Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Brandon Marsh

It is over a month since I visited Brandon Marsh, so this was my destination for an early morning visit. Arriving at 0710, I made my way to East Marsh Hide, to find a very obliging Bittern in the channel to the left of the hide where it remained in position until 0820 before moving into the reeds. I suppose you cannot have everything. I had  a super photo opportunity, but at this time of day, needed a high ISO of 1600, but I am pleased with my results.

Other birds of note on East Marsh were seven Snipe, a male and female Shelduck, one Oystercatcher, three Cettis Warblers and one Kingfisher flyby.

A complete list of sightings will be found below my images.





Mute Swan

Mute Swan

(More images can be found on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Magpie; Robin; Dunnock; Wood Pigeon; Song Thrush; Great Tit; Goldfinch; Blackbird; Carrion Crow; BH Gull; Blue Tit; Green Woodpecker; Moorhen; Chaffinch; Cormorant; Coot; Tufted Duck; Shoveler; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; Mallard; Long Tailed Tit; Cettis Warbler; Fieldfare; Bittern; Mute Swan; Oystercatcher; Lapwing; Shelduck; Pheasant; Grey Lag Goose; Snipe; Stock Dove; Wren; Jay; Reed Bunting; Gadwall; Kingfisher; juv GBB Gull; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Buzzard.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Draycote Water (Not quite so gloomy!)

My aim was to head out to Morton Bagot to see if the Great Grey Shrike was still showing, but with a deteriorating weather forecast, I ended up at Draycote Water. Arriving at 0800 as the gates opened, I walked the perimeter in the hope that something special might be waiting for me. As per usual, it was not! Only the usual waterfowl, and not a glimpse of the Great Northern Diver or Red Crested Pochard's. The cool north easterley breeze encouraged me to walk at a brisk rate, pausing only to scan the water (in hope!).

The fields below Farborough Bank held Lapwing and at least 250 Fieldfare (in three fields) with a few Redwing all of which were very "flighty", probably due to a Buzzard overhead. At least seven Golden Plover were seen with the Lapwings when they took flight. As I approached Toft, two Mistle Thrush's flew ahead of me, but little else was seen.

The rest of my walk was uneventful and on arriving at the visitor centre, the book recorded Great Northern Diver (Bob H). I walked back out to Farborough Spit, scanning the water but, alas, no joy.

Not you again? - Pied Wagtail

This is my good side! - Rook

Breakfasting Great Crested Grebe

The rare birds went that way! - Tufted Duck

Does my bum look big in this? -  Moorhen

Blow Dry? - Moorhen


Pigeon Chested? No I'm a Moorhen!

Moorhen - a bird of two halves!

(More images on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Rook; Magpie; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Blue Tit; Blackbird; Black Headed Gull; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Great Tit; Robin; Coot; Lapwing; LBB Gull; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Cormorant; Great Crested Grebe; Goldeneye; Goldfinch; Dabchick; Pied Wagtail; Wren; Canada Goose; Starling; GBB Gull; Fieldfare; Buzzard; Wigeon; Mute Swan; Green Woodpecker; Grey Heron; Teal; Mistle Thrush; Common Gull; Pochard; Dunnock; Gadwall; Moorhen; Bullfinch; Long Tailed Tit; Jackdaw; Golden Plover; Redwing.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Draycote Water (Yet more gloom!)

The weather forecast was not good (again!) - early mist/fog with heavy snow later so Draycote Water was the "obvious" place to be with such news! Arriving at 0800, the gloom never really lifted as I walked to Toft and back, but the good news was that it did not snow until I got home, so I suppose it was a "good" day!.

No sign of the Great Northern Divers and nothing out of the ordinary was seen during my three hour walk and constant scoping. A list of sightings follows my "gloomy" images! Again, a day of high ISO (1000+)

It was interesting to watch the antics of a Black Headed Gull attempting to "bully" a Great Crested Grebe for its breakfast. Indeed, at one point, I thought the Grebe was about to be drowned. Luckily it escaped to feed again.

Give me your fish - Black Headed Gull v Great Crested Grebe

Black Headed Gull v Great Crested Grebe

Black Headed Gull v Great Crested Grebe

Black Headed Gull v Great Crested Grebe

I told you, I want your fish - Black Headed Gull v Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Guess what I've just done? Goldeneye


Great Tit


Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

(More gloomy images on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Magpie; Carrion Crow; Greenfinch; Blackbird; Chaffinch; Wood Pigeon; Cormorant; Black Headed Gull; Lapwing; Pied Wagtail; GBB Gull; Tufted Duck; Great Crested Grebe; Moorhen; Coot; Mallard; Goldeneye; LBB Gull; Dabchick; Rook; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; Long Tailed Tit; Wigeon; Teal; Green Woodpecker; Goldfinch; Pochard;Gadwall; Great Tit; Dunnock; Robin; Bullfinch; Song Thrush; Blue Tit; Starling; Fieldfare; Jackdaw; Pheasant.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Harrington Airfield - Short Eared Owls

I intended to visit a new (for me) site at the old wartime airfield of Harrington (Northants), in search of Short Eared Owls. These birds have eluded me for many years and a sighting was well overdue. Unfortunately, and typical of my current luck, when I got out of bed at 1030 (just finished a night shift), rain, sleet and snow showed no sign of abating. However, some brightness at 1300 convinced me it might be worthwhile. Arriving at the "memorial" layby, a couple of hours scanning of the area produced one Short Eared Owl with another joining it just before I left. Although distant, (about 800+ yards) these birds were fantastic, quartering the long grass and concrete bunkers, especially when viewed through the scope. I attempted to get some record shots, not really expecting much joy in the misty conditions. My efforts are below (yes, I know, so please don't laugh!).

I will return, should we get any decent days. If anyone would like maps of this area, including an excellent Google Earth, please let me know.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Rutland Water (Egleton) Reserve

With the promise of a reasonable day for a change, I decided to pay a visit to the Rutland Water (Egleton) Reserve. I normally visit Rutland twice a year, but I have never been in the winter months. The mud was atrocious  and worsened as the sun melted the frozen areas! The journey to Rutland produced Red Kite and Buzzard.

While waiting for the visitor centre to open, I sat watching Tree Sparrows with Long Tailed Tits and various finches at the feeding station then paid my £4 for a permit and quickly made my way to the Fieldfare hide, where Long Eared Owls had been reported. It took nearly 2hours before one was located, well hidden and impossible to get a picture. While waiting a Willow Tit called and made its way along the hedgerow.

The sheer size of the Egleton Reserve means a lot of walking to do it justice, so with a Long Eared Owl ticked, I made my way to the northern section in the hope of less muddy conditions.  Another problem is that the birds are usually distant, again reducing the photographic opportunities.

On my walk to the northern section, I noted solitary Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush in the fields. Shoveler hide was probably the best with most of the expected ducks. Three drake Smew and three redhead Smew were located on the far bank with the greatest number of Red Crested Pochards I have ever seen - 17 drake and at least 8 duck. The only waders were again solitary, Redshank, Dunlin,Green Sandpiper and Snipe.

At complete list of species seen is posted below.





Green Sandpiper & Dunlin

Green Sandpiper

Song Thrush

Long Tailed Tits



Collared Dove

(More Images on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Red Kite; Buzzard; Collared Dove; Robin; Jackdaw; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Wood Pigeon; Greenfinch; Bullfinch; Rook; Carrion Crow; Magpie; Great Tit; Blue Tit; Blackbird; House Sparrow; Egyptian Geese; Pheasant; Dunnock; Tree Sparrow; Moorhen; Long Tailed Tit; Coot; Canada Goose; Black Headed Gull; Mute Swan; Mallard; Teal; Wigeon; Tufted Duck; Gadwall; Grey Heron; Kestrel; Long Eared Owl; Willow Tit; Fieldfare; Shoveler; Song Thrush; Redwing; Wren; Pochard; Shelduck; Gossander; Common Gull; Herring Gull; LBB Gull; Lapwing; Cormorant; Goldeneye; Red Crested Pochard; Great Crested Grebe; Smew; Ruddy Duck; Redshank; Snipe; Pied Wagtail; Grey Lag Goose; Green Sandpiper; Dunlin; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Green Woodpecker; Reed Bunting.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Quick Visits

Still suffering the debilitating efects of the worst illness known to mankind (Man Flu!), I postponed my planned visit to Rutland Water. Instead with a few chores to complete, I stopped near Church Lawford in the hope that the long staying Bewicks Swan would be close to the road. It was not and I needed my scope to locate it in the field amongst the Mute Swans. Still, while watching, a year tick in the form of a Skylark sang overhead.

Needing to go to Dunchurch, I stopped off at Rookery Farm on Lawford Heath. Parking at the old barn, I walked down to the farm, but work was taking place so everything was disturbed. The Starling flock numbered around 1000, with 9 Yellowhammer, about 20+ Chaffinch, 50+ House Sparrow, and eventually 2 Corn Bunting.

Spoke again with the farmer who is still very unhappy with the 4x4 which parked on and caused damage to part of his crop field, and the number of large lenses being pointed towards the windows of the farm. The farmer is a friendly chap as are the other farm workers and would like any birders to park near the old barn and walk down to the farm. Remember, it is only the road that is public!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Marsh Lane

Here we go again! Yet more dull and cold birding - I will soon be re-named as "the moaning birder"! Today I made my first visit of the year to Marsh Lane, arriving at 0730 and staying until the cold really got to me, leaving at 1130. I suppose I should have realised what the day had in store as I grappled with a Polar Bear by the second gate. Indeed, when I opened the Car Park Hide flaps, I was expecting to see Arctic Fox and Penguins! The omen, I suppose, was seeing 13 Magpie's in a bush between the sets of locked gates!

The view from Car Park Hide was spectacular with c300+ Wigeon, 30+ Pochard, 16 Shoveler, with Tufted Duck, Teal and Lapwing. All was tranquil until a Peregrine hoping for a Lapwing breakfast had everything in turmoil. . As I left the hide towards Oak hide, a single Buzzard and Kestrel were over the fields, and the weather worsened with sleet causing me to increase my pace.

There was very little on Railway and Oak Hide Pools, of note being the Black Swan and two Shelduck. I turned my attention to the feeders and surrounding bushes which contained at least 9 Tree Sparrows, 15 Chaffinch's, 11 Greenfinch's and a solitary Lesser Redpoll. A quick look out from the elevated position of Railway Hide, confirmed only that the sleet was worsening and little else was on the pools. Hardly surprising, but no one else was seen on the Reserve!


Mute Swans

Tree Sparrows, Dunnock and Wren

Tree Sparrows and Chaffinch

Tree Sparrows


Mute Swan with Black Headed Gulls

Black meets white

These are my nuts!

(More Images can be found on my Website - link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Buzzard; Great Tit; B H Gull; Carrion Crow; Rook; Jackdaw; Kestrel; Cormorant; Chaffinch; Moorhen; Coot; Shoveler; Lapwing; Tufted Duck; Mallard; Mute Swan; Pochard; Wigeon; Teal; Green Woodpecker; Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; LBB Gull; Blue Tit; Magpie; Stock Dove; Peregrine; Dabchick; Gadwall; Greenfinch; Tree Sparrow; Dunnock; Shelduck; Black Swan; Wren; Robin; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Reed Bunting; Goldfinch; Lesser Redpoll; Pheasant; Pied Wagtail; Song Thrush; Linnet; Long Tailed Tit.