Tuesday, 31 May 2011

May 31st 2011

Just showed how bad yesterday’s conditions were when we re-located the Red-breasted Merganser off the inlet and it was obviously a first summer male.

No sign of yesterday’s Sanderling and sightings of note included 400 Swift (we did keep an eye out for Alpine after a heads up of a probable in the West Midlands - cheers A), 5 Sand Martin which is uncommon for here at this time of year, Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail and 9 Buzzard when the sun came out. Successful breeding included families of Blackcap, Grey Wagtail and Canada Geese while a check on the growing Mute Swan flock produced 47 birds.
Bob is back from his break so had him slaving away over my moths and both Hobby and Raven flew over the garden early afternoon. Although lasts night catch was smaller I managed 21 species including 63 Heart & Dart out of 91 moths.

Common Marbled Carpet

Shoulder-stripe Wainscot

Clouded Border Brindle

Middle-barred Minor

all the good photos by Bob Hazell - the one not so good taken with my box brownie


Monday, 30 May 2011

May 30th 2011

Very mild in our gardens overnight resulting in both mine and Dave’s traps overflowing so we closed them up and went down the pond knowing we were in for some rain and boy did we get it. Skinned in waterproofs we had the place almost to ourselves with just two walkers for company as we walked from Draycote village to hensborough bank seeing only a bedraggled Buzzard, Yellow Wagtail and disappointingly just one wader – Ringed Plover. Visibility was poor but as we walked back we had 5 recently fledged Grey Wagtail being watched over mum and a red head Red-breasted Merganser by the valve tower so our efforts paid off but it was too wet to nail the sex down as the bird showed more white than I would normally expect for a female so could have been a first summer male or very late developer. We arrived back home early as Lawford Heath produced zilch and it wasn’t worth trying anywhere else while it was still raining.
Dave trapped 47 species from 181 moths including his first record of Purple Bar plus many micros while mine produced 31 species with at least Common White Wave, Beautiful Hook-tip, Freyer’s Pug and Shoulder-striped Wainscot new for the year.
Back out to the pond briefly to see 3 Sanderling then out later owling with Mark and Mason but no luck though we did have at least 3 Noctule Bats and loads of pips.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

May 29th 2011

Three pairs of Graylag have nested behind the grassy field down the Southam Rd with 9 young seen while we waited for Draycote Water’s main gates to open this morning. A Whitethroat was in the country park and a quick check from the defunct visitors centre across the reservoir showed another 16 Graylags with a tag along plastic White-fronted Goose among 100+ Canada Geese. At least 400 Swifts and our short walk produced 10 Ringed Plover and 3 summer plumage Dunlin, Yellow Wagtail and a House Sparrow feeding 3 young.
Met up with Dennis in the Long Itchington Diner then went looking for Spotted Flycatchers on Napton on the Hill. Although very windy in the overcast but mild conditions we were treated to stunning views of the seven counties including the Malvern Hills for the first time this year and met up with Martin and Neville who I had not seen since our trip to Norfolk.
Very few birds about but we did find SF in the churchyard along with a couple of Goldcrests, Raven and Sparrowhawk and while we chatted waiting for the service to finish so we could pop inside and fill in their notebook a Red Kite drifted low over our heads – magic.
While entering our records members of the congregation invited us to coffee and cake so we soon found our way to the front of the queue and met many of those we normally just give a nod and a wave.
The only butterfly of the morning was a Common Blue which fluttered past as we were leaving and at Napton Reservoir where it was far too windy we had very little.
Back to Dave’s for dinner and a check on his moth trap produced 127 moths of 21 species including our first Dark Arches and Pale Mottled Willow of the year and later in the afternoon when I checked mine I managed 16 species from 64 moths.
The “space shed” is starting to re-appear again but presently its just above the horizon so no decent passes predicted for awhile.


Friday, 27 May 2011

May 27th 2011

This morning was cloudy and cold so I turned back from going to the pond and went back to bed until Mark popped round for a chat entertained by a House Sparrow and the now not so popular Blackbird who’s been caught red handed helping himself to my moths.
Out later with Dave for lunch at the Just So café where we had 2 Raven and a Buzzard over before trying our luck at Stockton Cutting as the sun was breaking through.
Greater Twayblade orchids are just about to flower and at least 20 spikes of Common Spotted Orchid are out but they are very small plants due to April’s lack of rain. Another species that has suffered badly in April is the Greater Butterfly Orchid with only one found flowering compared to hundreds last year. A few Butterfly’s were out, mainly Common Blue and the best bird seen was a Tawny Owl perched.

Some good news, class A3 Pacific 4472 Flying Scotsman steam engine, the first to be officially recorded at 100mph was unveiled today after undergoing major restoration work since 2006 at the National Railway Museum in York. She appeared in the black livery used by LNER during World II.
Further work is to be carried out after this weekend, with the engine expected to return to running steam excursions in the summer after final engine tests and repainted in its traditional apple green livery. Yippee


Thursday, 26 May 2011

May 26th 2011

I was doing well with Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover rainbow corner, Common Tern out in the centre, Spotted Flycatcher biggen bay, Coal Tit toft shallows, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk at the pond till the heavens opened and I got soaked. At least the rain brought in a Turnstone on the inlet looking very bedraggled.
Back home and a Hobby was hunting insects over the garden.


May 25th 2011

Being a half decent day I went looking for butterfly’s out of the county which brought me my first Marsh Fritillary, Duke of Burgundy, Large Skipper, Adonis Blue and Small Blue of the year and my first record Cistus Forester Moth.
Also Azure Damselfly, Nightingale singing and a Red Kite soaring overhead while back home the Blackbirds nesting in my shed have produced 5 very demanding young.


May 23rd 2011

Having arrived home in the early hours of the morning with the south west winds gusting to 60 miles an hour in the English Channel I headed for the pond mid-afternoon.
Unfortunately cycling was difficult so only managed as far as rainbow corner but that was enough to see the adult Kittiwake before the heavens opened and I got soaked. Only other birds noted were hundreds of Swifts, 10 Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail and a Common Sandpiper.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

May 22nd 2011

ESTONIA May 19th to 22nd

Day One
Dave and I met up with Richard (Dave’s brother) and Tony at Stanstead Airport and after a two hour flight we arrived late morning at Tallin, Estonia on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea for our short birding break to this small country. Estonia has a varied landscape of lakes, ponds, streams, marshes, meadows as well as being heavily forested plus a coastal area of sheltered bays, islands and islets.
Richard and Tony had been to Estonia in April last year so new the ropes and it was not long before the hire car was heading south for Tartu with shouts of what’s that every kilometer and the overcast conditions that had greeted us on landing was soon replaced by sunshine which stayed with us for the rest of the break.
Having already seen roadside Hooded Crow, Fieldfare, Crane, White Stork, Marsh and Montague’s Harrier our first stop too stretch our legs was alongside the shore of Lake Paunkula Veehoidla where we enjoyed Hobby, Crane, Whooper Swan, Lesser-spotted Eagle, Grasshopper Warbler, White Wagtail, Wigeon, Thrush Nightingale and Common Sandpiper.
We continued on till we reached Jurikula near Purmani Alam-Pedja a flood plain next to the river alive with bird song where we had Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale, Garden Warbler and Yellow Wagtail in just a short walk. Also present were 3 calling Corncrakes that sounded close but were probably miles away and the lush flower meadows held Brimstone, Peacock, Green-veined White butterflies and Treble Line, Red Twin-spot Carpet moths.

Common Rosefinch by Richard Cox

Arrived at the hotel Kantrey on the outskirts of Tartu early evening so once cleaned rested and fed we were out again to Karevere for the Great Snipe lek. We had two flying around in front of us on our arrival at 9pm and one on the deck scoped in good light at 9:30pm as it walked through the grassy marsh in front of us with others heard as the light faded. While watching the Great Snipe there were 3 Green Sandpiper singing, Hobby hunting and the now usual Fieldfare, Thrush Nightingale, White Stork and Crane. Animals included 5 adult with a total of 21 young Wild Boar and 2 Roe Deer while the woodland ride produced Woodcock and 3 Noctule size bats.

Day 2

White Stork


Though day light was at 4am we decided 5:30am was earlier enough to be up for a pre breakfast look at the extensive wetlands around Aardla which was full of activity with Red-necked Grebe, Whooper Swan, Garganey, Citrine Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, 20 Yellow Wagtail, Marsh Harrier, 40 Black Tern, 68 White-winged Black Tern, 30 Little Gull, 3 Raven, Wood Sandpiper and an immature White-tailed Eagle which caused chaos as it finished off a meal on the ground before flying off. Plenty of commoner species present so we could have stayed longer but wanted to look at the fishponds at Ilmatsalu before heading west for the coast so it was back to the hotel for breakfast.
On arrival at the fishponds 3 Great White Egret flew over as we walked the birding trail which was full off warblers singing. Highlights here had to be the nesting Penduline Tits with there amazing hanging nest with its double entrance, 4 Lesser-spotted Eagle, immature White-tailed Eagle being mobbed by a Black-tailed Godwit, Great Reed Warbler and other species included Thrush Nightingale, Whinchat, Garganey, Common Rosefinch. Good for butterflies here with 10 species seen including Green Hairstreak and Map.

Penduline Tit by Richard Cox

Continuing our journey west we checked out Parnu cemetery finding many Spotted Flycatchers, Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Redstart, and what turned out to be the first of very few sightings of Blue Tit and Robin on the trip.

Altmoisa Hotel

Finally arrived at hotel Altmoisa less than a kilometer from Tuuru Bay on the west coast which was impressive and it wasn’t long before we found out they served good food and beer. Late evening stroll to Tuura Bay along the boardwalk produced Barnacle Geese, Grey Plover, Curlew, Goosander and Greylag new for the trip but the star was the immature male Moose wandering towards us through the coastal brush.

Day 3
Early morning walk to Tuura Bay with Marsh Harrier hunting the field next to the hotel and last nights Moose in scrub opposite the hotel entrance. The coastal marsh and scrub were full of Whinchat, Linnet, Thrush Nightingale, Common Rosefinch and Whitethroat with at least 3 Cuckoo’s in the area. The bay its self had many Goosander, Grey Plover and a party of Little Stint, 49 Barnacle Goose while across the bay over the distant marsh and forest there were at least 6 White-tailed Eagles including an adult.

Tuula Bay

More good food then out to a search the bays and bushes of a headland near the villages of Puise & Puisenina with 100+ Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Garganey, 10 Whooper Swan, Grey-headed Wagtail, 2 Honey Buzzard, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Raven, Jay, Common Rosefinch, Thrush Nightingale to mention a few. Also Large Tortoiseshell and Map butterfly’s seen.


We then headed for the village of Vonnu on one of the many tracks in the surrounding forest and at a stop near Rohense we found Redstart, Pied flycatcher, Icterine Warbler, Wood Warbler, Marsh Tit and Wood White.
The village pond at Vonnu was visited twice with Wryneck, Slavonian Grebe, pair Garganey, 10 Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Sparrow, Sparrowhawk, grey phase Tawny Owl, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Corncrake, Fieldfare, Pied Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch.
The reason for two visits to Vonnu was so we could break off for tea and cakes in the nearby town of Haapsalu which were superb before visiting the local sewage works with Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Water Rail, Hooded Crow and Raven.
Our evening walk gave us a singing Greenish Warbler plus 50 Barnacle and 10 Greylag Geese heading for Tuula Bay.

Day 4
Our last early morning walk before breakfast around the hotel area brought us Great Grey Shrike, Black Grouse calling, Grasshopper Warbler, Wryneck, Icterine Warbler, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Whinchat, Wheatear and Common Rosefinch among the usual fare.
Once fed and the car packed we still had a few sites we wanted to visit before heading back to the airport for our evening flight with the first being Purksi an extremely large reed bed where we had booming Bittern, Hobby, nesting Black-necked Grebe, Garganey, Pochard, Red-necked Grebe, Crane, White Stork, Great Reed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Little Gull, Snipe, Savi's Warbler and 3 raptors soaring in the distance and stayed on one that flew closer showing its headlights – Booted Eagle some way off its normal range.
Haversi gave us a summer plumage Black-throated Diver, Hobby, Common Scoter and Red-backed Shrike and as we tried to find our way back to the main road a possible Grey-headed Woodpecker flew off the forest floor and promptly disappeared.
Dirhami harbour had 4 Long-tailed Duck while off shore there good numbers of duck heading west, mainly Common Scoter and Eider although the adjacent pinewood was quiet accept for Green Hairstreak, Swallow-tail and a large fritillary species before we moved on to the other side of the bay at Spithami which had hundreds of Eider, 30 Velvet Scoter flying past close in and many rafts of Common Scoter also Tree Pipit, Artic Tern, Goldeneye and Montagu's Harrier feet away from the car.
Our next stop along a forest track at Spithami - Rannakula added Crested Tit and Golden Eagle to our list.


Our flight back gave us time to tot the totals up and we had managed to see or hear 149 species of bird, 14 butterflys including Camberwell Beauty, 7 species of moth, 6 species of dragonfly and 5 species of animal so it was a well worth trip with many thanks to Richard for driving but not his jokes and Tony for navigating us down some memorable tracks safely and his knowledge of bird songs.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

May 18th 2011

Day at home
Jay over garden at 9am was unusual and Hobby trying his luck tonight with House Martins at 19:30 over my estate.

A couple of relevant pictures from Paul Cashmore just back from a family visit in Germany

Forester Moth - 100s feeding on sorrel in one field, they use to be at Ashlawn Cutting but have not been seen for the last three years and are presumed extinct in Warwickshire now but still worth searching for.

This Swallowtail was in his sisters garden feeding on Lilac. I hope to be seeing one soon so a timely reminder how good looking they are.

Cuckoo female by Steve Batt at Ryton Meadows last Monday. Seem to be a lot more around the patch than last year and he saw one at the pond last Friday.


May 17th 2011

Dave offered me a lift down the south west as he had meetings in Plymouth which gave me a chance to visit Haldon Forest Park and Aylesbeare Common in Devon hoping for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and orchids.
The weather was not expected to be on my side and that’s how it turned out with low cloud turning to rain in afternoon but I was not going to pass on a chance to find see something different especially as the pond is so dire at the moment.
Crossbill 58 in small parties including young being fed and at least 15 males mostly around the visitor centre at Haldon Forest Park, Siskin 25 plus a pair feeding 3 recently fledge young, Stonechat, Whinchat male, Tree Pipit 3, Woodlark displaying, Nuthatch and a very bright summer plumage male Mealy Redpoll on Aylesbeare Common were the highlight of the few species seen.

Speckled Yellow 3, Common Heath 30, Grey Pine Carpet + 2 micros to identify
Small Heath the only one seen all day
Common Spotted Orchid on Aylesbeare Common plus one to confirm
Deer stalked for photo

Those thinking why bother - well you might be right but!!!!


May 16th 2011

Spent the morning on chores and Bob had very little to report from the pond despite the windy conditions when he called round mid-day. I finished off me jobs while he tried his luck on last nights cracking catch – 86 moths of 23 species with the best being Snout, Lesser Treble Bar and Treble Lines.

Treble Lines


By the time he finished it had become very warm and sunny so went down the Grandborough valley where I had my first Banded Demoiselle of the year and birds here included 4 Yellow Wagtail, Lapwing with 2 Chicks, Reed Bunting, Linnets and 3 Buzzard
Napton Quarry was sheltered in some parts giving the opportunity to find Dingy Skipper, Common Blue and Orange-tip butterflies plus Lesser Treble Bar, Burnet Companion and Silver-ground Carpet moths and presumably the Spotted Flycatcher present was a migrant unless its going to move up the hill later. A look around churchyard produced 3 Mistle Thrush, 2 Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard and 2 Common Blue.
Napton Reservoir had Common Tern, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Tree Sparrow and plenty of Reed and Sedge Warbler.


Monday, 16 May 2011

May 15th 2011

The day started bright but soon became overcast and breezy again.
The grassy field down Southam Rd had Red-legged Partridge, 2 Whitethroat, 6 Graylag and Yellowhammer while in the Grandborough valley we found 6 Tree Sparrow along Flecknoe Rd and 6 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Yellowhammer and a few Lapwing at Grandborough Fields.
Draycote Water despite the wind was poor and all we managed was a Yellow Wagtail and Common Tern before calling in at the Long Itch Diner.
The weather was not going to improve but still felt Harbury was worth a visit finding 3 Raven, 6 Grizzled Skipper, 2 Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Treble-line, 2 Treble Bar, Lesser Treble Bar, 4 Cinnabar and 6 Crambus lathoniellus before the final rain shower pushed us off to try out the caramel meringues at the Just So – strongly recommended.
Afterwards we tried Stockton again but the cool wind meant we were wasting our time all we had was a Hairy Dragonfly.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

May 14th 2011

Out before first light down the Grandborough valley looking for owls with 2 Barn Owls noted at dawn near Willoughby and later a Cuckoo was heard but not seen at Grandborough Fields. Good to see Lesser Whitethroats and Tree Sparrows doing well but the cold conditions put paid to a decent dawn chorus.

Only been home 15 minutes when Dave rang to say he was hungry and on his way round just as news reached me that a private steam charter had been hired and was running past Fenny Compton. We had already planned to go there later so woofed our food down and arrived just in time as thundered past taking pundits from Birmingham to Oxford via Stratford upon Avon.
We hung around the area hoping something would sing or fly over but it was very quiet until just before the train we wanted arrived a Raven and Buzzard were seen chasing each other.

GWR Castle Class no 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe passing Fenny Compton

The last few days have been busy for LMS Black 5s nos 44871 and 45407 working The Cathedral Explorer from Carnforth to Carmarthen on Thursday and from Carmarthen to London Victoria yesterday so the crew must have been looking forward to a break as they steamed past on their way to the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster.

LMS Black 5s nos 44871 and 45407 approaching Fenny Compton by Dave Cox

A quick warm up at the Just So café then on to Stockton Cutting with Terry but it was far too windy and we were contemplating whether to visit the pond on a Saturday when JJ rang with news that a Black Stork was no more than 14 miles away near Upper Weedon, Northamptonshire.

After the shock we played it cool and had a look at the pond with Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover over and 500 Swift before JJs second call saying it was still present kicked us in to action.
Arrived to the news from The Bumbling Bears it had flown further up stream but soon found it perched in a tree where we enjoyed it for 10 minutes in our scopes with a small crowd of happy bunnies before it flew low west and disappeared out of view. A British tick for Dave.


Friday, 13 May 2011

May 13th 2011 Extra

BLOGGER has been inaccessible since late yesterday evening (Thursday eve) - only allowing you to read a blog. It has now come back up this evening around 6.30pm but many bloggers I am in contact with are reporting missing posts and pictures. I think my site is OK now but had to re-write two posts so if you spot something missing please contact me.
I wont apologise on their behalf but I am sorry you have been left out of the loop wondering why none of your favourite blogs were updating.


May 13th 2011

The day started clear and bright becoming cloudy and windy later.
Both Spotted Flycatcher by the Sainsbury's garage and a tatty Lunar Marbled Brown near the entrance to the store first thing were first for the year. Rest of the morning spent potting my remaining plants with Hobby, Swift, Cormorant and Willow Warbler for company.
Out with Dave in the afternoon to the Just So café before looking for butterfly's managing 4 Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, 2 Common Blue and Green-veined White. Day flying moths included Burnet Companion, Silver-ground Carpet, Cinnabar and one to identify while the best bird seen was a Red Kite over. Also Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly.

White-spotted Pug

Green Silver-lines

Flame Shoulder
Recent moths in Dave's or my trap have included these captured by Bob Hazel.


May 12th 2011

With the barometer dropping and the wind increasing the pond recorded gusts of over 50mph briefly so not surprising that a group of 4 Ringed Plover arrived at the pond while we battled our way along farborough bank with another 2 seen on my way back. Only a Common Tern was out in the centre while Yellow Wagtail and Hobby made an appearance near the country park.
I managed to find shelter from the wind and despite the limited amount of sunshine this morning butterflies seen were 2 Grizzled Skipper, my first for the year Dingy Skipper at the pond, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Small White, Green-veined White and a very accommodating Common Blue.

Dingy Skipper, Brown Argus, Common Blue by Bob Hazell

Other birds seen were 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler and plenty of Whitethroats plus Pyausta aurata and one very interesting micro that eluded us.
I tend to take Blue Tits for granted but they are certainly versatile when it comes to nesting sites around the reservoir with one raising young in an old House Martins nest much to the annoyance of last years tenants and others have been found in a security camera, boat trailer and a life belt holder.


May 11th 2011

Despite the cloudy windy weather I had day away from the patch to the Wildlife Trust for Berks, Bucks & Oxon Hartslock Nature Reserve of unimproved chalk downland hill overlooking the river Thames well known for its orchids and butterfly’s.
My walk along Thames produced a Club-tailed Dragonfly but there were not many other insects on the wing accept for Red Kites and Buzzard. The orchids were stunning with the odd Lady, plenty of Monkey and many hybrids between the two and well worth another visit in better conditions.

Monkey Orchid


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

May 10th 2011

The worst day of the year at the pond with only 2 Common Tern worth reporting so before throwing myself off a cliff I managed to find 3 Grizzled Skipper and single Common Blue. The undergrowth was a little more productive with Blue-tailed, Common and Large Red Damselfly. Ended up buying plants for the garden so while Bob clicked his way through my moth trap I pottered my lovely’s up – I won’t win garden in bloom but it at least puts my neighboughs to shame.


Monday, 9 May 2011

May 9th 2011

Just after mid-day a stunning Red Kite drifted over the garden mobbed by Carrion Crow which soon gave up and the bird continued south west. Met up with Bob at 12:30pm for a quick look at the pond but it was pretty quiet with only one Common Tern, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, 10 Greylag, and a few Buzzards to report.

White Ermine on the visitor centre wall by Bob Hazell


May 8th 2011

After the heavy but welcome overnight rain Napton Reservoir produced Wood Sandpiper early this morning wandering among the sleeping fishermen near the car park. All the usual warblers were either seen or heard with the only other birds of note being 2 Common Tern, Tree Sparrow and Grey Wagtail.
Moved on to Flecknoe for a migration watch and a number of Swifts came in front of the various weather fronts numbering 700+ in total. Also on the move were 8 Buzzard high plus 6 local birds seen, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, 2 Hobby and my first Brown Argus butterfly of the year. No sign of any Spotted Flycatcher or Turtle Dove yet but good numbers of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat in the area plus 3 Red-legged Partridge, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

The reason for last Fridays train being a no show was due to a high fire risk in the area it was going to – well at least the rain over the last two days should put paid to that continuing.

Sundogs I’ve seen um before but never new what they were called. Pa Phillips captured these over Rugby 5:30pm. It’s the reflection of the sun off hexagonal ice crystals

Finally the scores on the doors for our garden moth year list is 87 for me and 91 for Dave so both of us are looking good for a record year though the long term forecast of cooler weather later in the month might put paid to that.


May 7th 2011

Despite the cost by public transport to Portland Bill, Dorset being almost prohibitive due my last minute decision to go and then spending half my time looking for my phone and camera it was a very productive day. I had stupidly put them down while sheltering from the elements and couldn’t remember under which rock, eventually found them in need of a hair dryer.
I was hoping for a fall of migrants but the observatory record of Britain’s 5th record of Patton’s Tiger moth was something you just dream about while the male Red-backed Shrike opposite the observatory seemed to be the only obvious new arrival and the Bee-eater was yesterday's bird which reappeared briefly. The sea produced 2 hoped for Pomarine Skua plus 2 Great Skua, and Balearic Shearwater amongst the normal fare.
I arrived home late to the moth trap just as it was starting to look good but that soon changed when the heavy rain started and it was a mad rush looking for umbrellas to give them as much shelter as possible, White-spotted Pug, Common Marbled Carpet and Sallow Kitten added to the year list

Common Swift


Buff Ermine
all by Bob Hazell


Friday, 6 May 2011

May 6th 2011

A glorious if somewhat frustrating day starting early morning with a good moth catch that include V-Pug, Setaceous Hebrew Character and a tatty Rivulet all first for the year along with 11 other species from 36 moths trapped.
Arrived at the pond with Bob and disappointingly it was dead as a dodo until we found 2 Sanderling feeding along farborough bank – one in winter plumage just starting to moult and the other in partial summer plumage.

Sanderling by Bob Hazell

We moved on to Cathiron for the transfer of SR Light Pacific 4-6-2 no 34067 Tangmere which was going to Carnforth but it was cancelled last minute so I bet we were not the only daft sods to hang around for two 2 hours for nothing.
Met up with Dave for a desperate drink at Brandon Marsh then opted to give the birds a miss and went looking for insects finding Burnet Companion, Purple-bar, Pyrausta aurata and 10 Treble-bar moths, my first Small Heath butterfly of the year while among the dragonflies were Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chaser. We did come across a few birds the best being a Hobby hunting overhead and a Cuckoo calling.


Thursday, 5 May 2011

May 5th 2011

Draycote Water was cloudy with an east south east wind which brought in a Little Tern at 8:40 seen flying over valve tower towards biggen bay before returning where it was mobbed by a Black-tailed Godwit. The blackwit landed on draycote bank but the Little Tern had gone by 8:43. Our walk out to farborough spit produced adult Little Gull, 2 Common Tern, 3 Dunlin and 200 Swift otherwise quiet until Bob hobbling back from toft bay rang to say a Whimbrel had landed between us on farborough bank so I managed good scope view while Bob captured its image.

Whimbrel by Bob Hazell

Other sightings today included 2 Gadwall, 2 Yellow Wagtail, House Sparrow, Collard Dove, Sedge Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler and 5 Buzzard while overhead a steady passage of Lesser Black-backed Gulls headed north. We stayed around till 2pm in case other goodies appeared which gave us a time to find 3 Small Copper, 3 Grizzled Skipper and Holly Blue butterflies.

Small Copper taken in 2009

Late afternoon visit to Napton Reservoir produced Hobby, 2 Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper plus Reed, Sedge, Garden, Willow and Grasshopper Warblers also Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and Bullfinch while another Hobby was over Calcutt.
A warm night so far with my moth trap doing overtime so hopefully more to add to the year list in the morning.


May 4th 2011

The wind had died for awhile in the night producing Cabbage Moth and Heart and Dart but also sub zero temperatures at first light with a moderate south east wind which accounted for 14 Swift flying north over the garden.
Bob managed to hobble to farborough spit, Draycote Water but all we could find in the hour we were there were 7 Black Tern, 4 Common Tern, adult Little Gull, Ringed Plover, 300 Swift, 4 Wheatear, 4 Buzzard, 200 Swallow and 100 House Martin.
Rest of day checking on butterflies in the more warmer sheltered areas of the valley finding Dingy Skipper 2, Grizzled Skipper 10, Common Blue 8, Small Copper, Green Hairstreak, Comma 8, Red Admiral 2, Brimstone 8, Speckled Wood 11, Green-Veined White 3, Large White 7, Orange-tip 7.

Broad-bodied Chaser by Bob Hazell

Also seen were Small Yellow Underwing, Pyrausta aurata, 4 Cinnabar, Broad-bodied Chaser and White-legged Damselfly plus numbers of Whitethroat, a showy Garden Warbler and a Chiffchaff that had added a few descending chaff notes towards the end of its song.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

May 3rd 2011

The wind dropped in the night for a couple of hours becoming fresher by the morning but thankfully not as strong as yesterday and still north easterly though occasionally moving to the east which probably accounted for today’s TERN FEST.
Bob and I arrived at 9:40am and counted 17 Black and 20 Common Tern present but in the next hour we had so many flocks coming and going or feeding high it was hard to keep up but we estimated at least 180 Black and 80 Common Terns went through with 30 Black and 38 Common Tern still around at 10:40 when we left. Also 5 Little Gull with them but the only other birds of note were 2 Yellow Wagtail, 200 Swift and Common Sandpiper.
This was my third highest day count of Black Tern since I started watching the pond in 1976 and the most I have had since 114 in September 2006 and surprisingly the second highest count I’ve had for Common Tern since 120 in 1994.

Green Hairstreak by Bob Hazell

We then went looking for butterflies managing 25 Dingy Skipper, 10 Grizzled Skipper, and 10 Green Hairstreak plus 6 Cinnabar, Treble Bar and a possible Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet before ending the day at Napton Reservoir where we managed 2 Hobby hunting insects high over reservoir, 2 Yellow Wagtail, Cetties, Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler plus Lesser Whitethroat and Common Sandpiper . We also enjoyed the shoal of Perch in shallow water showing well, Common Blue and our first White-legged Damselfly of the year. Unfortunately Bob slipped and pull a tendon in the back of his leg so ending up hobbling and grimacing something rotten. Did offer to rip his pants off and give him a good rub down with nettles but the wimp declined muttering my Attila Nightingale medical skills were questionable.


May 2nd 2011

The wind is still a major factor with gusts up to nearly 40mph at the pond today bringing in 3 Black Tern who joined 2 adult and one first summer Little Gull. Unfortunately apart from 60 Swift over draycote bank there was little else to enjoy.
Passerines are difficult to locate in the wind so Dave, Colin and I only heard Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler while checking out a disused railway cutting at Stockton managing 2 Grizzled and 2 Dingy Skippers plus 2 Treble Bar and a possible Green Hairstreak but the wind got hold of it before our eyes could focus. A few orchid plants just emerging but have some growing to do before we can enjoy them.
Dave had domestic duties in the afternoon so I scrounged a lift and spent it sheltering from the wind sitting in the hides at Rutland Water, Leicestershire enjoying a wader fest with at least 4 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Turnstone, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling plus Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Dunlin. On the way home called in on Eyebrook Reservoir to see the Slavonian Grebe.


Sunday, 1 May 2011

May 1st 2011

Adult summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwit was in front of the sailing club on our arrival with another seen flying across the reservoir where 5 adult and a first summer Little Gull were taking advantage of the strong north east wind along with 2 Common Tern. Our walk out to farborough bank produced 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Buzzard, 40 Swift and Wheatear then meeting up with Steve he informed us of another 2 Bar-tailed Godwits in toft bay. We hung around chatting to the Bumbling Bears then Dave spotted the sailing club barwit fly off to join 17 others heading towards us and they passed by giving close views as they headed off east at 8:25am.
We moved on to Napton on the Hill where the wind increased and the views fantastic but very few birds about and all we had was 2 Raven, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Mistle Thrush and 2 Green Woodpecker while Napton Reservoir produced 2 Hobby and a Common Blue butterfly but little else.
Rested in the afternoon then back down the pond where more barwits went through with a party of 5 at 5pm heading north and 11 east 6pm bringing my day count up to 35 and Common Terns were also on the move with 17 trying to decide whether to leave or not and 5 that did while the bears had 20 go through mid-morning. Other birds included 6 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover between valve tower and grays barn, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker and Jay.