Sunday, 25 March 2012

March 25th 2012

A social morning spent with the Dave, Colin and the Hall brothers on Napton on the Hill after earlier having hundreds of Fieldfare on Lawford Heath and hearing a "chipping" Lesser Spot elsewhere. The hill had 26 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, 6 Raven and 5 Brimstone while on the way home 8 more Buzzards were on show.
This afternoon sunshine encouraged more Buzzards to show with 9 seen from my garden plus my first 2 Swallows of the year and a Sparrowhawk.


Saturday, 24 March 2012

March 24th 2012

What a stunning day.
Started with a Colin and I hearing a distant Lesser-spotted Woodpecker drumming as we waited for 46201 Princess Elizabeth to appear out of the early morning mist at Wormleighton and she did not disappoint as she charged past a couple of minutes down to disappear back into the gloom. Also in the area were Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff and 6 Tree Sparrow.

We had time to spare so checked out Avon Dassett and found 3 male Wheatears feeding on the eastern side of bonfire hill along with a few Chaffinch and Meadow Pipits heading north.
After breakfast we called in on the pond and had a winter plumage Sanderling on the island followed by a wader fest late morning when a partial summer plumage Grey Plover, 2 Curlew and a Redshank flew over farborough spit. The plover was just above our heads calling loudly. Also present were Oystercatcher, Sparrowhawk, 2 Shoveler, 43 Goldeneye, 18 Wigeon and 3 Yellow-legged Gulls (3rd year and 2 adults including one with no tail)

Sparrowhawk taken by Bob earlier in the week at the pond

The most intriguing bird of the day was a call we heard on farborough bank that sounded like a Tree Pipit going over but alas no bird seen and would have been mega early if it could have been confirmed.
Out again in the afternoon to Napton on the Hill with the unusual record of a Snipe flushed from the main common otherwise very similar to previous visits this week with 2 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, 4 Mistle Thrush, 3 Fieldfare, 6 Buzzard, 2 Raven and a Sparrowhawk. With the temperatures in the high teens butterflies were plentiful with 2 Comma, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral and 2 Brimstone plus a tatty Shoulder Stripe moth.
Napton Reservoir was quiet probably due to the Peregrine feeding on a Wood Pigeon and at Broadwell there was a Chiffchaff and Great-spotted Woodpecker in millbank spinney.
This evening a waxing crescent moon sits below Venus and Jupiter making for a fantastic sight.


March 23rd 2012

Called in on Lawford Heath after a heads up from JJ regarding an Iceland Gull on the tip but we missed it though we did find a second winter Med Gull among many Black-headed Gulls following a nearby plough.
A Brimstone butterfly was seen near Wolston but Brandon Marsh was very quiet with only 15 Snipe, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Shelduck, 2 Redshank, Goldeneye and Chiffchaff plus a Comma worth mentioning. As we approached Church Lawford on our way home JJ rang again with 3 Iceland’s on the tip so diverted through Rookery Farm managing to see near adult bird with some black in its lower tertials on its left hand side which has been seen a few times in the Draycote roost.
Another call from JJ late afternoon had me searching for a Red Kite as it drifted over Rugby but I had no luck.


March 22nd 2012

I managed 2 Redwing going east over the garden while having poor view of the shed as it went over this morning due to developing mist.
I had arranged to meet up with Mark but we couldn’t find much at the pond with male Goosander, 28 Goldeneye and 8 Buzzard for our efforts while Bob did manage a Ruff by the inlet. The warm weather brought out the butterflies early with Peacock new for the year and single Brimstone.
On our way to Napton we had 2 Brimstone on the Southam Bypass while Napton on the Hill itself was similar to yesterday with Raven, 8 Buzzard, Nuthatch and 2 calling Chiffchaff plus Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Brimstone.
Woken from my afternoon kip with the offer to visit a local wood for day flying moths managing 4 Light Orange Underwing along with 4 Brimstone, 2 Comma and 2 Small Tortoiseshell plus 4 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Treecreeper, Raven and 6 Buzzard.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

March 21st 2012

35 Fieldfare flew north over my garden at 6:20am and 2 Snipe and 60 Linnets were in the grassy field down Southam road before a walk out to farborough spit with Dave and Colin meeting up with Bob on our return. The walk was uneventful with only 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 3 Shoveler, 47 Goldeneye, 10 Fieldfare, 2 Red-legged Partridge and a Wheatear in two hours.
Napton on the Hill was a little better with 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, Nuthatch, 7 Buzzard, 2 Raven, Sparrowhawk and 15 Lesser Redpoll heading north plus one Small Tortoiseshell.
Napton Reservoir had 7 Buzzard, male Pochard and 6 Great-crested Grebe and is another reservoir artificially filled to the top and brimming. Single Brimstone flew across the road as we were leaving.
Another afternoon in the garden produced a Golden Plover flying east and a distant Chiffchaff calling.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

March 20th 2012

Yesterdays visit to the pond produced 2 Wheatear, Sand Martin, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Redwing, 15 Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk and a Raven.

Today was spent at home gardening with 3 Sparrowhawk displaying, Green Woodpecker calling, 2 Raven, 4 local Buzzard displaying and a further 3 heading north and 5 Sand Martins also heading north for company.

I just about put the kiss of death on viewing the shed the last time I published the times but it will start showing hopefully in the morning sky from the 22nd

And finally at long last we have a steam special going through my patch. On its return from Bristol it will take a different route home allowing it to tackle the Lickey Incline between Bromsgrove and Blackwell which is the steepest sustained main-line railway incline in the UK. The climb is a gradient of 1-in-37.7 (2.65%) for a continuous distance of two miles (3.2 km) and some trains will require the assistance of a banking locomotive to ensure that they reach the top. In this case they are putting two on. Well worth a look if your in the area and google youtube lickey incline steam for videos.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

March 18th 2012

Perseverance paid off when Dave and I plodded along to toft shallows this morning in poor visibility managing 2 Rock Pipit and two first for the year in 2 male Wheatear along farborough bank and a Chiffchaff in toft bay before reaching the board walk just as the fog started to lift. Having seen 2 Goldcrest we silently crossed the boardwalk hoping for Treecreeper but got eyeballed by a Woodcock that burst out from underneath and circled the bay before dropping back in to toft shallows. Other sightings included Fieldfare, Curlew, 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull and male Shoveler.
At least 30 Redwing were near Birdingbury Bridge on our way to the Long Itch Diner then after breakfast we gave Wormleighton Reservoir a check finding 2 Red-legged Partridge, Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 20 Tree Sparrow. Unfortunately the authorities have decided to pump water from the canal back in to the reservoir and its full.
Back out to the pond in the afternoon finding 2 Sand Martin another first of the year for me, Dunlin and 2 Siskin in toft bay but unfortunately it threw it down so cleared off before the roost.


March 17th 2012

Although an elusive bugger I finally caught up with the Common Yellowthroat at as it crawled through a gap in the brambles at Rhiwderin, Gwent before moving on to Wardon, Worcestshire for the Yellow-browed Warbler on the cycle path between Berkeley Way and Skipton Cresent.


Friday, 16 March 2012

March 16th 2012

Brandon Marsh had 4 Shelduck, 4 Oystercatcher, male and female Goosander, 2 female and one male Goldeneye, 8 Snipe, Willow Tit, 2 Coal Tit and 5 Bullfinch. Among the 150+ Black-headed Gulls was one with a very noticeable salmon pink wash on chest and under parts while 2 adult summer plumage Med Gulls arrived. Arrived to late for the Bittern and Red Kite reported earlier in the day.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

March 15th 2012

After yesterdays disappointing visit in murky conditions only producing 2 Treecreeper, Great-spotted Woodpecker and 30 Meadow Pipit I did not expect much improvement in the weather this morning but it was still a kick in the teeth to wake up to thick freezing fog.
Dave and I trawled the valley waiting for the pond to open managing 3 Tree Sparrow before walking out to toft shallows and back with visibility down to 50 yards. We spent 15 minutes staring in to the gloom near the hide where a Curlew was constantly calling but could not see it on the deck and only managed poor flight views when it took off and again later when it flew over farborough bank after circling the reservoir calling. Only other birds of note were a Little Ringed Plover flying along farborough bank and a Willow Tit along the entrance road opposite the new car park.
After breakfast we searched Napton on the Hill but with the visibility still poor and a lot colder being higher up we could only find Coal Tit, 2 Goldcrest and Nuthatch though there were plenty of pairs of Blue and Great Tit doing what comes naturally.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

March 13th 2012

While photographing my moths this morning Bob tried to hide his disappointment when I mentioned I had seen an adult Iceland Gull fly through the gloom at 7:40am over Montague Road on my way back from Sainsbury’s but he lit up like an Christmas tree when it flew overhead at roof top level just after 9am. Once finished with my garden we moved on to Dave’s to check his trap out then gave the pond a 3 hour visit but the gloom remained with no signs of improving. Yesterdays waders had all decided to stay with Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover in the same locations with only another Oystercatcher on the island indicating any wader passage.
Also logged were 40+ Meadow Pipit, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 5 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 44 Goldeneye, 2 Shoveler, Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, 70 Redwing and 40 Fieldfare.

recent moths have included

Twin-spotted Quaker

Common Quaker

Amblyptilia punctidactyla

Agonopterix heracliana

Monday, 12 March 2012

March 12th 2012

A misty start to the day so hung back at home photographing moths before venturing down to the pond. The place had a feel of emptiness after yesterdays heavy disturbance from the 200+ runners on a 10 mile race and the usual weekend fishing and sailing activity so we were kicked sideways when we were asked if there was any sign of the Glossy Ibis. Met with a chorus of what glossy ibis. Apparently one had turned up in dunns bay yesterday afternoon before flying off towards toft bay. If anyone has any further info on this bird John Judge or myself would appreciate details as this would be a first for the pond.
Having seen our first Little Ringed Plover of the year Bob and I were walking back from toft shallows and ended up absorbed in watching some “official” doing plant survey work in the “scrape” below farborough bank when they flushed a Jack Snipe. They must have nearly stood on it before it burst from cover and was watched flying off before coming down near pool by the entrance road to Foxely Farm. My first at the pond since October 2009.
Also present today was a Ringed Plover on the island, Oystercatcher toft shallows, adult and 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull out in the centre, 20+ Goldeneye, male and 2 female Goosander, 6 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, single Pochard, 40 Teal, 70 Fieldfare, 400 Starling, 10 Redwing, 40 Meadow Pipit, 2 Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker and a lone Buzzard.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

March 11th 2012

3 Shoveler, 20 Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare and a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull was all we could manage from the pond in a 90 minute visit while the spring sunshine produced Brimstone in Marton village, 2 more Brimstones and 2 Comma butterfly’s in Wappenbury Wood along with a unidentified white species, also Muntjac Deer, 8 Buzzard, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit and 10+ Nuthatch.
Mid afternoon a Red Kite drifted over the garden heading east mobbed by 2 Sparrowhawk while both Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone made brief appearances.


March 10th 2012

Last night was mild so my moth trap had 3 Hebrew Character, 2 Common Quaker, Pale Brindle Beauty, Satellite, 3 Grey Shouldered-knot and my earliest Brindled Pug while Dave managed 3 Agonopterix scopariella, 4 Amblyptilia punctidactyla, 2 Dotted Border, 2 Common Quaker and a Hebrew Character.

Draycote Water and the valley were shrouded in fog this morning so continued on to Napton on the Hill where conditions were a little better. Highlight of a thorough search was my first Chiffchaff of the year in the churchyard and 4 Raven. On my return a Little Owl was at Shuckburgh and a very high Peregrine heading east between Calcutt and Broadwell. Also seen were 2 Tree Sparrows, 8 Bullfinch, 14 Long-tailed Tit, 9 Buzzard and 3 Sparrowhawk.
Called in on the pond but it was heaving with fishermen and runners so did not stay long, just 25 Goldeneye out in the centre and 2 Siskin in toft shallows worth noting.


Friday, 9 March 2012

March 9th 2012

A disastrous day out photographically when I travelled up to Stafford to watch 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and 46201 Princess Elizabeth steam through as a double header with two supporting coaches on there way north to Carnforth from Tyseley only for a passenger to stand in front of me just as I clicked a 11 shot burst so too late to get another shot off. I returned disgruntled to Rugby to await the passing of 44932 on its way south but unfortunately just as she arrived an over enthusiastic bunch of Vikings on a Hen party jumped me so another shot ruined. Only bird worth noting was a Little Egret on the river near Shugborough tunnel between Rugeley and Stafford.
This evening’s sky was more rewarding with Venus and Jupiter close together and you can just make out the smudge of Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd with the aid of bins as she passes Ursa Minor at 7th magnitude though don’t blame me if you strain your neck. Venus and Jupiter become even closer over the weekend.


March 8th 2012

We had a peregrine fest this morning at the pond. The first a small individual flew north over toft bay flushing all the duck and 10 minutes later as some of the duck tried to return a large female took out a male Pochard in mid-air. She struggled to keep alight with her bounty and just managed to make the shoreline of grays barn with the duck still alive though after a couple of hard pecks she finished it off and started feeding. A couple of Buzzards successfully flushed her off a couple of times but she remained close and eventually saw them off. Later from farnborough bank 2 more Peregrine (differences in plumages with one having a primary feather missing from left wing) were hunting over the valley.
The only other highlight of our visit was the dramatic increase in Goldeneye numbers with 88 counted (32 male) though once the peregrines and fishermen appeared they dispersed.
Also noted were 14 Goosander, 36 Pochard, 26 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 8 Gadwall, 40 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 18, Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk and 30 Meadow Pipit.

Dave and I had a Barn Owl perched on Lawford Heath on our way back from the pub this evening.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

March 7th 2012

Draycote Water was wet and yuk so failed to find anything of note so moved on even before the fishermen arrived to Brandon Marsh where we had a male and female Goosander arrive along with 65 Golden Plover in the pouring rain which were part of a flock of over 300 GPs circling in the distance. Also present were 4 Shelduck, 4 Oystercatcher, Kingfisher, 2 Snipe, 2 Goldeneye and 5 Cettie’s Warblers calling.


March 6th 2012

The beautiful sunshine and clear sky’s disappeared as Bob and I arrived at the pond too thick fog which took well over an hour to clear. There were 8 Siskin and 30 Redwing in toft shallows along with 5 Long-tailed Tits while my slow walk back produced a Snipe flushed by the 30 or so fishermen clearing scrub out of toft bay ready for the start of the fishing season tomorrow.
Also of interest were 26 Buzzard with 14 acting as if they were local birds while the rest were heading north in ones and twos. Very few duck around with 46 Teal, 26 Wigeon, 20 Goldeneye and 10 Gadwall worth a mention. Six Golden Plover (some in summer plumage)flew over the new car park heading north as we were leaving. Water levels rising slowly


March 5th 2012

I forgot what dipping felt like – a long over due trip to Rhiwderin, Gwent for the long staying first winter male Common Yellowthroat but the bird failed to appear after five hours . Managed to salvage something out of the day with a detour on the way home producing Merlin, Short-eared Owl, 2 Dipper, 4 Red Grouse and 3 Stonechat. Bloody throat appeared 15 minutes after we left – bugger


Sunday, 4 March 2012

March 4th 2012

A wet start to the day and after our recent illnesses we had no intention of getting soaked so spent an hour at the pond sheltering by the visitor centre and were lucky enough find a Rock Pipit feeding with 30 Meadow Pipit by the fishing pontoon before clearing off for breakfast
Unfortunately by the time we arrived at Brandon the temperature had dropped dramatically when the wind changed to the north making conditions uncomfortable, still we managed 2 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatcher, Dunlin, 190 Golden Plover 45 Snipe and the male Pintail.
On the way home the 100+ Mute Swan were still near Bretford and a look at Limestone Hall and Rookery Farm produced 2 Grey Partridge and 3 Corn Bunting.


Saturday, 3 March 2012

March 3rd 2012

I trawled the Grandborough valley managing 2 Short-eared Owls, 8 Buzzard and 2 Red-legged partridge before popping in to town where there was a Nuthatch in Caldecot Park. I had intended to join the regulars to do the roost but couldn’t refuse the invitation from friends in the sailing club so managed Iceland, Glaucous and Med Gull from the comfort of an armchair with a beer in hand – magic.


Friday, 2 March 2012

2nd March 2012

Went over to focus optics to collect my rebuilt bins before meeting up with Colin at Brandon Marsh where we had 20 Snipe, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Buzzard, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Shelduck and 2 Pintail.

Bob didn't have much this morning at the pond but managed this nice image of Teal


Thursday, 1 March 2012

1st March 2012

We delayed our visit to the pond but still had to wait till mid-day before the visibility improved when gorgeous sunshine finally broke through and burnt off the morning fog. Unfortunately all we could find was a male Shoveler, 23 Gadwall, 30+ Goldeneye, 2 Buzzard, 10 Meadow Pipit, 100 Fieldfare and 30 Redwing. Tried our luck on Lawford Heath for white winged gulls but though we eventually had good views of the larger gulls resting nothing could be found apart from a Yellow-legged Gull adult and 4 Buzzard going over and a brief view of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.