Thursday, 31 May 2012

Not a lot

Birding is quiet with only Little Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 2 Gadwall and 1000 Swift over toft shallows, Draycote Water of note this morning and Brandon Marsh had little new to offer in a brief look at mid-day. In between visits I up graded to a new Kowa scope and tripod at focus optics who were enormously helpful. Coming back from the pub in Cubbington late evening a Tawny Owl was perched on a roadside sign near Weston under Wetherly but failed to find any on Lawford Heath. Hundreds of moths out so hoping for a good catch.
Lime Hawk-moth
Marbled Beauty
Poplar Grey

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pond and insects

Having looked at the pond briefly between clearing mine and Dave’s traps down and finding a summer plumage Sanderling and female Shelduck the rest of the day was spent down south visiting a number of sites mainly for insects managing :-17 species of butterfly including first of the year Wood White, Adonis Blue and Duke of Burgundy, 6 species of dragonfly including Downy Emerald and 7 species of moth with the best being my first Yellow Belle. Birds were not forgotten with Tree Pipit, Wood Lark, Red Kite and Hobby noted. Photos to follow but I have taken hundreds so need sorting when I get time.

Alder Moth

I was a well chuffed bunny when I found my first Alder Moth in the trap this morning and soon text Dave to grip him off. My 306th marco moth for the garden. Four hours later I'm clearing out Dave's trap and the first moth I see is an Alder Moth. Bugger his 315th garden macro moth. Mine above and ours below with Dave's on the left.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Birds, Moths Princess and the Space Shed

Morning visit to Draycote Meadows produced 2 Comma, 3 Peacock, 2 Brimstone, 2 Speckled Wood, 2 Green Hairstreak, 6 Orange-tip, 3 Common Blue, Small White, Large White, 3 Green-veined and 4 Small Copper while moths included Nematopogon swammerdamella Sandy carpet, Burnet Companion and Cinnabar. On the birding front the meadows and village had Hobby, Buzzard 4, Nuthatch and Little Owl.

Peppered Moth

Muslin Moth

The Space Shed will make a few more passes in early June.

Sundays Princess Elizabeth train times heading south

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Oliver Cromwell and the Black Terns

Pottering around the moth trap when the shed came over early this morning but had my hands full with the many species these warm nights are bringing in. Tawny Owl and Cuckoo heard in the distance.

Osprey, 2 Black Tern, 9 Common Tern, Red Kite and 6 Shelduck including a pair with 9 recently fledged young were at Eyebrook Reservoir, Leicestershire on our way to Ketton this morning. Having found our spot to observe “Oliver Cromwell” we moved on to the nearby Ketton Quarry NR where we had 30 Dingy Skipper, 10 Grizzled Skipper, 30 Small Heath, 20 Common Blue, Common Twayblade, Muntjac Deer and Fox plus a probable Lattice Heath.
Having arrived at Ketton footbridge just east of the signal box our long wait was cut short with a tip off that she (Oliver Cromwell) was running 2 hours late so moved on to Stamford for refreshments. A rather entertaining game of cricket kept us occupied till we left for the station and watched BR Britannia Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70013 Oliver Cromwell charge past with the Kings Cross-Rowsley special over 130 minutes down on her scheduled time.

Back home and 3 Holly Blue were in the garden with Hobby overhead and though I had another good moth catch I could not beat Colins 10th record of Cloaked Pug for Warwickshire so well done you bugger.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Damsels in the wind

Another scorching day slight marred by a blustery east wind so apart from a Red Kite being mobbed by 2 Raven south of my garden at 11:50am this morning, Hobby over garden yesterday evening, the normal fare at the pond and the last of the breeding summer visitors to arrive on my patch then birding has gone quiet.
A search this afternoon of the Bridge Nursery garden and meadows produced Azure, White-legged, Large Red, Common Blue, and Blue-tailed Damselflies but no butterflies while nearby Stockton Cutting had 9 Dingy and 5 Grizzled Skipper, 2 Brimstone, 2 Peacock, 2 Speckled Wood, Green Hairstreak, Orange-tip, Common Blue and our first Small Blue of the year.

Just managed a glimpse of the Space Shed when she was already over Belgium at 4:40 this morning.

Moths a plenty

Having moths to check out theses last few mornings takes some getting used to as we have jumped from late winter/early spring species to late spring/summer species with out the normal slow build up. Last week I trapped 6 moths of 4 species compared to 352 moths in 3 nights of 51 species this week. Last nights minimum temperature was 15c in my garden. Unfortunately Bob is away so you are going to have to do with my efforts.

Sallow Kitten
Waved Umber
Green Carpet
Angle Shades

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hartslock on a hot day

A day out for orchids, dragonflies and butterfly's at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Hartslock Wildlife Trust Reserve near Goring, Oxfordshire. At least 30 Red Kite in the area and among the many warblers seen we had Lesser Whitethroat and family parties of Garden Warbler. Common Blue, Brimstone, Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak were plentiful while the orchids flowering included a number of hybrids. A walk back to the car along the riverside footpath was timely as we jammed in on a Club-tailed Dragonfly that had just been found and a perched Kingfisher. A cracking day out Wallace.

Monkey Orchid
Lady Orchid
Green Hairstreak
River Thames

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Venus Transit

Venus will cross the face of the sun for the last time in our lifetime. The only chance we have of observing this is early morning on 6th June when the last hour or so of the transit will be visible from the UK depending on your location. Sunrise is approx 04:47BST so get up early for the sunrise (weather permitting) but don’t for Christ sake look directly at the sun. The higher you are or a clear view of the horizon should give you a fighting chance.

The Space Shed again

Some good passes and showing well the same morning as the Venus transit.

Sunshine and Butterflies (at last)

It’s been a glorious sunny day with clear skies and ideal for butterflying. Out and about around the Southam, Napton, Stockton and Draycote area produced:- 4 Brimstone, 2 Comma, Common Blue, 3 Holly Blue, Green Hairstreak, 4 Green-veined White, Large White, 17 Orange-tip, 9 Peacock, 3 Speckled Wood, 5 Dingy Skipper and 2 Grizzled Skipper. Other insects on the wing included disturbed or day flying moths with Pyrausta nigrata, 2 Pyrausta purpuralis, Small Yellow Underwing, 3 Burnet Companion, Cinnabar and Marsh Pug. After such a long wait the Dragonflies and Damselflies are out with Blue-tailed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle noted.
Although birding was secondary I had Sparrowhawk, 2 Hobby, 16 Buzzard, 6 Raven my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, 8 Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warbler, many Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker

Monday, 21 May 2012

Train Excursions

A number of rail tours of interest to me will take place over the next few weeks.

On Sunday 27th May THE PEAK FORRESTER will run from London to Rowlsey pulled by 70013 Oliver Cromwell. The route will take it via Peterborough and Oakham which means it will pass Rutland Water so a chance to do a bit of birding and train spotting at the same time. No times published yet

I’m not a big lover of diesel locomotives but one exception is the Deltic Class 55 built to work the high speed express passenger services on the east coast and pure beasts. Having come in to service in the early sixties by the late 70s they began to be replaced by the Class 43 High Speed Trains (HST) Only 22 were built and I’ve seen most of them before I discovered drink, drugs, girls, rock and roll.
On the 2nd June D9000 (55022) Royal Scots Grey will be in charge of a Didcot Parkway to York excursion to Railfest 2012 leaving at 6:30am and will pick up passengers from Oxford O6:45, Banbury 07:10, Leamington Spa 07:35, Coventry 07:55, Birmingham International 08:15 and Birmingham New Street 08:35 on its way north.

Back to steam on the 3rd June THE THAMES DIAMOND JUBILEE PAGEANT Solihull to Kensington Olympia will be pulled by 46201 The Princess Elizabeth. No times or route confirmed yet but she should go past Wormleighton, Banbury and Oxford as she heads south.

Saturday 9th June will see THE MANCUNIAN London Euston-Manchester hauled by 70000 or 70013: Again route and times not published but advertised as Euston-Nuneaton-Stoke-Manchester so should come through Rugby. Unfortunately I will be York with the Gang visiting Railfest 2012

Inland MEGA

Every now and then the birding gods take their eye off the coastal / off island ball and we get a mega inland. I’ve seen a few in Israel and two in the UK (Essex 84 and Scilly 04) but a chance of a lift to see the Cream-coloured Courser on Bradnor Hill near Kington, Herefordshire was snatched at with grateful thanks’. Boy the finder must have wet himself when this beauty plodded in to view.
Personally I was oblivious to its presence having arrived at the pond early morning hoping to see the Barn Owl. No luck but 2 Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover were on farborough bank and Grey Wagtail and Common Tern off windsurfing area till the mobile went off.
By the time I arrived back home the sun was out and both Holly Blue and Speckled Wood showed in the garden as I tackled my bedding plants.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Repeat of yesterday

Sunday was no different to Saturday just a little drier but the cold north easterly wind put paid to migration at the pond and all we managed was 3 Common Tern and 3 Yellow Wagtail before going for breakfast.
Another look at the orchids where terry captured the different variations then on to Brandon Marsh where the Wood Sandpiper and Red-crested Pochard remained.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wood Sandpiper & Orchids

Another dull morning with rain so decided to visit the WWT Draycote Meadows (SSSI) reserve where the Green-winged Orchids were out if a little damp before visiting Brandon Marsh for the wildflower plant sale. On our way Terry rang to say a Wood Sandpiper was there so on arrival we went straight to Teal Pool where the bird was showing. Unfortunately we followed the noisiest birder I have ever met in to the hide – clumsy as hell and making a right racket setting up his gear so we cleared off to the East Marsh Hide but he followed us in and repeated his antics so Dave dragged me out before I said something.

Friday, 18 May 2012

After the Lords Mayor Show

After yesterdays efforts today’s walk at the pond with Bob was bitterly disappointing with only Little Ringed Plover, Grey Wagtail and Wheatear from 4 hours of searching. Our bad luck continued at Brandon Marsh with Dave where there was no trace of the male Garganey seen yesterday though the pair of Red-crested Pochard remain and many of the commoner wading species have young.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Migrants in the rain

For inland birders then this mornings conditions of south east wind and early morning rain were ideal for migration and this was soon borne out when Dave spotted a Short-eared Owl at 7:15am just after our arrival at Draycote Water being mobbed by a group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls above biggen bay and it spent 10 minutes climbing higher to avoid them till it disappeared at 7:25am heading north west. Dave was on the ball again with a “what’s this” shout and I looked up to see 5 Grey Plover (4 in full summer plumage and one in partial summer plumage) as they attempted to land in toft bay before flying off west at 7:45. Other highlights included 12 Common Scoter watched leaving the reservoir at 8:36. They were not sexed and not been seen prior to leaving. Unfortunately we were not having everything our own way as a buzzard flew over toft bay convinced us it was a Honey Buzzard till we finally came to our senses, must have been an optical illusion as it certainly had the jizz.
Also present were Gadwall 13 (a good count for this time of the year), Shoveler 2m & 1 f, Common Sandpiper 2, Oystercatcher, Curlew 3, Common Tern, Wheatear female Yellow Wagtail 4, Goldeneye female, Hobby 2, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Great-spotted Woodpecker and at least 3000 Swift.

Monday, 14 May 2012


Having walked to toft shallows in blustery conditions after morning rain and only seeing Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wheatear and 2 Common Gull we found an adult Kittiwake from farborough spit which only stayed for 5 minutes from 12:45 -12:50.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Osprey & Grass Snake

Arrived at Draycote Water where there was a single Black Tern out in the centre while the highlight of this early morning visit was an Osprey which flew in to toft bay at 8:15 then headed south before turning to the east. Also noted were 3 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatear.
After breakfast we looked for butterflies at Harbury Spoil Bank finding 7 Dingy Skipper 7 Peacock Large White, Speckled Wood and a very nice specimen of Green Hairstreak while Napton on the Hill had Holly Blue, Common Blue 2 and Peacock.
Napton Reservoir had Common Sandpiper and Wheatear along with brief views of 2 Grass Snake and Blue-tailed Damselfly were just emerging.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

More butterflies

May 12th 2012.
Another reasonable day looking for butterflies though away from the sheltered areas the northerly wind was cool. The Just So Café had Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Green-veined White while Stockton Cutting produced our first Grizzled Skipper, 2 Dingy Skipper of the year plus Peacock, Green-veined White, 3 Orange Tip. The first Early Purple Orchids were out while a longhorn moth was identified later as Incurvaria masculella. Only bird of note was a Whitethroat.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Butterflies at last

May 11th 2012
Sun came out for the afternoon so managed a brief search of St Lawrence’s Churchyard, Napton on the Hill for butterflies finding Large White, Holly Blue, Orange tip, Small White, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood