Sunday, 20 May 2012


Friday, 11 May 2012

May 11th 2012

I have been hacked. If you receive or have received begging e-mails from me please ignore. In fact dump my e-mail address as I will now be off-line for a while sorting out a new identity.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

May 10th 2012

Mothing has been poor since Easter with only 12 individuals trapped in my garden compared to nearly 600 in the same period last year so hopefully we may be turning the corner with the last two nights bringing in 12 species from 24 moths with the best being Shoulder-stripe (3rd garden record)
A visit to the pond in blustery conditions with Bob produced 2000 Swift, 3 Wheatear, Goldeneye female and 3 Hobby worth mentioning.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May 9th 2012

Dave found another 3 Wheatears in a different field down the Southam road then a look at the pond produced 5 male and 6 female Common Scoter out in the centre. Only other sighting of interest were 3 Common Tern, 3 Wheatear and a Cuckoo that was heard calling in biggen bay which then flew across the reservoir to land near the sewage farm.
Brandon Marsh had 2 Whinchat in top field plus Peregrine, 4 Buzzard, Red-crested Pochard pair and Kingfisher
Unfortunately the churchyard on Napton on the Hill was too noisy with continuing construction work and grass cutting so when the rain arrived we called it a day.

Monday, 7 May 2012

May 7th 2012

At least one Wheatear remaining along the Flecknoe road.
The pond's capacity is now up to 70% with both farborough bank ledge and spit nearly submerged when Colin and I walked to toft bay this morning. Only birds of note were 2 Hobby hunting the Swifts successfully catching one, 4 Wheatear, Greenshank over calling loudly, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Gadwall and 2 Lesser Whitethroat.
A Hobby dashed across the road near Stockton and Wheatear and Little Ringed Plover were on a recently demolished brownfield site.
Started raining just after we arrived at Brandon Marsh but at least the water levels had receded low enough to reach the carlton hide where the Nightingale was still singing but the hide looked like a sherman tank on steroids with all the big lens and scopes sticking out so did not bother entering.
From the east marsh hide managed a pair of Red-crested Pochard which were a site tick for me, Hobby, Kingfisher plus all the usual species.

May 6th 2012

Nene Wash flooded

May 5th 2012

Peregrine, Hobby and 4 Swift over the garden this morning while pottering about and other raptors reported to me on the move down the valley were Red Kite and Osprey. Dave rang wanting to know if I fancied lunch at the Just So which gave us opportunity to see 8 Buzzard and Common Sandpiper at Napton Reservoir, 2 Raven over Broadwell and 11 Wheatear, 3 Buzzard and Raven in the field next to Cym & Dave’s smallholding along Flecknoe Road. Another Raven was over Kites Hardwick

Friday, 4 May 2012

May 4th 2012

Gave the pond a miss today.
This afternoon 3 Ravens were over Napton Reservoir and a wing tagged Red Kite over A426 between Flecknoe Rd junction and Kites Hardwick at 15:40.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

May 3rd 2012

On our way to the pond for the Wood Warbler found by John Harris we called in on Cym and Dave’s smallholding managing 19 Wheatear 3 Yellow Wagtail and 6+ Tree Sparrow.
The blustery cold north east wind and damp conditions certainly kept the Swifts and hirundines low over the pond with thousands present and as we reached Paul and John on farborough spit they were watching a summer plumage Knot which had just arrived.

Knot by Bob and Dave Hutton

The Wood Warbler went quiet by the time we arrived at the end of toft bank but eventually managed a glimpse then joined by Dennis we had better views when it appeared for a short time in the oak tree.

Wood Warbler by Dave Hutton

Other sightings included fly by Turnstone, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, 2 Teal, female Goldeneye, Sedge Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 14 Yellow Wagtail increasing to 30+ by the time we left, 3 White Wagtail, 4 Wheatear, 35 Arctic Tern and 7 Common Tern.

Tawny Owl seen on Lawford Heath on the way home from the pub at 11pm.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

May 2nd 2012

On our arrival at the pond there were two separate groups of Common Scoter with 5 female & 2 male in one group out in the centre and 3 female & one male off the inlet. Later they joined as one group and became mobile also present were 4 Black Tern but they did not stay long.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May 1st 2012

Another dose of heavy rain and easterly winds so spent the time at home till it stopped around 2pm then Bob and I raced down to the pond hoping something might have arrived. Over 50 terns were counted out in the centre when Paul Hyde reached us to tell us he had found a Roseate Tern from the south side and had legged it round to let us know. What a hero and our grateful thanks. The three of us spent ten minutes trying to locate it among the 54 Arctic and 12 Common Tern till I spotted it sitting on H buoy off farborough spit where it showed giving decent scope views before joining the terns again. Later a heads up from birders in the wind surfing area put us on to the bird resting on buoys in front of the sailing club and treated to more terrific views. A county and Draycote tick for me and far as I’m aware only the second record for Draycote with the first in May 1969 although there have been a few possibilities since then.
Rosy by Bob Hazell

April 30th 2012

O what a difference a day makes The day started with the rare opportunity since Easter to observe the night sky’s managing one meteorite or a piece of space junk burning up low across the north eastern horizon and having 3 Swifts over the garden as I waited for my lift. With a blustery east wind and plenty of sunshine at least 500 Swift were feeding over draycote bank while Wheatears were plentiful with 17 counted on farborough/toft bank and a further 5 seen by Bob elsewhere. Although only 10 were seen on my return a couple of hours later from toft shallows due to the numbers of joggers and walkers making up for yesterday the male to female ratio had changed so 22 has to be the minimum number present. One showed characteristics of Greenland Wheatear but I’m never 100% with this sub species. No sign of any Yellow Wagtail other observes had seen them but 6 White Wagtail present while on the wader front there was 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper. Out in the centre single Common, Arctic and Black Tern disappeared around the same time the majority of the Swifts did as it warmed up and this attracted at least 3 Hobby over toft shallows as the Swifts flew east. Whitethroat increased to 6 and I saw my first Garden Warbler here though I thought I heard one last week. Other sightings included Peregrine over the car park as we were due to leave, Sparrowhawk, 10 Buzzard, 2 Teal, the long staying female Goldeneye which could be injured preferring to swim away when disturbed and spending long periods out of the water although it looks healthy. Water levels have shot up with the island gone along with half of farborough bank ledge. A few butterflies on the wing with 6 Orange Tip and one Red Admiral seen.

April 29th 2012

Yesterday was another multi visit day to the pond as the place was battered by a bone chilling wind with gusts of up to 50mph making it extremely difficult to walk in along with long periods of torrential rain which soon had us drenched, eventually eased a little and the front cleared by early evening. At least one adult Kittiwake and 2 Common Tern, plus Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, 5 Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, 20 Yellow Wagtail, 8 White Wagtail and 2 Teal. What made the visit interesting if not already was finding 18 Wheatear due to large numbers arriving in the area since last Friday. On our arrival at 7am there were hundreds of Swallows along with tens of Sand Martin and a few House Martins trying to shelter from the conditions perched on the boulders and wall of farborough bank allowing close views of the various shades of chest colour. At least 2 showed a bright reddish wash so presumed to have some eastern influence in their parentage. Later on they were feeding by just skimming the surface, one or two got caught out by the waves and ditched, being shorter winged than Swifts they survived as did one that got blown through the branches of a tree.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

April 27th 2012

The path to the newly erected bird screen overlooking newlands at Brandon Marsh was underwater as the River Avon has risen well since our last visit. Between the showers there was plenty to see with 4 Common Tern, 2 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, 4 Oystercatcher, 3 Shelduck, Yellow Wagtail, 3 Linnet, 2 Buzzard, Nuthatch, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker plus plenty of warblers and hirundines.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

April 25th 2012

A wet and windy day mainly from the south east bringing in a continuous movement of Arctic Terns and Little Gulls at the pond throughout the day with variable numbers recorded each visit. The wind gusted up to 35mph at times combined with prolonged periods of rain made for unpleasant conditions. Hard to put a true count on the Arctic numbers going through today but with just a single present first thing there were at least 122 counted early afternoon with small groups leaving. Among the Terns were at least 2 Black Tern and a single Little Tern plus 18 Little Gull but again this species were on the move as I never had the same count twice. Also seen were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Shelduck, 100 Swallow, 50 Sand Martin, 5 Wheatear, 20 Linnet, 2 Meadow Pipit, 6 White Wagtail and 20 Yellow Wagtail.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

April 24th 2012

Ring Ousel briefly at 7am down the Grandborough valley while 20 minutes later we were watching 34 Arctic Tern attempting to settle on what’s left of the island before numbers eventually dwindled to 13 by the time we left at 10am. A walk to the sewage farm produced 2 Whitethroat, 6 White Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, 5 Teal, 3 Gadwall, Goldeneye and a second pair of Graylags have raised 2 young.
Wheatear, Cinnabar Moth and Grey Squirrel by Bob Hazel. The "tree rat" included as I did not realise they liked Snails. Napton on the Hill was quiet with only 8 Buzzard and a single Raven while the Just So café had a Peregrine overhead before another look at the Ring Ousel produced 2 Tree Sparrow. After an early evening meal in Brandon village we walked around Brandon Marsh managing a brief view of the Nightingale as it sang its heart out near the carlton hide and close views of Barn Owl over newlands and ryton meadows. Other sightings included 3 Shelduck, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher, Great-spotted Woodpecker and many Cetties calling. Noctule and Pipistrelle bat near the visitors centre. Nothing of note seen trawling around Lawford Heath. Richard

Monday, 23 April 2012

April 23rd 2012

Enjoyed a cup of coffee down the valley waiting for the Ring Ousel to appear but it only popped in to view twice in the hour we were there. Also 2 young Robins and male Wheatear present.
No sign of the Blue-headed at Draycote and the only new arrival we had was a Dunlin on the island while chatting to Bob and Keith. The island should disappear this week if the water level continues to rise. At least 5 Wheatear and 6 White Wagtail noted plus Common Sandpiper.
Lawford Heath had 2 Yellow Wagtail and Brandon Marsh 2 Common Tern on east marsh plus 10 Buzzard and 2 Ravens over while the fly over Cuckoo high up was unusual.


April 22nd 2012

The day started with making sure Dave got views of the Flecknoe road Ring Ousel which eventually showed along side 2 Wheatear and 4 Tree Sparrow before disappearing back in to its favorite hedge.
Nearby the Wheatears at Draycote Water had increased to 6 with the male Blue-headed Wagtail still present alongside 10 White Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit and 10 Linnets. Also seen were first winter Little Gull, Shelduck and 3 Common Sandpiper.
Calls from Keith kept us up to date on Brandon Marsh Nightingale so had time to give Napton on the Hill a look but the chilly wind kept things down and very little noted so pushed on to Brandon but “gale” wasn’t playing ball and had stopped calling until we walked away. Amongst the usual fare we had Water Rail calling, Willow Tit, Sedge Warbler and 2 Cuckoo.
On our way home Terry woke me from my slumber regarding a Dotterel so a grab of the OS map at home then we were off south and after a few phone calls we found ourselves just over the border in to Oxfordshire at Balscote Quarry Nature Reserve and had prolonged scope views of it from the metal gate among 30 Golden Plover. A longed lifer for Dave and one of his bogey birds finally put to bed.


Friday, 20 April 2012

April 20th 2012

A busy day with visits to Draycote Water, Brandon Marsh, Daventry Country Park, Napton Reservoir, Calcutt and Draycote again. Bob came up trumps with a smart looking male Blue-headed Wagtail on farborough bank in lovely sunshine while Dave thought we should get another soaking at Brandon in case we are due a dry spell soon.
Highlights were:-
Draycote Water 1st visit
Blue-headed Wagtail male, 18 White Wagtail with some observers believing there to be 20 present.4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wheatear, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 7 Buzzard, 3 Gadwall and 2 Mistle Thrush

Wheatear and Blue-headed Wagtail by Bob Hazell

Brandon Marsh
3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Snipe, 2 Shelduck, 6 calling Cetties Warbler, 3 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, Buzzard 4 and Kingfisher.
Daventry Country Park, Northamptonshire
1st summer Pied Flycatcher, female Redstart, Common Tern and 3 Buzzard
Napton Reservoir
White Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, 4 Long-tailed Tits and Gadwall
Cuckoo flew across road, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk
Draycote Water 2nd visit
additions to earlier visit were Whitethroat, Ringed Plover and Common Tern plus 2 Red-legged Partridge by the entrance road.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

April 19th 2012

Out with Bob and another soaking. Overnight arrivals at the pond included female Scaup in rainbow before she was pushed around by fishing boats, Wheatear increasing to 5 (3 female & 2 male), White Wagtail to 12, and Redshank 2.

Redshank by Bob Hazell

Also around were Arctic Tern, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, 7 Yellow Wagtail, Goldeneye, 3 Gadwall, 9 Teal, 4 Meadow Pipit, 500 Sand Martin, 300 Swallow, Treecreeper and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

April 18th 2012

The shed showed well last night with the plough in the background and shadowed by another satellite as she headed east leaving our shores just south of Clacton on Sea before disappearing from view over Erfurt, Germany.
As forecasted the rain came in the early hours and Dave and I virtually waddled to toft bay wrapped in rain gear as the elements did everything but throw the kitchen sink at us. Worth the effort despite the poor visibility with 7 White Wagtail, 20 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, 12 Linnet, 3 Wheatear, 11 Arctic Tern in two groups of 6 and 5 passing through, 700 Sand Martin, 200 Swallow, 50 House Martin, 3 Shelduck, Little Ringed Plover and Common Sand piper. On the downside the passerines were scattered from farborough bank when the air ambulance came in low looking for a landing spot after yet another accident at Kites Hardwick had blocked the road briefly.
Dried out in the Long Itch Diner then it was out again for another 90 minute soaking on Avon Dassett hills but no luck so tried again at Draycote on our way home where more Swallows and Common Terns had arrived plus another Little Ringed Plover though we did not wander far as our third deluge of the day approached.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April 17th 2012

A blustery showery day at the pond was responsible for bringing in my second earliest record of Swift and my earliest record of Little Tern when Bob found two out in the centre. Though some distance away for most of the time they occasionally came in close to draycote bank and the island (what’s left of it – reservoir now 60% full)
More Little Gulls and Common Terns arrived over night with 2 adult and 2 first winter Little Gull and 3 Common Tern out in the centre. The island had 2 Little Ringed Plover and Greenshank while 4 more LRPs were elsewhere and a Redshank in toft bay. Not surprisingly warblers were quiet in the windy conditions so apart from Blackcap I saw no other species and the only other birds of note were a pristine White Wagtail on farborough spit, 7 Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank along with 2 male Wheatear, 2 Meadow Pipit, 15 Graylag, 12 Teal, 2 Sparrowhawk, 14 Buzzard and female Goldeneye.


Monday, 16 April 2012

April 16th 2012

50 Fieldfare flew over the Southam road as we arrived at the pond while White and Grey Wagtail were by the fishing platform with 7 Yellow Wagtail 4 Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher and male Wheatear on farborough bank. In the centre of reservoir adult and first summer Little Gull were among the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls present and a Shelduck loafing around.
Not a lot seen between farborough spit and toft shallows though the Graylag with 3 goslings are worth a mention while the sewage farm had the first Whitethroat of the year here with Bee-fly, Peacock and Orange-tip butterflies enjoying the sun bathed sheltered areas. The walk back to the visitors centre produced a Common Tern and Mallard with 11 young. Also noted were Raven, Treecreeper, 8 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 8 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Gadwall, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Curlew and 4 Little Ringed Plover.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

April 15th 2012

Two Whitethroat down the Southam road then a look at the pond produced 20 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Wheatear, 2 Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, Goldeneye, Wigeon, 10 Teal and over 300 Sand Martin but very few Swallows or House Martins.
Napton Churchyard was tranquil and a delight to be out of the bitterly cold northerly wind but nothing showing so we shot out of there after a heads up from Richard regarding a Ring Ousel down the Flecknoe road but after an hour searching with just 5 Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail and Swallow for our efforts we gave up and headed for the warmth of the Just So café before visiting Napton Reservoir.
The reservoir had 15 Yellowhammer, Grey Wagtail 10 Swallow, 4 House Martin and Willow Warbler till we got to the pointy bit where a stunning male Redstart was in the right hand field feeding from the fence posts which we soon had Keith on to. Also of interest was a grayish olive chiffy with very pale under parts seen for a short while with the redstart and 2 Orange-tip. On our way back to the car park 6 Buzzard were soaring overhead and a Curlew flew through.

record shot Redstart by Kieth Yates


April 14th 2012

Morning spent down the station as 70000 Britannia made a scheduled 20 minute stop for water supplied by the fire brigade before heading north to Chester attracting a large appreciative crowd.

BR Britannia Class 4-6-2 no 70000 Britannia Rugby Station


Friday, 13 April 2012

April 13th 2012

Friday the 13th started badly when I found a painful way of getting down stairs, fog ruined my visit to the pond and on top of that I forgot my camera when I went to see 70013 Oliver Cromwell being moved from Carnforth to Southall ready for her Kings Cross to Scarborough the following day. Luckily I managed to retrieve something from the day with a Black-winged Stilt at Rutland Water before it flew off.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

April 12th 2012

Did not get out till late morning and got caught in a heavy rain shower which brought in a partial summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit and my first Common Tern of the year to the pond. Peppered by hail I gave up adding only 2 Little Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail and 2 Common Sandpiper


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

April 11th 2012

Narrowly missed 2 Red-legged Partridge down the Grandborough valley while some poor unfortunate further along hill road had not been so lucky while trying to avoid a deer and had made a right mess of his car. Checked he was ok then resumed birding with 34 Fieldfare over Grandborough Fields Farm.
We had the pond almost to ourselves for the first hour managing 3 Common Sandpiper, male Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling on the island while toft bay had another Little Ringed Plover and male Wigeon. Toft shallows produced Treecreeper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Blackcap and 3 Chiffchaff. On our return we met up with Bob who put us on to yesterday’s Greenshank in biggen bay and had just left him when Dave spotted a Whimbrel coming in over farborough bank and we watched it cross the reservoir till lost to view. Willow Warbler calling in car park.
The visibility from Napton on the Hill was stunning with the 7 counties showing well while birds included 18 Buzzard, 6 Raven, 3 Sparrowhawk, 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and our first Whitethroat of the year in the churchyard plus Green-veined White.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

April 10th 2012

After getting soaked for a winter plumage Knot on the island yesterday then Bob and I did just as well in today’s sunshine finding our first of the year Common Sandpiper on farborough spit and winter plumage Greenshank on the island.
Other sightings included Little Ringed Plover, 4 Yellow-legged Gull (3 adult and a first winter) over among a movement of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, adult Little Gull, 5 Goldeneye, 2 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 2 White Wagtail and 12 Meadow Pipit, The warm weather also brought out the Buzzards with 30 seen along with a single Sparrowhawk but very few hirundines around.


April 8th 2012

Summer plumage Med Gull on island, Little Ringed Plover on farborough spit and 2 male Wheatear on farborough bank otherwise a quiet visit plus 70 Sand Martin a few Swallows and House Martin, 5 Goldeneye and 7 Shoveler. At least 4 Tree Sparrow down the Grandborough valley while Napton on the Hill had 700 + Fieldfare, 100+ Redwing near Chaple Green, Nuthatch, 13 Buzzard and 2 Raven but we couldn’t go to Napton Reservoir without calling in on the Just So café now open for the season where celebrated Colins birthday with lemon meringue cake - pure nector. The reservoir had 20 Reed Bunting and a Long-tailed Tit.