Wednesday, June 18, 2014


We've finally entered the period I term as the birding doldrums. That time when any remaining passage migration tails off and the birds settle at their nesting grounds to get down to business. It's certainly looking as though this year is going to be an excellent one for a number of breeding species which have suffered more recently, such as Barn Owls and Kestrels. One of the features of the year thus far helping these birds out has been the incredibly high Vole numbers reported around the country and Brandon Marsh also has some good news stories on these two vulnerable species, but more on that later in the year.

Moored Grand Union
Amazing 'Hay pooper'

I normally use this quiet time to complete boat repairs and servicing and also to get out and about on the canal system and recently I've been exploring a stretch of the Grand Union Canal which runs from Napton to Braunston. Over the years this particular stretch has become exasperated by the sheer amount of marina extensions in such a confined area and the resulting major increase in traffic is having an affect. For example when we first arrived in this area some 8 years ago, Kingfishers were a regular feature, along with Water Voles but sadly I've not recorded either locally in over 3 years.

1st Marbled White of the season - Stockton Cutting
Moored up near Flecknoe last Friday I spent the day completing some boat chores and watching the local farmers cutting and wrapping the hay with some amazing machinery. This gave the local Wood Pigeons a major food source, with bugs a plenty being scooped up and at one stage a Peregrine took full advantage scattering, attacking but unfortunately leaving empty handed. Shortly after a Red Kite, not that regular to the area, drifted easterly as I was having a tea break and to complete at trio of excellent raptors a Hobby quartered the fields opposite for a short while before heading off. Over the five evenings we've spent out Barn Owl and Tawny Owl were noted but sadly no sign of any Pipistrelle or Daubenton's bats, such a regular feature on this stretch last year.

Broad-bodied Chaser - Brandon Marsh
I've spent a little less time at Brandon Marsh more recently but last Tuesday's regular visit produced a couple of Hobbies and a Grasshopper Warbler. Today (Wednesday) I hosted a guided walk along with Keith Foster  for the Rugby Gardeners Guild, highlights Fox on Wigeon Bank, Hobby and Cuckoo and after lunch headed off alone. Bee Orchids and Common Orchids and with the sun shining I managed some new butterfly additions to the seasons list and in total registered: (14) Meadow Brown, (2) Ringlet, (2) Peacock, (2) Small Tortoiseshell, (4) Speckled Wood, (4) Brimstone, (1) Small Copper, (2) Red Admiral, (3) Common Blue and single Small and Large Skipper. Dragonflies now on the wing included: Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser and Southern Hawker.