Thursday, 31 January 2013

The pond at last

Finally managed to get down to the pond this morning but after 5 weeks of illness I struggled to make it to farborough spit so I have someway to go before declaring myself fit for purpose. My progress was not helped by the blustery conditions with a 25 mph south westerly wind gusting at 43 mph.
Unfortunately there was no sign of yesterdays Scaup (3) but Tim kept Bob up to speed on 2 Black-necked Grebe he had found off the picnic area and the male Smew that was off farborough spit which flew to the fishing lodge and stayed there for the rest of the morning. All I could add to the day list was a single Golden Plover heading down the Grandborough valley, Raven. Mistle Thrush, 3 Meadow Pipit, 20 Fieldfare, 6 Skylark and a Buzzard.
Luckily I recovered just in time from my mornings effort to watch a Red Kite fly east over the garden at 3pm followed by its entourage of Jackdaws and Crows.

yesterdays Scaup by Bob Hazel

just a record shot by Bob of today's 2 BNG due to the conditions  

Waxwings are still being reported locally with Cawston attracting 4 last Saturday, 2 on Sunday and a single today. Unfortunately they are being reported in non food supply areas so not nailed down.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

GCR Winter Steam Gala

Made a brief visit to the Winter Steam Gala being held on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough

London Midland and Scottish Railway Jinty 0-6-0T 47406

                        Great Western Railway 2-8-0 No 3803

London Midland and Scottish 8F Class 2-8-0 48624

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 No 3803 and London Midland and Scottish 8F Class 2-8-0 48624

Great Western Railway Class 6000 No 6023 King Edward II

Friday, 25 January 2013

Soup and Swans

I needed a change of scenery so managed a little bit of lunch at Brandon Marsh before checking on the Mutes at Kings Newnham. Was not that bothered about birding at Brandon but did note Coal Tit, Siskin, Reed Bunting and Nuthatch on the feeders while earlier we had at least 5 Buzzards over Wolston village.
The Mute Swans blended in well with the snow at Kings Newnham and we went from non present to 67 by the time we finished checking the flock out. At least 30 Skylark present.
Snipe Draycote Water by Bob Hazel in toft bay today

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Black-necked Grebe and my dying list

I'm still confined to garden watching adding Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Lapwing, female Blackcap, Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Herring Gull and Rook to my 'birds I have seen when really poorly list' so appreciated Bob sending me a record shot of the Black-necked Grebe he found at the pond today. Unfortunately it would not come close. The male Smew was still present while the snowy conditions have brought in a few Woodcock and Waxwing to other parts of the patch.
Black-necked Grebe by Bob Hazel

Friday, 18 January 2013

Heavy feeding

With today's heavy snow well forecasted I loaded the garden with every avian delight known to man and it paid off with a very good selection of visitors. Totals were
Wood Pigeon 8
Collard Dover 2
Fieldfare 1
Redwing 2
Blackbird 5
Magpie 4
Carrion Crow 4
Chaffinch 18
Bullfinch 2
Brambling 1 female
Lesser Redpoll 1male
Reed Bunting 1 female
Coal Tit 2
Blue Tit 7
Great Tit 3
Wren 2
Dunnock 2
Black-headed Gull 9
Common Gull 1
Great-spotted Woodpecker 1 over
Lesser Black-backed Gull 2 over
Starling 1

Surprisingly no Jackdaw, Greenfinch or House Sparrow.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Steam Trains of interest

I have had a chance to check up a on few steam gala’s and tours that will be running in early spring before I leave for the big mountains. No times or finalised routs published for the tours yet so will let you know nearer the date but of interest The Buxton Spa Express could be going over the Harringworth Viaduct while The Cathedrals Express to Holyhead will give many of you a chance to see Tornado in Blue for the first time.
Many thanks for those who brought to my attention THE WINTER CUMBRIAN MOUNTAIN EXPRESS that will be running between London Euston-Carlisle on a number of dates between January and March presuming it was steam driven throughout. In fact it will be hauled by Class 86 Euston to Carnforth and Preston to Euston with the steam section being undertaken between Carnforth-Shap-Carlisle-Settle-Preston

January 25th, 26th & 27th Great Central Railway Winter Gala will have 8 engines in steam including GWR King Class No 6023 “King Edward II”

March 22nd, 23rd & 24th Severn Valley Railway Spring Steam Gala with at least 8 engines in steam hauling trains between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.

Sat 06-Apr
London Euston-Buxton
: Euston-Bletchley-Bedford-Melton Mowbray-Edale-Buxton-Stockport

Sat 06-Apr
Birmingham SH-Marylebone
5043: Birmingham Moor St-Marylebone and return

Sat 13-Apr
5043: Solihull-Reading West-Salisbury and return

Sun 14-Apr
London Kings Cross-Rowsley
/34046: Kings Cross-Peterborough-Stamford-Matlock-Rowsley and return

Sat 20-Apr
London Euston-Holyhead
: Euston-Holyhead-Crewe

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Antares and the shed

Popped out early morning to watch the space station go over - finally catching up with her after a long run of poor weather. Bitterly cold -4. Few birds of note seen along Ashlawn Ridge and Cock Robin Wood.
It don't look much but the picture below is Antares a red giant in the constellation of Scorpius some 550 light years away and a better effort than my attempt at the Space Shed just 267 miles away.

Unfortunately travelling at 4 and half miles per second I had a hard time following her. 

Monday, 14 January 2013


Went out for an early walk around Cock Robin Wood hoping for some snow shots after an overnight shower and flushed a Woodcock - first for the year.
Brambling female made another brief visit to the garden but it was snowing so heavy at the time I had no chance to get a snap.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Napton Bittern

We listened to 3 Tawny Owls and a Little Owl calling on our arrival at Napton Reservoir and as the temperature dropped to minus 3 just before dawn 2 Barn Owls were out hunting the field next to the Bridge Nursery. Unfortunately we were focusing on owls so much we did not see the Bittern in the channel until it flew past very close, excellent find but failed to locate it later. Also present were 4 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 6 Great-crested Grebe and on our way out another Barn Owl was located roosting. With minutes to go before the space shed was due it clouded over and while listening to owls earlier we had 4 satellites.
Red-legged Partridge at Broadwell then a chat with Cym at the Baseley Smallholding produced 15 Tree Sparrow while Collin rang with news of 2 Brambling down the road.
I was in desperate need of a rest so made for the Long Itch diner where at least I managed to finish my breakfast compared to last week so slowly improving, then pottered around Napton on the Hill which was very quiet and failed to see the Raven that went over calling. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Murmuration and Shed

Mark Phillips Dad sent me some pics of the Starlings gathering near Willoughby yesterday

while the forth coming cold spell may improve our chances of seeing the space shed as passes over early morning.

A female Brambling made a brief appearance in my garden this afternoon

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


With both my surgeon and warden denying me access to the countryside my latest illness is driving me nuts. Some unknown virus is taking great joy at sapping my energy levels so when I do get out I only last an hour before curling up in a heap begging to be taken back to my cell.
Luckily Bob has been keeping up to speed on the pond though I wouldn’t have enjoyed today’s weather where blue sky’s belied the reality of thick fog making for a frustrating visit. Luckily it managed to clear briefly for a decent shot of the male Smew.

On the plus side I have had a decent run of moths in this mild spell resulting in Mottled Umber, Chestnut, Dark Chestnut, Winter Moth, Early Moth and Emmelina monodactyla being recorded in my trap though tonight’s cold spell will put paid to any hoped for additions.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Early birds can't identify the worm

We had two surprises at Napton Reservoir this morning before dawn with a large unidentified bat species flying around the car park and an asio owl species over the perimeter bank. Later on in better light we had 2 Barn Owl and a Snipe. At least 30 Tree Sparrow’s on the Baseley feeders before heading home.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

First moth of the year

Bob arrived just after I had found this Mottled Umber resting on a fence near the trap and took its pic

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Here we go again

Finally managed a few hours out this morning and couldn't have chosen better weather to kick the year off starting at Napton Reservoir long before dawn waiting for the Barn Owl to show. We were kept occupied with an array of planets and stars with the added bonus of a couple of meteorites probably belonging to the Quadrantid shower which reaches its peak on the 3rd and a very bright satellite. A couple of Snipe, a possible Tawny Owl, 4 Great-crested Grebe and 9 Mute Swan was also on offer as the light improved.
Moved on to the Baseley Smallholding where 30 Tree Sparrow were showing well with plenty of Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting nearby.
Next stop was the pond but this was more of a social event catching up friends with the added company of male Smew, 9 Golden Plover, 300 Lapwing, 7 Goosander and a distant Little Egret in rainbow corner.
Kings Newnham had 2 Grey Partridge and 68 Mute Swan while the feeding station at Cathiron was heaving with all sorts of tits plus Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Tried our luck on Lawford Heath but the finch flock had spread out and could only find 60+ Chaffinch and a few Linnet. By the time we had left Blooms I had ran out of energy and called it a day.
just a point and click so now I wished I spent time on focusing

Nuthatch, Cathiron
Well I hope you all have a prosperous and Healthy New Year – mine will be full of travel so come the spring and summer I will be off line for some time as I visit Kazakhstan and follow La Tour through Corsica and the Med.