Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Ringing at Brixworth


Brixworth Water Treatment Works was the venue for a period of ringing today which yielded a modest 47 captures. Birds caught and quickly processed included 24 Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Meadow Pipits, a Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Siskins (from a flock of 30) and a Magpie.

Other birds noted on-site included a Water Rail, at least one more Chiffchaff and a Snipe.


Neil M

First year male Siskin
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Pitsford update


Some ringing at Pitsford Reservoir today provided 44 captures of 11 species made up of 5 Tree Sparrows, 4 Chaffinches, 5 Reed Buntings, 6 Blue Tits, 2 Robins, a Coal Tit, 5 Great Tits, 6 Yellowhammers, 4 Dunnocks, 2 Greenfinches and 4 Blackbirds.

Robin Gossage was also at Pitsford today armed with his camera and some of the results are below...


Neil M

Drake Goosander.

Cormorant in breeding plumage.

All images taken at Pitsford
Reservoir today as taken and
shared by Robin Gossage.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Another day of rain and drizzle...


Eleanor visited Sywell Country Park this morning and saw the long-staying Whooper Swan in an adjacent field. Other birds noted were a Cetti's Warbler, two Water Rails and a Stonechat.

Neil H went looking for the reported Waxwings around Moulton from two days ago but was unable to locate any in very poor weather.

A reminder that the local RSPB group are teaming up with the rangers at Stanwick Lakes and members of the Northants Ringing Group to hold an event this Sunday in preparedness for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch the following week-end. There will be events for children, displays, guided birdwatching and a bird ringing demonstration at Stanwick Lakes all designed to assist in the identification of garden birds ready for the big day.

If you are unfamiliar with Stanwick Lakes site, there is a map on the Birdwatching Sites Maps page on this blog; the event will be easy to find from the car park in the middle of the complex. This Nene Valley site is off the A45 between Higham Ferrers and Thrapston.


Neil M

Whooper Swan at
Sywell CP.

Rare passerine anyone?


I forgot to mention yesterday that Phil Horsnail espied a hunting 'ringtail' Hen Harrier in the east of the county at Polebrook Airfield at about 12 noon and on Saturday Amanda Fraser watched a male Blackcap feeding on cotoneaster berries in her Kingsthorpe (Northampton) garden.

Although winter in the county has always been interesting, it seems almost that this is the best season for finding scarce and rare birds in the county. Although still exciting, the classic migration periods of spring and autumn often frustrate the inland birder with the coasts experiencing heavy migration and plenty of rare birds but with only a negligible influence in the middle of the country.

With warmer temperatures, middle England enjoys more varied passerines wintering than ever before and I would predict that some of our rarer small birds will actually be found during the short days of winter. Thrushes of course seem to be the current family to watch for, but it is worth checking through any finch or bunting flocks and looking for wintering warblers too! The very best of luck in your valiant searches!


Neil M

Bathing Blackcaps
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

And if anyone out there can
find a Dusky Thrush or similar
we would love to know!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Rainy day


A walk in the rain at Harrington Airfield this morning provided views of fifty Golden Plovers and a couple of Snipe.

Birds at Pitsford Reservoir included a Great White Egret, a Goosander, two Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, several Pintail, a couple of Grey Wagtails, a female Brambling on the main feeding station and an adult Peregrine. The gull roost hosted a first year Yellow-legged Gull and an adult and first year Caspian Gull.

A brief visit to Kettering town centre today failed to find any lingering Waxwings.


Neil M

Where is my apple?

All that is mine?

More images from Cathy Ryden -
Fieldfare (top) and Starling (bottom).

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Kettering Waxwings (again)!


Birds at Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway today included two Great White Egrets, eleven Pintail (eight drakes), two Redshank, two Green Sandpipers, a Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff. The gull roost off the Sailing Club in the afternoon contained an adult Caspian Gull and a first year Yellow-legged Gull with a Little Owl nearby.

Two Great White Egrets were still present at Ravensthorpe Reservoir this afternoon and birds viewable at Daventry Country Park included a Shelduck, four Goosanders and an adult female Peregrine. Four Ravens were very vocal and interactive at Staverton.

The Waxwings were mobile in Kettering town centre today, numbering at least thirty, and then they appeared to absence themselves during the early afternoon. The three known venues were School Lane car park, the area in front of Pets at Home and Sainsbury's and a lone Rowan tree in front of the Alexandra Arms. It is likely that they have found somewhere else in Kettering to feed but are likely to return periodically to the same trees at the above locations as there are still some favoured berries left.

Two pairs of Stonechats remain in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Waxwings courtesy of
Pete Gilbert.

Waxwings courtesy of
Jacob Spinks.

The amazing Waxwings in Kettering today
(a shame that I failed to catch up with them)!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Winter weather at last...


The snow swept in to Northamptonshire this morning providing a very wintery scene, albeit that by nightfall most of it had disappeared.

Jacob Spinks noted two Bramblings in Scaldwell village this morning and I spent part of the day visiting feeding stations. At Brixworth Water Treatment Works the filter beds were alive with Pied Wagtails - I estimated between eighty and ninety birds together with at least one Grey Wagtail.

Eleanor encountered a flock of at least 16 Waxwings in Kettering this afternoon, these birds feeding on berries in trees next to Tanners Lane car park which itself is next to Sainsbury's and Pets at Home. It is presumed that these are some of the School Lane birds that have just moved a short distance to find a fresh supply of food.


Neil M

The big, beautiful and sometimes bold
Fieldfare cannot resist apples once the berries
and worms are in short supply.

These images were taken by Cathy Ryden today.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Kettering Waxwings


The flock of Waxwings (up to 22 birds) were again in Kettering town centre today, situated around the car park off School Lane. The images below are courtesy of Wendy and Stuart Andrews and were taken yesterday...

Eleanor's observations today amounted to two pairs of Stonechats in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton, and a pair of Raven which spent quite a period of time in the village and the grounds of Lamport Grange...

During the last two months, two injured/sick Common Buzzards have been found at or in the close vicinity of Pitsford Reservoir. Both birds died and the causes of death has not yet been established and may not be connected but it is a timely reminder that should you find a sick or dead bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, please contact the Investigations Unit of the RSPB on the numbers on the right hand side of this blog. Ideally a dead bird should be photographed in situ and if it is an obvious poisoning incident (i.e. several corpses close to bait), then the RSPB require notifying immediately and the scene preserved.


Neil M

Nineteen Waxwings in this one image!

Images of Waxwings courtesy of Wendy Andrews.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Ditchford WeBs count


Eleanor went for a run around Pitsford Reservoir this morning (south of the causeway) and saw the Slavonian Grebe back by the Holly Tree (it's actually now a lone Hawthorn bush). Four White-fronted Geese flew south over the causeway and later were near the dam with Canada Geese.

A flock of Waxwings were discovered feeding on berries at School Lane in Kettering this morning, the flock size varying between 12 and 22 during the day.

I spent much of the day checking out the old gravel pits at Ditchford, the still short days meaning it took most of the available daylight hours to walk around and count waterbirds on just eleven of the thirty or so pits which form part of this very large complex. A drake Smew was on the main pit between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough and a pair of Red-crested Pochard were on the adjacent fishing pit. At least five Goosanders were present and other birds included three little Egrets, a Green Sandpiper, a Woodcock, a Jack Snipe, ten Snipe, three Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail and small numbers of Cetti's Warblers.


Neil M

Purple Swamphen.

Little Bittern.

For the third Christmas in a row
I have co-led a Naturetrek tour to
The Algarve in Portugal. The two birds
above were among the star birds of the show.
I thought I would add them to the blog
because despite walking around with my
camera all day today, I didn't take any images
despite the sometimes rather nice light conditions!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Birds at Summer Leys


Robin Gossage was at the Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton today and noted an adult Peregrine carrying a just-caught Golden Plover, one of their favourite prey items. Up to five Water Rails were on show and other birds included two drake Pintail.

Eleanor's only noteworthy observation was the pair of Stonechat still in the valley below Hanging Houghton this morning.


Neil M

Peregrine with
Golden Plover.


Water Rail.

All images taken by
Robin Gossage at
Summer Leys today.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Our most common raptors


Two ringing sessions took place yesterday (Sunday), with efforts at Linford Lakes providing 42 captures which included 22 new birds. They were made up of 5 Robins, a Dunnock, 2 Wrens, 12 Great Tits, 17 Blue Tits, 2 Long-tailed Tits, a Song Thrush, a Blackbird and a Goldcrest. Stortons Gravel Pits provided 46 captures of which 33 were new birds including 2 Redwings. The re-traps included a six year old Robin.

Today and John Hunt reports that a pair of Egyptian Geese were looking rather maternal at Oundle Marina and he noted 10 Siskins at nearby Barnwell Country Park.

I spent much of today whizzing around the wild bird feeding stations in the centre of the county, dispensing food in readiness for the apparent change in temperatures forecast for later in the week. I didn't see any birds of note during my travels...


Neil M


Male Kestrel.

Common Buzzard.

Steve Bennison took a stroll
around Kingsthorpe Meadow
yesterday morning and was pleased
to see and photograph our three
most common raptors.


Image courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Love is in the Air!


Another BOS Short Day Count was completed today, this time in SP54 in the south west of the county. Edgcote and Trafford Bridge/Marsh was the initial venue and in fact we spent about half the day in this general area finding about sixty species of birds. The scarcer species included a Little Egret, a Water Rail, a Common Snipe, two Kingfishers, three Grey Wagtails, an adult male Peregrine, Tree Sparrows, Siskins and a single Willow Tit.

Visiting sites further south in the 10km square provided views of a female Merlin not far from Chacombe, a couple of Ravens and some more Siskins at Thenford.

The mild conditions of the last few days has stimulated further breeding interest in both our birds and mammals. Eric Graham watched six Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other around at Titchmarsh Reserve yesterday and we saw much the same thing at Edgcote today. And at least one of Robin's images below, errrm, also indicate similar interests in our British mammals...!


Neil M

A pair of Red Fox
Pitsford Reservoir

A pair of Muntjac at
Pitsford Reservoir!

And of course the intimate photographer
could only ever be our own Robin Gossage!