Friday, 28 November 2014

Steam update and pond

LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 45407 and 44871 will be hauling the Cathedrals Express excursion from Peterborough to Oxford via March on December 11th with the train advertised to leave at 7:45am. On the same day The Railway Touring Company are planning The York Yultide Express between Norwich and York via Peterborough hauled by LNER Class A4 No 6009 Union of South Africa which will approach on the same line except from a different direction. It's due in Peterborough at 10:40am. We plan to view both expresses near Turvy so will be handy for some winter birding on the Nene Washes and of course the Big Chill is not far away for blow out breakfast

Late start at the pond this morning started with a quick chat with Keith then a walk to rainbow corner producing Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Little Egret, 2 Raven, female Pintail, 20 Goosander (6m), 25 Goldeneye, 7 Pochard, 30 Meadow Pipit and Kingfisher. Over 400 Redwing at Napton Reservoir and 3 Gadwall along with 6 juvenile Mute Swan.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Scaup in the gloom

One look at the pond this morning and there was no chance we would see the valve tower let alone a common scoter so we cleared off. Just our luck the mist and murk lingered for most of the morning and so had very little on Napton on the Hill while Napton Reservoir produced 3 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall the first female Goldeneye of the winter here, Sparrrowhawk and hundreds of winter thrushes. Popped back to Draycote Water in the afternoon after Bob gave a heads up on two male Scaup he had located when the gloom lifted.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Birding in the gloom

Another wet dreary dull overcast morning though not as cold as yesterday and decided on trying around the fields between Draycote village and Birdingbury concentrating on the thick hedgerows of draycote hill, the various set-aside strips and the numerous pheasant feeders some of which can be seen from Draycote Water. Unfortunately not all are on public footpaths so had to do a bit naughtiness. Despite the conditions birds were plentiful with hundreds of Fieldfare & Redwing along with a single Corn Bunting, 22 Tree Sparrow, 2 Jay, Sparrowhawk, 100 Stock Dove, 12 Bullfinch, 90 Skylark 8 Reed Bunting and 120 Yellowhammer. Bird of the morning was a Woodcock flushed from draycote hill set-aside strip. A brief look at the pond between the valve tower and rainbow produced a female Common Scoter, Little Egret, 9 Goosander, 5 Tree Sparrow, 8 Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Kingfisher and 2 Siskin. God forbid but McDonalds was the nearest driest place to chill out in and must admit there kindness was appreciated as they dried my coat out-bless.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Due to the fog we gave Draycote a miss and tried our luck at Wormleighton which we had not been to for some time. Plenty of activity on the feeders though it looks like they don’t put feed down in the hedgerow any more so only managed one Tree Sparrow briefly appearing on the road accompanied by 4 Bullfinch. Best of the garden was Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Tit. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing as we walked to reservoir where the water level was surprisingly low but apart from a male Teal and 3 Goosander (1m) not much else was seen. Trawled the lanes to Staverton but visibility was poor and at Skylark Farm spent too long trying to consider whether I should go back to the car for the camera as a Raven sat perched for 20 minutes

Monday, 24 November 2014

Plenty at the pond

After yesterday’s morning rain which the only bird of note was a day-flying Barn Owl along the west side of the old Railway Station at Flecknoe then today was in total contrast. Started the morning out early looking at the Orion Nebula which was brilliant through the scope with a Little Owl for company then it was a walk to the inlet at Draycote Water with Dave in minus conditions with mist lifting off the surface. Plenty to see with Little Egret in the inlet channel, at least 14 Goosander (4m) 120 Golden Plover over heading north, 80 Stock Dove, 15 Tree Sparrow, 80 Yellowhammer, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll, 3 Raven, Peregrine, Goldcrest, 6 Reed Bunting and 10 Long-tailed Tit. Unfortunately very little seen in the valley or at Napton Reservoir.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Bittern and the Duchess

I don’t think I have seen two separate steam trains at Rugby since the early 60s and judging by the size of the crowd on Rugby Station and Myson House I wasn’t the only one getting excited. 60019 Bittern arrived first and took on water as her admirers crowed on too platform one & three for better views while 15 minutes later 46233 Duchess of Sutherland arrived to be met by hoots and whistles from Bittern and excited chatter from the many kids present. Unfortunately a freight train blocked everyone's view but luckily as I moved pronto to platform 5 she left and then everyone could enjoy the mean green fighting machine. She was also taking on water from the tanker in the college grounds and once she had the road in her favour she was away – pure bliss.


Duchess of Sutherland

Friday, 21 November 2014

Stock Dove increasing

Counted 600 Stock Dove mid-day at Millholme Parc Farm on our way to Staverton for lunch plus Raven, 5 Buzzard but very few passerines around. Further down the road approaching Flecknoe we had the same flock of Golden Plover seen by Paul C which we also recorded at 83. Only a single Raven at Skylark Farm but the rain and murk made visibility really crap.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Barn Owl & Merlin

Early start looking for owls this morning paid off with a Barn Owl hunting along Hill Rd in the grandborough valley then as day light brightened we tried our luck at Millholme Parc Farm and treated to a prolonged view of an adult Merlin trying every trick in the book to catch a Skylark but luckily it managed to avoid its fate. Later while chatting to Cym the Merlin returned chasing another Skylark though this one was more sensible and dived in to cover. A few Stock Dove around but did not see the main flock. After breakfast the mist rolled in so viewing was difficult at Napton on the Hill but the place was alive with Blackbirds and Redwings plus a single Nuthatch. Ended the morning at Napton Reservoir where there were 4 Shoveler, Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 2 Snipe, 90 Common Gull and a Great-spotted Woodpecker

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Another walk to the inlet at Draycote water produced roughly the same birds as yesterday, 11 Goosander (2 males), Little Egret, Red-crested Pochard, 2 Grey Wagtail and 26 Tree Sparrow. The flock of Stock Dove near Millholme Parc Farm remains at 400 while a Sparrowhawk flushed at least 300 Skylark and 150 Yellowhammer. The feeders at Millholme Parc had Great-spotted Woodpecker and 20+ Tree Sparrow with 3 Buzzard and a Raven overhead.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Steam trains in Rugby on the 22nd

Two Steam specials are due to arrive at Rugby on Saturday 22nd November when the Cathedrals Express from London Euston to Chester will be hauled by LNER A4 Class 4-6-2 no 60019 Bittern [4464] arriving at Rugby at 10:06 and scheduled to depart at 10:29.stopping at Nuneaton 10:50 departing 10:58. On the same day Stanier Class 8P Coronation Class 4-6-2 Pacific No 46233 Duchess of Sutherland will be hauling a special from Sheffield to London Euston. Pathing times have just been published which shows she is due to stop at Birmingham New Street at 09:25 departing 09:51, thru Coventry at 10:05 and stopping just outside Rugby Station at 10:19 departing at 10:43 which should mean both will be in Rugby at the same time. As per usual theses are scheduled times and can alter on the day so be early.

Impressive flocks

A very pleasant walk to the inlet at Draycote water in wintery sunshine with a cool easterly breeze meeting up with Paul. Could not locate the merg but 12 Goosander (3 males), Little Egret, Red-crested Pochard, 3 Jay, Raven, 17 Tree Sparrow, and 2 Grey Wagtails made up for it. Interestingly we bumped in to one of the regular walkers we see daily who had photographed the legs of a dead gull (presume LBBG from the little bit of wing seen) Ringed in Jersey with a metal ring No 0698 and a davic ring No 1AN1. Unfortunately STW have been picking up the dead after comments from the public so did not see it ourselves. After breakfast Napton on the Hill could only give us a flyover Grey Wagtail though the churchyard was full of Blackbirds and Redwings. Paul went off to photograph the Tree Sparrows at Millholme Parc while we checked on Napton Reservoir finding 3 Snipe, 2 Raven, 20 Yellowhammer and 10 Reed Bunting. A call from Paul had us diverting on the way home to see a very impressive flock of Stock Dove. Don’t often see large flocks around here so this one of 400 birds was well worth seeing, even better the same field held 150 Skylark and 150 Yellowhammer with a few Chaffinch, Tree Sparrows and Linnets thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Another female RBM

Conditions were very murky at the pond this morning so had to be content with a hovering Kingfisher, 6 Goosander (one male) till a female Red-breasted Merganser flew past us to settle in rainbow corner. Although not counted Goldeneye seem to have increased and Great-crested Grebe are nearing 200. Unfortunately Napton on the Hill was shrouded in mist with very little seen while Napton Reservoir was a little better with 300 Common Gull loafing around and a female Shoveler.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Skylark & Millholme Parc Farm

Spent a wet morning in Sainsbury's then out with Dave to Skylark Farm for lunch where there were 10 Raven overhead. Came home via the grandborough valley but little seen apart from Great-spotted Woodpecker at Flecknoe till we reached Millholme Parc Farm. Twenty minutes here brought us 40+ Yellowhammer, 15 Tree Sparrow, 2 Buzzard, 2 Raven, a few Chaffinch and 300 Lapwing over.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Different Peregrine

After feeling rough yesterday I well and truly overslept this morning so Dave had to drag me kicking and screaming from under the duvet which meant we arrived at the pond later than usual. Quick chat with Bob and Keith then as they toddled off to toft we ambled to rainbow corner. The first winter male Red-crested Pochard was in rainbow corner while overhead 80 Lapwing circled for some time till the large juvenile Peregrine that was patrolling the fields behind rainbow cleared off. A real chunky monkey. Six Golden Plover went over east. Only other birds of note were 7 Goosander, 15 Goldeneye, 5 Pochard, Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 8 Tree Sparrow, 50 Stock Dove and hundreds of corvids, Wood Pigeon, Fieldfare and Redwing on the west side of reservoir. Just 2 Bullfinch on Napton on the Hill and 2 Sparrowhawk between Gibraltar bridge and Broadwell.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Heavy rain

Spent the first hour at Draycote Water under the visitor’s centre canopy due to heavy rain which did not help at keeping the early morning chill out. Our eventual walk to toft shallows did not produce much with Peregrine over the grandborough valley, 3 Goosander, Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff in toft shallows along with 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Still a few winter thrushes in the hedgerow and a small passage of Starling.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

another Brent

Arrived at Draycote Water 7:30 to find a juvenile Brent Goose off farborough bank but alas it left at 7:40 to the SW before we could get any closer. A walk to the inlet produced 6f &2m Goosander, a few Goldeneye, juv male Red-crested Pochard in rainbow corner and 8 Tree Sparrow around the feeders. Although there was little visible migration two large flocks surprised us with 2000 Starling over at 7:45 and 400 Fieldfare over rainbow at 8:30. After a flock of 300 Fieldfare flew over us at Southam we gave Napton on the Hill a look but apart from 50 Blackbird and a few Redwing, Fieldfare and Chaffinches around the churchyard we saw little else.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Red-crested Scots Gaurdsman

A nice party of 7 Red-crested Pochards (4m&3f) were off toft bank till flushed by a walker and drifted in to an approaching fishing boat and took flight eventually being re-located off hensborough bank loosely joining last week’s immature male. Also seen were 50 Meadow Pipit, 13 Goldeneye, 6 Goosander, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. Surrounding hedges had a few Fieldfare and Redwing with more present in the car park. Napton on the Hill had 330 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing and 30 Blackbird grounded with at least 8 Mistle Thrush, 3 Raven and 2 Buzzard around. Napton Reservoir is all most full now and the only wildfowl of note was a female Shoveler and a male Gadwall. More winter thrushes in the surrounding hedges.
Fridays heavy rain put paid to seeing LMS Royal Scot Class 7P 4-6-0 no 46115 Scots Guardsman being transferred from Carnforth to Southall so took the opportunity to see it on its way back north when it stopped at Rugby for water this afternoon.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Steam is coming

November is good for steam trains locally with LMS Royal Scot Class 7P 4-6-0 no 46115 Scots Guardsman being transferred from Carnforth to Southall and is due to stop at Rugby Friday 7th November at 15:58 before departing south at 16:51. Plenty of time for photos if the forecasted rain clears off.

The same train is due to take the Robin Hood, London St Pancras-to Lincoln via Corby and Nottingham on Sunday 9th November before returning a different route to London Kings Cross meaning she will be going over the Harringworth viaduct approx. 12:15pm.
She will be returning to Carnforth from Southall on Monday 10th November but no details have been published yet. Meanwhile two separate steam hauled excursions are due in Rugby on Saturday 22nd November but again too early for times to be published so will keep you posted.

Further away and in December on Thursday 11th December another Cathedral Express from Peterborough to Oxford and will pass just a couple of miles from Nene Wash/ March Farmers area. Will be early and due to be a double header with a couple of Class 5s. This one will go down well with a bit of winter birding and a visit to the Chill Out Café.

Late House Martin and a good supporting cast

Bloody cold this morning so dug out the long Johns and in the context of local birding then Bob and I had an absolute blinder of a visit to Draycote Water this morning with plenty on offer, a bit of luck and a few flyovers. Our walk started off slowly with 55 Meadow Pipit on farborough bank and distant views of the male Red-crested Pochard in biggen bay and plenty of other duck in rainbow corner. Two immature swans arriving off the valve tower caused the blood pressure to rise before common sense made them in to Mutes but not before I had walked back to the spit for a closer look. I continued on clockwise meeting back up with Bob at the inlet which gave us great opportunity to go through the duck finding 4 female Pintail ( a 5th female was resting on the inlet with Mallard) 5 Goosander, 25 Wigeon, 4 female and one male Shoveler, 12 Pochard, 6 Gadwall and 6 Goldeneye before a fishermens boat flushed the lot. Kingfishers in toft and on the inlet, Little Egret on the inlet, 2 Raven, 10 Tree Sparrow, 30 Fieldfare, 80 Skylark, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Siskin and 30 Stock Dove kept the list ticking over nicely. As we returned then the first of 3 good flyovers took us by surprise with a very late House Martin feeding between inlet and rainbow corner before continuing on south then two groups of Golden Plover flew over south totalling 26 birds with 5 circling for a while followed by 5 Dunlin also going south over the outlet. The House Martin is my second latest record here. Our list finally ended with a Green Woodpecker and the last 2 of 9 Bullfinch seen clearly to be on migration as they were not intent on stopping and all going in a NE to SW direction which is unusual for the pond.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Goosander numbers building

Yesterday’s group of Red-crested Pochard at Draycote Water did not remain but the female Pintail did and there was an overnight increase in Goosander numbers with 6 female & 2 male present. Other sightings included a Little Egret by the inlet, Rock Pipit on farborough spit relocated to the end of toft bank, male Blackcap near the hide, Peregrine hunting over grandborough valley plus 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Raven, 6 Goldeneye, 6 Gadwall, 2 Pochard and a Kingfisher. Plenty of Meadow Pipits but the Wood Pigeon passage of 300+ birds on our arrival soon fizzled out by mid-morning.