Sunday, 22 July 2018

Sunday's sightings


Debbie and Eric again saw the two Great White Egrets at Thrapston Pits today plus five Little Egrets.

Birds visible at Pitsford Reservoir off the Sailing Club this evening included at least nine Yellow-legged Gulls (four juveniles), an Oystercatcher and three Common Sandpipers.


Neil M

Yellow-legged Gulls.

Common Sandpiper.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Here come the gulls!


A ringing session at Pitsford Reservoir sited around the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station provided over sixty captures which included seven Mallard, a Magpie, two Blackbirds, two Starlings, and twenty juvenile Tree Sparrows (local priority species). Singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler added some variety with juvenile tits making up the majority of the remainder.

Other birds noted there today included at least three Yellow-legged Gulls, five Red-crested Pochard and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.

Eleanor's visit to Borough Hill Country Park at Daventry today provided four Crossbills in the mature woodland on the opposite side of the hill from the car park, this same piece of woodland attracting two White Admiral butterflies. A single Raven was seen at Staverton.

This evening and the gull roost off the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir produced a second juvenile Mediterranean Gull (darker than the bird seen earlier in the day), eight Yellow-legged Gulls and a Common Sandpiper.


Neil M

Adult Yellow-legged Gull
courtesy of Neil Hasdell.

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull
courtesy of Dave Jackson.

All the gull images today were
from the Bird Club hide in the
Scaldwell Bay.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Post-breeding dispersal


Eric Graham's foray at Thrapston Pits today provided sightings of two Great White Egrets on Aldwincle Lake, 5/6 Little Egrets and a Green Sandpiper.

Eleanor's efforts in the Brampton Valley have of late produced little in the way of interest and again it was quiet today. With the oil seed rape fields now being harvested and the cereal fields not far behind, the agricultural landscape will change locally and hopefully provide a fresh suite of birds.

At Pitsford Reservoir this evening an influx of Little Egrets provided a roost of ten birds on The Point and there were up to three Yellow-legged Gulls loafing around.


Neil M

Little Egret. Post-breeding
birds are now dispersing...

Glossy Ibis.
The conditions at Pitsford look
just right for this nomadic wanderer
but will there be anyone there to see it?
 The majority of the birds that have turned up in
 the county have only stayed a matter of minutes
or a couple of hours before moving on again!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Some juvenile birds doing well?


Dave Francis completed a little ringing in his garden on the outskirts of Northampton today catching 31 common birds which included 21 juvenile Blue Tits.

I have been monitoring a steady run of juvenile Blue Tits coming through our garden at Hanging Houghton during the last couple of weeks, providing further rather anecdotal evidence that this species has enjoyed a good breeding season locally. The number of juvenile House Sparrows here at Hanging Houghton this year is looking pretty good too and in complete contrast to the downturn of the last five years or so. It seems that this prolonged warm weather is providing a seasonal improvement in juvenile mortality of at least some of our small birds.

Another ringing recovery relates to an adult female Greenfinch that was ringed at Astcote near Towcester on 25th July 2014 and then found dead, possibly predated by a cat, on 6th July this year at nearby Showsley, also in South Northants. This means that this valuable breeding bird was at least five years old before it met it's demise which by modern standards for a Greenfinch is long-lived (a total of 1442 days between the two data sets)!


Neil M

Juvenile Blue Tit.

Winter plumage male
House Sparrow.

Female Greenfinch.

Swift ringing activity
at Lamport Hall yesterday
evening courtesy of John Hunt.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

And still the warm weather continues...


Sandwich Terns.



All above images
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.


Neil Hasdell's visit to Pitsford Reservoir today concentrated on the Scaldwell Bay where five Red-crested Pochard could be found. A Common Sandpiper was present and butterflies including several Small Coppers and a Marbled White.

A couple of hours mist netting at Lamport Hall this evening provided only twenty captures made up of six Swifts, thirteen House Martins and an adult Jackdaw in heavy wing and tail moult and consequently only being able to fly with a great deal of effort!


Neil M

House Martin
courtesy of John

Monday, 16 July 2018

Emperors, a harrier and Ospreys


This morning was spent at Pitsford Reservoir, initially in the Walgrave Bay where some bird ringing in a new ride at Christies Copse caught a very modest number of birds which included two Treecreepers, two Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and a Garden Warbler.

A second calendar year Marsh Harrier showed briefly at 8.50am (presumably the same bird seen several times during the last couple of weeks) and an Osprey flew low over the bay at 8.10am but wasn't seen again. Other birds of note included three Ravens and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

At Welford Reservoir this afternoon, an Osprey was flying away from the reservoir carrying a fish at 4.30pm and other birds noted included six Little Egrets, two Common Sandpipers and two Ravens.


Neil M


Black-headed Gull.

Common Tern.
The Northants Bird
Club hide in the Scaldwell
Bay is providing excellent
photographic opportunities
at the moment...

Blue Emperor dragonflies
are in good numbers at
Pitsford currently. These
images portray a patrolling male
and an egg-laying female.

All images from Pitsford
Reservoir today.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Pitsford CBC


The last Common Bird Census of the year was completed at Pitsford Reservoir today, concentrating on the reserve north of the causeway.

A Garganey was seen briefly in the Walgrave Bay, a Little Ringed Plover flew over, there were two Common Sandpipers and a Little Egret on the causeway and singles of Yellow-legged Gull and Raven were noted.

Marsh Tits seemed to be well scattered throughout the reserve suggesting they may have enjoyed a good breeding season, but just a single Willow Tit was noted in the Scaldwell Bay. A brood of Tufted Ducks nicely confirmed breeding and there were Mute Swan, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Moorhen all with well-grown young.

At least eighteen species of butterfly were on the wing which included Purple Hairstreak, Marbled White and Painted Lady and seven species of dragonfly which included several of the bold and inquisitive Southern Hawkers, definitely one of my favourites! A Hummingbird Hawk-Moth was noted at Hanging Houghton this afternoon.

Eric Graham's wander at Thrapston Pits today provided views of two Great White Egrets and two Green Sandpipers on the north side of Aldwincle Lake plus at least eight Little Egrets and plenty of common warblers on show.

A pair of Grey Partridge were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this evening and a freshly killed Tawny Owl towards Blueberry Farm had been eaten down to it's breastbone.


Neil M

Male Reed Bunting
in song.

Common Buzzard in
early morning sunshine.

Great Crested Grebes.

Juvenile Wren.

Purple Hairstreak.

All images taken at
Pitsford Reservoir today.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Birds of mid July


Kenny, Sarah and Nick supported the Shenley Wood Nature Day at Milton Keynes today by providing a bird ringing demonstration. Visitors enjoyed seeing common birds in the hand which nearly included a Sparrowhawk but sadly this avian hunter spent only seconds in the mist net before flying off.

More typical birds included 18 Blue Tits, 15 Great Tits, 2 Marsh Tits, a Wren, 5 Robins, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap.

Birds of note today included a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Hanging Houghton and this evening at least one Whimbrel was heard calling whilst flying south over the Bird Club Hide at Pitsford Reservoir.


Neil M

Juvenile Marsh Tit.
Image courtesy of
Kenny Cramer.

Courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Small birds, a frog and a cow!


Last few images from Scotland are as below...

An interesting ringing recovery relates to a young Goldfinch caught and ringed by Chris Payne at Greens Norton in October 2017 which was then seen in the field and the ring details read (somehow!) at Nogent-sur-Vernisson in the Loiret region of France (south of Paris) in March this year. The distance between the two locations is 550km with the bird having travelled in a SSE direction and with a period of 153 days duration between the two data sets.

It would be tempting to suggest that this Goldfinch was on its way south and stopped of at Chris's garden for a food stop and subsequently wintered in the south of France or even into Iberia and was on it's way back when sighted in early spring. Many British Goldfinches now winter in the UK, assisted with the provision of niger and sunflower feeders, but traditionally they often left the UK and wintered in Portugal and Spain.

Bethan and Jacob noted two Yellow-legged Gulls in the small and recently-formed gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this evening...


Neil M

Lesser Redpoll.

Sedge Warbler.

Common Frog.

Highland Moo!

Whitethroat (and fence)!

Twite (and fence)!


Thursday, 12 July 2018

More West Highlands images


Some more images from the Ardnamurchan Peninsular and the Treshnish Isles from May this year...


Neil M

Grey Heron.


'Bridled' Common Guillemot.




Pine Marten.

Grasshopper Warbler.