Friday, 30 December 2011

December 30th 2011

Despite the dull drizzly conditions Bob kindly took me over to Wormleighton to see Tornado go through with The Shakespearian Express where we met up with Terry and at least she wasn’t disappointing as she steamed past though I managed to cock up my shots but Terry and Bob captured it.
Before she arrived we had 20 Tree Sparrow and 100 Golden Plover over while the railway embankment was full of Fieldfare and Redwing but after coffee at Long Itchington we decided to give the pond a miss because of the rain.

Tornado Terry Southgate and Bob Hazell - oops the smoke is my picture

Alan Anscomb saved the day with this image between Leamington Spa and Warwick

Only seen the shed once over the festive period as the weather has been crap but lets hope it shows on the 1st

Moon and Venus by Mark Phillips taken on the 28th


December 29th 2011

Dave and I called in on my little sister holidaying in Thornham, Norfolk for breakfast then spent the rest of the morning being blown about at Titchwell RSPB resulting in the reserve being quiet with only 7 Little Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier and an Avocet on offer amongst the normal fare while the sea was a lot more productive with 14 Great-crested Grebe, Great-northern Diver, 22 Red-throated Diver (some very close in), 2 Black-throated Diver, 12 Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, Guillemot, 2 Razorbill and 2 Fulmar.
On our return a Chinese Water Deer was showing on the marsh and we caught up with the redpoll flock by the visitors centre. Having found 10 Lesser and 2 Mealy Redpolls when we first arrived this second look finally produced the hoped for first winter Coues’s Arctic Redpoll amongst 17 redpolls and a couple of Siskin.
On our way out of Norfolk we took a look around Beacon Hill above Thornham finding 20+ Red-legged and Grey Partridge, 300 Linnet and 5 Marsh Harrier.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

December 28th 2011

Another mild night produced Chestnut and either Acleris hastiana or Acleris cristana in the garden trap which normally hibernates at this time of the year and one of those species you have to cut the gonads up to identify for certain, rest assured it flew off with meat and two veg still attached after Bob took its mug shot.

Draycote Water was blustery this morning with Grey Plover heading west over rainbow, female Red-breasted Merganser off draycote bank among a very impressive gathering of 50 Goosander (26 male), first winter Shag on the small island then draycote bank and adult and second winter Yellow-legged Gull. Supporting cast included 3 Goldcrest, 31 Yellowhammer, 350 Stock Dove, Dunlin, 3 Buzzard, 2 Raven, 75 Wigeon and 22 Goldeneye.
JJ offered me a lift back to the pond late afternoon to do the roost and we caught up with yesterdays first winter Iceland Gull and also found a first winter Glaucous Gull by which the time both Jupiter and Venus were on show. I was home in time to finally catch up with the shed as it passed over just before 5pm.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

December 27th 2011

Lots of e-mails recieved regarding info on Fridays train so here is the majority of the route.

Another mild night so out early down the valley lamping managing 8 Winter Moth and a single Acleris schalleriana along Hill Road though this was over shadowed by a probable Long-eared Owl on the roadside fence near Warsner Spinney and the ears briefly caught in the lamplight before flying off. A Barn Owl hunting near Gymswood but I arrived too late for any Short-eared Owl’s.


December 26th 2011

My pressy from Mrs Dave - There's more chance of me finding a Bluethroat in my garden than sharing this beauty.

Five Short-eared Owls, 2 Barn Owl, Tawny Owl heard, 4 Hare and a Fox down the valley at first light and 10 Goosander, Yellow-legged Gull adult and first winter Shag at the pond.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

December 24th 2011

I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the festive season (apart from kicking the s*** out of Santa) than to be flat on ones back down the valley, watching the wonders of the universe spread out above me. After yesterdays rain the sky was crystal clear which gave me my first views of the Comet P/2006 T1 Levy as she enters the Great Square of Pegasus at +8th magnitude and there was plenty of other delights to see including the planets, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, as well as a few meteorites from the Ursid meteor shower.
With the air still owls were very prominent with 2 Tawny and 2 Barn Owl heard and as the cloud cover came in at dawn then both Barn and Short-eared became active with 3 of each seen. Other birds seen in the valley included Woodcock, Buzzard, 3 Raven, 3 Red-legged Partridge and 6 Bullfinch. Called in on the pond on the way back home with Shelduck, 22 Goosander, first winter Shag and the Pintail hybrid worth mentioning. Garden had 3 Coal Tit plus Raven and 60 Redwing over mid-day.


Friday, 23 December 2011

December 23rd 2011

Bob sent one of the moths he photographed in July we couldn’t identify to the county record and heard back it was a Small dotted Buff who said it’s status was common so while Bob photographed a Mottled Umber I had trapped overnight I checked the status of SDB for my garden – bugger me side ways – a tick. Don’t know why we never identified at the time all though on the night in question I trapped 428 moths of 99 species so must have suffered from overload.

Had lunch at Brandon Marsh with Dave and managed 2 Nuthatch and Coal Tit on the feeders while out on the marsh we were lucky enough to be in East Marsh hide when the heavens opened, birds of note were Water Rail, 21 Golden Plover, 5 Snipe, male and female Goldeneye and Jay.

No official times published yet but THE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE steam excursion from Paddington to Stratford on Avon will leave on Friday 30 December via Banbury and Leamington Spa and due to arrive before mid-day. On departure from Stratford it will continue northwards via the North Warwickshire Line, Henley in Arden, Tyseley, Water Orton, Nuneaton, Coventry and Leamington Spa where it will rejoin the outward route.
The booked steam locomotive is GWR 'King' 6024 but there are now Network Rail gauging issues with this loco. If these are not resolved, 60163 'Tornado has been reserved for the complete tour. I will let you know the times when published.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

December 22nd 2011

and of course good health and happiness.

Bob managed to get out for a bit of fresh air today and we had a very relaxing walk to farborough spit then on to hensborough bank meeting up with Colin helping to confirm some of his bird photos he took in the Canaries and a brief chat with Kevin. The first winter Shag was found swimming between the islands and could have been a different bird to the one on the 16th due to it being paler around the neck and face, adult Yellow-legged Gull, female Red-breasted Merganser seen off draycote bank, female Mallard x Pintail hybrid on large island, 18 Goosander at least, 98 Cormorant, 40 Pochard, and 6 Meadow Pipits. A large juvenile female Peregrine beat up the many large gulls and Lapwings that were present while other raptors seen included Sparrowhawk and 3 Buzzard.
I had just arrived home when I was given a chance from the landowners to visit some private sites down the valley managing Barn Owl and 2 Short-eared Owls while a probable first winter Iceland Gull flew overhead towards the roost at the pond.

if your house is full of relatives this crimbo weekend drag um away from the telly if its clear to see the shed go over.


December 21st 2011

A dull overcast day so once April confirmed Bob was still on his death bed I blitzed the local Sainsbury’s to fight off fellow sprout lovers for 2lb of Britain’s finest. Back home a Marsh Tit visited my feeders along with 2 Coal Tit and a Siskin.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

December 18th 2011

Out with Dave and mobbed by 5 Short-eared Owls before they dispersed just as quickly as they had arrived leaving us wondering what the hell brought that on. Earlier we had good views of Spica, Mars and Saturn before dawn broke plus 2 Barn Owls.
We moved on to Draycote Water just after 8am where it was -2c with little time to do it justice so only managed 3 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 60+ Greater Black-backed Gull and 12 Goosander before our stomachs demanded attention.
After warming up in the Long Itch Diner we took a look around Wormleighton managing 3 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit, 3 Snipe, 3 Buzzard and a Kingfisher, then trawling the lanes between Wormleighton and Priors Hardwick we must have had a couple thousand Fieldfares along with many Redwings in the hedgerows.


December 17th 2011

I was out mega early before any cloud cover could develop to watch Mars rise above the horizon near the waning gibbous moon, due to recent rain and strong winds the atmosphere was very clean allowing views of Mars’s north polar cap. Andromeda was also showed well and as your eye got use to the fuzzy glow you could start to make out the shape of this galaxy some 2.5 million light years away. Of course the cherry on the cake of any winter viewing has to be the constellation Orion and well worth showing the family.
It’s always magical to be out watching the night sky and even better when joined by 2 Barn Owls and an unidentified asio species. On the down side it was bloody cold. A look at the pond and could find nothing different from yesterday.


Friday, 16 December 2011

December 16th 2011

Bob and I had a Shag at the pond this morning (iv waited months to write that).
Before your eyes water it was a first winter swimming to the small island before hauling its self out and resting among the Cormorants. The 3 Pintails were very mobile including at least one attempt to leave when they were watched flying towards Northamptonshire before returning to settle off the outlet. Both female Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter were still present and the only other birds of note were many Fieldfare and Redwing feeding in the hedgerow, 4 Lesser Redpoll in the country park, 110 Golden Plover over toft, single Dunlin, 6 Buzzard and a distant Peregrine.
Out in the afternoon to Brandon Marsh with Dave but not a lot about, best were Coal Tit, 2 Marsh Tit and 2 Treecreeper.
The Mute Swan flock had increased at Bretford but could not stop due to flow of traffic.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December 14th 2011

We witnessed the reality of nature when the squeal of a Stoat brought our attention to a Rabbit running for its life along hensborough bank which was soon extinguished by a stoat jumping on its back and biting in to its neck. Earlier there were 100+ Fieldfare and Redwing feeding in the country park and the female Common Scoter was off the big island. No new arrivals so the only birds of note were last weeks Pintails (3) and female Red-breasted Merganser in Rainbow Corner while 268 Great-crested Grebe and 10+ Bullfinch are worth a mention.
Barn Owl and Tree Sparrow at Calcutt this evening while Napton Reservoir had 3 Lesser Redpolls along the entrance track with 2 Snipe and a Raven overhead.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

December 11th 2011

A bad start to the day with a freshly killed Barn Owl on the A426 near Kites Hardwick while a live one was hunting just before dawn near Grandborough and nearby while watching a Fox hunting for voles it flushed a Short-eared Owl. They briefly stared each other out with the fox flinching first though the fox was more successful at hunting catching two voles in as many minutes.
I was limited to time due to a Christmas dinner to attend so we did a rare visit to the pond for a Sunday mid morning walk to farborough spit which produced amongst the sailing and cycling mayhem female Common Scoter, female Pintail, 6 Goosander an amazing 46 female and 15 male Goldeneye flushed in to toft bay, 97 Cormorant, 500 Lapwing and 20 Graylag Geese. The best bird on show was the Peregrine devouring a Lapwing on the large island for 50 minutes.


December 10th 2011

Good set-a-side away from the normal fields in the valley is pretty hard to come by these days on my patch so a field just outside Bourton on Dunsmore left fallow for a couple of years was not an unexpected place to find a Short-eared Owl with so many in adjacent areas and counties though due to the ground sweeping down towards Draycote village I did not get the views I would have liked. Draycote Water had the female Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Pintails and Common Scoter female plus 2 Lesser Redpoll and 5 Siskin in toft shallows.


Friday, 9 December 2011

December 9th 2011

Yesterday’s strong winds finally brought in some new arrival to the pond with the arrival of a female Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Pintail.

Record shot of the Pintail by Bob Hazel which with the low water level was miles away.
The merganser was off farnborough bank eventually flying to rainbow corner while the 2 male and one female Pintail were off saddle bank feeding. A single Tree Sparrow was found among the 150+ Linnets on the seed strip behind the inlet. Only other birds of note were female Common Scoter, 19 Golden Plover over, 12 Goosander on the reservoir and 2 Raven seen from the country park while looking for SEO's in the valley.
This afternoon Brandon Marsh had Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Snipe and 22 Golden Plover and there are still only 19 Mute Swan in the Avon valley between Bretford and Church lawford. No sign of any geese as we drove past.


Monday, 5 December 2011

December 5th 2011

Despite wishful thinking Draycote Water was poor again with 10 Long-tailed Tit and 50 Fieldfare on our arrival in the country park and only female Common Scoter and 10 Goosander on the reservoir worth mentioning. Heavy disturbance yesterday must have been the cause of the very poor numbers of Tufted Duck and Mallard present.
Bob and I decided to search the valley and managed, good numbers of Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, and Chaffinch, 26 Golden Plover on the deck with a further 19 over, two groups of Red-legged Partridge totaling 19 birds, 5 Kestrel, 3 Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk and a Tawny Owl calling twice.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

December 4th 2011

Woodcock and Barn Owl down the Southam Road just after first light.


December 3rd 2011

Despite her looking great, seeing Britannia this morning was bit of an anticlimax due to her slow progress past Cathiron and even more frustrating was you could hear her increasing speed when she was out of view. Earlier we had a wander between Manor Farm and Limestone Hall managing 4 Grey Partridge, 7 Red-legged Partridge, 6 Corn Bunting, 5 Tree Sparrow 30 Skylark and 40 Yellowhammer. The Church Lawford geese and swan flock could be seen as we went past but did not have time to stop and look.

Francoise sent me this image of Jay with acorn near the valve tower at the pond.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

December 1st 2011

The pond had the female Common Scoter between the islands, 2 Dunlin among 500 Lapwing that were spooked by some unseen raptor, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 5 male & 2 female Goosander.
JJ has been seeing geese on his way to work but unable to stop and check them out so Bob and I toured the area between Kings Newnham and Bretford finding a Barnacle Goose and 10 Graylags among the Canada flock along with 19 Mute Swan. Only other birds of note were 40 Wigeon, Buzzard and a few Yellowhammers. Tawny and Barn Owl on Lawford Heath this evening.