Monday, 31 May 2010

May 31st 2010

Out before the Milkman even thought of getting up. Barn Owl down the Southam Road at 4am then popped over the road to the pond and had the place to myself or so I thought.
I ended up in a confrontation with another poacher as he was scooping trout out the inlet channel and it turned nasty. Common Scoter female was off rainbow, Barn Owl was below draycote bank heading for Draycote village and a Spotted Flycatcher in biggen bay were good finds for this time of the year.
On the way home I cleared down Dave’s trap so Bob and April came round to photograph the Knot Grass, Broad-barred White and Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Broad-barred White

before taking a gamble on the weather and we went to Ufton looking for butterfly’s and orchids but alas the sun never came out so only managed a single Common Blue. Greater Butterfly and Man Orchids were just starting to bloom so worth going again towards the end of next week and we managed to find Burnet Companion and Scorched Wing moths.

Scorched Wing roosting on nettle

Moved on to Stockton Cutting where there was only one Speckled Wood on the wing and only one Greater Butterfly Orchid out but did manage to find our first White-legged Damselfly of the year.

White-legged damselfly

There were very few birds seen at either site with the best being Buzzard, Mistle Thrush and plenty of Whitethroats.

All photos by Bob hazell


Sunday, 30 May 2010

May 30th 2010

Out early with Dave but despite the fresh westerly wind there was very little on show at the pond and we were only just in time to see 4 Common Tern fly off east over toft shallows, plenty of Swifts, Swallows and the odd Sand Martin taking advantage of the low flying insects.
On our way to Long Itchington for breakfast we stopped briefly just outside Birdingbury to enjoy a pair of Grey Wagtail on the River Leam.
At Brandon Marsh there are now 4 Redshank chicks doing there best to avoid the attentions of 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls plus 6 Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher, Kingfisher and 2 Shelduck. The sun finally started to bring out the butterflies with Orange-tip, Common Blue and Green-veined White.
The Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation were holding a Butterfly Reserve Open Day at Ryton Wood Meadows so we popped over to give our support where some of last nights moth catch were on show with Broom Moth the most interesting to me before joining up with Keith Warmington who was leading a guided walk around the wood and meadows. Although we did not have a lot of time as Dave needed to be back home for Bank Holiday domestic duties we managed the following butterflies :- Brimstone, Large White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Brown Argus and Wood White. Moths seen were Cinnabar, Silver Y, Burnet Companion and Common White Wave while Dragonflies included Emperor Dragonfly, Broad-bodied Chaser, Four Spotted Chaser, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly. We missed the Hobby’s that were seen earlier and had 2 Oystercatcher fly over.
With the sunny blustery conditions continuing I went back down the pond mid afternoon and managed a Greenshank circling the reservoir looking for somewhere to land and 2 Dunlin. Also around were 3 Green Woodpecker, 4 Whitethroat, 5 Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


May 29th 2010

A wet morning so Bob and Hazel popped round to photograph some of the moths Dave had dropped round earlier.

Turnip Moth by Bob Hazell

It started to brighten up early afternoon so took the opportunity with Mark and Pete to go and see the long staying Great Reed Warbler at Straw’s Bridge Nature Reserve in Derbyshire which was singing and showing well before moving on to Ogston Reservoir in the same county to see the Red-rumped Swallow. I saw both recently in Israel but its nice to see them inland.


May 28th 2010

I spent the morning gardening before meeting up with Dave for our end of week coffee and cake session then a gentle stroll around Brandon Marsh. The Redshanks now have a three chicks otherwise the birding was very quiet so spent searching vegetation finding Common, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselfly’s, plus Banded Demoiselle, day flying moths noted were 3 Dingy Shell and a Cinnabar and butterflies included Comma and Peacock.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

May 27th 2010

Out with Mark and there was no sign of Black-necked Grebes this morning at Draycote Water just Oystercatcher and Peregrine going over. Unfortunately the cloud cover spoilt our chances of Butterfly’s at Draycote Meadows with only Green-veined White, 2 Small Copper, a few Common Blue plus 25 Grass Rivulet and single Lattice Heath moths.
The Redshank at Brandon Marsh have two chicks and by there size they must only be a day or two old. Also present were 10 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Common sandpiper and the most annoying three people I have ever shared a hide with. Two spent more time flaffing about with there scopes than actually looking at anything and the other pratt was taking so many photos it sounded like a bloody machine gun. Any way all three should make a swift recovery once the shrapnel has been removed


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

May 26th 2010

Bob had a few moths to photograph after we cleared down Dave’s trap then it was down to the pond to see what the development plans were all about and a chance to chat to the temporary site manager. The plans have been reduced due to cost so concentrating on a new car park and improving access to the visitor centre but some of the major pedestrian issues have not been solved. Any way they reckon it will start in September and finish around June but I reckon pigs will fly before then. The pond itself had Common Tern, Common Gull, 3 Yellow Wagtail and loads of Swift.
Bob had only left me at home 30 minutes when JJ rang to tell us Dave Dixon had found 2 Black-necked Grebe at the pond so rushed out of the house to meet Bob just as Mark rang to say he had a Red Kite over his garden heading for mine but I never did get a good enough view to clinch it. Arrived in biggen bay and soon located the grebes at the western end.

Black-necked Grebe by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

May 25th 2010

Draycote Water has gone quiet and is a struggle to find anything of note so you have to excuse the tone of the following observation this morning.
Bob and I were checking the willows of the north bank from toft bank hoping for the Garganey when we spotted what we thought was a poacher (Dave and I found one on Sunday morning) lurking in the bushes only to realise he was exercising a certain part of his body vigorously while wading in to the cold water. Now I know it takes all sorts to make the world go round but how the hell do you get your kicks doing that sort of thing. Anyway I won’t be drinking water for awhile.
Luckily on the way back the sun soon had the butterflies out and we were treated to 40 Common Blue on farborough bank with a further 10 in the country park and 20 in the sailing club car parks along with 6 Grizzled Skipper, single Small Copper and my first Brown Argus of the year.

Grizzled Skipper

Common Blue
We also managed to find 3 Pyrausta aurata while the only birds of note were 4 Yellow Wagtail and an increase of the local nesting House Martin population which is up to 25. The new arrivals were busy collecting mud and building their nests.

House Martin

Pyrausta aurata

Wood Mouse

As you can see from the photos Bob is back from his week away so I have also kept him busy taking photos of the moths Dave and I have caught recently.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

May 23rd 2010

Another cracking night for moths then out with Dave for an early morning walk from Draycote village to rainbow corner, Draycote Water where we though we were wasting our time until two Whimbrel arrived. The first came in giving us close flyby views and landed in rainbow corner while the second was over the valve tower along with Oystercatcher. Apart from a Muntjac and 4 Garden Warbler there was little else on show so with the temperatures in the high teens by 8am we moved on to Ryton Woods and Meadows and spent the rest of the morning enjoying good numbers of butterflies and day flying moths. Dave ended up with 3 butterfly and one moth tick so mission accomplished and a rough count was 20 Dingy Skipper, 8 Grizzled Skipper, 5 Common Blue, 3 Small Copper, 9 Green Hairstreak, 2 Peacock, 3 Small Heath, 5 Speckled Wood, 3 Brimstone, 2 Green-Veined White, 4 Orange-tip, 1 Small White5, Large White while moths included 3 Treble Bar, 5 Mother Shipton, 10 Burnet Companion and Small Yellow Underwing.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

May 22nd 2010

Whimbrel could be heard over the garden around midnight and as I checked the moth trap this morning I thought I was going to have a few extra guests drop in as this flew over the garden.

Dave came round early with a bag full of moths and a smile on his face – had a very good catch with at least 30 species of 79 moths including Mullein which was new for his garden which put my 20 species of 34 moths to shame.


Green Silver Lines

We then went down to Wood Street, Rugby for breakfast before moving on to Myson House to join the gathering crowds for the appearance of Tornado. It came in a couple of minutes late but left on time. Unfortunately it stopped at the end of the platform unlike Bittern the previous month so had to rely on long distant shots. Although very impressive I just wish it had a few more scratches and a bit of grime on it – looks too new for my liking – prefer my girls rough and dirty.

Had to collect some plants along the A45 so called in on Draycote Meadows where the 100s of Green-winged Orchids were impressive – a few butterflies were out and we managed 15 Orange-tip, 4 Common Blue, 10 Large White, 3 Green-veined White, 2 Small Copper and 2 Small Tortoiseshell plus Blue-tailed Damselfly and a Grass Rivulet moth – only birds of note were 6 Buzzard.
I went looking for more butterflies in the afternoon between Stockton and Napton and managed Dingy Skipper, 3 Grizzled Skipper, 5 Common Blue, 2 Small Copper, Green Hairstreak, 2 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Brimstone, 16 Large White, 2 Small White, 18 Orange-tip, 3 Green-veined White and 5 Speckled Wood. Moths included Cinnabar, Burnet Companion, Treble Bar, Grass Rivulet and Brown Silver-lines while dragonfly’s noted included Large Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly and Common Blue Damselfly. On the birding front there was nothing reportable.


Friday, 21 May 2010

May 21st 2010

Out by 3am to look/listen for Quail down the Grandborough Valley but did not have any luck though 3 Barn Owls at 3 different locations indicate a possible good breeding year. Trawling the back of beyond at this time of night gave me a chance to do some lamping for moths and managed to net 5 species – Maidens Blush, Swallow Prominent, Rustic shoulder-knot, Green Carpet and a first for the year Rivulet. Also seen were a brief view of a Badger near Sawbridge, 2 Foxes on the Hill Road, Grandborough and both Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher just after first light on the River Leam near Kites Hardwick.
Draycote Water had 2 Black Tern till 7:30am when they headed off east, Common Sandpiper in toft bay and a Hobby over toft shallows enjoying the sunny weather plus the usual warblers.
Another good night for moths though numbers were smaller than the previous night but added Tinea semifulvella and Esperia sulphurella to the garden year list.

Back out in the afternoon with Dave taking a look at Brandon Marsh but no sign of the Temminick’s Stint. All we could manage was 6 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank and a single Kingfisher on the marsh and Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker on the visitors centre feeders.

Tomorrow Saturday 22 May LNER A1 Class 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado is scheduled to stop at Rugby Station between 10:01 and 10:08am pulling The Cathedral Express from Euston, London to Chester and will leave Rugby on the Trent Valley Line heading towards Nuneaton where its due to take on water. It will return in the evening making a one minute stop at Rugby at 19:01. Full details of the route can be obtained from


20th May 2010

Yippee its Christmas – well that’s what it looked like when I checked my trap this morning – 53 moths of 24 species all due to a mild cloudy night with a minimum garden temperature of 13c. New for the year were Chinese Character, Yellow Shell, Bright-line Brown-eye, Mottled Pug, Pebble Prominent, Heart and Dart, Common Wainscot, Bee Moth and Pale Mottled Willow.
Draycote Water mid morning was warm, humid and a waste of time with only Gadwall, Yellow Wagtail and Lesser Black-backed Gull worthy of a mention plus Pale Tussock and White Ermine on the cafe wall. Dennis and John had rang earlier regarding the Temminick’s Stint so decided to risk life and limb cycling up the A45 dodging the juggernauts and speed merchants along the A45 to Brandon Marsh, luckily it was still on East Marsh on arrival and only my second county record.
Also present were 3 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Kingfisher, Redshank, 4 Oystercatcher, Cetti's Warbler and Cuckoo. The ride back home produced 2 Corn Bunting and 2 Yellow Wagtail on Lawford Heath.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

May 18th 2010

Excellent day weather wise with a chilly start from a clear night brightening up to a sunny day with a light north easterly becoming more southerly as the day progressed though the temperatures did not reach the 20c forecasted due to a lot more cloud than predicted.
Started the day listening to the dawn chorus at Bunkers Hill Wood where I also managed Barn, Tawny and Little Owl before nipping home for breakfast. Once done I was down the pond for a meeting with Phil and Mike as they have agreed to show me how to monitor and record the butterfly population and managed a family party of Great-spotted Woodpeckers on Dunchurch Cricket Club Ground and a Hobby over The Post Office, Dunchurch.
On arrival the pond was pretty quiet on the migration front with a Ringed Plover calling as it went over unseen but as I was also doing a butterfly count I managed good numbers of warbler territories with 12 Whitethroat, 8 Garden Warbler, 15 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, and Sedge Warbler seen or heard. The Garganey was still present but elusive, 7 Gadwall including a male paired with a female Mallard doing its parental guardian bit with 4 recently fledged young (not sure if they are hybrids), 2 female Grey Wagtail, 2 active broods of Long-tailed Tits, female Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Buzzard and Lesser black-backed Gull. Strangest record was that of a pair of House sparrows on farborough spit.
On the butterfly front my meeting went well and I learnt more in an hour with those two guys than I have in years. On site today were 5 Orange-tip, 14 Large White, Small White, 4 Grizzled Skipper, 8 Speckled Wood, 4 Brimstone, Common Blue, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell while the extensive searching meant I also found a few moths including Common White Wave, 5 Ancylis badiana, Flame Carpet and 2 Silver-ground Carpet. On the dragonfly front the only one found was my first for the year female Broad-bodied Chaser. The five Wood Mice finished off the visit nicely.

Meanwhile I have received this

Dear Stakeholder,

Ref: Draycote Water infrastructure redevelopment

On Wednesday 26th May, Severn Trent Water will be holding an open day at Draycote Water. The purpose of this event is to allow the various stakeholders opportunity to view the plans associated with the forthcoming infrastructure redevelopment project, speak to the architects and designers responsible and discuss any concerns with Severn Trent Water staff who will be on hand to answer questions.

The event will take place between 10 am and 2pm in the Visitor Centre and will be on an informal ‘drop in’ basis.

We hope you will take this opportunity to come along and see the scope of the improvements that we are planning to undertake on site and look forward to seeing you there.

Should you have any queries in the meantime then please contact me directly on the number above.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Spence
Public Access Sites Coordinator & Draycote Water Site Manager

Now I haven't had a decent stake since the Spanish Inquisition so it will be interesting to see what they have planned or more importantly when.


Monday, 17 May 2010

May 17th 2010

Overnight temperatures did not drop below 6c in my garden so a slight improvement in my moth catch with the best being a probable Grey Dagger though the moth police prefer to describe it as Dagger agg unless its wedding tackle has been dissected to rule out the possibility of a Dark Dagger. You will be pleased to know it flew off with a smile still on its face.
By 7am my garden had already had 2 Goldfinch, a family party of Coal Tits, single Long-tailed Tit and a fantastic if what brief visit from a Green Woodpecker so hopefully a sign the improving weather will benefit birds and birders alike.
A mid afternoon walk around nearby Cock Robin Wood produced 2 Whitethroat and 2 Blackcap along with Comma, Large White Speckled Wood and Brimstone butterflies, Large Red and Common Blue Damselfly and a Cinnabar Moth.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

May 14th to 16th 2010

May 14th 2010
Met up with Dave for our normal end of week coffee session over at Brandon Marsh then a walk around the reserve but it was very quiet. There were at least 4 Lapwing and 2 Oystercatcher chicks on show with the young oiks swimming from island to island. Also present were 3 Common Tern, 6 Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank and Buzzard plus my first Hornet of the year.

May 15th 2010
Two Barn Owls were hunting along the Southam Road early morning while nearby there were 4 Red-legged Partridge, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 2 Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and a Common Sandpiper on the newly created Kites Hardwick fishing pools.
Draycote Water had female Wheatear, 5 Yellow Wagtail, male Garganey commuting between toft and rainbow while the bird of the morning was my first of the year Turtle Dove flying over toft shallows towards Dunchurch. Two Ravens over Dunchurch and a Spotted Flycatcher near Cock Robin were seen on the way home.
First time in four years I gave National Moth Night a miss due to the continuing cold nights but it looks like it could be warming up in the evenings soon.

May 16th 2010
Dave and I decided to see the Oriental Pratincole at the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve in Linconshire which had been present for a week and performing well. Unfortunately due to the cold wind on our arrival it was keeping to the ground and occasionally showing from behind a clump of nettles on one of the islands before it warmed up and performed in front of its admiring public feeding over one of the many scrapes. The reserve was well worth a search and we ended up with 12 Little Egret, 4 Little Gull, 6 Corn Bunting, Ruff, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Greenshank, Turnstone, 10 Little Ringed Plover, Hobby, Pintail, Yellow Wagatail, Wheatear and Wood Sandpiper among the more numerous Redshank, Avocet, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Also present on the nearby Wash were 40+ Brent Geese and Grey Plover.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

May 13th 2010

Today started frosty becoming bright and sunny for my guided walk at the pond before clouding over in the afternoon when Bob and I tried searching for butterflies at Ryton. With little wind the water surface was like a mirror though we saw very little apart from 2 Raven over toft bay 10am when in five minutes we had Dunlin, Shelduck, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and Whimbrel all arrive due to a shift in the wind direction. The Whimbrel landed on toft bank but unfortunately was disturbed by walkers.

Whimbrel By Bob Hazell

My guided walk to rainbow produced 2 of the 5 Yellow Wagtails seen today along with female Grey Wagtail, male Shoveler and stunning views of the male Garganey in rainbow corner.

Garganey by Bob Hazell

Ryton was another failure due to the weather.
Back out in the evening with Dave and spent an hour at the pond on our way to meet Terry and the most noticeable bird around were Yellow Wagtails with 20 present.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

May 12th 2010

Bob and I were chatting quietly this morning about Marsh Warbler identification while he tried to improve on his Shuttle-shaped Dart photographs when I notice a mouse feeding quietly under the bird feeder and we eventually had four. Originally thought they were Wood but from Bob’s photo we think they could be Yellow-necked Mouse. If anyone out there is in too mice (apart from the 3 blind ones you sing to your kids) then e-mail me your thoughts as I have removed the comments button due to a number of wombats posting spam.
Not had a chance to get out today so sightings over the garden have been a large influx of Swifts as a rain front passed early afternoon followed by a northerly movement of Swallows, Raven soaring high, 2 Buzzard and this evening a Hobby was hunting over the estate which made up for not being able to get to the north of the county to see the Temminicks Stints this evening.
Bob did not have a lot at the pond this morning but sent a nice shot of Redshank that was on farborough bank

Shuttle-shaped Dart


Yellow-necked Mouse


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

May 11th 2010

Another cold but bright and sunny morning spent at Draycote Water with Bob and Mark and though there had been little change since our last visit we managed 3 Artic Tern, 2 male Shoveler in biggen bay, Muntjac Deer female resting by the scrape and I scared me self witless when I found a swift with a white rump but soon calmed down when it was obvious that it was a Common Swift with aberrant plumage. We split with the young ones continuing on to do a circuit while I ambled back to the visitor’s centre and despite extensive I searching could not find the Great-northern Divers though I did get a flight view of the male Garganey coming out of toft bay and at least 8 Buzzard.
On arrival at the VC the staff were posting the closure date for the centre which is the 27th June 2010 and “always look on the bright side of life” sounds a bit feeble when people are losing there jobs so despite the weather turning cloudy I made a quick exit and went looking for butterflies.
A search of the country park not surprisingly produced a nil count but managed yesterdays Spotted Flycatcher then moved on to the sailing car park where I eventually located 3 Grizzled Skippers and 2 Small Copper’s plus a couple of Wood Mouse. Also seen were Garden Warbler, 3 Whitethroat and 2 Blackcap.

Just a reminder that I have a walk this thursday at 11am - should be sunny and a little warmer than of late.


Monday, 10 May 2010

May 10th 2010

Mid-afternoon at Coombe Abbey Country Park after the news was released nationally that a Marsh Warbler was present. The bird had been located the previous evening on Linley Bank in a closed part of the park so once viewing issues had been sorted the staff spent the morning creating temporary access to the area before allowing us wallies in. After a short wait it started singing with a varied repertoire with some convincing calls of Blackbird among the many species it was imitating. It occasionally showed as it moved from the reed bed to a small willow tree before returning giving brief views.
I like the others present were convinced it was a Marsh Warbler due to its vocabulary and colder tones compared to a Reed Warbler and I have never heard Reed Warbler that good at mimicry but doubt has been cast on this bird and having read about the 2006 Reed Warbler at Frodsham and how similar sounding it was to this bird then I need to go back again - It’s the only way to learn.
Also present were 7 hobbies and I managed to see 5 of them as they hunted insects over the other side of the lake among the many Swifts.


Sunday, 9 May 2010

May 9th 2010

Out with Dave and it was another cold morning although the front had passed and it was bright and sunny but in the hour we spent searching the Grandborough Valley we saw nothing.
Draycote Water was just as bad with plenty of Swifts but little else and our walk to farborough spit could only produce one Great-northern Divers and 3 Yellow Wagtail while there was one Corn Bunting on Lawford Heath.
Brandon Marsh was more productive with lots of bird song but yesterdays 2 Wood Sandpiper and this morning’s female Marsh Harrier did not hang around for our pleasure. Both Oystercatcher and Lapwing have young and as the sun finally brought some warmth a number of butterfly species appeared with Speckled Wood, Large White, Brimstone, Orange-tip and Green-veined White plus Large Red Damselfly.
This afternoon the temperature climbed to a dizzy 15c so went back to the pond mid-afternoon looking in the more sunny sheltered areas away from joe public for butterflies and moths managing Grizzled Skipper, Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Brimstone, Green-veined, Small and Large White on the butterfly front and the two moth species, Lesser Treble-bar and Silver-ground Carpet. On the birding front there were 3 Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, 5 Linnet, 6 Yellow Wagtail, Jay, 4 Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker but these were out done by the Osprey and Hobby that both appeared at the same time. The Osprey made no attempt to fish, just circled three times before continuing north while the Hobby took a House Martin. The male Garganey made a brief appearance in toft bay


May 8th 2010

Tried to beat the weather front that was predicted so out early this morning managing a Barn Owl which perched briefly with prey down the Southam Road and a couple of distant Whitethroats before crossing over to Draycote Water where a summer plumage Sanderling was on the windsurfing shoreline. Rest of the visit was cold, wet and windy so unless you are in to Swifts with at least 3000 present not much about and I struggled to spot the 2 Great-northern Diver and Garganey. At least 3 Artic Tern remained from yesterday near the valve tower but by the time I left the Sanderling had moved on and I missed the 4 Whimbrel that went over.


Friday, 7 May 2010

May 7th 2010

Another unseasonably cold day on Planet Richard and its due to get even colder this weekend so it was nice to see 6 Artic Terns battling against the increasing wind as they try to continue their migration north. No Sign of the Garganey and we could only find one Great-northern Diver which was in toft bay. A few Yellow Wagtails and Swifts noted.
Earlier a Raven flew over my garden.
Well only one member of the Moth Police spotted my mistake – yesterday’s picture of Blood-vein is in fact a Maidens Blush – pretty obvious when you look at it again – thanks Paul.


Thursday, 6 May 2010

May 6th 2010

Overnight temperatures were good enough to bring in White-spotted Pug, Yellow-barred Brindle and Garden Carpet all new for my moth year list so along with Dave’s Least Black Arches and Waved Umber Bob had plenty to get work on this morning.

Yellow-barred Brindle

Waved Umber

When we arrived at the pond the early morning rain was keeping the Swifts low and again in good numbers though counting was difficult so 500 was probably a low estimate but unfortunately by the time we got to farborough spit the low cloud was effecting visibility and the temperatures fell making life a little unpleasant in our summer clothes so we returned to the visitors centre. Both Great-northern Divers were still present and the male Garganey was hiding in willows and not playing ball. Only other birds of note were 2 Wheatear, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Linnet, Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker and 4 Whitethroat.

Maidens Blush on the side of visitors centre

After lunch we visited Ryton Country Park but the weathermen were way off the mark so in dull conditions we were more than content to enjoy 4 Cuckoo, Marsh Tit and many Great-spotted and Green Woodpeckers although a bit of butterflying would have been a treat.

Cuckoo presumed female exploring nest sites

All pictures by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

May 4th 2010

The male Garganey is still present with it reported on the outlet this morning but by the time Bob and I got there it had moved to biggen bay and stayed amongst the willows giving poor views.
A new arrival was the Hobby hunting Swifts whose numbers were again impressive with at least 600 but there were not so many hirundines as yesterday and another surprise arrival was a White Wagtail on saddle bank. Only other birds of note were 5 Buzzard, Garden Warbler, many Blackcaps calling, female Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtail and both Great-northern Divers present.
I have arranged another walk on 17th June besides the one on the 13th of this month and will be the last unless the current proposals to close centre is rescinded or delayed.


Monday, 3 May 2010

May 3rd 2010

We had limited time for birding this morning which was a good job as I still can’t get accustomed to this cold spell. Quick look at Brandon Marsh with 6 Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatcher, Garden Warbler, Kingfisher plus a chance to chat with Di.
Lawford Heath had Yellow Wagtail, Red-legged Partridge and Corn Bunting before we moved on to the pond but unfortunately yesterdays flock of Artic Terns had moved on but the Swift and hirundines numbers were impressive with 600 Swift, 200 Swallow 50 Sand & 100 House Martins. The male Wheatear joined by a female, Great-northern Diver off farborough spit and 5 Yellow Wagtail the only other birds of note.
Driving through the valley produced just one Yellow Wagtail.
This cold spell has knocked mothing on the head with poor catches but both Dave and I have managed a Swallow Prominent.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

May 2nd 2010

Dave and I cleared the weather front east of Peterborough that had brought heavy rain to Rugby overnight on our way to Choseley, Norfolk to see the 2 Dotterel that were present yesterday. A Barn Owl was perched by the roadside near Thorney Toll, Cambridgeshire.
Unfortunately in a bitterly strong North Easterly we and a few other souls failed to locate them in two hours of searching the Pea fields finding 2 Wheatear and a female Merlin that settled for 10 minutes on the deck in front us.
Completely frozen we moved on to Titchwell for a welcome coffee then a look at the reserve where we managed 5 Wheatear, 3 Little Egret, male Red-crested Pochard, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 20 Grey Plover, 3 Little Tern, 2 Marsh Harrier but no sign of the Garganey or Long-tailed Duck. Plenty of the more common birds expected here and despite the wind managed 3 Bearded Tit and a few warbler species. Most birders turned back when they reached the coast as the wind was blowing sand straight in to your face but we persevered and came away with 5 Little Tern, 4 Eider, 500 Common Scoter, 5 male Velvet Scoter, 6 Gannet, Fulmar and a Great Skua.
Even though it was a sunny day the cold wind had no effect in warming us up so we headed inland to Weeting Heath National Nature Reserve where we found a singing Wood Lark near the car park, 2 Wheatear and eventually distant views of 3 Stone Curlew.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

April 30th 2010

A few Swifts and a pair of Sparrowhawk were over the garden this morning when Bob and Mark came round but I did not get out in the field till Dave and I went to Brandon Marsh this afternoon.

Pale Pinion by Bob Hazell

Spent some time chatting to Keith before finally catching up with the long staying group of Black-tailed Godwits (5) from Teal Hide then crossed over to East Marsh hide where there was a nice selection of waders present with 4 Snipe, 2 Oystercatcher, 6 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper. Our walk around the reserve was marred by the wind getting up and we failed to hear the Grasshopper Warblers but thanks to Keith our luck was in as we passed sheep field he got a message via Dennis to us to say the male Wheatear had reappeared with a male Whinchat so rushed to the coach parking lot and both bird were around with the Whinchat on a fence post and showing well.

record shot of Whinchat by Dennis Woodward

Also seen noted were Whitethroat, 6 Reed Warbler and plenty of Sand Martins with 20 Swift among them plus 4 Common Tern and earlier we had a Marsh Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker while having coffee.
Back at Brandon Marsh at 7pm with Mark and his Dad joining up with Jeff and I soon located the Whinchat and Wheatear despite a heavy rain shower earlier. A look at the reserve added 2 Redshank, Kingfisher, Shelduck, Barn Owl and Cuckoo to my list and Common Tern had increased to 15.
Have finished the Israel report and placed it below this entry for easy finding.


April 13th to 21st 2010 Israel Part 2

A pre-breakfast check on Eilat North Beach, Palm Plantation and Ringing Station produced nothing new and our car had a slow puncture so we sorted that out while Terry and Colin set out for Lotan Kibbutz agreeing to meet up there. Once we arrived at Lotan we presumed T & C were on site so we worked the vegetation around Kibbutz swimming pool getting close views of 2 Hoopoe, Wryneck, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and many variations of Blue and Black-headed Wagtails before checking the cattle shed area and the nature reserve. A place with palm leaves covering the hides giving plenty of shelter from the sun so we spent some time watching the birds coming down to drink seeing 7 Tree Pipit, Eastern Bonellis Warbler, Blackcap a few Lesser Whitethroats and very smart Wood Warbler.

Arabian Babbler by Terry Southgate

Unfortunately no overhead migration and after finally making contact with Colin who had some how missed the sign three times and was miles away we agreed to meet at Yotvata before heading back to Eilat with the temperature now 108c.
Part of the afternoon spent on the hotel balcony till it was cooler noting 2 Pomarine Skua coming in off the sea and going straight up the valley – a few Common Swifts and one Pallid Swift did the same.
The Brown Booby showed well again from Eilat North Beach at 5pm then we took the back road to K20 and drove round finding 2 Whiskered Terns before another attempt at K19 to see the Lichtenstien’s Sandgrouse but again they failed to turn up. One of the problems birders are facing is that it’s been a wet winter so there is plenty of water else where in the desert this spring. There were plenty of herons and egrets dropping in with 42 Little Egret, 12 Cattle Egret, 4 Night Heron, 2 Squacco and 3 Purple Herons while wagtails numbers were to numerous to count with plenty of Water and Red-throated Pipits. Hirundines were either coming to roost or pushing north minus one which was taken by a Hobby in front of us.

Red-throated Pipit by me

Black-winged Stil flock by me

April 14th 2010
The hotel informed us of the security procedures in place for tomorrows departure which meant it was pointless keeping the cars after today as there may not be time tomorrow to hand them back.
No sooner we were out birding it was pretty obvious there had been a massive clear out of pipits, wagtails and Red-rumped Swallow overnight with very few seen around the Eilat area.
The most common bird around the Palm Plantations were Bee-Eaters (30+) while the Ringing Station showed that raptors were on the move and in two hours we had 2 Osprey, Marsh Harrier, 20 Black Kite, Booted Eagle, 2 Hobby and 150 Steppe Buzzard, a possible Levant Sparrowhawk and two dark falcons to far away to identify. Also present were 2 Purple Heron, 3 Garganey and Masked Shrike among the usual waders and gulls.

Bee-Eater by Terry Southgate

The raptor movement continued in smaller numbers at K20 with 3 Marsh Harrier, 14 Steppe Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk while the 2 Whiskered Terns remained. At least 6 Kentish Plover chicks seen and 4 Marsh Sandpiper still around and 80 Glossy Ibis arrived which was very impressive.
Over Eilat in the afternoon we had 10 Black Kite and 40+ Steppe Buzzard and in the evening off Eilat North Beach the raptor migration continued with another 80 Steppe Buzzard going north low. Also on the move were 5 Black Stork plus two groups of Spoonbill with a 3 then a 6 coming in off the sea. Off shore were 40+ Garganey, 2 Caspian Tern, White-eyed Gull and 10 Common Tern.

April 15th 2010
To avoid a long queue we went to the hotel down the road being used by the Airport booking and security staff early to check in for our flight which then gave us time to do Ofira Park before our coach took us to the Airport at midday
In a 90 minute walk we managed 2 Nightingales, Icterine, Wood and 4 Olivacious Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatcher and 4 Woodchat Shrike so there had been a small fall and our last three birds in the park were Masked Shrike, Indian Hill Minor and Alexandrine Parakeet.
Back at the hotel and after an hour’s wait our flight was delayed due to the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull Volcano eruption in Iceland till the evening so the hotel allowed us to use our rooms again.
Once in our rooms we realised there was a massive raptor migration going over Eilat heading for Jordon and though we did not have our scopes luckily we travel with our bins in the hand luggage and so watched from the balcony as they came over, managing an impressive 850 Steppe Buzzard, 47 Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, 2 Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, 6 Steppe Eagle, dark phase Short–toed Eagle, 4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel and a Hobby. Also passing were 7 Great White Egret, 17 Glossy Ibis, many Baltic Gulls, 15 Common Tern and 16 Swift.
From our advantage point we also saw Laughing Dove, Tristram’s Starling, Indian house Crow, White-eyed Bulbul, Rock Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Kingfisher, Hooded Crow and White-eyed Gull. While all this was going on the hotel informed us the flight was delayed till the early morning.

April 16th 2010
The early morning flight was cancelled with a possibility of one in the evening so it was back to the balcony with other impressive 1149 Steppe Buzzards and among them we were 3 Steppe Eagle, 7 Booted Eagle, 5 unidentified eagles, Levant Sparrowhawk, Osprey and Peregrine plus 10 Great White Egret.
We were informed there would be no flights for at least 24hrs so had to collect our luggage now it had been released by Airport security then a quick shop for necessities before returning to our hotel for a clothes washing session.
By mid afternoon you couldn’t move on our balcony for scopes and washing but managed 3 Glossy Ibis, 6 Purple Heron, Great White Egret, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Caspian Tern over and a Whitethroat in the garden of the Hotel opposite but the raptor passage had ceased.

April 17th 2010
As we were not going any where today we discussed the possibility of hiring a car but with the situation changing by the hour we decided we could not risk being out of the communication loop. Dave, Terry and I had worked Ofira Park finding 2m & 1f Cretzschmar’s Bunting, 3 Olivacious Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, Masked Shrike and 2 Meadow Pipit before we moved on to Eilat North Beach after Colin rang to say he had a Striated Heron on the fishing platform but it had gone by the time we got there. Birds of note were Pomarine Skua, Sooty Shearwater, 20 Common Tern and 17 Glossy Ibis in off the sea.

Eastern Olivacious Warbler
While Dave walked to the Ringing Station I had second look at Eilat North Beach searching for the Striated recording Osprey, 3 Pomarine Skua, 2 Sooty Shearwater, 2 Pied Kingfisher, Common, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern, 3 White-eyed Gull and a Western Reef Heron.
A short walk along the canal produced Great Reed Warbler, Kingfisher, 2 Pied Kingfisher, Pied Flycatcher, Hoopoe, Rock and Crag Martin, Black-winged Stilt, 4 Wood Sandpiper, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Night Heron, 3 Black Kite and 2 Steppe Buzzard.
I met up with Dave who had seen 2 Lesser-spotted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard, and Reed Warbler among the more usual birds at the Ringing Station and a Semi-collared Flycatcher in the Palm Plantation.
Hotel balcony produced 2 Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, 8 Kestrel sp very high up and 230 Common Tern which landed on the Salt Ponds
Evening look at Eilat North Beach where there were over a 1000 Common Tern off shore, 20 Garganey, 3 Pomarine Skua, Artic Skua, 100 Baltic Gull and 6 Swift

April 18th 2010
The pressure of not knowing what’s going on has been eased as we met up with another traveler Catherine who has her ear to the Hotel grapevine who kindly kept us updated.
Our now regular session on Eilat North Beach produced Common Sandpiper, Baltic Gull, White-eyed Gull, 200 Common Tern, Little Tern, Kingfisher, 2 Pied Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Purple Heron 6, Little Egret, 10 Great White Egret, 2 Artic Skua, 5 Pomarine Skua, Wood Sandpiper, 2 Caspian Tern.
Called in on Ofira Park on our way back to the hotel and found a tired Upcher’s Warbler so back to hotel to check the identification and any news on flights before returning for a second session, confirming its identification. At least one male Cretzschmar’s Bunting remained, Icterine Warbler, Olivacious Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat present.
The balcony was quiet till mid-afternoon when the wind dropped and a mixture of raptors went through with Hobby, 2 Levant Sparrowhawk, immature Pallid Harrier, 2 Booted Eagle, 4 Steppe Buzzard, 2 eagle sp and a Sparrowhawk along with 10 Black-winged Stilt and 40 Common Tern.
Still very warm when we checked on Ofira Park where this morning birds were elusive due to the heat but the raptors were on the move with 2 Levant Sparrowhawk hunting in the park while both Montagu’s and Pallid Harrier went over with a few Steppe Buzzard before we moved to get a clearer view of the Eilat Mountains where kettles of Steppe Buzzards were forming with at least 2000 birds present. As we were leaving I spotted 2 Levant Sparrowhawk very close and shouted to Dave only to find him absorbed in a spectacular movement of hundreds of um pouring in over Eilat Airport very low – magical.

April 19th 2010
Oops the wind got up last night and we lost some of our washing.
After a very warm night it was already 23c as we walked to Eilat North Beach at 6am with 2 Levant Sparrowhawk already out hunting at first light and a Montagu’s Harrier coming in low over the marina, Artic Skua and 2 Sooty Shearwater off shore.
The Upcher’s showed briefly in Ofira Park and Olivacious Warblers had increased to 7 with male Cretzschmar’s Bunting still present plus 2 Meadow Pipits, Blackcap and Masked Shrike.
Too hot for me and Terry so we stayed on the our balcony while Dave and Colin took a taxi up to ringing in station but yesterdays raptor movement only involved birds that had roosted locally, 2 Black Stork, Lesser-spotted Eagle, 3 Levant Sparrowhawk, 15 Steppe Buzzard, 3 Black Kite and 4 Purple Heron seen leaving the Palm Plantation. There was brief excitement at 11:30am when a Long-legged Buzzard flew low over Eilat and started hunting over the salt ponds, Levant Sparrowhawk perched in trees opposite our hotel and 50 Swifts over.
Dave and Colin returned from ringing station with the best being 2 Booted Eagle, 8 Levant Sparrowhawk, 20 Steppe Buzzard, 2 Black-headed Wagtail, Red-throated Pipit, Purple Heron, 5 Night Heron and 9 Red-necked Phalarope. With the temperature reaching a dry dusty 39c the rest of day spent doing nothing.

April 20th 2010
A lot cooler this morning and we added two new birds to our trip list off Eilat North Beach with a Black Tern coming in off the sea and heading north with a group of Common Tern then a White-winged Black Tern appeared on its own heading towards Jordon, also Gull-billed Tern and one Sooty Shearwater. The walk back to hotel via Ofria Park also brought another one for the list with female Barred Warbler and there seemed to be a lot more birds about with arrival of Rufous Bush Robin plus Levant Sparrowhawk, 3 Blackcap, 3 Olivacious Warbler and Hoopoe.
Just after breakfast we found out from Catherine that a plane was leaving so we had a mad dash in packing but it was cancelled. The disappointment killed the rest of the day.

April 21st 2010
A plane was definitely leaving today so packed again and had time for one last look at Ofira Park producing Icterine Warbler, Tree Pipit, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Olivacious Warbler, Nightingale, 2 Masked Shrike, Reed Warbler and 12 Swift and the last birds seen from the balcony were 2 Sooty Shearwater resting off shore and Osprey over Eilat. Only a Kestrel noted on the journey to the Airport
On arrival at Luton Airport they were slow off the mark so a delay in getting off plane and longer wait for our luggage. It was a shock to the system having to scrape ice off the windscreen but good to be back on the proper side of the road.

Dave and I took to looking for fish in the clear waters of the marina finding 17 species with this the biggest - showed how sad we had become- me