Monday, 31 March 2014

More Little Gulls

Greeted to an increase in Little Gulls when we arrived at the pond with at least 10 present though only 3 could be found when we left 3hrs later (7adults including yesterday’s pink jobby, 2 first winters and a presumed first summer). While watching the gulls a pair of Red-breasted Merganser drifted in to view with the male looking very resplendent in full summer plumage and despite the presence of a few fishing boats they settled in front of the sailing club for most of our visit. The Long-tailed Duck was still around mixing with 10 Goldeneye (2male) and a female Pochard. Toft shallows had at least 6 Blackcaps with SB reporting more on the north shore and plenty of Chiffchaff. Surprise sighting of the visit was a pair of Red-legged Partridge taking a shortcut over the broad walk. Other sightings included 5 Gadwall, 2 Oystercatcher, Snipe, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Reed Bunting, 35 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, Buzzard and 20 Meadow Pipits while the albino Grey Squirrel showed on the fence of the lookout.

Napton on the Hill had Sparrowhawk, 8 Raven and 2 Buzzard with very little singing apart from the local Mistle Thrushes but while we were driving home a Red Kite drifted over the southam road owl field and the pond at mid-day.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Warming up slowly

It’s been a hard slog going around the patch since I last blogged and I seem to be ending up at the right places at the right time but not looking in the right direction so dipped on a number of local goodies. Luckily migration is trickling in as the temperatures improve so have added Swallow, Curlew and Willow Warbler to the year list while long stayers such as Long-tailed Duck and Water Rail occasionally give themselves up. With a light winds, temperatures climbing and low cloud burning off slowly todays search of the patch produced Long-tailed Duck at the pond with 2 Little Gull including one adult summer plumage bird with a very pink flush on belly, Rock Pipit at 8am when flushed by runners, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 Snipe, 3 Gadwall and 8 Goldeneye. The grandborough valley gave us 5 Fieldfare, 4 Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk, 2 Raven (15 max number earlier in week), 3 Buzzard and 4 Cormorant.

Moths have made a good comeback from a zero catch in the middle of the week to 34 in the trap last night from 10 species with the highlight being 6 Early Grey and new for the year Light Brown Apple Moth, Dotted Border and Brindled Pug. Butterflies today and yesterday included 3 Peacock, 2 Comma, 6 Brimstone and 4 Small Tortoiseshell.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Garganey, Avocet & Dotted Chestnut

In comparison to Sunday Draycote was tranquil on our arrival this morning with no one around and very light easterly wind resulting in 50+ Sand Martin feeding low over farborough bank despite the zero temperatures with one House Martin among them. The Long-tailed Duck was easily located out in the centre but as hard as we tried we failed to see the Great-northern Diver though it was present yesterday. At least 14 Snipe had been frozen off the scrape and were attempting to hide amongst the grass tussocks before flying back in to the scrape as it thawed. Toft shallows had 3 Chiffchaff and the Water Rail with a distant Blackcap calling though the best sighting was a pair of Garganey that flew over the tree tops and around toft bay before leaving to the south east after being flushed by fishing boats. Three Shelduck suffered the same fate after arriving early after being moved being moved by boats for the third time they scarpered off east. By the time we returned to the car park the wind had freshened and was coming from the south east but there very few Sand Martins left. Other sightings included 11 Goldeneye, 12 Shoveler (10 arrived 09.00hrs) 4 Gadwall, Long-tailed Tit and Buzzard.

Thanks to Keith, John and Mike for news of 2 Avocet on East marsh Pools, Brandon Marsh so well worth a trip over. Also seen were Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Cetties Warbler, Nuthatch and Shelduck.
Good passage of Fieldfare, smaller number of Redwing and Starlings flying east over Napton on the Hill on Sunday morning. Also 6 Buzzard, Raven and 3 Mistle Thrush noted.

Since Dave rocked the county mothing world in re-discovering Dotted Chestnut in2006 in his garden trap after it was thought to be extinct in the county he has been trapping the odd one now and again. The bugger did it again with his sixth record in eight years with one over the weekend. Bob not around so down to me for a record shot.
 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Searching for migrants

Did not feel like spring early this morning as blue sky’s slowly clouded up and a light chilly wind kept the temperatures down. Watched the 5am pass of the space shed then it was down the pond via Thurlaston for a quick peep before any disturbance. Water Rail in toft shallows along with Treecreeper, male & female Shoveler, 2 Chiffchaff and 4 Gadwall. Still plenty of Common Gulls hanging around along with a few Greater Black-backed Gulls and eventually both the Long-tailed Duck and Great-northern Diver showed themselves. 10+ Sand Martin were in greys barn. Next port of call was Napton on the Hill which was had 6 Raven, Lesser Redpoll, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Mistle Thrush and a Goldcrest. A well-earned breakfast at the long Itch Diner before a look at the Wormleighton Reservoir where there were 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sand Martin, 4 Tree Sparrow, Marsh Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker, plenty of Reed Bunting, 2 Corn Bunting and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Nearby Avon Dassett hills was our next spot where unfortunately the dog walkers were out in force here and though we managed a Red Kite and a few Buzzards there was no sign of any passerines. For our final destination we headed north east across the county to Morton Bagot where a long staying male Green-winged Teal was on show near Church Farm on the furthest pool. Not the most inspiring rarity on the planet but a good year tick for the county. On the way home we called in the pond again for coffee just as the rain came in and managed a brief view from the visitor centre of a first winter Little Gull that was found yesterday.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Little Gulls & House Martins

Blustery winds with occasional sunny periods was ideal for migrants being brought down with good numbers of Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Sand Martin reported locally. The day started with us looking for the Lawford Heath Landfill Iceland Gull but we dipped and could only find plenty of Buzzards and Chaffinches. Still good numbers of Mute Swan at Bretford but the Cathiron feeders were quiet due to empty feeders. Eventually ended up at Brandon Marsh for lunch then on our walk around the reserve we called in on the Wright hide to be met by Keith who put us on to 2 Little Gull dancing in front of the hide with 15+ Sand Martin and a single House Martin overhead. By the time we got to newlands Sand Martins increased to 25+ though 100+ were reported earlier. Other sightings included 3 Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Jay.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Garganey

Garganey pair out in the centre of pond on arrival but flighty, both the Great-northern Diver and Long-tailed Duck seen in the blustery conditions along with a small influx of Teal and 2 Snipe on the scrape. Plenty of Meadow Pipits around and a couple of Linnets. A search of the grandborough valley produced 200+ Fieldfare and Redwing south of Kites Hardwick, 2 Red-legged Partridge at Grandborough Fields and 30+ Tree Sparrow at Millholme Parc.

Forgot to mention in my last blog that we found a Great-crested Grebe carrying young off lin croft point / toft bay, a very early breeding record for this species – especially here.

Early Thorn in moth trap
Cym & Dave are holding an open day in April at their small holding now called Millholme Parc Farm in aid of charity and have sent me a poster advertising the event. Ideal for little one’s if they like fluffy cuddly things though I prefer mine with a dab of mint sauce behind the ears.
Sand Martins moved north just before it rained late afternoon with 3 over garden

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mystery of the LTD

Last night’s trap came up with my earliest Double-striped Pug and second earliest Engrailed while overhead 3 Golden Plover flew north and a Raven west.

Strange day at the pond with our walk to toft shallows producing only 2 Red-legged Partridge mainly because it was so blustery. One Water Rail was on show in the shallows and at least 5 Chiffchaff (10 on Monday) calling there. Just as the rain started my first Sand Martin of the year flew over the hide and the Great-northern Diver was spotted out in the centre.
Although we saw the Long-tailed Duck on Sunday Dave, Bob and I failed to locate it yesterday so presumed it had left so an excited Bob joined me in the visitor centre with a distant record shot of a Long-tailed Duck near the inlet. Personally it looked to be paler on the mantle and the facial pattern greyer than our over wintering bird so we went back out to hunt it down eventually finding it off lin croft point but the wind and waves made viewing difficult so not 100% certain we have a different bird.
Other sightings included Snipe, 6 Gadwall, 19 Teal, 4 Wigeon 12 Goldeneye, and 3 Buzzard while yesterday the albino Grey Squirrel was still around along with 3 Hare

Date, time
Az
Time
Az
El
Time
Az
Mag
3/19 04:21
SW
227°
04:26
SSE
154°
31°
04:31
E
79°
-1.1
3/19 05:57
W
258°
06:02
S
167°
72°
06:08
E
87°
-2.3
3/20 03:32
SW
217°
03:37
SE
148°
23°
03:42
E
80°
-0.6
3/20 05:08
WSW
251°
05:13
S
168°
62°
05:19
E
83°
-2.1
3/21 02:43
SSW
205°
02:48
SE
144°
16°
02:53
E
81°
0.4
3/21 04:19
WSW
243°
04:24
SSE
160°
51°
04:30
E
81°
-1.9
3/21 05:55
W
269°
06:01
S
178°
76°
06:06
E
95°
-2.3
3/22 01:55
S
193°
01:59
SE
139°
11°
02:04
E
85°
1.2
3/22 03:30
SW
234°
03:35
SSE
156°
39°
03:41
E
80°
-1.3
3/22 05:06
W
263°
05:12
S
176°
76°
05:17
E
90°
-2.3
3/23 02:41
SW
225°
02:46
SSE
152°
29°
02:52
E
79°
0.0
3/23 04:18
W
257°
04:23
S
174°
70°
04:28
E
86°
-2.2
3/23 05:54
W
276°
06:00
S
189°
65°
06:05
ESE
107°
-2.2
 
Marginal
Good
Excellent
If the cloud buggers off there a few decent passes of the Space Shed over the next few days

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sponsored pond get me out of here

Big mistake going to the pond this morning with a sponsored walk being held and very well attended resulting in the car parks being full by mid-morning even with the use of an overflow car park in Kites Hardwick and a bus put on to run people backwards and forwards from it plus the country park opened up for cars so we were out of their sharpish. Napton was peaceful in comparison with 2 Chiffchaff, 9 Raven, 12 Buzzard, Mistle Thrush and Great-spotted Woodpecker plus Brimstone and 3 Comma butterflies.
Had a look at Napton Reservoir which was quiet with only 2 Raven and 2 Reed Bunting for our efforts. More Brimstones seen on the way home. Bob came round in the afternoon to photograph the contents of a good nights catch in my moth trap.
Oak Beauty by Bob Hazell


Black 5 double header

First time in a week there was no overnight fog so with a westerly breeze soon shifting any low cloud it turned out to be another fine spring day which resulted in 3 Red Kite including one low over the centre of Kettering and a further 5 Red Kite while we waited at Harringworth Viaduct. The double header was on time and its warning whistle as it entered wing tunnel shifted a party of Skylark and one Snipe.

 
Decided to call in on Eyebrook Reservoir on the way home and managed Marsh Tit, Chiffchaff by the feeders, Little Owl in an old oak tree, 4 Red Kite, 3 Buzzard, 2 Raven, 4 Shelduck, Little Egret and a few Goldeneye among the remaining winter ducks and by mid-day as we drove through Rugby Brimstone butterflies were on the move with at least 3 seen with a Peregrine over Rugby School.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Lady Luck

Similar conditions to yesterday with thick fog and low cloud which again was slow to burn off but with lady luck on our side we happened to be in the right place at the right time when a first winter Glaucous Gull flew low over the BP garage with a large party of other gulls just outside Southam and a Merlin shot through Draycote Water flying low over farborough bank wheatear klickers heading towards rainbow before turning and lost over the country park. Only other birds we saw at Draycote were 5 Wigeon, 10 Goldeneye, male Smew, 2 Snipe and Wheatear plus good numbers of migrating Common Gulls.

Late publication of the running times of LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44871 being moved from Bury to Southall meant an afternoon visit to Rugby Station for her arrival but she was running 44 minutes late due to a line side fatality in the Lichfield area so her planned stop was cancelled and she pushed on south to make up for lost time. Last time I looked she had made up a lot of time and was only 10 minutes late leaving Watford
 
 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sannies

Like most of the country the fog was very dense this morning and did not clear till long after mid-day which meant a prolonged breakfast and a game of scrabble while we waited. All was going well with a 40 point lead and no letters left when Dave came up with the word Sannies on a triple word tile earning him 90 points – I was one unhappy punter – never heard the word, apparently its nowt to do with Sandwiches but means Sand Shoe – stupid game.
A desperate look at Napton Reservoir produced 4 Shoveler, Reed Bunting and 200+ Common Gull through the fog and after a chat over coffee with Bob at the pond the sun finally improved visibility and we had Wheatear, 12 Goldeneye, Great-northern Diver, Long-tailed Duck and Smew on our walk to the spit and back along with plenty of Meadow Pipits and a few Fieldfare and Redwing.