Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Marsh Harrier still...

Hi

Birds at Pitsford Res this morning included a Kingfisher below the dam and a 3rd year Yellow-legged Gull just south of the causeway.  This evening, the juvenile Marsh Harrier was still present north of the causeway.  Between 5.30pm and 7pm it hunted both the Scaldwell and Walgrave Bays, showing a preference for the west bank of the Walgrave Bay (between The Point and Christies Copse).  Other birds present in the Walgrave Bay included a Kingfisher, 3 Red-crested Pochard, a Hobby and ca8 Crossbills.

Regards

Neil

Monday, 30 July 2012

There are birds out there!

Hi

Today quite a number of birds were on show locally, the best perhaps being the juvenile Marsh Harrier at Pitsford Res.  It was seen on and off for about an hour by Neil Hasdell et al, hunting in the Scaldwell and Walgrave Bays from about 11.20am (see record shot below from Neil H).

At Ravensthorpe Res the pair of Red-crested Pochard were showing on the small side visible from the causeway.  At nearby Hollowell Res, raptors included an Osprey and a female Peregrine, and a pair of Raven were on show.  Four Crossbills were in Harlestone Heath in the close vicinity and visible from the garden centre just off the A428.
Regards


Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Bits and pieces

Hi

Birds today included a pair of Raven over Lamport Hall this afternoon and a Nuthatch visiting the feeders in our garden (which it has been doing irregularly for the past three weeks now).  A stomp around Harrington Airfield this morning failed to find anything of note and in fact there was no obvious evidence of visible migration.  However the Linnets are flocking up nicely already.  The gull roost at Pitsford is still very small (about 450 birds) and this evening included 3 Yellow-legged Gulls, one of which was a juvenile.  It always amazes me how quickly juvenile birds (big and small) can rapidly cover huge distances shortly after fledging and becoming independent.

On a separate note, today I witnessed my fourth dead Polecat on local roads in four days, all of them probably young animals.  Clearly they are numerous in the county but I have still only managed to see three live ones since they became so.

Neil Hasdell has kindly provided me with some Ruddy Darter images taken at Pitsford today and these can be found towards the bottom of this page.

TTFN

Neil

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pitsford Moths 27th July

Hi

The Pitsford moth team enjoyed a busy morning yesterday with a significant catch from overnight.  Please see below some of the specimens that were captured and identified.  Images are courtesy of Neil Hasdell...







Marsh Harrier

Hi

A juvenile Marsh Harrier was hunting on the west bank of the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res this morning for a short time (at about 8.30am).  Other birds present in the same area included 2-3 Crossbills briefly, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Red-crested Pochard, a Kingfisher and a female Tufted Duck with 2 ducklings.

Regards

N & E

Friday, 27 July 2012

Redstart

Hi

The Redstart at Harrington Airfield was still present today, again in bushes by the first bunker at about 1.30pm.  It was initially vocal and showed itself but then slipped away and hid - so typical of this species on migration.

Regards

E & N

Early birds

Hi

Birds at Sywell CP this morning included 2 Common Sandpipers, 2+ Kingfishers, a family party of Grey Wagtails and ca6 Siskins.  At Pitsford Res this morning, a single Crossbill flew south west over the Walgrave Bay at 8.20am and a Green Sandpiper was heard calling there.

Regards

E & N

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pitsford Gulls

Hi

A very small gull roost has now begun to form off the yacht club at Pitsford Res, which this evening attracted a Caspian Gull (third summer moulting to fourth winter) and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (1 adult).

Regards

Neil

Harrington

Hi

A trundle around Harrington Airfield this morning provided a female-type Redstart in bushes along the old airstrip, near to the first bunker walking from the enclosed chippings compound, with 2 Turtle Doves flushed from bushes a little further on.  A distant raptor towards Mawsley appeared to be a Marsh Harrier but the heat haze and distance prevented a firm identification.  A Grasshopper Warbler was again singing in the most northerly field at Blueberry Farm.

E  & N

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer passerines

Hi

Birds noted this morning at Harlestone Heath included  2-3 Crossbills, ca15 Siskins and a couple of Tawny Owls.  Passerines in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res this morning included a Crossbill, a Spotted Flycatcher and a singing Reed Warbler which was a particularly excellent mimic and able to copy about a dozen recognisable Western Palearctic species and a couple of African ones too!

TTFN

Eleanor and Neil

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fermyn insects

Hi

This morning we spent some time in the Fermyn CP/Fermyn Wood/Lady Wood/Souther Wood area looking for butterflies and other interesting insects.  Birds were minimal but there was a Kingfisher on the fishing pool in the country park.  Yesterday the Purple Emperors had showed particularly well and apparently they did so again today during the early morning, but then quickly dispersed and became very flighty.  In warm conditions we eventually found a few individuals of the core species as depicted below...

At Pitsford Res this evening there were 2 Common Sandpipers on the dam and 9 Red-crested Pochard in the Walgrave Bay.  Other birds noted north of the causeway included 2 Shelduck, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Red Kite and at least 2 Oystercatchers.

Moorhen

Blue-tailed Damselfly

White Admiral

White Admiral

Purple Hairstreak

Comma

Purple Emperor

Purple Emperor

Silver-washed Fritillary

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak

Emerald Damselfly

Emperor Dragonfly

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunny birding!

Hi

A few commitments curtailed birding opportunities today but Eleanor managed to find a pair of Red-legged Partridge with about 6 young in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and the white Common Buzzard was very vocal at Blueberry Farm so may also have a couple of young nearby.  A couple of begging juvenile Common Buzzards in the fields behind our house originate from a different pair.  A pair of Grey Partridge below the village are still without chicks.

A brief stop on the causeway at Ravensthorpe Res late afternoon confirmed the continuing presence still of at least one Red-crested Pochard, with an eclipse drake visible on the small side.  I was surprised to see adult Blue Tits still feeding fledged young, surely a late replacement brood?

A short ringing session yesterday evening in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford was very modest but included just-fledged Garden Warblers.  A juvenile Willow Warbler exhibited significant fault bars in the tail, a sure sign that it suffered periods of hardship and minimal food as a nestling.

Regards

Neil

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pitsford Pics

Hi

Some images from Pitsford yesterday, courtesy of Neil Hasdell...





A bit of a Common Tern....

A complete Oystercatcher!

Sunday morning walk

Hi

Out and about early this morning with a three hour walk with the dogs around the footpaths connecting Maidwell village, the Dales, Blueberry Hill and then in to the Brampton Valley and up to Hanging Houghton. In general it was pretty quiet with the best birds being both Little and Tawny Owl showing nicely and a couple each of Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher. The bird song has dwindled significantly during the last couple of weeks and the adults of many species are already in the early stages of moult and as a result are hiding themselves away.  Anyway after the early morning heavy dew and even a couple of very light showers, today looks like being a super summer day.  Enjoy!

Neil

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pitsford

Hi

Early this afternoon I popped in to Pitsford Res to fill up the feeders at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station.  There was a vocal male Redstart in the field hedge that parallels the perimeter fence as you walk towards the Scaldwell Bay (on the LHS) by the very large oak tree.  This is a traditional spot for migrant Redstarts.  The three Oystercatchers were present and there was a loafing flock of 14 Shelduck in the mouth of the Walgrave Bay, no doubt on a short stop-over en-route to Bridgewater Bay where most of the British population moult.

Regards

Neil

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Reservoir Dogs!

Hi

Eleanor took a stroll around Sywell CP with the dogs this afternoon (well it was a reservoir once)!

Birds noted included a family party of Kingfishers, 4 Crossbills and 2-3 Siskins.

Visible from the causeway at Ravensthorpe Reservoir this evening was a pair of Red-crested Pochard in eclipse plumage, a drake Wigeon also in eclipse, a female Shelduck and a family party of Spotted Flycatchers.  Sadly a large Grass Snake lay dead in the road there.

Regards

Neil

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bits and Bobs

Hi

Yesterday afternoon there was a single Crossbill flying around at Hanging Houghton before moving off south east.  Amazingly a female Pheasant was chaperoning 6 half-grown youngsters below the village (I do not know how she has managed it in these weather conditions).

This morning the white Common Buzzard was still at Blueberry Farm plus a pair of Grey Partridge (no young sadly).

This afternoon a walk around Pitsford Res south of the causeway included a couple of movers in the shape of a Common Gull and 4 Common Sandpipers.  There were new Coot and Mallard broods noted too.

Regards

N & E

More Pitsford moths!

Hi

The Pitsford moth team were busy again this morning and some spectacular moths were caught overnight.  Please see a few of them below...

I had a quick scan for birds from the feeding station at Pitsford late morning.  The best was the Goldeneye still, a successfully fledged juvenile Common Tern and the two adult Oystercatchers with just one well-grown youngster.  I don't know what happened to the second youngster but it clearly isn't around any more unfortunately.  A rare bird for Pitsford this year was a singing Sedge Warbler not far from the Maytrees Hide!

Happy Birding!

Neil
Leopard
Elephant Hawk-Moth and Burnished Brass
Elephant Hawk-Moth warming up
Light Emerald

Privet Hawk-Moth
















Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Pitsford Moths

Hi

A couple more Pitsford moths from this morning's catch courtesy of Neil Hasdell...





Pitsford CES

Hi

In quite reasonable conditions this morning a CES ringing session was completed at Pitsford Res which resulted in just short of 40 birds being trapped and released.  A fair proportion of these included juveniles (please see the images of juvenile Goldcrest and juvenile Treecreeper below).

In addition a Siskin flew over the Scaldwell Bay, there was a Goldeneye by the Maytrees Hide and the pair of Oystercatchers were guarding one youngster on the flooded bank between the Bird Club Hide and the feeding station.  A Common Sandpiper was present there too.

Regards

N & E

Juvenile Treecreeper

Juvenile Goldcrest


Treecreeper - underside of tail



Sunday, 15 July 2012

Stortons GP

Hi

Arrived back a short time ago from a ringing session at Stortons Gravel Pits, concentrating in the south east corner. Fifty-three birds captured and released but not many youngsters confirmed that the breeding birds have been struggling here too.  Of interest there were a couple of almost full-grown juvenile Water Rails utilising the ringing rides as feeding areas, a good local breeding record.  In the rather pleasant conditions this morning there were two Marbled White butterflies on the wing in the same area and during the early part of the morning there was a constant westerly movement of Black-headed Gulls moving over the site.  It's nearly autumn!

TTFN

Neil M

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Weather check!

Hi

The weather was again wet and miserable this morning to the point where I stayed in to do inside jobs.  Those that know me well will be a little surprised but perhaps for the first time this year I felt it wasn't worth going out.  Late morning saw a small flock of ca5 Crossbills circling gardens at Hanging Houghton, but they didn't linger in the rain and headed off south.  With more pleasant conditions early this afternoon, we took a hike around the Blueberry Farm complex.  Reasonable numbers of common grassland butterflies were taking the opportunity of flying in warm conditions and included good numbers of Small Heath and Small Skipper.  There was nothing unusual birdwise albeit that the resident mostly white Common Buzzard showed well.  This bird has been around for a good number of years now and is believed to be a female.  Common Buzzards showing a great deal of white are common-place but this bird exhibits a startling white plumage and interestingly a white upper tail and dark terminal band (which tends to become almost rufous when worn) and has been claimed as quite a variety of raptors!  It's not rare but I always enjoy admiring her.

The weather this year is clearly affecting our birds considerably and although there are always winners and losers, to my mind this is the worst breeding year for local birds that I can remember.  A Constant Effort ringing session at Pitsford in the week succeeded in catching just 29 birds, the lowest ever at this time in the proceedings.  The normal catch would generally be somewhere between 65 - 120 birds! The CES process endeavours to try and duplicate every session in terms of amount of time mist nets are erected and placed in the same way on every occasion and is generally recognised as a particularly strong indicator of trends and population dynamics.  Still a few more sessions to go yet but its looking particularly bad for the tits this year.

Regards

N & E

Friday, 13 July 2012

Daventry

Hi

Today we spent some time in the Daventry area, initially pitching up at Daventry Country Park.  The first year drake Common Scoter was present but viewing was difficult and my efforts at photographing a dark bird on dark water through grass stems and in light drizzle indicate why I haven't posted an image!  It was keeping close to the western shore, a short walking distance from the car park.  A Little Egret was present and a colony of Marbled White butterflies discovered in the meadow/orchard area (on the same bank but a little closer towards Daventry town centre).

We subsequently took a circular walk around nearby Borough Hill Country Park but as to be expected it was quiet for birds, the best being on-territory singing Meadow Pipit(s).  Plenty of Small Heath butterflies here and smaller numbers of Marbled White and Small Copper.  A scan over Ravensthorpe Reservoir on the way home failed to locate a noteworthy bird, with no sign of the summering Shelduck and Mandarin Duck.

Regards

N & E

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Hi

Today was spent in the north of the county in an effort to see some butterflies and other wildlife in addition to birds.  Seven species of raptor was a real treat but for much of the day birds took something of a back seat in the very welcome if brief sunshine.

Our first venue was Fineshade Wood and thanks to Chris Andrews we managed to see Great Butterfly, Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchid.  Butterflies were rather scarce but at least three Silver-washed Fritillaries showed well. Three sunning Common Lizards were located on log piles.  A couple of Siskins were mobile and a few Crossbills were heard calling at one stage.  Spotted Flycatchers were present behind the caravan park.

Silver-washed Fritillary


Fermyn Wood was our next venue in an effort to see Purple Emperor et al.  Butterflies were in very short supply and we wandered on to Lady Wood.  Eventually we managed to see a few White Admirals and a single Purple Hairstreak but they stayed mostly high in the canopy or mobile.  A single Purple Emperor was seen by many in Lady Wood but we managed to miss it!  Other insects included Hornet, Southern Hawker and Brown Hawker.  Birds in this area included a Raven, several Siskins and a family party of Spotted Flycatchers.  A couple of Grass Snakes were basking in secluded areas between the Country Park and Fermyn Wood itself.

However on our way back a freshly-emerged Purple Emperor was located in Fermyn Wood and it showed well to many visitors.



A scan at Blatherwycke Lake provided a Kingfisher, a Little Egret, a Common Sandpiper, a Grey Wagtail and a gathering of over 200 Lapwings.

Regards

N & E

Pitsford

Hi

Yesterday I spent some time with the Pitsford team at the morning moth traps.  The morning before has seen quite an impressive list of moths which had included some 50 species, an upturn on recent catches.  Below are a couple of images of some of the moths present yesterday (courtesy of Neil Hasdell).

Birdwise there was an impressive flock of 140 Gadwall and 120+ Tufted Ducks in the Scaldwell Bay, part of the summer build-up.

Regards

N & E

Buff-tip

Tawny Marbled Minor

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Marbled White

Hi

Last week Eleanor found what appears to be a very small colony of Marbled White butterflies in the Brampton Valley not far from Hanging Houghton village.  Today we took a look and manged to find just one which showed well between the showers!


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hi

This morning a walk around Harrington Airfield provided an adult Cuckoo, a pair of Grey Partridge and a Turtle Dove and up to 6 mobile Siskins.  There is a late surge and good numbers of Common Spotted Orchid along the old airstrip.

At Pitsford Reservoir this morning there was a 1st year Caspian Gull on the buoys off the yacht club and a Whimbrel arrived at 10.15am and flew south 5 minutes later.  Other birds included a Little Ringed Plover and a 2nd year Yellow-legged Gull.  The 1st year Great-Black-backs have been joined by a smart 2nd year.  The barley fields bordering the reservoir on the Brixworth bank are well adorned with an intermingled carpet of scarlet poppies.  Not great for the farmers but it looks stunning!  Yesterday evening there was a Grey Partridge calling well from one of these fields and the local post-breeding Lapwing flock had reached 60 birds.

Regards

N & E

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hi

A fair bit of time today spent meandering around the footpaths between Maidwell and the Brampton Valley up to Hanging Houghton, concentrating in particular on Blueberry Farm and the areas around Dale Farm.  Quite damp at times but mostly warm and I think most people were in watching Silverstone or Wimbledon!  Bird-wise it was pretty predictable with the best being Red Kite, Hobby, Barn Owl, Grasshopper Warbler (2-3 territories), Lesser Whitethroat (3 singing birds), Spotted Flycatcher (again 2-3 territories but no juveniles seen yet), Willow Tit, Grey Partridge and a just-fledged Meadow Pipit that could run but not capable of proper flight yet!  Clouds of Ringlet butterflies defied the conditions and there were good numbers of Small Heath and Meadow Browns, with smaller numbers of skippers and Cinnabar and Burnett moths.  Back to birds and this morning there was a single Siskin noted at both Hanging Houghton and Draughton with a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in Draughton village and at least another single and a Grey Wagtail at the Brampton Valley Way by Draughton Crossing. I'm no botanist but the last couple of days I have noticed Common Spotted Orchid at a couple of local sites including Blueberry and there have been small numbers of these and Bee Orchids in flower at Harrington Airfield.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pitsford update

Hi

At Pitsford Reservoir, there is a daily moth catch which after a poor spring and early summer is now seeing more diversity including several species of hawk moths.  The meadows between the causeway and the Bird Club hide are full of a variety of plants and colours and are attracting day-flying moths including large numbers of Chimney Sweep.  On the bird-front, the young Oystercatchers on the tern rafts have sadly reduced to two birds, but they are growing fast and should be capable of their first flight efforts during this coming week.  Although the broods are quickly reduced, female Mallards have bred in good numbers and there are a number of ducklings of various sizes hidden away in the margins.  We await other species of waterfowl to follow suit (hopefully).  Small flocks of Lapwings and Black-headed Gulls are slowly increasing as birds are dispersing from their breeding areas.  There has been a mobile 2nd year Yellow-legged Gull present for at least two days and a couple of 1st year Great Black-backs remain.  At least one Raven shows irregularly south of the causeway and a few south bound passerines in the shape of Grey Wagtail, Sand Martin, Siskin and Crossbill indicate post-breeding movement which will no doubt gain more momentum as we move through July.

Regards

N & E

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hi again

Well pretty much a whole day of rain and yet another day when I felt sorry for our wild birds!  We seem to be feeding more birds currently in the garden than in the winter.  Birds in and near to the village (Hanging Houghton) include a couple of Spotted Flycatchers still on territory and the trio of Tawny, Little and Barn Owl.  The regular adult male Sparrowhawk continues to raid the garden at least once a day, taking whatever happens to be in its path at the material time.  We have been checking Swallow nests and even they seem to be struggling a touch with the weather.  The first broods were either late, smaller than normal or failed altogether, and it will be interesting to see how many pairs attempt second broods (most pairs in Northants attempt two broods and occasionally three).  I managed to catch and ring a juvenile Magpie and a juvenile Carrion Crow today.  They were both in good condition and a further indication that the corvids generally have not struggled in the bizarre spring/summer weather which has produced a plethora of slugs, snails and other accessible morsels.  What weather (and birds) next?

N & E

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hi

Well a pleasant day's weather for a change today with some warm sunshine and just a gentle breeze.  However the cloud has been bubbling all day and it is apparently to be wet again tomorrow.  This afternoon I made a cheeky excursion with two friends south out of the county to Startops End reservoir on the Bucks/Herts border (one of the famous Tring reservoirs).  This was in order to see a first year Sabine's Gull which has been present since Sunday.  The reservoir is very small and this small pelagic gull often afforded close views.  Together with my two colleagues I endeavoured to take some photos but my poor technical skills in changing light, reflection from the water and every other excuse I can think of prevented me from clinching the killer shot!   However the bird itself was grace itself (I am a self confessed gull addict), with the buoyant and agile flight (somewhere between Kittiwake and Little Gull), fabulous gun metal grey inner upper wing, blackish primaries with four gleaming tips, shallow-forked tail and dark bill (with just a hint of yellow on the top of the lower mandible).  It was in good condition and seemed to feeding mostly on insects over and on the water's surface but did actually come and try some bread that someone threw down for it!  Other birds present included a Red-crested Pochard, Red Kite and several Grey Wagtails.  TTFN

Neil

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hi

Well with yet more wet weather set in for the next few days, unfortunately this week's unsettled forecast is proving to be accurate!  I suppose it provides an opportunity of catching up with those inside jobs and yet another list that I never seem to get around to.  A perusal of Pitsford Res today located a south-bound Green Sandpiper calling and flying over the reservoir and a Common Sandpiper in the Scaldwell Bay that was apparently having great difficulty in finding somewhere to land and feed such is the water level!  Loafing large gulls have been conspicuous all spring and summer at Pitsford, and today there were a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls off the yacht club late morning (1st year and 2nd year).  Away from Pitsford and the regular Barn Owl was hunting again this afternoon in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.  There has been a single Siskin in the village (at Hanging Houghton) for the best part of a week now, but no sign of it today.  The Spotted Flycatchers have remained very inconspicuous in the village but one was calling well this afternoon.  For me Little Owls have been scarce this year and seemingly absent from many of their usual haunts.  However there is still one that terrorises the birds on the north side of the village and it has been regularly roosting in the holly bushes in my neighbour's garden and sitting on our chimney during the early hours.  A Little Owl call is enough to wake me from my slumbers, particularly so when it echos down the chimney stack!  My on-going study in to local Jackdaws continues and so far this year I have been fortunate to catch and ring an additional 16 birds in the garden.  Most of the birds around the village now bear rings to the point whereby new birds are reasonably easy to spot (which of course includes many of the youngsters which are fledged and mostly independent now).  One capture in the garden was interesting recently inasmuch that it was a ringed bird from Pitsford.  This bird was ringed as a nestling in a nest box in 2006 and found its way to our garden this spring.  It's obviously followed me or Eleanor back from Pitsford before and perhaps decided not to go back!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hi

Well we are still trying to establish how to make this blog site available to everyone as it has confounded us so far!  Anyway here goes again with a slight change in the name of the blog address in an effort to make it at least viewable!

In any event the birding scene locally has been a touch samey I'm afraid, and at risk of simply not being too repetitive, it's a case of the local breeding birds trying to get down to a bit of breeeding which this year is clearly being very challenging.  At Pitsford Res the pair of Oystercatchers still have their three chicks which are now growing nicely.  We managed to visit them on a boat on Friday just gone and ringed them which was a real treat.  The conscientious parents made their presence felt with that fantastic yelping yodle.  The terns unfortunately have started very poorly this year but many have relaid so hopefully will be able to salvage something from this very damp year.  Meadow Pipits are in good numbers at Blueberry Farm this year, which tends to be the case when it is damp.  The only other breeding birds nearby in this part of the county this year is a single pair at Pitsford Res by the dam.

A further CES ringing session at Pitsford a week ago confirmed the low numbers of fledged tits, but there was an increase in the number of fledged Robins and the first young warblers are about now.   Away from Pitsford and the Starlings seemed to have produced plenty of youngsters and the ideal conditions seem to have stimulated 2nd broods.  From the sheer numbers of Crane Flies about there are clearly plenty of leatherjackets in the top soil available for the probing Starlings.  Let us hope that other species are able to improve with their second broods too...

Regards

N & E