Friday, 8 April 2011

April 7th 2011

I was up early to spend time trying to find two of the Messier astronomical objects listed by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1771. The total list published by Messier finally contained 103 objects, but the list "got an independent life" by successive additions by other astronomers. I finally got on to M81 a large spiral galaxy & M82 a starburst galaxy both in Ursa Major – just 108 to go.
The Space Station was picked up over the Irish Sea with an uninterrupted view till she faded from sight south east of Prague, Czechoslovakia. Overnight the Russian Soyuz spacecraft successfully docked with her.

As soon as Bob and I arrived at the pond we located the near summer Med Gull but could not see any Little Gulls despite extensive searching, a few Yellow Wagtails were on farborough bank. Having just left Bob and no more than 300 yards away when the Osprey came in at 10:13 and remained soaring over the reservoir for over 15 minutes till it drifted off north west. Luckily he could hear my bellowing but the bird made no attempt to fish. Its arrival caused panic among the gulls and waders with a second Med Gull in full breeding plumage found along with first summer Little Gull while Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher flew over trying to avoid the commotion. Toft bay had 2 Shelduck, 6 Wigeon, 5 Teal and 14 Gadwall with a female Goldeneye seen later and 8 Mute Swan might be the start of the arrival of those choosing to spend the summer here.
More warblers arrived overnight with plenty of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcaps around and overhead a steady stream of Swallows were coming over at 40 an hour from the south east with a few House and Sand Martins plus another good passage of Buzzard with 12 watched heading north either in small groups or singles.
Also seen today were 3 Raven, 4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Ringed Plover and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Butterflies were not as noticeable as yesterday but 2 Brimstone, 4 Small Tortishell and 3 Peacock seen

Blackcap by Bob Hazel

The Grandborough valley late afternoon had 2 Wheatear and Tree Sparrow along hill Road, 3 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Buzzard in the horse paddock at Grandborough Fields and a stunning male Marsh Harrier flew low over Flecknoe Road by the double barns scaring off a Red-legged Partridge as it headed north east. Surprisingly 12 Fieldfare remained at Napton Reservoir while the Cetties Warbler showed out in the open for a couple of minutes. Also present were male and female Teal, Yellow Wagtail, 5 Sand Martin, 3 Bullfinch, 5 Buzzard, Raven and 2 Sparrowhawk. I couldn’t do Napton on the Hill justice as time ran out but 4 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and female Redstart showed that some migrants had spent the day feeding up in the churchyard.
A small bat greeted our arrival at the pub in Cubbington plus a Barn Owl flew over later and on the way home a medium size bat just avoided our windscreen near Princethorpe. We called in on Lawford Heath to enjoy the stars and had at least 4 meteorites and 3 satellites and a very vocal Little Owl.


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