Thursday, 31 March 2011

March 31st 2011

The wind was bordering on the dangerous with gust of 46mph recorded at the pond this morning making walking and viewing difficult.
In two hours Mark and I had only seen 50 Sand Martin and a Blackcap so a bit disappointed and grateful to Bob for putting us on to the recently arrived Yellow Wagtails (2 though he had 6 earlier) which we had missed. Bob also had first summer Little Gull earlier.
After brunch and already knowing the high ground would be a waste of time we still went to Napton on the Hill mainly for the views and the exhilaration of being buffeted by increasing winds. We were not disappointed
Odd sighting of low flying passenger jet plane heading for Birmingham Airport – normally they are at 15,000ft and descending – this one was around the 5000ft mark and suddenly put his engines in to warp power and started climbing quickly. Sparrowhawk, Buzzard 3, Mistle Thrush 2 and Chiffchaff just about heard over the din of the wind was all we could manage.
Mark had Sand Martins migrating over his garden tonight and as I checked mine 16 wagtails went over.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

March 30th 2011

Surprisingly after last nights rain and partial cloud the pond this morning was hard work with little sign at first of any overnight migration though eventually male Blackcap, Swallow and 50 Sand Martin showed themselves along with a female Brambling. Bob added Willow Warbler to the day list while Steve reported more willow and caps on the north side but with threatening rain by mid-day we did not wander far and the only other birds of note were 2 Egyptian Geese briefly, 8 Shoveler, 14 Goldeneye, 18 Wigeon, 3 Song Thrush, Redwing and 4 Chiffchaff. On our way out as it started to rain there was a very smart Engrail on the wall of the rangers yard.
By late afternoon the rain cleared so took a look at Napton on the Hill with Geoff arriving just as a Short-eared Owl was circling the hill being mobbed by corvids before it flew off east in to Northamptonshire. Apparently it was in the quarry earlier when the horse owners arrived to check there stock. There was a Willow Warbler and male Blackcap along the lane to the Windmill with Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff along with Coal Tit and Nuthatch in churchyard.


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

March 29th 2011

Their was a small wave of visible migration going over the Grandborough valley this morning but unfortunately only a few could be identified due to the height they were traveling and it soon died off. Nothing special noted while at lower altitude a few Fieldfare and Redwing moved around locally. Summer migrants were more noticeable with my first Willow Warbler of the year calling near Sawbridge, Chiffchaff near Grandborough Fields and Swallow at Woodbine Farm.
Also in the area were Great-spotted Woodpecker, 23 Yellowhammer, 4 Reed Bunting, 3 Tree Sparrow, 5 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Bullfinch plus 8 Buzzard, 2 Raven and Sparrowhawk
A look at the pond produced male Wheatear, Grey Wagtail and Fieldfare on toft bank, adult and first summer Little Gull almost overlooked resting on the surface off farborough spit, 8 Goldeneye, 5 female Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, 34 Wigeon and 18 Teal. Toft shallows had Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and 3 Chiffchaff.


Monday, 28 March 2011

March 28th 2011

Arrived at the open barn Grandborough Valley before first light hoping the Crane reported by dog walkers last night was for real and not a Grey Heron but as the mist rolled in it was obvious that whatever they saw had gone. There were at least 2 Wheatear on the northern edge of the large field and a Barn Owl perched.
Both Dennis and Terry informed me the Brandon Marsh Spotted Crake was showing so had to make an executive decision – cycle 10+ miles in poor visibility to see it, stake out Draycote or go home and wait for the sun to do its work. Now don’t try this unless you are as daft as me but have you noticed the recent sun spot activity on the sun (where else) – with a low early morning orb covered in mist they are quiet impressive but for Christ sake don’t damage your eyes.
I chose home and went down the pond later with Bob and April when visibility had improved but that’s about as positive as it got. Yesterday’s Little Gulls remained but no sign of the Black Redstart although it was apparently there at 10:45am but did not know that till this evening and personally I saw very little else apart from 5 Meadow Pipit, 5 Shoveler, 6 Goldeneye and a few Wigeon. Our luck got even worse when April photographed a bird sitting on a boat for a few seconds that we had not noticed and looks 100% Water Pipit but another feathered beastie we could not re-located.
As it warmed up towards mid-day we joined up with Dave and Steve and cleared off looking for underwing’s finding 30+ Light Orange Underwing and Bob located Early-tooth Stripe moth in the undergrowth plus a couple of Bee Flys.
Sightings over my garden late afternoon included a Peregrine seen twice, Sparrowhawk and 5 Buzzard followed by 4 Sand Martin at 6pm.


Sunday, 27 March 2011

March 27th 2011

Dave and I had just arrived by the open barn at Grandborough when a male Merlin shot across the field in hunting mode and probably responsible for a quiet visit with only birds of note being 20 Fieldfare and 5 Redwing plus 4 Hare and an old dog Fox
We were just getting out the car at Draycote Water when a Steve text said he had just photographed a Black Redstart by the fishing lodge and we joined him in less than two minutes. Unfortunately the bird had disappeared but returned 20 minutes later and showed for five minutes before wandering out of sight again. Also seen were 150 Sand Martin with 3 Swallow, adult and first summer Little Gull, 5 Shoveler and 4 Barnacle Geese.

Black Redstart by Steve Valentine

Steve joined us for breakfast then it was on to Napton on the Hill for downed migrants but could only find 4 Chiffchaff and a Swallow which went over heading north. Chatted to the Bumbling Bears for awhile who were also checking the hill otherwise the only other birds of interest after we left them were 2 Raven, Sparrowhawk, 6 Buzzard, Goldcrest, 100 Fieldfare and 3 Nuthatch.
Called in on Napton Reservoir on the way home and found male Shoveler and 3 Snipe.

I have just heard from the micro moth county recorder regarding my record of Acleris literana on the 17th March which is only the 15th record for Warwickshire and new for my area.

Meanwhile Bob and April sent me there images of

Light Orange Underwing

and this drab looking thing is new for Daves garden

Lead-coloured Drab by Bob Hazell


March 26th 2011

After a clear sky’s for the first part of the night Draycote Water suffered badly with low cloud and poor visibility this morning not helped by a cold easterly wind in contrast to the warm weather we had been enjoying over the last few days. A migrant White Wagtail was seen at the beginning of farborough bank but I called it a day – not enough layers on.


Friday, 25 March 2011

March 25th 2011

As birding is quiet I went to the local garden centre which gave me a chance to see 45 Waxwing perched on tv arial’s in Lawford Lane, Rugby before they wander around the Cawston Estate and on Lawford Heath there were 16 Wigeon flying over east, 6 Buzzard, 12 Fieldfare, 2 Jay, 3 Tree Sparrow and 8 Yellowhammer.
Back home 6 Buzzard were soaring over the garden followed by a Raven and Sparrowhawk then it was off to look for orange underwing again as Dave had not seen either species and rewarded with an Orange Underwing sunning its self on the entrance track and 30+ Light Orange Underwing later on. A Chiffchaff calling and plenty of butterflies especially Peacocks seen.


March 24th 2011

Another cracking day weather wise though not as warm as yesterday so while Bob and April were down south for the morning it gave me a chance to play catch up with Mark as we sat Buzzard watching off farborough bank – distant heat haze reduced visibility so we only managed 25. Other birds noted were 30 Fieldfare, 3 Meadow Pipit, Green Woodpecker, 10 Reed Bunting and the first summer male Scaup.
After brunch in the Long Itch Diner we tried a look at Napton Reservoir but it was quiet birding wise though we did managed 18 Buzzard, 4 Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, 8 Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker and 7 Sand Martin flew over.
Mid afternoon and Mark dropped me off in Napton to meet up with Bob and April and the three of us took advantage of the last rays of the day to look for day flying moths.
This week has seen a good numbers of Orange and Light Orange Underwing sightings of these day flying moths and we managed to totally confuse our selves with ignorance as we probably had both species so need to visit again before the weather breaks. There were plenty of Jays around and not surprisingly Buzzard.
It was pub night in Cubbington catching up with friends and local news of Barn Owl, Stonechat and Red Kite on my patch earlier in the week and afterwards Cym and Dave called in on there small holding to check on the progress of their sheep as its lambing time. I kept out the way preferring to observe the stars and listen to a Little Owl and Meadow Pipits going over than don rubber gloves.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

March 23rd 2011

Bob, April and I were approaching the gate from the country park to the reservoir this morning when 2 Egyptian Geese flew over the visitor centre heading east at 9:15am but lost to view behind the trees of the sailing club car park.
With blue sky’s and little wind the surface was a mirror and you could easily pick out the first summer male Scaup once you new where to look plus 4 Goosander, 20 Goldeneye, 30 Wigeon and 6 Gadwall but no sign of any Med Gulls amongst the many Black-headed and Common Gulls present.
I decided I would stay on farborough spit looking for flyovers while Bob and April did their circuit and spent the next 3 hours fighting off the flies. First I picked up a first of the year Swallow heading north with another 2 forty minutes later over the tree tops of Thurlaston village then on one of my many 360 degree sweeps counting Buzzards I saw a Woodcock in flight presumably having been disturbed before it dived in to distant cover.
With a scope and local knowledge of thermals I eventually located a record count for me of 41 Buzzards at this location plus 2 Sparrowhawk and 2 Peregrine so at least the birds of prey were taking advantage of the rays although two thirds would have been missed if I only relied on bins and didn’t use sunglasses to cut out the glare. At least 100 Fieldfare and a lone Redwing were in the field next to the sewage farm and 2 Brambling showed well at the end of the “bridal” path below farborough bank feeding on the many fly’s present along with 9 Reed Bunting. Of interest I have been informed the set-a-side strip behind the inlet has been ploughed up.
Other sightings included 4 Barnacle Geese, 10 Graylag Geese and 8 Guinea Fowl while on the butterfly front I managed 4 Comma, 5 Brimstone, Small White, Peacock and 4 Small Tortoiseshell and a Noctule Bat that was out for 45 minutes flying straight then diving steeply for prey.

I did not have things all my own way as I missed Willow Tit (Pete), Sand Martin Oystercatcher (Bob and April) and what sounded like a passing Goshawk (Pete) from the description given.

Bob took pictures of Early Grey, Hebrew Character and Twin-spotted Quaker from another excellent catch

Early Grey


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

March 22nd 2011

I woke to good numbers in the trap again although the species count was down with Double-striped Pug new for year and my earliest record. The garden year list stands at 20 but I wish I could have one of these beauties that Brian trapped in his Dunchurch garden and brought round early this evening for confirmation. Bob managed a record shot in fading light using flash.

Dotted Chestnut, Dunchurch

On the birding front Draycote Water was far too busy with walkers etc so gave it a miss and checked on Napton Reservoir managing Green Sandpiper on the small reservoir, 2 Cetties Warbler, 6 Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, 2 Raven, Sparrowhawk and 4 Buzzard while Napton on the Hill had female Brambling, 12 Redwing, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Goldcrest, 5 Mistle Thrush and Little Owl.
Cawston Waxwings still grace the estate with up to 70+ seen today.


Monday, 21 March 2011

March 21st 2011

After a weekend at home gardening I was ready for some birding but had to get the shovel out first as the garden moth trap had benefited from last nights mild temperatures.
Once sorted I ended up with 20 Common Quaker, 14 Clouded Drab, 11 Hebrew Character plus single Oak Beauty, Chestnut, Early Grey, March Moth, Agonopterix heracliana and Emmelina monodactyla while a Small Tortoiseshell fluttered past enjoying the early morning sunshine.

Arrived at the pond just as 2 Treecreeper showed by the toilet block and they were so intent on feeding one nearly landed on my leg as it moved from one tree to another.
Presumed overnight arrivals included Shoveler, Shelduck and a summer plumage Med Gull located among a few Black-headed Gulls in biggen bay. We could not find the male Smew which was not seen yesterday either so might have gone and the first summer male Scaup was off hensborough bank but some way out.
Other sightings included 4 Chiffchaff between farnborough spit and country park with a few more reported on the north side, 12 Buzzard, 4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 34 Wigeon, 5 Goosander, 20 Goldeneye, 10 Greylag Geese, 4 Barnacle Geese, 2 Raven and 9 Fieldfare. The decent weather brought out Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

A look at the Grandborough valley in the afternoon produced Tree Sparrow, 12 Yellowhammer, 3 Buzzard and 2 Red-legged Partridge along hill road, Great-spotted Woodpecker in Grandborough village and between Sawbridge and Willoughby there were 4 Redwing, 20 Fieldfare, 3 Buzzard, Grey Wagtail and Chiffchaff.


Friday, 18 March 2011

March 18th 2011

This blog’s a biggy but I just love it when my interests start coming together and it won’t be long before the Dragonfly’s and Orchids join in.

Clouded over in the night so another decent number of moths in my trap this morning including my first record of the tortrix Acleris literana so soon had Bob and April round to take photos then it was off to the pond.

Acleris literana

Draycote was windless with the cloud slow to burn off and because we had to be at Fenny Compton later we just worked farborough bank for an hour and it paid off with a mobile Rock Pipit on farborough bank and 7 Sand Martin feeding higher than expected over reservoir. Continuous scanning finally located the first summer male Scaup some distance away towards rainbow corner and the male Smew off hensborough bank. Other bird seen included 3 Buzzard, 20+ Wigeon, 6 Goosander, 20+ Goldeneye, 6 Pochard and a Chiffchaff in the country park.

After brunch in Southam we made our way to Fenny Compton joined by some over affectionate heifers taking an interest in Bob as we waited for Tangmere. This week has seen a steam engine fest in our area and this beauty had no intention of letting us down as she passed Alan between Leamington Spa and Warwick then chugged past us slow and smoky coming to a stop near the old station waiting for right of way then continued towards Wormleighton where Terry captured her picking up speed.

Alan Anscomb


Terry Southgate

As Bob and April arrived home these hooligans were eating their house

Waxwing by Bob Hazell - at least 40 still in around Cawston estate

The moon will be nearest the Earth tomorrow night and this evening as she climbed above the horizon I tried to get an image but failed so luckily John managed to capture a lot more detail than I even saw.

John Judge

Finally regulars will have spotted that being Friday I haven’t mentioned buddy Dave – he’s working in China poor thing but managed to get Long-tailed Shrike from his office window and hopes to do a bit of birding this weekend.

Thanks to Bob, Alan, Terry and John for pictures


Thursday, 17 March 2011

March 17th 2011

Early morning look for the Lawford Road Waxwings with 5 in nearby Glebe Crescent, Rugby perched on TV Ariel’s but the gloom turned to drizzle so packed up for the delights of shopping and couldn’t get motivated till the sun finally showed this afternoon.
Arrived at the pond late afternoon for the roost and scanning off farborough spit when 5 Waxwing went over heading north but couldn’t find any interesting gulls. No sign of the male Scaup but might have over looked it and the only other birds of interest were 5 Goosander, Grey Wagtail and male Smew.
The published times for tomorrows train movement of BR(S) Light Pacific 4-6-2 no 34067 Tangmere from Carnforth to Southall shows its route passing Leamington Spar 12:51pm


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

March 16th 2011

Woke early to visit Grandborough Valley but again too misty so turned my attention to the garden moth trap which had record counts for March of Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab and Common Quaker plus 3 other species including only my third record of Pine Beauty in six years.

Pine Beauty by Bob Hazell

Bit early to ring Bob for photos so checked for updates on Fridays steam train movement from Carnforth to Southall and they had just published that LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44932 would be going through Rugby today at 12:23pm heading north – now I rang him.
Bob arrived for the Pine Beauty then a check on Dave’s trap which had 41 moths of 8 species including a micro that was unfamiliar to us before we moved on to Cathiron joined by April.
Being mid-week we had the place to ourselves and watched 30 Linnet in a partially ploughed weedy strip and 27 Golden Plover fly over low heading north while we waited. She soon appeared out of the gloom just a couple of minutes late with only her support coach attached.



44932 passing Cathiron - middle pic by Bob

Moved on to Brandon Marsh for lunch then a walk to east marsh and carlton hide (both empty) which produced 8 Shelduck, 10 Snipe, 69 Shoveler, 3 Buzzard, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Redshank, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker while earlier we had 2 Coal Tit and heard a Chiffchaff.
Came home via Bob’s estate in case the 70 Waxwings that appeared yesterday evening were still around but we had no luck. Later on this afternoon he had some in Lawford Rd near the Holly Bush


March 15th 2011

I gave the pond a miss due to the early morning mist and low cloud so waited till it lifted before checking Napton on the Hill and Napton Reservoir. Chiffchaffs had increased to 4 joined by 2 Blackcap males on Napton hill while the reservoir in the evening had 2 Little Owl and a vocal Tawny sounded close but could not see it.


Monday, 14 March 2011

March 14th 2011

Cormorant heading south over garden 7am but no sign any Sand Martins at Draycote Water this morning as yesterday’s birds had probably moved on due to the overnight temperatures dropping to minus -2c.
The male Smew had been showing well off farborough bank before we arrived but had drifted out some distance and eventually went in to toft bay where overnight arrivals of 5 Pochard and a pair of Shoveler were resting. Another new arrival was a very tired Dunlin that April spotted which gave Bob plenty of photo opportunities but frustratingly we only heard the Curlew that Kevin reported flying towards us.


While Bob and April continued there circuit of the reservoir I doubled back to meet up with Dennis to look for the Scaup which was off hensborough bank wide awake and preening and certainly acting as if it’s thinking of moving on soon.
After looking at the hedgerow behind inlet for well over an hour there were again no sign of any Brambling but a pair of Hares put on a stunning display of boxing which is part of there courtship and this well-known 'mad March hare' behaviour actually involves unreceptive females fending off passionate males.
Only other birds of note were 68 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 15 Goldeneye, 19 Goosander (3 males), 14 Buzzard and 2 Sparrowhawk plus a few Yellowhammer and Skylark.
Back home the spring sunshine encouraged a Buzzard to soar over the garden joined by my regular large female Sparrowhawk and a distant Chiffchaff could be heard.

Emmelina monodactyla

March Moth
All photos by Bob Hazell


Sunday, 13 March 2011

March 13th 2011

First of two visits in the morning to the pond produced the male Smew off farborough bank, distant views of the first winter male Scaup (or should it be first summer as they don’t reach full adult plumage till the autumn) adult summer Med Gull among the 2000 Black Heads on the adjacent field below farborough bank first seen from Southam Road and 2 Meadow Pipit on farborough bank. Muntjac 2 and Hare 3 seen along Southam Road
Napton on the Hill had 2 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Chiffchaff and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the churchyard along with 6 Mistle Thrush and overhead were 5 Raven. The quarry and windmill were quiet apart from 400 Fieldfare, 200 Redwing and a distant Peregrine. Also seen were 2 Brimstone and a Red Admiral butterflies.
Napton Reservoir had Shelduck, female Goldeneye, 6 Shoveler, Cetties Warbler, 5 Long-tailed Tit, Siskin, 5 Bullfinch and 3 Tree Sparrow.
Between Beck Hill and Grandborough there were 2 Tree Sparrow, female Brambling, 20 Yellowhammer, 2 Sparrowhawk and 4 Golden Plover heading east while my second visit to the pond produced the first Sand Martins of the year with 4 off farnborough bank.
This evening the sky’s were clear and though the temperature dropped it was well worth the three hours searching for one of Saturn’s moons.

Oliver Cromwell over the Harringworth Viaduct by Bob and April Hazell


Saturday, 12 March 2011

March 12th 2011

Dave and I looked at Boughton Rd, Rugby and Eye-brook Reservoir, Leicestershire on our way to Harringworth Viaduct, Rutland.
Waxwings had been reported from Boughton Road yesterday afternoon so arrived at 7:15am and had at least 41 coming down to berries in the grounds of the demolished Riverside Club after they had been seen around the nearby housing estate.

Eye-brook Reservoir was disappointing with high water levels so all we managed was 2 Shelduck, 40 Goldeneye, 2 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit, 2 Red-legged Partridge and 2 Chiffchaff.
We then met up with Bob and April at Harringworth Viaduct and it was just like a birding twitch with many arriving early looking for the best advantage points due to its height and length so by the time Oliver Cromwell came over there must have been 600 dotted around the viaduct. We chose the high ground but lost out on distance on the viaduct.

Half Way across the viaduct 70013 Oliver Cromwell then begins the steep climb to Wing tunnel.

There were at least 8 Red Kite and 6 Buzzard in area including a kite with blue wing tag on left wing and white wing tag on right. In 1998 a national coding scheme was introduced which allows red kites to be identified at various levels depending on how well the birds can be viewed. The colour of the tag on the left wing of the bird denotes the area in which they were marked / released and the colour on the right wing denotes the year it was fledged/ringed. This bird was tagged on Black Isle, North Scotland in 2002

Dave had a couple of hockey matches to umpire later so I cadge a lift home with the Bob and April and they found a Little Owl and I had 2 Hebrew Character, 2 Clouded Drab, Small Quaker, Grey Shouldered-Knot and 2 Dotted Border plus one micro to identify in the trap last night so Bob got down to the nitty gritty.


March 11th 2011

Sparrowhawk displaying over the garden then it was out with Dave to Brandon Marsh which had 4 Snipe, 6 Shelduck, 60 Shoveler, 12 Wigeon, Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Lesser Redpoll plus a colony of Minor Bees looking a little docile with the spring sunshine having disappeared.
Lawford Heath had over 500 Fieldfare including one with a white head plus 4 Buzzard and 10 Yellowhammer.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

March 10th 2011

The day has been dominated by strong winds with gusts up to 45mph making birding difficult so cut the visit short after seeing first winter male Scaup in rainbow, male Smew inlet, 14 Goosander and 30 Goldeneye while Bob managed to stay upright long enough to see 8 Brambling. A Chiffchaff singing in the country park could just be heard over the noise of the wind.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

March 9th 2011

Fourteen unidentified wagtails over the garden at first light was an indication of migration taking place so back to the pond with Bob this morning which was very blustery
Meadow Pipits had increased to 17 with 14 on farborough bank and another 3 on hensborough bank which was a good start to the day becoming even better when JJ text to say 6 Pintail present which we soon located out in the centre, Three males and three females but after a couple of false starts they left 40 minutes later. Another possible migrant was a non-calling Chiffchaff which flew across the perimeter road from the sailing club to the country park hedgerow. One was heard a few days ago so may have been either over wintering elsewhere or keeping quiet feeding up before getting down to the demands of parenthood.
Having discussed with Bob yesterday how much difference the Scaup now look since their arrival and wondering when they would leave we were disappointed we couldn’t find the female this morning despite extensive searching, male was in rainbow corner.
Other sightings included 14 Goosander, 68 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 240 Fieldfare, 40 Redwing, 2 Reed Bunting, 4 Grey Wagtail and 8 Brambling behind the inlet.
If you are birding in Rutland on Saturday 12th March then BR Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70013 Oliver Cromwell pulling The Lincoln Imp steam special from London Victoria to Lincoln is due to pass through Corby 11:47 and Oakham 12:28 so will be going over the Harringworth Viaduct between these times – me and the boy will be there.
Finally 4 moths in my trap last night 3 Dotted Border and a Clouded Drab.


March 8th 2011

Overnight frost made for a chilly start at the pond this morning but clear sky’s soon warmed the place up with overnight arrivals of single Meadow Pipit and Snipe while Teal, Wigeon and Goosander numbers had halved from yesterdays totals.
Bob managed to locate 4 Brambling behind the inlet for me after I struggled to find only one while the male and female Scaup were off hensborough bank and Smew off farnborough bank. Other birds of note were 4 Raven and a couple of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin on the north bank seen by Bob. Also present was an unidentified Bee and a Honey Wasp species but no butterflies seen today.

Kestrel by Bob Hazell

Back home 2 Ravens and a Buzzard were over the garden while the radio was broadcasting the chances of both Space Station and Shuttle going over early evening so after scores of text messages amongst like minded folk around the country I was out in the front garden at the allotted time. Unfortunately there was too much vegetation in the way so had to stand in the road for a clearer view of the low horizon while avoiding the traffic till I got on to them with the shuttle leading.


Monday, 7 March 2011

March 7th 2011

Having seen the male Smew off farborough bank, Draycote Water soon after our arrival Bob and I were in toft bay checking through the gull and duck flock when Bob had an unidentified bird go through his field of view which turned out to be an Avocet that circled a number of times and attempted to land before changing its mind and we finally lost it after six minutes over rainbow corner.
Ninety minutes later I relocated the bird from the wind surfing picnic area miles away resting on the surface near C buoy and it stayed for a couple of hours before a Great-crested Grebe took umbrage to its presence. Unfortunately it never came close so Bob did extremely well for this record shot at 172x magnifcation.

Both the male and female Scaup were off hensborough bank otherwise the only other sign of migration was an increase of Goldeneye to 40 birds present and a flock of 6 Shoveler.
No sign of the finch flock or Brambling but the Bumbling bears had 26 yesterday so they should still be around and also seen were Raven, 7 Skylark, 70 Wigeon, 24 Goosander, 50 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 2 Reed Bunting, 30 Fieldfare, 8 Stock Dove, 2 Goldcrest and 4 Siskin. The sunny weather was good for Buzzards with 18 counted and a Brimstone butterfly on hensborough bank.

I was out in the garden early evening hoping to see the Space Station but failed so I thought the next pass wouldn’t be worth the effort. Thank god for like minded people – John rang – are you watching it – watching what was my dumb reply – Space Station and there’s two – quick dash in to the garden and bugger me he was right. Checked on the internet and the Shuttle had separated from the Space Station and it looked like a game of follow my leader – awesome and the shuttle is a tick. Owe you one JJ.
Caught up with Dave Hutton at Draycote and I was complementary about his recent photographs on his Seeswoodpool.blogspot which have been brilliant – then he sends me a couple pictures of the Chipping Norton Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove and words fail me – just enjoy.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

March 6th 2011

With signs of spring migration starting to take off in the last few days Dave and I gave the patch a bashing starting in the Grandborough Valley. While we walked up beck hill I spotted a male Merlin dashing through and Dave found a female Brambling otherwise it was quiet with 2 Green Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, 100 Fieldfare, 20 Linnet, 30 Yellowhammer noted.
Napton Reservoir had 11 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 3 Raven, 3 Snipe, 5 Bullfinch 100 Common Gull on the reservoir plus 60 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare opposite the entrance and it was good to see fellow blogger The Hornets Nest back in the field and managed a brief chat.
Next stop was the Long Itchington Diner which was busy with the funny car and motorcycle brigade all descending at once. Breakfast was great though the colour of this heap was enough to bring it back up.

Deciding that Napton on the Hill would be too cold and windy we went on to Farnborough Hall which we have not visited for sometime. Wandered around the small lake and wood for an hour but it was disappointing with only a Nuthatch and Goldcrest for our efforts.
Wormleighton was our final destination and as we approached the Tree Sparrows with care finding 11 the owners came out to walk there dogs and over 60 Tree Sparrows left there garden. A magical number even for this location though majority were out of sight from the lane.
Bob was further down the track than me yesterday and suffered from slow moving freight trains blocking his view but managed to grab a shot before the next container passed. At least he got one – set my camera on the tripod – train comes – press the photo burst and watched the train only to find out I had it on the wrong setting and took a nice shot of a rail. Twit.

Duke approaching Cathiron - Bob Hazel


Saturday, 5 March 2011

March 5th 2011

The sight of the Duke thundering north past Cathiron this morning bellowing steam and smoke against a dull leaden sky was memorable for me and Dave even if she was 30 minutes late.
Near to our viewing position there were 50 Linnet, 30 Yellowhammer and 6 Reed Bunting feeding on a pheasant feeder and set-a-side strip with Buzzard and Lapwing also noted while the canal feeding station further up the road had 3 Nuthatch.
On the way home a count of the Mute Swan flock between Bretford and Church Lawford revealed 75 birds with 50 Wigeon coming off the River Avon while on Lawford Heath we saw 3 Tree Sparrow, 40 Yellowhammer, 2 Buzzard, 3 Corn Bunting, 100 Fieldfare and a Raven.
Unfortunately the weather deteriorated in the afternoon so did not bother going out birding or seeing the Duke return as it thundered past the Bumbling Bears garden in Long Lawford just before dark – 10 minutes down and the crew glowing.

The Duke of Gloucester blows off steam leaving Rugby - those watching by the parked cars must have been dissapointed - John & Alfie Judge

Duke of Gloucester getting up to speed as she passes under the "wooden bridge", Rugby - John & Alfie Judge

The atmosphric "Duke" passes Long Lawford at dusk heading home - Pete Hall

Many thanks to JJ, Alfie and Pete for pictures


Friday, 4 March 2011

March 4th 2011

First steam special of the year tomorrow with 71000 Duke of Gloucester hauling The Salopian from London Euston to Shrewsbury due in Rugby 09:21 to take on water leaving at 09:36 on the Trent Valley Line. The return route is different and will come back via Birmingham International (more water) going through Coventry 17:40 and Rugby 17:53. Times subject to change.

Brandon Marsh had 4 Shelduck, 3 Buzzard, Ringed Plover, 4 Snipe, 70 Shoveler and 3 Cetties Warbler this afternoon and 7 Corn Bunting were on Lawford Heath when we made a brief stop.

Bob kindly sent me a few snaps he took at the pond today and mentioned he had not seen a Brambling for 2 days.

male Siskin

immature male Scaup still a sleep

immature male Scaup finally awake

Cormorant continental race


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

March 2nd 2011

Yesterday we missed Rock Pipit and Glaucous Gull so I arrived at the pond with Bob to a bitterly cold north east wind hoping to locate the Rock Pipit but no luck though new arrivals included Oystercatcher, 19 Pochard, 80+ Wigeon and 4 Grey Wagtail. Both the male Smew and the pair of Scaup went walk about with the Scaup relocated by the valve tower and the Smew in rainbow corner and both Goosanders and Goldeneye numbers were down. The Brambling were active but distant with 24 counted and other birds of note were 2 Goldcrest, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Raven, adult Yellow-legged Gull, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 10 Stock Dove, 40 Lapwing, 2 Buzzard, 22 Goldfinch and 9 Graylag. A large flock of thrushes near the sewage farm contained 350 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing and 19 Pied Wagtail.
Back home there was a 400 Fieldfare over Alywn Road and 500 over my garden later in the afternoon.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

March 1st 2011

It’s been dull and dreary at the pond.
Not as windy or as cold as yesterday with Gadwall, Goldeneye and Goosander numbers increasing from yesterdays count - 11 Gadwall, 35 Goldeneye and 28 Goosander present but no sign of the female Smew while the male was still off farborough bank and the pair of Scaup by the inlet.
The finch flock held 14 Brambling otherwise we saw very little and after chatting to Paul and Martin on hensborough bank we had just reached the sailing club when Paul rang to say the male Merlin had re-appeared in the Leam Valley and he had found a Stonechat so we about turned and legged it to rainbow where the Stonechat was performing – a female. Unfortunately the Merlin must have visited the Brambling as they had disappeared for the day and the only other bit of excitement was the unconfirmed report of Shag but all we could find was a small continental race immature Cormorant. Only other birds of note were 3 Golden Plover and 4 Long-tailed Tit.
A late afternoon look at Napton Reservoir produced a first winter Med Gull in the pre-roost among the Common Gull before they all left for the pond while Calcutt had 2 Barn Owl and a Woodcock at dusk.
Both Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting were seen on Lawford Heath by Paul & Martin as they headed home.