Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Nene Wash

Could not have planned a better way to end the birding year with cold, frosty and atmospheric wander around various locations on the Nene Wash between Whittlesey and Guyhirn in wintery sunshine. Arrived early and soon well cladded surrounded by owls and our visit just got better as the day progressed.

Barn Owl 4 between Eldernell Car Park and Lord Holts Wood
Short-eared Owl 4 all from Eldernell car park
Long-eared Owl probable hounded by corvids from its roost site
Bittern flew over car just after sunrise
Common Crane 5 seen on our second visit to Eldernell in front of Decoy Wood
Hen Harrier ringtail
Marsh Harrier 3
Buzzard 6 including a very pale bird claimed as Rough-legged by other birders
Merlin 2
Peregrine 1 Eldernell
Sparrowhawk March Farmers
Whooper Swan 1000+ east of decoy wood slowly dispersed to nearby feeding grounds
Bewick’s Swan a few amongst the above
Tundra Bean Goose 2 Goose Tree Farm but distant with mixed wild swan flock
Pink-footed Goose 6 Goose Tree Farm but distant mixed with wild swan flock
Stonechat 8 with 2 March Farmers and 6 west of Lord Holts Wood
Snipe and Redshank many at March Farmers

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Long way to come to be mobbed

Back from a Christmas break in Greece to freezing conditions at Draycote Water at first light with just the male Smew on show as we walked out to the spit where the 2 female Common Scoter could be seen attached to the Tufted Duck flock in toft bay. As we stood chatting Dave picked up a Merlin mobbing a flyover Grey Plover which continued north west over the reservoir while the Merlin turned back heading towards the visitor centre before reappearing on her way towards toft shallows. Distant mist prevented a decent count of Goosanders but 4 Little Egret and 2 Yellow-legged Gull noted. Napton Reservoir had Sparrowhawk, 3 Snipe, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas eve steam

Having missed them last week in Peterborough LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 nos 44871 and 45407 have finally finished hauling steam specials down south and are heading back north on December 24th and due in Rugby at 08:51 and departing at 09:01 towards Nuneaton. Unfortunately I won’t be around due to Christmas get away.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Arrivals at last

Finally had the birding gods on our side for a change when on our arrival at Draycote Water this morning a Short-eared Owl flew over the entrance low heading east. Doubled back and searched the southam rd fields but no luck. Light was still poor when we returned to draycote and set out for our walk to farborough spit realising that there were still thousands of gulls present and scanning the reservoir constantly as visibility improved we managed an adult Caspian Gull, 5 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and at least 800 Greater Black-backed Gulls which is a reasonable number for here. Long distant views from the spit produced 22 Goosander so some were missed and 4 Gadwall but another surprise awaited us with a male Smew located as we returned not too far out but remained asleep. It was the same with the female Common Scoter by the pontoons who also refused to show herself. At least 20 Meadow Pipits noted. Very little at Wormleighton with Marsh Tit Raven and 13 Moorhen under the feeders.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Pink-footed Goose

A blustery visit with a Pink-footed Goose found among the 80+Greylag and no doubt of dubious origin. Other sightings included 3 Little Egret, fem Pintail, 32 Goosander, 15 Pochard, 10 Tree Sparrow, Raven and Grey Wagtail. Low Tree Sparrow number due to disturbance from tree cutters and the shooting brigade out bagging Pheasants.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Had a change of scenery and county visiting Eyebrook Reservoir, Leicestershire where we had a Mink showing well by the bridge, 12 Red Kite, Little Egret, Little Owl and 8 Dunlin among the Lapwings that were present before checking out the dam area of Rutland Water. By this time the wind was gale force so we struggled to see anything till we found shelter by the monument then located 2 Black-necked Grebe, Great-northern Diver and a Little Egret before we needed to head home

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Common Scoter

Managed 30 Goosander, 3 Little Egret, female Pintail, 20 Pochard , over 200 Great-crested Grebes and 600 Greater Black-backed Gulls in the post roost at Draycote Water till Bob rang with news of a female Common Scoter off farborough bank so obtained views from the sailing club.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nene Wash and Union of Souh Africa

With winds gusting to 47mph overnight we set out for Cambridgeshire knowing that due to the re-timing of the Cathedrals Express steam excursion from Peterborough to Oxford we would either miss her or only see her in the dark so we were more interested in getting to the Nene Wash while it was still dark hoping to be in time for any owls that were still hunting and the rain to stop. Might have made the train if there were not so many speed restrictions about but it paid off at the Eldernell car park as dawn broke with 2 Barn Owls hunting in front of us being battered by the conditions and joined by a Short-eared Owl briefly. Lots of Whooper Swans leaving their roost and heading for the fields along the A605 where over 500 were counted later and thousands of Wood Pigeons also leaving their roost.. Female Hen Harrier made a brief appearance. After breakfast in the Big Chill we hunkered down and froze our bits off waiting for LNER Class A4 No 6009 Union of South Africa as she passed Turves. Did not disappoint though despite blue sky’s my images were a bit dull. Gave March Farmers a look but little water and too much disturbance from ditch digger so went back to Eldernell where unfortunately work on the dyke walls means you can’t get on to any high ground but we did have better views of the female Hen Harrier and a Red Kite.
over twenty foot river, Turves

Dave photo bombed me pic

bye bye

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Steam Train Update for tomorrow

Unfortunately the double header LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 45407 and 44871 which will be hauling the Cathedrals Express excursion from Peterborough will leave at 6:51am so will pass Turvy in the dark 45 minutes earlier than we had planned for. Never mind as LNER Class A4 No 6009 Union of South Africa is scheduled to pass Turvy at 10:25am.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


Local birding has become predictable and with a trip abroad just around the corner we needed to do something different and sharpen our observation skills so visited Ravensthorpe, Hollowell and Pitsford Reservoir. Biggest delight was the amount of wildfowl seen at Ravensthorpe and Pitsford and enjoyed the fun of picking different species out however far away and a painful reminder of how Draycote use to be. A colourful sunrise as we entered Northamptonshire and our first port of call at Ravensthorpe showed the small side nearly frozen over but there were good numbers of Wigeon and Teal present with a female Smew just off the causeway being our first of the winter with a Red Kite over as we went back to the car. Next stop was Hollowell where we had 2 Stonechat at the narrow end and a Yellow-legged Gull but heat haze affected us checking the duck out so failed to find the Scaup that was present. Finally Pitsford was to us just full of duck with plenty of Pochard, Wigeon, Teal with other commoner species dotted amongst them. Highlight here were 2 Great White Egrets with one at a reasonable distance, 2 Little Egret and a Peregrine chasing the pigeons.