember calls although the flight, size and jizz reminded me of one species I'm familiar with I saw no plumage details. Also seen were 15 Linnet, 67 Goldfinch, 40 Meadow Pipit, 230 Redwing, 120 Fieldfare, female Goosander, Snipe, 5 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, Kingfisher, 16 Teal, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker and Shelduck.
The weather looked as if it was clearing so pushed on to Napton Reservoir as this location also had 2 Whooper Swans yesterday which would have been a site tick for me but this was a big mistake as the wind increased and the rain came back with vengeance so not a pleasant visit – 68 Skylark, 6 Reed Bunting, 70 Redwing, 3 Water Rail, Grey Wagtail, 4 Shoveler, 3 Snipe, 3 Goldcrest and 15 Long-tailed Tit.
Now well and truly soaked I continued on to Napton on the Hill in the forlorn hope that the Waxwing would be still around as 30+ had turned up in county at Nuneaton today but after squelching around for two hours I gave up. Raven over the church, 5 Goldcrest in churchyard, Chiffchaff near Church Leyes Farm, Green Sandpiper in the old brickyard and hundreds of Redwing and Skylarks on the north western side.


Monday, 25 October 2010

October 25th 2010

A stunning Waxwing was on Napton on the Hill late afternoon perched briefly on overhead cables between Church Leyes Farm and the Windmill for a few minutes before flying off. Also seen were 5 Mistle Thrush, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Raven, 3 Buzzard and plenty of Redwing and Skylarks around. Barn Owl crossed over the Tomlow Rd on the way home.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

October 24th 2010

We were out before sunrise down the Grandborough valley as yesterday’s rain cleared the atmosphere and we were treated to scope views of the constellation Orion especially the The Great Nebula then a fly past by ISS (International Space Station) Zarya traveling at 4.5 miles per second followed by at least 3 meteors of the Orionids shower while all the time Saturn was showing low in the eastern sky. No sign of any owls until we were leaving along Hill Rd when a Barn Owl was found being mobbed by corvids near Gimswood at 7:50am.
With temperatures well below freezing and no wind Napton Reservoir was ideal for looking for the Bearded Tit but after an hour all we managed was the briefest of flight views and no calls heard though a flushed Jack Snipe performed much better. No sign of the Red-crested Pochards
After warming up at the Long Itchington Diner we moved on to Napton on the Hill but there was a distinctive lack of birds in the hedgerows or flying over until we reached the quarry where we had 80 Redwing, 100 Skylark over and a another 150 in a field between the Old Brickyard and the A425 and Dave found a female Merlin soaring overhead joined by a Sparrowhawk. There was plenty of bird activity in the churchyard centered on a fir tree where we presumed an owl was roosting but failed to see it, the local birds were definitely upset.
Next stop was the Just So Café (a café for cake lovers) in the grounds of the Bridge Nursery where we pigged out on some of Naomi finest before having another go at the Bearded Tit but failed again.


Friday, 22 October 2010

October 22nd 2010

Out with Bob to the pond but it was dire with our walk to toft shallows only producing first winter and adult Yellow-legged Gull, 40 Meadow Pipit, 3 Green Woodpecker, Dunlin, 5 Redwing and a few Fieldfare over. Buddy Dave returned from his Kenya safari this morning so we went to the Just So café at Napton this afternoon to listen to his endless sightings of animals and birds before looking at Napton Reservoir. The blustery conditions had brought in a pair of Red-crested Pochard and there were 4 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 9 Pochard, 24 Wigeon, 21 Teal and 19 Mute Swan. Also seen were a few Fieldfare flocks going over and a Cetties Warbler.
Back home late afternoon and three enormous flocks of Fieldfare went over the garden numbering well over 600 birds and included a few Redwings. Paul Cashmore kindly sent me this video he took of a aberrant plumaged female Great-spotted Woodpecker at Napton on the Hill this morning and I also have included a still from the video.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

October 21st 2010

Out to a very cold Wormleighton Reservoir where 2 Tawny Owls were roosting at the back of the reservoir, my first Jack Snipe of autumn and Kingfisher while the nearby hedgerow held 11 Tree Sparrow, 3 Corn Bunting, 2 Marsh Tit and overhead 40 Redwing, 160 Fieldfare, 3 Buzzard and 2 Raven went over.
As the morning warmed up a steady stream of migrants went over Burton Dassett Hills and recorded 560 Fieldfare, 80 Redwing, 45 Skylark, 3 Siskin and Brambling plus many others not identified. Also seen were Sparrowhawk, 2 Raven and 4 Buzzard.


October 20th 2010

Last night was very clear and down to minus one as I spent an hour watching Comet Hartley and cracking views of Jupiter close to the moon. Despite the artic temperatures I still managed 4 species of moths this morning while overhead at least 800 Fieldfare went south west in a steady passage mid-morning.
There was still a healthy movement of birds this afternoon over Hill Rd, Grandborough, mainly Fieldfare but a few Skylarks, Starling and Meadow Pipits while a male Brambling was with a small Chaffinch flock by the barn and 4 Tree Sparrow nearby. The male Bearded Tit was still at Napton Reservoir but just as elusive and mobile.


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

October 19th 2010

A Snow Bunting over num bum hill at 10:15am saved the day at Draycote Water which until then had been a real crap visit with no sign of lassie among the very few duck present which could be down to a poor food supply due to present low water levels. A possible White Wagtail on farborough bank could not be confirmed before being flushed accidentally by the rangers opening the barrier and not seen again. Our tally included adult Yellow-legged Gull, 50 Meadow Pipit, 300 Starling, 40 Skylark, 4 Buzzard, 1 Pochard, 1 Gadwall, 2 Green Woodpecker and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Also Green-brindled Crescent on one of the visitor centre light and I managed 3 Juniper Carpet in my moth trap


October 18th 2010

A steady passage of migrants over the garden between 9 and 10am produced 134 Starling, 40 Skylark, 12 Fieldfare, 35 Meadow Pipits and 75 Redwing.
Did not get out till late afternoon and had another look at the Bearded Tit at Napton Reservoir but it was still very elusive and only other bird of note was a Lesser redpoll with the Long-tailed Tit flock by the small pool then it was a mad rush home for my moth meeting where we managed to trap 5 Large Wainscot, 2 Brick and Red and Green Carpet before a drink in the nearby pub.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

October 17th 2010

Out with Colin this morning and bit of a shock to the system as we searched for owls down the Southam Road and the first ground frost of the autumn – overnight temperature dropped to minus one but we did not have any luck so moved on to Hill Rd and had 2 Brambling and 27 Redwing going over plus a juvenile female Sparrowhawk that we crept up to in the car.
Next stop was Draycote Water but the mist was slow to burn off and it was obvious that visible migration was taking place with a steady movement of Starling and Redwing over so did not bother to stay and headed for Long Itchington Diner before moving on to Napton on the Hill.
The hill was cooking on gas with a constant flow of birds and once we realised that because they were flying low they were passing either side of hill and not going over the top we started to see them instead of just hearing them. Numbers were hard to judge but Skylarks were in there hundreds with fewer Redwings plus 2 Brambling and 2 Siskin while the churchyard produced a male Blackcap and a Chiffchaff nearby. Also seen were 2 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, 4 Goldcrests, Sparrowhawk, 6 Raven and 2 Buzzard.
Stopped at the garden centre by the canal for coffee and a chance to warm up and greeted by 60+ Redwing going over then it was on to Napton Reservoir where we had 15 Mute Swan, 24 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 2 Pochard and 11 Shoveler. As we walked to the far end Colin found a juvenile male Stonechat in the reed bed and when we turned back he heard a Bearded Tit call and I found it flying over the reservoir to our side of the bank. We track it down and it was a stunning male just a few feet from us before it flew back to the main reed bed and then became elusive showing only occasionally as it pinged its way across the reeds but did manage to get Dave L and Keith on to the bird. Also seen here were 3 Snipe, Kingfisher, 3 Water Rail, Grey Wagtail and lots more Skylarks.
I have recorded Bearded Tit in 8 years out of 35 in Warwickshire and the last one was also at Napton Reservoir in 2006 when it was in the company of a Ring-necked Duck while I have not seen one at the pond since 1986 so a good county bird to find and not what I was expecting today – yippee a bit of pay back at long last.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

October 16th 2010

Arrived just after first light at the pond with thousands of gulls still present finding adult winter Med Gull and 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls out in the centre before they departed for the day.
A Rock Pipit was on farborough bank along with 34 Meadow Pipit, Green Woodpecker and Buzzard while 2 female Goldeneye and the Lesser Scaup were off lin croft point.
Spent 2 hours on numb bum hill, Country Park recording 65 Fieldfare, 55 Redwing, 22 Meadow Pipit, 9 Skylark and 2 groups of Golden Plover numbering 12 and 6. Only other birds of note were 2 Bullfinch and Jay in the country park.


Friday, 15 October 2010

October 15th 2010

After a long day and arriving home late I was snug bug in a rug when a hands off socks call gave me ten minutes to get my act together and an hour later there I am half a sleep enjoying a juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs at Port Meadow, Oxfordshire then a quick look at the Dipper on the River Windrush at Witney on the way home.
Conscious I had been neglecting the pond I made an effort to get there late afternoon and the Lesser Scaup was in toft bay along with a late but tatty looking Wheatear near the sewage farm and a Rock Pipit opposite the hide searching the shoreline. Hope to do it more justice tomorrow especially if this cloud cover breaks.

Local News – Paul C had 126 Fieldfare, 88 Redwing and 2 Brambling over Napton on the Hill in a two hour session this morning and Mark had a Kingfisher over his residential garden in Bilton, Rugby yesterday.


October 14th 2010

A day out along the north Norfolk coast with the scissor sisters starting at Dersingham where Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl were hunting and a Woodcock flushed while looking for Golden Pheasant at Wolferton Triangle. Very little migration over Hunstanton so moved on to Holme where we managed 2 Little Egret, 3 Stonechat, 60 Goldcrest, 6 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 25 Brambling, Lesser Whitethroat, Redstart, plenty of Robins plus a few thrushes and Siskin.
The Titchwell R.S.P.B. reserve and the shoreline towards Thornham point was productive with 3 Bearded Tit, 2 Cetties Warbler, 2 Water Rail, 4 Spotted Redshank, 3 Little Egret, Little Stint, Marsh Harrier, 3 Lapland Bunting, 4 Snow Bunting, Twite, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and 6 Brambling the most memorable seen here.
After fish & chips at Wells next the Sea with a Spoonbill over the quay for company we pushed on to Warham Greens where we caught up with the Pallas’s Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler plus a fly over Hawfinch, Redstart, Merlin, Brambling and Little Egrets.
We then decided despite meaning a very long journey home to go Waxham where we had stunning views of a juvenile Red-flanked Bluetail.


October 13th 2010

I’m still dreaming of finding a something decent on my patch but Napton on the Hill was not going to be the place today though my latest Spotted Flycatcher in the county shouldn’t be ignored. Only other birds of interest were 6 Goldcrest dotted around the south side, Raven, a few Redwing and Skylark and 5 Sparrowhawk which were all singles heading south west and very high up.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

October 12th 2010

Draycote Water was disappointing this morning with very little of note to report from 6 hours of searching. The visit started well with 3 Siskin & Great-spotted Woodpecker in toft shallow, Ringed Plover in toft bay and female Goldeneye off farborough spit where nearby 16 Meadow Pipit were on the dam wall. Tried a couple of hours looking out for migrants going over the country park (now named numb bum hill) but the returning cloud cover and cooler temperatures put a dampener on things and all I managed was 45 Skylark and 24 Redwing.
Other birds included 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, Raven and I finally saw Lassie tucked under the north shore sheltering from the cool north easterly breeze.
Single House Martin over Dunchurch village on the way home.


Monday, 11 October 2010

October 11th 2010

There was a small passage of migrants over my garden this morning – mainly Starling (350) and Redwing (120). A brief look at the pond produced the male Lesser Scaup, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, female Pintail, 10 Redwing and Yellow Wagtail. Between the M45 bridge and Halfway lane, Dunchurch there were 2 Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrest in the hedgerow.


Sunday, 10 October 2010

October 10th 2010

It was another mild night and the forecast was predicting the low cloud would clear by mid-morning so I was on Bush Hill by dawn having already seen 2 Barn and 2 Little Owl at Sawbridge. I didn’t have to wait long for the migration to start and over the next 3 hours there was a steady flow of bird’s passing in good numbers considering how far they must have traveled through the night - Redwing 2347, Fieldfare 34, Ring Ousel 1, Starling 423, Skylark 458, Meadow Pipit 230, Pied Wagtail 60, Yellow Wagtail 1, Siskin 10, finches 200+, Wood Pigeon 247, Lapwing 189 and Golden Plover 33. Nearby hedgerow held at least 5 Goldcrest, 4 Chiffchaff, Brambling and Lesser Whitethroat with 8 Goldcrest, juvenile Stonechat and 21 Tree Sparrow along Hill Rd. Also in the area were Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Red-legged Partridge, 5 Buzzard, 6 Raven, 2 Sparrowhawk, 30 Stock Dove, 8 Reed Bunting, 44 Linnet and 2 Jay.
When I arrived at the pond mid-day it was busy so cleared off after a quick look at the Lesser Scaup in toft bay.

My trap added Merveille du Jour and Feathered Thorn to my mothing year list with 4 Buzzard and 3 Raven over the garden mid-afternoon.

Merveille du Jour by Bob Hazell - alls well with the world when you catch one of these beauties

A couple of more shots of the Duchess from Bob

This evening more Redwing could be heard calling going over at 9:30pm.