Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Stortons Ringing past and present


A ringing session at Stortons Pits today with John Woollett at the helm provided a nice sprinkling of birds with 51 captures of ten species. These were made up of a Woodpigeon, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Blackbird, six Reed Buntings, a Chaffinch, four Goldfinches, three Greenfinches, fifteen Great Tits, eighteen Blue Tits and a Treecreeper. Three of the Reed Buntings were birds ringed before with two of them initially ringed way back in 2014.

This evening news came through of an adult female Blackbird first ringed at Stortons in November 2016 being caught again in October 2018 but this time 412km away in Reddingbootpad, Vlieland in the Netherlands! This suggests that this bird is of continental origin and that she has wintered successfully in the UK during the last two winters. She may be back here again somewhere with the Dutch recapture site probably being a launch pad for another sortie across the North Sea!

The two Great Northern Divers were sitting together off the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir this morning, with at least one of them flying around a great deal later in the morning suggesting it is either thinking about going or may already have slipped away...

Two Yellow-legged Gulls were in the same area (adult and second calendar year) and there were at least two Great White Egrets north of the causeway.

We did have a nice male Reed Bunting in the garden today, just before a young female Sparrowhawk caught a bird in the garden in the area where it had been! It was so quick it wasn't possible to say what she caught but there has been no sign of the bunting since!

Eight Bramblings were again on the seed in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Many congratulations to Dave Jackson who has yet again won the Birdguides Picture of the Week with an excellent image of a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk taken through glass! The story to go with the image is as follows...

'I arrived home and walked straight into the kitchen and noticed a Sparrowhawk perched low down about four metres from the back door. I slowly back-tracked to get my camera not expecting it to be there when I returned but fortunately he hadn't seen me otherwise he'd have been off like a shot.

I took a few shots from a distance and then knelt down and shuffled closer using a dining chair to hide behind and as a rest for my camera. It was clear from the full crop that the bird had enjoyed a sizeable meal and was in no hurry to depart. I daren't move even to check my images and camera settings and it finally flew off 35 minutes later when I moved to ease my aching knees! There was no sign of any feathers from its prey but I haven't seen the neighbour's cat for a few days now!'

The sacrifices we make to obtain 'that shot'!


Neil M

Female Blackbird.

I can almost feel the pain
in Dave's knees!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Still good birds out there!


Eric's visit to Thrapston Pits today was an exercise in how to count Great White Egrets! Trouble is they keep moving around but he was able to confirm four together at one point! The drake Pintail was still present and the Goldeneye flock has reached nearly a hundred birds now...

Bob Bullock spent the day visiting a number of central county sites and the birds he espied at Hollowell Reservoir included a Caspian Gull, two Goosanders and two Stonechats with three Green Sandpipers and 380 Teal at nearby Ravensthorpe Reservoir. He also visited Barnes Meadow LNR and counted five Jack Snipe and a Common Snipe.

Six Bramblings were noted below Hanging Houghton by the barn again this morning with one in the village too.

Pitsford Reservoir was visited by numerous observers today and birds noted there today included the Ring-necked Duck still, a Great Northern Diver near to the gorse bushes, at least four Great White Egrets, at least eleven Red-crested Pochards, a Redshank, a Peregrine and two Stonechats.


Neil M

Jack Snipe.



Monday, 14 January 2019

Birds of the Algarve


A ringing session at a community orchard in Milton Keynes yesterday provided 32 birds made up of common tits, a Woodpigeon, four Blackbirds and six Redwings.

Eric's visit to Thrapston Pits today provided views of a drake Pintail, two Great White Egrets, six Little Egrets, the wintering juvenile Whooper Swan and a Stonechat.

This afternoon there were at least four Bramblings and a hunting Barn Owl in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Bob Bullock saw the Ring-necked Duck in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Reservoir today plus at least eight Red-crested Pochards and three Great White Egrets and a Short-eared Owl was still near Neville's Lodge, Finedon.


Neil M

Little Bittern.

Thekla Lark.

Yellow-legged Gull.

Rock Bunting.

Short-toed Treecreeper.

White Storks.

A birding trip to the Algarve in Portugal
over the Christmas period provided views
 of the usual suspects!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Breezy Sunday


A mild and breezy day with some occasional wet stuff thrown in!

At least eight Bramblings were on the seed by the large barn in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning and two males turned up in our garden for a short time late morning (but with a marauding female Sparrowhawk on the loose didn't stay too long)!

Brixworth Water Treatment Works hosted a couple of Snipe and one or two Grey Wagtail(s) and one of the Great Northern Divers showed briefly north of the dam at Pitsford Reservoir (lots of watercraft on the water meant it/they was super elusive today) with an adult Yellow-legged Gull loitering in the Pintail Bay and a Raven over.

North of the causeway the drake Ring-necked Duck showed again in the Scaldwell Bay and with a drake seen again at Summer Leys Reserve today at last we have confirmation of two birds being present in the county at the same time! Other birds on the reserve at Pitsford included twelve Red-crested Pochard, a drake Pintail, three Great White Egrets and a pair of Stonechat.

Harrington Airfield remains very quiet for birds but at Thrapston Pits the juvenile Whooper Swan was still in situ today as were two or three Great White Egrets.

The area around Neville's Lodge near Finedon was again the venue for the wintering third calendar year male Hen Harrier and two Short-eared Owls this afternoon.


Neil M

Grey Trembler.

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch.

Grey Kingbird.

I returned from a tour of St Lucia
on Saturday and these birds were
common there...!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Birds of a mild January!


The Ring-necked Duck wasn't reported at Summer Leys Reserve today (seen there yesterday) but a Ruff was seen amongst the Golden Plover flock there.

Adrian saw two Short-eared Owls at Neville's Lodge near Finedon and the Stanwick male Hen Harrier flew through there too for good value!

Eleanor saw her usual pair of Ravens at Staverton today and a quick visit to Ravensthorpe Reservoir causeway was all it took to see a Great White Egret, two Green Sandpipers, a pair of Mandarin Ducks and an Otter west of the road causeway.

Two Bramblings and a Barn Owl were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon.


Neil M


Drake Ring-necked Duck
at Summer Leys yesterday...

Images courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Friday, 11 January 2019

County Birding 10th Jan


Eric's visit to Thrapston Pits on Thursday 10th Jan provided views of four Great White Egrets, three Goosanders, a pair of Egyptian Geese, the juvenile Whooper Swan and a flock of over a hundred Pochard.

David Arden's visit to Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway confirmed the presence still of four Great White Egrets and three Woodcock (two in Christies Copse and one in Plantation Block 5).

Chris Payne completed a little ringing at Bradden in South Northants during the morning and caught 77 birds with Blue Tits dominating. Among these feisty characters were some quite old birds. The total was made up of 52 Blue Tits, 6 Great Tits, a Coal Tit, 5 Long-tailed Tits, a Dunnock, 8 Goldfinches and 4 Chaffinches.

Elsewhere Barbara Nunn located a drake Scaup at Earls Barton Pits on the Summer Leys Reserve as viewed from Chestnut Corner and Alan Coles saw the wintering male Hen harrier at Stanwick Pits at the east end from 3.20pm.


Neil M

Blue Tit.

Drake Scaup.

Juvenile Whooper Swan.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Sightings 9th Jan


Birding at Thrapston Pits independently by Eric and Nick on Wednesday 9th January provided sightings of four or five Great White Egrets, eleven Little Egrets, the juvenile Whooper Swan still, a Peregrine, a female Stonechat, a good flock size of 204 Pochard and a reasonable sized gull roost but made up mostly of Black-headed and Common Gulls.

Stanwick Pits provided views of the Hen Harrier at the east end of the complex again during the afternoon plus a Great White Egret and three Little Egrets, and the area near Finedon known as Neville's Lodge provided sightings of two or three Short-eared Owls.

Phil Jackman could see one of the Great Northern Divers at Pitsford Reservoir in the morning, again in the vicinity of Pintail Bay as viewed from the dam.


Neil M

Short-eared Owl.


Female Stonechat.

All images courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

SP55 Short Day Count


On Sunday 6th January a team of birders comprising of Bethan Clyne, Jacob Spinks and Helen Franklin undertook the Banbury Ornithological Society Short Day Count in SP55 (Northamptonshire).

The keen team were on site at 8am at Fawsley Park once again to start their contribution to the BOS Short Day count in this square.  Once again the first 2 hours of the 8-hour count were the most productive with vocal Ravens, a fly-through Peregrine, a Red Kite, 2 Mandarin Ducks, Water Rail, a female Gadwall, a pair of Pochard and a large flock of Siskins being the stars of the show.

The unseasonably warm weather of late is undoubtedly influencing the birds to be seen in this corner of Northamptonshire – no large flocks of thrushes were noted, nor any grebes or owls or Brambling.  But Peregrines, Red Kites and Kestrels were all enjoying the sunshine at more than one site in the square and all five of the more common species of gulls were around in abundance.

A total of 64 species of bird were noted which is about average for this count.


Neil M


Mandarin Duck.


Monday, 7 January 2019

Local Bird Ringing 6th Jan


Local ringers gathered at Stortons Pits on Sunday 6th Jan to monitor the local and transient birds on site and caught 54 birds of 12 species. Good preparatory work beforehand provided this diversity which were made up of a Jack Snipe (a species rarely caught locally), a Chiffchaff, 13 Great Tits, 14 Blue Tits, a Long-tailed Tit, 3 Dunnocks, a Bullfinch, 7 Goldfinches, 3 Chaffinches, a Greenfinch and 6 Reed Buntings.

Meanwhile Kenny and Sarah experimented with some new equipment at their ringing site at Linford Lakes in preparation for operations later in the year and whilst doing so their Potter Traps caught a Moorhen and a Water Rail. The foundations and grounds work for a new Sand Martin bank have now been started which will add a further dimension to the site!


Neil M

Jack Snipe at Stortons,
image courtesy of Chris

Water Rail at Linford Lakes
courtesy of Kenny Cramer.


House Sparrow.


Above four images courtesy
of John Tilly.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Weekend Birding

Yesterday the resident Raven's were very vocal and entertaining with their overhead displays whilst I was at agility training at Staverton. 
On my way home I stopped off at Ravensthorpe Reservoir where there was a Great White Egret, Green Sandpiper and 2 Otters.
There were several Brambling and a Barn Owl below Hanging Houghton.
Today I caught up with both Great Northern Divers and Ring Necked Duck at Pitsford. Other birds present included 4 Great White Egret, 10+ Red Crested Pochard including a leucistic type bird which stands out, 2 Pintail and a pair of Stonechat.
Again Barn Owl and Bramblings below Hanging Houghton.

A couple of ringing recoveries.  A male Mallard was ringed at Pitsford 05/12/18 and was found ten days later 9km away at Spratton, dead from being shot.
A Goldfinch ringed 27/11/18 at Hanging Houghton was caught by ringers at Panshanger Lagoon, Hertfordshire on 28/12/18 after travelling a distance of 79km.

Regards Eleanor

Friday, 4 January 2019

Catch Up !!

Today I took the opportunity to "catch up" with some of the long standing winter visitors as well as start off my year list.  At Pitsford Reservoir I was able to tick off Great Northern Diver and Ring Necked Duck before heading over to Stanwick in search of the male Hen Harrier. I spent nearly 2 hours here viewing the rough field area and was literally just having a last sweep around and saw it hunting the area between the farm and the disused railway line. Other birds here included Pink Footed Goose, Cettis Warbler, Chiffchaff and a Barn Owl.
Earlier in the day there was a Barn Owl and at least 7 Brambling , four of which were superb males below Hanging Houghton.
On my run I encountered at least 18 Red Kites circling the fields near Haselbeech ,the air being filled with their evocative calls. Certainly a beautiful sight and sound on an equally beautiful frosty morning.
Our garden has been busy with birds too, at least 3 Brambling, Yellowhammers, male Reed Buntings , Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.  We are not alone with having Brambling in their garden as our neighbours had at least 6 today also.

Regards Eleanor

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Birds of 2nd January


Pitsford Reservoir continues to be the focal point for birdwatchers out and about in central Northamptonshire. Today both the Great Northern Divers were on show, at one stage together just north of Pintail Bay and not far off-shore. The Ring-necked Duck appeared just inside the mouth of the Walgrave Bay, a favourite spot and viewable distantly from Maytrees Hide next to the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station. Five Great White Egrets were confirmed and visible at the same time north of the causeway.

The reservoir continues to attract Red-crested Pochards and today there were fourteen north of the causeway including a new leucistic bird. Other birds included the long-staying pair of Stonechats which commute between the causeway and the Bird Club Hide, a Green Sandpiper, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Grey Wagtail and a Willow Tit. A pair of Marsh Tits visit the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station daily and there are good numbers of Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers and Moorhens taking advantage of the seed on offer there.

Neil Hasdell encountered three Goosanders and several Ring-necked Parakeets in Abington Park, Northampton this morning. A Barn Owl and four Bramblings were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton again and Eric's visit to Blatherwycke Lake provided a count of fifteen Mandarin Ducks; at nearby Deene Lake there were still three pairs of Shelduck, over a hundred Teal and two Snipe.


Neil M

Drake Mandarin Duck.

Drake Teal courtesy
of John Tilly.

Drake Goosander courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year's Day


This morning a Barn Owl was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and Bramblings were heard in the finch flock by the large barn. A single male Brambling was in our garden again.

Birds noted at Thrapston Pits today was something of a repeat of yesterday with three Great White Egrets still on Aldwincle Lake but also eleven Little Egrets were present. A pair of Goosander were still there.

Two Great White Egrets were at Summer Leys Nature Reserve today and Adrian's efforts at Pitsford Reservoir included sightings of a Great Northern Diver, the drake Ring-necked Duck, four Great White Egrets and fourteen Red-crested Pochard.

Two Woodcock were flushed at Harrington Airfield today.


Neil M

Yesterday's Mistle Thrush,
image courtesy of Martyn Adkins.

Brambling courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Great White Egret
courtesy of Clive Bowley.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year!


A ringing session at Woodford Halse today successfully processed forty five birds of eleven species made up of nine Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper, nineteen Blue Tits, seven Great Tits, a Nuthatch, a Chaffinch, a Goldfinch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Mistle Thrush (a rare capture), a Redwing and three Dunnocks. Amongst other birds two Grey Wagtails were present on-site.

Birds at Brixworth Water Treatment Works today included a Cetti's Warbler and a Grey Wagtail.

Debbie and Eric spent three hours at Thrapston Pits today and confirmed the presence of three Great White Egrets (all on Aldwincle Lake), a pair of Goosander and a pair of Egyptian Geese.

A Peregrine was seen over Maidwell village at 10.40am this morning and the birds at Pitsford Reservoir today included the two Great Northern Divers feeding in Pintail Bay and in The Narrows near the Holly Tree and the drake Ring-necked Duck which this afternoon was in the mouth of the Walgrave Bay and at dusk was swimming just in front of Maytrees Hide. The regular supporting cast included four Great White Egrets and fourteen Red-crested Pochard north of the causeway and a Raven by the dam.

Happy New Year!

Eleanor and Neil

Mistle Thrush.


NBC Indoor Meeting 2nd Jan


The next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club is this coming Wednesday 2nd January, our speaker being Dick Newell.

This talk will cover information about Common Swifts, their lifestyles, their migrations and their decline in the UK. As one of the main causes of the decline is loss of nest sites, the talk will cover a wide range of nest boxing solutions from off the shelf products to custom solutions. Dick is with Action for Swifts and has developed many ideas and designs to help Swifts. Many of these are documented on

In 2016, Dick and AfS were given a Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology.

This will take place at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir. The meeting starts at 7.30 and tea and coffee will be available.

All welcome!

Neil M

Sunday, 30 December 2018

As you were!


Just back in from an eight day tour of the Algarve in Portugal which provided us with some super weather and birds too!

Locally a Barn Owl has been busy around the village both last night, this morning and again this afternoon and several Bramblings were calling below the village in the Brampton Valley first thing this morning. Two Ravens were on the north side of the village early on and a Brambling was visiting gardens in the village late morning.

Away from Hanging Houghton and a Woodcock was flushed at Harrington Airfield but it was otherwise quiet there for birds.

Geoff Douglas located the drake Ring-necked Duck in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford today and Adrian's efforts at Thrapston Pits provided sightings of the juvenile Whooper Swan, two Great White Egrets and a pair of Red-crested Pochard.

Both Great Northern Divers were visible at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon, one in The Narrows/Holly Tree area and the other in and around the Pintail Bay where there was also a Yellow-legged Gull.


Neil M

Booted Eagle.


Western Swamphen.

Purple Sandpiper.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Odds and Ends

I always find the period between Christmas and New Year a bit of an odd time as nothing seems to happen and everything appears to be "on hold" before life returns to normal.
This also appears to be the case where the birds are concerned as I have only been seeing the same old regulars, Bramblings and Barn Owl below Hanging Houghton and Ring Necked Duck, Great Northern Diver, Whooper Swans, Red Crested Pochards and Great White Egrets at Pitsford Reservoir.
Eric visited Titchmarsh Reserve at Thrapston today and reports a Whooper Swan on Elinor Lake, 2 Great White Egret and a stunning drake Goosander at Aldwinkle end, a nice flock of Goldeneye on Town Lake and 5 Little Egrets and a couple of Cettis Warbler dotted about.
The birds seem to have disappeared from our garden and Harrington Airfield has been very bleak with nothing to report.
At least the days will be getting longer as we head towards a new year which we hope will be bird filled for everyone.

Regards   Eleanor

No pictures of birds I'm afraid but there is a birding theme !!          This is " Spot the birdie twitcher Tor" and he has qualified for the Rescue Dogs Agility final next year and he also came top of the league in his category beating all the fast collies !!! not bad for a hound that nobody wanted.