Sunday, 14 January 2018

The only birds of note for me today was a Barn Owl again hunting below Hanging Houghton and at least 12 Hawfinches showing well in Cottesbrooke village this morning.  

Meanwhile Kenny Cramer sent a very interesting account of his ringing session at Milton Keynes Community Orchard.  He writes "not knowing what to expect, I had assumed the mild conditions and absence of any substantial thrush flocks would result in a meagre catch.  It turns out I was very wrong.......we caught 85 birds [all new] of 10 species and one very big {literally}surprise.
Several tit flocks through the morning made up the bulk of the numbers with 34 Blue Tit, 13 Long Tailed Tit, 9 Great Tit, and 1 Coal Tit. On the thrush front we caught a decent 13 Blackbird and 5 Redwing. Completing the passerine catch were 5 Robins, 3 Goldcrest and a Chaffinch.
The big surprise of the day came when I spotted a Common Buzzard flying away through the orchard close to the ground....and straight towards one of our net runs.  I made a run for it and emerged from the dense tree line to find it in the bottom corner of the net.   Iris colour, tail pattern and retained juvenille coverts identified it as a first winter bird. Sex was indeterminate due to the large overlap in size between the sexes although wing length and weight were both at top end of male "

Regards Eleanor

Saturday, 13 January 2018

My "regular" Saturday Birds

Whilst at agility training this morning at Staverton there were at least 4 Ravens flying around or sitting perched on the top of the conifers . They were very vocal and probably having a good laugh at our antics.
On the way home I stopped off at Ravensthorpe and saw the Whooper Swan and 1 Great White Egret.
By the time I reached Cottesbrooke village the light was fading but there were at least 4 Hawfinch still present.
My final bird of the day was a Barn Owl hunting the field edges below Hanging Houghton.

Regards Eleanor

The Algarve, Portugal 2


A few more images from The Algarve at Christmas...!


Neil M



Yellow-legged Gulls, an
assortment of ages and plumages!

Thekla Lark.

Crag Martin.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Algarve, Portugal


I was fortunate to spend a week over the Christmas period touring The Algarve in Portugal. The weather and light quality is a far cry from the very dull and dank conditions we seem to be suffering from here at the moment.

Below are a few images from the trip...


Neil M




Friars Cowl.

Black-winged Stilt.

Little Egret.

Drake Pintail.

Red-crested Pochard.

Glossy Ibis.

Cattle Egret.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Recent ringing recoveries...


Rain in the morning, lovely sunshine in the afternoon and fog by evening, such is the diversity of British weather!

Today a Grey Wagtail was at Brixworth Water Treatment Works and Eleanor noted a Water Rail, a Cetti's Warbler, a Little Egret, a pair of Stonechats, a flock of fifty Siskins and a few Redpolls at Sywell Country Park. A Water Rail was heard calling at Hardingstone Gravel Pits and a single Siskin was the only noteworthy bird at Delapre Park this afternoon.

A few ringing recoveries of locally-ringed birds are as follows:-

ANA0524 was a ring placed on a Goldfinch by Chris Payne at Greens Norton on 9th October 2017. This bird was caught and released by another ringer operating down in Chilworth, Surrey on 9th December 2017, this being 61 days later, 109 km away in a SSE direction;

ATB6162 was placed on a young male Siskin by Chris Payne at Bradden on 5th December 2017. Sadly this bird hit a window pane and died in Towcester on or about 19th December 2017, only about 4km from where first ringed;

RZ54506 was a ring placed on a young Redwing at Harrington Airfield on 3rd November 2017, one of quite a number ringed at this site during the autumn. This bird was taken by a cat at Milverton, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire on 14th December 2017 - 41 days later, 50km away from where initially ringed in a WSW direction.


Neil M

Image courtesy of
Chris Payne.



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Back from the Brink project


A message from Susannah O'Riordan...

I’m one of the Project Officers working on Back from the Brink, an initiative supported by The National Lottery which has 19 projects across the country working towards saving a number of rare and threatened species.  I’m based in Rockingham Forest, leading the ‘Roots of Rockingham’ project which is focused on improving woodland habitats in Rockingham for 15 priority and 11 secondary target species including birds, plants, moths, butterflies, bats and reptiles.  5 of our 15 priority species are birds, namely Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Spotted Flycatcher.  You can find out more about the project here

To gain a better idea of the distribution of the target species and to monitor the impact of habitat management work being carried out, we are aiming to survey as many of the target woodlands as possible and are looking for willing volunteers who’d like to get involved in this work.  We’ve got a couple of training workshops coming up soon that will inform people about the target species and how we are going to survey for them, and allow people to sign up to help. These are being led by one of our project partners, the RSPB. I’ve attached information on these workshops to this email and they can also be found on our website

If there are people that would like to get involved in the bird surveying but can’t attend either of the workshops, they can contact me directly as we could still use their help.  

If you’d like any further info, please let me know

Thank you

Best wishes
Susannah O’Riordan 

Rockingham Forest Project Officer - Back from the Brink

Tel 01780 444067 Mobile 07483 039324 (limited reception)

Based at: Forestry Commission Office, Top Lodge, Fineshade, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 3BB

Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5QP
Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468). Charity registered in England and Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268).

Back from the Brink – Inspiring collaboration to save England's most threatened species

Back From the Brink
Heritage Lottery Fund
Butterfly Conservation

Monday, 8 January 2018

Pitsford Reservoir WeBS count


The monthly WeBS count was completed at Pitsford Reservoir today in quite raw conditions. An increase in the water level on the reserve means that seeds and other food is now available to surface feeding ducks dabbling in the margins with plenty of Wigeon and Teal in particular taking advantage.

A single Great White Egret was seen in flight and other birds north of the causeway included a Shelduck, a pair of Pintail, a Redshank, eleven Snipe, a male Peregrine, two Caspian Gulls (third year and fourth year), two Ravens and two Stonechats.

Jacob visited Cottesbrooke today but didn't see any Hawfinches, just a couple of Ravens. He went on to see a Great White Egret and the juvenile Whooper Swan at Ravensthorpe Reservoir. A single Barn Owl was present in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning.


Neil M

Drake Eurasian Wigeon.

Drake Teal.

Images courtesy
of John Tilly.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

SP55 Short Day Count


A small team committed to complete a BOS Short Day count in SP55 today, spending the first couple of hours at Fawsley Park. Birds noted here included a Barn Owl, a Little Owl, two Ravens, four Mandarin Ducks, a couple of Water Rails, a Jack Snipe, a Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail, 1-2 Brambling(s) and 40 plus Siskins. A Cetti's Warbler is likely to be a new species for this site and possibly this 10km square...

Plenty of Ravens were seen in the Catesby and Byfield areas and we encountered a fine adult male Peregrine and 1-2 Brambling(s) nearby.

Eric and Debbie Graham located a Great White Egret on the Aldwincle Lake at Thrapston Gravel Pits and at least ten Hawfinches were on show at Cottesbrooke including a group of six near the telephone box at the Haselbech-end of the village. Haselbech Grange was good for a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of Siskins, a Short-eared Owl was at Harrington Airfield between the first and second bunkers and the two Barn Owls were still in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon.


Neil M


Fawsley church.

Fawsley Park looking
towards Badby Woods.

The mud is rather deep
at Fawsley Park near to
the lakes...
Jacob's wellingtons
are still there!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

SP54 Short Day Count.


Early this morning saw at least one hunting Barn Owl between Scaldwell and Hanging Houghton and Eleanor's regular visit to Staverton provided views of a pair of very vocal Ravens.

Today four of us completed the Banbury Ornithological Society Short Day Count in the 10km square of SP54 in the south west of the county. Half the day was spent walking around the Edgcote and Trafford Bridge area which includes the upper reaches of the River Cherwell. Three Hawfinches were seen briefly and other birds included a Brambling, 2-3 Redpolls, 3 or more Siskins, a Kingfisher, 1-2 Woodcock, six Ravens, a Chiffchaff and a couple of Grey Wagtails.

This area of the county still has relatively few Red Kites but today there were at least half a dozen birds around Edgcote and we saw them elsewhere in the square too.

Four Grey Partridges were located between Sulgrave and Thorpe Mandeville where there was also a flock of about 150 Linnets. A female Merlin accelerated past us over fields between Chacombe and Thenford, the exact same place where we saw one last year!

At Thenford itself we couldn't locate any Hawfinches sadly but bumped in to a Peregrine, at least two Ravens and a flock of forty Greenfinches, a big flock by modern-day standards. Nearby there was another pair of on-territory Ravens at Marston St Lawrence and a flock of forty Greenfinches were presumably the same ones from Thenford?

This afternoon Eleanor watched an Otter at Ravensthorpe Reservoir showing well from the causeway on the 'small side' plus two Great White Egrets, the juvenile Whooper Swan and two Green Sandpipers. Four Hawfinches were showing well in trees opposite the playing field at Cottesbrooke at 3.45pm this afternoon and the two Barn Owls had found each other in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon.


Neil M


Red Kite.


Friday, 5 January 2018

Birds of early January


Yesterday evening (Thursday) a Barn Owl flew over the A428 near Harlestone village and this afternoon (Friday) a Barn Owl was showing in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton (different bird to the usual individual).

Jacob was out and about today and visited Hollowell Reservoir and located a Caspian Gull, a Great White Egret and at least one Stonechat. Later in the day at Pitsford Reservoir he spotted a Great Northern Diver (presumed bird from Hollowell) and at dusk saw an unidentified 'rare' grebe in the Yacht Bay (Slavonian or Black-necked).

Several observers visited Cottesbrooke village again today and up to five Hawfinches were visible, at times in cherry trees near to the playing field.


Neil M

Hawfinches at Cottesbrooke
courtesy of Jim Dunkley.

Barn Owl.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Storm Eleanor!


A visit to Harrington Airfield yesterday (Wednesday) was sufficient to see five Grey Partridges and fifty Golden Plovers but nothing else of note. Jacob saw a Shelduck and a Stonechat at Pitsford Reservoir.

Storm Eleanor has made birding conditions rather difficult and this morning's forays on the Kelmarsh Estate provided a couple of Siskins but little else. A Woodcock flushed up at Sunderland Wood this afternoon.

A visit to Cottesbrooke this afternoon provided brief views of the Hawfinches, the maximum number visible at any one time being just three birds. Local information suggests that the main flock is currently deeper on the private area of the estate and not viewable from any public areas.

The gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon yielded a first year Mediterranean Gull and an adult Caspian Gull.


Neil M

Blue Tit.

Song Thrush.



Whooper Swan.

Great White Egret.


All images courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Images from John Tilly


Pretty awful weather out there today! Eleanor and Neil Hasdell braved the rain to have a look at the Hawfinches at Cottesbrooke this morning and saw three or four birds but the viewing conditions were rather wet!

John Tilly has kindly sent through some recent images of local birds for your enjoyment...


Neil M

Goldfinch on teasel.

Long-tailed Tit.



Reed Buntings.


All images courtesy
of John Tilly.