Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Mid November sunshine and birds


Birds north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir this morning included four Great White Egrets, eleven Whooper Swans, at least eleven Red-crested Pochard, a number of Pintail, the usual adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Black-tailed Godwit and at least one Stonechat. A Red Admiral butterfly was flying around rather feebly in the stunning sunshine.

Jacob heard a Hawfinch calling from a tree at Brixworth Country Park this morning and noted a Brambling and Siskin too. Small numbers of Siskins were at Scotland Wood this afternoon, seventy Golden Plovers were at Harrington Airfield and there was a Redpoll at Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

More images from Iceland this summer...

Harlequin Ducks.

Iceland Gull.


Great Black-backed Gull.

Lots of waterfalls
in Iceland!

...but not many Arctic Foxes!

Arctic Tern.

Pitsford WeBS count


The WeBS count was completed today (Monday) at Pitsford Reservoir in sunny conditions. At least four Great White Egrets remain (four seen simultaneously on a couple of occasions) but there may be more, the eleven Whooper Swans also remain and other interesting wildfowl included twenty Red-crested Pochard and twenty Pintail. Waders were well represented with thirty-one Snipe, a Black-tailed Godwit and two Green Sandpipers. A rather strange-looking Peregrine was active all morning and other birds of note included eight Little Egrets, the usual adult Yellow-legged Gull, a couple of Siskins, up to six Grey Wagtails, a Chiffchaff and three Stonechats.


Neil M


Tufted Ducks.

Great White Egret.

Grey Heron.

Nine of the eleven Whooper
Swans enjoyed a little fly
around today!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Birds of rain, wind and sunshine


Kenny and team put up with some varied weather this morning to commit to some more ringing at Linford Lakes and were rewarded with fifty captures of ten species. Blue Tits and Great Tits were the most numerous but other birds included three Redwings, a Goldfinch, a Chaffinch, another late Blackcap and a re-trap Water Rail that was first caught in December 2017. Other birds noted on-site included a Raven and a small group of Siskins.

The Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this morning hosted up to three Great White Egrets, the eleven Whooper Swans still, thirteen Pintail, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Green Sandpiper and a first year female Peregrine. The afternoon gull roost off the Sailing Club produced two different Yellow-legged Gulls (a first year and a second year).

Harrington Airfield provided sightings of a Woodcock, seventeen Golden Plovers and an adult male Peregrine this afternoon and a Barn Owl was hunting the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton at dusk.


Neil M

Water Rail
courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

Drake Shoveler.

Whistling Wigeon!

The Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford
Reservoir, a mixed group of
Mute and Whooper Swans take
centre stage.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Saturday's birds


A male Brambling was near to the feeders at Scotland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate) this morning and an early but brief visit to the Old Scaldwell Road at Pitsford Reservoir confirmed the continuing presence of the eleven Whooper Swans, two Great White Egrets and five Pintail.

Andrew Tyrrell was at Harrington Airfield this morning and enjoyed watching a Merlin whizzing around on the top fields but it quickly moved on.

Eleanor's brief visit to Ravensthorpe Reservoir was enough to spot two Great White Egrets and the gull roost count at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon also provided views of two Yellow-legged Gulls (adult and first year) and a first year Mediterranean Gull. Two Ravens remained at Staverton.


Neil M

Marsh Tit.


Birds coming for food
at Scotland Wood.

A flock of Black-headed Gulls
 at Pitsford Reservoir...
just add bread!

Presentation at University of Northampton

Friday, 9 November 2018

Ditchford WeBS (Central)


I completed the central section of the Ditchford Pits WeBS count today - again it was mild, mostly dry and breezy. The main pit between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough again held spectacular numbers of wildfowl which included over 200 Mute Swans, over 400 Wigeon and over 500 Gadwall. There was hardly any room for the swimming Otter to manoeuvre around the ducks and surprisingly there was minimal interest in this aquatic mustelid which is quite capable of taking a duck or two!

I failed to find any particular birds of interest with just singles of Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler, up to three Chiffchaffs, a Grey Wagtail, a Siskin and two Little Egrets.

I finished the day by popping in to Stanwick Lakes via the Diamond Centre end and managed to see three of the Cattle Egrets trying to keep up with fast moving cattle (at 4pm), a Little Egret and a Great White Egret - who would have predicted a trio of egrets spectacle twenty years ago?

Eric visited Thrapston Pits again today and connected with the six Velvet Scoters still on Town Lake, a Great White Egret and several Cetti's Warblers. He and Debbie later visited Stanwick this afternoon and saw all four Cattle Egrets, the Great White and a couple of Little Egrets too...


Neil M

A charm of Goldfinches!

Red Kite.

Female Shoveler.
 The older and shallower pits in the
Ditchford Gravel Pits complex
provide excellent foraging opportunities
for dabbling ducks, in particular Wigeon,
 Shoveler and Gadwall.


A small section of the
Gadwall armada!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Ditchford WeBS (West)


Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) and Jacob and Bethan checked the gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir and located two Yellow-legged Gulls (adult and first year).

Today (Thursday) and I completed the WeBS count on the western section of Ditchford Pits. It was very quiet for birds in mild, breezy conditions and the only birds of note were a fine adult Peregrine on the pylons west of Ditchford Lane plus an overflying Raven. A Mink was seen and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly was still on the wing.

A Grey Wagtail remained at Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Red-necked Phalarope.

Brunnich's Guillemots.

Iceland Gull.

Great Black-backed Gull.

Red-throated Diver.

All images from Iceland in June.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Ringing recoveries


Not much opportunity for birding today but early this morning the eleven Whooper Swans were still in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir and five Great White Egrets were visible north of the causeway. Later in the morning the Whoopers were in a close-knit flock next to the Maytrees Hide, disturbance had caused much of the wildfowl to exit the bay (tree management work near to Willow Hide) and the Whoopers were pretty much the last ones out. I hope they remained and they didn't use this as an excuse to move on...

We have received notification of some ringing recoveries including a House Sparrow fatality in Hanging Houghton (road casualty) and a Goldfinch fatality in Scaldwell village (both birds were ringed as juveniles this autumn in Hanging Houghton). Other records with a little more history are as follows:-

KN98466 was a juvenile Blackcap first ringed at Harrington Airfield on 30th August 2018 by Helen Franklin and then re-captured four days later at Southwick Wood by Colin Graham. For some reason this bird moved 27km ENE after initial capture, the significance which may prove difficult to interpret!

AKD286 relates to a juvenile Cetti's Warbler ringed at Tring, Hertfordshire on 5th August 2018 and this young bird travelled 32km north to be re-captured at Linford Lakes, Milton Keynes on 30th September 2018 (56 days later).

LJ39586 refers to a juvenile Starling first caught and ringed in Rushden on 13th July 2018 which was subsequently reported as taken by a cat elsewhere in Rushden on 20th October 2018.


Neil M


Cetti's Warbler.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Autumn merging towards winter...


Eric enjoyed himself at Thrapston Pits today with a quality selection of birds which included the now long-staying six Velvet Scoters, a Great White Egret, five Little Egrets, a pair of Red-crested Pochard, a Scaup and two Yellow-legged Gulls.

Eleanor ran around the south section of Pitsford Reservoir this morning, notching up three Great White Egrets (one Moulton Grange and two in Pintail Bay) and several Redpolls.

In the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning there were four Bramblings, two Siskins and two Redpolls with lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits on the fields. A Grey Wagtail was in the village as were a couple of Siskins. Harrington Airfield sported a day time hunting Barn Owl this afternoon but little else. A Grey Wagtail and several Siskins were noted at Overstone Park.


Neil M

Arctic Tern.

Golden Plover.




Sabine's Gull.


I think without exception all these
images were taken in the rain during
our 'summer' trip to Iceland this year
(it was exceptionally cold and wet but
still amazing despite the weather conditions).