Friday, 30 December 2011

December 30th 2011

Despite the dull drizzly conditions Bob kindly took me over to Wormleighton to see Tornado go through with The Shakespearian Express where we met up with Terry and at least she wasn’t disappointing as she steamed past though I managed to cock up my shots but Terry and Bob captured it.
Before she arrived we had 20 Tree Sparrow and 100 Golden Plover over while the railway embankment was full of Fieldfare and Redwing but after coffee at Long Itchington we decided to give the pond a miss because of the rain.

Tornado Terry Southgate and Bob Hazell - oops the smoke is my picture

Alan Anscomb saved the day with this image between Leamington Spa and Warwick

Only seen the shed once over the festive period as the weather has been crap but lets hope it shows on the 1st

Moon and Venus by Mark Phillips taken on the 28th


December 29th 2011

Dave and I called in on my little sister holidaying in Thornham, Norfolk for breakfast then spent the rest of the morning being blown about at Titchwell RSPB resulting in the reserve being quiet with only 7 Little Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier and an Avocet on offer amongst the normal fare while the sea was a lot more productive with 14 Great-crested Grebe, Great-northern Diver, 22 Red-throated Diver (some very close in), 2 Black-throated Diver, 12 Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, Guillemot, 2 Razorbill and 2 Fulmar.
On our return a Chinese Water Deer was showing on the marsh and we caught up with the redpoll flock by the visitors centre. Having found 10 Lesser and 2 Mealy Redpolls when we first arrived this second look finally produced the hoped for first winter Coues’s Arctic Redpoll amongst 17 redpolls and a couple of Siskin.
On our way out of Norfolk we took a look around Beacon Hill above Thornham finding 20+ Red-legged and Grey Partridge, 300 Linnet and 5 Marsh Harrier.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

December 28th 2011

Another mild night produced Chestnut and either Acleris hastiana or Acleris cristana in the garden trap which normally hibernates at this time of the year and one of those species you have to cut the gonads up to identify for certain, rest assured it flew off with meat and two veg still attached after Bob took its mug shot.

Draycote Water was blustery this morning with Grey Plover heading west over rainbow, female Red-breasted Merganser off draycote bank among a very impressive gathering of 50 Goosander (26 male), first winter Shag on the small island then draycote bank and adult and second winter Yellow-legged Gull. Supporting cast included 3 Goldcrest, 31 Yellowhammer, 350 Stock Dove, Dunlin, 3 Buzzard, 2 Raven, 75 Wigeon and 22 Goldeneye.
JJ offered me a lift back to the pond late afternoon to do the roost and we caught up with yesterdays first winter Iceland Gull and also found a first winter Glaucous Gull by which the time both Jupiter and Venus were on show. I was home in time to finally catch up with the shed as it passed over just before 5pm.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

December 27th 2011

Lots of e-mails recieved regarding info on Fridays train so here is the majority of the route.

Another mild night so out early down the valley lamping managing 8 Winter Moth and a single Acleris schalleriana along Hill Road though this was over shadowed by a probable Long-eared Owl on the roadside fence near Warsner Spinney and the ears briefly caught in the lamplight before flying off. A Barn Owl hunting near Gymswood but I arrived too late for any Short-eared Owl’s.


December 26th 2011

My pressy from Mrs Dave - There's more chance of me finding a Bluethroat in my garden than sharing this beauty.

Five Short-eared Owls, 2 Barn Owl, Tawny Owl heard, 4 Hare and a Fox down the valley at first light and 10 Goosander, Yellow-legged Gull adult and first winter Shag at the pond.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

December 24th 2011

I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the festive season (apart from kicking the s*** out of Santa) than to be flat on ones back down the valley, watching the wonders of the universe spread out above me. After yesterdays rain the sky was crystal clear which gave me my first views of the Comet P/2006 T1 Levy as she enters the Great Square of Pegasus at +8th magnitude and there was plenty of other delights to see including the planets, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, as well as a few meteorites from the Ursid meteor shower.
With the air still owls were very prominent with 2 Tawny and 2 Barn Owl heard and as the cloud cover came in at dawn then both Barn and Short-eared became active with 3 of each seen. Other birds seen in the valley included Woodcock, Buzzard, 3 Raven, 3 Red-legged Partridge and 6 Bullfinch. Called in on the pond on the way back home with Shelduck, 22 Goosander, first winter Shag and the Pintail hybrid worth mentioning. Garden had 3 Coal Tit plus Raven and 60 Redwing over mid-day.


Friday, 23 December 2011

December 23rd 2011

Bob sent one of the moths he photographed in July we couldn’t identify to the county record and heard back it was a Small dotted Buff who said it’s status was common so while Bob photographed a Mottled Umber I had trapped overnight I checked the status of SDB for my garden – bugger me side ways – a tick. Don’t know why we never identified at the time all though on the night in question I trapped 428 moths of 99 species so must have suffered from overload.

Had lunch at Brandon Marsh with Dave and managed 2 Nuthatch and Coal Tit on the feeders while out on the marsh we were lucky enough to be in East Marsh hide when the heavens opened, birds of note were Water Rail, 21 Golden Plover, 5 Snipe, male and female Goldeneye and Jay.

No official times published yet but THE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE steam excursion from Paddington to Stratford on Avon will leave on Friday 30 December via Banbury and Leamington Spa and due to arrive before mid-day. On departure from Stratford it will continue northwards via the North Warwickshire Line, Henley in Arden, Tyseley, Water Orton, Nuneaton, Coventry and Leamington Spa where it will rejoin the outward route.
The booked steam locomotive is GWR 'King' 6024 but there are now Network Rail gauging issues with this loco. If these are not resolved, 60163 'Tornado has been reserved for the complete tour. I will let you know the times when published.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

December 22nd 2011

and of course good health and happiness.

Bob managed to get out for a bit of fresh air today and we had a very relaxing walk to farborough spit then on to hensborough bank meeting up with Colin helping to confirm some of his bird photos he took in the Canaries and a brief chat with Kevin. The first winter Shag was found swimming between the islands and could have been a different bird to the one on the 16th due to it being paler around the neck and face, adult Yellow-legged Gull, female Red-breasted Merganser seen off draycote bank, female Mallard x Pintail hybrid on large island, 18 Goosander at least, 98 Cormorant, 40 Pochard, and 6 Meadow Pipits. A large juvenile female Peregrine beat up the many large gulls and Lapwings that were present while other raptors seen included Sparrowhawk and 3 Buzzard.
I had just arrived home when I was given a chance from the landowners to visit some private sites down the valley managing Barn Owl and 2 Short-eared Owls while a probable first winter Iceland Gull flew overhead towards the roost at the pond.

if your house is full of relatives this crimbo weekend drag um away from the telly if its clear to see the shed go over.


December 21st 2011

A dull overcast day so once April confirmed Bob was still on his death bed I blitzed the local Sainsbury’s to fight off fellow sprout lovers for 2lb of Britain’s finest. Back home a Marsh Tit visited my feeders along with 2 Coal Tit and a Siskin.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

December 18th 2011

Out with Dave and mobbed by 5 Short-eared Owls before they dispersed just as quickly as they had arrived leaving us wondering what the hell brought that on. Earlier we had good views of Spica, Mars and Saturn before dawn broke plus 2 Barn Owls.
We moved on to Draycote Water just after 8am where it was -2c with little time to do it justice so only managed 3 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 60+ Greater Black-backed Gull and 12 Goosander before our stomachs demanded attention.
After warming up in the Long Itch Diner we took a look around Wormleighton managing 3 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit, 3 Snipe, 3 Buzzard and a Kingfisher, then trawling the lanes between Wormleighton and Priors Hardwick we must have had a couple thousand Fieldfares along with many Redwings in the hedgerows.


December 17th 2011

I was out mega early before any cloud cover could develop to watch Mars rise above the horizon near the waning gibbous moon, due to recent rain and strong winds the atmosphere was very clean allowing views of Mars’s north polar cap. Andromeda was also showed well and as your eye got use to the fuzzy glow you could start to make out the shape of this galaxy some 2.5 million light years away. Of course the cherry on the cake of any winter viewing has to be the constellation Orion and well worth showing the family.
It’s always magical to be out watching the night sky and even better when joined by 2 Barn Owls and an unidentified asio species. On the down side it was bloody cold. A look at the pond and could find nothing different from yesterday.


Friday, 16 December 2011

December 16th 2011

Bob and I had a Shag at the pond this morning (iv waited months to write that).
Before your eyes water it was a first winter swimming to the small island before hauling its self out and resting among the Cormorants. The 3 Pintails were very mobile including at least one attempt to leave when they were watched flying towards Northamptonshire before returning to settle off the outlet. Both female Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter were still present and the only other birds of note were many Fieldfare and Redwing feeding in the hedgerow, 4 Lesser Redpoll in the country park, 110 Golden Plover over toft, single Dunlin, 6 Buzzard and a distant Peregrine.
Out in the afternoon to Brandon Marsh with Dave but not a lot about, best were Coal Tit, 2 Marsh Tit and 2 Treecreeper.
The Mute Swan flock had increased at Bretford but could not stop due to flow of traffic.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December 14th 2011

We witnessed the reality of nature when the squeal of a Stoat brought our attention to a Rabbit running for its life along hensborough bank which was soon extinguished by a stoat jumping on its back and biting in to its neck. Earlier there were 100+ Fieldfare and Redwing feeding in the country park and the female Common Scoter was off the big island. No new arrivals so the only birds of note were last weeks Pintails (3) and female Red-breasted Merganser in Rainbow Corner while 268 Great-crested Grebe and 10+ Bullfinch are worth a mention.
Barn Owl and Tree Sparrow at Calcutt this evening while Napton Reservoir had 3 Lesser Redpolls along the entrance track with 2 Snipe and a Raven overhead.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

December 11th 2011

A bad start to the day with a freshly killed Barn Owl on the A426 near Kites Hardwick while a live one was hunting just before dawn near Grandborough and nearby while watching a Fox hunting for voles it flushed a Short-eared Owl. They briefly stared each other out with the fox flinching first though the fox was more successful at hunting catching two voles in as many minutes.
I was limited to time due to a Christmas dinner to attend so we did a rare visit to the pond for a Sunday mid morning walk to farborough spit which produced amongst the sailing and cycling mayhem female Common Scoter, female Pintail, 6 Goosander an amazing 46 female and 15 male Goldeneye flushed in to toft bay, 97 Cormorant, 500 Lapwing and 20 Graylag Geese. The best bird on show was the Peregrine devouring a Lapwing on the large island for 50 minutes.


December 10th 2011

Good set-a-side away from the normal fields in the valley is pretty hard to come by these days on my patch so a field just outside Bourton on Dunsmore left fallow for a couple of years was not an unexpected place to find a Short-eared Owl with so many in adjacent areas and counties though due to the ground sweeping down towards Draycote village I did not get the views I would have liked. Draycote Water had the female Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Pintails and Common Scoter female plus 2 Lesser Redpoll and 5 Siskin in toft shallows.


Friday, 9 December 2011

December 9th 2011

Yesterday’s strong winds finally brought in some new arrival to the pond with the arrival of a female Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Pintail.

Record shot of the Pintail by Bob Hazel which with the low water level was miles away.
The merganser was off farnborough bank eventually flying to rainbow corner while the 2 male and one female Pintail were off saddle bank feeding. A single Tree Sparrow was found among the 150+ Linnets on the seed strip behind the inlet. Only other birds of note were female Common Scoter, 19 Golden Plover over, 12 Goosander on the reservoir and 2 Raven seen from the country park while looking for SEO's in the valley.
This afternoon Brandon Marsh had Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Snipe and 22 Golden Plover and there are still only 19 Mute Swan in the Avon valley between Bretford and Church lawford. No sign of any geese as we drove past.


Monday, 5 December 2011

December 5th 2011

Despite wishful thinking Draycote Water was poor again with 10 Long-tailed Tit and 50 Fieldfare on our arrival in the country park and only female Common Scoter and 10 Goosander on the reservoir worth mentioning. Heavy disturbance yesterday must have been the cause of the very poor numbers of Tufted Duck and Mallard present.
Bob and I decided to search the valley and managed, good numbers of Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, and Chaffinch, 26 Golden Plover on the deck with a further 19 over, two groups of Red-legged Partridge totaling 19 birds, 5 Kestrel, 3 Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk and a Tawny Owl calling twice.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

December 4th 2011

Woodcock and Barn Owl down the Southam Road just after first light.


December 3rd 2011

Despite her looking great, seeing Britannia this morning was bit of an anticlimax due to her slow progress past Cathiron and even more frustrating was you could hear her increasing speed when she was out of view. Earlier we had a wander between Manor Farm and Limestone Hall managing 4 Grey Partridge, 7 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Corn Bunting, 5 Tree Sparrow 30 Skylark and 40 Yellowhammer. The Church Lawford geese and swan flock could be seen as we went past but did not have time to stop and look.

Francoise sent me this image of Jay with acorn near the valve tower at the pond.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

December 1st 2011

The pond had the female Common Scoter between the islands, 2 Dunlin among 500 Lapwing that were spooked by some unseen raptor, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 5 male & 2 female Goosander.
JJ has been seeing geese on his way to work but unable to stop and check them out so Bob and I toured the area between Kings Newnham and Bretford finding a Barnacle Goose and 10 Graylags among the Canada flock along with 19 Mute Swan. Only other birds of note were 40 Wigeon, Buzzard and a few Yellowhammers. Tawny and Barn Owl on Lawford Heath this evening.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

November 30th 2011

Due to her flight path, the time of day and the angle of the sun the “space shed coming in off the Atlantic over Cornwall did not become visible till she was way over France finally going out of sight approaching Bulgaria.
Our second visit in a row to the pond that can be classed as “dead” and even Bob did not do his circuit so we tracked back once we reached toft bay. Common Scoter female, Dunlin 3 and Goosander 5 was all we recorded. Hopefully this will be the last day of fishing till March so that might settle the duck down but with water levels still dropping there is little food for some species.
A surprise in the moth trapped awaited us when we arrived home with a Dark Arches among Grey Shoulder-knot, 4 Winter Moth, December Moth and a Dark Chestnut.
Normal flight period for Dark Arches in Warwickshire referred to in David Browns book Larger Moths of Warwickshire is June to September and occasionally October with only three records in November up to the publishing date of 2006. My previous last records for DA have been 12th September 2007, 16th September 2008, 3rd September 2009, 10th September 2010 and 29th September this year so just shows this individual is well outside the norm.

Dark Arches

December Moth

Winter Moth

all pics by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

November 28th 2011

Spent yesterday at home enjoying my re-found interest in painting and sketching so with wind gusts recorded locally nearly touching over 40mph in the early hours of Sunday morning and no recent news coming from the pond Bob and I were convinced we would be on to a winner with today’s visit. Unfortunately despite extensive searching of the surface (248 Great-crested Grebe) we only found the female Common Scoter so we cleared off only to find out later a GND was there briefly at mid-day.

Fingers crossed BR Britannia Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70000 Britannia will be hauling The Cathedrals Express to Chester from London on Saturday 3rd December 2011. She is due to arrive in Rugby at 9:34am departing at 9:56 heading for Stafford and Crewe on the trent valley line before arriving in Chester at 12:33pm. On her return she is due in Rugby 18:50pm departing 19:01pm.Times subject to change.


November 26th 2011

Called in on Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Northamptonshire to see my first male Smew of the winter then a Slavonian Grebe at nearby Hollowell Reservoir before moving on to the Blueberry Farm, Maidwell complex where at least 6 Short-eared Owls were seen despite the blustery conditions.

Short-eared Owl by Terry Southgate


November 25th 2011

Draycote Water was quiet and all we could find were the 2 Golden Plover, 9 Dunlin, female Common Scoter and 8 Goosander.


November 24th 2011

On arrival at Chew Valley Lake, Somerset we had the Spotted Sandpiper and Water Pipit on herriott's pool while the bird we had come to see – Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was in stratford bay along with 2 Long-billed Dowitcher. Also present were 7 Bewick’ Swan, 30+ Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Snipe, Raven and Sparrowhawk.
With the south coast only 50 odd miles away we pushed on to Wyke Regis where the Hume’s Leaf Warbler appeared after a short wait in the trees above Littlesea Holiday Camp.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November 23rd 2011

I woke with the space shed 15 minutes away from its 5:45am pass as she travelled over Peru and Brazil then north east towards Brest, France where I picked her up along the English Channel before she headed back inland over Belgium towards the Ukraine.
The second pass at 7:21am was in day light but she could be seen directly over head against a powder blue sky with partial cloud tinted pink and claret as the sun rose – magical.
The clear night brought the first real frost of the winter and I finally got back out amongst the living when Bob picked me up and joined by Keith Yates we had a pleasant walk out to farborough spit and as it was quiet we doubled back to hensborough bank with Bob continuing on to the inlet before all three us legged it back to the spit.
Unfortunately no new arrivals or any obvious migration but we managed a decent list with the female Common Scoter off farborough spit before the fishermen moved her on, 8 Goosander commuting between draycote and farnborough bank, adult Yellow-legged Gull on the big island then later in field behind farnborough spit, single Dunlin off the spit with a further 7 seen distantly in flight and later by Bob on inlet, 45 Golden Plover over and a stunning Peregrine attempting to catch a Wood Pigeon. Having missed the White-fronts we caught up with the party of 10 accompanied by 5 Graylag in the field behind farborough spit with 15 Helmet Guinea Fowl, 5 Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard in the distance.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

November 22nd 2011

Barn Owl sitting in the middle of the A426 near the Kites Hardwick golf range last night on our way back from owling in the grandborough valley before today's fog came in.
I wont be holding me breath but the sheds doing a number of passes over the next few days so somebody out there may be lucky enough to have a clear sky in the morning.

Hopefully I will be back out birding tomorrow though this evenings walk left be buggered so might have to be another day at home.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

November 20th 2011

Poor visibility ruined my attempt to get back out in to the field though we eventually caught up with at least 9 of the 10 White-fronted Geese which have been at the pond for the last few days. Only other birds seen were 2 Dunlin and 11 Goosander (4 males). Unfortunately I ran out of energy by the time the weather started to improve so back to bed.

November 19th 2011

Despite being still under the weather Dave took me to see the Vintage Trains, Steam Rail Tours special The Double Headed Panniers excursion from Tysley to Leicester featuring 7752[L94] (last Steam Train to run on the Underground) and 9600 going though Nuneaton this morning.

Afterwards Dave had a couple of Hockey matches to umpire so dropped me off at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough where they were holding a Steam Gala Weekend.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

November 13th 2011

Finally found a Barn Owl down the Southam road along with an adult winter Med Gull in the post-roost in the fields opposite plus single Buzzard and Raven.
Draycote Water was gloomy again but at least the sun managed to break through and we had 5 female and one male Goosander, Dunlin, Redshank and female Common Scoter.
Made the mistake of going to Brandon Marsh which was inundated with visitors from visiting bird clubs so not exactly peaceful 6 Snipe, Cetties Warbler, Willow Tit, 20+ Long-tailed Tit, and Goldcrest for our efforts.


November 11th 2011

Another shitty day in paradise – more low cloud reducing visibility at the pond so the best Bob, Mark and I could manage was 5 female and one immature male Goosander, female Red-breasted merganser, Redshank, 30 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 10 Goldeneye and 9 Dunlin.
Mark and I moved on to Brandon Marsh to meet up with Dave and through the continuing gloom managed 2 Snipe, female Goldeneye and a Barn Owl that came out of its Newlands box at 2pm stretched and went back in.


November 10th 2011

Early cloud looked like it was starting to break with visible migration starting to appear with a few Fieldfare, Redwing and mipits over the garden but by the time Mark came round the gloom had returned and our visit to the pond was a waste of time. We managed 5 Goosander Redshank and 5 Golden Plover in the gloom before clearing off and trying our luck on Napton on the Hill and Reservoir with the best sightings being Vapourer Moth and Red Deer.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November 9th 2011

Half way through a bloody good breakfast in the Big Chill café, A47 Cambridgeshire 5 Cranes flew in to the field opposite and the same field they were using last week. Once finished we went outside for a better look and found 8 – all adults. Interestingly they were seen on Eldernell earlier in the week and may possibly be using this field as an early morning feeding spot.
Highlights in Norfolk were:-Another good visible migration off Hunstanton, Norfolk cliffs with 5500 Starling and 1000 Chaffinch the most prolific species with smaller numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Brambling, Siskin and Pied Wagtail plus single Ring Ousel over low and an immature Black Redstart landing on the cliff. Off shore were 22 Gannet, 5 Common Scoter, 10 Great-crested Grebe and single Eider.
Titchwell was a quiet with 1000 Golden Plover on the reserve plus 2 Marsh Harrier and 8 Little Egret while off shore there were immature male Eider, 5 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Little Gull. We spent sometime playing catch up with Ian and Beth who we had birded with in Bulgaria and had not seen for sometime then went off to look at Holkham fresh marsh where we had 2 Buzzard, 3 Marsh Harrier and 2 Merlin before leaving.
Cheers to KG who gave us the heads up on the Purple Sandpiper at the pond today - the third one in a row I have missed but sadly it did not stay long.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 8th 2011

A look at the Draycote Water weather station before going out with Bob confirmed it was going to be a shitty day with poor visibility and drizzle and boy they were not wrong. A bloody crap visit for the first three hours only saved in the last half hour by the cloud lifting.
Red-breasted Merganser female with a deformed upper mandible off hensborough bank, 4 female and one male Goosander off hensborough, 16 Golden Plover over in four sightings of two singles and groups of 4 and 10, at least 33 Long-tailed Tit including 3 perched on my telescope, 40 Linnet, male and female Red-crested Pochard in the gloom of toft bay and 16 Dunlin were the best sightings.


Monday, 7 November 2011

November 7th 2011

I getting ready to go out with Bob and put me gear outside the back door when I felt rain drops and instinctively looked up at the sky.
In the murky conditions I saw a would be cormorant heading towards me but soon realised the narrower faster wing beats and drooped head was no Cormorant and as it passed over I was watching a Great-northern Diver flying over the house no more than 200 feet above the ground. Gob smacked and though the conditions were awful today that was one bird I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing down next to 2 Robin and a Coal Tit.
Unfortunately when we arrived at the pond viability was poor but we perceived and found 5 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (3adults and 2 juveniles) in the field behind farborough spit but despite only being 200 yards away it was so dark Bob did well to get this record shot.

Bob continued with Keith on his circuit finding female Pintail and a pair of Red-crested Pochard as I doubled back to inlet where there was a Kittiwake adult in rainbow corner and 13 Dunlin off hensborough bank. Other sightings included 4 female and one male Goosander, 2 Raven, 2 Tree Sparrow and a Kingfisher.

Dave's 5th record of Dotted Chestnut while I have never trapped one.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

November 1st to 6th 2011

November 1st
A poor visit to the pond producing 14 Dunlin on island, 2 Tree Sparrow in country park, Snipe over, Sparrowhawk and 50 House Sparrows.

November 2nd
Having spent 2 hours searching Eldernell and March Farmers, Cambridgeshire for Cranes with Dave and seeing virtually nothing we gave up and headed for The Big Chill on the A47 for breakfast a few miles away, just as we were pulling in to the car park 6 of the buggers were in the field opposite.
Next stop was the Ouse Fen RSPB Reserve where we had great views of the Rough-legged Buzzard along with 2 ring-tail Hen Harrier, 3 Marsh Harrier, 4 Sparrowhawk, Little Egret and 500 Golden Plover. Our final stop and the most frustrating was at Burwell where Short-eared Owls had been performing over the last few days including 9 the day before. Anyway we waited and waited and waited and waited and saw nothing.

November 3rd
Another poor visit to the pond only highlighted by good views of a Peregrine as it passed close while in the afternoon Napton on the Hill had 6 Goldcrest and in the Napton Reservoir area there were 2 Bewick’s Swan, 2 Brambling 4 Lesser Redpoll and a Barn Owl. Dave trapped yet another Dotted Chestnut.

November 4th
A rare visit this afternoon to Brandon Marsh produced.123 Golden Plover, 90 Shoveler, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 6 Snipe, Kingfisher, Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail and Great-spotted Woodpecker

November 5th
What was intended as a morning trip to look the Steppe Grey Shrike at Wall Farm Nature Reserve, Shropshire turned in to a mammoth day out with a diversion to see the Squacco Heron on the River Erewash, Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire then a sod it we are going dash to the Yorkshire coast to see the Isabelline Wheatear at Spurn, east Yorkshire. I couldn’t help but smile on the way home knowing I wasn’t in the dog house as the rest of the crew fought off the “where the hell are you phone calls.” Other sightings today included Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Short-eared Owl, Hooded Crow, Little Auk, Pink-footed Geese, Arctic Skua, Guillemot, Puffin and Merlin.

November 6th
The pond was a little bit more active than of late with Curlew 2, Shelduck 5 on island, Gadwall 25, Goosander 4f & 1m, Meadow Pipit 20 and Golden Plover 7. Plenty of visible migration with 4000 Wood Pigeon, Starling 600, Redwing 100, Fieldfare 500 and Skylark 50 over in 90 minutes.
Unfortunately the rest of the day was poor with not a lot on Napton on the Hill apart from 7 Raven and Napton Reservoir had 3 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 35 Wigeon before these dick heads arrived.


Monday, 31 October 2011

October 31st 2011

An early message from Keith regarding 12+ Crossbills at Napton Reservoir meant Bob and I started the day there but alas they had pushed off so we carried on to Draycote Water.
It was a quiet visit with 9 Dunlin, Ringed Plover, 10 Pochard, 8 Goldeneye, immature male and 4 female Goosander and 40 Linnet and we had just decided to leave when a 100 Golden Plover circled the reservoir for 15 minutes before moving off south west.

Back home and this current warm spell brought in Yellow-lined Quaker, Grey Shouldered-knot, Large Wainscot, Juniper Carpet, Blair’s Shouldered-knot, Merveille du Jour and record counts for the garden of 5 Feathered Thorn and 3 Sprawler over the weekend.


Grey Shouldered-knot

Feathered Thorn

all pics by Bob Hazel


October 30th 2011

The weather was not kind to us but we still had a stunning visit to the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line running between Alton and Alresford, Hampshire with additional stations at Ropley and Medstead. We were allowed access to the Ropley sheds and yards as well as unlimited travel and with 9 engines in steam we were well occupied as were the large crowds that soon gathered when any of them arrived. After all the times I have seen 60163 Tornado go past it was a pleasant change to be a passenger in the first coach behind her and she sounded great doubled up with 4492 Dominion of New Zealand for our journey back from Alton to Ropley.

Not birding weather but did record 5 Red Kite, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a party of Redwing.


Friday, 28 October 2011

October 28th 2011

Finally a chance to play catch up with my blogging after a busy week of travels

Space shed is due over a few times in the next few days so hopefully I don't put the kiss of death on the clear spell we are due tonight.

Dick kindly sent me this pic of the Black Prince at Sheringham Station last weekend which reminds me if your in the Alton, Hampshire area over the weekend they are holding a steam gala on the Watercress Line with at least 8 engines in steam. Me and the gang of three will be there.

Despite the rain my moth trap has produced 2 Silver Y and 2 Dark Sword Grass in the last few days so still a few migrant moths around.


October 27th 2011

Having seen the female Pied Wheatear in Gloucestershire at Oldbury on Severn we decided to come home via the fosse way so we could check the high ground at Ilmington in the south of the county. Once upon a time this was a regular place to visit for migrants before discovering Napton on the Hill could be just as productive. With the rain ceasing for awhile we managed a good passage of Linnet, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit, smaller numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing and amongst them were Siskin and Brambling. Called in on Draycote Water just as the heavens opened so got one hell of a soaking and only saw Rock Pipit, 4 Dunlin, female Goosander and Shelduck before giving up. Paul had a good passage over Napton on the Hill including Swallow.


October 26th 2011

Two Barn Owls were seen as we passed the Wisbech area before another go at visible migration this time off Hunstanton Cliffs, Norfolk with Dave where there was a good passage of bird dominated by Starlings and Chaffinches hugging the coast.
In a one hour watch we had
Starling 1567
Chaffinch 885
Linnet 150
Meadow Pipit 50
Skylark 40
Lapwing 30
Siskin 5
Snow Bunting 2
Marsh Harrier 2 juveniles eventually made it after struggling to reach the coast
Lapland Bunting 1
The tide was going out so things became distant but managed 2 Gannet, 7 Red-throated Diver, 5 Common Scoter, 10 Great-crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Guillemot and Long-tailed Duck.
Titchwell was basking in sunshine so our walk to the coast was very pleasant but the birding was poor with only the Yellow-browed Warbler saving the visit.


October 25th 2011

With the south easterly’s continuing but not as strong as yesterday and the occasional rain shower over night I decided to do a visible migration watch from Flecknoe Hill. As the rain front drifted away leaving clearer sky’s there was a steady passage of birds mainly on a north east to south west tract.
Starling 1400
Redwing 243
Wood Pigeon 300
Skylark 125
Meadow Pipit 67
Chaffinch 156
Fieldfare 45
Greenfinch 18
alba Wagtails 16
Linnet 12
Brambling 4
Siskin 3
Lesser Redpoll 2
Grey Wagtail 1
Local birds included 3 Raven, Jay, 4 Buzzard, Blackcap, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 24 Stock Dove while the pond had 4 Goldeneye, 7 Reed Bunting 8 Dunlin, 24 Lapwing, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Pochard and 3 Siskin.
Back home after a heavy thunderstorm a Red Kite drifted over the garden mobbed by corvids heading east.


October 24th 2011

It was a toss up between the south or north west coast so Spurn, Humberside won enjoying a productive day despite the very strong south east winds which made birding difficult at times and the walk out to the point hard going. No big numbers but plenty of species on the move with the highlights for me being Pallas’s Warbler, Shore Lark, Short-eared Owl, Pomarine Skua, Great Skua, Purple Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Woodcock, Merlin and a passage of Little Gulls.


October 23rd 2011

A frustrating day battling the strong south to south east winds looking for migrants over Burton Dassett hills and Napton on the Hill. A good passage of Chaffinch, Starling, Linnet, Greenfinch, Redwing and Fieldfare but could not get enough on a possible Ring Ouzel or Crossbill over BD.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

October 22nd 2011

The crescent moon and Jupiter were just visible amongst the broken cloud as I arrived on Lawford Heath hoping for an owl and wasn’t disappointed. The first was a Tawny perched in the over hanging canopy on ling lane at 6am followed by a distant view of a Barn Owl going over the western end of the tip at 6:40am.
As day break arrived there were plenty of gulls arriving from there roost at Draycote Water with 2 adult and a first winter Yellow-legged Gull found once the light had improved plus good numbers of Common Gull amongst the many hundreds of Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gull present..
The wind was a light south east before freshening so hunkered down for a migration watch and in 2 hours recorded
Skylark 89 majority going south east in small groups
Woodpigeon 330 including local birds
Goosander female heading for Draycote Water
Teal 2 west
Greenfinch 21
Golden Plover 46 very high heading north west
Fieldfare 120
Redwing 12
Starling 234 including local birds
Meadow Pipit 12
Chaffinch 27
Merlin 1 went through 9:15 heading west and made no attempt to hunt
Siskin 5 south
Local birds included Tree Sparrow, 2 Red-legged Partridge, Corn Bunting, 25 Skylark, 9 Yellowhammer, 6 Reed Bunting, 12 Linnet, 11 Pied Wagtail, Treecreeper, 4 Buzzard, 2 Raven and 3 Sparrowhawk plus 4 Golden Plover in stubble field along with 60+ Chaffinch.

A “I think I have a phalarope” call had me dashing to the pond early afternoon – wont embarrass the finder as the plastic bottle was still bobbing up and down when I arrived but at least he was observant and more than pleased with the ringtail Hen Harrier that flew over toft farm and down the valley. Not much else to report as I did not stay long, 3 Dunlin, Ringed Plover 6 Reed Bunting and Siskin.


Friday, 21 October 2011

October 21st 2011

Dave and I met up in the afternoon for our last coffee and cake of the season at The Just So café then a wander around Napton on the Hill. The Hill had 2 very large tit flocks roaming over a large area containing at least 20 Goldcrest, 50 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Nuthatch while above our heads were 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard but only one Raven.
Moved on to Napton Reservoir but could not find the Black-necked Grebe, just 28 Wigeon noted but did have a nice flock of 80 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing feeding and drinking in nearby stream.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

October 20th 2011

Draycote is at 48% capacity so as the shore line recedes further away the exposed mud is becoming hazardous with notices now displayed warning fishermen after one became trapped on Tuesday. Unfortunately this local ramblers group couldn’t give a toss about there own safety or the birds they flushed out of biggen bay.

Six more Whooper Swans appeared over the country park and landed off the inlet but there visit did not last long when a fishing boat pushed them off and they flew over toft bay heading east and could have been the same flock reported at Pitsford Reservoir, Northamptonshire. Bob rushed round for a quick record shot just in time.

Other sightings included 23 Golden Plover heading south, 237 Great-crested Grebe, 43 Mute Swan, 90 Skylarks over in small groups, 3 female Goosander, 14 Buzzard, 3 Raven and 5 Dunlin.

Met up with friends in Cubbington for beers and holiday stories of Scilly and Fair Isle now that everyone is back and they put me right on the Bulrush Wainscot pictures I published earlier in the week – should be Large Wainscot. On the way home we had a Tawny Owl perched side of the road near Princethorpe.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

October 19th 2011

Three Brambling flew over the garden just after first light.
Had the makings of another poor visit to the pond till a phone call from Bob doing his circuit while I was in the country park livened things up. Whooper Swans heading towards you he shouted but I couldn’t spot a bloody thing and while I was frantically searching the buggers had flown behind me and called just in time before my heart gave out. The flock of 15 (poss only one juvenile) flew back over the reservoir before leaving for the south east. Might be the same flock seen at Daventry Country Park later in the day.

Only record shots with my box brownie half a mile away

Also present was a Turnstone on the inlet, first winter Yellow-legged Gull, 2 female Goosander, Ringed Plover, 8 Buzzard, 3 Raven and a female Scaup. The Scaup had been present since Monday but distant and elusive and I am never 100% sure till the nail is nailed (couldn’t find it yesterday) so luckily had good views of it in rainbow corner.

Turnstone by Bob Hazel

Only a trickle of migrants over - mainly Skylark with the odd Redwing and Linnet.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

October 18th 2011

After heavy rain and strong winds last night the sky’s cleared and the mercury dropped so dug out the long johns before venturing out to the pond with Bob.

I had 2 more Short-eared Owls at the pond.

The first came in from the North West at 09:40 over farborough spit and flew towards toft hill where the local corvids saw it on its way and it continued towards the A45/Only Prison area and appeared to go down. The second also came in at 11:15 from the north west over Bourton Hall towards the valve tower where the local Rooks ganged up on it and escaped north over the golf course. Because both birds came in from the same direction and at some height I don’t think they were yesterday’s bird but probably individuals from last week’s influx re-orientating themselves.
Only other highlight was a House Martin heading south over the country park other wise a quiet breezy visit with only 2 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander and 7 Buzzard entered in my notebook.

Out with Mark and Pa Phillips down the valley tonight where there is less light pollution to look for various objects in the night sky with very good views of the Andromeda Galaxy which is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way and is approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth. Well worth looking for despite it being very cold and we had at least 3 meteorites including one with a fiery tail.


Monday, 17 October 2011

October 17th 2011

I was chatting to Dave Hutton at Draycote Water when a Short-eared Owl dropped out of the sky harassed by a Crow and headed for the country park. Dave relocated it resting before it hid itself in a clump of grass. Unfortunately despite frantic efforts to stop them approaching it was flushed by a dog walker and flew out of sight and not seen again.

Short-eared Owl by Dave Hutton

A Draycote tick for Dave and a few frantic phone calls got Bob on to the bird as he was doubling back. Up until then the visit had been dire with only 2 female Goosander on farborough spit for our efforts while the increasing south west wind (gusts over 40mph this evening) put a stop to any visible migration.
Tried looking for yesterdays Red-crested Pochard but the fishermen were all over hensborough bank and rainbow corner so stayed in the picnic area and the highlight here was a male Merlin flying low past me just feet away plus 4 Goldeneye, another 2 female Goosander and a distant wader flock on inlet. A good count of Great-crested Grebe with 227 recorded.

Bulrush Wainscot by Bob Hazel


Sunday, 16 October 2011

October 16th 2011

My local area was covered in mist early morning so decided to go to Burton Dassett hills and had a good visible migration for 2 hours before it started to dwindle. Wind had turned to the south west but very light and 1500 birds logged though only half were identified with Redwing and Chaffinch in the majority followed by good numbers of Fieldfare, Siskin, Linnet, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Blackbird while other species included Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Lesser Redpoll. Missed the Crossbills the Oxford duo had (good to see you again Gareth), couldn’t clinch a possible Twite, 3 Swallow and 2 Wheatear feeding near the car park.
Napton on the Hill had a fall of Chaffinch with many feeding up before pushing on and a few Redwing and Siskin over. Very little else apart from 5 Buzzard, 7 Raven and 17 Long-tailed Tit.
Martin had this Vulcan Bomber go over the hill.

Napton Reservoir had the Black-necked Grebe, 20 Wigeon and 3 Pochard but missed the Dunlin that went through.
Dave trapped 2 Bulrush Wainscot Friday and 2 Merveille du Jour last night other wise moth catches are very low with only 3 in my trap this morning.
Looks like Draycote’s Spoonbill which left 9:30 Saturday morning and flew over the other side of town to pitch up at Stanford Reservoir on the Northamptonshire/Leicestershire border so could have gone over my garden (I wish).

The Milky Way is showing well tonight.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

October 15th 2011

It was a stunning morning if you were out and about early with my first frost of autumn, low lying mist and both Jupiter and our moon fighting for attention as we waited patiently trackside at Wormleighton for 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe hauling a Solihull to Bristol special to come thundering past.

Again overnight migration soon dwindled after mid-morning but managed 200 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare and 2 Siskin over an almost empty reservoir while locally there were Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Tree Sparrow, Nuthatch and my first Lesser-spotted Woodpecker for the location for many a year. We were standing by the level crossing when it flew over and returned 20 minutes later so probably been experiencing the delights of a local feeding station.
After breakfast we searched Napton on the Hill for migrants but apart from 40 Redwing feeding and a few going over along with Skylark and Fieldfare it was not until late morning that things warmed up with a passage of raptors. In a 40 minute spell 15 Buzzard went over high in singles along with 3 Sparrowhawk and immature Marsh Harrier all heading south and taking no interest in the local populations. Also seen were 12 Raven, 9 Long-tailed Tit and 2 Goldcrest.
The Bridge Nursery gardens had 2 Sothern Hawkers, Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Copper and 3 local Buzzards while the Lemon Meringue Cake in the Just So was scrumptious.
A later afternoon look at the pond produced a calling Snow Bunting over farborough spit but the Spoonbill had long gone, 2 Goldeneye, 23 Wigeon, 2 Dunlin, 2 female Shoveler, Grey Wagtail, 5 Reed Bunting and 2 Siskin. Had considered staying for the roost but with another clear night temperatures were dropping fast so left sharpish but couldn't resist another star gazing session later. Might as well enjoy it as the cloud cover is due to come back next week.

Dave Hutton kindly sent me these images of the Spoonbill and the Napton reservoir Black-necked Grebe which is still present Website Birds & Insects etc Seeswood Pool & Beyond Blog Rare & Scarce Birds Blog