Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Draycote Water

Red Admiral

Pied Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail


Dunlin (&Dead Trout!)

Teal & Dunlin

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

With a run of good birds, I decided to visit Draycote this morning. Leaving home in sunshine I was disappointed to arrive to a very thick mist which persisted until arrival at Toft. I am sure that a wealth of rare birds were present, it was just not possible to see them! I was convinced that the "drifting" Northants Great White Egret would turn up, but alas no! A total of 53 bird species were recorded and it was good to meet up with Richard M, Bob H, Francoise F and another guy that none of us knew. Also had a chat with Terry B on Farborough Bank.

Farnborough bank, despite the mist, produced at least 4 Grey Wagtail and perhaps 40+ Yellow Wagtail. Bouy J provided a resting place for the Yellow Legged Gull. There was no sign of the Pectoral Sandpiper at the start of Toft Bay but 4 Dunlin were busily feeding. Toft Bay produced one Kingfisher and little else but the mist was now clearing and a very warm late morning / afternoon was to be had. Continuing the perimeter walk, Treecreeper, Bullfinch (6), Common Sandpiper, Wigeon and Buzzard were seen. In the sky above the Valve Tower two Sparrowhawk's were being harrassed by Corvids and a Raven was heard. The Inlet area produced many fishermen and a lone Black Tailed Godwit. A Jay flew over Rainbow Corner and the Outlet produced two juvenile Ringed Plover and a vocal Dunlin.

Lunch was had at the Visitor Centre followed by a walk back to Toft to see if anything had materialised now it was sunny. Sadly, little more was seen.

Todays Sightings:

Robin; Wood Pigeon; Chaffinch; Carrion Crow; Rook; Greenfinch; Gt Tit; Jackdaw; Green Woodpecker; Blue Tit; Wren; Moorhen; Coot; BH Gull; LBB Gull; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Mute Swan; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Yellow Wagtail; Gt Cr Grebe; Meadow Pipit; Yellow Legged Gull; Starling; Dunlin; Grey Heron; Dabchick; Teal; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Lapwing; Kingfisher; Gadwall; Dunnock; Blackbird; Magpie; Bullfinch; Song Thrush; Long Tailed Tit; Cormorant; Grey Lag Goose; Canada Goose; Treecreeper; Common Sandpiper; Buzzard; Wigeon; Chiffchaff; Sparrowhawk; Black Tailed Godwit; Jay; Ringed PLover; Pheasant; Reed Bunting; Raven.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Sitting at home waiting for the garage to phone to say my car is ready for collection (or not!) having taken it in for its service and MOT. Anyway, I have decided to have a rant!

Natural History Societies and Bird Clubs Why do they not have someone to meet and greet new members? You arrive and enter to be eyed up by the assembled members. No one speaks or attempts to welcome you. You sit (on your own) feeling like a leper. The only saving grace is the speaker who is usually very good. At the end, you get up and leave, and again no one makes contact. At home, you reflect and remind yourself that the age of the membership is well over (ancient!) and no young members! These groups are going to die unless they breakout from their cliques! I rarely go now.

Bird Hides You enter a hide (at a popular local reserve?) and offer a greeting to the occupants. Usually a begrudging grunt is returned. The conversation (that you could here outside and several yards away) now becomes a whisper - and not out of politeness. The clique is in residence. You are an outsider. The ages are again ancient. You get a loud tutting if you dare click your camera, but it is acceptable to clunk drinking flasks and rustle sandwich wrappers. Eventually they leave (noisily) and a couple of inexperienced birders enter. Good conversation is had, the offer of scope views is made (and appreciated) and identification of some birds is confirmed. What a refreshing difference!

Photography I am not a dedicated photographer, and I am happy to photograph birds (and other wildlife) from a distance if necessary. I am usually pleased with my (amateur) results. However, recent activities of some photographers (and not just locally) make me wary to be seen with a camera! Come on guys, if I can stay back then so can you. Enough said as other blogs bare witness to my displeasure.

The 40 mph Elderly Driver I am not sure at what point in life that the 40mph maximum driving limit naturally occurs but the culprits are usually seen on main national speed limit roads, with an old but immaculate car, with wisps of white hair above the head restraint and a trilby type hat. This driver causes mayhem and frustration. Seen from the front, their facial expression mimics a dogs bum with a hat on! Senility has made them forget what the accelerator is for!

Just had a phone call to say my car is ready and no problems! Hooray!! Just the bill! I will now terminate my ranting (for now - but I may return................!)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Pastures New...........?

Today, for a change I headed out to Pitsford Reservoir. I have only previously stood on the causeway here, but today I used my newly obtained permit. The reserve perimeter is about 7 miles in length and I lugged my scope and camera all the way, suffering in the heat! The camera was a total waste of time as everything was in "scope view" and the opportunity to take any pics did not arise!

Arriving at 0730 the car park was still closed so I parked up on the causeway and headed towards the start of the perimeter walk. The water held all of the usual waterfowl and the woods all of the usual woodland species - what more can I say!! I was, however, surprised at the number of Red Legged Partridges  in the surrounding fields - at least 40!

It was not until I arrived at the Scaldwell Arm that species livened up. From the Scaldwell Hides distant Kingfisher (2), distant Red Crested Pochard (3), distant Little Egret (2), slightly closer Pintail (8) and Yellow Legged Gull. I finished my walk at 1230 and amassed 62 bird species and two Muntjac. Next time, I will reduce the distance by walking the Scaldwell Arm which was most productive.

Interestingly, the Northamptonshire reservoirs at Pitsford, Hollowell, Ravensthorpe and Stanford are closer than my normal furthest range of West Midlands Ladywalk and Marsh Lane. Maybe I will become a Northamptonshire birder?

Robin; Coot; BH Gull; Wren; Mute Swan; Moorhen; Tufted Duck; LBB Gull; Mallard; Wigeon; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Great Crested Grebe; Gadwall; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Cormorant; Green Woodpecker; Dabchick; Chaffinch; Chiffchaff; Blackcap; Red Legged Partridge; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Song Thrush; Grey Heron; Collared Dove; Pheasant; Willow Warbler; Coal Tit; Marsh Tit; Swallow; Pochard; Ruddy Duck; Shoveler; Kestrel; Long Tailed Tit; Kingfisher; Teal; Magpie; Common Gull; Canada Goose; Buzzard; Bullfinch; Lapwing; Pintail; Yellow Legged Gull; Red Crested Pochard; Reed Bunting; Little Egret; Pied Wagtail; Starling; Sparrowhawk; Sand Martin; Goldfinch; House Sparrow; Muntjac Deer.

Leaving Pitsford, I headed to Stanford Reservoir arriving at the inlet at 1300. I started to walk towards the dam end but the path was very overgrown and hard going so I returned to the car and headed to the main car park near the dam. From here the path was much easier and views over the water much better. However, nothing special during my two hour visit with a total of 29 bird species. (At least the permit for here was FREE!).

Mute Swan; Gt Cr Grebe; Wood Pigeon; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Tufted Duck; Buzzard; Rook; Grey Heron; Coot; BH Gull; House Martin; Pochard; Mallard; Shoveler; Cormorant; Pheasant; Magpie; Wigeon; Canada Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Barnacle Goose; LBB Gull; Lapwing; Greenfinch; Reed Bunting; Dabchick; Gadwall; Moorhen.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Draycote Water - Pectoral Sandpiper (and others!)

Dunlin and Ringed Plover


Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Carrion Crow

(All of the above pics and those on my website are taken from the perimeter road)

I thought I would miss out!!!

My window of opportunity remained open (briefly) and I was up at Draycote at 0700. I did not have time to do it justice really as my main aim was to get up to Toft asap!

I was not to be disappointed

At least 40 Yellow Wagtail were along Farborough andd Toft Banks. I arrived at the end of the bank and scanned. BINGO Pectoral Sandpiper! This fantastic bird was accompanied by Dunlin (3); Ringed Plover (1); Common Sandpiper (1) and two Curlew Sandpiper, which flew in, had an altercation with a solitary Lapwing, flew around, landed again briefly before flying towards Toft shallows.

My window of opportunity was closing so I had no time to investigate Toft shallows. And now!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Back to my Birding Roots..................!

Coal Tit - Ravensthorpe
Coot- Ravensthorpe (thought I'd better include a water bird!)
Buzzard - Ravensthorpe
Tawny Owl - Ravensthorpe
Tawny Owl - Ravensthorpe

Tawny Owl - Ravensthorpe
Tawny Owl - Ravensthorpe
Common Buzzard - Ravensthorpe
Common Buzzard - Ravensthorpe

I started bird watching when I was about eight years old but did not really go on field trips until I was in my early teens. I started visiting Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Hollowell Reservoir and occasionally Pitsford Reservoir on Sunday afternoons when my Grandfather would take me in his car. Today I returned after an absence of nearly forty years!!!

However, I started the day with a visit to Napton on the Hill. Clear nights are not good for migratory birds which tend to fly over, so I did not hope for much, and indeed, I was not disappointed as it was very quiet! I parked the car at the church at 0700 and walked to the windmill and quarry. Several Buzzard's circled overhead with two Raven's over the church and a solitary Spotted Flycatcher was on the church tower. The bushes on the hill slopes seemed alive with warblers - Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat, together with several juvenile Bullfinches. A list of sightings can be seen at the end of this posting.

Leaving Napton at 0915, it was on to Pitsford Reservoir to obtain a permit covering Pitsford, Hollowell and Ravensthorpe Reservoirs. The journey took longer than expected due to several wrong turns! Arriving at the fishing lodge, I soon had my permit but the shear size of Pitsford Reservoir will have to wait for another day.

I arrived at Hollowell Reservoir at 1040, choosing to visit the Guilsborough end where the feeder stream is located. Two birders were just leaving and I was informed that it was "very quiet". The only waders at the feeder stream were two Black Tailed Godwit's but the opening water revealed a number of Teal, Wigeon, and Shoveler. The "Point" enabled me to scan the shoreline revealing a solitary Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. Two Barnacle Geese were with the Canada Geese and two Shelduck. Several Yellow Wagtail graced the surrounding grassland.

Leaving Hollowell at 1200 it was time to pick up a snack from the village store in Guilsborough before arriving at Ravensthorpe at 1230. Forty years ago, the reservoir was viewed from the causeway, but today the bushes have grown up restricting the views. However, a small carpark is provided nearby and access along a wooded track takes you to the dam. The east side of the reservoir, which is fished, and appeared very quiet with only the expected common water birds. At the end of the track, a "cat walk" over the outflow allows access to the dam. It was here that I thought I was looking at a perched Buzzard on a concrete post. A good photo opportunity at close quarters I thought as I approached. Viewing through my bins gave me a shock - it was a Tawny Owl out in the open, in the sunshine, my best view ever and my first sighting this year! I spent some time observing this bird and wondering why it was in such an open, exposed location? A solitary Sand Martin was also sighted here. The west side of the reservoir had more wildfowl with Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck. Time was no longer on my side so I left at 1500.

A good day's birding!

Sightings - Napton on the Hill.
Starling; Wood Pigeon; Robin; Blackbird; Magpie; Chaffinch; Carrion Crow; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Buzzard; Linnet; Jackdaw; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Chiffchaff; Song Thrush; Green Woodpecker; Willow Warbler; Wren; Common Whitethroat; Blackcap; Dunnock; Cormorant; Long Tailed Tit; Moorhen; Jay; Stock Dove; Skylark; Rook; LBB Gull; Mallard; Collared Dove; BH Gull; Bullfinch; House Martin; Swallow; Spotted Flycatcher; Raven.

Sightings - Hollowell Reservoir.
Jackdaw; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Buzzard; Lapwing; Pheasant; Goldfinch; BH Gull; LBB Gull; Green Woodpecker; Mute Swan; Teal; Pied Wagtail; Black Tailed Godwit; Moorhen; Shoveler; Grey Heron; Swallow; House Martin; Cormorant; Greenshank; Coot; Green Sandpiper; Wigeon; Canada Goose; Great Crested Grebe; Shelduck; Barnacle Goose; Linnet; Mallard; Skylark; Rook; Reed Bunting; Yellow Wagtail; Starling; Robin; Willow Warbler.

Sightings - Ravensthorpe Reservoir.
Coot; Mallard; Mute Swan; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; BH Gull; Tufted Duck; Wren; Cormorant; Great Crested Grebe; LBB Gull; Coal Tit; Chaffinch; Great Tit; Robin; Pied Wagtail; Green Woodpecker; Moorhen; Sand Martin; Buzzrad; Tawny Owl; Marsh Tit; Blue Tit; Chiffchaff; Blackbird; Wigeon; Gadwall; Pochard.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Birds in a Bush

Worked an overtime shift today (still paying for my new lens!) and despite a busy morning, managed half an hour in the Rugby St Cross Hospital grounds while on standby.

Just off the hospital approach road is a field used to house cattle with an obvious high bush / small tree in a boundary hedge. I see this hundreds of times in a week but hardly take any notice of it. Today, however, I spotted a number of birds flitting about and paid it a little more attention. Glad I did. It housed a female Blackcap, a Robin feeding two juveniles, but best of all a family of four Spotted Flycatcher's. Certainly made my day.

A check of the same bush later in the afternoon revealed nothing but a Magpie! Then I got a job...................ahh well.......................!!!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Manx Shearwater - Draycote (A Lifer!)

Had another bad night shift last night so went to bed this morning for a few hours only to be woken to my phone text informing that a Manx Shearwater was showing well at Draycote off Farborough Bank (Thanks JJ). Jumping out of bed and trying to find my clothes while still half asleep, I rushed out to see, what was a lifer for me! Didn't even finish my coffee! I was not disappointed as I joined the small group of birders on Farborough Bank, soon locating the bird at a distance but observation was hampered by a very strong, cooling Draycote "breeze". Luckily, the bird drifted towards the bank, but was harrassed by the gulls and sailboarders. I managed a few record shots and was very grateful for the image stabilisation on my camera lens. Also noted were Yellow Legged Gull. Walked back to the visitor centre with Bob H and en-route was put on to a flyover Osprey which headed down the valley towards Southam. Coffee and a sausage and egg bap were consumed before heading home. Indeed, a couple of hours well spent. I will await with interest the photographic results of the "big lens boys"!