Monday, 6 January 2020

Draycote Water & DIRFT3 :: 04 January 2020

The first weekend of the new year out birding, and a prompt start. I didn't want the disturbance to reduce my chance of seeing the great northern diver (GND). Great northern diverFortunately, as I got to the waters edge by the Visitor Centre, I spotted the GND well out from the pontoon but visible. It was diving regularly and for long periods.

I decided to make an anti-clockwise circuit and at Farborough Spit found the two scaup sleeping. There were good numbers of goldeneye and little grebe.

Coming round Toft Bay I saw bullfinches and goldcrest, actively feeding. The hovering action of the bullfinches eating seeds was matched by the goldcrests in the small cloud of flies. Bullfinch

Not much else to report until a number of goosander off Draycote Bank, and then a couple of little egret. More goldcrest feeding from brambles in clouds of flies. The scaup had relocated to Draycote Bank, still asleep and hanging with a significant number of tufties.

I bumped into another birder who hadn't seen the GND at the Visitor Centre. I mentioned to him that I'd seen it when I set out and he joined me on my return. As we passed the Sailing Club we could see the GND diving well offshore and heading left towards Draycote Bank - he was pleased to connect. Goldcrest

Sightings at Draycote Water (39) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch (4), buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, coot, cormorant, dunnock, fieldfare (9), gadwall, goldcrest (4), goldeneye (31+), goosander (8), great black-backed gull, great crested grebe, great northern diver, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret (2), little grebe (10+), long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, pied wagtail, redwing, robin, rook, scaup (2), song thrush (3), teal, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren.

I grabbed a sandwich from the Visitor Centre and headed off to DIRFT3 where a great grey shrike had been resident since mid-November. I'd been told where to park off the A5, at the entrance to a bridleway. Another couple were arriving at the same time and as we headed along the bridleway we came across Martin Swannell (@alanthetortoise) heading in the opposite direction. He explained how to avoid the flooded track and that the shrike had been showing well. When we got halfway up the hill I saw the bird on a tree with a couple watching and taking photos. Before we got level the bird was off and a birder came across the slope to the right.

One of the couple I'd arrived with eventually spotted the bird well right and we all made our way to where he stood. Reasonable views but always distant - the light had also deteriorated. I stayed and watched for over half-an-hour with two kestrels quartering the area, a distant buzzard and two peregrine over. It appears that I was late for the best views. If I get the opportunity I may return and try for a better photo.

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