Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Patchwork 2

Between Willoughby and Sawbridge
2 Tawny Owl perched together on an overhanging branch picked out by the car headlights as we headed for Flecknoe before first light.

Grandborough Fields Farm 
Red-legged Partridge calling
Tawny Owl – at least 3 Calling

Baseley Smallholding
Tree Sparrow
Red-legged Partridge
Green Woodpecker

Draycote Water
Smew male off farborough bank

Rookery Farm
Tree Sparrow 10
Chaffinch 100
Collard Dove 80

Lawford Heath Lane
Linnet 50
Great-spotted Woodpecker

Kings Newnham
Grey Partridge 6
Wigeon 300
Golden Plover 100
Mute Swan 55
Buzzard 2

Nuthatch 3
Coal Tit 2
Marsh Tit 2
Long-tailed Tit 7
Goldcrest 1
Raven 1
Buzzard 2

Sunday, 23 December 2012


Out later than normal so gave the pond a miss despite the strong winds overnight and pottered around the patch. Many fields flooded, roads closed and rivers swollen

Baseley Smallholding
Tree Sparrow 20

Malvern Hall Farm
Redwing 200
Fieldfare 500
Buzzard 2

Napton on the Hill
Raven 3

Napton Reservoir
Shoveler 2 male
Gadwall 9
Reed Bunting
Common Gull 200

Lawford Heath Lane
Brambling female
Tree Sparrow 30
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Jay 2
Buzzard 2

Brandon Marsh Visitor Center
Nuthatch 2
Coal Tit 2
Great-spotted Woodpecker 3

Kings Newnham
Mute Swan 55
Wigeon 200
Golden Plover 250
Lapwing 300
Yellow-legged Gull adult
the flooded River Avon valley encroaching on Newnhams Lodge

Nuthatch 3
Marsh Tit 2
Coal Tit 2
Long-tailed Tit 7
Jay 2
Fieldfare 100
Long-tailed Tit Cathiron - my first birdy effort with the camera. - not brilliant but its a start

Saturday, 22 December 2012

60009 Union of South Africa

Torrential rain prevented us from watching the Union of South Africa over Harringworth Viaduct so we decided to pitch up at Kettering Station where there was a bit more cover and less chance of flooding. Unfortunately everybody else had similar ideas so views were limited on the narrow platform till we eventually chose to get soaked battling against Network Rail fencing by using Dave’s car as a platform.
LNER A4 Class 4-6-2 no 60009 Union of South Africa approaching Kettering Station in the pouring rain

support staff fill her tanks and tender

fireman stoking her up ready for the off

about to leave her admiring umbrellas and head for a flooded York

Friday, 21 December 2012

Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Moths

A quiet day spent dodging the floods and stocking up feeding stations on the patch before Christmas arrives. Birds of note were 2 Marsh Tit and 3 Nuthatch.
No surprise that moths have been very thin on the ground recently so the Chestnut, Grey Shoulder-knot and Light Brown Apple Moth in my trap overnight were very welcome while a couple of Winter Moths have emerged tonight just before the next deluge is due.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Stargazing Live 2013

BBC are running a new series of the astronomy show Stargazing Live over the three nights of 8th , 9th and 10th January 2013 all at 8pm on BBC 2 supported by local events all over the country so check to see if there is one on near you.

Out and about

Despite heavy rain and more flooding a trawl round the patch was reasonably successful with Barn Owl at Napton Reservoir, male Smew and Goosander at the pond, 2 Brambling, 60 Linnet, Jay and 50+ Tree Sparrow Lawford Heath Lane, 67 Mute Swan, Sparrowhawk, 2 Grey Partridge, 100 Wigeon, 50 Teal and 500 Fieldfare between Bretford and King’s Newnham and a Waxwing over Sainsburys, Rugby at 3pm.

New Camera

I lost my camera and have finally replaced it with a Cannon PowerShot SX40HS and if I get anywhere near the results John Judge has with his then I will be a happy bunny. All hand held and not digiscoped
Solitary Sandpiper, Isle of Scilly October 2012

Dotterel, Isle of Scilly October 2012

American Golden Plover, Isle of Scilly, October 2012

Waxwing, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, December 2012

many thanks to John for sharing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Steam - The Christmas Yorkshireman

On Saturday 22 December LNER A4 Class 4-6-2 no 60009 Union of South Africa will haul The Christmas Yorkshireman from London Victoria to York with her route taking her over the famous Harringworth Viaduct, the longest masonry viaduct in Britain. Yeah I no its your last chance for shopping but whats better, standing in the poring rain watching nostalgia go past or buying smellies. Key times are (approx so get there early) 

London Victoria
d 06:28

Brent Curve Jc
a 07:22

d 07:37

St Albans
a 07:59

d 08:01

d 08:15

d 08:17



a 09:16

d 09:46



Melton Mowbray
a 10:44

d 10:47

a 14:03

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Space shed for Christmas

If you have a child that still believes in Father Christmas there’s a golden opportunity on Christmas Eve to see their eyes light up with glee when you point out the space shed as it goes over and tell them Santa's on his way. Of course it’s a lie – the whole festive thing is baloney so what’s one more untruth.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A lot milder

A couple of Brambling and Tree Sparrow was all we managed in a brief visit to Lawford Heath Lane this afternoon due to the dull and very wet conditions.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Meteor and Goosanders

Gave up the comfort of a warm bed to be on the Dunsmore Ridge in the middle of the night looking for the annual Geminid meteor shower (peaks tonight but forecast is poor) then managed to survive the freezing conditions for another view of Mercury, Venus and Saturn just above the horizon before the mist started to develop.
By the time we arrived at the pond the clear sky’s and wintry sunshine had burnt off any mist over the pond though some still lingered in the valley. Disappointingly the only obvious cold weather movement was a few Goosander and a single Golden Plover. The Country Park had 22 Long-tailed Tit and 10 Bullfinch (16 recorded today on site) while 2 Chiffchaff were on the end of hensborough bank and 3 Lesser Redpoll near the scrape. Other birds of note were 4 Goldcrest, 2 Raven and of course the male Smew.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Chiffchaffs are cheap today cheaper than .......

The thick fog that has shrouded the pond for the last 36 hours drifted away to bright sunshine as we walked to toft shallows producing good views of the male Smew and possibly a record winter’s count of Chiffchaff for me with 4 seen (2 in toft shallows and 2 fishing lodge which are probably the 2 seen on hensborough bank yesterday when one was also in toft bay so could be five on site)
Other passerines included 6+ Goldcrest, 14 Long-tailed Tit, 25 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpolls and Treecreeper feeding very actively in the -5 conditions. Although an increase in Coot and Tufted Duck numbers other duck species counts were piss poor for this time of year with only 4 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 20 Wigeon, 22 Goldeneye and 40+ Teal noted. Three Snipe were in toft shallows while another was seen over the valley, other sightings included 10 Meadow Pipit, 60+ Lapwing, Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and a few winter thrushes.
Yesterday in very poor conditions I might have had 11 Waxwing over hensborough bank heading west but views were poor, Tree Sparrows still on the saddle bank feeder and Grey Wagtail.
good to have Bob back in the field and sent me this shot of the Smew

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Planets 3

Having seen the red spot on Jupiter in the evening I was out early to observe Saturn, Venus and Mercury just above the south eastern horizon then a walk to toft shallows with Mark produced male Smew, male Goosander, 2 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaff.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Med Gull, Smew and Waxwings

The roost was slow to clear at Draycote Water this morning and an impressive 400+ Greater Black-backed Gulls along with 2 adult Yellow-legged and adult winter Med Gull from farborough bank were still present at 8am. The male Smew found yesterday by Francoise was also off farborough bank but flighty but little else seen as we walked to toft shallows apart from female Goosander. Back at the car park a female Brambling was with the Chaffinch flock.

Wolston Waxwings by Helen Scarsbrook
The higher ground between Shugborough and Marton had received some snow in the night and it was over half an inch thick around the Long Itchington area when we called in for breakfast then it was off to Wolston for the Waxwings. At least 13 of the 15 that had been seen yesterday were still feeding in trees around the Wolston Lane/Kelseys Avenue area off Warwick Road occasionally flying off towards the opposite side of road or the nearby Manor Estate road before returning. Did not bother recording at Brandon it was so dire and the same went for Lawford Heath. The Lawford Heath Lane finch flock was still present but we were looking directly in to the sun so only i.d. one Brambling and a few Tree Sparrow.
distant Smew pic by Francoise yesterday

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Lizzy 2

LMS Princess Class 4-6-2 no 46201 Princess Elizabeth [6201] arrived at Nuneaton 47 minutes late hauling THE CATHEDRALS EXPRESS to Chester from Slough.
After only being 12 minutes down at Fenny Compton she must have had the signals against her and lost a further 35 minutes when she finally appeared just as the last of the rain cleared making it difficult to photograph due to the low winter Sun.
Most enjoyable listening to those with an ardent passion for there hobby while we waited, a Waxwing flying over the northern end of platform 3 towards the Asda car park calling reminded me of my priorities. Not the best of views but there have been a few sightings in the county recently following a large autumn invasion that’s moving south as they devour their food supply including the odd singles in Rugby over the weekend but none nailed down.
Once Lizzy had been watered and pampered (oiled) by hoards of Network Rail and 46201 support staff she made a grand departure.

46201 at Nuneaton

46201 approaching Fenny Compton by Terry Southgate

Friday, 30 November 2012

Lizzy saves the day

Forgot it was the last day of the fishing season at the pond and along with film crews insisting on doing interviews on the shore-line and boats chugging here and there it was a disappointing visit. Shoveler, 15 Red-legged Partridge and 20 Golden Plover was about the best we could find before clearing off to see Liz.
Don’t know what they were putting in her boiler but she flew around the Wormleighton curve like the devil was up her jacksee, pure bliss. She will be hauling THE WORCESTER ANNIVERSARY CHRISTMAS FAYRE from London Paddington to Worcester tomorrow. There were a few Tree Sparrows in the lane and Willow Tit, Great-spotted and Green Woodpecker by the railway crossing but very little on the reservoir.
Brandon Marsh had 13 Reed Bunting, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 2 Kingfisher, Coal Tit and Nuthatch while Lawford Heath was unfortunately covered in mist so nothing of interest.

LMS Princess Class 4-6-2 no 46201 Princess Elizabeth [6201] on her way south

cracking shot by Bob

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hen party for scoters

Pre dawn visit to Lawford Heath produced a hunting Barn Owl and Tawny Owl perched while the Lawford Heath Lane finch flock were very active in the very cold conditions with some very smart looking male Brambling against a frosty background.
Thirty Two Common Scoter’s greeted our arrival at the pond which is one of our largest flocks we have had here for awhile and the largest group I have seen here that just contained females. Other duck included a long overdue Goosander with a male off draycote bank, 10 Gadwall, 90 Teal, 10 Pochard, 18 Gadwall, 17 Goldeneye and 7 Wigeon.
Lots of Goldcrest with 13 between toft shallows and sewage farm along with 29 Siskin and a Lesser Redpoll in the same areas.
The time spent on farborough bank searching the Grandborough valley paid off when a Short-eared Owl being mobbed by corvids came in from the east and appeared to go behind the country park, also noted were Peregrine and 2 Sparrowhawk.
A search of the country park produced a Nuthatch probably attracted to the area by the activity on the Rangers feeder station. Other sightings included 27 Long-tailed Tit, 10 Meadow Pipits and 5 Jay plus a Weasel.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Whooper and Scoter

Overnight arrivals at the pond included 4 Shelduck and a female Common Scoter and an increase in Teal with a 110 counted.
Mid morning 2 Whooper Swan flew over the west side of reservoir and appeared to go down in the leam valley. Other sightings included 18 Goldeneye, 4 Wigeon and 18 Gadwall. Colin reported the saddle bank Trees Sparrows still present.
Earlier we had 8 Tree Sparrow in the Grandborough valley while the finch flock in Lawford Heath Lane had an increase in Greenfinch numbers plus 3 Buzzards and a couple of Jays noted.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A few more duck

More rain overnight with a cool north easterly wind which brought in 6 Shoveler an increase in the Gadwall flock to 26 in toft shallows along with 60+ Teal, 4 Goldcrest, 8 Long-tailed Tit, 20 Siskin and 3 Lesser Redpoll. Between the weather fronts 120+ Golden Plover flew north and 300+ Lapwing appeared over the grandborough valley from farborough bank which had 15 Meadow Pipit. Two Ravens over the car park as we left.
Despite being cold and damp we had a look for the Lawford Heath Lane finch flock managing 25+ Brambling along with 20 Tree Sparrow and a single Lesser Redpoll amongst the Chaffinches.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Mega crap

After all the rain and wind over the last few days all we found at the pond were 8 Wigeon, 8 Pochard, 16 Goldeneye, 10 Meadow Pipit and 30 Siskin.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Blue Tornado

New build Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado photographed this morning slowly approaching Didcote East Junction behind Class 56 locomotive 56312 for access to the Great Western Society’s Didcote Railway Centre for a special event for Convenantors of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust to have a close-up view of her in BR blue livery for the first time.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


With a dry blustery morning it was a frustrating visit with fishermen and wildfowl wanting the same sheltered areas. The wildfowl lost so I will be glad to see the fishing season finish at the end of the month.
Bob managed to find a Chiffchaff in rainbow corner otherwise 4 Snipe, Tree Sparrow and 3 Raven were the only highlights.

Leam valley starting to flood, viewed from hensborough bank as the next weather front moves in over Napton and Shugborough which brought more heavy rain early evening.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Flooded out with Snipe

With almost 24 hours of rain, especially heavy and prolonged over night it was not surprising that many areas of the valley are starting to flood, even brooks and road side ditches that I hardly ever see any water in were brimming over.
Dave and I planned a lazy breakfast over a game of scrabble till it ceased but alas that wasn’t to be so after a hard fought draw we decided not to out stay our welcome and moved on to Napton Reservoir.
With the deluge continuing water was pouring in to the reservoir at hell of a rate and many of the Snipe had taken to the adjacent boggy fields or were flying around in large numbers and we ended up with a minimum count of a 110 almost doubling the record set on Sunday. Also present were 30 Golden Plover over, male Pochard, Cormorant and Kingfisher while the entrance road was full of winter thrushes and finches.
Moved on to the Baseley smallholding where we were treated to 3 more Snipe, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 30 Yellowhammer and 20 Tree Sparrow.
Our last stop was the pond but with poor visibility, rain becoming heavier and squelching boots we gave up for the comfort of a hot toddy and a chance to dry out. Dave thought he had the Black-necked Grebe briefly but I saw nowt due to fogged up lenses.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Birdy at last

Lordy lordy someone’s listening.
I have been ranting off blog that the pond is crap and predictable poor, well it certainly wasn’t when Bob and I visited today.
Our visit started off so badly that we turned back at farborough spit after only recording a Jay and 30+ Meadow Pipit. Luckily as we approached the visitor centre a mixed flock of finches feeding between the farborough bank perimeter road and the pay and display car park contained 30+ Lesser Redpolls and could have included a couple of juvenile flammea. Views were limited due to the constant disturbance from cyclist and walkers and not helped when the road around the visitor centre was closed for cable laying.
Now buoyed up a little we decided to look for the Brambling flock Bob had on Friday and as we passed the sailing club a Short-eared Owl flew over the reservoir heading towards us then veered right and observed heading towards the sewage farm before returning via biggen bay. While watching the owl a Curlew flew past it heading east. Despite harassment from corvids and gulls it finally flew over the picnic area near hensborough bank and lost out of sight. Bob checked the country park and rewarded with a male Brambling while I stayed by the windsurfing car park and had 6 Siskin. By the time we reached rainbow corner the wind had freshened and the finch flock was tucked up against the hedgerow and did not show well. On our way back we gave the country park another search just in case and had 80 Golden Plover over.
Our final count for the day was:-
Lesser Redpoll 30+
Siskin 6
Bullfinch 6
Meadow Pipit 40+
Yellowhammer 10
Tree Sparrow
Jay 6
Great-spotted Woodpecker 3
Short-eared Owl
Golden Plover 80+
Goldeneye 16
Pochard 5
Wigeon 13
Fieldfare 300
Redwing 600
but we could not locate the Black-necked Grebe.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


We were freezing our bits off down the valley at Calcutt long before sunrise enjoying views of Jupiter and its four moons, the polar cap of Venus, a meteorite, Orion and Sirus with the company of a Fox, 2 Tawny Owls and hundreds of winter thrushes leaving their roost. The space shed passed over on time giving very prolonged views.
The conditions had pushed the Snipe out on to the remaining exposed mud at Napton Reservoir as the water levels rise again with a record count of 56. Other sightings included a white Rabbit, 2 Water Rail, mega numbers of thrushes, 4 Wigeon, 10 Mute Swan, 3 Raven and 3000+ Starling leaving there nearby roost on a broad front.
With time to kill before breakfast we took a look at the Baseley Tree Sparrows with 8 on the feeders and 50+ around the brick barn along with 70 Yellowhammer and many finches.
After breakfast Wormleighton Reservoir had 10 Tree Sparrow and single Marsh Tit but a noticeable lack of finches and Yellowhammer. The hedgerows along the railway line were full of winter thrushes but the reservoir was void of birds.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Shed, Steam and Waxwings

The International Space Station is currently on view but predictably poor weather has stopped me reporting her but with a clear sky’s for tonight and a chilly frosty Sunday morning then it could be worth getting up for, its predicted to show really well as she passes over southern England heading east. Both Venus and Jupiter will also be on show.
Date, time
11/18 07:00

The day started grotty but had brightened a little by the time Dave dropped me off at The Great Central Railway in Loughborough who were holding a Steam Enthusiast Event over the weekend with at least 3 steam engines in operation.
While I played train spotter he went off to umpire a couple of games of hockey. In between bouts of steam bliss I managed 15 Long-tailed Tits and Mute Swan over. 
47406 quenching its thirst

78019 reversing towards the water tower

777 Sir Lamiel enjoying the public's appreciation
48624 resting in siding

Met up with Dave 4 hours later and he was cock a hoop that he had seen 10 Waxwing in the car park of the Soar Valley Leisure Center in Mountsorrell as he was leaving so celebrated with a coffee. As the “mount” was on our way home we called in at 4pm but there was no sign so Dave suggested a walk to the adjacent housing estate which had a few rowan trees. No sooner had the footpath from the car park reached Otter Lane there were 9 Waxwing perched above the footpath opposite. Managed a record shot in fading light.
record shot of Waxwings at Mountsorrell

Friday, 16 November 2012

Brandon Marsh

The Brandon Marsh female Smew was a little more co-operative though distant from east marsh hide where there were 26 Snipe showing and the only other bird of note was a flock of 30 Lesser Redpoll that flew over. Corn Bunting seen on the way home at Cawston.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Fog stops play

A dull foggy day so Bob and I knocked our visit to the pond on the head and stayed in. Siskin and Coal Tit was the best of my garden feeders.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


An afternoon’s walk along the Hereward Way at Eldernell, Cambridgeshire over looking the Nene Wash was very atmospheric as the sun went down with plenty of activity as many species came in to roost. Although 3 Common Crane, 4 Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, 200 Whooper Swan, 2 Bewick’s Swan, 3000 Golden Plover and endless numbers of Starling, Lapwing and Wood Pigeon are worth mentioning the star of the show was the setting sun. As it turned red and lost its brightness scope views revealed the sunspot activity. Dave and I were chuffed that we could see at least six with some looking very large but on checking the internet ( they were reporting over a 100 though many of theses are only detectable via some very sophisticated telescopes. Missed a Greater Horseshoe Bat that other birders had over the car park

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Another morning has broken

We had an early morning look at Napton Reservoir to see what yesterdays workmen had been up to and appears they are scraping out the overflow channel at the narrow end of reservoir. Luckily they don’t seem to be affecting the majority of the reservoir at the moment as there were 21 Snipe, 3 Water Rail, 2 Shoveler, 7 Wigeon and 10 Teal present. As dawn broke 1500 Starling, 400 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing flew south west and single Raven and 2 Buzzard also noted.
The pond had the Black-necked Grebe between K and M buoys eventually drifting towards hensborough bank and showing reasonably well. Plenty of passerines around with 9 Lesser Redpoll and 3 Goldcrest in the wind surfing area, 1500 Redwing and 800 Fieldfare moving south over Draycote village, 12 Siskin west over rainbow corner, 2 Tree Sparrow on the new feeder below saddle bank with 3 Jay and 30 Yellowhammer in the same area.. There were 2 large finch flocks a couple of fields away which could have contained more Tree Sparrows and the odd Brambling plus 200 Lapwing were over the leam valley which also held more Redwing and Fieldfare.
Finally ended up at Brandon Marsh but dipped on the Smew and Waxwing, just 2 Snipe, Nuthatch and Chiffchaff for our efforts.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Morning has broken (sing along) like the ...

We were down the Grandborough valley before dawn searching suitable owl habitat but did not find any though we were treated to a stunning sunrise with plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing leaving their roost plus 3 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff. The baseley smallholding had 15 Tree Sparrow, Coal Tit and Snipe.
Moved on to Napton Reservoir as it started to cloud over which was full of workmen awaiting the arrival of heavy plant so we had a quick look before the disturbance started and surprisingly had 2 Water Rail out in the open, Jack Snipe at the base of the exposed reed bed, 25+ Snipe, 2 Shoveler, 10 Teal, Grey Wagtail and 3 Reed Bunting. Once the class 5 mark 4, turbo boosted JCB thingy arrived we scarpered and as we passed Napton on the Hill there were 7 Raven over the quarry.
With the arrival of low cloud and persistent rain our look at the pond was brief and damp. Visibility poor so only had the Black-necked Grebe and 50+ Meadow Pipit.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Having spent the evening observing Jupiter and her moons near the Hyades open cluster I woke to the delightful sight of Venus very close to a slender crescent moon.
Unfortunately as is typical of this time of year visibility in the Grandborough valley was the opposite of my garden being down to 30 meters in places so Dave and I failed to find any owls. The pond was shrouded in mist which was burning off pretty quickly in places but by the time we had reached toft bay and had seen sweet FA we were thinking of giving up when a Black-throated Diver flew in and headed for biggen bay. Just our luck it decided at the last minute to continue further on and landed near the valve tower and become shrouded in the last slow clearing fog bank. Had to wait nearly an hour for visibility to improve and despite extensive searching we failed to re-locate it.
Bob Hazel had a BTD briefly on the 2nd November which I presume was the one that appeared at Stanford Reservoir on the 3rd and 4th but no reports since so it could be circulating the area.
The only other birds of note was the Black-necked Grebe near M buoy, 50 Meadow Pipits and the unusual sight of a Great-crested Grebe on the grassy side of farborough bank when we first arrived.
Although we arrived at the Long Itch Diner later than usual the prompt service soon had us back out in the field in record time though all we found was 15 Raven, 2 Buzzard and a Peregrine on Napton on the Hill before the news of a Little Bunting in the county buggered up many a birders Sunday roast.
Great-crested Grebe pitched up on farborough bank

Friday, 9 November 2012


Brief visit to Brandon Marsh this afternoon produced the female Smew though she was elusive at times, also seen were 25 Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Kingfisher, 2 male Goldeneye, Snipe and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Did not have time to do Lawford Heath justice but the maise harvest has been completed and some areas looked quite birdy.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Bit more variety

There was a bit more variety at the pond today with 17 Golden Plover heading North West plus 100 Fieldfare and 60 Redwing on the move while 40 Fieldfare were in the field behind farnborough spit.
Between toft shallows and grays barn there were 17 Lesser Redpoll, 25 Siskin and Chiffchaff calling while on the water the Black-necked Grebe remained distant off hensborough bank eventually drifting towards toft bay. Also present were 10 Goldeneye, 2 Pochard 40 Meadow Pipit and a Raven flew over toft bay. Visibility was so good today another 10 Ravens could be scoped over Napton on the Hill from toft bank.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Vis mig peters out

A very similar morning to the 28th October with a heavy overnight movement of thrushes, pigeons and starlings petering out to virtually nothing by 9am. From our vantage point at Grandborough Fields just after dawn we had 3000 Wood Pigeon, 1500 Fieldfare, 1000 Starling, 800 Redwing going over in one hour along with smaller numbers of finches and larks. Further along the Flecknoe road there was a flock of 30 Yellowhammer at Woodbine Farm plus 800 Starling feeding on the deck while the Basely smallholding had 20 Tree Sparrow and a distant female Brambling.
The pond unfortunately was dire and we only managed 10 Long-tailed Tit, 40 Meadow Pipit, 7 Gadwall and 3 Goldeneye till we met Bob Hazel who pointed out the Black-necked Grebe for us some distance away.
Napton on the Hill was full of birds with 300 Fieldfare, 300 Redwing, Green Woodpecker, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and at least 30 Raven while Napton Reservoir had 8 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 17 Snipe, 6 Great-crested Grebe, 300 Fieldfare, Reed Bunting and single Raven.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Back on the patch

Bob managed a record shot of the Black-necked Grebe which was at least 300 yards off hensborough bank otherwise our visit to the pond was a bit quiet with female Brambling near the sewage farm entrance, 4 Goldcrest and 7 Siskin in the same area. Earlier we had 50+ Meadow Pipit on hensborough bank while the only duck of interest was 16 Goldeneye and 16 Wigeon. At least 5 Jays scattered around the site while 500 Starling flew over west in small groups plus one group of Skylark.
In the Grandborough valley the River Leam had broken its banks. There were 300 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing and a Grey Wagtail behind Kites Hardwick, 2 Brambling and 12 Tree Sparrow on the Baseley Smallholding, 60 House Sparrow and 3 Tree Sparrow Woodbine Farm, 24 Golden Plover over Grandborough Fields Farm and a day flying Barn Owl between Woolscott and the A45.
Black-necked Grebe by Bob Hazel

This evening while half of Rugby seemed to be burning their wage packets Jupiter was worth looking at before the mist and smog sets in. If you have a high mag scope its red spot is visible.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


After being ill with food poising for a week I was bitterly disappointed that today’s effort in Cambridgeshire was washed out by heavy rain. Oh well – at least I’m back in the land of the living and not tied to the big white telephone anymore.
Common Gull with fishing line taken by Bob Hazel in the week at the pond

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Vis mig - ousels of fun

As soon as dawn broke Skylark, Redwing, Fieldfare and finches (including 4 Brambling) started appearing over the Southam road so by the time the gates opened at Draycote visible migration was in full swing probable due to the pre dawn shower after the first part of the night was clear.
In our walk to toft bay we had 500 Starling, 700 Fieldfare, 300 Redwing, 8 Brambling, 50 Siskin and 250 Chaffinch from those we could identify. A group of duck circling included 7 Shoveler and female Pintail while an adult Kittiwake flew north.
Although the wind was from the south west it had been bitterly cold at Draycote so we stayed in the Long Itch Diner to warm up before moving on to Napton on the Hill where Dave picked up a Ring Ousel as it flew over the village lagging behind a group of thrushes. Minimum count of 400 Chaffinch, 300 Fieldfare and 200 Redwing went over before the rain arrived and at least 22 Raven in the area.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vis mig and Brandon Marsh

Having done Norfolk 3x in five days I woke with a “I’m not moving” attitude so as the first glimpse of blue sky’s in a week showed I did a vis mig watch for a couple of hours. A few Fieldfare and Redwing passed over plus a lone Swallow and 2 Jay.
Brandon Marsh for lunch then a walk around the reserve produced Water Rail, Peregrine, 9 Snipe and plenty of thrushes.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Norfolk again

I was preparing to blog yesterdays trip when another chance to visit Norfolk coast came up so re-packed my gear, grabbed a few hours sleep, and found my self at Wareham Greens at dawn watching 2 Barn Owl and a Short-eared Owl as we prepared for our coastal footpath walk to Stiffkey.
It was still cloudy but much better visibility and though we could have driven straight to Stiffkey we wanted to look for migrants and managed 2 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, 3 Ring Ouzel, 100 Blackbird, 400 Fieldfare, 70 Song Thrush, 800 Redwing, 100 Robin and 3 Brambling but despite a prolonged search of camp site wood we failed to find the Red-flanked Blue-tail but did have good views of 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 6 Ring Ousel and a Black Redstart. The coastal marsh had Peregrine, 2 Marsh Harrier, 10 Little Egret, Stonechat and Spotted Redshank.
Next stop was Brancaster Staithe for another look at the Arctic Warbler which was accompanied by a Yellow-browed Warbler plus 4 Ring Ousel in adjoining field before an urgent need of bacon and eggs beckoned.
Once the happy head was back on we did Wells Wood where we managed to arrive near the dell just as a Red-breasted Flycatcher had been located but did not show very well. Other species here included Woodcock, Blackcap, Siskin and Brambling. A look at the sea produce 2 Guillemot, Red-throated Diver, 2 female Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Great-crested Grebe and 16 Common Scoter.
Final stop was for the Little Bunting at Burnham Overy Staithe where we also saw 2 Barn Owl.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

If you go out in the fog today

In a reversal of Sundays trip to Norfolk visibility was reasonable till we were closer to the Norfolk coast where it deteriated till you could hardly see the sea when you were on the beach.
Still can’t complain as we witnessed the continuation of the thrush fall they have had with some very impressive numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin.
Started the day as usual at Hunstanton and due to the conditions birds were dropping out of the sky with the best being 10 Brambling and 3 Snow Bunting including one tired individual landing near us and very approachable. The nearby Pitch and Putt course held 600 Redwing, 200 Fieldfare and 40 Blackbird. Decided to work the bushes and sand dunes at the northern end of Hunstanton Golf Course and every one seemed to have thrushes in them with an estimated 2000 Redwing, 800 Fieldfare, 200 Blackbird, 100 Song Thrush and 400 Robin. In amongst this hoard were 30 Goldcrest, 15 Brambling, 3 Siskin and 2 Ring Ousel. Marsh Harrier and 3 Little Egret noted but missed the Shore Lark.
Moved on to Titchwell but due to the fog we saw very little here with 5 Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, 3 Bearded Tit and more very confiding Robins in the dues and thrushes and Starlings going over.
News broke of an Arctic Warbler at nearby Brancaster Staithe showing in the willows on the coastal footpath west of the village which was a new species for Dave and we also managed Chiffchaff and 2 Redstart but did not look for any of the ousels reported there. Dave managed a brief view of a Red-breasted Flycatcher but it was not relocated till we left.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Another grey day - with birds

Weather conditions were similar to yesterday – dank and grey but somehow the pond had a number of overnight arrivals including 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Pintail loosely associated to a Wigeon flock which on top of the Black-necked Grebe and Scaup already present made this a worth while visit.
Unfortunately I was taken short and had to dive in to the bushes so not sure what dark barrel chested bird harassed the Wigeon but many of them had cleared off by the time I returned and failed to re-locate the Pins or Mergs.
Other sightings included Wheatear and Rock Pipit on barn bank, 90+ Meadow Pipits, 5 Fieldfare, a Grey Plover flew out of the gloom calling heading west, 36 Teal, 2 Pochard, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Siskin, 25 Stock Dove, 10 Yellowhammer, 5 Jay, Buzzard and Raven.
Two brown variations of Green Brindled Crescent and my earliest December Moth were in the trap along with 10 other species and Bob could not resist a picture of some fungi growing on my lawn

December Moth

any ideas?

Monday, 22 October 2012

A grey day

Night time temperatures have been reasonable lately so the moth trap attracted
November Moth agg.

Angle Shades

Feathered Thorn

A dank, grey dreary day of low cloud, mist and occasional showers made our visit to the pond pretty awful so grateful we managed to find a Med Gull in toft bay which moved to join the rest of the gulls in the fields behind farborough spit. Only other birds of note were a Wheatear, 15 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pochard, 2 Goldeneye, Black-necked Grebe and a party of Skylark flew under the low cloud.
We had just reached the car park when Colin rang regarding 6 Brambling near the Coalpit Lane /A4071 junction so we went for a look but only found Kingfisher, 3 Lesser Redpoll, and Treecreeper while dodging the cement wagons and car transporters.

Bob did well to get a record shot of the Med Gull in the gloom

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Choices of fog

red sky at night shepherds delight - my arse - it was foggy

We could have stayed home due to the poor visibility this morning or spend three hours in the valley seeing bugger all till the Long Itch Diner opened or sod it and head east and if the weather stayed crap at least we gave it a try.
So east we headed and though the fog was pretty bad in places we made good time in reaching the Big Chill Café where 9 Whooper Swan flew over.
Once fed and watered it was back on the road and conditions had brightened so much that by the time we arrived at Hunstanton you could see both the Boston Stump and Skegness Big Dipper across the other side of the wash.
Unfortunately what little visible migration there was it was either going over high or diving in to cover before it reached us so did not identify a lot but the sea was productive with Great-northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 6 Common Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, 25 Great-crested Grebe and 10+ Gannet plus 2 Grey Seal.
Moved on to Titchwell where we had 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 10 Little Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Cetties Warbler and Chinese Water Deer on our way to the beach. The sea conditions were not ideal as the chilly north east wind picked up but after an hours effort we had managed to find 3 Guillemot, 2 Eider, 30 Common Scoter, 40+ Gannet, 6 Red-throated Diver, 4 Great-crested Grebes and 7 Red-breasted Merganser on the incoming tide and by this time a notable Starling passage had started with 1000+ counted between here and Wells-next-the Sea.
Spent some time on Holkham Freshmarsh but only managed 2 Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harrier and a Merlin plus a few Pink-footed and Brent Geese before we put the bins away and chilled out with Fish and Chips overlooking the harbour at Wells- next-the-Sea. Nineteen more Whooper Swans seen on the way home and Dave had 2 Red Kite but by then I was in the land of nod.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Duchess and the pond

The steam hauled “The London Explorer” Derby to Euston to Derby via Kettering was re-routed in the week to go via Nuneaton meaning that it would go through Rugby at 09:48 this morning so Dave and I arrived at Rugby Station in time for a coffee not realising when we ambled up to the platform that she had already arrived some 15 minutes early. Thankfully LMS Coronation Class 4-6-2 no 46233 Duchess of Sutherland was just waiting for the off being pampered by the crew and admired by a small crowd so managed a few shots though had to fight all the electrification furniture along with slow clearing fog.
record shot on our arrival

starting to pull away and sounded great due to the echo off the nearby factory's

about the best uncluttered pic I could manage

distant shot approaching the remains of the old birdcage bridge
Once I had finished shopping in town I popped down to the pond to look at the Black-necked Grebe Bob had found and a chance to have another look at the first winter male Scaup.

immature male Scaup now losing its blaze

distant record shot of the Black-necked Grebe
(last 3 photos by Bob Hazel)