Wednesday, 31 March 2010

March 30th 2010

The day was dull with occasional showers becoming heavy at times and an increasing south west wind but the birds are still migrating through Draycote Water with my first Yellow Wagtail of the year on toft bank (2 were seen yesterday by other observers), Wheatear female in field below farborough spit while the 2 Great-northern Divers remain (of interest there’s been a GND on site since November 6th). Very little else but I did not fancy another soaking so cleared off sharpish.


Monday, 29 March 2010

March 29th 2010

After raining most of the day it started brightened up by late afternoon with a light south easterly wind so I tried quick look at the pond before the next shower came but ended up damp again. A Kittiwake was off dunn’s bay, the 2 Great-northern Divers out in centre, Raven over golf course, female Shelduck, Blackcap male in biggen bay, 30 Sand Martin and my first House Martin of the year.

I have recieved a lot of feedback regarding Bittern so here's two more shot incluing one from Colin as she steams past Ansty minutes after leaving Rugby

Clive who I met up with on the day has put me on to another train which is due to run through Rugby on May 22nd and will be a Euston to Chester train headed by 60163 Tornado. All though the timings are yet to be confirmed provisionally they are Euston 0810, Milton Keynes 0930, Rugby 1030, Chester 1300 and the return will be Chester 1700, Rugby 1930, Milton Keynes 2030 and Euston 2130. The star of the show will be Tornado as she is the first steam locomotive to be built in this country for 60 years by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust which completed the job in 2008. The construction was largely funded by many people contributing a small sum each month and is a testimony to their vision at a cost of £3 million.


March 28th 2010

Apart from 4 Fieldfare at Sawbridge and Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in Northampton Lane, Dunchurch it was a slow start to the day and the strong cold westerly’s at the pond put paid to any migration and all we could manage was 2 Great-northern Diver, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sand Martin and a pair of Teal.
Brandon Marsh did not improve our day with very little change from our last visit though the 2 Shelduck and 3 Redshank had returned and Snipe numbers were down to 25.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

March 27th 2010

I joined a happy band of train enthusiasts including a number of birders in the car park of Myson House, Rugby over looking Rugby Station this morning and we were treated to fantastic views as 60019 Bittern approached.
She was not scheduled to stop at Rugby so there was great excitement amongst the crowds as she slowed and then pulled up in front of us to allow one of the footplate staff to phone the signal box before she blasted us with her whistle which thrilled the old un’s present but scared the poo out of the young un’s who had never heard such a beautiful racket before. She pulled away majestically to be enjoyed by more birders and bloggers further up the line. A Buzzard and 2 Raven flew over but they took a back seat for a change.

60019 Bittern


Friday, 26 March 2010

March 26th 2010

Out with Dave this afternoon to Brandon Marsh for coffee where we had a Swallow go over the visitor centre while waiting for Colin then a gentle stroll around the reserve in between the showers.
Lady luck was on our side with stunning views of a Bittern on the left hand edge of the reeds sunning its self in front of the hide for what seemed ages before skulking back in to cover. Appeared 15 minutes later for a few minutes before taking off and flying in to the right hand reed bed. Magic
Also present were 50 Snipe, Ringed plover, 40+ Shoveler, 10 Sand Martin, 6 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk from the hide and around the reserve came across calling Willow Tit, singing Nuthatch, 30 Redpoll, Great-potted Woodpecker, calling Cetties Warbler, 8 Long-tailed Tit and 4 Chiffchaff.
At least 35 Mute Swan together between Bretford and Church Lawford

Tomorrow birding takes a back seat for awhile and this may not be your cuppa of tea if your not in to trains or you are on a different planet to me but for those of you living locally or on the route then tomorrow Saturday 27th March there is a chance to show your kids or grand kids the first steam hauled train from London Euston to Manchester for many years. This steam journey has been made possible by using LNER A4 Class 4-6-2 no 60019 Bittern; with its two tenders making water stops unnecessary.

Yeah - I’m a turkey but at least I’m a happy turkey – bless.

Wheatear by Steve Valentine one of the males at the pond yesterday


Thursday, 25 March 2010

March 25th 2010

The garden was full of activity this morning with a male Siskin, 3 Bullfinch, 2 Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit and 2 Sparrowhawk.
Out with Bob to look at the pond and the first part of our walk to toft bay was quiet with 3 Sand Martin, 2 Great-northern Diver, 7 Goldeneye, 8 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler but as the day warmed up so did the birds. I returned the way we had come while Bob continued to do his lap and I managed Grey Wagtail and a distant male Common Scoter while Bob was inundated with Chiffchaffs and between us we estimated 50 birds on site. Among the chiffys I had at least one Willow Warbler with Bob enjoying another 3 and Wheatears also started to show with a male off farborough bank and a male and female near rainbow corner.
One had to keep a beady eye on the sky especially after Stratford on Avon’s Alpine Swift yesterday and buddy Dave ringing with news of a Red Kite flying south over his work place in Butlers Leap, Rugby this morning and though nothing bionic was found at least 22 Buzzard and 4 Sparrowhawk were noted. Also seen were regular migrating flocks of Fieldfare and Starling estimated at 500 each all heading north east and this might have been the reason why other observers including Steve Batt saw a Merlin – possibly migrating north with its food supply?. Also 2 Brimstone Butterfly at the pond and 3 in Dunchurch
I arrived back home in the afternoon to a Chiffchaff feeding in the garden holly and when the rain came 16 Sand Martin went over.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

March 24th 2010

I made Bob a happy bunny by trapping this Oak Beauty and while he was round my place getting his pictures we had 3 Redwing and 3 Fieldfare fly over garden heading north. April sent me two record shots of Draycotes Firecrest.

Oak Beauty by Bob Hazell

Draycotes Firecrest by April


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

March 23rd 2010

I spent last night updating the moth records for a yahoo group I co run and so far 12 trappers have recorded 36 species in the county although personally I have only caught 13 despite having me light on every night so I have some catching up to do
Arranged to go out with Bob and April for a wander around the pond and on the way I told them my gall stones were predicting a cracker (strange looks from April) and with in minutes of arriving it was my turn to have my name put up in lights when I found a Great Skua sitting out in the centre of the reservoir resting and occasionally stretching its wings which soon had the eye balls of Bob and April (now staring at me strangely) out of their sockets. This is a very uncommon bird inland in autumn and virtually unheard of in spring in Warwickshire and only the second spring bird for Draycote I have ever had. The Skua was distant most of its time at the pond though good scope views could be had when it landed off farborough spit and in flight and John Coleman reported it flying off north at 14:45pm but a few managed some record shots which they have kindly sent me.

Great Skua by Max Silverman

Great Skua by Andy Hale

Great Skua by Dave Hutton
After a few high fives and numerous phone calls we managed to see 26 Sand Martin, 18 Meadow Pipit, 3 male Shoveler, 2 Great-northern Divers and a fly over calling Ringed Plover before Bob and April continued on there walk while I hung back. As the first admires arrived a Swallow flew over followed by 5 Skylark and a summer plumage Grey Plover before Bob got his own back by relocating Sunday’s grays barn Firecrest by the culvert in biggen bay. That soon had a few reaching for extra oxygen to walk the extra miles to see it. Also present were 10 Goldeneye, 5 Buzzard, 8 Gadwall, 47 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing and I missed 2 Raven, Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Sparrowhawk After our good fortune we dined at the Long Itchington Diner then strolled around Napton on the Hill where we had 2 Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Raven, 100 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing.
Paul and Jenny Heath wanted to see the Firecrest so went back out late afternoon via Cycle Route 41 and the bird was still present but mobile. As we walked back towards the valve tower 2 Avocets were flying around the reservoir at 18:10 brought down by the low cloud and rain looking for somewhere to land. What a way to end a magical day and o it’s so good to see birds coming through after such a lean spell.


Monday, 22 March 2010

March 22nd 2010

Time was not on my side this morning but managed a quick trip with Bob to the pond for a search of the Firecrest that was seen and photographed in Grays Barn yesterday. No luck in the hour we had but did see Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 2 Green Woodpecker. Met up with Steve Batt on his way round and he had seen male Wheatear on farborough bank. Rained most of the afternoon so gave birding a rest.

Steve Whitehose has re-identified yesterdays Small Quaker as a small Common Quaker - many thanks Steve


Sunday, 21 March 2010

March 21st 2010

This morning’s fog started to develop just after 6am and did not lift till 10am so half the morning was wasted with visibility down to 20 meters and we only had 2 Red-legged Partridge to show for our efforts in the valley.
By the time we started to walk back from toft bay, Draycote Water the sun finally burnt off the last of the fog and we found a newly arrived male Common Scoter feeding reasonably close inshore then the 2 Great-northern Divers from farborough spit but distant and a group of 6 Sand Martin with a single first of the year Swallow near the visitors centre which had a March Moth on the wall. After a heated confrontation with a cyclist Dave thought it would be wise to keep me away from anything remotely human and took us to Napton on the Hill to search for migrants.
We had only walked about forty yards from the car and the buggar found a cracking male Firecrest in a dell near the kissing gate which was very mobile and we soon had a few others on too it. Not surprisingly it went walk about after 45 minutes but returned about 90 minutes later. Boy o boy we needed a bit of colour after a drab winter. Other species on the hill were 2 Raven, 4 Buzzard, Nuthatch calling, 5 Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and a lone Redwing but no sign of any other migrants.

Firecrest by Andy Hale
On the mothing front it was a little cooler than the previous night but Dave still managed 16 moths of 6 species while I had 7 moths of 5 species so Bob and April came around mid-afternoon to do some of them justice.

Twin-spotted Quaker

Common Quaker

Hebrew Character

Clouded Drab
all by Bob Hazell


March 20th 2010

Disappointingly the mild temperatures overnight (min 10c) did not bring in any moths to my trap which I thought was down to overnight rain but Dave rang all excited this evening that he had caught 30 moths of 11 species so that theory went out the window and in one catch he’s over taken my year list so he’s due a slapping in the morning.
I spent the morning searching for grounded migrants and despite the rain returning the quarry on Napton on the Hill produced White Wagtail on the slope by the side of the mill and in and around the church there were at least 3 Chiffchaff and a few Redwing/Fieldfare. Also seen were 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Coal Tit, Willow Tit, 2 Raven and 3 Buzzard.
Unfortunately the rain continued so gave Flecknoe and Shuckburgh a miss and headed for the Long Itchington Diner pigging out on the mother of all fry ups watching a roadside Great-spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff before heading on to Napton Reservoir where there was a lone Sand Martin plus 2 Buzzard, Cetties Warbler and Raven.
On the way home I gave the pond a look with a Twin-spotted Quaker and Clouded Drab on the lights of the visitor center but after seeing a White Wagtail below farborough bank the heavens opened up again so viewing became poor and had to find shelter but still managed 2 Great-northern Diver, Oystercatcher and 3 Sand Martin before called it a day and arriving home drenched.


Friday, 19 March 2010

March 19th 2010

My garden was full of breeding activity with a female Dunnock demanding more attention, Blackbirds gathering nesting material and displaying Sparrowhawk’s overhead this morning which reminded me of a need to be careful not to mention some of our breeding species as we still suffer from egg collectors in the county so don’t intend to add to the problem. If I do unintentionally – don’t ask for details – I don't do polite.
Met with Dave, Colin, Mo and Terry at Brandon Marsh to collect my flight tickets then a walk around the marsh was very productive with new for the year 3 Little Ringed Plover flying in, plus 2 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatchers, 3 Redshank, 22 Snipe, 2 Kingfisher, calling Willow Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Buzzard, 30+ Redpoll and 6 Reed Bunting before the rain came. No sign of any Chiffchaffs and Sand Martins that were on site today.
Mo and Terry had been at the pond earlier and took this fine shot of a Kestrel while enjoying an influx of Chiffchaff with 8 recorded.

Kestrel by Terry Southgate


Thursday, 18 March 2010

March 18th 2010

Common Scoter by Bob Hazell
I took the opportunity of an early morning lift to look at the post roost gathering near Potsdam Farm before they dispersed. At least 3000 gulls were gathered with Common Gulls being the most dominate species present but amongst them was an adult summer plumage Med Gull and a first winter Caspian Gull sat among the larger gulls till the appearance of a Peregrine soon had them in the air at 6:40 and majority headed off towards Lawford Heath.
Back home 2 Mistle Thrush went over garden then Bob came round to photograph last nights catch which included 2 Grey Shoulder-knot, Dotted Border, Pale Brindle Beauty and White-shouldered Brown House Moth before we went down to the pond.

Dotted Border by Bob Hazell

Alceris ferrugana by Bob Hazell

March Moth in a more opened winged appearance by Bob Hazell
A weather front is due bringing rain and stronger winds this evening so we were hoping for migrants to arrive and not disappointed when Bob found a Chiffchaff in toft shallows while I located 2 Sand Martin in the rainbow/windsurfing area. Also around were the 2 Great-northern Divers, the male Common Scoter still present off draycote bank, 8 Gadwall, 18 Goldeneye, Grey Wagtail, 3 Green Woodpecker and 5 Buzzard. Also of interest were Long-tailed Tits collecting nesting material and fresh signs of Badger activity.

yesterdays Red-crested Pochard by Bob Hazel

Special thanks to Bob Hazell for another great set of photos - check his birding and moth site out

Meanwhile just outside my patch White Wagtail and Wheatear were reported so more to look for tomorrow.


March 17th 2010

It was a mild cloudy night resulting in March Moth in the trap this morning while Dave had Acleris ferrugana the previous night along with Twenty Plume Moth and a Chestnut while Colin e-mailed me that Sarah had trapped a Yellow Horned so a few more species are starting to appear in the county.
Out with Colin in the afternoon looking for Bobs trio at the pond – male Red-crested Pochard, male Common Scoter and 4 Barnacle Geese and the only one we couldn’t find was the Common Scoter although the Barnacles as to be expected were a let down as they were found feeding in front of walkers resting on the bench in biggen bay. Disappointingly still no summer migrants and apart from the 2 Great-northern Divers very little else noted. A quick check on a small heronry nearby found 3 nests occupied and one nest recently built but unoccupied compared to 5 occupied nests last year. Plenty of gulls pre roosting in fields around Thurlaston and Lawford Heath with the majority being Common Gull and on his way home Colin reported 80 Golden Plover between Church Lawford and Bretford.
Late evening look at Napton Reservoir produced 30 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare, female Goosander, Cetties Warbler, 3 Wigeon and a stunning summer plumage Med Gull while a Barn Owl was hunting near Calcutt.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

March 16th 2010

There’s has been a trickle of summer migrants arriving in the country over the last few days and with the wind abating and turning to the south west Bob and I were full of anticipation when we arrived at the pond for our first summer migrants.
Before arriving we gave the Grandborough Valley a quick look as two Med Gulls had been found yesterday afternoon feeding on recently sprayed slurry but nothing noted among the 300 Common Gulls this morning but we did have the bonus of a Raven going past very close plus Linnets, Skylarks and Yellowhammers on territory.
Unfortunately we missed the ponds first summer migrant when a Sand Martin was reported off draycote bank but on our walk to toft and back in lovely sunshine with hardly a breeze we managed, 2 Great-northern Diver, 5 male Shoveler, 6 female and single male Goosander, Sparrowhawk, 2 Oystercatcher, Pochard, 4 Gadwall, 30 Goldeneye, 48 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 3 Fieldfare, Redwing and very good numbers of Buzzard with at least 20 seen. Also my first Peacock butterfly of the year.
Back at the visitors centre Kevin G had photographed a possible female Scaup off draycote bank which did not look bulky enough to me but Bob persuaded us to walk out to rainbow corner to check it out and it was a good job he did as it was close in shore and definitely a Scaup. Nice one Kev.

female Scaup by Bob Hazell
A brief look at Napton reservoir produced 4 Wigeon and not a lot else till Bob shouted out Red Kite with one drifting over the Shuckburgh hills being harassed by a Jackdaw. Raven seen later.
Another check on the valley produced 100 Fieldfare between Napton and Shuckburgh and plenty of Buzzards and Common Gulls but no sign of any Meds.

The Grey Shoulder-knot from the previous night was retrapped giving Bob another chance of a pic.

Back home and news of a lot more migrants arriving in to the country today so the next few days should be good - fingers crossed.


March 15th 2010

A stunning spring day spent battling my DIY occasionally getting the chance to stick me head out the window once in awhile. At least 3 Sparrowhawk’s were displaying over the garden and it was quite obvious which one was the female as she dwarfed her admirers. Nipped out late morning and there was a Brimstone butterfly feeding on a crocus along Dunchurch Road – my first of the year and a Ladybird and Bumblebee species flew around the garden early afternoon.
Decided to do the roost at the pond late afternoon as the wind had picked up which might account for the adult Kittiwake which was probably one of the small influx that came inland a few days ago and reservoir hopping making its way back to the coast, also 2 Great-northern Diver, 5 Meadow Pipit, female Reed Bunting, 4 Skylark, 2 female Goosander and 24 Goldeneye.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

March 14th 2010

The day started blustery and cold with a bitter NNW wind but the spring sunshine pushed temperatures in too double figures for only the second time this year. I had my second Grey Shouldered Knot of the year in the moth trap this morning.
We started the day trawling the Grandborough Valley with 24 Skylark, 20 Yellowhammer, 100 Fieldfare, 40 Redwing and 3 Red-legged Partridge plus 3 Roe Deer then on to Draycote Water where there was little change with one of the Great-northern Divers close in off farborough bank and 24 Goldeneye. Only other birds of interest here was one of two Meadow Pipits that was showing a grey cast on its mantle and crown, 5 Skylark heading north and 30 Wigeon in toft.
The fields near the A45/M45 junction had more winter thrushes with a mixed flock of 300+ and after breakfast we had 3 Corn Bunting and 4 Buzzard on our way to Brandon Marsh which being smothering Sunday was alive with the blue rinse brigade being dragged out for the annual family walk – poor things. Surprisingly no Snipe considering how many were present on Friday but east marsh had 2 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher, 32 Shoveler, 2 Cetties Warbler with 4 Sparrowhawk and 9 Buzzard overhead.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

March 13th 2010

Hi all – computer buried under thousands of dust sheets so only sporadic updates till I get to grips with this decorating malarkey.

March 11th 2010
I spent some of the day searching between Priors Hardwick and Wormleighton concentrating on the ridge hoping for early migrants but apart from a Stonechat near the site of the old medieval village of Stoneton on the county boundary with Northamptonshire which was probably passing through not a sniff of summer yet. In the area were single Raven and Grey Partridge plus 4 Buzzard, 8 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Mistle Thrush, 140 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing and a Sparrowhawk.
Wormleighton Reservoir was quiet apart from 9 Goldfinch, 5 Bullfinch, 6 Reed Bunting and a female Goldeneye while nearby there were 2 Corn Bunting, 3 Coal Tit, Marsh Tit and 12 Tree Sparrow among the Yellowhammer and Chaffinch.
Draycote Water is still quiet with 2 Great-northern Diver, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Snipe although a female Pintail flying in to toft bay did brightened up things and a wait till dark to see the ISS go over was a waste of time as cloud cover built up 30 minutes before it was due. Damn – second night in a row this has happened.
Although my own trap is not producing much variety the Oak Beauty found on the walls of one of the cottages at Priors Hardwick shows that other spring species are starting to emerge.

March 12th 2010
A break from decorating watching the sky over my garden produced a steady passage of Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading north with 249 counted over in 20 minutes mid morning.
I had not seen Dave all week so met up with him this afternoon for coffee and cake at Brandon Marsh along with Colin and Terry then a brief look at the reserve, 18 Snipe, Grey Wagtail, 2 Water Rail, 46 Shoveler and 2 Shelduck for our efforts.
There were at least 50 Golden Plover and 90 Wigeon in fields between Church Lawford and Bretford.

March 13th 2010
Coming back from Sainsbury’s early morning 8 swans were spotted flying high overhead heading west which motivated me down to the pond but whatever they were they gave it a miss. Unfortunately the place was heaving with crockels and looks like a training camp for wanna be skinnies or a refuge for the rest to take there MP3s for a walk so lost interest pretty quickly. I managed 2 female Goosander, female Shoveler, 2 Great-northern Diver, Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker and 4 Golden Plover before seeking solitude.
Luckily Napton Reservoir was more tranquil with a migrating Rock Pipit calling as it went over and a distant Red Kite being mobbed by 4 Raven as it headed in to Northamptonshire. Both good finds for this locality and also around were 200+ Common Gulls, Water Rail, Snipe, 2 Gadwall, female Shoveler, female Pochard, 4 Bullfinch and 14 Fieldfare. Fishermen reported that two Barn owls were seen together in the week.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

March 9th 2010

I promised myself I would remain positive but birding is becoming hard work as winter visitors depart and summer migrants are still crossing the Sahara so very little to get your teeth in to at the moment. A walk around Draycote Water this morning with Bob and Kevin produce the 2 Great-northern Diver but no sign of the Smew and duck numbers in general were low with only male and female Goosander, 15 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, 4 Pochard, 20 Teal while 76 Wigeon were due to two separate flocks feeding up before moving on. Only passerines of note were 4 Long-tailed Tit and 50+ Fieldfare and the spring sunshine encouraged 3 Buzzard to thermal. Also of note was the sudden departure of many of our over wintering Great-crested Grebe with very few remaining.


Monday, 8 March 2010

March 8th 2010

It was a colder night than yesterdays with Draycote Water down to -7.4c as I watched a Barn Owl come off the country park and hunt briefly over the Southam Rd before disappearing. Draycote its self was bliss at first light with not a soul around and both Great-northern Divers were out in the centre while the male Smew was commuting between farborough and draycote bank. As this was only the briefest of visits I only checked up to toft shallows and the only new arrival noted was a Redshank in gray’s barn while the slow dispersal of the gull roost produced last weeks partial summer plumage Med Gull amongst the thousands of Black-headed and Common Gulls. Only other birds of note were 100 Fieldfare in fields below toft hill and 2 Green Woodpecker.


Sunday, 7 March 2010

March 7th 2010

Overnight the temperature dropped to -6c so a cold start to a stunning early sunny spring morning spent enjoying the passerines around the area of Wormleighton Reservoir. As soon as we arrived the garden feeders were very busy with 20 Tree Sparrow, 5 Reed Bunting, 10 Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Siskin and 2 Marsh Tit among the more commoner visitors and moving on to the reservoir we had Snipe, 5 Tree Sparrow, 10 Reed Bunting, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker drumming, Green Woodpecker but nothing of note on the water.
We then trawled the lanes between here and Southam via Priors Marston finding 27 Mute Swan, 5 Tree Sparrow, 7 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Buzzard and 2 Grey Partridge.
Breakfast at the Long Itchington Diner was timely as every man and his classic car descended on the place then we moved on to Brandon Marsh which had 2 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatcher, Snipe, Kingfisher, 14 Long-tailed Tit, Sparrowhawk and 3 Buzzards.
A quick look at the Cathiron feeders produced 2 Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tit and a single Marsh Tit.


Saturday, 6 March 2010

March 6th 2010

No sign of Red-necked when Chris and I popped down to the pond this morning. We had to wait for the gates to open so watched 4 House Sparrow in the entrance hedgerow and a Long-tailed Tit in the country park otherwise it was the usual 2 Great-northern Diver showing well including one stretching its wings and circling reservoir a couple of times and the male Smew off draycote bank. Only other sightings of note was 3 Green Woodpecker, 5 female Goosander flying south over windsurfing area, 36 Goldeneye and we missed an Oystercatcher.
Napton Reservoir had 200 Common Gull, 4 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon, 4 Pochard, 3 Buzzard, 50 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing and at least 10 Raven in the area.

Well it seems official (according to staff) – Severn Trent have finally lost the plot and are closing the visitors centre in June and making many of the staff redundant. This will mean the end of my walks as there will be no one to co-ordinate them, no access to the record book, no access to the disabled electric wheel chairs for those with walking difficulties, no decent toilets, no changing facilities for those with babies and I bet me bottom dollar there will be no fishing for some time as they have not even put any planning permission in yet for the so called development of the site which was the reason fishermen were given for closing the fishery this year. Of course trying to get someone with an ounce of a brain at Severn Trent HQ to talk is very difficult but to put it bluntly they couldn’t run a whist drive – if you are affected by the above write to your MP and your local paper. If you don’t fight this then why should they keep the place open.


March 5th 2010

I was out with Dave this afternoon meeting up with Colin at Brandon Marsh and there was no sign of the Bewick’s Swan at Church Lawford when we searched for it.
Brandon was sunny and quiet with 12 Snipe, 62 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck and a Redshank while a short walk around the rest of the reserve produced calling Water Rail, Cetties Warbler, 6 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Buzzard and small parties of Redwing and Fieldfare. Luckily Bob Hazell saved the day finding a Red-necked Grebe at Draycote Water off the inlet which got a few county year listers over and with the male Smew and Great-northern Divers still present should get a few others out tomorrow.


Thursday, 4 March 2010

March 4th 2010

I started the day at Flecknoe village looking for yesterdays report of a possible Short-eared Owl but probably a long gone migrant so had to be content with 2 Raven, 8 Yellowhammer, 4 Red-legged Partridge and 4 Tree Sparrow while near the village of Shuckburgh a Little Owl was enjoying the spring sunshine. At least 3 more Ravens seen and a walk over the hills produced a distant calling Lesser-spotted Woodpecker but the chances of seeing it are slim with out trespassing in to the woods. Only other bird of note was a Marsh Tit while other birds seen were 2 Jay, 6 Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk. Next stop was my first visit for the year to Napton on the Hill and managed a pair of Siskin behind the church, 3 Mistle Thrush, 2 Coal Tit and distant views of 4 Raven and 3 Buzzard towards Priors Marston. There was little difference at Napton Reservoir from my last visit so pushed on to the pond for the roost managing the 2 Great-northern Divers off farborough spit along with the male Smew while in toft bay there were 2 female and 2 male Goosander and an odd looking female duck which was probably a Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid. Ringed Plover heard calling but not seen. The roost had adult winter plumage and partial summer plumage Med Gull and decided to stay long after it got dark hoping for an owl but zilch.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

March 2nd 2010

A crap start to the day.
I woke to find the estate crawling with media due to an arsonist attack over the weekend just a couple of hundred yards from my house killing an elderly couple. Very unfortunate but for some turnip to shove a microphone in my face at 6am was asking for trouble. Things got worse when my curtain rail came away from the wall bringing half the plaster down with it so I need to dig my DIY book out and then my computer decided to lose all my bookmarks – damn.
Anyway Bob came round to photograph my first March Moth of the Year so that put a smile on me face and the sun came out so we went to the pond hoping for something big.

March Moth
Unfortunately when we got there visibility was down to less than 30 meters in places so we did a quick search for moths finding March Moth, 2 Winter Moth and Pale Brindled Beauty. We did not have to wait long for the mist to burn off and was surprised to find two thirds of the reservoir had frozen over. At least we had a bit of movement with two overnight arrivals in the shape of a male Smew strongly associating with a mobile flock of Goldeneye and 2 Shelduck in toft bay.


Both Great-northern Divers showed well in toft bay and were so close they could be heard giving a contact call to each other. I have certainly heard them plenty of times but never this soft single note call.

Great-northern Diver - Bob could not get them both together so separate shots showing different plumage.
Also seen were 50 Fieldfare, 6 Buzzard, male and female Goosander, 36 Wigeon, 26 Goldeneye, 30 Teal, 2 Pochard, 2 Gadwall while Tufted were less than a hundred.
With such a nice day we toured the valley but only had Mistle Thrush so ended up at Napton Reservoir where overnight 2 male Shoveler and a pair of Gadwall had joined the 16 Mute Swan, 2 Pochard and 3 Wigeon. A Cetties called and above us were 9 Buzzards and 9 Ravens.

Many thanks to Bob Hazell for his photos.


Monday, 1 March 2010

March 1st 2010

A pleasant afternoon biking around the valley produced 2 Buzzard near Flecknoe, 2 Grey Partridge at Grandborough Fields and a Little Owl by the double barns along the Flecknoe Road before finding at least 6 more Buzzards between here and Napton Reservoir. The reservoir itself had Cetties Warbler showing well and singing its heart out and 2 Meadow Pipit.
Unfortunately I was too late for the roost at Draycote Water but in time to have silhouette views of a Woodcock over the sewage farm heading towards toft shallows.
Chatted with Stave Seal this morning who was in Norfolk a week ago photographing some of the species I mentioned in my Saturday blog so I have update the 27th February blog and included a few he kindly sent me and well worth a look (scroll down).