Thursday, 23 October 2014


Ruby Tiger at Draycote Water by Bob Hazell

posing Kingfisher at Draycote Water by Bob Hazell

hope all is well for who ever needed the air ambulance this morning at Stockton Marina taken from the adjacent Napton Reservoir this morning looking for a place to land

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Robo wars comes to town

Looked like we stumbled on to the set of robo wars when we arrived at the pond this morning but there was a serious side to the event held by BALI (British Association of Landscape Gardeners) who were hosting a health and safety led event investigating the risks and different methods involved in vegetated embankment management using specialised equipment. Certainly the in place to be if you’re a lawn mower geek.

Unfortunately it meant that disturbance was high along farborough bank so Bob, Keith and myself struggled to nail down a flighty Ringed Plover and never got to grips with a possible Rock Pipit.  After yesterday’s winds the visit was disappointing with just odds and sods seen including Little Egret, 2 Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, 4 of 6 Goldeneye that were present, 2 Pochard and a calling but unseen Golden Plover. There was a massive movement of Wood Pigeon from first light but that petered out as the breeze got up and included a few winter thrushes and skylarks. No sign of yesterdays Rock Pipit on hensborough bank.

Monday, 20 October 2014

A birdy pond

A birdy morning between visitor centre and inlet produced no sign of the Red-breasted Mergansers but there were Kingfisher, Little Egret, 3 Dunlin, 3 Tree Sparrow, 3 Raven, Sparrowhawk, 3 Jay, 2 Grey Wagtail, immature male Goldeneye, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker and Rock Pipit though now Napton Reservoir is nearly back too normal water levels it was hard work and all we could find was 5 Teal, 2 Gadwall and 3 Snipe.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Red-breasted Merganser

A very poor visit species wise but 2 immature Red-breasted Mergansers off the sailing club at first light plus Little Egret and Gadwall saved the visit. Nothing of note on Napton on the Hill. Napton Reservoir had 2 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and 3 Snipe.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Not a lot

Great Skua still at Draycote Water and a Golden Plover circled before heading east. Plenty of vis mig – mainly Redwing, mipits and Skylarks but soon trailed off. Vapourer Moth and adult Yellow-legged Gull at Napton Reservoir.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Brent & Bonxie part 2

A very atmospheric start to the day. The Great Skua remained and another Brent Goose dropped in briefly – juvenile this time but both were not very photogenic. Also noted were Kingfisher, Little Egret, 4 Gadwall, 3 Pochard, 2 Grey Wagtail, Raven while biggen bay had a patrolling Peregrine. Missed the Ringed Plover.

Brent Goose and Ringed Plover by Bob Hazell
There had been a few mipits and Skylarks going down the valley but hardly any were seen from Napton on the Hill, plenty of Red Admirals seen – with 9 counted. Napton Reservoir had 8 Shoveler, 2 Teal and 3 Snipe while butterflies included Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Large White and 5 Red Admiral. Another Brimstone was at the old Napton and Stockton Railway Station.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Brent and Bonxie

Not quite the day I thought it would be with very little seen on my walk to toft shallows with Bob and Paul apart from plenty of mipits on the banks, a trickle of Skylark going south and a Little Egret in toft shallows. As Paul and I returned passing farborough spit a Brent Goose appeared from nowhere and flew in to toft but then continued east and away. After coffee I joined Bob on hensborough bank where 3 Rock Pipit were present while a thinning of the low cloud produced hundreds of Redwing with 800 over plus the odd starling flock and 200 more Skylark. Song Thrushes were more noticeable today on the deck. Just as we approached the wind surfing area Bob spotted a Great Skua near the inlet before it gave us the run around as it toured the reservoir before spending a bit of time loafing in toft where those present caught up with it. Contrary to pager reports we believe it to be a different bird to the three seen yesterday

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A trio of Great Skuas

There had to be something at the pond today so the lone goose which went over the car park when we arrived could easily have been a genuine Pink-footed Goose blown off course though a local feral species can never be ruled out – will never know. Did not see a lot by the time I had to leave for hospital appointment (Swallow 3, Sand Martin (probably my latest date here) and Rock Pipit) but we had hardly got in to Rugby when news came through of a Great Skua beating up the Coots. Luckily Bob came to the rescue and picked me up in the afternoon by which time there were three birds present (a record count for me since two were present after hurricane Charlie in 87) A Kittiwake adult went over while most birders present were warming up in the café. Though not seen by me there were some interesting counts today with at least 3 Rock Pipit present, Arctic Tern juvenile, a flock of 8 Kittiwake among some Common Gull arrivals, 3 Dunlin, 2 Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail. Winds look good for checking the bushes tomorrow – got to be a Yellow-browed in the county and who knows what else.

Bob Hazell did well to get theses images of the Great Skuas considering how dull it was and the distance involved.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bloody windy

With the forecast for rain and gusty winds most of the day we donned our wet gear and plodded out to farborough spit, Draycote Water hoping for something mouth-wateringly good but all we had was 3 Rock Pipit, our first Goosander of the winter, Shoveler and 4 Pochard. Weather did not let up when we arrived at Napton Reservoir and saw only 4 Snipe, 2 Gadwall and 12 Shoveler. With news that local sites were picking up seabirds I went back out in the afternoon to the pond and it was horrendous so hunkered down amongst the sailing boats and rewarded with 2 first winter and one adult Kittiwake on the surface in front of sailing club.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Birding in the fog

Woke up road weary to thick fog so not worth doing Draycote Water and decided to look at Napton Reservoir briefly before chilling out in the Skylark till it lifted. Managed 5 Snipe, 4 Teal, Grey Wagtail, Brown Rat and Water Vole in the gloom. The Skylark café had a Raven and Buzzard perched among the free range chickens with many Skylark going over and 2 Chiffchaff. Napton on the Hill was very birdy – probably the best it’s been all year with 50 Skylark, 17 Redwing and 6 Swallow over with many Blackbirds Pied Wagtails and Chaffinches in the hedgerows while the churchyard had 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 20 Song Thrush and a large tit flock just in one hour of looking. Returned to Napton Reservoir where the visibility had improved slightly so added 7 Shoveler, 21 Tufted Duck and a Great-spotted Woodpecker to our previous visit.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Little, Steppe and Arctic

A cracking days birding if a somewhat tiring with an early morning drive to Suffolk for the Little Crake at the Minsmere R.S.P.B reserve stopping for an autumn gathering of Stone Curlew. The juvenile crake was as elusive as expected and only showed briefly. Great-White Egret, Bittern and Bearded Tit all noted then as there was negative news on the Bedfordshire Lesser Grey Shrike we decided to push on to the north Norfolk coast for the Steppe Grey Shrike at Burham Norton which performed well. Stopped at Titchwell R.S.P.B for a well-earned breakfast then did the reserve and shore-line with Yellow-browed Warbler, Little Stint, male Merlin, Firecrest, 2 Red-necked Grebe and 2 Slavonian Grebe the best on offer. I thought we would be spending the rest of the day here but news of the Artic Warbler at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire broke and two of our crew were desperate to try for it so with a promise that we would stop for a hot meal on the way home I agreed so it was back in the car heading further up the east coast than I had expected this morning. Luckily the bird was showing on arrival and kindly pointed out by the locals. Short-eared Owl seen briefly as we left. The steak, Scampi and chips went down a treat washed down with some nice local nectar and on cue the space shed was seen as it sped over France. Finally got home with over 400 miles done, some nice birds and a bum ache.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Merlin and Rail

A good passage of Skylarks over Draycote Water this morning with at least 70 counted while 14 Swallow’s in 3 groups fed briefly before pushing on south. The Wheatear remained on farborough bank and the Little Egret on the wind surfing shore-line. Bird of the day was a female/immature Merlin that attempted to take a Meadow Pipit over the country park before turning its attention to a Starling flock. With Paul C having 3 Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail on Napton on the Hill we decided to concentrate on Napton Reservoir and rewarded with a sulking Water Rail, 12 Tufted Duck, 7 Shoveler including an adult male, 4 Teal, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Raven, Sparrowhawk and 4 Buzzard. Despite the cool wind and developing cloud the sun was warm enough to bring out 2 Red Admiral, Comma and a Hornet along with a couple of Common Darter and 5 Migrant Hawkers.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Rain stopped play

After a clear night with a very bright full moon there was a little bit of vis-mig first thing with Jay, 12 Skylark and my first 4 Redwings of the autumn over the garden before the rain clouds started to build up from the south east. After yesterday’s birdy efforts Bob and I were hoping for a similar day but the rain came in as soon as we arrived and we could not find any new arrivals. At least 4 Rock Pipit still including one with no tail and one of yesterday’s Wheatears. Only other birds of note were 2 Little Egret, 7 Raven, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Jay. Met up with Paul, Martyn and Bob H and listened to their tales of birding on Shetland last week. They had some stonkers but nothing I needed though their pictures certainly made you wish you had been there.

Little Egret by Bob Hazell
Wheatear by Bob Hazell

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rocky 6

Draycote was cool and blustery this morning but at least it stayed dry for our visit and by the time we left it had been very birdy. A Marsh Harrier briefly showed over the perimeter tree line as it flew over the fields opposite the entrance flushing many duck, 100 Lapwing and 3 Golden Plover. At least 6 Rock Pipit were dotted around the reservoir along with 3 Grey Wagtail and 2 Wheatear. The various Tufted Duck flocks contained 2 Pochard and a female Pintail while overhead there were 2 House Martin, single Swallow, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and 2 Snipe with 2 more in toft shallows. Other sightings included Water Rail, Kingfisher, 8 Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff and 9 Raven. The Raven count does not include those seen near or over Napton on the Hill due to excellent visibility which would have added another 20+ to the count.

as usual my thanks go to Bob Hazell for sharing his pics

Monday, 6 October 2014

Rain and Wind

Despite the heavy rain and blustery conditions we managed Rock Pipit, Wheatear, Common Tern, 5 Grey Wagtail and 2 Little Egret at Draycote Water this morning on our walk to toft shallows. Decided to visit Napton Reservoir before going home to dry but with the wind in our faces it was not pleasant. Only 2 Shoveler and 3 Snipe for our efforts.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Eight Pintail and 15 Skylark over Draycote Water this morning plus 2 Little Egret. Napton Reservoir had 6 Snipe, 10 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 11 Raven, 2 Swallow, 2 Wigeon and 5 Shoveler plus single Vapourer Moth and 5 Red Admiral.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

GCW Autumn Steam Gala

The Great Central Railway were holding their annual Autumn Steam Gala at Loughborough with 9 engines in action so a great day out despite the heavy rain at times which thankfully did not stop the crowds attending in good numbers. Eventually the sun came out.
a damp Loughborough Station

BR 2MT No 78019

Standard BR 9F 2-10-0 No 92214

having been watered and coaled 92214 leaves Loughborough with a freight train

platform 2 Loughborough Station

sidings west of Loughborough Station

Friday, 3 October 2014

Mallow & Swallows

Not a lot going on at Draycote Water with 2 Little Egret, 6 Pochard and a Grey Wagtail so luckily Napton Reservoir was a lot more active with plenty of birds about. At least 12 Snipe, 40 Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, 5 Song Thrush, 10 Reed Bunting and a single Shoveler. A Mallow in my moth trap was totally unexpected and is my 324th macro moth for the garden bringing my total garden moth list to 592.

Mallow by Bob Hazell

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Odds & Sods

Draycote Water had a Golden Plover circling overhead on our arrival, 5 Swallow. Rock Pipit, Little Egret, Pochard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk with a small vis mig of Skylark and Meadow Pipits while Napton Reservoir had a very chunky Peregrine, 11 Raven, 5 Buzzard, 4 Shoveler, 4 Tufted Duck, 3 Snipe and Whinchat which today was very elusive. Plenty of Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers still on the wing around plus single Common Blue Damselfly, 3 Vapourer Moth and Small Copper. Two Raven over the garden mid-afternoon and a Green-veined White flew through. Yesterday Skylark Farm, Staverton had an Old Lady that was flushed out of the grass in to the Chicken pens, Wheatear, Jay, Buzzard, Raven and 1000s of Wood Pigeon in fields opposite the entrance looking towards Flecknoe and Millholm Parc had 5 Buzzards all going over high south west in singles in a 10 minute period plus 10+ Tree Sparrows by the hide.