Sunday, 28 February 2010

February 28th 2010

Out with Dave this morning but with a cold wind and drizzle and feeling buggered from yesterdays trip we spent less than 3 minutes at the pond before deciding not to bother and did a runner to the Little Chef.
Not much of note on Lawford Heath and Brandon Marsh could only offer 3 Cetties Warblers, 20 Snipe, Coal Tit, 6 Long-tailed Tit and 10 Lesser Redpoll although a Ringed Plover had been seen earlier. 2 Buzzard over the entrance as we left.


February 27th 2010

I spent the day with Chris and Neville on the east coast of Norfolk visiting sites between Hunstanton and Wareham enjoying some basic winter birding despite the occasional heavy rain showers reducing our time in the field.
The day started with an extended breakfast while we waited for the overnight deluge which plagued our journey to lighten and with little wind visibility was not great when we checked the sea off the cliffs of Hunstanton but managed 300 Common Scoter, 10 Goldeneye, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 200 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Great-northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, 30+ Fulmar and a number of coastal waders.

Fulmar by Steve Seal
Our first day flying Barn Owl was just outside the town which was the beginning of a series of sightings due to heavy overnight rain reducing there feeding opportunities.

Barn Owl by Steve Seal
The Titchwell RSPB reserve had a stunning almost touchable Woodcock near the car park, 2 Water Rail, elusive Water Pipit, 2 immature Marsh Harrier, 30 Avocet, Egyptian Goose, over wintering Spotted Redshank, Little Egret and 2 Barn Owl while the sea held a massive flock of 1100 Common Scoter but too distant see if there were any Velvet Scoters amongst them and a probable Black-necked Grebe which was also distant so hampered identification.

Avocet by Steve Seal

Egyptian Goose by Steve Seal

Spotted Redshank by Steve Seal
Two more Barn Owls were near Burnham Overy Staithe as we drove past and once we parked up at Holkham Woods to visit Holkham Gap 5 Barn Owls were on view from the car park with another hunting the sand dunes on the edge of the wood. Unfortunately the gap was too busy with grockles and kodak fiddlers so the small flock of Shore Lark that had been present all week on the salt marsh had disappeared despite extensive searching but we saw 3 Marsh Harrier, 30 Skylark 40 Goldfinch, 50 Linnet and 4 Rock Pipit while another Woodcock flew over our heads as we approached the wood. More rain curtailed our visit so we had a brew in Wells-next-the-Sea before searching the local Football Clubs ground where among the many Dark-bellied Brent Geese we found 3 Pale-bellied forms.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose by Steve Seal
Up the road by Wells Wood we had adult and first winter male and 2 female Scaup on the boating lake.

Greater Scaup by Steve Seal
Our final destination was overlooking Wareham Salt Marsh where enjoyed a Barn Owl, female Merlin perched, 15+ Little Egret and 2 ringtail and one male Hen Harrier. The male looking resplendent in the gloom but alas the rain came in hard so we called it a day and headed off home with more Barn Owls seen


Friday, 26 February 2010

February 26th 2010

A wet and windy night still produced 2 Pale Brindled Beauty’s and a Winter Moth in the garden trap.
In the afternoon Dave and I went for coffee and cake at Brandon Marsh meeting up with Terry and Colin before having a look at the east marsh. In the hide we met up with Bob and Steve and managed 16 Snipe, male Goldeneye, female Goosander, Kingfisher, 3 Oystercatcher and 3 male and a single female Shelduck but no sign of the Bittern. Earlier on our way to the marsh the Church Lawford Bewick’s Swan was still present with 22 Mute Swan right at the back of the field sleeping.
Just contemplating what to have for tea when Dave rang to say he had checked his trap and had a Dotted Chestnut so a quick phone call to Bob who rushed round to grab a few snaps before the light faded. This moth continues to elude my garden and until Dave started trapping there was only one previous 19th century record for the Rugby area and now he has added three more records - all from his garden.

Dotted Chestnut by Bob Hazell

Thursday, 25 February 2010

February 25th 2010

Overnight temperature did not fall below 5c resulting in 2 Pale Brindled Beauty and a Chestnut in my moth trap and this mild spell brought in dull and misty conditions when I arrived with Bob at the pond this morning. I had one of my guided walks so before we met up with the 27 participants a careful search of the walls around the visitors centre revealed 4 Pale Brindled Beauty and one Winter Moth with one of the Pale’s being in mint condition, heavily marked and having a very green appearance also a distant adult Yellow-legged Gull among the 220 Lesser Black-back Gulls that were present off draycote bank.
The group were a very enthusiastic bunch and they enjoyed the views of a distant juvenile Great-northern Diver and as the majority were new to birding they also appreciated close views of displaying Goldeneye, 2 male and one female Goosander sleeping , Wigeon and Teal just off shore in toft bay and 4 Buzzard overhead plus a look at the moths.
After the walk Bob and I went over to Shawell rubbish tip and silt ponds but could not find anything amongst the hundreds of gulls present.
I have arranged the following guided walks with ST on:-
April 1st
April 29th
13th May
All starting at 11am. (none in March due to holidays)


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

February 24th 2010

A male Blackcap and 2 Buzzard were seen in Northampton Lane as I made my way to the pond and after a dull start to the day this afternoon had a feel of spring to it with partial sunshine bringing temperatures to nearly 8c. There was not much difference in duck numbers to yesterday’s visit and the only noticeable new arrivals were a male and 2 female Shoveler. At least 3 Buzzards were enjoying the weather along with a single Sparrowhawk and a Redshank was heard calling before I eventually found it circling the reservoir. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was located in the roost amongst the larger gulls out in the centre while adult Med Gull in partial summer plumage was in toft bay. Also seen were Great-northern Diver, Grey Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Pale Brindled Beauty in my trap this morning and a couple of moths are fluttering around the trap as I write this blog this evening

Paul Cashmore took this video of the Brandon Marsh Bittern yesterday morning and just shows if your lucky enough it can make your day - magic Paul - many thanks


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

February 23rd 2010

This morning was overcast and dry with a biting cold easterly wind and you know things are desperate when the Olympics Ice Skating is more fun than Bob and I searching for something with wings. We managed the Great-northern Diver but after that the rest of the visit was hard work with very little return - duck and grebe numbers are exceptionally low even for this place. Highlights were 53 Teal, 46 Pochard, 16 Wigeon 2 Gadwall and 15 Goldeneye while the fields behind farborough bank had 2 Buzzard, 100 Fieldfare and 30+ Lapwing. A few larger gulls were still loafing around.
Next port of call was Brandon Marsh with 20+ Lesser Redpoll and a Coal Tit near the visitors centre and the east marsh had 2 Shelduck, 2 Kingfisher and Oystercatcher but a 45 minute wait for the Bittern to show only produced a Song Thrush.
Moved on to Cathiron but the feeders were empty so only Coal Tit and Nuthatch seen and a look for the Bewick’s Swan at Church Lawford found the Mute Swan flock distant and the majority were asleep so we dipped.


Monday, 22 February 2010

February 22nd 2010

Having decided not to go out in the snow this morning the news from John regarding a flyover juv Glaucous Gull heading north at the pond early afternoon was very welcome news only for a xxxxxxx puncture to scuttled any chance of getting there to do the roost. At least the bird turned up which was more than I did – hopefully it will hang around for a few more roosts. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing heading south over the garden.


February 21st 2010

Saturday was a shopping day visiting focus optics to replace my magnifying glass before the mothing season takes off so very little seen and as we both did not fancy the patch today we decided to give the Nene Wash at Endernell, Cambridgeshire another look and set out early full of hope. We new there was a chance of snow but we hadn’t anticipated how heavy it would be so what should have been a pleasant 6 mile walk turned in to bit of an ordeal. Having seen both Barn and Tawny Owl on the way we arrived just before dawn and started our walk just as the first few flakes started falling. For the first hour visibility was good, wind light and very cold but we picked up Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, 3 possibly 5 Barn Owl, Shelduck, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 300 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Oystercatchers while March Farmers held at least 3000 Wigeon, 300 Pintail, 300 Bewick’s and 600 Whooper Swan.
As we neared Poplar Farm the wind increased and the snow became heavier and the next two hours were a white out with reduced visibility and we struggled to add to the list but did manage Ruff, Snipe Golden Plover and Fieldfare before returning to the car looking like two drowned Lobsters. Also seen were 4 Roe Deer and 14 Hare.
As we searched for somewhere for breakfast and dry out we managed a few Red-legged Partridge but the state of our clothes indicated that once our bellies were sated we would call it a day and head home.
In my absence the patch produced 3 Red-crested Pochard at the pond and a Little Egret was over Woolscott so something to go for tomorrow.


Friday, 19 February 2010

February 19th 2010

On our way to Brandon Marsh this afternoon Dave and I stopped briefly to see the Bewick’s Swan which was still present at Church Lawford among 19 Mute Swan and has to be one of the longest stayers the county has ever had.
After joining up with Colin for coffee we gave the marsh a miss (Bittern still being reported) and went over the road to Brandon Wood to check its suitability for National Moth Night and though pretty devoid of birds we did come across a nice flock of 20+ Siskin. Only other birds seen were a Jay, Green Woodpecker and a Coal Tit.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

February 18th 2010

I was becoming bored by seeing the same old things over and over again so I gave birding a rest and concentrated on my painting of the Brandon Marsh Bittern and the Grandborough Great Grey Shrike so not surprisingly after three days I had a desperate need to get out in to the field again.
Unfortunately I chose the wrong day with fog putting paid to any chance of seeing any owls along the Southam Road and a check the rough pasture fields near Napton Reservoir only produced poor views of one as it drifted off in to the gloom. Visibility did not improve as I walked the reservoir perimeter getting brief views of Water Rail and Cetties Warbler and a walk to Shuckburgh Wood from the village of Lower Shuckburgh became a nightmare as snow showers reduced visibility even further. There is limited access to the wood from various footpaths so only managed 2 Raven, 8 Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
With the weather not improving I dumped the bike and accepted a lift to Draycote Water and could just about make out the shape of 2 Great-northern Diver off farborough spit and 2 Shelduck flew in to toft as the snow fall continued putting paid to any chance of doing the roost. After seeing a Lesser Redpoll behind toft shallows it was a long trudge home arriving cold, wet, tired and ready to kill. Roll on April and a good dose of desert sunshine.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

February 14th 2010

Barn Owl failed to show at Grandborough and we will have to presume the Great Grey Shrike has buggered off to the west of the county. Back at the car on Hill Rd there were 80 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, Mistle Thrush, 10 Yellowhammer and 2 Buzzard while Dave and I enjoyed a brew.
Although not a year tick 3 male Common Scoter that arrived overnight were a welcome change at the pond and the Great-northern Diver was not far away out in the centre of the reservoir. The only other sighting of local interest was the increase in Pied Wagtail numbers.
The Church Lawford Bewick Swan was back in the kale field with the Mute Swan flock and the female Goosander at Brandon Marsh which I had missed yesterday was still on one the islands, also Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 2 Snipe.
Cathiron had the usual assortment of tits apart from the hairy one.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

February 13th 2010

Met up with Chris to see how the pond was doing and there were more joggers than duck. A walk out to toft bay was a waste of time and only long distant views of the Great-northern Diver, 15 Goldfinch, 60 Lapwing and male Goosander saved the visit.
Brandon Marsh was a little more active with a few Shoveler, Teal, Lesser Redpoll, 3 Cetties Warbler heard, Buzzard and Green Woodpecker while the Bittern was seen in the channel from east marsh hide.
Cathiron had 3 Marsh Tit among the many Great, Blue, Coal, Willow and Long-tailed Tits while other species seen included Treecreeper and 3 Nuthatch.
Although the Church Lawford Bewick’s Swan is still around we missed it this afternoon.


February 12th 2010

This afternoon Dave and I gave both the Leam and Grandborough Valley a good search covering the villages of Draycote, Birdingbury, Hill, Leamington Hastings, Sawbridge, Willoughby, Woolscott and Grandborough. We came away with a lousy total of 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Buzzard and 50 Fieldfare.


Thursday, 11 February 2010

February 11th 2010

Gave the roost at the pond a real going over but with a north easterly wind chill I now no why I’m not so keen on gull watching this year. Despite freezing me bits off I managed a first winter Med Gull amongst the thousands of Common and Black-headed Gulls while there was no sign of any white wingers among the larger gulls. Also present were 2 Great-northern Diver drifting together amongst the roost, 2 female Goosander near the valve tower and 11 Golden Plover heading west.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

February 10th 2009

Barn Owl down the Southam Road early this morning and very brief look at the pond produced the 2 Great-northern Divers swimming together and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. As I arrived home a Peregrine went over the garden.
Max has sent me his recent attempts at the Brandon Marsh Bittern he saw on Tuesday and the memories came flooding back of the one we saw last Friday - many thanks Max

Bittern by Max Silverman

Bob also sent me this Satellite last week that was in Dave's trap and I'v only just got round to posting it. Sorry for the delay Bob - its an age thing

Satellite by Bob Hazell - pretty obvious why it gets its name


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

February 9th 2010

Out with Mark, Robert and Bob for a walk to the valve tower, Draycote Water this morning in a cold northerly wind but the place was very quiet with only 2 Great-northern Diver, 3 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, Buzzard and Green Woodpecker worthy of a mention. Afterwards Mark and I had a look at Napton Reservoir where there were 200 Fieldfare, 4 Shoveler and 100 Common Gull then we moved on to Grandborough where we managed Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard and 300 Fieldfare while trying to find the shrike.


Sunday, 7 February 2010

February 7th 2010

Today was our worse birding day in ages.
If it flapped, quacked or chirped – then we missed it.
Yesterday’s fog was replaced by low cloud making for a dull cool morning down the valley where we failed to see any owls and a poor brief view of a small falcon near Grandborough Fields.
We could only manage one Great-northern Diver at Draycote Water where water levels are still rising putting paid to any shore-line in spring if ST continue to pump in.
Brandon Marsh had 4 Pintail which cleared off before we arrived and the Bittern wouldn’t play ball so it was off to Church Lawford where the Bewick’s Swan could not be found. It was seen yesterday but with only 12 Mute Swan present today then hopefully it’s with the other half of the flock somewhere nearby.

O well at least the Superbowl in an hour will cheer me up


Saturday, 6 February 2010

February 6th 2010

Its been foggy most of the day so did not bother going out and it might be the same tomorrow so dont hold your breath for news.


Friday, 5 February 2010

February 5th 2010

With a minimum temp of 5.2 overnight and damp the garden moth trap did well again with 2 Pale Brindle Beauty, Mottled Umber and a Chestnut which along with yesterdays Grey Shoulder-knot Bob H kindly came round to photograph them this morning.

Grey Shoulder-knot

Pale Brindled Beauty

Chestnut - all photos by Bob Hazell
The day slowly brightened and the garden had 3 Redwing over going south, pair of Sparrowhawk, singing Skylark and a Coal Tit while Bob was doing his stuff
While out with Dave this afternoon we were approaching Fosse Farm on our way to Brandon Marsh and found a stunning male Merlin sitting in bright sunshine on nearby telegraph wires. At Brandon there was no sign of yesterdays Pintail but one of the two Bitterns that had been seen on and off all morning from east marsh hide showed really well after a 45 minute wait while the other stayed elusive. Buzzard, Cetties Warbler and 5 Reed Bunting the best of the rest. The long staying Bewick’s Swan is still at Church Lawford.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

February 4th 2010

Out with Mark and raining again and there was no sign of the Grandborough Valley Great Grey Shrike or Merlin after an hour searching, just 30 Linnets and 3 Skylarks.
Napton Reservoir had 14 Pochard and 18 Long-tailed Tit.
We expected Draycote Water to save the day but the water level continues to rise and there was no sign of the male Smew or female Common Scoter and it took us 90 minutes to add Great-northern Diver, female Shoveler and male Goosander to a very poor day list.
Despite the rain and gloom this mild spell brought 3 moths to my garden trap last night (min temp 3.4c) Winter Moth and my first Early Moth and Grey Shoulder Knot of the year so I am now up to 6 species for the year.


February 3rd 2010

I was convinced the forecast was for rain for most of the day so I was pretty niffed to find it dull and dry this morning and me still in my jim jams. Received an e-mail from Steve informing me of a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker behind lin croft point at Draycote Water this morning so that got me out the door but there was no chance it would be still around so decided to search some possible habitat between Thurlaston and Draycote village. Naturally I saw nothing and by the time I reached the valve tower via cycle route 41 from Draycote village the roost was in full swing and beginning to rain. Found one adult winter Med Gull and the will to live. Only other bird of note was a Little Owl along Half Way Lane. Another soaking


February 2nd 2010

A warm front moved in overnight bringing a promise of rain but as it was still dry I took a gamble and headed for the Grandborough Valley early morning. A Tawny Owl was calling in Kites Hardwick village but the rain did come so I gave up on looking for the shrike and arrived home soaked.


Monday, 1 February 2010

February 1st 2010

Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and 2 Fieldfare over the garden this morning then a visit to the pond this afternoon hoping this latest freeze would have brought something in but alas it looks like more is leaving.
Apart from a few more Goosander (9) then in general duck numbers are still low with no trace of the male Smew off draycote bank but the female Common Scoter remains. Two Great-northern Divers were between the valve tower and the centre. Considering the weather we have had this winter then the Kingfisher in grays barn is note worthy in that they are still in the area. Only other birds of note were 8 Bullfinch, 12 Goldfinch, 5 Meadow Pipit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Song Thrush and another hardy little soul surviving - Goldcrest in toft shallows.