Monday, 30 April 2012

Manor Farm Floods - The Movie

Shot the morning of April 30th 2012

Monday 30th April 2012 - Late Morning

Water, water everywhere, but given the current restriction, not a drop to drink. Yep as predicted and confirmed by Simon's pic this morning, see post below, the valley has flooded and with the site being lower than the river it has borne the brunt of the overflow.

By the time I arrived around 10:30 just a single gravel island remained adjoining Back Brook. Sadly several Lapwing families will have been wiped out and at least two Kingfisher and one Little Ringed Plover nest have perished too. Canada Geese were also nesting in a few locations around the perimeter on the whole these look like they have gone as well.

On the plus side it is what the valley has, in my opinion, needed for at least a couple of years. Water levels have been dwindling once more and perhaps this summer and autumn we will not see pools disappearing altogether. Fingers crossed some good will come out of this.

As for the birds well on scanning the gravel a huge gull sitting next to a resting tern looked a monster only for a double take and the realisation that the gull was normal size and a Little Tern was on site. It rested a while before being mobbed off by a gang of Black Headed Gulls escaping from yet another rapidly flooded island. It stuck around for a while if a bit flighty but I failed to see it again after an abandoned trip along the riverside due to the 'rising tide'. Six Common Terns were also seen on and off, resting on the gravel inbetween hunter over the calmer waters of  Cosgrove Lake.

Also on site at least six Little Ringed Plovers in the one area mentioned, I suspect more, two each of Oystercatcher, Common Snipe and Redshank whilst at least five Little Egrets made the most of the flooded fields. 

Northern Wheatears were also still on site but given the area where they were in abundance a few days ago is now under water their numbers are down, the same could be said of Yellow Wagtails, just the odd one flitting about. One of the Common Buzzard pairs made most of the warmer weather riding high on thermals, it could almost be spring...

I left the site and returned mid-afternoon briefly just to catch my first Hobby of the year, unfortunately the water level was still rising...

Earlier from NBBR via Simon N

6 Northern Wheatears @ Manor Farm

Male Wigeon and 3 Snipe @ a very flooded Manor Farm this morning also 2 Teal and a Swift east. 

Monday 30th April - Morning

Received this pic from someone via phone first thing this morning showing the flooding along the valley, not sure who the sender was? (later confirmed as Simon N, thanks Simon)

Morning !! Manor farm is under water !!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday 29th April 2012 - Evening

From Rob H via NBBR

A visit to Manor Farm this evening proved rather pleasant, once the rain had stopped. Blue skies and sunshine - very unfamiliar after the last few weeks.

Lots of waders on site, but nothing too unusual - 3 Ringed Plover, c10 LRP, 2 sum plum Dunlin, 3 Oycs, 1 Common Sand, 2 Snipe and 1 Redshank. Also c15 Lapwings, several of which were engaged in territorial behaviour, which hopefully indicates the survival of some chicks, athough none of these were seen.

Also 6 Wheatear along the southern shore, scattered wagtails included 4 Yellow and 1 White Wag. And the sky was filled with hirundines - an estimated 150+ Swallow, 100+ Sand Martin, 45+ House Martin and c10 Swift.

The Ouse has broken it's banks, and in several places water was running swiftly down the northern side onto the excavations, which are now severely flooded. This actually has made the site look superb for passage waders, but as for the breeders I'm not so sure. There's still plenty of vegetated ground well above water, where the majority of the Lapwings nested. So hopefully some chicks will have escaped the floods. But who knows how further rain will affect this situation in the future.

Sunday 29th April 2012 - For Info

Environment Agency: Although levels in the River Great Ouse have fallen after rainfall on Friday, we expect them to start rising again due to the rainfall accumulations on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. At this point we anticipate that only low-lying land and roads near to the river are likely to be affected, but we will monitor the situation closely and issue further flood alerts and flood warnings if the situation changes.
07:17 on 29 Apr 2012

Follow link...
Flood Alert for Rivers Ouse & Tove

Saturday 28th April 2012 - Lunchtime

From Lee Evans via NBBR


After consulting with Simon Nichols and Graham Smith, next stop was Manor 
Farm but typically the waders had gone (particularly the 2 Dunlin I was 
after). However, opposite where I parked the car, a female RING OUZEL was 
showing very well in the sheep field adjacent to the access track.

Much of the complex was flooded and waterlogged, with 1 Oystercatcher and 
a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on view.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday 28th April 2012 - Early Morning

Northern Wheatear this morning...

Down to the Farm at first light on 'Wader Watch' as conditions today were predicted to be favourable. No immediate signs of any new arrivals around the waters edge but it was clear yesterdays Northern Wheatear bonanza continues with a handful of birds up on the slope as dawn broke, later a handful were found in the same area as yesterday along the North Bank, see pics, all taken this morning.

Heading down to take the riverside walk a Cuckoo could be heard just over the border in the Northants section around the Broadwater area.

The Ouse is in full flow and only a couple of inches off bursting its banks in place but the odd Tern still tried its luck to fish, unsuccessfully. There were a steady stream of 'Commic' Terns all morning (or the same half dozen birds doing circuits). None identified one way or the other bar the two resident Common Terns in their usual spot on the spit.

As the light became brighter, well a lighter shade of dull, a pair of Dunlin were seen along the South Shore being seen off by one or two Little Ringed Plovers for their troubles.

As well as the Wheatears already mentioned the usual suspects could be found, albeit in smaller numbers than usual as it was early, in the wagtail flock, both Yellow Wagtail and White Wagtail ticked.

On returning to the hill, a small influx of waders was noted with two Common Redshank and three Common Sandpipers. The Oystercatcher pair were joined for a while by a third bird till it sloped off and and contemplated life on its its own on the new workings. Little Egrets arrived and left all morning with a max of four seen together at one time, total number probably twice that.

Three Greylag Geese, not a common bird at the site, joined the twenty or so Canada Geese on the main body of water around which at least four pairs are nesting. Other wildfowl, both Tufted Duck and Gadwall pairs were observed away from the main body for the first time around the pools and puddles of Top Field. Swallows were in abundance, especially along the canal section, whilst good numbers of House and Sandmartin were seen too, no Swifts today though.

And finally not long before leaving a largish wader was seen in silhouette heading east, if I had to take a stab at ID I'd go for Black Tail Godwit but nowhere near sure.

As for the site itself well as mentioned the Ouse is at bursting point and given the forecast I would expect to see some flooding along the valley in the next 36 hours, sadly the level of water has flooded at least one Kingfisher nest, probably more, but thats nature. Back Brook is in full flow along its full length for the first time in over a year whilst the entry to Front Brook has almost inundated the bridge. The big question is of course with most of the site lower than the river (though held back) what effect this will have in the short term and over the summer with wader habitat. Time will tell...

Saturday Morning Wheatears - Report to follow...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday 27th April 2012 - Lunchtime


Northern Wheatears were certainly the order of the day as the spell of heavy downpours continues relentlessly.

Amongst the loose Wagtail flock that picks around the mass of tree protectors a total of eleven birds were seen at one time, including two pristine Greenlanders. Given the nature of the cover, even though many birds were perching on and off on top of the protectors, the true number is almost certainly higher. Amazing too given how close they were coming, down to 20 foot or so during the deluge.

Also in this flock around the same number of Yellow Wagtails, at least one White Wagtail, a couple of dozen Pied Wagtails and a handful of Meadow Pipits.

A group of five 'Commic' Terns dropped in during one of the downpours, one a definite Arctic Tern, maybe some of the others. The two 'resident' Common Terns, just sat on the spit in their usual spot ignoring the squabbling of the other quintet.

On the wader front a single Ringed Plover remains amongst the numerous Little Ringed Plovers. No sign of any Redshank or Sandpipers but the Oystercatcher pair remain. Elsewhere on the water three pair of Gadwall and two Teal remain whilst three Little Egrets rooted about in the shallows.

Low over the water a few Swallows hawked for insects whilst two Swifts overhead were my first of the year.

And finally seen along the manicured riverside a lone Weasel bounding along, totally oblivious to me till ony a few feet away, another for the list.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wednesday 25th April 2012 - Afternoon

Between the heavy showers Simon N posted this via NBBR

Oystercatcher and 2 Common Terns were all that were of note @ Manor Farm at 16.15 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday 23rd April 2012 - Afternoon

Shoveler remain...

A bit of a lull in proceedings after the excesses of Friday but still a smattering of interesting birds to be seen.

A handful of Common Terns now on site with two dozing out on the spit, a chance we may see breeding again this year.

The Wagtail flock appears to have thinned out slightly but still for Yellow Wagtails and one White Wagtail seen.

Less waders than Friday but a flash of white wingbar signalled a Ringed Plover is still on site as well as the resident Oystercatchers, Redshank, Lapwing and Little Ringed Plovers. Four Little Egret also on site, whilst the Shoveler pair also remain amongst a handful of Teal, Tufted Duck and Gadwall.

One pair of Common Buzzards continue to rule the roost in the centre of the site.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Friday 20th April 2012 - Morning/Afternoon

A week ago this was a dried up watercourse...

In an effort to put some miles in before a charity walk in a couple of weeks I spent a large chunk of the day at the site doing circuits of the perimeter walk and the birds didn't disappoint.

It was a ten wader species day, only the second I can remember since recording at this site when the gravel extraction first started. Along with the usual suspects in Little Ringed Plovers, Common Redshank, Oystercatchers, Common Snipe, Common and Green Sandpiper and Lapwing (now at least two families with chicks) a group of four small waders circled the pools then dropped in. Dismissing them as further LRP's it wasn't until I caught up with Simon Nicholls sheltering under some trees during the first of many downpours, that he confirmed they were in fact three 'tundrae' Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin, now all happily picking about on the north shore. Simon had also just had three Whimbrel through the site, a first for Manor Farm (see Simon's full report below).

Away from the 'waderfest' there was plenty else to see too, three Northern Wheatear, two males and female, were atop the soil bunds along the Ouse by Thrupp Bridge, also in this area a handful of Meadow Pipits. Further along the river on the north bank of the main body of water the Wagtail flock gradually built during the day amongst the tree protectors and at least half a dozen Yellow Wagtails and a single White Wagtail were seen amongst the throng of Pieds.

Still a varied collection of wildfowl on site, a newly arrived pair of Shoveler being the highlight. A handful of Tufted Duck, and pairs of Teal and Gadwall, and of course resident Mallard were also seen. At least two nesting pairs of Cananda Geese have set up residence around the opposing spit area whilst two pairs of Mute Swan also fought on and off for control of the inlet. On the subject of Mutes the large flock that numbered well over twenty a month ago that was grazing on winter wheat by the railway line is now down to single figures as couples pair off, so it seems it was just the avian equivalent of a singles club all along.

Other birds of note, three 'Commic' Terns along the canal with further birds seen over Cosgrove Lake up to five Common Buzzards and four Little Egrets in the margins.

As for the site itself well the recent rain has shown much improvement, especially in topping up existing and creating new pools. The Ouse shows the biggest change though, and a conservative estimate levels are up at least a couple of feet on a week ago and the flash water of the two heavy downpours took it up six inches or more over the afternoon. Even Front and Back Brook which had dried up in parts over the winter, in fact for probably well over a year had fast water flowing right along Front Brook and out to the Ouse itself at the viaduct. The picture above shows, the difference, just two weeks ago I walked along that dried watercourse, now in parts that would be up to my waist.


Simon H's report via NBBR

Manor Farm 

Standard fare at first , with Lapwings everywhere and at least 5 Young , 1 Little Egret , minimum of 8 LRP, Pair of Shoveler , 2 Oystercatcher , 1 Redshank and 1 Snipe. 

1 GREEN SANDPIPER flew off high west @ 10.45( but returned @ 12.00) But then it got interesting
I was on the phone to Rob at 11.20 when. Flock of 4 small waders flew in , 3 RINGED PLOVERS (Tundrae) and a DUNLIN , I later found them on the north shoreline.

As I was walking back up the slope at approx 11.45 I glanced up and saw 2 large waders heading south west , took me a while to realise that the 2 'Curlews' were in fact WHIMBRELS , This was just ahead of a massive rain shower , so I took cover under the trees just as 3 COMMIC TERNS headed north up the canal , I then started scanning the main water again and a 3rd WHIMBREL headed in from the east , and turned North West slightly heading out over the Caravan Park 

Chris G the. Joined me , unfortunately too late for the Whimbrels , but we were able to scope 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS and a single WHITE WAGTAIL on the northern shore 

A great day 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday 19th April 2012 - Afternoon

From Martin K via NBBR

In a brief visit to Manor Farm this afternoon (14:30-14:50) I was pleased to see the first lapwing chicks of the year - 3 of them, closely attended by both parents. They were absolutely tiny so I guess just a day or two old.

Also present - 2 Oyc, 3 LRP, 1 common sand, 5 common terns over, 1 yellow wagtail. A single swallow was the only hirundine I noticed.


This blog is now up to date with all observations and sightings, new data goes back to July last year.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tuesday 17th April 2012 - Evening

The 2009 Ring Ouzel

A male Ring Ouzel dropping in then taking an age to relocate, finally being found around Godwit Corner was certainly the highlight of an eventful couple of hours. Its only the second recorded on site the other being a bird around the same time in 2009. A male Northern Wheatear could be found in the same area.

Elswhere, the Wagtail flock has returned and continues to flourish along the north shore scrub. Around fifty Pied Wagtails alongside at least two, possibly more, White Wagtails and around a dozen Yellow Wagtails.

Along the river a single Common Tern fished whilst a Kingfisher was seen at far western end of site.

In the skies it was Swallows and Buzzards whilst out round the water, Little Ringed Plovers everywhere, even along the bunds at the back of  the new workings, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and singles of Common Sandpiper and Snipe.

And in the early evening sun even an odd Speckled Wood butterfly or two to boot.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Saturday 14th April 2012 - Morning

Another Curlew over first thing, could there be one, or more, in the area?

Other waders aplenty, Little Ringed Plovers now certainly in double figures whilst four Redshank, two Oystercatcher,  two Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper make up the others. Three Little Egrets also on site.

A few House Martins through were my first of the year whilst Yellow Wagtails continue to show well on the north bank scrub.

And all that and a steam train across the viaduct for good measure, see the pic above.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday 13th April 2012 - Noon

The first returning Common Terns, always a favourite bird, were the highlight of the day.

The male Northern Wheatear can still be found in the same location on the new workings (whilst again there was a further bird just off site at Old Wolverton Church).

Three Common Buzzards on site including a nest building pair, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk also seen during visit.

Little Egret numbers slowly increasing with now four dotted about and the odd Yellow Wagtail flits about here and there suggesting a steady increase in their numbers too.

The usual waders, Oystercatchers, Little Ringed Plovers and Redshank were rejoined today by a lone Green Sandpiper and new arrivals in a pair on Common Sandpipers, the first of the year.

Lapwing look as though they are holding a minimum of six territories across the site.

On the butterfly front several Orange Tip were making the most of the warmth, while it lasted.


And from Martin O via NBBR

Manor Farm:

4 Yellow Wagails; 2 male Wheatears; 2 Redshanks; 2 Snipe; 1 Oystercatcher.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wedsnesday 11th April 2012 - Evening

From Rob Hill via NBBR

Quick visit to Manor Farm this eve - 5 LRP and 2 Common Sand. No sign of any

The pools at this site are quite extensive now, and the site is probably best
viewed from the north shore as views from the south side are rather limited.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday 10th April 2012 - Morning

Arrived on site to see an early Curlew and and away from Godwit Corner to fly off to the south, nice bird all the same. Other waders were the usual fare in Oystercatchers, Redshank and Little Ringed Plovers seemingly everywhere now playing kiss chase.

Along the river both Kingfisher and Little Egret whilst a male Northern Wheatear can still be found out on the earth mounds of the new workings.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Monday April 9th 2012

Lee Evans via NBBR


Thanks to Simon Nichols, eventually managed to find my way around this
large complex of pits and walked from the south side to the north bank. There
was no sign of yesterday's drake Garganey but the site did yield 4 Common
Teal, pair of Tufted Ducks, pair of OYSTERCATCHER, 4 Common Redshanks,
numerous Lapwings, at least 1 pair of displaying LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, Song
Thrush, 5 Sand Martins and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs. The highlight
however was the wagtail flock at the NE end of the complex, including two
male YELLOWS (my first of the year) and two eye-catching male WHITES. I also
saw a pipit here that was either a Water or Scandinavian Rock but it flew
before I managed a decent view; 9 Meadow Pipits were also in the area.

Rob N via NBBR

Inevitably no sign of yesterdays Garganey

Minimum of 4 Little ringed Plover
Little Egret
male Wheatear on new workings
couple of dozen Sand Martins over Cosgrove Park

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sunday 8th April 2012 - Various

From NBBR, mid afternoon.

Bob T has just found a Male GARGANEY @ Manor Farm , its probably only viewable
from the northern path as the bird is on the southern bank.

From Simon N via NBBR

A great bike ride up to Manor Farm this evening to see Bob's GARGANEY (17:30 -

At least 4 Chiffchaffs singing in Bancroft park and another 4-5 along the canal
and around MF, Minimum of 20 Moorhens along the Canal from New Bradwell to the

Manor Farm is looking great , if a bit low with the water level ( this is
leading to steeper banks )

3 REDSHANKS and a GREEN SANDPIPER were taking advantage of the site as well as 2
pairs of Teal and 3 Gadwall , a lone SAND MARTIN flew thru and of course the
Drake GARGANEY which was initially asleep on the south western arm of main lake,
it then started feeding and close views were had from the sheep fields on the
south side.

Lots of Meadow Pipits , Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails were feeding on the north
shore in the plantation and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over.

Further along at the New Workings , a large flock of Wagtails ( 30+ ) included 2
smart YELLOW WAGTAILS and 2 WHITE WAGTAILS , showing well on the earth mounds.

Another pair of Teal were feeding on the pit nearest the Viaduct.

Lovely evening to be out , if a bit overcast.

Thanks to Bob for finding the Garganey

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Saturday 7th April 2012 - Morning

A start at first light and rewarded with a close view of Water Vole emerging from the Ouse and preening itself on the north bank as the sun rose. Sadly a rare sight nowadays.

On the birding front a small but steady stream of Swallows and Sandmartins through, low in the early mist whilst along the River Ouse an early Kingfisher was seen.

Once the sun broke through the usual waders could be counted in numerous Little Ringed Plovers, the Oystercatcher pair and four Redshank, two of which look like they are pairing up. Three Little Egret were also dotted about the site, one on the river.

From the south bank at least four newly arrived Yellow Wagtails were seen in the north bank scrub.

Also noticeable this morning, the number of Reed Bunting pairs along the river, the most seen in the few years I've been watching the site. Also good to see a handful of Yellowhammer along by the Thrupp Bridge.


And via Text from Andy M

Hi, not sure if a swallow has been recorded yet at manor farm but one there earlier with 2 sandmartin. Also, 2 LRP, 2 oycs 1 redshank and a M blackcap.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Friday April 6th 2012 - Noon

From Ian H via NBBR

Mid day   2 redshanks  2 ring plovers.    Also what looked like a Pied Fly in a
bush by the path. had a good view.  It didn't resemble a coal tit as it had a
black bill and was a fluffy grey walked back 20 min later but it had gone. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thursday 5th April 2012 - Afternoon

Two new waders in a Common Snipe flushed from Back Brook and a lone Ringed Plover in amongst an ever increasing number of his Little Ringed cousins. Also the usual Oystercatcher pair but Redshank numbers now up to four. Two Little Egrets also hunt around the margins.

Three Northern Wheatear also on site which seems to be part of a general fall of the species in the area (see below).

Oddly the Wagtail flock seems to have gone walkabout, not a single bird seen but a Grey Wagtail was seen on the river.

**Just off site, over the canal at the back of Old Wolverton church a total of five Northern Wheatears could be found.**

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wednesday 4th April 2012 - Morning

From Peter B via NBBR

When the local RSPB group were on a guided walk at Manor Farm on Wednesday
morning we saw a Peregrine Falcon at about 11.30

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tuesday 3rd April - Afternoon

A quick walkthrough but Common Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Little Ringed Plovers still in situ on a colder duller day after the recent 'heatwave'.

In amongst the mixed Wagtail and Pipit flock (see yesterday) which are frequenting the maze within the tree protectors on the northshore were around 30 late Fieldfares, holding on before heading further north to breed.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Monday 2nd April 2012 - Afternoon

An influx of Pipits and Wagtails along the north shore scrub includes around 15 Meadow Pipits, 20+ Pied Wagtails and one, possibly two White Wagtails.

Waterside saw the usual waders in Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Little Ringed Plovers while two Little Egrets were also on site.

Along the Ouse both Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were seen.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday 1st April 2012 - Afternoon

A new bird for me on site today a lone Egyptian Goose picking about on the mud, possibly one of last summers Wolverton Mill birds.

Other than that the focus was on waders, at least five Little Ringed Plovers on site now, two Redshank, the Oystercatcher pair and a lone Green Sandpiper, favouring one of the every decreasing puddles on the new landscaped area. A single Little Egret was also in the shallows.

A few Teal and Wigeon remain but the influx of caravans over the Ouse at Cosgrove Park means no clear view of the lake their till the complex shuts at the end of October.