Sunday, 31 August 2014

Redstart and Whinchat weekend

Saturday 30th
Could not make any of the Little Egrets in to ‘cattle’ this morning, no sign of Redstarts and missed the remaining Black Tern but you’re in it too win it and we had a cracking adult Merlin hunting low over the crop field heading directly towards us before veering away. The only other birds of note were Whitethroat 10 Swift and 10 Yellow Wagtail. As it was too blustery for Napton on the Hill we did the nearby reservoir instead which paid off with immature Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Raven and 3 Buzzard plus 5 Migrant Hawker’s and a Brown Argus.
Back out again in the afternoon to the pond with Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Blackcap in the boardwalk area and a Greenshank on the north shore to add to the morning list.

Sunday 31st
Plenty of activity in the hedgerow below farborough spit with 20+ Yellow Wagtail, 3 Meadow Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Tree Sparrow, 6 Yellowhammers, 50 Linnet along with 50+ Greenfinch and 30+ Starlings feeding on the abundant flies this morning. One Redstart still remains the other side of the field but elusive due to a Buzzard perched nearby. Little else noted but did not stay long as very busy with bikers and walkers - 5 Little Egret, 7 Common Tern and 8 Swift and a Muntjac Deer.
The Whinchat at Napton Reservoir was joined by a second bird with 2 Redstarts (adult male &  female) with a third bird possible but all three were never in the same view. The hedgerows had 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap. Hobby and Sparrowhawk over briefly. Plenty of Migrant Hawkers and Southern Hawkers around with at least 2 Brown Hawkers, 5 Common Darter and 3 Common Blue Damselfly while butterflies included Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Brimstone and Comma.
Napton on the Hill had 2 Peregrine, 4 Raven, 5 Buzzard, 2 Redstarts 2 Lesser Whitethroats Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Yellowhammers along with 6 Mistle Thrush and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Bob comes up with the goods

Having arrived at the pond with Dave at 10am the first birds we noted were 3 Black Tern battling against a blustery south westerly wind near e-buoy so contacted Paul C and Bob H who were on site. As we joined Paul he had found 2 Redstarts by the water trough in the field below farborough spit in a mixed flock of birds which included 3 Tree Sparrow and 5 Yellowhammers. Heading back we kept an eye on the reservoir hoping for something to blow in and was just by the fishing platform when Bob rang informing us he had found a Cattle Egret in biggen bay, a first for Draycote. Naturally panic broke out as all we could make out at first was four white blobs in the distance but once we clarified which one we needed to concentrate on then some of its more salient features became obvious – even more so when it was flushed by a fishermen’s boat accompanied by 2 Little Egrets. It flew west along the north shore and dropped down out of sight somewhere near the pool behind the old fishery.
Cattle Egret with Little Egrets by Bob Hazell
We tried looking for the bird in the grandborough valley after learning that it was seen flying off behind the country park but saw nothing of interest. Arrived home just before a beaming Bob arrived to take pictures of a couple of moths Dave and I had overnight. Really pleased for him that his persistence got its just reward after hours of plodding. The bird was relocated at the pond and still present this evening but mobile. Hopefully it will roost.
Ypsolopha sequella
Orange Swift
both by Bob Hazell

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Scoters and Vapourers

Plenty of activity today at the pond with 3 male Common Scoter and 3 immature Shelduck on our morning walk to toft bay though we missed Sanderling, Whimbrel and Ruff. Also seen were 19 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 15 Common Tern, 5 Little Egret, 15 Yellow Wagtail, 10 Linnet, 20 Greenfinch, 3 Yellowhammer, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Meadow Pipit, Peregrine, 2 Buzzard, Chiffchaff, 2 Green Woodpecker and 10 Swift. Napton on the Hill had 3 Buzzard, 3 Raven, Peregrine and Hobby while the reservoir had 3 Common Tern.
The moth trap has been pretty poor this month so 88 Large Yellow Underwing, 32 Flounced Rustic, 4 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing’s and a Vapourer Moth among 16 species from 154 moth’s was welcome.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Sunny and relaxing

A bright morning with Hobby, Raven, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 12 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Common Tern, 4 Little Egret and a first winter Little Gull on our walk to hensborough bank with Dave and Keith Y. Plenty of hirundine still around but numbers down from our previous visits, single Swift noted. Although not counted there were hundreds of Canada Geese on the wind surfing area shore-line with many Greylag Geese dotted among them (90 counted on Monday which is a personal site record) Keith spotted a Red Kite drifting west over Napton on the Hill while I managed to pick out a Sand Martin among the House Martins feeding high over the hill and a Cormorant heading east. Lost count on the number of Raven and Buzzard present today being very vocal and mobile while other sightings included 4 Mistle Thrush, 3 Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

More soggy effort

The rain finally stopped at mid-day but at least our efforts this morning in appalling conditions produced some migration with 2 Knot that flew over farborough spit and appeared to land on the west side of reservoir, Whimbrel over calling and a Ruff feeding in front of the fishing lodge. Other sightings included 6 Little Egret, 2 Meadow Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Common Tern and a Yellow-legged Gull. Plenty of hirundine but heavy rain stopped us from counting them A second visit early afternoon added Raven and adult Little Gull while Common Tern were up to 12.

In between visits to the pond we did our normal walk on Napton Hill managing 7 Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Goldcrest, 2 Blackcap, Swift and 5 Raven.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Soggy effort

The very damp conditions with poor visibility or the previous evenings firework display adjacent to toft bay may have had some impact on our visit as we only managed 2 Little Egret, 4 Common Tern, 6 Yellow Wagtail though Sand Martins had increased to 2000 birds.
Napton on the Hill in the morning was just as bad though the second visit early evening produced a Tree Pipit going over. Napton Reservoir had a Snipe.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Odds & sods

Draycote Water
Redshank 5 circled reservoir at 8.10am
Little Egret 6
Common Tern 7
Yellow Wagtail 6
Swift 5
Sand Martin 400 perched on wheat field off spit
Daventry Road, Southam (old southam zoo site)
5 Raven circling

A425/ Butt Hill, Napton on the Hill
Tree Sparrow

Napton on the Hill
Raven 14
Buzzard 4
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Meadow Pipit 3

Diamond Wood, Ashlawn Road, Rugby
Whinchat immature
Lesser Whitethroat

Water Tower, Ashlawn Road, Rugby


Saturday, 23 August 2014

more Martins

Impressive numbers of Sand Martins along farborough bank and over the north shore this morning with an estimated 1500 present along with much fewer numbers of House Martin and Swallows plus 20 Swift. On the whole the visit was quiet apart from a record equalling count of 9 Little Egret with one on the inlet while at the same time 8 were showing in greys barn including 7 roosting with 2 Grey Heron. From farborough spit you could only see 4 so worth walking further along toft bank. Peregrine and Raven briefly plus 4 Common Tern and 8 Yellow Wagtail were the only other birds worth noting. For the third visit running there were no signs of any Redstarts or Spotted Flycatchers on Napton on the Hill so presumed they have all cleared out? Raven, 4 Mistle Thrush, single Swift, Sparrowhawk and 8 Buzzards were on offer though the views were amazingly clear and made up for any migrants with the folly in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, Cheshire gap and the Malvern Hill, Worcestershire all observed
still around despite my new neighbours having 2 cats

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Martins & Hobbys

Hundreds of martins were gathering on the roof of the visitor centre on our arrival this morning till they were spooked by a Hobby which half-heartedly attempted to attack them as they gathered themselves in to a loose protective ‘ball’. Farborough bank held 6 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Meadow Pipit and a single juvenile Grey Wagtail while on our return from the spit we had the unusual sighting of 4 Tree Sparrow (adult + 3 juveniles) on the perimeter road. Other sightings included 6 Little Egret dotted around the reservoir including one that flew off over the car park when chatting with Paul C, 2 juvenile and one adult Yellow-legged Gull, 5 Common Tern, 30+ Swift and 2 Common Sandpiper.

Napton on the Hill was blustery and quiet with only a Hobby over the church worth mentioning while the nearby reservoir was just as bad as we could only manage a couple of Willow Warblers. Still a few dragonfly and butterfly species on the wing till the cloud cover came in.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


A party of 6 Ruff dropped out of the sky at 8am off farborough spit and searched along the north shore of toft bay and toft shallows before deciding that there was nowhere suitable and flew off east down the dunsmore gap in to Northamptonshire. Very cool blustery conditions this morning which made viewing difficult but we managed Dunlin, 15 Common Tern and 7 Little Egret which included 5 together roosting in one tree, 20 Swift 400+ House Martin, 50 Sand Martin, 6 Yellow Wagtail and our first returning Meadow Pipit of the autumn.

With rain threatening we worked Napton on the Hill managing one Redstart, Willow Warbler, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, Raven, 3 Buzzard and a Peregrine. Plenty of hirundine feeding overhead. Two Yellow-legged Gulls flew over Sainsbury’s early afternoon.

Monday, 18 August 2014


Weekend on the Isle of Wight to see the nesting Bee-Eaters and having spent many a summer holiday as a child on the Island I was interested in seeing how the island had changed after 45 years and counting. Last time I was on the island was for an Alpine Accentor twitch in 1990 and before that a couple of twitches in the eighties for butterflies but had not spent any length of time here since 1969. Very excited volunteer wardens greeted me at the observation site on the Wydcombe Estate south of the island with news that 3 young had fledged the previous day and now being looked after by the parents and two helpers so 7 birds present but only three at any one time on view. Understandably they were distant but I gained good scope views from the helpful wardens. A good trickle of birders and inquisitive holiday makers came and went while I was there. Did not do a lot of other birding due to the blustery conditions but the best were Spotted Flycatcher at Wydcombe, 7 Little Egret from 3 locations, Mediterranean Gull adult at Bembridge, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit at Yarmouth and Nightjar at Parkhurst Forest. Overall impression of the island was good though I don’t think it will ever be a holiday destination again for me mainly because it is to big to cover at migration compared to other islands. 

European Bee-eaters have attempted to nest on five known occasions in Britain previous to this Isle of Wight attempt:
  • In 1920, a pair made a nesting attempt in a sand bank of the River Esk at Musselburgh, Scotland. A local gardener captured the female, keeping her in a greenhouse, and she died two days later, after laying a single egg.
  • In 1955, three pairs of Bee-eaters nested in Streat Sand Quarry near Plumpton, East Sussex. The birds were first found on 12 June, although the birds' presence only became widely known at the start of August. One nest was accidentally destroyed by machinery in July, but seven young fledged from the two remaining nests towards the end of August. An RSPB wardening operation was instigated, and in total over 1,000 people visited the site. The birds remained until 24 September.
  • A pair nested at Bishop Middleham Quarry, County Durham in 2002. The birds were first found on 2 June, and within a few days started to undertake Courtship feeding and copulation; five chicks hatched, but one died in the nest, one died before fledging, and a third disappeared and was also believed to have died. Durham Wildlife Trust (with RSPB assistance) set up a wardening post during the period when the birds were nesting. News was released to rare bird information services, and the national news media also reported on the birds' presence. In total, some 15,000 people visited the site during their stay; the adults and both fledged young were seen to leave on 28 August, when they flew off high to the south.
  • A pair took up residence on farmland adjacent to the River Wye near Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire in summer 2005; by mid-July the adults were bringing insect food to the riverbank nest-hole confirming that eggs had hatched. A wardening operation was set up by the RSPB, with public access granted, resulting in c.2,000 people seeing the birds. However, on the evening of 29 July, foxes predated the nest, and the birds soon left the site.
  • A pair excavated a nest hole at a coastal site in Dorset in 2006, but this attempt failed.......(source Wikipedia)
I was lucky enough to see the County Durham and Herefordshire birds


Pretty polly

Wish this was at the bottom of my garden, can you tell what it is?
Well its not a Parrot nor is it a Macaw - look carefully. This image was produced by
Johannes Stoetter, a former world champion body painter. He spent weeks painstakingly planning how he could transform the female model. Bloody clever.

Friday, 15 August 2014


A lazy day going out at mid-day for lunch with Dave at the Kings Head at Napton on the Hill which was very good and strongly recommended before joining Bob, John and the 2 Keith’s further up the hill in the gully looking at a couple of Redstarts, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Raven. Interestingly with four other observers in the morning there was at least 4 Redstarts present today and another immature has been identified bringing the total to 5 present this week.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Raining passerines

We did not get our timings right at the pond this morning as we arrived at the hide in toft shallows soaked and chilled after a downpour, stayed there to dry out while it had stopped then retraced our footsteps just as it started again. We looked a right pair of drowned rats when we turned up at the Diner in Long Itchington for breakfast. Luckily the birding was pretty good with female Wheatear, 3 juvenile Grey Wagtail, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush and 40/50 Greenfinch all on Farnborough bank. Toft shallows had 3 Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, 2 Goldcrest plus a few Chiff/Willows while from the hide we had adult and juvenile Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and 3 of the 4 Teal present. On the reservoir there were still a few Common Tern with 10 at least plus a couple of hundred Sand Martin, 10 Swift while the shore line held 7 Little Egret which is a site record count for me and a single Common Sandpiper flew past.

lovely views after the rain had cleared with Napton Reservoir clearly visible from Napton on the Hill with Rugby and Cement Factory on the horizon.
Napton on the Hill was blustery and all we saw were adult Lesser Whitethroat, single Raven, 3 Buzzards, lone Swift and 2 Redstart which included one of this week’s females and an adult male which is new and makes it the 4th Redstart for the autumn so far but no Spotted Flycatcher sightings. Also of interest was 2 Vapourer Moth and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth which flew through the churchyard. Two Sparrowhawk were over my garden when Bob came round to chat this afternoon and helped me check out my moth trap giving him a couple of photo opportunities.
Orange Swift

Poplar Hawk-moth

Setaceous Hebrew Character
all pics of moths by Bob Hazell
An evening look at Napton Reservoir produced juvenile Shelduck, Kingfisher, 2 Reed Warbler, Grey Wagtail adult and a Barn Owl.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Dissapointingly quiet

After yesterdays excitement the pond was quiet with 20+ Common Tern, 50 Swift , 100 Sand Martin and 3 Little Egret while the gully had the immature male Redstart but no sign of yesterdays females and nearby a recently fledged pair of young Spotted Flycatchers were being fed by there parents and were younger than the brood we saw yesterday. A Common Tern flying over was unusual and possibly a site tick for me.

two juvenile Spotted Flycatcher being fed by adult by Paul Cashmore

Monday, 11 August 2014

Thank's Bertha for the Sabs

Having checked out the reservoir on our arrival and being disappointed that nothing looked like it had been blown in over the weekend we decided to walk to rainbow corner where our list consisted of 4 Common Tern, 4 Little Egret, juvenile Little Ringed Plover, adult and 2 young Grey Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Teal, 50 Sand Martin and 3 Swift. As we were returning I decided to check the gulls out that were gathering around P buoy from the windsurfing area just as the wind was picking up and instantly identified an adult summer plumage Sabine’s Gull that after a few fly pasts settled on the water long enough to get the rangers on to it as they passed by. Call from JJ and KY showed they were watching it from Farnborough bank. As news got out we moved to join them on farborough bank but 5 minutes before folks started to arrive it flew out of sight towards rainbow corner and was never seen again. This was my 5th record at the pond but it was a draycote tick for JJ, KY and DC so we went off for coffee to celebrate joined by many disappointed others. While watching the Sabs Swifts increased to 15 and Common Tern 15+ plus a juvenile Black Tern made a brief appearance.
As we have made a mental note to try and work Napton on the Hill every day this autumn whatever the weather if we are in the area we met up with KY and PC at the church and despite the blustery conditions headed for the kissing gate where there was plenty of activity with at least 10 Spotted Flycatcher including at least 5 young still showing yellow gapes, Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warbler. Moving on to the gully hoping to show KY the Redstart we eventually found 3 with the juvenile male joined by 2 adult females. It’s not often I see 3 Redstarts in one day in the county. Couple of Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers also present. On our return 2 Hobby appeared over the church briefly and a Sparrowhawk nearby.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Black 5

Rain in the morning so did not go out birding. Mid-afternoon we went to see LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44932 being transferred to Carnforth from Southall as she passed Fenny Compton Tunnel bridge. Unfortunately she was 15 minutes late and I had mentally given up so when she suddenly appeared so I cocked up my pictures big time which had Dave in stitches. Luckily his was in shot.
by Dave Cox

Friday, 8 August 2014

Lazy day

A late night at the pub then a view of the space station as it went over Lawford Heath on its second pass of three yesterday evening meant we were not fully motivated for birding today so spent the morning socialising with Paul, Martyn and the two Keith’s at the pond where we chewed the cud over coffee watching 5 Little Egrets, juvenile Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail and a few Common Tern discussing the merits of a probable Beautiful Carpet that I had potted up from this morning’s trap before moving on to Napton on the Hill. Unfortunately it was quiet and extremeley warm and only managed a single Spotted Flycatcher and 5 Buzzard in the 90 minutes we were there plus 5 Raven as we were leaving. On the way to Napton on the Hill we passed a pair of Red-legged Partridge stalking the roadside verge near Tomlow with 2 very young chicks. Not seen a brood this late in the season. Plenty of Common Blue’s still on the wing at the pond and at Napton.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Steam Movement

Having been moved from Southall to Didcot in the morning LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no 44932 will head north through the midlands on her way to Carnforth on Sunday 10th August. Key times are Oxford 14:47 and Leamington Spa 15:37. Should pass Fenny Compton at 15:26. All times provisional.

Sanderling and Black Tern

Draycote Water was on the boil for a change with a party of 7 Dunlin flying past us on our arrival followed by a Sanderling 15 minutes later which went straight through. Out in the centre a moulting adult Black Tern joined the 7 Common Tern which included a juvenile with a metal ring on right leg and lacking any coloured bands that the other 2 juveniles present have. At least 5 Little Egret on the north shore with 3 Biggen Bay and 2 in toft bay by the time we left and also seen were 62 Mute Swan, 10 Lapwing, 9 Grey Heron, juvenile Whitethroat, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull and juvenile Grey Wagtail. Napton on the Hill was also productive with adult Lesser Whitethroat, many juvenile Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers present, good numbers of hirundine feeding overhead plus one lone Swift, 3 Buzzard, 2 Raven, and a Sparrowhawk. The “gully” still has the Redstart but we left it well alone concentrating on the hedgerows hoping to find other migrants.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Another shower

After overnight heavy rain which brought a Latticed Heath to Dave’s trap (3rd record) we did not bother going out till mid-morning and went straight to the “gully” where a Spotted Flycatcher had joined the Redstart and a few Swallows and House Martins headed south avoiding the pending rain showers. Raven flew over the garden this afternoon while 8 Swift in the evening were probably feeding up before they push off soon.

Latticed Heath

juvenile Spotted Flycatcher
all pics by Bob Hazell

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A showery day

The usual 4 Little Egret and 7 Common Tern joined by 3 Common Sandpiper, Buzzard, Whitethroat and 4 Green Woodpecker at the pond this morning before the heavens opened just as we reached the car park in time. Unfortunately still raining as we checked the “gully” out so the Redstart did not show well. In between showers this afternoon I had 4 Swift, Hobby and Sparrowhawk over the garden.

Monday, 4 August 2014


Two visits to the pond on Saturday produced 4 Little Egret, 10 Common Tern, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Shoveler, Grey Wagtail, 4 Whitethroat, juvenile Knot and Dunlin. Unfortunately the second visit coincided with a heavy thunder storm and ended up soaked to the skin. In between visits the Redstart was still in the “gully” but no signs of any Spotted Flycatchers in blustery showery conditions. Sunday saw me at the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire where they were celebrating 30 years of the reserve and 5 years of the visitor centre being open with lots of events on offer to the public. As for the birds there was an adult White-rumped Sandpiper showing well from the 360 hide first thing in the morning and elsewhere there was a Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, 20 Little Egret, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Garganey, Turtle Dove, Corn Bunting and Marsh Harrier all worth a mention. On our way back to Boston we added Hobby and Cuckoo too a good day list. Monday saw us working Lawford Heath, Bretford and Cathiron for the first time this summer/ autumn but all we had was 4 Red-legged Partridge, Yellow Shell and Banded Demoiselle while a visit to nearby Brandon Marsh produced Kingfisher, Teal, Little Ringed Plover, Hobby, Common Tern, Reed Warbler and 3 Vapourer Moth.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Redstart again

A large juvenile Peregrine was seen off the reservoir by the 7 Common Terns that took umbrage to its presence while a Hobby appeared hunting over the entrance as we left, earlier there were 4 Little Egrets.
juvenile male Redstart
Met up with Martyn and Paul at the “gully” where we managed to re-locate the Redstart which is a juvenile male. At least 4 Spotted Flycatchers and 7 Ravens plus a couple of juvenile Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers seen