Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ringing at Kelmarsh


With a change in the weather with much milder conditions and a fresh breeze, we decided on a change of venue for bird ringing today. So it was that we found ourselves at Kelmarsh Hall this morning which is a more sheltered environment than Harrington Airfield.

Here a single sixty foot mist net was sufficient to successfully catch eighty-five individuals made up of both migrant and resident birds. Nineteen Blackbirds included only one re-trapped individual and other thrushes included three new Fieldfares and six Redwings. Blue Tits were numerous with thirty-three caught, supported by fifteen Great Tits, a Coal Tit, two Robins, a Dunnock, a Bullfinch, a Greenfinch and three Goldfinches. One of the first year Blue Tits originated from Pitsford Reservoir.

Other birds noted on-site included a Raven, a small flock of Siskins, a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail.


Neil M

Female Blackbird.
Image courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

First year male Blackbird.
Image courtesy of Eleanor.

Redwings are reportedly in the UK
in large numbers, but there are plenty
of other thrushes too including plenty
of migrant Blackbirds joining the
 resident birds.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Foggy Tuesday


The forecast for foggy conditions proved accurate today, albeit that the temperatures rose as the day progressed.

A small team of us visited Harrington Airfield and attempted to catch and ring some of the migrant thrushes utilising the plentiful hawthorn bushes. The conditions ensured that the bushes and nets attracted the swirling moisture to the point that most things became rather wet.

However we managed to catch and process 82 birds, all but three of the birds were thrushes made up of 30 Blackbirds (24 new and 6 re-traps), 4 Song Thrushes which included a re-trap and a very grey continental bird, 7 Fieldfares and 38 Redwings.

We also saw 120+ Golden Plovers, 1-2 Woodcock and heard a Brambling.

Eleanor located three Woodcock at Blueberry Farm and a pair of Stonechat near Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Dripping hawthorn berries.

The stunning Redwing, again
making up a large proportion
of today's ringing catch.

All images courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday update...


Limited opportunities out and about today so I'm afraid very little to report. With colder temperatures the feeding stations on the Kelmarsh Estate were in need of replenishing. I noticed three Ravens over Kelmarsh village and a single Willow Tit at Scotland Wood whilst undertaking this task today.

Eleanor noted two pairs of Stonechat in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton but otherwise didn't connect with anything noteworthy.

Some ringing is planned for Harrington Airfield tomorrow and possibly Wednesday too. The areas with erected mist nets will be out of bounds but all the public footpaths and concrete track will be unaffected. We hope to be able to catch and assess more winter thrushes but birds can be fickle things!

Barrie Galpin is the BTO rep for Northamptonshire and is now taking on the responsibility of coordinating the WeBS (Wetland and Waterbird counts) away from the Nene Valley. Apparently there are some small waters in the county which don't have counters, so if you fancy having a go please contact Barrie -


Neil M

The handsome Fieldfare
and Redwing - this stunning
duo are often referred to as
'winter thrushes'.

Images courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting this Wednesday...


On Wednesday evening the next NBC Indoor Meeting will take place at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir, on the Brixworth Road just outside the village of Holcot village. The meeting begins promptly at 7.30pm and following a few notices club member Dave Jackson will take us on a photographic journey to Southern Africa. This follows the club's excursion to the continent earlier this year and the contributing images are from members that took part.

Hot drinks and biscuits will be available and both members and non-members are most welcome!


Neil M

Monitor Lizard

Sunday's wildlife


More ringing took place today this time at Linford Lakes on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Kenny Cramer is the principal ringer on site and had envisaged catching good numbers of thrushes. His prediction proved accurate with catches of 12 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, and a very impressive 52 Redwings. It seems that there are particularly large numbers of Redwings circulating in the UK currently, perhaps initially assisted with the easterly airflows of the early autumn. The British Trust for Ornithology is reporting that it is possible it may be a record year for this species.

Other birds caught at Linford today included a Reed Bunting, four Goldcrests, a Bullfinch, a Siskin, a Goldfinch, a Treecreeper, a Green Woodpecker and a female Blackcap; a total of 81 captures of 14 species is a very good session.

Further ringing is planned for Harrington Airfield this week with the potential for more thrush ringing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Public access to the ringing areas will be restricted but the concrete track and footpaths will remain unaffected.

Birds at Harrington Airfield today included a female Peregrine and about fifty Golden Plovers.

Pitsford Reservoir retains good birds, Jacob Spinks today locating two Great White Egrets, a drake Smew, a Redshank, two Green Sandpipers, a Dunlin, 10+ Snipe and a Peregrine, and I saw an adult Caspian Gull in the roost off the Sailing Club.

Wildlife watching at Ravensthorpe Reservoir is also to a high standard currently and today's sightings included two Otters on show again this afternoon, three Great White Egrets, a Green Sandpiper, a Water Rail and a party of redpoll sp in the birches there.

The cold temperatures of today have brought many birds in to the garden including a couple of Nuthatches and about three Tree Sparrows.


Neil M

Ducks on parade!

 Images taken at Pitsford Reservoir by Robin Gossage
depict (from top to bottom) Goldeneye, Shoveler and Teal.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Saturday county birding


Jacob Spinks was at Pitsford Reservoir today and his tally of birds were made up of a Caspian Gull, a Yellow-legged Gull, a drake Smew, two Great White Egrets, a Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and a Chiffchaff.

Clive Bowley was at Sywell Country Park and located a single adult Whooper Swan showing nicely.

Eleanor was at Staverton again today where four Ravens were in situ and the conifers there attracted at least ten Crossbills. At Ravensthorpe Reservoir there were again two Otters on show from the causeway and two Great White Egrets. Nearer to home and a Barn Owl and a pair of Stonechat were present in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Whooper Swan
courtesy of Clive Bowley

Friday, 2 December 2016

Pitsford ringing


A two hour netting session at Pitsford Reservoir this morning quickly provided 71 captures in Christies Copse, situated on the west side of the Walgrave Bay. Forty-one of these were new birds with the remaining thirty birds being mostly re-trap tits from previous efforts or the on-going nest-box scheme. The bird feeders pull in tits from around the reservoir and it is rather concerning how few young tits from the nest-boxes have been accounted for, further evidence of a poor breeding season locally for both Blue and Great Tits. Only one Coal Tit was a surprise but it is likely that had we kept the nets open for longer more Coal Tits would have been caught.

Highlights included a Redwing, two Song Thrushes, eleven Goldcrests, two Willow Tits and two Marsh Tits.

Other birds recorded in this section of the bay included a pair of Red-crested Pochard (male and female), at least one Water Rail, three Woodcock, a Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher and a couple of vocal Ravens. Another two Kingfishers and a Green Sandpiper were in Yacht Bay at the other end of the reservoir with a flock of about twelve Golden Plovers over fields near to Scaldwell village.


Neil M

Green Sandpiper at Pitsford Reservoir
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

A Jay at Weston Mill,
Northampton back on
the frosty 29th November!
Images courtesy of John Gamble.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

South Northants Ringing


Chris Payne and John Boland were fully employed ringing this morning at Bradden in South Northants processing over eighty birds in woodland habitat. This excellent total was made up of 22 Blue Tits, 33 Great Tits, 2 Coal Tits, a Marsh Tit, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 9 Chaffinches, 9 Goldfinches, 5 Robins, 2 Dunnocks and singles of Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Blackbird and a Sparrowhawk.

Chris went on to see a male and female Blackcap in his Greens Norton apple tree garden on his arrival home.

Michael Wood was at Blueberry Farm today and saw a Short-eared Owl and the usual pair of Stonechat was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Marsh Tit



Images courtesy of Chris Payne.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wild Bird Feeding Stations

Great White Egret at
Pitsford Reservoir courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

I spent most of today visiting wild bird feeding stations and ensuring there was plenty of food on offer in these cold temperatures. A Siskin was present at Kelmarsh Hall but otherwise it was quiet; Scotland Wood was the venue for some very vocal Nuthatches and the Marsh Tits came straight in for broadcast sunflower seeds.

Birds visible from the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station at Pitsford Reservoir at lunchtime amounted to just a single Great White Egret, three first winter Scaup and a couple of Pintail.

At least one Grey Wagtail was present at Brixworth Water Treatment Works and a pair of Stonechat remain in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

An afternoon walk at Harrington Airfield was a great way to appreciate the amazing colours created by the setting sun but the birds were mostly absent with just five Golden Plovers whizzing about.

CNX338 is a ring number read on a Goldcrest at Pitsford Reservoir on 13th November and it transpires that this bird was first caught and ringed at Theddlethorpe St Helen, Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast on 11th October 2016. This bird exhibited top of the scale biometrics when processed at Pitsford and the circumstances suggest that this was a continental bird still very much on a SSW bearing. It took this little mite 33 days to travel 139km from Mablethorpe to Pitsford.

Confirmation has now been received that the Grey Wagtail caught at Pitsford Res on 13th November already bearing a ring was originally ringed as a nestling at Stanford Reservoir on 14th July 2016. This bird clearly hasn't travelled too far since fledging on the Northants/Leicestershire border.


Neil M


Relatively few around so
far this season but they are
likely to increase in the back
half of the winter...

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A cold morning at Pitsford Reservoir...


Dave Francis and team conducted some ringing at Pitsford Reservoir this morning and assessed 57 captures which included 6 new Blackbirds, 4 new Song Thrushes, 2 new Redwings and a re-trap Fieldfare which was first ringed at Pitsford in January 2015 (but has obviously travelled many hundreds of miles since then). Other captures involved two new Marsh Tits, 4 Reed Buntings and a Yellowhammer.

Also this morning a Kingfisher and a pair of Stonechat were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and birds south of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir included two drake Goosanders, a Green Sandpiper, two Grey Wagtails, six Siskins, two redpoll sp and a Little Owl again.

Birds visible at Harrington Airfield this afternoon were eighty Golden Plovers, an immature female Peregrine, two Woodcock and a Short-eared Owl.


Neil M

A close up of a Goldcrest
caught at the week-end at
Harrington Airfield. The dark
 malar stripe extending downwards
 from the base of the bill has a tendency to
 make Goldcrests look sad...

Image courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

An image of Pitsford Reservoir
at dawn on the coldest morning
of the season so far...

Image courtesy of Lynne Barnett.

'Redhead' Smew south of the
causeway at Pitsford Reservoir

Images courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Drake Teal

Drake Shoveler

Both images taken at Pitsford Reservoir
today by Cathy Ryden.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Reservoir Birding


Neil Hasdell birded at Pitsford Reservoir today and notched up three Great White Egrets, a Common Scoter and four Scaup all north of the causeway and two Little Owls and a Green Sandpiper south of the causeway.

This afternoon Cathy Ryden was at Ravensthorpe Reservoir again and saw two Great White Egrets which were pretty mobile, and two Otters on show too...


Neil M

Little Owl at Pitsford
Reservoir courtesy
of  Neil Hasdell. Image taken
by iphone through a Leica

Courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Images this afternoon from
 Ravensthorpe Reservoir
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Brampton Valley birds


Didn't have to travel far today to come across good birds! The remains of the sunflower crop in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton attracted a Greenfinch flock numbering about sixty birds, with much smaller numbers of Goldfinch and Linnet. It was probably these that attracted a female Merlin this morning as she hunted the open expanse fields at the usual high speed Merlin pace!

Also present was the Short-eared Owl again and one of the pairs of Stonechat put in an appearance.


Neil M


Courtesy of Cathy Ryden.


(Image taken Scillies 2015).