Monday, April 27, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Days 33/34/35

A rest from birding this weekend to recharge the batteries but mainly to devote some quality time to Dazza who's been working hard all week. Of course, we're like policemen us birders, never off duty and one of the highlights during our walks around the marina grounds consisted of (4) Common Terns, now regular visitors and often perching on the pontoon stanchions.

A break in the weather from clear skies on Sunday evening.
☁️9C to start then ⛅️15C ~ Wind ↘NW@7mph Monday 27th April 2020 ~ As I'd already anticipated happening at some stage I'm now stuck on 95 species in my quest for the ton-up 'Lockdown List', so I was keen to get back to it this morning.

One of four Common Terns now regularly visiting the marina
Today I completed a tour of the marina grounds and a single circuit of the reservoir. It was a totally different feel to the day compared to that of late with 9/10th cloud cover and a light north-westerly breeze when I set out. A quick tour of the marina for anything new yielded nothing, then a single circuit of the reservoir before heading back to attend to a few boat chores.

One of a brace of Yellow Wagtails today
As is now the norm there were a few dozen Swallows feeding over the water, occasionally joined by the odd House and Sand Martin, but since seeing my first Swift of the year last Wednesday I've had none since. Two Yellow Wagtails along the bank and a Common Tern, likely one from the marina, passed through shortly followed by a Little-ringed Plover which continued on at height calling. Having seen an LRP now almost daily I'm certain they must be nesting somewhere quite local.

Lesser Whitethroat ~ Currently outnumbering Common during my walks.
Around the reedbeds Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, plus a Little Grebe calling from deep inside. While here a short walk to the back of the reeds under the cover of the vegetation gave me an opportunity to photograph a very elusive Lesser Whitethroat, one of three today.

Lockheed C130 ~ How low can you go? ~ View across towards Napton Hill
A few short sessions sky-watching during the afternoon produced: (2) Sand Martin, (4) Swallows, (3) Common Buzzard, Red Kite, (2) Raven and a fly-by Lockheed C130 Hercules out of Brize Norton!

Yellow Wagtail

Lesser Whitethroat

Friday, April 24, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Day 32

☀️6C to start then ☀️21C ~ Wind ↙NE@5mph Friday 24th April 2020 ~ Another 'groundhog Day' weatherwise and a pre-breakfast walk around the marina grounds to start.

Common Tern ~ Over the marina early morning
The first bird of note was a Common Tern, which I could hear immediately as I stepped off the boat. The bird circled around for a short while before heading off to the east.

Weasel ~ A pleasant surprise at the marina today
A few Swallows passed thru feeding low over the water but no sign of any Swifts today. A nice change from the birding occurred when I noticed some movement in the vegetation. To my delight, a Weasel was suddenly peering at me through the vegetation, it was just one of those moments! We played hide and seek for a short while before he scurried off, giving me an opportunity for an ID.

Lesser Whitethroats can be heard daily here now and today I heard two, along with singing Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. I also came across my first female Blackcap of the year.

Common Sandpiper ~ Along the west bank of the marina
I don't think I've seen many Common Sandpiper feeding in the grass, but today I came across this one and managed to get quite close before it spotted me.

Dingy Skipper ~ Seven counted during my short stay
In the afternoon for my daily exercise I decided to cycle, stopping off at Stockton Cutting in search of butterflies, around 4 miles, but to be honest I'm not actually sure on how far you're allowed to cycle during lockdown! As it happens, my visit was cut short when I had to return to the marina pronto as our internet had gone down and Dazza had several conference calls during the afternoon. In the 20 minutes or so I was there I recorded (7) Dingy Skipper, (4) Orange Tip, (1) Small White, (3) Brimstone, (3) Peacock & (4) Small Tortoiseshell.

2nd Little-ringed Plover of the week heading south over the marina
A few sessions Sky-watching in the afternoon produced a couple of highlights ~ My second Little-ringed Plover of the week, a further two Common Terns and a Yellow Wagtail.

More Images of the Day...

Yellow Wagtail ~ Over the marina today
Common Tern 
Common Sandpiper
Little-ringed Plover

Thursday, April 23, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Days 30/31

☀️5C to start then ☀️18C ~ Wind ↙NE@7mph Wednesday 22nd April 2020 ~ Another glorious start to the day and feeling a little shattered having stayed up late last night for the Lyrid Meteor Shower I decided on a shorter than normal walk today around the marina and just a single circuit of the reservoir.

Before the start of play today my 'Lockdown List' was standing at 93 species and as I edge nearer to my goal of 100 It's becoming a little more difficult but nonetheless very exciting. I've been incredibly lucky over the past few weeks, adding new species each day, some of which I've never recorded locally before and I'm glad to say that today I was once again fortunate to continue my good run adding a further two species both to my 2020 Year-List and COVID-19 'Lockdown List'.

My first Common Swift of the year No.94 on the 'Lockdown List'
Number one was a year first Common Swift which swooped low over the reservoir shortly after I arrived and in fact stayed around for nearly all of my circuit feeding happily over the sheep field.

One of my Garden Warbler images
Number two was another year first, a Garden Warbler which was singing in a nearby hawthorn and seen very briefly as I paused at the top reedbeds. Also of note today a single Snipe and (2) Common Sandpipers.

SpaceX Falcon launch from Cape Canaveral
☀️22C ~ Wind ↙NE@3mph Thursday 23rd April 2020 ~ Last night I watched the live feed of the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket making its fourth trip to space to launch 60 new Starlink internet satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral. Astonishingly just 20 minutes later I was looking in amazement as the SpaceX rocket passed directly overhead the UK having deployed its satellites. One of the most spectacular things I think I've ever witnessed but sadly over in a flash!

A singing Blackcap at the marina today
Today is 'lockdown' day 31 and I don't think that over the last 30 days bar one I've had a lay in beyond 7am. So today I did and just spent the day at the marina, apart from driving to the chemist for a prescription in the afternoon.

A Linnet settles briefly ~ viewed from the boat deck
I took a few circuits of the grounds during the day and spent a good few hours sky-watching but frankly, the current weather conditions of bright sunshine and clear skies does not make for great sky-watching conditions and you can easily end up with a headache.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Days 28/29

☀️5C to start then ☀️13C ~ Wind From ↙NE@8mph Monday 20th April 2020 ~ A light ground frost when I set off around the marina this morning on another beautiful start to the day, but nothing new to report. There was nothing new to report either over on the reservoir although an additional Common Sandpiper had joined the long-staying two.

Oystercatcher ~ My 91st 'Lockdown Tick' 
The highlight of the day occurred at the marina when while having coffee the calls of an Oystercatcher sent me scurrying out onto the pontoon. Fortunately, the bird was generous enough to complete a couple of circuits before heading off, my 91st 'Lockdown List' species.

Oystercatcher just prior to departing.
☀️8C to start then ☀️13C ~ Wind From ↙NE@8mph Tuesday 21st April 2020 ~ A change of venue today with a dawn walk up to the village and a stroll around Napton church, Windmill & Hills. It was another cloudless start with a gentle but biting north-westerly wind.

This Nuthatch at the churchyard was my 92nd 'Lockdown List' species
I was quite hopeful of picking up a Wheatear today, or If I was being a little more optimistic a Ring Ouzel or Whinchat. Unfortunately, after searching every field, hedge & post it just wasn't to be! That said, it was a very pleasant walk, with all the now established Warblers to be heard singing and a Nuthatch at the churchyard was a very welcome addition to my 'Lockdown List'.

Delighted to snap this Little-ringed Plover at the marina today.
For the second day in a row, the marina has been the most productive. This time as I was walking back to the mooring from my walk I heard the calls of a Wader, I was convinced it was a Little-ringed Plover and having finally managed to get eyes on it I fired off a dozen or so shots before the bird departed north. I was pleased to find that I was correct when I processed the photographs a short time later, a Little-ringed Plover, my 93rd 'Lockdown List' species.

Little-ringed Plover departing to the north.
I spent parts of the afternoon sky-watching but with bright sunshine and completely clear skies, it was difficult. However, an opportunity for some more flight shots, with a Buzzard and Red Kite as they drifted through.

Red Kite ~ Now a daily sight over the marina

Common Buzzard

Sunday, April 19, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Days 26/27

🌧5C to start then ⛅️14C ~ Wind From ↙NE@8mph Saturday 18th April 2020 ~ Again no #nocmig recording last night due to the weather. I was tempted to head out early doors today after yesterday's extraordinary day but to be perfectly frank I dismissed the thought immediately when the rain suddenly became almost torrential as I was about to leave.

Always a pleasure to see a Bullfinch 
I eventually got out mid-morning when the rain finally eased off but unfortunately so too had the wind. A Lesser Whitethroat was singing along the track as I headed out of the marina grounds across to the reservoir. The now regular Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcaps were all in song and today a pair of Bullfinch were a lovely sight. It would seem that the local Chiffchaffs are now paired off, not a single one heard today.

I completed my usual circuit of the reservoir which, thanks to the cloud cover still had many Swallows, House Martins and the odd Sand Martin feeding low over the water. At one point a small falcon, probably a Peregrine flew north over the distant Long Itchington chimney, I say Peregrine but the possibility of Hobby did cross my mind? The best of the rest included (2) Common Sandpiper, (4) Yellow Wagtails, (3) Meadow Pipits & (2) Lesser Whitethroat.

A beautiful start to the day Sunday
⛅️5C to start then ⛅️14C ~ Wind From ↙NE@3mph Sunday 19th April 2020 ~ A crack of dawn 'Lockdown' Walk today in beautiful conditions.

A Sedge Warbler finally breaks cover.
Nothing new on the marina grounds today but the dawn chorus is most definitely gaining in volume. Over at the reservoir too there was plenty of birdsong and eventually one of what I estimate to be six Sedge Warblers on site finally gave me a photo opportunity.

This Ringed Plover became my 89th 'Lockdown' List tick today!
By the time I'd walked to the wooden bridge, I'd noted that the two now long staying Common Sandpipers were still here, along with four Yellow Wagtails. It was at this point that my 89th 'Lockdown List' species suddenly came into view, a Ringed Plover! In fact, the bird was lucky to survive a Sparrowhawk attack later in the morning, but survive it did.

Three Little Egrets over the marina as I headed back today.
My 90th 'Lockdown List' species occurred on my way back to the boat when three Little Egrets flew north over the marina. This now gives me a clear countdown of 10 new sightings to reach a personal goal of 100 species for my 'Lockdown List'.

A singing Common Whitethroat along the hedgerow at the marina dog exercise field and 2 Red Kites over were other highlights of the day.

Friday, April 17, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Day 25

☁️17C to start then 🌧15C ~ Wind ←E@14mph Friday 17th April 2020 ~ Today I decided to have a lay-in and take my daily walk during the afternoon. There was a method in my madness as I wanted to take a look around the marina and reservoir just prior to the forecasted rain arriving later in the day. The wind was also forecast to pick up a little too during this period, another reason to wait.

My timing could not have been better with plenty of Hirundines over the marina and my walk around the perimeter produced a Lesser Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler in our small reedbed and the usual Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.

Black Tern ~ A first for me at the reservoir in 15 years.
Over on the reservoir the conditions were perfect with a stiff easterly blowing. I dislodged a couple of Common Sandpipers feeding on the rocks as I came up the steps and then noticed something even more exciting dipping over the water. It was a Black Tern, my first ever at the reservoir and of course a mega 'Lockdown' tick!

Whimbrel repositioning, thankfully to the opposite bank.
As if this wasn't enough, as I made my way around the bank for a better angle for photos the sudden call of a Whimbrel alerted me to a bird on the bank. I managed to get close enough for some distant photos but the bird was off, fortunately repositioning on the opposite side.

Black Tern ~ Some great aerobatics on occasions at a reasonably close range
It was a real treat to just sit for a short while watching the many mixed Hirundines over the water and the aerobatics of the Black Tern, which fed happily during my stay.

One of two Little Gulls very briefly over the reservoir today.
Three Yellow Wagtails were nearly overlooked while I was enjoying the tern but then another surprise headed through when two Little Gulls drifted over.

Little Gull
This was most certainly an unprecedented set of events today and I'm incredibly grateful that this wonderful habitat is to be enjoyed literally on my doorstep, particularly during these uncertain times.

More Images of an Amazing Session....

Whimbrel on the west bank


One of two Common Sandpipers
Black Tern aerobatics

Thursday, April 16, 2020

πŸ”’ Lockdown Day 23/24

☀️2C to start then ☀️15C ~ Wind ↑S@Calm Wednesday 15th April 2020 ~ A chilly start to the day and I was greeted by a very stern looking Common Whitethroat as I stepped foot off the boat to begin my daily walk!

A very stern looking Common Whitethroat greeted me at the end of the pontoon!
The date was right for Lesser Whitethroat too and right on cue, my wish was granted as I approached the reservoir when one was singing in the nearby hawthorn. In fact, I managed three by the time I got back aboard, one, in particular, was heard for most of the day singing around the marina.

The Common Whitethroat did eventually chill out & manage a song
Unfortunately once again my visit to the reservoir was disrupted! This time by the Canal Trust who today were already strimming the perimeter when I arrived and a large grasscutter was taking care of the banks. Above the noise, I could still make out Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler from the reedbeds but no sign any of the recent Yellow Wagtails. During my walk Chiffchaff, Blackcap & Willow Warbler all noted and time spent on the deck skywatching during the course of the day produced the now daily Red Kite, several BuzzardsKestrel. I did hear a Common Tern at one point while indoors but no sign when I went out for a look.

☀️10C to start then ☀️17C ~ Wind ←E@3mph Thursday 16th April 2020 ~ A very enjoyable walk today in glorious conditions, adding a local private wood to the itinerary, as viewed from the public footpath.

Two Common Sandpipers at Napton Reservoir today
The reedbed at Napton Reservoir gets nosier on each visit with more Sedge and Reed Warblers arriving overnight. Again no sign of Yellow Wagtails now likely moved on, but more arrivals of Common Whitethroat and just a single Lesser Whitethroat heard today.

Hare ~ A much rarer sight in this part of Warwickshire these days.
Sadly now a much rarer sight in this part of Warwickshire these days but it was great to see a Hare hunkered down in one of the fields as I passed by.

A Treecreeper on the lookout for breakfast
The wood was a hive of activity with nesting Starlings and Jackdaws. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy drumming away and a few Chaffinches, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing. Unfortunately, no Nuthatch to add to my 'Lockdown List' and the best was a couple of Treecreepers looking for breakfast. The wood does have the potential for something good in the coming weeks so it's definitely worth bearing in mind.