Sunday, 31 January 2010

January 31st 2010

A fantastic winter’s morning birding – cold, good light and good visibility with plenty of birds everywhere we went.
The morning started just after 5am outside Rugby with our first Barn Owl of the day arriving at Eldernell, Cambridgeshire as a Tawny Owl drifted past. Even in darkness as soon as Dave and I were out the car were we greeted to the calls of distant Whooper and Bewick’s Swan on the wash then spent the next 90 minutes exploring the west end of Nene Wash before returning to the car for a quick coffee then a 2 hour walk out east to check on March Farmers. Once the wind chill started to numb our hands and feet we warmed up in the car visiting both Pitsford and Ravensthorpe Reservoir in Northamptonshire before arriving home 1pm.

Merlin: male hunting low over Nene Wash
Peregrine: 2 on March Farmers including one perched
Red Kite: 3 over the A605 near Oundle, Northamptonshire late morning
Marsh Harrier: one on Nene Wash and 3 on March Farmers
Barn Owl: 5 with one seen by the Lilborne turn, A5 near Rugby hunting roadside verge and 4 on the Nene Wash with one still out hunting at 8am
Tawny Owl: one flew across the car entrance to Nene Washes at Eldernell at 06:40am
Whooper Swan: at least 300 seen between the Nene Wash and March Farmers
Bewick’s Swan: 1200 between the Nene Wash and March Farmers
Smew: male at Pitsford Reservoir and male and female at Ravensthorpe Reservoir.
Pintail: minimum of 300 present between the Nene Wash and March Farmers
Wigeon: minimum of 3000 present between the Nene Wash and March Farmers
Great White Egret: one of the long staying birds at Pitsford Reservoir
Black-tailed Godwit: 150 on March Farmers
Curlew: one with Lapwing flock on March Farmers
Ruff: three with Lapwing flock on March Farmers
Golden Plover: 300 on March Farmers
Brambling: male in Lord Holts Wood, Nene Wash
Raven: one over Pitsford Reservoir
Stonechat: 4 on Nene Wash and 2 near March Farmers
Roe Deer: 6 grazing near Decoy Wood, Eldernell.

Also seen on our travels were 2 Snipe, 3 Shelduck, 9 Goosander (Pitsford Reservoir), 4 Buzzard, Redshank, Great-spotted Woodpecker and we did not walk far enough so missed 2 Crane, Brent Goose, Grey Plover and 3 Short-eared Owl plus the freezing conditions had cleared out the Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese that were present on Friday so a fantastic trip could have been orgasmic.


Saturday, 30 January 2010

January 30th 2010

At least 2 Ravens and 8 Magpie were eyeing up a dead sheep near Grandborough Fields this afternoon while the farmer removed it and nearby 4 Red-legged Partridge and 2 Buzzard were at Grandborough Fields Farm. No sign of any Grey Partridge in the Nethercote / Flecknoe area with just 4 Tree Sparrow between the two villages. Despite the temperature dropping I waited for any owls to show in the Sawbridge area but only succeeded in freezing my bits off before a Little Owl saved the day.


Friday, 29 January 2010

January 29th 2010

End of week coffee and cake with Dave at Brandon Marsh then a gentle stroll around the reserve. The Green-winged Teal had been present earlier but had gone walk about so we were left with counting Graylag and Shoveler while Coal Tit and Nuthatch were on the visitors centre feeders and a Buzzard over car park. On the way home the Church Lawfords Bewick’s Swan was near The Grange with 20 Mute Swan.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

January 28th 2010

Out early with Chris hoping for a Barn Owl down the Southam Road and managed one bird that stayed out for a while though not surprisingly it cleared off as the traffic volume increased.
We moved on to Grandborough and after a 20 minute wait the Great Grey Shrike appeared for 15 minutes before dropping back in to the hedge to hunt the edges of the stream and out of sight. Only other species of note were Sparrowhawk, 50 Lapwing, 100 Linnet and a mixed flock of 60 winter thrushes. One Song Thrush singing its heart by the hay barn was a welcome sound.
No change at Napton Reservoir, still a pair of Pochard and 8 Mute Swan .
Arrived at Draycote Water for my guided walk which was well attended with 22 souls but the wind was in our faces and had increased forcing most of the duck to shelter against the north bank so nothing close to enjoy.
I struggled to ensure we all saw the distant Great-northern Diver that spent ten minutes on the surface preening before it disappeared. The female Common Scoter was also distant in toft bay but in more sheltered water and luckily both Goldeneye and a Buzzard took pity on us and gave better views on the return. Only other birds of note were 4 Redwing flying over while the smaller birds still remain elusive or non-existent.
Walking through my estate this evening a distant Tawny Owl was heard


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

January 26th 2010

Sorry folks but nothing new to report.
Bob and I tied to do the patch justice today enjoying a good days birding but failing to find anything I haven’t been reporting for the last two weeks.
We started the day at the pond walking out to toft bay with the male Smew off farborough bank near the fishing pontoons and the female Common Scoter drifting out in the centre. Great-northern Divers were elusive with one popping up in front of us on the way back and another reported by other observers off draycote bank. Two interesting duck movements were a male Pintail in toft bay till it flew off down the Grandborough valley at 10:15 and 3 Shelduck in biggen bay also left to the east at 09:45. Duck numbers generally have dropped with only 90 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 10 Wigeon and 30 Pochard noted though there still a few Goldeneye around but never got round to counting them and passerines were virtually non-existent.
Next stop was the Grandborough Valley but even with the sun coming out we failed find the Great Grey Shrike making do with 5 Buzzard, 8 Long-tailed Tit, Sparrowhawk, 2 Green Woodpecker, 100 Linnet and a few Stock Dove. Moving on to Napton Reservoir we found a mixed flock of 200 Redwing and Fieldfare along the entrance road but the reservoir itself only had 2 Pochard, 8 Mute Swan and 160 Common Gull so a little disappointing.

Corn Bunting high up in a tree, Lawford Heath by bob Hazell
After a brew we continued on to Lawford Heath seeing a couple of Buzzard on the way where 11 Corn Bunting, 100 Chaffinch, 20 House Sparrow and 25 Yellowhammer were present and our final port of call was the Church Lawford Bewick’s Swan which was just yards away from the A426 in the kale field.

Yeah I know its another Bewick's Swan shot but when it goes we may not see one on my patch for the rest of the year so enjoy.


Monday, 25 January 2010

January 25th 2010

I stayed on the sofa today so just passing on the gossip for the patch.
Both the Great Grey Shrike and Bewick’s Swan remain but no sign of the Great White Egret and the usual delinquents are still on the pond.

Buzzard Draycote Water by Bob hazell

Church Lawfords Bewick's Swan by Bumbling Bears


Sunday, 24 January 2010

January 24th 2010 Updated

Dave and I trawled the lanes of the Grandborough Valley early this morning but only heard 3 Tawny Owls including one very close at Grandborough Fields Farm. After a thirty minute wait the arrival of Dave L encouraged the Great Grey Shrike to perform well spending long periods on the wires and making the occasional flights including a spell of hovering in front of us. Unfortunately the Linnet flock has moved on so very little else to see though 4 male Goosander dropping in to one of the streams near Woolscott was notable.
Next on the agenda was the pond but even at 9am the place was heaving so the three of us scoped for 45 minutes from the windsurfing area finding the female Common Scoter, 3 male Shoveler, male Smew and one Great-northern Diver before clearing off a.s.a.p.
Rookery Hall Farm was quiet due to farming activity but a search of the trees in the garden showed at least 7 Corn Bunting present, also a few Yellowhammer and a couple of Buzzards nearby.
Final destination was Brandon Marsh which had some footpaths underwater so had to make do with poor views of the Green-winged Teal looking in to the sun. Snipe, Kingfisher and 3 Buzzard noted
Patch news - Church Lawford Bewick’s Swan still present, Great White Egret returned to the swift valley, Marsh Tit at Cathiron and a Little Egret was seen along the Avon valley last week.

Holding another of my walks at the pond on Thursday 28th January. Meet at visitors centre 11am.


January 24th 2010

Apologies for late posting – finally managed to get me blog to recognize my password.

January 22nd 2010
Very little seen by Dave, Colin and I on Friday 22nd January due to heavy rain most of the day. Only 2 Corn Bunting could be found as we passed Rookery Hall Farm and no sign of the Bewick’s Swan flock at Church Lawford although the single remained amongst the Mute Swan flock.

January 23rd 2010
Had planned to do the valley and roost but took up a late offer from Geoff and Mary for a change of scenery enjoying a walk along the Nene Way between Eldernell and March Farmers in Cambridgeshire seeing 2 Tundra Bean Geese near the car park at Eldernell, 2 White-fronted Geese further east, 2 over wintering Common Crane on March Farmers and on the way back we added Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl and 3 Marsh Harriers to the list. Missed a Bittern by seconds and no sign of the 5 Pink-footed Geese

Graham Rowling e-mailed with his sightings in the valley today having a group of 5 Roe Deer (1 buck, 4 does) along Hill Road and a Short-eared Owl along Grandborough Fields Road. Meanwhile both the Bewick’s Swan and Great Grey Shrike were seen today.

I will post a report on today’s efforts later this evening.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

January 21st 2010

Winter Moth trapped overnight.
I was out with Bob Hazell visiting Church Lawford, Coombe Abbey and Brandon Marsh. The 16 Bewick’s Swans were still on Newham Grounds between Bretford and Church Lawford this morning while the other was found with the Mute Swan flock between The Grange and Cottage Farm eating well and seemed OK. Two Golden Plover flew over west.

Useing the hedge as a blind Bob got a nice shot of this Bewick's Swan

Unfortunately there was too much disturbance at Coombe Abbey for the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker but 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 5 Long-tailed Tit, Little Owl in a dead Oak tree, Buzzard and 150 Fieldfare seen.
We tried for the Green-winged Teal at Brandon Marsh which had been seen early morning but no luck though we did get good prolonged views of the Bittern. Other birds of note were Snipe, pair of Goldeneye, 3 Bullfinch and Nuthatch at the visitors centre. No sign of the Bewick’s Swan flock as we drove past mid-afternoon.
Interestingly a Ring-billed Gull adult was reported from the balancing pool, Shawell this afternoon so one for me to get my gums in to over the next few roosts if it comes our way.
Chatting with Bob and Max at Brandon regarding Great-northern Diver plumages at the pond and an adult winter has been seen recently so there could be or have been three birds present.


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

January 19th 2010

Not the best of days.
Failed to find the Great Grey Shrike with Mark down Grandborough Valley so we moved on to Napton Reservoir but the low cloud moved in spoiling visibility managing only a Great-spotted Woodpecker so ended up at the pond and struggled till we had distant views of the 2 male Red-crested Pochard and female Common Scoter. Joined up with Bob Hazell and could not make our minds up whether there were two or three Great-northern Diver present as they were very mobile.

Great-northern Divers by Max Silverman
Moths found today included Dark Chestnut and Winter Moth by the Rangers Office and Chestnut on the Gents

Chestnut by Bob Hazell
If you are in the Church Lawford area tomorrow check on the Bewick’s Swan thats hangs out with the Mutes, been reported today that it’s not looking so good. The other sixteen were still present near the River Avon bathing.


Monday, 18 January 2010

January 18th 2010

record shot of 3 of yesterday flock of 4 Brent Geese at the pond by Bob hazell

A real grotty morning being damp and misty that was slow to clear so had to make do with being chuffed that I have finally caught my first moth of the year a Dark Chestnut. Bob had both Winter Moth and Mottled Umber at the pond today on the walls of the visitors centre.

Mottled Umber by Bob Hazell

In the afternoon I went over to Coombe Abbey to see the female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker near the entrance which was showing well and had drive by views of the Church Lawford Bewick’s Swan flock in there usual place. John had reported 17 earlier while Colin & Sarah had 16 with a fly over Barnacle Goose.
On the way back called in at the feeding station on the Oxford Canal at Cathiron managing 2 Willow and 3 Coal Tit, 3 Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk.


January 17th 2010

We spent most of the day in the valley with a Barn Owl just outside Woolscott then took the county road to Sawbridge managing 3 Grey Partridge and 7 Red-legged Partridge plus 2 Tree Sparrow.
The walk from Sawbridge to Wolfhamcote produced 200 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing, 10 Golden Plover and a Little Owl before moving on to Grandborough. The Great Grey Shrike was showing for a change along with the male Merlin, 2 Buzzard and a Raven while 5 Tree Sparrow, 8 Yellowhammer and Sparrowhawk were by the barn. No sign of the Bar-tailed Godwit at Napton Reservoir but another locality tick in the shape of a female Red-crested Pochard along with 2 Cetties Warbler, Grey Wagtail and Water Rail.
Draycote Water had 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in fields below Farborough bank, 2 Great-northern Diver, male Smew and female Common Scoter.


Saturday, 16 January 2010

January 16th 2010

I was out with Neville and Chris this morning as the thaw continues helped along by heavy rain as we failed to find the Great Grey Shrike which was not surprising considering the conditions but did have excellent views of the male Merlin catching a Linnet.
We moved on to Napton Reservoir which was half frozen with a few duck including 6 Wigeon and 5 Mute Swan with the highlight of a Bar-tailed Godwit feeding on the edge of the ice showing well. This is a first for me at Napton and I only have one record from the pond in January so it’s rare as hen’s teeth this time of the year on my patch.
With all three of us looking extremely bedraggled we spent an hour at the Long Itchington Diner drying out over a bowl of muesli before we moved on the pond which was open and should be for awhile unless it freezes bad again. There may have been 2 Great-northern Divers, one in toft bay playing with a fish and another off rainbow corner but they were not seen at the same time. The female Common Scoter was out in centre before the sailing boats flushed it in to rainbow then toft bay. A flock of 5 adult Whooper Swan flew over at 11:55am followed by an immature at 13:06pm. Male Smew was distant by the valve tower. We could not find any Red-crested Pochard but came away with 145 Pochard, 55 Goldeneye, 200+ Wigeon, 100 Teal, 8 Goosander, 8 Gadwall, 20 Goldfinch, 3 Buzzard, 5 Bullfinch and a Green Woodpecker. Failed to see a single Pied Wag or Meadow Pipit!!!
Next stop was Rookery Hall Farm where we managed 13 Corn Bunting and a Tree Sparrow despite the disturbance then on to Church Lawford and soon located the Bewick’s Swan flock by the flooded River Avon near Newham Grounds. Counted 16 although 17 were seen earlier and later.


Friday, 15 January 2010

The Good News
This afternoon all 17 Bewick’s were between Church Lawford and Bretford off the A428. Three were with Mute Swans in the second field past The Grange heading towards Bretford while 14 including Grundul were mobile and near Avon House on the other side of road.

The Bad News
P&O have announced today that the Portsmouth to Bilbao Ferry service will cease 27th September 2010 due to unsustainable losses. If you have never done the trip with a chance to see some Dolphins & Whales as well as a few hours enjoying the hills above Santander you better get booking. (look at blog entry for August 15th 2009 & August 11th 2008 ) I aim to be on a couple in August. There web site was struggling to cope with the heavy traffic tonight.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

January 14th 2010 EXTRA PLEASE READ

Apprently Draycote was closed today due to weather. Unfortunatley I used one of the public paths which they forgot to put a notice on. PLEASE RING them to find out about access. Some Birders were turned away today. DONT RING ME


January 14th 2010

Not surprisingly I failed to relocate the Grandborough Valley Great Grey Shrike this morning due to poor visibility but the same conditions ensured the male Merlin never new I was there as it perched just 10 yards away on a fence post. Earlier 2 Barn Owls appeared out of the gloom so along with the 700 Linnet and 12 Tree Sparrow it was not a wasted visit.
I was watching the male Stonechat near Valley Farm along Hill Rd when a call to say a Bittern was on the ice near the Birdingbury Bridge forced me to risked life and limb along the A428 to arrive to the news it had walked off the canal heading for a small reed bed at the end of the field that the “happy clappy” travelers are in. The adjacent Stockton Cutting had 19 Long-tailed Tits.
Visibility was starting to improve when I arrived at Draycote Water with 20 Goldfinch and 3 Linnet in the sailing club lower car park, Coal Tit on the feeders in the ranger’s yard and a Water Rail in the frozen ditch by the entrance. There was still one Great-northern Diver off inlet, female Common Scoter out in centre, 2m & 1f Red-crested Pochard off the windsurfing area and male Smew near valve tower. Duck numbers still good with 15 Goosander, 128 Pochard, 36 Goldeneye, 19 Gadwall, 2 female Shoveler, 167 Teal, 230 Wigeon, 300+ Canada Geese, 7 Graylag and female Ruddy Duck. Also present were Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 10 Yellowhammer, 5 Collared Dove, 7 Bullfinch, 2 Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. The roost had adult Caspian Gull adult Med Gull and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Bewick's Swan, Church Lawford by Pete Hall

Of interest there are still 5 Bewick’s Swans today at Church lawford and Colin found out the history of 606 Grindul from Julia Newth Wildfowl & Wetlands Research Officer at Slimbridge.
It was ringed 19/12/05 at Slimbridge and by March 2006 it was in the Schleswig Holstein area of Germany. Returned to Slimbridge 4/11/06 and then not sighted on its travels until 15/11/08 on Friesland, Netherlands and again on 28/01/09 before it spent at least 23/02/09 to 21/03/09 on the Schleswig Holstein, Germany


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

January 12th 2010

Mark picked me up just before 9am and we looked for the Church Lawford Bewick’s before going on to the Great Grey Shrike. Called in at Rookery Farm on the way but the farmer was busy slopping out the pens so a lot of disturbance and we only managed 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Corn Bunting and 12 Yellowhammer. There were no sign of any obvious Bewick’s on the A428 so we parked up by the track to Cottage Farm to check out the Mute Swan flock and found 2 Bewick’s feeding in a dip. We also had Buzzard, Raven and Merlin in area. Soon had the news out and joined by Dennis and Pete. Later on in the day Terry had 17 so I don’t know where the main flock was hiding. Interestingly the flock contains one individual with a yellow davic ring that was ringed at Slimbridge in 2005 and called Grindul.
Moved on to the Shrike site and spent 2hrs in a bone chilling easterly wind with a few others waiting for it to perform but it never showed. The male Merlin was adamant that those present would get good views as it hunted the Linnets or perched resting. Also Sparrowhawk and as we left the valley we picked up Green Woodpecker and Buzzard along Flecknoe Road.

Red-crested Pochard a record shot by Mark in cold strong winds
Draycote Water was open today but its best to ring them first as they are playing a day by day game depending if the car parks are frozen. Top car park was closed. Dennis had rang to say he had an adult Caspian Gull in biggen bay so walked out to farborough spit managing 2 male and one female Red-crested Pochard by the fishing pontoon before they drifted back towards draycote bank. Our third Merlin of the day, a male was hunting near sewage farm and the adult Caspian Gull was on the ice but in toft bay before we gave in to the elements. Female Brambling and Siskin in my garden mid-afternoon.


January 11th 2010

Despite having more snow overnight I’m a sucker for punishment so started the day at Rookery Hall Farm Lawford Heath where there were Kestrel, 5 Meadow Pipit, 3 Reed Bunting, 12 Tree Sparrow, 22 Yellowhammer and 3 Corn bunting among the 80 Collared Dove, 150+ Chaffinch and 200+ Starling.
I moved on to the feeding station in the car park by the Oxford Canal, Cathiron Lane nr Brinklow which had run out but once stocked up attracted a Marsh Tit along with 4 Nuthatch, 3 Willow Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 4 Coal Tit. The adjacent All Oaks Wood had 2 Woodcock and a distant Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was heard coming from the Town Thorns Farm area.
Heading for Draycote there were 2 Bewick’s Swans on the side of the River Avon near Bretford and probably part of the flock of 17 Bewick’s seen by Colin near Avon House, Church Lawford off the A428.
Never did get to the pond as I ran out of steam.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

January 10th 2010

Only one place for me and Dave to be this morning and that was the valley starting at the Southam Road owl field but we failed to get a sniff so joined by Colin we moved on to Grandborough at first light to enjoy the Great Grey Shrike for an hour in its usual place along joined by Martin and Jeff. On arrival we had 2 Barn Owl then found the Great Grey in the tall hedge and it appeared to be feeding from a larder although the prey item could not be determined. While enjoying the GGS we had both male and female Merlin taking a keen interest in the 600+ Linnet while at the back of the field there were 8 Tree Sparrows, also seen were 7 Hares, 3 Foxes and a Stoat.
By the time we left the wind chill ruled out grapefruit for breakfast so it was off to the Diner at Long Itchington for a proper birders breakfast enjoying 10 Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow across the road.
We felt Brandon Marsh would be pointless as the big freeze continues so checked on the pond managing 2 male Red-crested Pochard, female Common Scoter, one Great-northern Diver, 8 Long-tailed Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker and well over a 100 Pochard. The visit was marred by heavy snow showers so we moved on to Rookery Hall Farm on Lawford Heath and the place was cooking on gas with 16 Tree Sparrow, 12 Yellowhammer and 4 Corn bunting among the 100+ Chaffinch and 200+ Starling, another Fox and a Buzzard ended the mornings jaunt. Bumbling Bears had a Merlin here
Many thanks for those who sent me there sightings while in the valley and species seen by others were Little Owl and Stonechat along Hill Rd, 2 Raven and Sparrowhawk at the GGS site and the ringtail Hen Harrier crossed the A45 near the prison at 15:10pm. Dave thought he had it over the ridge of Beck Hill this morning being mobbed but alas it never showed again.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

January 9th 2010

Another cracking day in the valley but you had to work hard for it with overnight snow showers followed by a bitterly cold north easterly wind keeping the temperature well below freezing for most of the day. Cycling was difficult so I dumped the bike in Dunchurch and joined the sledging brigade briefly on toft hill as I made my way to the pond via toft shallows then on towards Grandborough via the kissing gate before retracing my steps via the Southam Road owl field.

Great-northern Diver: 2 off draycote bank
Smew: male off farborough then draycote bank
Red-crested Pochard: 2 male still
Red-breasted Merganser: female asleep on the north bank
Goosander: 26 seen off draycote bank and 7 males flew over Woolscott
Shelduck: 2 out in centre
Hen Harrier: ringtail back of Leam Valley Golf Centre
Merlin: now 2 females in valley
Sparrowhawk: hunting over beck hill
Peregrine: one over Kites Hardwick
Great Grey Shrike: still present near Grandborough
Stock Dove: 100+ in valley
Raven: one over Grandborough and over pond
Linnet: 400+ in valley
Barn Owl: one off Southam Road
Yellowhammer 25+ in valley
Reed Bunting: 10 in valley
Red-legged Partridge: 2 in valley

Meanwhile my glee of finding the GGS was premature as it’s been in the area since the 2nd but no one considered giving me the heads up. ouch.

-4c tonight with more snow due so valley will be iffy.


Friday, 8 January 2010

January 8th 2010

Red-crested Pochard by Bob Hazell

Arrived at Draycote Water with Dave this afternoon to be met by signs that the site was still closed so we explored the Grandborough Valley instead and came up trumps by managing to find a stunning female Merlin perched on telegraph wires for ten minutes giving excellent scope views then we hit gold dust with a Great Grey Shrike which was my first for the valley.

I have not heard from Draycote Water and as there is no let up in the sub zero temperatures I am presuming it will still be closed tomorrow and they have cancelled my walk.


Thursday, 7 January 2010

January 7th 2010

A cracking day started with a garden record of -8.7c which was nothing compared to the bone chilling -13c when Bob and I arrived at the Draycote Water. Unfortunately the reservoir was closed because of the weather and I have no idea when it will open again so we entered from cycle route 41 and enjoyed a very tiring but productive 5 hours. Plenty of snow and at the start of our walk nearly two thirds of the reservoir were frozen but a combination of blue sky’s and a north westerly wind broken some of the ice up by early afternoon.
Great-northern Diver: 2 still with one off draycote bank and the other more central
Red-crested Pochard: male near valve tower
Common Scoter: female out in centre
Smew: male off farborough bank

Whooper Swan: 2 spent most of our visit trying to avoid being digi scoped by Bob

Pintail: a very obliging male on the inlet
Goosander: at least 24 present off inlet
Pochard: 124
Gadwall: 24
Teal: 145
Wigeon: 356
Goldeneye: 38
Raven; one over biggen bay
Peregrine: a stunning male low over outlet giving crippling views
Sparrowhawk: a male flew close then perched on the rocks of draycote bank
Great-spotted Woodpecker: one
Long-tailed Tit: 5
Goldfinch: 30
Buzzard: 3
Mute Swan: 3 – first of the year

All photos by Bob Hazell

Back home I had time for a brew then it was back out again to show Peter the Corn Buntings on Lawford Heath where we managed 10 the highest count I have had for over 15 years. Still no Brambling yet among the Chaffinch flock but we did have 2 Tree Sparrow and nearby 5 Skylark, 30 Fieldfare, 50 Golden Plover and before we moved off to see the Great White Egret at long Lawford a female Merlin flew west. The Great White Egret was in the usual field by the junction of A426 and Lawford Heath Lane.

I am supposed to have one of my walks at the pond on Saturday but suggest you get hold of Severn Trent to see if it’s going ahead as I have no idea what’s going on as they haven’t contacting me yet. I intend going as this cold weather has more goodies to bring in.

Mark Phillips walking his dog this morning along Epsom Rd, Rugby found a Common Sandpiper on the Sow Brook, a very good record from a residential area.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

January 6th 2009

I attracted strange looks from a passing patrol car as I walked up to nearby Cock Roundabout but I could not resist going out at 3am looking for owls under a blanket of snow that had fell overnight. The snowy scene gave enough light to pick out 2 Tawny Owl, one in flight and one perched.
The snow continued on and off till mid –day so decided to do the roost late afternoon at the pond and though down to -2c it was very productive with adult Glaucous Gull along with 2 adult and first winter Yellow-legged Gull. More fun was had below draycote bank with a Woodcock out in the open looking for soft ground and a Roe Deer in the third field next to Draycote village attracting attention from some late walkers. The Goosander roost reached an impressive 76 with 44 male and 32 female with the majority coming in at dusk. The 2 Great-northern Diver, female Common Scoter and male Smew off draycote bank while the gaudy were represented by a female Mandarin in biggen bay near lin croft point. Duck numbers are still increasing with Goldeneye reaching 47 and Gadwall 34 while 1400 Fieldfare and 500 Redwing were moving south.


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

January 5th 2010

I joined up with Bob for a walk around the pond and this cold spell has finally started to take a grip on the place with two thirds of toft bay frozen. At the start the visibility was good but deteriorated as the predicted snow showers arrived. The 2 Great-northern Divers, male Smew and Common Scoter were all off draycote bank along with an influx of Goosander (18m & 16f) while dotted around the reservoir we have had an increase in some of the more commoner duck species with 200+ Wigeon, 160 Teal, 65 Pochard, 10 Shoveler, 35 Goldeneye and 15 Gadwall. A lot of gulls were in biggen bay but despite a good search we were disappointed not to even pick out a Yellow-legged. Very few passerines seen but at least 8 Wren are surviving the sub-zero conditions along with 20 Robins while 20+ Redwing were feeding on leaf litter. Only other birds of interest were 2 Green Woodpecker, 20+ Goldfinch, 2 Buzzard and 8 Meadow Pipit.
The Long Lawford Great White Egret was present early this morning and may have been the one seen at Brandon Marsh just over an hour later.


January 4th 2010

After yesterdays loss I’m birding on anger and intent on self destruction so I was on Beck Hill at first light enjoying a wind chill temperature of -8c in a very heavy frosted valley. Main aim was to see if any owls were about and managed 2 Barn Owls from my vantage point though I did suffer. One was probably the Southam Road bird and another was towards Woolscott. As the light improved hundreds of Wood Pigeons, Jackdaws and other corvids left there roost along with 3 Raven and the nearby Linnet flock was around the 300 mark and fully aware of the presence of a female Merlin. Also seen were 2 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 40 Redwing, 200 Fieldfare, 2 Tree Sparrow, 6 Bullfinch and Sparrowhawk.
This afternoon the female Brambling showed briefly in the garden, 5 Fieldfare flew south and 7 Cormorant north.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

January 3rd 2010

Waiting for Dave this morning I managed a couple of meteors probably from the annual Quadrantid meteor shower although the bright moon is a serious hindrance and I forgot to blog we also had one on 1st January while waiting for the Barn Owl.
Another very cold morning so we trawled Lawford Heath for a change looking for owls while the car warmed up but we never had a sniff except for the backend of a Fox so we looked at the Southam Road Barn Owl which showed a little longer for a change. We only gave the pond a brief look in case anything big and obvious had arrived overnight and we were lucky enough to have both Great-northern Divers very close in to the windsurfing area before they moved even closer to farborough bank. Common Scoter was near the valve tower, male Smew seen only in flight and 3 male and 2 Goosander noted. Although the country park toilet block is more sheltered than the rest of the reservoir it was still a surprise to find a Winter Moth. My first moth of the year.
The Clayhill Lane, Long Lawford Great White Egret was kindly pointed out to us by Richard Dawkins almost hidden in a ditch parallel to the railway line with just its head and neck occasionally showing before flying off over railway line to land in fields off the junction of A428 and Lawford Heath Lane.
Arrived at Rookery Farm where there were at least 6 possibly 9 Corn Bunting and 18 Meadow Pipit before I discovered I had lost my scopes eye piece and became one very unhappy bunny and sent my self off in to exile.

Tree Sparrow Rookery Farm by Steve Valentine

Corn Bunting Rookery Farm by Steve Valentine


Saturday, 2 January 2010

January 2nd 2010

Di Stone kindly sent these two images she took at Brandon Marsh yesterday when the Bittern came out of its hiding place. Many thanks now I know what it looks like.

I woke to find we had a light snow shower, the temperatures down to -2.8c in the garden with wind chill of -6c and wishing I had not cut me hair so short the night before. O well you are in it to win it so down to the pond before the grockles arrived.
Plenty about with 2 male Reed Bunting, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 12 Siskin and 5 Lesser Redpoll in toft shallows while the lower sailing club car park had Treecreeper, 23 Goldfinch and Woodcock flushed with a Willow Tit nearby on the feeding station in the rangers yard. The Great-northern Diver, female Common Scoter and male Smew were all between inlet and valve tower along with 8 Goosander and towards biggen bay there were 3 male and one female Pintail and 3 Snipe. Apparently I went straight past a Black-necked Grebe
Just arrived home when Mark offered a lift to Lawford Heath where we enjoyed 5 Corn bunting, female Reed Bunting and 3 Yellowhammer amongst the House Sparrows and Chaffinch at Rookery Hall Farm. At least 100 Golden Plover seen in flight nearby and over a 100 Stock Dove in adjacent fields. We were on our way home so Mark decided to take the longer scenic route down Lawford Heath Lane and just approaching the junction with the A428 when we both spotted the Great White Egret walking the edge of the field and occasionally dropping in to the stream. Soon had great views joined by JJ, Bumbling Bears and Bob and April.

Great White Egret by Bumbling Bears taken when it first arrived last year.

I watched the garden mid afternoon and I must be the only one feeding the birds around these parts as there was plenty to see with 2 Siskin, 3 Magpie, 6 Wood Pigeon, 15 Chaffinch, female Reed Bunting, 3 Coal Tit, Willow Tit, 2 Robin, 10 Blackbird and female Brambling appearing briefly. Peregrine flew overhead.
Finally caught up with me records and of interest the Bittern was the 13th year in a row its on my county list, Great-northern Diver makes it 15 years in a row at the pond while the Common Scoter continues a pond run of 34 years. Ended the year list on 195 for the county, 193 for me patch and 180 for the pond.


Friday, 1 January 2010

January 1st 2010

Fisrt morning of 2010 by Mason Phillips
Some of Warwickshire’s finest gathered by the owl field, Southam Road this morning despite the -5c wind chill to get the year started with a Barn Owl and though it did not perform for very long – it’s on our year list. The day turned into a social event as we moved on to Draycote Water where we split up with some of us walking out towards rainbow corner and the others (joined by those who had the sense to stay in bed a little longer) to farborough spit so we had the reservoir just about covered. Great-northern Diver, female Common Scoter, male Smew, Grey Wagtail, 6 Goosander and 10 Meadow Pipit were among the more common species seen while a male Pintail was a new arrival.
Ten of us then chose to sample the grapefruit at a nearby Little Chef seeing 2 Buzzard and 7 Golden Plover on the way before checking out Rookery Hall Farm, Lawford Heath. Here we enjoyed searching among the finches and sparrows to find at least 4 Corn Bunting and 6 Yellowhammer but unable to confirm the possible Tree Sparrow while other highlight included a distant Raven, 60 Golden Plover, and Colin’s Green Sandpiper (all I managed was its bum as it shot past)
We were down to five by the time we entered Brandon Marsh and the place was heaving so we just about managed to squeeze in to the far right hand side of east marsh hide just after a Bittern had walked across the channel. Now yours truly came in to his own and managed to relocate it almost hidden on the edge of the reed bed and with Mark setting up his scope a few others also managed to get on to it. The reserve is still frozen but in the end we managed a Snipe, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Buzzard, 2 Jay, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 6 Lesser Redpoll and 4 Siskin.

Bittern by Steve valentine published just to show the difficulty we had in seeing it.