Wednesday, 30 November 2011

November 30th 2011

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

Dark Arches

December Moth

Winter Moth

all pics by Bob Hazell


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

November 28th 2011

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

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


November 26th 2011

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

Short-eared Owl by Terry Southgate


November 25th 2011

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


November 24th 2011

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


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November 23rd 2011

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


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

November 22nd 2011

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

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


Sunday, 20 November 2011

November 20th 2011

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

November 19th 2011

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

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

Sunday, 13 November 2011

November 13th 2011

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


November 11th 2011

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


November 10th 2011

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


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November 9th 2011

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


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 8th 2011

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


Monday, 7 November 2011

November 7th 2011

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

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

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


Sunday, 6 November 2011

November 1st to 6th 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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