We are just about as far inland as it is possible to get but many of the best birds at Draycote Water between September and mid October were seabirds. The run started on 02/09/14 when I found a juvenile European Shag. This bird was joined by two more the following day which exited on 03/09 flying east across the Upper Leam Valley towards Grandborough. The original bird hung around for several days more.
European Shag Draycote Water
Nothing of any consequence turned up again until 19/09 when I heard an unfamiliar call and turned around to find a Pied Avocet flying along Farnborough Bank. It gained height and disappeared in to the murk over Toft Bay but came down on the N shore and I managed to get Bob Hazell on to it before it flew E.
Pied Avocet Draycote Water
A Bonxie was found the same morning, remaining doggedly in the centre all day and was still present the following morning. A Marsh Harrier occurred whilst I was on Shetland and I returned just in time for the NE gale on 14/10. I went to Draycote three times that day and saw nothing of note but as usual the seabirds appeared the following day. The excitement on 15/10 began when I picked up a Pink-footed Gosse calling as it flew fairly low over the water and E towards Grandborough at 08.30. Though I would have been happier had it not been alone it seems entirely plausible that an individual could easily get separated from a flock in gale force winds and heavy rain. Another was reported from Slough the same day and there was a large movement of birds (by Midlands standards) in Staffordshire the next day. An hour or so later I discovered an adult Bonxie . This bird began chasing Eurasian Coots, killing at least one and I spent some time trying to get photographs of it.
Ad. Bonxie hunting Eurasian Coots Draycote Water
I fluffed the best opportunity by forgetting to switch shutter speed but whilst I was messing around with it a juvenile Arctic Tern appeared.
Juvenile Arctic Tern Draycote Water
I finally left around mid day adding a Little Egret and two Rock Pipits to the mornings tally. Within half an hour or so of my getting home two more adult Bonxies were found by Bob Duckhouse. The following day I was late in to the field missing a Brent Goose which went through in the morning but catching up with another Bonxie which was found by Bob Hazell around lunchtime.
Ad. Bonxie Draycote Water
This bird was still present the following day and another Brent Goose paused briefly in Toft that morning.
Elsewhere in the Upper Leam Valley the goose fest continued when I popped out to the bins on the evening of 17/10 and heard White-fronted Geese calling. What sounded like a small group appeared to be moving slowly SW. The only other notable bird in the period was a female/immature Merlin which flew across the A45 near Woolscott on 16/09 with a Greenshank and a Ruff present at Toft Farm the same evening. Whinchat and Stonechat were also recorded at Napton Res.