Saturday, 21 January 2012

January 18th to 21st 2012

January 18th
First light produced 37 Waxwing feeding on berries in Mancroft Walk, Norwich, Norfolk then it was a look at the adult Lesser White-fronted Goose with the Taiga Bean Geese flock on the Buckenham Marshes RSPB reserve. Once satisfied with our views we pushed on to Egmere near South Creake for a Great Grey Shrike then hit the North Norfolk coast at Cley Marshes NWT for the long staying Western Sandpiper. Unfortunately it was not on show when we first arrived so took the opportunity to check out the sea with Great-northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver and 3 Red-breasted Merganser offshore before the Western Sand decided to show from Avocet hide.
With time against us we moved along the coast taking a quick look at the Black Brant on the pitch and putt course at Wells-next the Sea before arriving at Titchwell RSPB reserve. Luckily the Coues’ Arctic Redpoll was on show with a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll while in fading light 5 Long-tailed Duck were offshore and Short-eared and Barn Owl showed on our return to the car park. Two Barn Owls seen on the way home

January 19th
Draycote Waters male Smew was off draycote bank and after walking with Bob to toft shallows I sat in the hide for an hour in case of pending rain when a Nuthatch landed in the Oak tree opposite having flown in from Thurlaston village. Not a lot else on offer, 3 Siskin in toft shallows, 60 Pochard, 2 Meadow Pipits and 112 Golden Plover over in 5 flocks.

January 20th
A wet miserable day with 11 Lesser Redpolls and 3 Treecreeper at Brandon Marsh

January 21st
A damp blustery morning with male Smew, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail at the pond, Great-northern Diver and Grey Phalarope on Farmoor Reservoir and an unexpected Temminick’s Stint for this time of year at Rushy Common, Oxfordshire.


Monday, 16 January 2012

January 16th 2012

Failed to see the space shed go over this morning just before we went to the pond and the cold weather has affected duck numbers with increase in Wigeon (150), Teal (150), Pochard (41), Goldeneye (50+), Shoveler (6) and Gadwall (16) but Goosander numbers have plummeted with only 4 present. Seems to be some confusion whether the Red-breasted Merganser is present but as far as I am concerned it’s gone. The male Smew is still around but mobile being seen off draycote bank, farborough spit and hensborough bank today. Only other birds of note were 37 Golden Plover in two separate flocks both heading south, 5 Lesser Redpoll and 12 Siskin in toft shallows, 24 Greylag, Sparrowhawk, 18 Long-tailed Tit and 40 Linnet.

Redwing by Bob Hazell

The space shed is still going round and round and round and round and round and ....

Can you tell what is yet - if so your doing better than me - Iv no idea how it will end up - thats the fun of it.

I had to break a life long promise never to go back to my old school but as they were holding a BBC Stargazing Live Showcase I had to eat humble pie – well at least my promise lasted 45 years though soon as I walked through the doors memories of some of my dastardly deeds and punishment came flooding back.
There was a very good turn out with various talks and workshops as well as many telescopes available to look through but the star of the show was the sky it self. Mark and I were like kids in a sweetshop especially as we added M36 and 37 to our Messier List. I was also thrilled to get my best views of Andromeda and through someone’s telescope Jupiter’s band were incredible and Orion’s Nebula awesome. Listen up family – I know what I want for my 60th birthday so start saving. We also had a meteorite and 2 satellites.


Sunday, 15 January 2012

January 14th and 15th 2012

Thank god for clear nights and Astronomy to save the weekend as birding was frustrating with everything either giving poor or very brief views leaving one thinking why the bloody hell do I bother.
Early Saturday morning was spent on Lawford Heath studying the constellation Orion managing Tawny and Barn Owl while the juvenile Glaucous Gull arrived just after daybreak then promptly disappeared.
Sunday with Dave found us down the valley enjoying the planets Mars and Saturn either side of a bright moon and freezing temperatures which probably meant good hunting conditions for Short-eared Owls and they roosted earlier than usual. Also on the downside we failed to see any Barn Owls for the first time in ages but in the valley we did find 6 Tree Sparrow and 56 Yellowhammer but failed to see the Peregrine at Broadwell resting on a tree stump until it was too late and we drove to close.
Napton Reservoir had an impressive 45 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall and 10 Pochard while Brandon Marsh was again quiet with Lesser Redpoll, Shelduck, Snipe and Cetties Warbler.


Friday, 13 January 2012

January 13th 2012

With the night remaining clear and the temperature dropping like a stone I grabbed a few hours sleep before going out extremely early so I could look for owls before early mist hampered viewing, Back home my second Spring Usher of the year was in the trap and must have arrived long before the frost set it last night then it was off
to Brandon Marsh at mid-day with Dave but it was very quiet with only 3 Shelduck worth noting

Spring Usher me

and by Bob Hazel

Its progressing - I'm pleased though Dave thinks its a bunch of squiggles - animal

Lesser Redpoll by Bob Hazel at the pond today


Thursday, 12 January 2012

January 12th 2012

A brief glimpse of a Barn Owl near Oxford as we travelled south to Hampshire was a good start to a very long day adding 2 Red Kite, Little Egret and Little Owl by the time we arrived at our first port of call Calshot where we had excellent views of the Spanish Sparrow. Some argue that its credentials are questionable either helped or hindered by the presence of a Dark-eyed Junco at Hawhill Inclosure where again good views were obtained. But what ever your views are who cares – 2 good looking birds in the bag so now it was time to explore the surrounding New Forest area where we had Great Grey Shrike, Ferruginous Duck, Black Redstart, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine, Firecrest, Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Crossbill and Hawfinch. Unfortunately we missed Goshawk by seconds and ran out of time to see, Cattle Egret, Ring-billed Gull and Iceland Gull. Still with over eighty species recorded that is what I call a good day out.
No sooner home then it was out again to meet up with the boys in the pub at Cubbington with this and next years holidays high on the agenda then on the way home we trawled for owls managing a Barn Owl by the junction of the Fosse Way and Coal Pit Lane before parking up and doing a bit of star gazing on Lawford Heath. Despite the temperature dropping we had at least 15 Winter Moths flying around. The impressive constellation of Orion and especially the Orion nebula (M42) showed brilliantly while the open star cluster Pleiades (M45) more commonly known as the Severn Sisters revealed many of its 1400 members. Also worth looking at were Jupiter and Sirius. BBC Stargazing Live starts this Monday for three consecutive nights and in conjunction with this program many local astromany societies are holding there own events so well worth finding out what’s going on in your area. Clear sky’s are forecasted for the next few nights so get out there and enjoy.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

January 11th 2012

I was doing a good impression of billy no mates on farborough spit totally pissed off that the place was dead and why do I bother when suddenly a male and female Smew flew past.
A quick heads up call to Bob who was on the north side and he returned the call 20 minutes later to say they were off draycote bank so Keith and I decided to leg it to hensborough bank for better views and found another male nearer the valve tower.

Smew male by Bob Hazel

While Keith continued to join Bob I stayed in the picnic area managing to locate the Red-breasted Merganser female, watch my second Peregrine of the day attack the many gulls that were present and have a female Merlin fly past close while finishing off the last of my Christmas cake. So a crap day turned in to paradise. Other sightings included adult Yellow-legged Gull, 10 Meadow Pipits, 50 Goldeneye, 60+ Wigeon, 130+ Teal, 8 Gadwall and 30 Pochard although other duck species such as Mallard and Tufted Duck have left in droves.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

January 10th 2012

The Space Shed continues to pass over my estate with a few more passes that are visible though those at 8:28am on the 16th and 8:10am on 18th will be in daylight but should still be bright enough to see as long as we don’t get the dreaded cloud which seems to appear every time I publish.

Moths are doing well this winter with this prolonged mild spell producing Spring Usher and Early Moth to my garden trap breaking my January record of species recorded in what is normally a dire month for moths – 7 so far.

On the birding front it was a cracking early morning owl session down the valley with 2 Little and 2 Barn Owl with the additional bonus of 4 Tree Sparrow by the entrance to Valley Farm and a Woodcock over the Hill Rd/ A426 junction.
Napton Reservoir on the other hand needs a bloody good shake up with very little of note and Napton on the Hill did not fare much better with only Coal Tit in the churchyard and 5 Raven over the windmill but I needed to be back in town to stock up on supplies for our forthcoming trip abroad so did not give it the coverage it deserved.

Another bright idea - we will just have to see if it avoids the dustbin that most of my paintings go in.


Monday, 9 January 2012

January 9th 2012

Did not get out with Bob till gone mid-day so this gave us a chance at the roost joining up with JJ but we failed to produce any white wingers only managing 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull and a leucistic Black-headed Gull. Also seen were 3 Shelduck, 3 Raven, Peregrine, female Red-breasted Merganser, 40 Linnet, 2 Buzzard and 2 Dunlin.


January 8th 2012

We decided on a early morning trawl for owls along the lanes around the Stoneton area managing a single Tawny and 4 Barn Owls before moving on to Brandon Marsh where yesterdays Whooper Swans had moved on but we managed views of a stunning Peregrine low over east marsh. Also recorded were 6 Snipe, Cetties Warbler, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 5 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Coal Tit and 2 Nuthatch. Little of interest on Lawford Heath


Friday, 6 January 2012

January 6th 2012

Finally got to grips with my 2011 garden moth records. Final scores on the doors for the year were 15,768 moths trapped adding 7 macros and 51 micros to my garden list with record monthly macro counts for January, March, May, July, October, November, and December. Garden list since August 2005 now stand at 523 species from 58,881 moths (305 marco and 218 micro). In the same period Dave has trapped 89,310 moths in his garden of 314 macro and 254 micro species with 12 macro and 79 micros added in 2011
This afternoon’s visit to Brandon Marsh with Dave produced 4 Goldeneye, 2 Snipe, Cetties Warbler, 3 Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker while on the way home we were luckily enough to find a Marsh Harrier male flying east between Lawford Grange and Billingham’s Barn towards Bretford.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

January 5th 2012

Finally met up with Bob for our first visit to the pond together this year which had great expectations after a very stormy night with winds of up to nearly 50mph and driving rain but we struggled to even see the Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Dunlin.


January 3rd 2012

The stormy conditions over the UK today brought in horrendous weather to the pond with gusts of up to 56mph recorded and driving rain making standing almost impossible and viewing just as difficult. A Kittiwake adult was being battered against the north shore by the valve tower and I must have almost stepped on a Snow Bunting as it called very loudly close by but I failed to see it which was bloody frustrating. Also present today were Red-breasted Merganser, 51 Goosander, female Pintail, 14 Gadwall, 2 Siskin, Raven and Great-spotted Woodpecker while the roost held first winter Glaucous Gull, adult Iceland Gull and adult Yellow-legged Gull. The garden moth trap had 3 Chestnut, Dark Chestnut and Winter Moth so a good start to the year.


January 2nd 2012

I spent the morning around Nocton Fen, Lincolnshire area seeing 2 male Hen Harrier, 10 Bewick’s Swan, 10 Whooper Swan, 46 European White-fronted Geese, female Merlin, Barn Owl and 3 Short-eared Owls. Also noted were Redshank, 4 Common Buzzard, 76 Mute Swan, 25 Red-legged Partridge and 200 Lapwing while on the way we had a Tawny Owl perched above the roadside on our way near Fulbeck.


January 1st 2012

Out mega early with Dave but failed to start the year with decent views of any owls due to very poor light so moved on to the pond where some of Warwickshire’s finest were gathering for our annual catch up stroll before breakfast.

Male and female Pintail and Shoveler were soon found along with the Red-breasted Merganser female but not much else so after breakfast we searched Long Lawford, Lawford Heath and the Avon valley but found very little apart from 100+ Chaffinch, 15 Yellowhammer, 3 Buzzard, 40+ Wigeon and 24 Mute Swan and were about to give up and go home when JJ rang regarding adult Iceland Gull at the pond.
We raced back over and were soon reminded why we don’t go to the pond at this time of day at this time of the year as it was heaving with Joe Public trying to get rid of their hangovers and mince pies. Just as we started searching some donkey in a power boat was flushing all the gulls and duck but Dave finally found what we thought could be the bird in biggen bay but it was miles away and spent most of its time head on. While we were there a Little Egret flew over the reservoir and draycote bank, 4 Dunlin in rainbow and at least 54 Goosander counted flying around because of the disturbance.


December 31st 2011

The year ended with the Red-breasted Merganser and Shag still present at the pond and a great view of the Space Station going over with Jupiter in the background but on the down side I failed to see a Great-northern Diver at the pond this year for the first time since 1996 and only the 5th year since 1977 I have not recorded one here.