Friday, 29 September 2006

Bird news

Friday, 29th September
  • 31 passage house martins south outside my window mid pm. Buzzard from my window, mobbed by crows this am. A late, but fresh, hummingbird hawk moth at the valerian near the canteen (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 28th September
  • Buzzard over the garden (Mark Ward)
  • Buzzard soaring over Avocet at lunchtime (IKD, DFD)
Wednesday, 27th September
  • I've been enjoying a hobby feasting on migrant hawkers outside my window today, joined by a second this afternoon. (Mark Ward)
  • 13.30: Excellent views of long grass snake (50cm) on the edge of the swimming pool: swam, stopped on top of a couple of lily pads, swam towards a group of unaware fish happily swimming half mouth above waterline, quite funny to see them getting scared, after being quite slow at detecting the snake swimming among them. Snake show ended when it disappeared into the floating vegetation areas. (Aniol E./ Ken P)
Tuesday, 26th September
  • Two groups of swallows (c20 birds in each) flew south-west, viewed from our window this am (I also saw a large flock of c80 moving in the same direction over Sandy as I drove home last night, so clearly a bit of a surge at the moment).
  • Buzzards putting on a splendid display outside as well today with up to seven together (all juveniles). (Mark Ward and Ellen Collier)
  • 12:10pm. Four buzzards showing well as a group over the house. Varying sizes so possibly some juveniles amongst them. Another seen very low over the grassland at front of the house later in the afternoon. (Carl Simms and Simon Marsh)
  • There were 3 buzzards calling, displaying and generally showing off over the forested area beyond the meadow this morning. (Ian Hayward)
  • Kingfisher using perches both ends of swimming pool early am (Val Tingey)
Monday, 25th September
  • The rain seems to have triggered something in the birds of the Lodge. This morning flying between the Oaks in the Quarry I heard and saw at least 8 Jays, I thought it quite unusual to see quite so many together in full view. Early afternoon I passed by the hide and was lucky enough to see a juvenile sparrowhawk in hot pursuit of a pair of grey wagtails... the wagtails managed to avoid capture much to the annoyance of the hawk. (Ian Hayward)

Friday, 22 September 2006

Bird news

Friday, 22nd September
  • 20 mistle and three song thrushes settled briefly by the Stableblock at 1045hrs before heading north over the Meadow. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Thursday, 21st September
  • Hobby and buzzard seen a couple of times in morning over the quarry (Ellen Collier and Katie Fuller)
  • Hobby over Avocet, Thursday morning (Paul Donald)
  • Hobby hunting over the meadow this morning (Ian Hayward)
  • 8.55 am: 52 house martins over Quarry car park before drifting east (Darren Oakley-Martin, Katie Fuller)
Wednesday, 20th September
  • Southern Hawker male at fish pond. Peacock & Red Admiral in sunny patches along bridleway, Speckled Wood & Comma on meadow. Female-type Blackcap wolfing blackberries by the hide - perhaps stocking up for the long trip ahead. (Nigel Willits)
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth in gardens (IKD, DFD; Lynn Giddings)
  • A visitor reported a lesser spotted woodpecker by the hide at 1200hrs today. This would be the first here since Dave Buckingham's on 16 September 2005. (per Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Two adult hobbies performing superbly over The Quarry all morning today (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Tuesday, 19th September
  • A tree pipit calling over The Meadow at 1550hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Numerous Migrant Hawkers & Common Darters, especially east of gardens & around Jack's Pond.
  • Yellow-tail male on north Snipe - 2nd gen or late 1st? (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 18th September
  • Painted Lady in the gardens among plenty of Commas and Red Admirals, and 2 Small Coppers. (IKD, DFD)
  • Small Copper & Small Heath on the meadow. Silver Y disturbed from veg in garden (1st for several weeks). (Nigel Willits)
  • Three common buzzards over the Quarry and two swallows through south at 1045hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A trickle of yellow wagtails over The Plateau at 0850hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Sunday, 17th September
  • 9 grey partridges in the borage field at Sandy Heath Quarry, then 7 red-legged partridges in the quarry, plus one little owl sunbathing and a meadow pipit heading south. Visitors reported a kingfisher flying past the hide and 2 grass snakes at the long pond behind Reprographics. (Neil Renwick)
Thursday, 14th September
  • Grass Snake, approx 18" long by Miss Flashman's bench, Quarry trail. (Andrew Hay, Lesley Norman).

Friday, 15 September 2006

Bird news

Wednesday, 13th September
  • Migrant Hawker trying to catch Comma but failing plus a few Common Darters perching on prominent fronds of bracken (Jack's Pond). Several Mistle Thrushes moving south through the reserve. (Nigel Willits)
  • Buzzard and hobby flying together over car park and then eastwards over gardens at 2pm from web team window (Ellen Collier, Katie Fuller)
  • Grass Snake in the swimming pool (per Hannah Daniels)
  • Grass Snake (or maybe two different) crossing lawn on two separate occasions in afternoon (Rob Hume)
  • 1.30pm: Grass snake, c. 1 metre long, slithering into the island at the east end of the swimming pool (Ian Dickie)
  • One adult and one juvenile hobby hunting over the Quarry at 1300hrs. (Katie Fuller & Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Hobby over quarry @1250 (IKD, DFD)
  • Eight lapwings flew east over the carpark at 1230hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A single, fresh looking red kite drifted east over The Lodge at 1050hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Green Sandpiper on the swimming pool steps @0920, flew off west. (Ian Dickie, Phil Burfield)
Tuesday, 12th September
  • Single hobby flying northwards in pm (Ellen Collier, Katie Fuller)
  • Sandy Heath Quarry (RSPB managed area). An impressive flock of at least 35 mistle thrushes and six song thrushes to the north end of the old quarry area. A tree pipit flew over calling twice. (Richard Bashford & Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Up to 19 Mistle Thrushes at the eastern end of the heath. (Ben Stafford)
  • 14 Commas, 8 Red Admirals, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, sev Small Whites, Hummingbird Hawk-moth in gardens, plus a Grass Snake in main border. (IKD, DFD)
  • 2 male Southern Hawkers still patrolling the fish pond, but no damsels anymore. Pair of Common Darters ovipositing in tandem at hide pool. Male Kestrel bathing in pool north of hide. Red Admirals & Commas on buddleia. Brimstone moth on Snipe north wall. (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 11th September
  • Canary-shouldered Thorn on Osprey west wall. (Nigel Willits)
  • Darren and I saw what was probably Richard's kingfisher at 3 pm yesterday afternoon. We were walking towards the pool to take some photos (it was for work, honest!) when it flew past us and settled on the edge at the far [eastern] end. It sat there for a couple of minutes before flying to the branch in the middle of the water for another minute or so. Flew off in the direction of the hide shortly after. (Katie Fuller)
  • I saw the Kingfisher too reported by Richard Bashford! I was in a very (very) dull teleconference in the main house and saw it fly across the lawn toward the Yew Tree car park…(Sally Webber)
  • Buzzard, 1 being mobbed by corvids on the southern part of the heath, 8.30 am; one brown argus and quite a number of small coppers also around. Hobby, 1 hawking for dragonflies over the meadow at 5.30 pm (Katie Fuller).
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth again on Verbena in Memorial Garden. Still a lingering male Common Blue Damselfly on swimming pool (IKD, DFD)

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Kite Humble

Coffee break this morning saw me viewing over the Ivel Valley. It's now pretty much a daily ritual: have breakfast, smoke fag, do ten minutes birding, see nothing.

But today a distant raptor drifted into view, accompanied by three carrion crows. Head on, my first thought was a harrier, but as it drew overhead all became clear- red kite.

Rushed to my desk and put news out. Everyone at work is either engaged, on voicemail, or being slack, but a few people gathered as it drifted out of sight over the gardens.

After a lunchtime stroll that was enlivened by a couple of hunting hobby, I returned to my desk and out of the corner of my eye, spyed a familiar face in the corridor. That looks like Kate Humble at the vending machine!

She has very nice eyes.

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Bird news

Tuesday, 12th September
  • Probable male Montagu’s Harrier over reserve @0845 heading east towards Potton (Trish Clegg)
Monday 11th September
  • Kingfisher from the office today and I work in the Stable block! Not sure what it was doing but heard it calling, presumably from the tree outside the office and then watched it fly across the lawn and over the pond at the front of the house and into the Yew Tree Car park...(Richard Bashford)
  • Stoat seen chasing a Rabbit in the gardens about 1:50pm. (Heidi Crumpton; Julia Mackay)

Sandy Heath Quarry

A member of staff had a probable male Montagu's harrier over the Meadow at work this morning at 8:45. It must have flown over our heads as Katie and I drove along the drive this morning.

After a meeting, and reading Richard's email to this effect, I found a dark corner, put my head on my knees, and wept like a baby.

Then the two of us dried our eyes and went east to Sandy Heath Quarry during our lunch break 'on the off chance.' No joy with any harriers but a seriously impressive flock of thrushes- 35 mistle and six song thrushes foraging in the grazed area.

Not bad at all. But as each bird flew up into a tree as they became aware of our presence, we couldn't help but think ''be a wryneck, please be a wryneck.''

Then a tree pipit flew over calling, which we couldn't quite place at the time!

Lodge tick and Katie seriously gripped!

Friday, 8 September 2006

Bird news

Friday, 8th September
  • Probable Bank Vole in undergrowth near hide. (Nigel Willits)
  • Plenty of Commas on the buddleia and Verbena; 2 Small Coppers (IKD, DFD; Sally Webber)
Thursday, 7th September
  • Family party of spotted flycatchers (2 adults, at least 3 fledglings, still begging for food) on the bridleway & 2 hummingbird hawkmoths on lavender at the Gatehouse (Neil Renwick)
  • Rhododendron leafhoppers on the increase: 500++ in gardens yesterday on a variety of bushes, not just Rhododendrons (lesser burdock particularly favoured). Looks like the 'Rhododendron bud blast' disease that they allegedly spread is also present. Nice little patch of thorn-apples flowering by the webcam bird table (allegedly one of the most poisonous plants on the planet and a widely abused hallucinogen !). (Dave Buckingham)
  • 3 buzzards from my window early am. The usual butterfly transect at the back of the house at lunch with Katie Fuller produced 6 commas again, 12+ red admirals and 2 small coppers. (Mark Ward)
  • At least two, probably three spotted flycatchers near the trail below the garden at 1320hrs (Dave Buckingham & Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Male Southern Hawker & single Common Bluetail on fish pond. (Nigel Willits)
  • Stoat at back of garden near pergola @1250 (IKD, DFD)
  • A garden warbler in sub-song by the gate at the bottom of the Quarry at 1250hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Red Admiral Butterfly on the Valerian plant outside Central Services (Margaret Walton)
  • Two common buzzards again drifted high over to the east, calling at 1040hrs. A Lodge rarity in a collared dove perched in pines in Avocet carpark (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday, 6th September
  • 2.30pm 6 Commas on the buddleia at the back of the House (Sally Webber)
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Hornet on Buddleia by HR (DFD)
  • Following one recently, another (flightless) female Vapourer moth with eggs on a Sycamore trunk. The infamous Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner, a micro-moth first recorded in the UK in 2002, has reached the Lodge, with small numbers of mines in evidence on Horse Chestnut by drive. (IKD, DFD)
  • A buzzard 'buzzed' by a hobby (seen through the pines on top of the plateau) from my window this afternoon and a second hobby circling high in the sky at around the same time. A rise in comma numbers at lunchtime today: now 6, with an even split between the buddleias at the back of the house and the memorial garden. Also a number of hornets in evidence on/around the buddleias. (Mark Ward)
  • 2 Common Blue damsels on fish pond. (Nigel Willits)
  • Adult hobby over the Quarry at 1040hrs and again, it or another hawking insects over the Meadow at 1515hrs. Two common buzzards, including one juvenile, over the Ivel Valley at 1040hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Common tern(s) heard calling over the Quarry at 1045hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Marsh tit in amongst mixed tit flock along southern boundary and just two swallows remain around the paddocks (Stratford Road) at 1300hrs. There seems to be an increased amount of robin song around the reserve today (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Derek Niemann came across to tell us he had heard and seen two Ravens on the south side of the Avocet Building c12.15 today and five minutes later, I picked them up soaring around high from my window. They showed nicely against the blue sky to the Web Team (and Mark Thomas, who called me having also picked them up) for a few minutes before dropping to the west. (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 5th September
  • Hobby over The Plateau at 1530hrs and four swallows over SE (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Two Hobbies together drifting gradually east over the Avocet Building and lawn this afternoon. Butterflies at lunch at the back of the house included 3 commas, 10 red admirals and a small tortoiseshell. Also a large, fresh-looking hummingbird hawk moth nectaring from low flowers at the back of the house. (Mark Ward)
  • Young Grass snake, perhaps 5" long under Miss Flashman's bench, Quarry trail, 13:30. (Andrew Hay)
  • Probable Giant Wood Wasp (female) attempting entry to our office, Avocet building. 13:00 (Andrew Hay)
  • Juvenile and adult male sparrowhawk over the Quarry at 1030hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Juvenile common buzzard over the Quarry at 0845hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Monday, 4th September
  • Four Hobbies over gardens in afternoon (Mike Clarke)
  • Hobby over the Plateau at 1540hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Hobby from my window again in afternoon. (Mark Ward)
  • Presume same Volucella zonaria as on Friday on the buddleia south of the swimming pool at lunchtime. Also 3 commas around, c12 red admirals and a small tortoiseshell. (Mark Ward)
  • Common whitethroat along Stratford Road at 1255hrs (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A hobby from my window at 12.24, which performed a spectacular peregrine-esque stoop. (Mark Ward)
Friday, 1st September
  • 15:45 - Large grass snake by the side of the Gardeners compost heap, slithering away into one of the wood piles. Quite impressive size compared to the ones I've seen previously. (Carl Simms)
  • Two really vivid commas on the buddleia at the back of the house (Sally Webber)

Warren Villas

This is about as good as the view gets, at this time of year. Careful positioning is required in order to view any birds that might be hiding behind the trees (getting on for a kilometre away).

Thursday, 7 September 2006


These are the formal gardens at The Lodge, behind the main house. They're good for seeing flowers, shrubs, gardeners, hoses, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers and firecrests, on occasion.

The old swimming pool (now wildlife pond) is nice to sit by in summer and watch the dragonflies go by. In summer 2006, small red-eyed damselflies were seen for the first time. Moorhens also bred (more or less unnoticed) on one of the floating 'beds', before relocating to the pond outside the canteen.

Friday, 1 September 2006

Bird news

Friday, 1st September
  • Friday 1/9, 13:30 - Hobby south over Sandy train station. (Jamie Wells)
  • 1 pm: Raven calling from trees at the east end of the garden again (same one as Wednesday?), before flying in an easterly direction. (Katie Fuller, Lucinda King, Mark Ward; IKD, DFD)
  • 12.50 pm: A [family?] group of four nuthatches in a yew tree overlooking the Memorial Garden (Katie Fuller)
  • The large hornet-mimic hoverfly Volucella zonaria feeding on Buddleia to west of swimming pool from at least 1200 to 1300 (JOS, IKD, DFD)
Thursday, 31st August
  • 17:20 - Hummingbird Hawkmoth around Buddleia by the stable block. (Jamie Wells)
  • Sedge warbler in the vegetation on one of the floating rafts in the swimming pool, then in the main flowerbed in front of the house (4 pm). Swift and hobby earlier. (Rob Hume)
  • Adult hobby flew west along Stratford Road just south of the reserve at lunchtime (Katie Fuller, Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth again on Verbena in Memorial Garden (Lynn Giddings)
  • Hummingbird hawk moths in the memorial garden and at the buddleia behind the house at lunchtime. Also a comma on the buddleia at west end of swimming pool. (Mark Ward)
  • This morning, still one Swift from my window. (Mark Ward)
  • A remarkable encounter with two adult hobbies today - no more than 50 feet away as I stood on the Plateau - one was carrying what appeared to be a greenfinch! Also a single swift over west. 10:45-11:00. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday, 30th August
  • 3 swifts lingering outside my window/over the plateau this morning and a hummingbird hawk moth on the buddleia at the back of the house. (Mark Ward)
  • Watching various greenish dragonflies (Migrant Hawkers?) hawking over the bracken at the southern end of the plateau, when a hobby raced into view, bombed around a bit and then was gone. Great stuff! Yours, excited of marketing. (Stephen Noble)
  • A vivid fresh Comma on the meadow & Speckled Woods near the hide; lots of Migrant Hawkers & Common Darters everywhere. (Nigel Willits)
Tuesday, 29th August
  • On Tuesday I heard and saw a Spotted Flycatcher with a mixed flock south of the hide. (Mark Ward)
  • Canary-shouldered Thorn (Snipe) & Light Emeralds (Osprey) on the walls & still quite a few Lesser Swallow Prominents. (Nigel Willits)