Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday 17th December 2010 - Afternoon

14:30 > 15:30
Sunny, cold, odd snow flurry, 2c.

An influx of wildfowl. On the main body a party of six Shoveler (three pairs), three Gadwall and around 20 Wigeon out on the mud were notable though stars of the show once more were the increasing numbers of Goosander with a group of ten (3d, 7f) with others noted on the silt beds and over on Cosgrove Lake. Also over the River Ouse at Cosgrove groups of Tufted Duck and Pochard were also noted as were two Little Egret amongst the group of Grey Heron which congregate by the reed beds on the north shore.

Away from the ducks a Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk over and a welcome Kingfisher along the Ouse.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Tuesday 14th December 2010 - Afternoon

15:30 > 15:45
Cold, damp, calm, 3c

A very brief visit with just a single Green Sandpiper and one of the resident Common Buzzards of note.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday 10th December 2010 - Afternoon

14:30 > 15:00
Damp, cold, west wind, 6c.

Another cold damp winters day. Still some pockets of ice about but this didn't deter the bird of the day a single Curlew from flitting about the shallows on the main area and over into cover on Cosgrove Lake. Apparently there has been an influx inland in recent days and certainly a suprise, just my second record of the species at the site the other being a pair a couple of summers ago.

A lone Green Sandpiper was the only other wader of note whilst three Goosander (1m 2f) caught the eye on the silt beds. On the Ouse a Kingfisher flashed by. Where the work was carried out last week (see Dec 3rd) there is now a clear fast race for a couple of hundred metres.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday 3rd December 2010 - Afternoon

14:00 > 15:00
Cold, calm, westerly breeze, 3c.

Standing water virtually iced over all round. Two Common Buzzards watched over the little life that was moving in the freezing conditions hoping for an easy meal no doubt. Just eight Lapwing were all that caught the attention in this area.

Things a bit livlier on the River Ouse where a group of workmen were cutting down a couple of years of fallen tree and debris between the Iron Trunk and the entrance to Back Brook. Wading waist deep in the freezing water they're braver men than I but the work will probably have an effect on the regular Kingfishers on this stretch. Time will tell.
A single Kingfisher was seen further downstream as were a pair of Goosander battling the flow.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Tuesday 23rd November 2010

12:00 > 13:00
Cold clear day, some sun, 8c

A new bird for the site (for me anyway) in a pair of Marsh Tit hanging 'loosely' about with the mixed tit flock just west of the Viaduct. With reports of 'Willows' recently in the valley could this be the source?

On the main water itself not a lot, the highlight being a pair of Shoveler the only wildfowl present. A dozen or so Lapwing could be found as could the resident Green Sandpiper but bar a handful of gulls that was it.
A walk along the river found at least two, quite probably three, Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail.

Over on the Cosgrove waters more in the way of ducks with a mixture of Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Coot and a handful of Great Crested Grebe alongside a few Cormorant. Noticable on the banking was at least six Little Egret.

Both Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard over completed the day.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Friday 19th November 2010

14:30 > 16:00
Sunny, calm, 9c.

A walk around the perimeter on another typical Autumnal day. Still some warmth in the sun at times but once the mist starting to rise off the river and the lower fields there was a definite chill in the air.

As for the site the second phase of landscaping has started with the large deep pit due east of the first area being filled in with soil.

Birdwise not a lot, twenty or so Lapwing the same number of Black Headed Gulls and a couple of Common Gulls with a single Green Sandpiper flitting about was about all of note around the main body itself. Out on the mud Pied Wagtail numbers continue to build whilst a pair of Meadow Pipits were briefly seen.

On the River Ouse a confiding Kingfisher was watched for a while in the pools around Pebble Beach whilst over the other bank on one of the Cosgrove lakes, one that had building numbers last week (see below) just a handful of Great Crested Grebe remain.

As the light started to go a flock of five Little Egret flew over heading for their evening roost at Linford no doubt.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday 12th November 2010

13:30 > 14:00
Cloud then heavyish rain, westerly wind 11c,

A brief visit before the clouds burst once more this week. The new workings are flooded well in some parts so either its collective rainfall or there is a leak in from Front Brook, the latter option could prove interesting to say the least one winter progresses. Elsewhere water slightly higher too.

Birdwise not too much about. A single Green Sandpiper and a Common Snipe over were the only real waders of note. Around fifty or so Lapwing on site and roughly the same number of gulls a handful being Common Gull the rest Black Headed.

In the hedgerows now large number of winter thrushes (Fieldfare & Redwing) and pockets through all during the visit so it looks like a real movement is underway. The same might be said of Woodpigeon as the winter flock that frequents the west end is buiding too, circ 150 birds so far.

Bird of the day though was a smart male Yellowhammer. Once the rain hammered (see what I did there) it down I took refuge under some of the trees along the Ridge. A flash of brightness in the bush to my left alerted me to this Yellowhammer no more than six foot away from me taking cover too and looking straight at me. He seemed more interested in me than I was of him and was not spooked at all. A surreal moment.

Wednesday 10th November 2010

14:00 > 15:30
Sun, cold NW wind. 8c

An afternoon stroll around the site with a first chance to have a look at what was on the now quiet lakes at Cosgrove. Levels at the main part of the site are higher, with some new areas flooded and the existing area of water expanding daily it seems.

Birds of the day were a pair of Dunlin on the wader pool to the west. Also more Green Sandpipers now on site with at least four present possibly more.

A handful of Golden Plover could be found in amongst the eighty or so Lapwing dotted about the site. Five Little Egrets also potttered about in the shallows.

Along the River Ouse a Kingfisher and a multitude of Wrens (yes Rebecca, Jenny Wrens!) darted about. The Kingfisher looking for a settled spot now the level has risen and its usual pools part of the torrent after recent rain. Across the Ouse on the two Bucks lakes at Cosgrove the avian visitors are now starting to arrive now the human ones have headed home for the winter. Most noticable were thirty plus Cormorant out on the water but Pochard numbers are building including one bright headed male that may (or may not) have been a possible Red Crested though it was just out of range for a 100% definite ID. Small numbers of Tufted Duck and half a dozen Great Crested Grebe.

Away from the water singles of the trio of the most common birds of prey, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel hunted around the site while a good number of both Fieldfare and Redwing picked at the berry laden hedgerows.

And to cap the day a Spitfire flew over west as the light began to go. Rather apt given what week it is.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Cosgrove Park

Something I forgot to mention earlier. Now the summer season is over at Cosgrove Park the main lakes will be 'Caravanless' again now until Easter and therefore quiet and always worth a look especially for wildfowl over the winter. For you listers the clear lakes, i.e. those that have no caravans around them, are east of the River Tove so still in Bucks and are probably some of the most underwatched stretches of water in the county. Viewable easily from the riverside (Ouse) walk or scopable from the Ridge.

Saturday 6th November 2010

12:00 > 12:30
Sun, N breeze, 10c.

A walk through the valley en route to the pub in Stony and a new bird to add to the site list. Walking down the approach road the unmistable sound of a cronking (more like honking) Raven in flight overhead heading north. Not much else about, a lone Little Egret, one hundred or so Lapwing, the same number of gulls, a 70/30ish mix of Black Headed and Common Gull whilst along the River Ouse a Kingfisher darted about and a Grey Wagtail picked about at the waters edge along the 'rapids' by Pebble Beach.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Osprey in vicinity - Per NBBR

30th Oct 2010

From SiNich

Martin K has had an OSPREY over Stony Stratford Nature reserve
Last time this happened late in the year , the bird took up residence at linford for a week
Eyes to the Skies!

Later from Paul M

Hi all, spoken with Martin, bird was high and drifting towards MANOR FARM

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday 29th October 2010

14: 00 > 15:30
Cool, hazy sun at times, SE wind, 12c.

Two birds of the day. Firstly in amongst the thirty or so Pied Wagtails on site was a clear cut White Wagtail out on the mud. Secondly in the scrub area to the east of the site just before the gravel processing area a male Stonechat was flushed. The Stonechat a first for the site, the Whitewag a possible returnee of one of last seasons birds.

Elsewhere birds of note were two Little Egret, three Meadow Pipit, a low flying Common Buzzard sending everything skywards, the usual Green Sandpiper and a handful of Common Gull. Oddly today no Lapwing.
Migration still evident in several Fieldfare and Redwing over but as yet none seen setting in the berry laden hedgerows yet.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Thursday 28th October 2010

17:15 > 17:45
Clear, high cloud, cold westerly wind, 13c

With the clocks going back on Sunday a last evening visit for a while.
Not much about, just thirty or so Lapwing out on the mud and a Common Buzzard, the new darker bird, over. Noticable were the numerous flocks of Starlings, anything from around twenty or thirty to a couple of hundred and at one time a few merging to a five hundred strong throng heading East towards Haversham. Is a winter roost starting to form somewhere in the vicinity?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Wednesday 27th October 2010

13:00 > 14:00
Sun, westerly breeze, 14c

A nice warm Autumnal day ideal for walking and it being midweek, quiet from other people.
The bird of the day was undoubtedly Golden Plover with around 80 in amongst a Lapwing flock numbering a couple of hundred. They were not to stay for long though as they headed west in two flocks, the first around 50 or so followed five minutes later by the remaining 30. The only other wader present was the lone Green Sandpiper. Strangely not a single duck present given last nights attendance (see below).

Gulls also numbered a couple of hundred, as usual most Black Headed Gulls but the other three 'common' local gulls were also present with around 20 Common Gull, a handful of Lesser Black Backed Gull and a single brute of Greater Black Backed Gull.

Along the River Ouse a resting Kingfisher warmed itself in the sun whilst a few lingering Dragonflies and a couple of Red Admiral butterflies were also making the most of the sunshine.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tues 26th October 2010 - Evening

17:00 > 17:30
Dull, light rain, westerly wind, 10c

Not much about this evening but noticable was a flock of circa 70 Mallard out on the water. Small handfuls of wildfowl are usual, some days none at all so this was a marked change. Apart from that, not a lot, the usual Green Sandpiper and a dozen or so Lapwing and a few pockets of Redwing over was of note.

Willow Tit, well maybe...

Reported via the Bucks Bird Club website a Willow Tit has been reported as being seen and calling in Ouse Valley Park. As Manor Farm forms a large chunk of OVP it would be interesting to know the exact location.

Waxwings at western end of Manor Farm

Message per NBBR via SiNich - Monday 25th Oct

Bob Tunnicliffe has had 3 WAXWINGS briefly along the River Ouse by the Iron Trunk bridge , Near Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes. However there are no berries there , so presumed to have moved on.

Rob N pays a visit...

And finds not a lot...

I know the feeling Rob

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thurs 21st October 2010 - Evening

17:15 > 17;45
Cloudy, cool, 9c

A somewhat uneventful visit. Three Common Gulls in amongst the fifty or so Black Headers. A new to the site very dark Common Buzzard and the usual pair of Green Sandpipers, and thats your lot!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wednesday 20th October 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:00
Sun and a cool 6c.

After a few days in Scotland my first visit for a week. Not a lot to report. The highlight three Common Snipe, a single and a pair. Also the usual two Green Sandpipers, a lone Little Egret and circa 30 Lapwing. A flock of around 120 Mallard were seen to drop into the silt beds at dusk.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Thurs 14th Oct 2010 - Mid-Morning - Knot & Dunlin

Per Ben Miller via NBBR

The RED KNOT was still at Manor Farm, MK, mid-morning today for its fourth day, directions as before. It has now also been joined by a DUNLIN this morning, plus one of the regular Green Sands was also on the small pool with it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Weds 13th Oct - Evening - Knot still present...

Per NBBR from SiNich at 18:30

Rob H is watching the RED KNOT this evening , still at Manor Farm , this is by far the longest stayer in modern times.

Wednesday 13th October 2010 - Lunchtime

12:15 > 12:45
Cloud, northerly breeze, 10C

The Knot is still on site for its third day though a bit flighty. Mind you hardly suprising as everything was sent skyward after the RAF did a low bypass along the valley spooking everything.
 I almost took off myself.
Also present circa 30 Lapwing dotted about a pair of both Little Egret and Green Sandpiper. A couple of dozen gulls were on the whole Black Headed, but at least one Common Gull was amongst them plus a monster juvenile which on size alone I am guessing was a Great Black-backed Gull.

Along the approach road several Contenintal Blackbirds fed on the remaining berries.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tuesday 12th October - Evening

17:15 > 17:45
Broken cloud odd flash of sun, calm, 12c.

Another quick glance around to see if the Knot is still there and indeed it is consorting with the same pair of Teal and on the same pool it was last night.

Apart from the Knot the usual suspects (see below ad naseum) and several paprties of Redwing over.

Tuesday 12th October - Lunchtime

12:15 > 12:45
Cloudy, calm 11c

A quick lunchtime visit to see if yesterdays Knot was still on site and indeed after first overlooking it as a Woodpigeon (don't ask) the bird was refound walking the perimeter shores of the main body of water to the western end. In better light you could still make out a very light reddy brown timge to its plumage but only just, otherwise full winter apparel.

Also four Little Egrets, two Green Sandpipers and circa 20 Lapwing.

Paul M's Knot report...

Can be found here

And Rob N's here

Monday, 11 October 2010

New addition to site list - Knot

See below for details.

Monday 11th October 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 19:00
Sun then sunset, clear 12c cool northerly breeze at times.

A 'brief' post work visit that ended up being not so brief after a fine winter plumaged Knot was found on the pool to the west. On arrival a pair of Teal had with them a more altogether greyer 'duck' dozing with its back to me. Going to the western end to get a better look said dumpy duck started to pick around in the mud revealing it was indeed a Knot, a first for the site. A text was sent out and a couple of other birders got to see the bird before it got dark, just. Was still there when I left in darkness so may well be worth a look in the morning.

Also on site at least three Green Sandpipers, a lone Common Sandpiper an couple of Little Egrets and earlier around 40 Lapwing. More smaller birds in evidence now especially Pied Wagtails. Things are looking up.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Thursday 7th October 2010 - Evening

17:00 > 18:00
Cloud, westerly breeze 16c

A perimeter walk found the following, three Green Sandpiper, two Common Sandpiper, four Little Egret, circa 40 Lapwing, a Kingfisher and in the long grass on the hill a pair of Meadow Pipits playing hide and seek.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tuesday 5th October 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:30
Sun, high wispy cloud, calm, 16c.

Surfs up! Well almost, theres been a rise in water levels in the site, creating now only more pools but strips of water stretching off from the main body. In these strips at least five Green Sandpipers, two Common Sandpipers and a lone Common Snipe. Also on site just four Little Egret (i'm giving up on theories), two Cormorants and seven Lapwing. Along the Ouse, which is also up a couple of inches though not high enough to flood Back Brook yet, I was suprised to see a couple of Dragonflies having one final throw of the dice before Autumn closes in.

Away from the water one of the Common Buzzards was getting a lot of grief from Gang Corvid, which also for some reason kept mobbing one of the Green Sandpipers too. Crows are suppossedly clever birds, sometimes though I just don't see it.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Saturday 2nd October 2010


Not a true visit as such but as the routemaster (no jokes about the back ends of buses please)  of one of the Saints with Heart sponsored walk routes from Wolverton to Northampton the first few miles takes us through the Ouse Valley before joining the Grand Union Canal and as such passed through the Farm.
Well my Little Egret pre-roost theory appears dented as just after first light through the mist you could see at least a dozen of them on site with almost certainly more where the fog was thicker. I'm now guessing they meet here post roost, disappear to the four corners during the day then return for the last couple of hours before sunset to discuss where they've been, what they've seen, the price of fish etc etc before heding off to Linford to sleep. Or is it just coincidence?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Friday 1st October 2010 - Afternoon

13:45 > 14:00
Cloud, heavy rain, SW wind, gusting at times.

A brief, very brief, visit before the heavens opened once more. Just two Little Egrets today which suggests the high numbers in late afternoon (fourteen yesterday) are a pre-roost gathering of birds heading back from the west before popping off to their Linford sleeping quarters in the last hour before dark.

Not much else out on the water, around 40 Lapwing dotted about and three Cormorants together on one of the blunt spits but no sign of any small waders at all.

Hirundine migration still in full swing with a few dozen House Martins and the odd Swallow low over the fields and water.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thursday 30th September 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:30
14C Sun then thickening cloud, calm.

A perimeter walk and the notable bird once again was Little Egret with numbers up to 14 birds at least on arrival with small groups heading off East over the next hour or so i'm wondering if there is an even higher peak number earlier. Weather permitting i'll take a look mid-afternoon tomorrow.

The usual two Greens and one Common Sandpiper were still on site as was a single juvenile Kingfisher battering the life out of a tiddler on one of the fishing platforms along the Ouse.

Migrants still head south with a group of 20 or so House Martins tracking the canal to sunnier climes (no not Brentford) while the first winter thrushes were seen with two Redwing, eight days earlier than last years first birds, and a rather shabby Fieldfare over.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday 29th September 2010 - Evening

18:00 > 18:30
11c Rain and lots of it.

Walking home from work I was already soaked before I passed the entrance to the Farm so thought I'd take a short detour across the Ridge and back up the canal towpath, after all I couldn't get any wetter. Gulls were the order of the day on arrival with around 300, on the whole Black Headed Gulls, out at the waters edge. However something spooked them skywards and off to roost leaving an incredible 11, yes eleven, Little Egrets feeding in the margins. That number was probably higher as there are usually a couple at least in the inlet too at the moment. Certainly a record for the site.

There was me pontificating on Saturday (see below) about it being a little bit of southern France in North Bucks well today was more like a wet January weekend in Morecombe but all the same one impressive sight. I'm guessing this is some kind of pre-roost of birds before they head off to Linford for the night.

A big influx of wildfowl too, though how wild the 50 strong Mallard flock is debatable but nine Teal added a bit of spice. Apart from that the only other birds of note were two Green Sandpipers and a very lonesome Lapwing.

The heavy rain was refilling some of the higher pools so the site may be worth a look or two in the coming days.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Saturday 25th September 2010 - Evening

18:00 > 10:30
12c sunny, odd cloud NE breeze.

Out on Gannet watch (its a long story) I decided an hour or so at the height of the Ridge given its vista might be as good a place as any locally. Entering the site by the Haversham end I was greeted by a family playing P├ętanque near the car park. It was almost an omen as out on the water a party of seven Little Egrets fed together bar the odd squabble in the evening sun giving the area a hint of the Carmargue (i'm not convincing you am I?) rather than North Bucks. The wafting smell of BBQ's at Cosgrove Park dispelled the myth but I can dream. Alongside the record number of Egrets ten Grey Heron were also dotted about. The attraction i'm not sure but all the same an impressive site. Would I swap all that for a single flyover Gannet, probably not.

Also on site in the pool on the newly worked area was a single Yellow Legged Gull alongside a dozen or so Black Headers. A lone Cormorant sat at the waters edge while a pair of Green Sandpipers and a single Common Sandpiper could be found in the shallows along with around 30 Lapwing dozing here and there.

Still a few passage Swallow and House Martin drifting through especially along the Ouse whilst up on the hill a flighty group of 13 Meadow Pipits could be found.

But still no Gannets...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Friday 24th September 2010

14:00 > 16:00

Cool cloudy day with a strong NW wind at times. 9c

A lingering walk around the perimeter of the site saw th following: Parties of migrating Swallows, House Martins and the odd Sand Martin passing through. Two Common Buzzards. Three Green Sandpipers. Two Little Egrets. Four Cormorant. One Common Sandpiper. Two Meadow Pipits. Twelve Lapwing. Two Sparrowhawks. One Grey Wagtail. One Kingfisher. Two Green Woodpecker. One Greater Spotted Woodpecker. Two Reed Buntings and flocks of around 250 Starling and 80 Goldfinch.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thursday 23rd September

17:30 > 18:00

17c, broken cloud, humid.

This is starting to sound very monotonous but singles of Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Green Sandpiper were the only birds of note.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tuesday 21st September 2010

17:15 > 17:45

14c, cloud, calm

A slight rise in temperature sees an odd Dragonfly still flitting about whilst a handful of Pied Wagtails dotted about always signifies (to me anyway) that better things might soon be on their way. At the moment though just a smatter of Lapwing, Little Egret and Common Sandpiper of note. Down along the Ouse still good numbers of Swallow and House Martin passing through.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday 20th September 2010

17:30 > 18:00

14c, cloud, calm

The site is still on whole quiet (and doesn't look like changing much soon) with just singles of Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Green Sandpiper of note.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Friday 17th September 2010

12:00 > 12:30

Cloud, breezy, 13c

A brief visit but alas no signs of the 'Wags & Pips' of earlier (see below). In fact not a lot at all, just a lone Common Sandpiper of note. On the ploughed field over the Ouse at the western end it looks like the Common Pheasants have had a good summer with at least three different family groups along the edges.

Friday 17th September 2010

6:30 > 7:00

Cloud, calm and a cool 6C

An early morning visit and certainly a feeling that Autumn is around the corner. An early morning fall of around 30 or Pipits and Wagtails had in amongst the Pieds a handful of Meadow Pipits and two Yellow Wagtails. In the margins the usual Common and Green Sandpipers whislst flying low through a party of five Little Egrets together was an impressive site. Other flyovers of note was a flock of circa 150 Lapwing.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Thursday 16th September 2010

16:00 > 17:00

15c Sunny, odd cloud NW wind

Pretty much the usual suspects in two Green Sandpipers a Common Sandpiper and around 30 Lapwing along the waters edge. Away from the water two Cormorants and a Sparrowhawk over were the other birds of note, and perhaps not a rarity but a couple of Jays brightened the evening on leaving.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wednesday 15th September 2010

17:15 > 17:30

14c, spitting rain, cloud.

After getting soaked in yesterdays deluge (see below) I thought discretion the better part of valour so headed off when the rain started but the site appeared quiet with just a quick glance of a single Common Sandpiper.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tuesday 14th September 2010

17:15 > 17:45

15C Cloud, rain then heavy rain, westerly wind.

A visit during heavy rain to get more evidence on the identity of the 'mystery bat' (see below) also netted a single juvenile Kingfisher, 50 Lapwing and singles of Green and Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday 10th September 2010

14:00 > 15:30

22c Cloud, humid, SW wind.

In amongst the Canadian flock is a Greylag Goose family group, a single adult and three juveniles, two pale but one almost completely white in plumage bar some dark neck flecking, a strange looking bird. Briefly out on the mud was a party of three Meadow Pipits while out on the water the resident Common and Green Sandpipers can still be found. Along the Ouse two Kingfishers were seen together towards the western end. Also found hanging from a tree a 'dead bat' near the what was in our youth 'Pebble Beach'. More of the bat saga later.

Friday 10th September 2010

6:45 > 7:15

An early morning bright sunny visit and changes taking place. New birds in a pair of Common Snipe and briefly a Greenshank before it was mobbed off by a handful of Black Headed Gulls of which there are around 500 on site. Other birds of note, around 80 Lapwing and a lone Common Sandpiper.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Thursday 9th September 2010

17:30 > 18:00

18c cloud, building NNW breeze.

A quick walk along the Ouse garnered the usuals of Common and Green Sandpiper whilst a Kingfisher along the river itself makes in my estimation at least four birds now along this stretch.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wednesday 8th September 2010

17:30 > 18:00

17c Cloud, calm.

No Redstart sighted but apart from that not much change from yesterday with singles of Common Sandpiper and Little Egret out on the water and a Green Sandpiper in one of the pools of Back Brook. Noticable was the number of Canada Geese crammed into the Inlet, around 200 birds making it a little enclave of Canadia itself.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tuesday 7th September 2010

17:00 > 17:3
18c Cloud, calm.

A brief visit and the female Common Redstart can still be found in its usual clump of bushes for its 12th day at least. Others of note were all wading birds, singles of Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and circa 70 Lapwing.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday 5th September 2010

A quick morning call to work left me with an hour of so to kill before I headed off for rugby, so I took a binless walk along the Ridge, canal towpath then riverside walk to the station a a nice warm sunny morning. Without having to try and see everything that moves as per usual it was a relaxing way to kill an time and appreicate what a gem the area is, tending to not see the wood for the trees most of the time. From the industrail landscape of the Grand Union Canal to the sound and sights of the Ouse to the panorama view from the Ridge with (on a clear day) Buckingham far off in the distance to your left though the woods around Whittlebury, Cosgrove Church, Hanslope Spire and Park then the outskirts of Salcey Forest to your right and all in between. A real English country vista I'm sure most of us overlook.
**One thing I did note was the Ouse is being kept low by pumping up of water at the Iron Trunk into the canal. Little danger of flooding at present and it seems somewhat of a waste in power as the water rejoins the river system at the overflow into Bradwell Brook a mile or so, as the crow flies, to the east by the new Aquaduct.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Saturday 4th September 2010

17C Odd cloud but otherwise sunny calm day, warm, SE wind building later.
10:00 > 14:00

Second visit of the day and a pleasant few hours spent covering all areas in the valey.

The highlight was a first for the site and a lifer for me in a Hawfinch.
Scanning the water for waders something 'not quite right' came into my view on my left flying along Back Brook at willow height. Flying quite direct and fast it finally came into the open for the last fifty yards or so before hitting the bank of older taller trees above Godwit Corner. Stocky, and large for a finch, burnt orange in colour and with a gleaming platinum beak it could only be one thing even though i'd never seem one before in my life. Luckily I refound it seconds later up high in the canopy for another few glimpses at rest to confirm ID of Hawfinch. It may still be there but I spent a fruitless three quarters of an hour trying to relocate.

Also on site the Common Redstart still remains up on the Ridge a week since it was first sighted. Down on the water a single Green Sandpiper and a dozen Lapwing represented the waders whilst a single female Shoveler and a pair of Teal were of note. The odd behaviour of the day came from the flock of 30 or so Canada Geese doing an odd mock chase then completely submerging themselves under the water for a few seconds. Never noticed anything of the kind before but then 'Cango's' are not birds I've taken too much interest in.

Along the Ouse two family groups of Mute Swans with two and five signets respectively and over the bridge amongst the Hops growing wild more Speckled Wood butterflies than you could shake a stick at alongside a passing Red Admiral or two.

As for birds of prey a lone high Hobby and a Sparrowhawk in vain trying to disrupt the House Martins over the river were sighted, unfortunately though death stalks the valley as one of the Common Buzzards was lying dead under a hedgerow.

Saturday 4th September 2010

6:00 > 6:15

A cool 6C and thick fog.

A quick look in but the fog beat me to it. However someone could be heard shooting in the area. Given the fog the sound could be carrying in any direction but with an echo bouncing back off the farm buildings it could not have been too far away. The sporadic shots suggested it was not coming from the clay pigeon shoot, where indeed they too would not be able to see. Its a bit disconcerting though knowing theres someone out there with a gun when you cannot see more than 20 yards. I decided on safety and a return when the sun had burnt the mist off later in the morning.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday 3rd September 2010 - Evening

17:45 > 19:0
21C Sun, calm.
A longer linger around the site. The Common Redstart still remain, now on its 7th day at least.

Highlights though were groups of Arctic Terns and Northern Wheatears. Looking from the riverside back over the site towards the gravel banking at the end of central field a flash of white caught the eye. Homing in it was a Northern Wheatear and on closer look one of a pair. Close by a third bird was found. Thinking back its the first time theres been this number on site since the 'golden era' of spring last year.
Better was to follow. A group of six Terns were spotted drifting in from the west. At first I thought they must be Commons but when five of the group landed it was clear that (some at least) were not. Three were juveniles and the two on the nearside of the group that landed clearly had black descending much lower than the eyeline. The viewable older bird was a more uniformly grey and than a Common at this time of year and as far as I could see no discernable black top to the bill. The two farside birds, a further juvenile and an adult, could not be 100% ID'd but given the arrival and continued proximity to the three other birds I toook them too to be Arctic Terns. The sixth bird remained airborne for the five minutes or so that the birds were on site. It made a couple attempts at fishing and just as I was getting the news out via text, after been mobbed by a handful of Gulls (the Terns not me) it was joined by the other five all heading off easterly towards Linford along the valley.

Also on site pairs of both Little Egret and Green Sandpiper and a single lingering Sand Martin.
On leaving the Bats were already out around the farm buildings.
**I was to see Bats in three further places on my way home round the Galleon and along Trinity Road in Old Wolverton then at the top of Jersey Road in the centre of Wolverton itself. Its been a few years since I can remember seeing them in so many places.**

Friday 3rd September 2010 - Afternoon

14:15 > 14:45

23C Sun with an odd cloud drifting through, calm.

Brief visit and not a lot about. Just a single Green Sandpiper and 14 Lapwing out on the water.
Meanwhile the Common Redstart remains in the same clump of bushes up on the Ridge.

Friday 3rd September 2010 - Early Morning

6:45 > 7:00
7c Thickening fog, calm.

A hope rather than expectation visit this morning as visibility was down to 20 yards and even thicker above the water in the valley bottom. Lots of hazy white dots across the top field suggest a multitude of gulls about but not much else visible. Will look again later today.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Thursday 2nd September 2010 - Evening

Tonight along the Ridge
18:00 >19:30
Warm sun, 20c at start.

A Common Redstart yet again along the Ridge at Manor Farm this evening, again a female and for a time in exactly the same bush as last weekends bird, coincidence? This however looked a much smarter clean cut individual but could be Paul M and Rob N's 'second' bird. (See Saturday below) If so now on site for the sixth day.

Also as I was leaving as darkness fell a rather scruffy female Whinchat on the barbed wire fence running south to north down the hill from the farm building.

A lone Green Sandpiper and a pair of Common Terns getting what for from a pack of Jackdaws and a Little Egret over were the only other real birds of interest. Compared with recent days there has also been quite an influx of Lesser Black Backed Gulls on site probably now making up around 40% of the hundred or so gulls on site. Three Lapwing also put in an appearance as did a loud Green Woodpecker, maybe common birds but looking all the better in the evening sun.

And on the butterfly front a single Common Blue and a couple of Small Whites were seen along the approach road while an odd dragonfly still darted about. Plenty of life in this summer yet yet a combine harvester cutting the wheat to the far east of the site shows that a change is not that far off.

Thursday 2nd September 2010 - Early Morning

This morning - Top Field
6:45 > 7:00
Sun, pockets of mist burning off in the valley, calm. 6c

A brief walkthrough on a bright sunny morning. A couple of hundred gulls (on the whole Black headers) dotted about and the first time the 'winter' flock was noted in the top field. Nothing else really of note but a single Green Sandpiper. Overhead a flock of around 70 Lapwing headed west. And thats your lot!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tuesday 31st August 2010

18:30 > 20:00
Sun then sunset, calm. 20c to start then cooling.

I hadn't intended visiting the site today but a beautiful late summer evening was too good to pass up given what we've had recently. The highlight was a pair of Spotted Flycatcher, my first at the site, along the riverside walk but the my bird of the day was the Kingfisher. I was lamenting not so long ago that I had not seen seen one since New Years Eve, pre the big freeze then a flash of blue from a juvenile along Back Brook gave some hope that they hadn't been wiped out in the valley. Well this evening in true London bus style I found three. A pair along the River Ouse at the eastern end of the site by the viaduct on arrival then late on a single at the other end a matter of yards from the 'Iron Trunk' aquaduct. Perhaps with the water level in the river dropping they are making hay fishing wise after what must have been a struggle the last few days. A very welcome sight indeed. I understand my East Yorkshire reader is most pleased. ;)

The reedbeds and waterside bushes were alive with migrants once more and there has been a small influx of waders too. At least three Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and a single Common Snipe could be found in the newly flooded area. A single Common Tern and two Little Egret were also noted.

I hung around till sunset when the pre-roost of gulls and built up to around 600 birds. Autumn is definitely on its way and the site is starting to give me hope once more. Looking back on last years records they are not so very different.

Spotted Flycatcher - Birdguides
Spotted Flycatcher - BTO
Spotted Flycatcher - Wiki
Spotted Flycatcher - RSPB

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Saturday 28th August 2010 - Morning

8:30 > 12:00
15c sun, cooling NW breeze.

Following on from Paul M's text (see below) I made my way to the Farm with the intention of photographing the Common Redstarts. They took some finding but after an hour or so a single female was found along the Ridge path leading back to the canal not far from Pauls original instructions. Indeed only a matter of yards from where last years birds were found. If it wasn't for the textbook dropping down from cover picking something off the grass then shooting back I could have well  have walked right past it. Despite it being on the wrong side of the light I managed to get a couple of (not that brilliant) shots in but then as if it knew it was centre stage it got in prime position in the spotlight only with me now on the wrong side of the fence, see pics.

Well hidden...

Also on site two Yellow Wagtails over and a smattering of migrants in the reeds and bushes along the river and brooks. Briefly a single Golden Plover dropped in to one of the new pools alongside two Green Sandpipers. Seven Teal also put in an all to short visit. Three Common Terns lingered for a while in the sun as did a single Oystercatcher on one of the flooded pools in the new workings. A flock of forty Lapwing flew over while six could be found down on the mud at waters edge.

As things warmed up out came the dragonflies and butterflies. Nothing unusual on the butterfly front but not knowing a hawker from a chaser who knows on the odonata front, more pics later.

And finally a Common Buzzard made the day photo wise, given some cracking shots in the light.

Common Redstart - Birdguides
Common Redstart - BTO
Common Redstart - Avibirds
Common Redstart - RSPB
Common Redstart - Wiki

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Saturday 28th August 2010 - Early Morning

Text from Paul M (with Rob N) at 7am reporting two Common Redstarts, three Yellow Wagtails, a Green Sandpiper and a probable Greenshank with a Common Snipe through the site. See link to Robs report of visit below.

Robs Report

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Thursday 26th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:30
13c, wet cold, miserable. NE wind.

That cross between mist and drizzle (mizzle?) that lands on the grass like dew but soaks everything right through, (copyright Peter Kay) but I was wet already so had a wander through the site. Just a single Green Sandpiper of note but the place was awash with hirundines forced low by the weather. On the appraoch road around fifty or so Swallows darted about while over the river area at least double that number of House Martins were acrobatically performing and flying within inches of passers by, which given the rain was just an odd jogger and muggins here. (Poor quality video due to weather but you get the idea)

The rain has formed more pools though and there is an ever increasing ribbon of water forming the length of the new area.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Tuesday 24th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:00
17c cloud, westerly wind.

Lapwing numbers have increased to around a dozen now with three juveniles in tow. With my doubts about good wader habitat gone now with the new landscaping it was good to the three Green Sandpipers on site but i'm not holding my breath just yet for anything more substansial this autumn. Two Teal dozed in the inlet and that was about it.

Noticable however was the rise in levels on the moving water on site. The River Ouse is I would guess around a foot or two higher than it normally is this time of year and while the pools on Back Brook are gradually filling 'Front' Brook is now flowing at a depth of a foot or so along its entire length.

Tuesday 24th August 2010 - Early Morning

6:30 > 7:00
Sun, calm 14c

A quick pre-work visit to check if I had missed anything on my binless visit last night (see below). Not a lot it seems. Around 200 gulls around the two spits but on the whole vitually all Black Headed. Amongst them six Lapwing slept. Out on the water a lone female Gadwall with a smattering of Canadian Geese. The first Cormorant in a while flew over while on the top field were six newly arrived Mistle Thrush. Finally a couple of Whitethroat could be found along the ridge.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Monday 23rd August 2010 - Evening

18:00 > not very long...
18c breaking sun after heavy downpour, freshening westerly.

So what's the first rule of birdwatching? Yep don't leave your bins on the kitchen table, something I managed to do yet again this evening.

After the heavy rain of the day and with the sun finally breaking through I thought I'd pay a visit on the way home and things certainly look better than they were with new pools formed from the last few days downpours.
And certainly there are birds out there amongst the multitude of gulss but when I reached in my rucksack I realised my mistake. Damn!

On trudging back there were two Green Sandpipers yet again on the Top Pool but little reward given what might have been.

Oh well tomorrow...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Friday 20th August - Afternoon

Hanging in there - Green Sandpiper - Manor Farm
13:30 > 14:30
23c warm, muggy, broken cloud, strong SSW wind which had caused a dead tree in the top field to finally topple and split.

A somewhat disappointing visit once more. Of course things will improve with time but at the moment the site looks more like a public park boating lake in the making more than anything more 'wild' and the birds are not being attracted in. Futher work on the inlet which now has its sides (home to a multitude of Sand Martin nests a couple of weeks ago) levelled and sloping towards the water. The depth has also been increased so bar a small area at the western end which held two Green Sandpipers there are no gravel scrapes that held waders into double figures only a week ago.

A party of eight Grey Herons herons was noticable in the lower field at the western end, below the canal embankment as were yet another Green Woodpeckerfamily group along the hedgrerow but the bird of the day was an acrobatic female Sparrowhawk atacking the ever growing Goldfinch flock.

To be honest though at the moment I would not recommend anyone particularly going out their way to visit the site just yet. I am passing every other day so I will keep all posted with improvements (hopefully).

This time last year... Dunlin remains
Sparrowhawk - Birdguides
Sparrowhawk - BTO
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Wiki
Sparrowhawk - RSPB

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Thursday 19th August - Evening

18:00 > 19:00
17c Rain, then heavy rain, then heavier still (do you get the picture?)

Water level seems to be a little higher and further work around the inlet area seems now to have made it part and parcel of the new flooded area. In this area a single female Teal fed while out on the expanse a pair of Gadwall did the same. Apart from a single Lapwing on the mud the only other wader seen was a Green Sandpiper over then at the Top Pool, probably the same bird.

Apart from that it was gulls all the way. Circa 400 on the two new facing 'spits'. predominantly Black Headed but a fair smattering of Lesser Black Backed, including three juveniles.

This time last year... Early Common Gull
Gadwall - Birdguides
Gadwall - Wiki
Gadwall - RSPB
Gadwall - BTO

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tuesday 17th August - Evening

17:30 > 18:00 Cloud, sun then heavy burst of rain, 22c, westerly breeze.
Manor Farm - Top Field 17/08/10

More groundwork around the inlet, some clearing of mounds and opening up the end so its a clean flow through again to the main body of water. Certainly gives more a view from the hill, especially along the ridge, but downside is the inlet was devoid of the waders that have been there the last couple of visits. Indeed the only waders found on site today were three flyover Lapwing that did a circuit then thought better of it.

Apart from that nothing really of note. A fall of gulls circa 300 after the rain but virtually all Black Headers.

Some moody sky and a rainbow made up for things though (see pics). And picked out in the sun against the black sky a resplendent pair of Lesser Whitethroat in the old fruit trees around the farm itself rounded off the visit. Alas wrong camera for what would have been cracking pics given the conditions.

Click on pics for full size..
Manor Farm - Top Pool 17/08/10
Manor Farm - Rainbow! 17/08/10
Manor Farm - Farmhouse 17/08/10


Sunday, 15 August 2010

Back Brooks own Serengeti...

Pike - Back Brook - August 2010

There’s a mini drama waiting to be played out along Back Brook. Every summer as water levels subside small isolated pools are left along this length of its run. Without wishing to sound too much like Jack Hargreaves, in years gone by the large pool down by the stone bridge where the Back and ‘front’ Brook joins before going the last 100 yards or back into the Ouse was a favourite fishing haunt and it was a real feather in your cap when the farm was occupied if you could fish this without the Farmer seeing and doing his ‘Gert orf my land’ bit. As fish gravitated towards the deeper pools as the levels dropped it was a bit of a fisherman's haven and still today there’s some sizable fish in there but I have not seen anybody fish it in a couple of years.

The old fishing hole this week

Mostly the other pools would gradually diminish, Herons and lately Little Egrets would move in to pick off any stranded fish and by midsummer dragonflies would be the only life ruling the roost. Not this year though. Whether it was a quick drop in levels or a flash flood that caused it I don’t know but there in still one more shallowish pool where a shoal of Perch, a shoal of Roach and centre stage one single Pike. You would think it would be a fox in a chicken house scenario but no. On a couple of occasions I watched the Pike glide through the shoals of other fish with them barely batting an eyelid (if fish have eyelids).

The predator is not on the big size, a youngster maybe a foot in length at most and I thought maybe it was just a question of the other fish being too big for dinner but a fishing friend informs me that pike with take on anything two thirds their size. Certainly nearly all the other fish come into its eatable range, so what’s stopping it?

Well you'd like to think that its the Pike's cunning, knowing it has a limited food source that has to last until the brook is flooded through and he can return to the Ouse to hunt at will. Clever fish imposing a crucial bit of rationing...

But then again if truth be told he's probably just full to the gills already!

Pike - Wiki
Perch - Wiki
Roach - Wiki

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday 14th August 2010 - Evening

Viaduct -far east end of site.
18:30 > 20:00
18c cloud then fine warm sunny evening with rain holding off, just (see 'storm' below)

Entering the site from the Haversham end this evening I was somewhat suprised to three grown men shoes and socks off, paddling under the viaduct. Not to much sun or one too many in the Greyhound, they were fishing by hand it seems for Signal Crayfish that can often be seen in the shallows here.

Along the path between the silt beds and the gravel mounds after the heavier rain earlier in the day the number of large light brown and and almost orange in some cases 'Black Slug' was also noticable. Not a true black one in sight but a few dozen of their different coloured brethern.

As for the birds well the inlet was once again the centre of activity with five Green Sandpipers, a lone Common Sandpiper but more noticably three female Teal, new arrivals to the site.

Along the pollarded Willows of Back Brook a Little Owl was flushed whilst a Common Buzzard once again roosted in the trees at the bottom of central field. Late in the evening a single Barnacle Goose, no doubt of dubious origin, flew in and honked till the one hundred or so resident Canadian flock joined it on the water.

The weather was the real star tonight though. Standing on the ridge above the valley in warm evening sunshine on my way home it was somewhat surreal stopping to watch the dense black mass of a huge thuder storm, with a quite impressive lightshow to boot, off in the distance over Northampton.

Signal Crayfish - The Telegraph
Teal - Birdguides
Teal - BTO
Teal - Wiki
Teal - RSPB
This time last year - Dunlin

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday 13th August - Afternoon

The Inlet Manor Farm - Aug 2010
14:00 > 16:30
14c Heavy rain giving way to sun then odd shower.

As the last of this years cattle are carted away for the dinner table it means once more it is safe to go and view the inlet from the west end, and it came up trumps with seven Green Sandpipers, a papir of Common Sandpipers and two Litte Egrets. The Sandmartin colony still holds a few active nests here too with parents darting in and out every second. Also in this area quite a few Common Blue butterflies a pair of Bullfinch and a Whitethroat.

Along the river quite a few Willow Wablers, Chiffchaffs, Sedge and Reed Warblers were noticable amongst the tree and vegetation along with a smattering of the the more common Tits. A Sparrowhawk darted here and there paying close close attention to any movement from cover.

Up on the 'high plain' the pool behind the farm buildings a further two Green Sandpipers could be found.

Out on the main area itself 14 Lapwing hugged the banking in the deluge alongside fifty or so Black Headed Gulls. A handful of Lesser Black Backed and a couple of Herring Gulls could also be found later in the afternoon.

And finally whilst we might curse the low flying Chinooks overhead, there was another one on Friday scattering everything, you cannot help but look up in awe at the low flying Vulcan Bomber (is it the last one?) flying low over the valley at around four o'clock.

Sand Martin - Birdguides
Sand Martin - BTO
Sand Martin - Wiki
Sand Martin - RSPB
Common Blue - UK Butterflies
Common Blue - Butterfly Conservation
The Last Vulcan

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Thursday 12th August 2010 - Evening

18:00 > 19:30
14c Heavy rain breaking to sun, NW breeze.

At last a Kingfisher! Having not seen one at the site since the last day of 2009 just before the big freeze set in I was starting to think maybe the birds that were almost daily sightings, especially along the river, had succumbed to the cold. But no there was the azure flash this evening of a juvenile making its way along Back Brook.

Other birds of note, waders numbers building, at least three Green Sandpipers including on on the top pool south of the farm buildings. A very pale Common Redshank respledent in the late sun and a single Common Sandpiper. Two Little Egrets also around the confines while geese numbers continue to rise, now around 150 Canadians up on the slopes with their single confused Greylag mate.

Fifty or so gulls, most Black Headed but a handful of Herring and Lesser Black Backed. A youngster of one of these species (don't even ask me to start decoding the plumage) was the star of the day, circled a few times then made half a dozen dry runs to join the other gulls on the mud before taking the easy option and diving head first almost Gannet style into the water in a none too graceful landing. None the worse for the experience though.

This time last year - Greenshank
Kingfisher - Birdguides
Kingfisher - BTO
Kingfisher - RSPB
Kingfisher - Wiki

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tuesday 10th August - Evening

One of last years Northern Wheaters
17:30 > 18:00
18c drizzle, dull, calm.

At last some waders have returned after the partial flooding. A Common Redshank and a Green Sandpiper were in Godwit Corner while a pair of Common Sandpiper picked around in the shallows of the inlet. A single Lapwing was harried at every occasion by an immature Magpie for whatever reason I don't know. Kids eh?

Also on site at least three Little Egret and a pair of Common Tern. Birds of the day however were two Northern Wheatear. In the new secondary shingle and mud banking at the bottom of central field a rather shabby looking female was found whilst a few yards away a juvenile gave good views.

Things gradually looking up but it still looks a little too manicured at the moment. Early days.

Looking back on last years records its a day later (11th) for the Wheatears when a juvenile was the first returning bird last 'autumn'.
This time last year...

Other links:
Northern Wheatear - Birdguides
Northern Wheatear - BTO
Northern Wheatear - Wiki
Northern Wheatear - RSPB

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mayfly - Photographic catch up

Pics from earlier this year that i've not had time to process till now.
Mayfly in ermmm May!
Click for full size.

Manor Farm - 28th May - Mayfly rising...
Mayfly - Bug of the Month

Water, water everywhere!

Well not quite but here's some pics of the new flooded area. Click on each pic for a larger version.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday 6th August - Early Morning

6:45 > 7:15
Calm, sun.

No new arrivals in fact noting of note at all. 50 or so Black Headed Gulls doze on one of the earth mounds while grazing up on the hill the Canada Goose flock (plus their single token Greylag companion thats been with a small group of Canadians all summer arounf the site) now numbers over 100 birds.

Canada Goose - Birdguides
Canada Goose - BTO
Canada Goose - RSPB
Canada Goose - Wiki
Canada Goose - Avibirds

This time last year - Gulls, gulls, gulls!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Thursday 5th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 19:00
20c broken cloud, sunny spell, nw breeze.

Water, water everywhere (and even a Yellow Legged Gull)
A lot sooner than I expected (see below ad naseum) they have started to flood the landscaped area i.e. what was the main body of water and the gravel island area in a previous life. Indeed it was water being held back in an ever deepening inlet that has been relaesed by a small channel cut into the wall and what an area it has created (pictures tomorrow hopefully).

There is anow a large figure of eight are covering probably a fifth of the area here (and yes 'Godwit Corner' was one of the first to fill) and i'd expect it to go up more in the coming days. and for the grand opening in amongst 80 Black Headed Gulls, 22 Lesser Black Backed Gull and a single pink legged Herring Gull was its southern cousin a clear cut Yellow Legged Gull. It was a camera opportunity missed, all three species side by side in the evening sun.

Oddly seeing the range of waders that were being drawn into what were little more than puddles lately the ever growing expanse of water and shoreline not a single wader was seen but surely that will change in the coming days given how the place looks.

In the pools left in the draining inlet a handful of Grey Heron were having a feast on trapped fish joined later by two Little Egret. The Sandmartin colony must have been wondering what was happening, a few feet of water outside the front door on Tuesday, today an inch or two. Along the river, where clearance of the temporary banking now gives clear close up views from the north side, were both Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a family group of Green Woodpecker.

On leaving a very Arctic looking Tern dropped and settled by the shore in but im not 100% on ID due to range.

Things are definitely looking up.

Yellow Legged Gull - Birdguides
Yellow Legged Gull - BTO
Yellow Legged Gull - Wiki
Yellow Legged Gull - RSPB

This time last year...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Tuesday 3rd August - Evening

17:45 > 18:15
22c broken cloud then sun, westerly breeze.

Alas the wader pool is no more! The landscaping has gone on apace the last couple of days and the area that drew in the likes of Greenshank, Sanderling, Black Tailed Godwit and Dunlin, not to mention all the 'regular' waders has now been consigned to history under six foor of soil.

Also gone are the new developing pools on the northside, favoured by the Common and Green Sanpipers of late. All we have now is a couple of acres of undulating manicured mud. Eggs and omelettes though, its not as if all this is going to be buried under concrete. I expect now its a matter of waiting for this new layout to be flooded, as and when who knows?

As for the birds well a single Green Sandpiper circled a couple of times as if to say well it was here yesterday and that was about it apart from a few hundred Jackdaw, Crow and Woodpigeon on the freshly turned earth.

The inlet, where around 30 Black Headed Gulls were congregated, now remains the only bit of standing water at this end of the site (there are still the silt beds far to the east) but the inlet itself looks as though the level has been raised, a sign of things to come, we'll see.

This Time Last Year - Butterflies

Black Headed Gull - Birdguides
Black Headed Gull - BTO
Black Headed Gull - RSPB
Black Headed Gull - Wiki

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Thursday 29th July 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:00
19c Cld, NW wind.

The spit has now been bulldozed as has some of the north banking. Further new pools are appearing though through the vegetation just to the east of the banked off inlet. A couple of Green Sandpipers are here, two of at least five on site. A Common Sandpiper was the only other bird of note.

Quite a large Goldfinch flock building up, no doubt attracted by the seed heads of the multitude of thistles along this far banking. Circa 100 birds involved.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tuesday 27th July - Afternoon

17:15 > 17:45
23c Cloud, NW wind, muggy.

A new pool is starting to develop at the Farm out of the lingering puddles on the far north side (just west of what was the spit) of the area being landscaped for 'flooding'. I can only think its leakage from the river thats keeping it topped up given the weather but its pulling stuff in all the same.

Two Common Sandpipers in this area alongside a Green Sandpiper. On the old Wader Pool a further two Green Sandpipers and a single Common Redshank. A pair of Little Egret flew up from the inlet. The Sandmartin colony goes from strength to strength.


After a bit of an eventful two months its time to get this blog back up to date with the last few weeks of sightings going back to earlish April. As they say, watch this space.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday 23rd July 2010 – Night

21:30 > 21:45

A chance visit after a late call into walk garnered nothing much as the light faded. No waders out on the water, indeed no birds about at all apart from a flushed Little Owl along the ridge. One noticeable thing was the number of bats (I’m no expert but I’m guessing Pipistrelles?) around the farm building. Never noticed any before but there must have been five or six around the farm buildings. Perhaps the installation of numerous bat boxes is paying off?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thursday 22nd July 2010 – Afternoon

17:15 > 17:45
17c stormy

Just three Green Sandpipers on the old wader pool and three Lapwing along the Inlet the only birds of note.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Tuesday 21st July 2010 – Evening

18:00 > 18:30
Humid, cloudy, southerly breeze.

Three Green Sandpiper and a single Common Redshank on the wader pool along with a Little Egret close in to the banking. A handful of Black Headed Gulls about including a couple of juveniles.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sat 17th July - NBBR

Ted reed via NBBR

"Quick look at a few sites today and managed a few waders.

Manor Farm - A Sanderling briefly before it was flushed by a Carrion Crow."

Friday, 16 July 2010

Fri 16th July 2010 - Afternoon

14:15 > 14:30
18c Strong SW wind, sun & showers.

Strangely quiet with just a single Green Sandpiper the only bird of note.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Thurs 15th July 2010 – Evening

17:15 > 17:45
18c Strong SW wind, sun & showers.

Four Green Sandpipers and a single Common Redshank on the wader pool, too windy it seems for much else.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Weds 14th July 2010 – Evening

17:00 > 17:15
20c, broken cloud, showers.

Still a group of Black Headed Gulls about, 40+ on site most still in summer plumage. Also a pair of Common Terns around the inlet while on the wader pool were the ‘fixture’ Common Redshank and three Green Sandpipers.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday 9th July 2010 – Afternoon

28c Hot and sunny, west breeze.

The wader pools dominated by 62 Black Headed Gulls along with a single Herring Gull. Out on the drying mud were 47 Lapwing whilst a single Green Sandpiper was seen along Back Brook. Away from the water a Little Owl was around the farm buildings.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Thursday 8th July 2010 – Evening

17:30 > 18:00
25c warm, broken cloud, west breeze.

A fine summer plumaged Black Tailed Godwit is hopefully the sign of things to come in the coming weeks. A clean crisp looking bird especially when the sun broke through and a real bonus given that increasing groundwork leaves less of an area for attracting waders in. A Common Sandpiper, a pair of Common Redshank and three Green Sandpipers kept the pristine sumplum Blackwit company on the wader pool.

By the inlet a handful of Lapwing and a single Little Egret looked on.

Also a bit of drama over the Sandmartin colony as a lone Hobby tried in vain to nab a late lunch.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tuesday 6th July 2010 - Evening

17:15 > 18:00
22c humid, cloudy, west wind.

A somewhat crowded wader pool area containing the following. Three Oystercatcher, two Little Egret, 23 Lapwing, two Green Sandpipers a single Common Redshank and ten ‘sumplum’ Black Headed Gulls. Overhead a pair of Common Terns couldn’t get a look in.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday 2nd July 2010 – Afternoon

14:30 > 15:30
25c humid.

Not so much the birdlife on show today but the insects. Back Brook is alive with Dragonflies while Damselflies favour the river itself. Butterflies attracted to the nettles and thistles along the banking include some very pristine Marbled Whites.

As for the birds, the Sandmartin colony is thriving and while no sign of waders, bar two Lapwing, seven Grey Heron, two Little Egrets and a dozen Black Headed Gulls added some colour, monotone though it was. Over the bridge at ‘Three Woodpecker Corner’ a Skylark was seen and heard. Not that common a sight in the valley.

Friday 2nd July 2010 – Late evening.

As the sun began to set a group of five Common Terns could be found by the inlet, later to head of south east. Three Oystercatchers on the wader pool along with a pair of Green Sandpiper. A pair of Lapwing on a small inlet island dozed while the Common Buzzard scared the life out of a pair of Little Egrets as it glided over.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Thursday 1st July 2010 – Afternoon

My first reptile sighting in the valley. Not earth shattering but a Grass Snake around a foot and a half in length along the river was a nice spot all the same.

Grass Snake - BBC
Grass Snake - Wildlife Britain

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tuesday 8th June 2010 – Evening

17:15 > 17:45
17c Broken cloud clearing after heavy rain.

A new pit is being dug to the east of what had been the ‘Dip’ and the main area of water. The former area now almost devoid of water bar the diminishing wader pool, the now closed off inlet (now flooded) and an odd patch here and there replenished after rain but with the summer warming up I doubt these will last long.

However at least three Little Ringed Plover remain while the same number of Little Egrets still find something to hunt for in the shallows. Over at the silt lake the pair of Gadwall and Tufted Duck were found, whether they are stayers is still debatable.

Friday, 4 June 2010

4th June 2010 - Late Evening

(Just found an old notebook in rucksack, missed this record - CG 8/8/10)

20:00 > 21:30

Hobby 2
Lapwing 7
Common Buzzard
Black Headed Gull (sumplum) 3
Little Egret 2
Little Ringed Plover
Little Owl

Friday, 28 May 2010

Friday 28th May 2010 – Afternoon

14:30 > 15:30
18c, sunny, odd cloud.

Alas ‘The Dip’ is no more. The area off gravel islands that looked so good before the water was pumped from the area has now started to be filled in, for what purpose I don’t know, time will tell.

A walk around the perimeter gave Little Egret, a pair of Common Tern, Reed Buntings and Treecreeper. The highlight though was a rise of Mayfly along the river, thousands of them and quite a sight in the late spring sunshine. Its does strike you though that they live in the mud and the mire on the river bed for two years avoiding all kind of predators before they finally get their 24 hour shot at glory. The ones breaking free from the water after all that only to be picked off by passing birds within seconds must be about the unluckiest creatures on earth. Also on the insect front a few Damselflies along the river and to the far east of the site a handful of Common Blue butterflies capped the day.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Thursday 27th May 2010 – Evening

19:00 > 19:30
17c sun

It looks as if things are afoot landscape wise in the valley. There has been an odd shifting of soil etc around the site and maybe the next phase is about to begin or the first area to be landscaped, maybe both.

Still on site but now down in number a couple of lingering Yellow Wagtail. Four Little Ringed Plovers were the only waders seen and a couple of Little Egrets over the only other birds of note.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday 21st May 2010 – Afternoon

14:00 > 15:00
23c hot sunny, humid.

A more midsummer day than May and Sandmartins were the order of the day prospecting the walls of the inlet where around 20 nests can already be seen. A good addition to the site.

Six Little Ringed Plovers dotted about, two more settled pairs whilst one flighty couple around the gravel islands look like potential newcomers. The only other waders, three Lapwing resting on one of the islands.

Also prospecting a pair of Common Tern but given the fluctuating water levels I’d give little hope of them staying within the vicinity.

A Little Egret could be found by the wader pool as could five Grey Heron. Out on whats left of the water a pair of Great Crested Grebe were surely passers by while the Tufted Duck pair still stick it out. The resident Common Buzzard was again found in the trees above Godwit Corner. A pair of Yellow Wagtail were also seen but it looks like the rush of a few weeks ago is over.

A look in later in the evening not long before sunset found a single Hobby trying to pick off single birds from a gathering of Housemartins up near the farm entrance. A sign that summers here if there ever was one.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Thursday 13th May 2010 – Lunchtime

12:30 > 14:00
(And just in case anyones wondering this was posted well after the event)
10c cloud.

The big news is that for the second year Little Ringed Plover have successfully bred at the site. On the north shore at least two chicks were running about today.

Added to that two of the Ringed Plover remain and were displaying, watch this space.

Also on site, three Common Tern (we live in hope), the Gadwall pair, still holding their own against the Shelducks. A single Little Egret was also seen while along the river both Sedge & Reed Warbler were heard and seen.

13th May (delayed post) - NBBR

Per Chris G
"Just to let you know that Little Ringed Plovers have bred for the second successive year at Manor Farm. Two chicks (at least) running about the shingle this afternoon."

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Weds 12th May – Evening

17:00 > 17:30
9c Cloud, westerly breeze.

Somewhat of a mini-waderfest still. Five Ringed Plovers on the wader pool along with the usual handful of Little Ringed Plover dotted around the site. Add in a Common Sandpiper and a single Dunlin and it gives you hope that whatever the levels the birds are coming back. The highlight though not one but two Greenshank in the diminishing pools to the west of the site.

Elsewhere around four or five Yellow Wagtail remain on the slopes.