Friday, 31 December 2010

December 31st 2010

Last throw of the dice for patch year ticks – zilch but though it was dreary weather wise we had a cracking visit.

Dave and I walked out to the valve tower at Draycote Water which was foggy with no open water until we reached the inlet where the pumps were on full blast clearing a channel for some of the duck present to use before throttling back to a trickle. The fog became mist and visibility improved showing most of the open water is between valve tower and dunns bay though there is a bit off farborough spit and a small pool out in the centre.Sightings included
Goosander 42 female & 28 male valve tower
Kingfisher stream below draycote bank
Lesser Redpoll unknown number behind inlet
Brambling female with 30 Chaffinch on outlet
Raven at least 2 present
Dunlin one on ice off inlet
Curlew 2 circling reservoir and calling before flying towards the grandborough valley
Bar-tailed Godwit circling with Curlew and following them
Also seen were Shoveler 8, Pochard 20, Gadwall 10, Green Woodpecker, Great-crested Grebe 176 and Little Grebe 6.
Met up with Steve Batt who had the male Smew and Barnacle Geese off farborough spit plus some Siskin and 2 Coal Tit.


Thursday, 30 December 2010

December 30th 2010

Dave’s not been a hundred percent (man flu) and I’ve been Billy no mates for a couple of days so despite the continuing fog we decided to go out this morning hoping it would improve, not a chance.
We did manage to see Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Little Owl while trawling around in the gloom and our walk to toft shallows Draycote Water showed only a small stretch of open water with a few duck present with a few more resting on the ice. Total count was 16 Pochard, 6 Goldeneye, male & female Shoveler, male Pintail, 120 Wigeon and 4 Barnacle Geese though these are probably of plastic origin.
Chris rang when Dave dropped me off home mid-morning so we arranged to have lunch at Brandon Marsh and see what the place could offer, only 70 Siskin, Jay and Nuthatch so took a risk and tried Draycote Water from the village end and surprisingly the fog had lifted slightly.
It certainly confirmed that 80% of reservoir is frozen though if the breeze continues it should break the ice up before New Years Day. Counts off draycote bank included 24 Goosander, 14 Shoveler, male Smew, 20 Pochard, 200 Wigeon and 12 Gadwall while Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost that was starting to build up.
Dave had a good moth catch last night with Chestnut, Satellite, 2 Winter Moth, Dark Chestnut and Scarce Umber.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

December 29th 2010

Weather wise it’s been very foggy and drab day spent at home apart from a walk to the shops when 10 Siskin flew over while the excessive feeding over the last few days in the garden paid off with a Yellowhammer male along with my regular Brambling.
The fog is due to the rapid rise in temperatures over the last 36 hours which means my moth trap is back doing what it catches best – moths. Amazing how quickly they react to mild temperatures and the 2 in my trap tonight are Winter Moths.

Winter Moth


Monday, 27 December 2010

December 27th 2010

Took a leaf out of JJs book and though the rivers in my neck of the wood are more like glorified streams it paid off with Jack Snipe and 7 Snipe found searching various stretches of the River Leam between Thurlaston Bridge and Beck Hill in the Grandborough valley plus a Woodcock feeding out in the open.
Plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare in the hedgerows and 4 Waxwing on apples in the orchard in the hamlet of Toft.

Those close to me will be aware of my mothers long illness which sadly she succumbed too this afternoon – my thanks and appreciation go to the staff at Overslade House, Rugby who gave her the dignity and care she deserved.


Sunday, 26 December 2010

December 26th 2010

Took a break from visiting Overslade House and tried to catch up with some local birding with Dave looking for owls but the freezing fog and -12c put paid to that idea with only a Little Owl heard around Draycote Village.
Despite the poor visibility and the pond being officially closed we walked along cycle route 41 for some fresher air and it looks as if the place is completely frozen over. We could see two small stretches of open water with a few duck and coot on though there were over 60 Goosander flying around and a Bewick’s Swan calling but not seen. Also Raven over.
Luckily Lawford Heath was bathed in sunshine but as we arrived John Judge rang to say he had found a Bittern on his dog walking patch a couple of miles away and kindly agreed to stay with the bird while we raced over. The bird was 50 yards up stream from the footbridge from Lea Crescent, Newbold sitting among some vegetation in the middle of the river and showing well, a stunning find so well done John. Also Kingfisher seen while earlier John also had another new dog walking tick in the form of a Water Rail down stream from the bridge.

River Avon Newbold

Bittern digiscoped by John Judge

Once satisfied with our views we cleared off and searched the Church Lawford to Bilton area finding Little Owl, 12 Tree Sparrow, 14 Corn Bunting, 20+ Yellowhammer and 6 Buzzard but the best was 23 Pink-footed Geese Dave found flying low over Lawford Heath heading north west.
Early afternoon my garden feeders were heaving with female Brambling, 2 Redwing, Song Thrush, 3 Rook, 18 Chaffinch, Common Gull and 2 Coal Tit before I popped over to see the Waxwings in Hillmorton Rugby where at least 18 were feeding in Moat Farm Drive.
Steve Batt found a Waxwing near me in Alwyn Road today and had brief one in Lime Tree Avenue Christmas Eve.

Waxwing Alwyn Road Rugby by Steve Batt


December 25th 2010

Overslade House had Nuthatch and 2 Mistle Thrush in the morning and while walking to Dave’s for dinner a Woodcock flew low over Bawnmore Rd at 1:30pm.


Friday, 24 December 2010

December 24th 2010

In Rugby there were 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk and 12 Long-tailed Tits in the grounds of Overslade House while my garden this afternoon recorded male Brambling with the finch flock and 12 unidentified geese flying over west.
My little sister (she who must be adored) has had Waxwing recently along with Great-spotted Woodpecker in her garden in Lower Hillmorton while in Hillmorton the Waxwings are still present in Fenwick Drive.
Mark Phillips had a Peregrine near Bretford.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

December 23rd 2010

Draycote Water is still closed and will be for sometime

I had a flock of Waxwings a couple of times around the grounds of Overslade House, Rugby along with Raven and Buzzard and lots more Fieldfare and Redwing being recorded in Rugby gardens today.

JJ had a Med Gull hanging around his garden in Long Lawford most of the day and kindly sent me some shots.

Med Gull by John Judge


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

December 22nd 2010

Birding has had to take a back seat but I needed a break this afternoon so despite 6 inches of snow falling this morning I ventured out to clear my head.
Impossible to cycle so walked to Draycote Water which was hard work and on arrival the place was desolate and looks as if it’s still closed. I only wandered as far as farborough spit and the majority of the surface appeared frozen so expect a clear out of duck. The male Smew heading towards biggen bay and Waxwing in grays barn no doubt a wander from the many mobile flocks in and around Rugby were the highlights. At least 1200 Wood Pigeon moved south and many Fieldfares were doing the same otherwise not much else to report.

Over the last two days more Waxwings have been appearing locally with 22 Overslade, 23 Bilton, 30 Hillmorton, 4 Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, 2 Sawbridge and 4 Kites Hardwick. I have not had an opportunity to get photos so here’s a reminder of one we had in May Lane, Rugby in 2008 taken by John Judge

I never did get to see the full eclipse. I was out watching as the shadow progressed over the face of the moon but just as the last slither of the moon was on show the cloud came in and that was that – bugger.

This is what it should have looked like

Wishing you all A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
with good birding and health.


Monday, 20 December 2010

December 20th 2010

Not been out birding today but Pete had a 16 Waxwing in Dunchurch so they are still around.

Andy kindly reminded me about this event so found this article on the Guardian web site.
Lunar eclipse and winter solstice to coincide for first time in 372 years
Tomorrow's lunar eclipse over Britain will fall on the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – for the first time since 1638
The skies over Britain will turn a dark shade of red tomorrow morning as the moon moves into the Earth's shadow in a rare lunar eclipse.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are almost exactly in line, with the moon and sun on opposite sides of our home planet.
The alignment will cause the full moon to appear much dimmer than usual, but sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere will give the lunar surface a deep reddish hue at dawn.
The eclipse is due to begin at 5.28am, as the moon enters the lightest part of Earth's shadow, known as the penumbra. In this early phase of the eclipse, the moon will appear yellowish in the pre-dawn sky.
A more significant dimming begins as the moon enters into the darker part of Earth's shadow at 6.32am and becomes completely eclipsed at 7.40am.
For the first time in 372 years the lunar eclipse coincides with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. In addition, both sun and eclipsed moon will briefly be visible above the horizon – cloud cover permitting – in an unusual event called a selenehelion.

Unfortunately my local weather forecast is not brilliant with Snow followed by freezing fog and 51% cloud cover.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

December 19th 2010

The local weather stations at 5am were reporting an average of -6c so it was a shock to the system when Dave and I arrived at Napton Reservoir and it was -13c - still no pain no gain so off we went looking for owls managing just a Barn and frozen feet. Not a lot else about with most of the reservoir frozen over 200 Lapwing, 2 Raven, Waxwing calling but not seen and 100s of Fieldfare and Redwing.
Arrived at Draycote Water to a SITE IS CLOSED notice which put paid to that idea so trawled around the Dunchurch, Potsdam, Lawford Heath and Church Lawford areas managing 6 Buzzard, 8 Corn Bunting and 55 Mute Swan and Dave spotted 10 Waxwing in a tree in Dunchurch but they were flighty.
Brandon Marsh was looking like Siberia so after a good chat with Graham and a couple of Nuthatch we called it a day.
Pond will probably closed tomorrow due to the conditions not helped by the predicted freezing fog forecast for around here.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

December 18th 2010 extra

Apologies for delayed postings - problems with computer.


December 18th 2010

I checked the disused railway line that borders the Golf Course which becomes Cycle Route 41 to Birdingbury Bridge between Frankton and Birdingbury just west of the pond. It was mega cold, down to -8c with the wind chill and a thin layer of fresh snow and ice. Tawny Owls perched where the tree canopy covers the railway near the golf course.
By the time I reached Draycote Village smaller birds were active with 3 Nuthatch, 9 Bullfinch, 13 Long-tailed Tit and Treecreeper seen in the village then made my way up to the valve tower at Draycote Water and walked to rainbow corner. Still plenty of Goosander with 49 off the valve tower, 6 in rainbow and a further 12 seen in the distance off farborough bank along with the male Smew while 4 Dunlin, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail on inlet. On my return a Peregrine was over valve tower and the hedgerow down to Draycote Village had 18 Yellowhammer and Brambling.
I struggled to get up the hill out of Draycote due to the ice and became a cropper a couple of times so licked me wounds at Blooms Garden Centre reading no end of text reporting Waxwing from Cawston, Dunchurch, Wolston, Grandborough and Long Lawford so the patch is well and truly enjoying these gems – hope they will stay in to the New Year.
Lawford Heath had a day flying Barn Owl, 2 Raven and 5 Buzzard while Potsdam as the snow started falling had 19 Corn Bunting, 3 Tree Sparrow, 24 Yellowhammer and female Brambling struggling to find food in the conditions and 2 Waxwing were in Cawston on my way home though there favourite bush is running out of berries so don’t’ expect them to stay much longer.
Just outside my patch Dave L had 60+ Waxwing in Cubbington.


Friday, 17 December 2010

December 17th 2010

It was a bitterly cold night with the wind chill at 8am -6c so back to the thermals.
JJ and Kevin reported up to 4 Waxwing at Cawston this morning but when Dave and I had a quick look as we passed on our way to Brandon this afternoon they were not on show.
Brandon Marsh was like an iceberg and I may be settling for something as I couldn’t keep warm and shivered my way past 12 Siskin before we ditched out attempt at seeing the Short-eared Owl and headed for coffee and toasted teacakes.
A quick look at Potsdam on the way home produced 15 Corn Bunting, 2 Tree Sparrow and plenty of Chaffinch.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

December 16th 2010

There were 200 Linnets, 2 Green Woodpecker, 5 Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl near Grandborough this morning other wise the valley was quiet.
Draycote Water much the same as it has been with male Smew off farborough bank along with 36 Gadwall, 64 Goosander, 74 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 29 Goldeneye and 214 Great-crested Grebe. At least one female Brambling behind the inlet and 8 Siskin and Little Owl in toft shallows.
The rain and sleet cleared this evening so enjoyed the clear skies watching the Geminids meteor shower with a few others at Napton. Although it peaked 3 days ago there are still a few to be seen if you have the patience and can tolerate the cold though an owl fest kept us warm.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

December 15th 2010

Waxwings are following me about – a ride to the Post Office in Dunchurch and 2 were in trees on Dunsmore Heath dropping in to the back gardens along Coventry Road, 5 were in trees along Lime Tree Avenue opposite where 3 were feeding in the back gardens at Cawston. Over 20 were seen later in the day at Dunchurch while others were reported from May Lane and Bilton Road.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

December 14th 2010

It’s been a grey overcast day weather wise.
No sign of any Waxwings at the Dun Cow, Dunchurch when Chris and I had a look just before 1am and Draycote Water was again suffering from poor visibility so similar birds and numbers to yesterday apart from the addition of adult Yellow-legged Gull.
We moved on to Brandon Marsh for a coffee via Cawston and on our second attempt found 3 Waxwings feeding opposite the cottage so we parked up for better views and located 3 more in the gloom.
Bitterns had been showing earlier at Brandon Marsh but all we could manage was 2 Lesser Redpoll, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Snipe before looking for the Short-eared Owl and after a cold 20 minute wait rewarded with a couple of flight views and a longer view perched on bush.
Received reports of a Waxwing over the Grandborough valley and 4 Waxwing in Lytham Road, Rugby today and on our way home tonight we had over 40 Winter Moths in the car headlights.


Monday, 13 December 2010

December 13th 2010

The mist predicted this morning was in fact thick fog so after 4 hours in the field bashing away at our favourite haunts all Dave and I had to show for our efforts was a single Buzzard and with no wind it seemed it would never lift by the time we reached the pond.
Our walk to toft shallows peering through the gloom produced the male Smew, 25 Goosander, 30 Gadwall, 60 Pochard, 300 Wigeon, 400 Canada Geese, 7 Dunlin and 10 Siskin. On our way back the gloom turned to rain and visibility lifted slightly revealing over 500 Coot, 40 Goldeneye and 305 Great-crested Grebe out in the centre.
Having reached the car park and deciding to call it a day a timely text from Pete had us motoring at speeds touching warp factor to Dunchurch village where we dived in to the Dun Cow pub car park and viewed the 5 Waxwing that were in the tall tree on the adjacent Dunsmore Heath (name of a road).

crap pic by me

Back home and Mark text to say 5 Waxwing were at Cawston so popped over to see them then over to the local tip but with poor viewing from the surrounding roads meant it was a cross country hike up to me ankles in mud to peer through the trees for a better view hoping no jobsworth would see and located both the adult Iceland and Glaucous Gull. Also in the area were Sparrowhawk, Raven, Buzzard, and 7 Corn Bunting.

More Waxwings were reported in Rugby today with 3 May Lane/Addison Road junction and 2 along Dunchurch Road so keep um peeled.

What promises to be the best meteor shower of the year is hitting its peak tonight with The Geminid meteor shower, an annual mid-December event that will reach its height tonight and early tomorrow. The meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini (the Twins).

Also plenty of moths being reported, Dave had 2 December Moths yesterday while I have had single Winter Moth the last 2 nights.

Colin sent me a couple of his efforts yesterday - I am in both pics, can you spot me.

Don’t yer just love it when all your hobbies come at once – just like Christmas - WHAT IT IS CHRISTMAS.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

December 12th 2010

Frustration on Kings Lynn Station when the steam special pulled up short of the buffers leaving everyone with piss poor views of Sir Nigel from the end of the platform. We legged it out of the station and Dave made a dash to a nearby railway crossing where he stayed with the car while I ran the last 500 yards just as she was pulling away.

There wasn’t a lot about in Norfolk so we chose to spend some time watching the marshes around Burnham Overy Staithe but there was no sign of any Rough-legged Buzzards and the possible Northern Harrier had passed through minutes earlier and may have been one of the birds we passed on the other side of the village but could not find somewhere to park so unable to get convincing views. Most open water was frozen but still managed good numbers of duck, 3000 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Barn Owls, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier and a good mixture of waders while the hedgerows were full of Redwing and Fieldfares.
Titchwell was completely frozen but managed a few Pintail, 4 Avocet, 6 Whooper Swan, 500 Pink-footed geese, Siskin, Bearded Tit, 3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Little Egret and 2 Water Pipit while the sea had Great-crested Grebe, 10 Goldeneye, 6 Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and 1000 Common Scoter. A single Rock Pipit on the beach.

I arrived home to news of all sorts of goodies are on my patch today with Pa Phillips finding 7 Waxwing at Cawston among the best so plenty to go for over the next few days.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

December 11th 2010

Turned out that both steam specials in my area were arriving at the same time so had too decided which to go for so plumped for the Castle Class no 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe leaving Birmingham Moor Street at 8:24 heading for Paddington, London.
Dave kindly offered to take me to see it at Wormleighton which gave us time to do a bit of birding at both Napton and Womrleighton Reservoirs. Arriving before dawn at Napton we had Barn Owl then added Cetti’s Warbler, Raven and Curlew when the light improved while Wormleighton had 3 Coal, 2 Willow and 3 Marsh Tit plus Treecreeper, 5 Tree Sparrow, 3 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 3 Green Woodpecker, 500 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing.
The “mount” was going hell for leather when she passed us on time so very impressive then it was off to the Diner at Long Itchington for a hearty breakfast.

Dave Cox


Alan Anscomb

Back home and 20 Fieldfare headed south over the garden then it was out again down the Grandborough valley looking for owls but only Barn Owl put in an appearance although a close up encounter with a Woodcock was not to be sneezed at.

JJ and Alfie chose the other option and watched 60163 Tornado as she left Rugby and looking a lot more healthier than last time.

JJ & Alfie

Understandably not mentioned moths for while due to the sub zero temperatures we have had of late but this window of mild air certainly brought them out this morning with 2 Umber species and 30+ Winter Moth seen on route to Napton Reservoir. None in the traps but tonight is looking good with Winter Moth already in mine.

Many thanks to Dave, Alan and John for there photos


December 10th 2010

I checked the grassy field down the Southam road at first light and rewarded with a Tawny Owl and 3 Ravens plus 23 Red-legged Partridge before giving the pond a quick visit.
Finally caught up with the long staying Sanderling feeding along the wind surfing shoreline while a calling Redshank flew across the pond landing on the inlet. There are still plenty of duck spread out along the north shore dominated by the large numbers of Goosander with at least 75 counted on the reservoir with a further 34 seen leaving in groups for the River Leam so probably well over a hundred present.
The finch flock behind the inlet is still difficult to locate due to its mobility but at least one male Brambling noted. The male Smew was by the valve tower and other sightings included 43 Gadwall, 87 Pochard, Kingfisher, 3 Dunlin and 2 Grey Wagtail.
JJ has been doing well with gulls on the local tip with adult Iceland yesterday and adult Glaucous Gull today so Dave and I had a wander around the area this afternoon managing to find the Glauc in flight but not brilliant views – also Sparrowhawk plus 11 Corn Bunting and 2 Tree Sparrow at Potfords.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

December 9th 2010

Bob and I had to cut our trip to the pond short this morning so in the limited time we had we did a quick walk to toft bay managing at least 76 Goosander, 46 Gadwall, 60 Pochard, 200+ Wigeon, long distant views of the male Smew, 30+ Goldeneye, Dunlin and adult and 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull.
No doubt Red-legged Partridges are common as muck in your neck of the woods but around here we are lucky if we get a couple of singles in a year so to find a group of 36 and another of 9 viewing from toft bank was amazing.

Back home I had time to watch the female Brambling in the garden before spending the afternoon wandering along the Grand Union Canal between Birdingbury Bridge and the junction with the Oxford Canal including Napton Reservoir.
Highlights were 2 Waxwing on the eastern hedge of reservoir which flew off towards Calcutt Marina, female Merlin near the Ventor Marina and a Red Kite seen heading towards Shuckburgh being mobbed by 3 Ravens. Also seen were Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Brambling, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Snipe and hundreds of winter thrushes plus Little Owl and 2 Barn Owls at dusk.

Bit of a steam fest for me this weekend with two Steam Specials in my area on Saturday plus a goody out of Kings Lynn if we can get there and of course if this weather allows them to run.

hauled by 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe from Birmingham Moor St to London Paddington via Solihull, Dorridge, Warwick Parkway – no times published yet.

THE CATHEDRALS EXPRESS hauled by 60163 Tornado from London Euston to Chester – arriving at Rugby 10:01 departing 10:08 and returning 19:00 but only stopping for a minute.

Kings Lynn-London Kings Cross hauled by 60007 due to leave 09:54 but times not confirmed


December 8th 2010

Female Brambling turned up in the garden attracted by the increase in my finch flock numbers and while waiting for a bus in to town a Peregrine flew over my estate.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

December 7th 2010

It’s been another day of freezing fog with the temperature not rising above -2c all day and plummeting to -6c while doing the roost tonight at Draycote Water. I managed to locate the first winter Iceland Gull in a very large roost but eventually gave in to the cold and scuttled off home. Other birds noted were the male Smew commuting between pontoons and the valve tower, at least 87 Goosander at dusk, Grey Wagtail, 11 Siskin, 2 male Brambling and Little Owl.
Unfortunately more freezing fog is forecasted for around here tonight.


December 6th 2010

Freezing fog all day so only bird to report was a Barn Owl seen twice perched in the courtyard while attending the moth course at Brandon Marsh in the evening.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

December 5th 2010

A wander round the Grandborough valley in thick fog produced calling Tawny Owl and Raven this morning with Dave.
We decided that we needed a walk to build an appetite for breakfast and though visibility was down to 30 yards at Draycote Water we managed the male Smew, 40 Gadwall and 20 Goosander on our jaunt out to toft shallows. After breakfast and with no sign of the fog lifting we headed south to Wormleighton where it was bright, sunny and full of birds. Here we managed 4 Marsh Tit, 2 Willow Tit, 10 Tree Sparrow, 3 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 2 Brambling, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 500 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing. Biggest surprise of the day here was a Red Admiral butterfly watched crossing the snow covered fields.
On the way back we had a look at Napton on the Hill with Buzzard, Nuthatch and a Chiffchaff kindly shown to us while Napton Reservoir had a Water Rail.
Unfortunately the messages and phone calls of 9 Waxwings in Rugby came just as I was being served mince pie and ice cream for the third time.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

December 4th 2010

Once the fog had lifted Dave and I went to the pond where there was plenty of activity with good numbers of wildfowl including the male Smew, 80 Goosander, 340 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 50 Gadwall, 40 Goldeneye, 100 Teal, 90 Pochard, 100 Cormorant, 6 Mute Swan and 6 Dunlin. Only other birds of note were the 2 Raven off draycote bank , Mealy Redpoll in the wind surfing car park with 6 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Brambling with the difficult to see finch flock behind the inlet.
After a late breakfast we did Napton on the Hill which was covered in hundreds of Redwing and Fieldfare plus 3 Raven and very brief view of a Waxwing near the windmill. Napton Reservoir had more winter thrushes and 10 Bullfinch but nothing else reportable.
John gave me the heads up of a Red Kite heading towards Rugby, Mark had a Green Sandpiper along the sow brook behind lytham rd while Pete had 2 Waxwing over Sainsbury’s this morning and my Black Redstart made a brief appearance on next doors roof late afternoon.


Friday, 3 December 2010

December 3rd 2010

Don’t you just love technology – gave the heads up to John, Dave and Bob as I tracked the Space Station over Cuba heading for the North Atlantic then passing over Cork, Swindon and London before heading away over Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Even with day break she was bright enough to be easily picked out 222 miles above my frozen world. She is predicted on similar track tomorrow at 6:07am and on Sunday at 6:33am though the forecast for here is crap.
OK back to the real world and freezing fog rolled in 8am till mid afternoon so kept an eye on the garden and bingo – adult male Black Redstart – garden tick. I took a record shot but not going to degrade my site with such a feeble effort. Sent it to Dave at work but he just called me a jammy b-----d.
Out with Dave this afternoon as the fog lifted driving around the valley – 200 Linnet, 3 Buzzard and 2 Raven plus hundreds of winter thrushes.
Hopefully the weather will improve as more Brambling and Waxwing have been seen today plus an influx of Woodcock.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

December 2nd 2010

Left the house while it was still snowing this morning and arrived at the pond at first light to the sight of over 15,000 gulls still present and managed to locate 4 adult and 3 first winter Yellow-legged Gulls among them along with a good local count of 340 Greater Black-backed Gulls.
Highlight of the visit was a Waxwing that flew over farborough spit followed by an impressive 58 going over the hide in toft bay heading towards Thurlaston village where they were seen in the tree tops before dispersing. Other new arrivals were 3 Oystercatcher in grays barn, 5 Dunlin on farborough spit and a male Smew off the pontoons (arrived yesterday).
Cold weather movements included 150 Golden Plover from three flocks heading west, 1200 Wood Pigeon south and 600 Fieldfare and 200 Redwing in fields between Thurlaston and Dunchurch.
Still plenty of finch activity behind the inlet with 23 Brambling, 2 Tree Sparrow and 3 Corn Bunting scoped among the many Linnets and Chaffinch.
Also present were Little Owl in alpaca field, 37 Goosander, 5 Shoveler, 174 Wigeon, 135 Teal, 12 Siskin, 7 Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 225 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Buzzard.
Cycling was difficult in the freshly lying snow but checked out the valley for Steve Bs male Hen Harrier he found yesterday near Toft Lakes and though it had probably long gone a day flying Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl in the same field made up for it. Also around were 12 Tree Sparrow
Back at the pond for the roost with the wind chill at -7c managing first winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls in a very large roost estimated at 40,000 birds. Both birds came in very late.
Journey home was a nightmare as roads and pavements have started freezing over and its going to drop big time tonight – my garden is showing -5 and sheltered.

Many thanks to Kev, Pete and Cath for comments


December 1st 2010

I gained permission from the landowners this afternoon to check out the pheasant feeders and shooting cover between Draycote village and the River Leam and the numbers of finches and buntings using them grows as the cold spell makes its effects felt on our smaller birds. Total count from 6 areas checked were 350 Chaffinch, 240 Linnet, 80 Greenfinch, 45 Yellowhammer, 56 Brambling, 22 Reed Bunting, 15 Tree Sparrow, 12 Corn Bunting, 11 Skylark and 6 Lesser Redpoll.