Monday, 28 February 2011

February 28th 2011

The day started early with a call from Pete Hall who had found 30 Waxwing in Cawston at 8am so contacted Bob who had them from his kitchen window, when he came round 30 minutes later he was grinning from ear to ear as we set off for Draycote Water.
The pond was dull with a bitterly cold north easterly wind and occasional rain. The male Smew was still off farborough bank joined by a female that flew in mid-morning but was flighty and had moved to toft bay by the time we got back to the car (many thanks for messages Steve). Bird of the morning though was the stunning male Merlin that had a go at the finch flock which contained 6 Brambling.
Also present were Mr & Mrs Scaup in rainbow corner, Raven with a damaged left leg, 4 Yellowhammer 18 Goldeneye and 12 Goosander plus hundreds of Black-headed and Common Gulls.
Remember the yellow davic ringed female Bewick’s Swan (No 606 named Grindul) that took up residence between Church Lawford and Bretford for a few days in January 2010 (see blog entry’s January 12th and 14th 2010 for more details). Colin Potter has sent me an update on her travels he received from the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust. After her visit to Warwickshire she was seen in the Schleswig-Holstein area of Germany on the 17th March 2010 which she has visited before in 2006 & 2009 before being sighted back at the WWT reserve at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire on 30th January 2011 with a new mate called Husavik and still there on 25th February 2011.


Sunday, 27 February 2011

February 27th 2011

A cool dry start with heavy rain by mid-day
Southam Rd
4 Barnacle Geese, 3 Redwing, 10 Fieldfare, 4 Goosander heading east, Buzzard, 6 Yellowhammer

Draycote Water
Male Smew (either a new arrival or the over wintering bird returning after 2 weeks walkabout) off farborough bank, Scaup male and female, 100 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 10 Goosander, Buzzard

Hill Rd, Grandborough Valley
2 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Grey Partridge, 6 Tree Sparrow

Flecknoe Rd, Grandborough Valley
2 Tree Sparrow, Buzzard

Leamington Hastings
2 Tree Sparrow

Blue Lias, Stockton

Brandon Marsh
30 Snipe, Water Rail, Cettie’s Warbler, Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Shelduck

Lawford Heath
Fieldfare 500, Corn Bunting 3, Buzzard


February 26th 2011

Despite the overnight rain I had a good catch of moths with Clouded Drab new for the year plus my second Oak Beauty bringing this year’s garden catch up to 11 species so far.
A somewhat damp day found me having another look at the first winter Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove in Chipping Norton enjoying prolonged views with less people around then moved on to Rainham Marshes where I finally caught up with the adult Slaty-backed Gull on the nearby Coldharbour Lane landfill site after a prolonged wait. Not sure if I could spot it in the roost at the pond though.
Luckily the rain dispersed to clear sky’s enabling excellent views of the Space Station this evening on the first of its two passes tonight. The shape of the station has changed which I have not noticed before and believe it to be the docked Space Shuttle Discovery which went up last Thursday to deliver the milk and papers (among other scientific wonders). Second pass was poor as most of it was in earth shadow. Tomorrows pass (weather permitting) starting at 19:00pm peaking at 19:05pm and ending 19:10pm should be better as it tracks over Barnstaple, Newbury, Hounslow and Southend-on-sea.


Friday, 25 February 2011

February 25th 2011

First Badger of the year seen as we were coming home from the pub last night – scurrying across the road near Princethorpe.
While Bob added Oystercatcher and Curlew this morning at Draycote Water to similar birds we having been seeing all week I was doing me domestics managing 300 Fieldfare heading north over Sainsbury’s and a Coal Tit in the garden
Weather deteriated this afternoon so Dave and I did not see a lot at Brandon Marsh - 17 Snipe, 3 Shelduck and a Coal Tit but a look at Lawford Heath late afternoon produced 150 Chaffinch, 4 Corn Bunting and 30 Yellowhammer spread across a couple of stubble fields.
While Bob was at the pond the Air Ambulance had to be called out and the picture shows the skills there pilot have to use on our behalf.

Max kindly sent me a couple of shots of yesterdays dog trash


Thursday, 24 February 2011

February 24th 2011

Best day of the year with blue sky’s, whispery cloud and a light breeze with a minimum temperature of 8c last night which brought in 5 species of moth to my trap rising to a lovely 15c by mid-afternoon and being half term soon had Joe Public flocking down to the pond in there droves with there little darlings.
Male and female Pintail out in the centre at 9am till they flew off a couple of hours later were the only new arrivals but there was plenty of activity with first winter male and female Scaup off outlet, 18 Goosander, 18 Goldeneye, 2 Reed Bunting, 140 Redwing, 78 Fieldfare, 2 Raven behind rainbow corner, 11 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk (Bob had another 4 elsewhere), 2 Jay, 8 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Barnacle Geese, 3 Graylag Geese, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Snipe flying in to sewage farm (rangers had flushed 3 while cutting down willow scrub in toft bay early morning).

Scaup by Bob Hazell

Spent a gorgeous 90 minutes minding my own business watching the Brambling which as usual were elusive but eventually found 19 birds among the finch flock. Max had joined me and just as Bob was about to joined us, the hunt turned up and dogs and horses went charging through the set-a-side strip scattering the flock and as they left the many white rumps indicated probably 40 Brambling present.
Now I don’t have an issue with present day hunting though I would prefer they chased pedos and kiddy killers than some skinny doggy look-a-like but alas I flipped when they could not control there hounds and they entered the reservoir flushing anything that could fly (see Shustoke blogspot regarding a dog killing a Mute Swan) Words of a fruity and personal nature were exchanged but at least I was not the only one as a few walkers put there tuppence worth across.

Trespassing Hounds by Bob Hazell

Brimstone Butterfly (inlet) and Peacock (swallow bank) were my first for the year and 10 Dotted Border moths were on the Rangers office wall and Pa Phillips had a Little Egret fly over his Lytham Rd, Rugby garden this morning and probably one of the Long Lawford birds.

Space Station went over at 19:22pm but due to partial cloud cover and the trajectory it did not show for long and out of view by the time it went over Belgium. There are a number of passes coming up over the next few days - all early evening and some should be terrific if the predicted clear nights for the weekend come off.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

February 22nd 2011

If yesterday was damp and grotty then today was dry and dull. Very poor visibility when we arrived at the pond with 20+ Goosander, first winter male and female Scaup off the sailing club, adult Yellow-legged Gull off farborough bank, 32 Wigeon, 30 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall and 40 Teal dotted around the reservoir. The Brambling flock were playing hide and seek with only 3 on show after 40 minutes of waiting then at least 19 appeared with the finch flock and possibly as many as 30 still present but difficult to count and they disappeared again in the afternoon - at least 16 Linnets with them.
Other birds of note were Kingfisher on inlet seen later by the draycote bank stream by Bob, 4 Barnacle Geese, 3 Graylag, 7 Long-tailed Tit and a Ringed Plover flew over calling.
After checking for moths around the rangers yard with 3 Dotted Border and an Early Moth we walked down the road to the Kites Hardwick Golf Range where you can get a Bacon Butty and a coffee. Not the safest road on this planet but the hedgerow held a Treecreeper which showed down to three feet. Returned to do the roost but gave up after 90 minutes – chilled.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

February 20th 2011

A totally miserable day yesterday so did not go out and spent the day updating our moth records and boy wonder is pulling away from me now that were keen on micros helped of course by Bob Hazell who’s photography has helped us to see more than our eye balls can ever register.

Garden totals
Records: 17454
Moths trapped: 67418
Macros: 302 species
Micros: 181 species
Total: 483

Garden totals
Records: 13558
Moths trapped: 43114
Macros: 301 species
Micros: 168 species
Total: 469

Todays weather was drier than yesterday but just as dull with low cloud and occasional light drizzle. A brief look at first light around Hill and Flecknoe Road in the Grandborough valley produced 6 Buzzard (pair copulating at first light – as you do) and 2 Roe Deer.
Dave and I walked out to the inlet at Draycote Water and soon found our latest arrival, a first year male Scaup which joined the female last Friday – they were off the picnic area together when we arrived but drifted towards rainbow corner on our return. Despite the poor conditions we managed to see at least 6 Brambling behind the inlet and a Curlew circled the reservoir calling till lost to view in the gloom. The only other birds of note were 60 Greater Black-backed Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 10 Goosander, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 9 Pochard and 10 Gadwall.
Both Treecreeper and 10 Long-tailed Tits were observed while having breakfast at the Long Itchington Diner and 40 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit, 3 Reed Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer and Great-spotted Woodpecker seen at Wormleighton.
Back out again to do the roost late afternoon at the pond and finally caught up with the first winter Iceland Gull plus Lesser Redpoll and Treecreeper.


Friday, 18 February 2011

February 18th 2011

Last few days have been manic and only just getting the time to play catch up with the cyber world.
A dull overcast afternoon at Brandon Marsh produced 3 Buzzard, 2 Oystercatcher, 6 Shelduck, 10 Snipe, 2 Nuthatch and a Coal Tit while on the way home 3 Corn Bunting were on Lawford Heath along with 4 Buzzard.

Shelduck by Dave Cox

Earlier we looked for the Bewick’s Swan between Bretford and Church Lawford but the remaining 61 Mute Swans were distant and could not be located.
Patch News
Keith did well on Wednesday to have 3 Bewick’s fly over Napton Reservoir where he also had a Stonechat and Dave hit the jackpot when he arrived at his place of work mid-morning in Butlers Leap, Rugby on Wednesday finding 30+ Waxwings perched outside his office window – had been over a 100 earlier - they did not stay long and have not been seen since.

record shot of Waxwings by Dave Cox


February 17th 2011

My second attempt at seeing the first winter Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove that was found in Chipping Norton Oxfordshire was successful after the bird flew in to trees from the garden it was feeding in and showed to the gathering crowd. Well done to the finder Steve Akers who was allowing birders to enter his house for a fee to charity to view the bird but as my first attempt on Tuesday showed I don’t have the patience to queue so grateful to the unknown birder who shouted “there it is”.

Spring Usher by Bob Hazell
Back home and Bob came round to see if I fancied the pond so after a quick photographic session on last nights catch we ventured down but the place was overcast with low cloud so while he did a circuit I plodded between farborough spit and inlet. The female Scaup was off hensborough bank, no sign of the male Smew, 3 Brambling, 11 Gadwall, 12 Goosander, male Shoveler, 4 Barnacle Geese, Goldcrest and 6 Long-tailed Tit.

Barnacle Goose by Bob Hazell


February 16th 2011

With Firecrest, Hawfinch and Lesser-spotted Woodpecker seen at the weekend it made sense to call in at Lynford Arboretum on way to the north Norfolk coast but alas it was a very quiet morning and we saw very little and heard even less. Our luck changed along with the weather when we arrived at Weybourne mid-day to glorious sunshine and after a prolonged search we found 5 Lapland Buntings feeding with Skylark 300 yards east of the coastguard cottages. Off shore there were 23 Red-throated Divers including a party of 8 together.
Next stop was for Shore Lark with 5 feeding on the end of the east bank and a further 22 Red-throated Divers out at sea while Cley Marsh had over a 1000 Golden plover and Barn owl while we enjoyed a coffee at the visitors centre.
Time was not on our side so moved on to Holkham Freshmarsh hoping for a Rough-legged Buzzard but the only buzzard on show was a Common but then Neville came up trumps with a close female Merlin perched and stunned us all by finding a pristine male further out on the marsh also perched. There were plenty of geese flying over plus Sparrowhawk and 2 Marsh Harrier hunting in front of us.
Spent the last hours of day light at Titchwell where we added Mandarin Duck, 2 Red-crested Pochard, 2 Eider, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, Cetties Warbler, 2 Stonechat, Water Rail and 2 Little Egret to the day list while we also had 2 Red-throated Diver, Avocet, Marsh Harrier and 5 Barn Owl.
While on the coast there were plenty of Redshank, Sanderling Knot, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, Pink-footed, Graylag and Brent Geese, Pintail, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and many other species present.
The day ended at Hunstanton eating the best fish and chips I have had for ages before the long journey home.


Monday, 14 February 2011

February 14th 2011

At last something different arrived at the pond this morning in the shape of 4 Shelduck (all females) otherwise it was the female Scaup off the windsurfing area before falling asleep in rainbow corner occasionally lifting its head up for a few seconds and the male Smew off farborough bank which moved to toft bay. It took 40 minutes but eventually 40 Chaffinch turned up at the set-a-side strip behind the inlet bringing 10 female and 4 male Brambling with them. Only other birds of note was a loudly calling Golden Plover which we could not locate, Green Woodpecker, 8 Buzzard, 12 female and 2 male Goosander.

Scaup by Bob Hazell


Sunday, 13 February 2011

February 13th 2011

Today should have been National Smew Day.

The forecast was dire with prolonged rain so arranged with Dave to have breakfast over looking the Welland Valley before deciding what to do. Luckily from our vantage point between Glaston and Moorcott we enjoyed 2 Red Kite, Buzzard and Raven while the locals gave us the history of the impressive Welland Viaduct (also called Harringworth Viaduct) we could see in the distance which is 1.166 km long with 82 arches, each of which has a 12m span and is the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in Britain.

Wikipedia photograp by S Harvey May 07
The Lincoln Imp from London to Lincoln pulled by 70013 Oliver Cromwell is due to go over 12th March - no published times yet.

We left as it tried to rain but pushed on to Rutland Water where there were a lot more birds about than I have seen of late with 11 Smew (9 redheads), 3 Little Egret, 2 Redshank, Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, 2 Ringed Plover, Cettie’s Warbler, 3 Willow Tit, 40 Shelduck, 4 Goosander and 30 Golden Plover plus many duck but disappointed that the deep water hides overlooking the main bulk of the reservoir were closed off to Joe Public.
The rain arrived becoming cooler and very blustery as we called in on Pitsford and Ravensthorpe Reservoirs, Northamptonshire on our way home, Pitsford had 2 male and redhead Smew off the main causeway with long distant views of the over wintering Great White Egret while Ravensthorpe had a flock of 13 Smew (9 redheads).
Back home after checking his moth trap Dave had Common Quaker, Dark Chestnut and 2 Pale Brindled Beauty while mine had 3 Pale Brindled Beauty and 2 March Moth plus the treat of a male Sparrowhawk perched on the garden fence and managed to get of a couple of shots and a male Bullfinch on the feeders.


February 12th 2011

Another nice day but nothing new at the pond so once Scaup, Smew, Goosander, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were seen I check the rangers yard for moths before moving on to Napton Reservoir. Here a Cetties Warbler decided to show it’s self for a couple of minutes but the only other birds of note were 4 Reed Buntings, 3 female Shoveler,4 Pochard, 6 Raven, 7 Bullfinch and 9 Long-tailed Tit.
Bird of the day was the Waxwing near the post office on Napton on the Hill while the churchyard held Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 2 Coal Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 7 Mistle Thrush but very little seen from the windmill apart from Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and 40 Redwing. On the way back home added 3 more Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and 230 Lapwing to the day list.


Friday, 11 February 2011

February 11th 2011

Dave and I were treated to prolonged views of a Water Rail that came out of the channel at Brandon Marsh – climbed on to reedy platform and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine preening. Another surprise was a day flying Noctule Bat showing over goose pool and the only other birds of note were Nuthatch and 4 Snipe including 2 in front of hide.

Called in on Lawford Heath but most birds were preparing for the roost but managed to locate 3 Corn Bunting before dusk.
Bob e-mailed to say apart from 8 Raven over mid-day there was not much at the pond but did have a moth fest with 20 counted from four species including Dotted Border and Spring Usher

Spring Usher

Dotted Border


February 10th 2011

Bob came round to photographs last nights catch of 4 species of moth including my earliest Oak Beauty but we did not get to the pond till mid-day when the weather was supposed to improve – it did 3hrs later, dull and drizzle till then.

Oak Beauty

Grey Shouldered-knot

The pond was boring – same birds in the same place doing the same things watched by the same people using the same equipment wearing the same clothes and so on and so and so, usual female Scaup, male Smew, 20 Goosander, 4 Barnacle Geese, 15 Graylag Geese and 12 Long-tailed Tits.


February 9th 2011

I use to spend many a lunch time in a previous life at Poole Park, Poole Dorset watching what was on the main lake so for me today was a journey down memory lane as I went to see the Long-billed Dowitcher and Ring-billed Gull that were present. Both were first winters and though they don’t have the same rarity value these days as when I first started birding they have occurred at the pond so good to have a chance to hone up my identification skills. They had been reported as showing well at times so enjoyed gathering enough notes and scribblings to make a decent sketch. Also 2 first winter and one 2nd winter plumage Med Gulls present.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

February 8th 2011

It was stunning morning weather wise at Draycote Water, no wind and blue sky’s after a frosty start with a number of birds in song but no new arrivals.
The male Smew was mobile between farborough bank and lin croft shoal taking a keen interest in a the female Goldeneye and the female Scaup was off hensborough bank while again no sign of the finch flock so presumed they are feeding elsewhere or have gone.
Birds of interest were 20 Yellowhammer below draycote bank, single Golden Plover with 50 Lapwing, 15 Buzzards as they enjoyed the thermals for the first time this year and a Raven over inlet. Also seen were 9f & 2m Goosander, 4 Bullfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Skylark, 30 Stock Dove, Jay, 24 Wigeon, 4 Barnacle Geese and 2 Stoats. Green Woodpecker heard but considering the weather Robin and Wren were almost absent with only one Robin seen (average 12 per visit)
A mid afternoon look at the Long Lawford Little Egrets produced all three before they went back to feeding in the ditch and out of view while the Bewick’s Swan remains with the Mute Swan flock between Church Lawford and Bretford along with single Grey Partridge and 2 Snipe in adjacent fields.
Lawford Heath had female Goldeneye and Shoveler on the large pool, Willow Tit, 2 Buzzard and 2 Raven.
Tried lamping for moths while owling at Napton Reservoir and caught 3 Early Moth and single Pale Brindled Beauty plus Little Owl heard and a Barn Owl flew across the road near Calcutt. I managed a glimpse of two meteorites.


Monday, 7 February 2011

February 7th 2011

Winds picked up again this morning after abating slightly in the night and I arrived at Draycote Water with Bob to gusts of up to 40mph (51mph recorded at nearby Frankton) finding it difficult to walk or keep the scope still especially when Bob located an adult Med Gull in a flock of Black-headed Gulls below farborough bank but the flock was restless. Both male Smew and female Scaup were sheltering in rainbow corner where Bob managed to get a shot and 10 Goosander off the inlet but no finch flock. Only other birds of note were 2 Buzzard and 250 Lapwing.
Roll on spring – five more weeks and the first summer migrants could be arriving here just as the fishing season starts again so if things dont change soon I will start blogging again then - Im bored repeating myself.

female Scaup by Bob Hazell


Sunday, 6 February 2011

February 6th 2011

The strong winds continue so something must be getting tired at being battered by the conditions over the last three days but as far as Dave and I could tell this morning it certainly was not at the pond.
Started the day trawling Grandborough valley for owls but no luck so moved on to the grassy field , Southam Rd seeing 2 Raven, 7 Redwing and single Fieldfare when the light improved.
At the pond we took a walk out to rainbow corner where it was again sheltered. At first there was no sign of Scaup or Smew and by the time we reached rainbow we had only managed 3 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Goldcrest and 10 Goosander. Luckily on our return the male Smew had been sitting out of sight on the ledge of hensborough bank but soon disappeared and the female Scaup appeared 150 yards off the same dam.
The Long Itchington Diner had over 60 people present by 9:30am as the classic car and biker admirers were out enjoying today’s mild temperatures and showing off there chrome while Dave and I spent time discussing which orchids, butterflies, moths and dragonflies we could go for this year plus the yearly hoped for Quail and Dotterel I keep promising him.
Decided to walk the footpaths off Wharf Road, Fenny Compton to check on the visibility of the railway line with Buzzard and Raven going over before moving on to Wormleighton where we had 20 Tree Sparrow, 10 Yellowhammer, 4 Reed Bunting, 3 Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Raven, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Buzzard. The reservoir only had 10 Mallard.
Final stop was to put the Long Lawford Little Egrets on to Dave’s year list with 2 present, one on the edge of ditch half asleep and the other in ditch occasionally stretching its neck but out of sight for long periods.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

February 5th 2011

1000th blog
The strong mild winds continue but are not bringing much inland so intended giving birding a miss today but ditched the washing and took up the offer from Mark to see the Little Egrets at Long Lawford reported by his Father in Law who had 2 yesterday and 3 were seen by John today. At least two of them have been seen various locations along the River Avon this winter between here and Brandon Marsh. A quick trawl around Lawford Heath produced Yellowhammer and Buzzard plus a Treecreeper along the sheltered tree lined part of ling lane.


Friday, 4 February 2011

February 4th 2011

Wind picked up overnight with gust of up 43mph (and throughout the day) so after Bob came round to photograph an Early Moth that I had trapped overnight and Alceris notana from Dave’s trap the previous night we checked on Draycote Water but nothing new spotted.

Early Moth by Bob Hazell

Alceris notana by Bob Hazell

Difficult walking in the wind so we tried rainbow corner where it was more sheltered with the female Scaup offshore, male Smew off hensborough bank and 20 Goosander on the inlet. Felt sorry for Bob as he waited over an hour for the female Scaup to lift her head but she just slept. Francoise was luckier the day before.

Scaup fem by Francoise Farrington

Behind rainbow corner a very smart looking Buzzard perched attracted the attention of a few Chaffinches and 8 Brambling.

I went out again in afternoon with Dave for a bite to eat at Brandon Marsh via Lawford Heath and Church Lawford. Only a single Tree Sparrow on the heath but the adult Bewick’s Swan remains with the Mute Swan flock (88) at Church Lawford but the wind was blowing us off our feet so did not stay long. All we had at Brandon was Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, 10 Lesser Redpoll


February 3rd 2011

Two Barns Owls were hunting along Hill Road in the Grandborough valley this morning as I enjoyed views of the constellation Orion and the planet Venus before the Space Station drifted over on time disappearing from view heading towards Romania. Yesterday’s rain had cleared the atmosphere so managed spectacular scope views. As for the Barn Owls I hope they are paired as I have lost 60% of those on my patch this winter.
I moved on to the pond via Kites Hardwick where a Grey Wagtail was on the roof of the golf range but when I arrived I decided to give it a miss.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

February 1st 2011

Yesterdays small influx of ducks did not stay long so the ponds back to being dire with very little on offer in the drizzle this morning. No sign of the female Smew (male still present), 37 Goosander, female Scaup between inlet and outlet while it took 40 minutes before the main finch flock showed (60 birds) with at least 15 Brambling present but distant. Two adult Yellow-legged gulls on the remaining ice off hensborough bank and the only other birds of note were Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and Raven.
The weather improved in the afternoon so wandered around the Grandborough valley with female Brambling and Tree Sparrow, Woodbine Farm, 2 Golden Plover heading east over Grandborough and a male Stonechat between Fields and Lodge Farm, Woolscott. Also 3 Raven, 2 Buzzard, Jay, Green Woodpecker, 6 Skylark, 10 Bullfinch, 4 Reed Bunting and 20 Yellowhammer in the area along with 4 Cormorant and female Goosander heading east towards Daventry Reservoir.