Tuesday, 30 November 2010

November 30th 2010

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


Monday, 29 November 2010

November 29th 2010

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

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

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


Sunday, 28 November 2010

November 28th 2010

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

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


Saturday, 27 November 2010

November 27th 2010

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


Friday, 26 November 2010

November 26th 2010

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


Thursday, 25 November 2010

November 25th 2010

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


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

November 23rd 2010

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


November 22nd 2010

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


Sunday, 21 November 2010

November 21st 2010

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


Saturday, 20 November 2010

November 20th 2010

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

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

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


Friday, 19 November 2010

November 19th 2010

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


Thursday, 18 November 2010

November 18th 2010

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

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


November 17th 2010

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


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

November 16th 2010

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

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


Monday, 15 November 2010

November 15th 2010

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

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


Sunday, 14 November 2010

November 14th 2010

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

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


Friday, 12 November 2010

November 12th 2010

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


Thursday, 11 November 2010

November 11th 2010

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


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

November 9th 2010

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

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

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


Monday, 8 November 2010

November 8th 2010

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

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


Sunday, 7 November 2010

November 7th 2010

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

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


Saturday, 6 November 2010

November 6th 2010

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

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


Friday, 5 November 2010

November 5th 2010

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

Blair's & Grey Shoulder-knot

Dark Chestnut


Thursday, 4 November 2010

November 4th 2010

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


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

November 3rd 2010

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

November 2nd 2010

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

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

Great Grey Shrike by Dick Jones

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

Mottled Umber by Bob Hazell

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

Snow Bunting by Bob Hazell

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

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


Monday, 1 November 2010

November 1st 2010

Bob came round to photograph some moths in the morning.

Platyptilia gonodactyla



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


October 31st Extra

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