Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Draycote Water

Low Water Levels - Farborough Bank

Not having been to Draycote Water for several weeks, I was keen to visit at "gates open" this morning, before the crowds flocked in. The first thing that hit me this morning was the low water level - it can't be much longer before the islands are visible again (remember them?).

"We didn't see any NO DOGS signs!"

This couple with pooch were politely informed that dogs were not allowed around the perimeter road. They suggested that there were no signs saying no dogs, but decided not to continue with their walk and returned to the country park. (The dog was initially off the lead!).

My walk was rather pleasant, with some good birds and excellent weather. Farborough Bank held the waders - Redshank (1), Dunlin (2ad 1juv) and Little ringed Plover (1ad 2juv). Around thirty Yellow Wagtail's mainly juveniles, but with a few adults flitted on the water line and getting into conflict with the Pied Wagtails.

When I arrived at the Farborough Point, my attention was drawn to a large duck that I took to be the female Goosander. However, this bird did not look right! My first thoughts were Red Breasted Merganser (year tick) but I was unsure. A few images were reeled off, but the bird was quite distant. A glance at my field guide did not really help and I was puzzled until I got home and had a look at Collins. The bird looked like a drake eclipse Red Breasted Merganser but never having seen one in eclipse, I decided to gain the opinion of a few respected birders. I thnk it is indeed a drake eclipse Red Breasted Merganser but if anyone reading this wishes to comment, I shall be pleased to learn.

In Toft Shallows, five Dabchicks were my first at Draycote since before the cold spell in December 2010! A Raven honked overhead and three Common Terns headed towards the valve tower. The female Goosander loafed near the valve tower. The walk around the rest of the perimeter was uneventful save a very mobile Little Egret that flew from Rainbow Corner towards the golf course. Three female Shoveler were off the outlet.


Red Breasted Merganser


Little Egret

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Legged Gull

Todays Sightings:

Goldfinch; Wood Pigeon; Rook; Magpie; Carrion Crow; Robin; Black Headed Gull; Blackbird; Blackcap; Blue Tit; Great Tit; LBB Gull; House Martin; Pied Wagtail; Swallow; Mute Swan; Mallard; Coot; Wren; Canada Goose; Cormorant; Dunlin; Tufted Duck; Little Ringed Plover; Redshank; Yellow Wagtail; Jackdaw; Dabchick; Lapwing; Grey Heron; Pochard; Kestrel; Green Woodpecker; Greenfinch; Willow Warbler; Moorhen; Yellow Legged Gull; Stock Dove; Chaffinch; Raven;Common Tern; Dunnock; GBB Gull. Yellowhammer; Little Egret; Shoveler; Buzzard; Red Breasted Merganser.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Three Northamptonshire Reservoirs

A trip out to the three Northamptonshire Reservoirs of Pitsford, Hollowell and Ravensthorpe with Matt Bruce produced some good birds but no usable images due to distance and light.

We started at Pitsford with a walk to the Scaldwell Hides. The feeding station produced the usual Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers with good mixed Tit/Finch/Warbler flocks. Just past the Maytrees Hide, an eclipse Slavonian Grebe was found, with several female Red Crested Pochards close to the far bank. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling. The Bird Club Hide gave reasonable views of the Common Terns, two Green Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers. At the Scaldwell Hides, an adult Yellow Legged Gull was found with fly by Little Egret. several Green and Common Sandpipers.

Hollowell Reservoir provided a Wood Sandpiper in Guilsborough Bay with four Green Sandpipers. A large number of adult and juvenile Yellow Wagtails were by the inlet area.

Ravensthorpe Reservoir provided nothing of interest at all!

Todays Sightings:

Great Crested Grebe; Slavonian Grebe; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Mallard; Gadwall; Shoveler; Teal; Pochard; Red Crested Pochard; Tufted Duck; Buzzard; Kestrel; Pheasant; Coot; Moorhen; Ringed Plover; Little Ringed Plover; Common Sandpiper; Wood Sandpiper; Green Sandpiper; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Lapwing; Snipe; Black Headed Gull; Yellow Legged Gull; LBB Gull; Common Tern; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Green Woodpecker; Swallow; House Martin; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Yellow Wagtail; Dunnock; Wren; Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Grasshopper Warbler; Reed Bunting; Sedge Warbler; Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Whitethroat; Blackcap; Goldcrest; Long Tailed Tit; Coal Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Starling; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Rook; Tree Sparrow; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Linnet; Yellowhammer.

Heads Up at Hagley!

Something a little bit different for a Sunday - a visit to Hagley Falconry Centre with the Talk Photography Group I decided to attempt some close up head shots of the birds of which some can be seen below. More can be seen on my website at

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

Black Kite

 African Sea Eagle

Chilean Blue Eagle

Little Owl

Himalayan Vulture

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Garden Miscellany

Typical! The annual boiler service and a time slot of between 0900 and 1300 - guess which end of the time frame they came? Yep - 1245! and a bit of a wasted morning!

Still, time for a look around the garden. This little fellow was spotted below the bird feeders - not sure if it is a Wood Mouse or Yellow Necked Mouse?

I also tried to capture some of the bees on the lavender using my 100 - 400 lens! Not brilliant, but i'm quite happy with them. Must remember that i've got some extension tubes that I really should learn how to use!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Greenshank Debacle!!!

An interesting hour at lunchtime in the company of some good birders looking at a Greenshank which was originally believed to be a Greater Yellowlegs. The atmosphere was good but very little debate about the birds true ID was heard. EVERYONE WANTED to see a Greater Yellowlegs and misidentification was not considered until the afternoon, when a large number of birders had left, confident of a life tick mega! The views were poor, the light was poor, the bird was distant. I left believing I had seen a mega! I had some doubts though when I saw my poor quality record shots and had a look at Collins! In my profession we call being drawn into situations without thinking as "red mist". However, lets all have a good laugh at our mistake, ourselves and each other and then move on.

For some reason the youthful enthusiasm of Craig (Midlandsbirder) placed a link to my blog report and record images on the birdforum discussion thread (without my permission - naughty boy!). Incredably, this has increased my hits dramatically!

Cest la vie - I suppose!

Daventry Country Park Pays Dividends???

POSSIBLE MEGA? Greater Yellowlegs at Daventry Country Park!!

My day was not going very well at all. I had to stay in to receive my repaired computer monitor at some point between 0800 & 1200. It duly arrived, quite early, and I soon had it reconnected. Despair! It still had the fault that it was sent to be repaired for! More phone calls and it has got to go back. My anger was cut short with a text from RBA stating a Greater Yellowlegs had been found at Daventry Country Park. Off I went at great speed, but the journey of 8 miles seemed endless as I must have had every driver over the age of 80 in front of me travelling at 30mph! Eventually arriving in the carpark and paying my dues (£2), in the company of many other birders, the 300yard walk soon had me looking at a possible life tick! The bird was in my scope, in the company of two summer plumaged Black Tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper. The bird was rather distant in very poor light and the vegetation around its favoured feeding area was rather problematic, but I was soon standing on a nearby bench getting a grandstand, but distant view. Pity it did not oblige by coming in closer!

Post Script - I cannot, hand on heart say that this bird IS a Greater Yellowlegs due to the distance and never having seen one! I have been swayed by those present watching the bird. Looking in my Collins Guide can we really rule out GREENSHANK? I live in hope but GREENSHANK must now be favourite!

I offer below, record shots of this bird.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Spotted Flycatcher - Napton on the Hill Churchyard

I've not really been motivated to travel far so I decided to return to Napton on the Hill churchyard in the hope of improving my images of the Spotted Flycatchers. I was not to be too disappointed, despite the blustery conditions and alternating cloud and sunshine. A chat with the vicars wife informed me that tea and coffee could be obtained inside the church and a book for wildlife sightings is located there also. Future plans also include toilets, the intention is too encourage visitors, particularly those interested in wildlife. Interestingly, Max Silverman's blog picked up one of the Spotted Flycatchers with a black patch below the left eye. This bird was present this morning and some distant images were obtained but I could not get a close up of the patch.