Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Damp birds

Hi

A trundle in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning produced an adult female Peregrine perched on the field seemingly awaiting passing prey.  With all the Fieldfares moving through she wasn't short of a tasty target!

This afternoon and the two Short-eared Owls were again present in the southern-most field at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pitsford and places...

Hi

Dave Francis completed a ringing session at the feeding station at Pitsford Res this morning, capturing some 55 birds.  New birds included 16 Tree Sparrows, 15 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Chaffinches, 3 Goldfinches and a Lesser Redpoll.  A retrapped Chaffinch was first ringed in 2008.  This session brings the Pitsford Tree Sparrow total to 144 for the year.  Dave also had a hunting Barn Owl in the Scaldwell Meadow yesterday evening and again this morning.

This afternoon I wandered up to the old airstrip at Harrington Airfield, the reason being a combination of further dog walking duties and excellent light.  Harrington tends to be a morning place to see the best birds but I took my camera to take advantage of the seemingly rare decent light this month.  Images of some common birds are as below.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon, careful checking of the dam and the yacht club area produced the Black-necked Grebe again, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose with the Canada Geese, a Kingfisher, a Barn Owl, a Rock Pipit, 4 Bramblings and 2 fly-over redpoll sps.

An evening wander around Blueberry Farm, Maidwell confirmed the continuing presence of 2 Short-eared Owls and 2 Barn Owls.

Regards

Neil M


 
Common Buzzard

 
Fieldfare

 
Long-tailed Tit

 
Kestrel


 
Dark-bellied Brent Goose


The Fieldfares just keep coming...

Hi

Just back in from taking the dogs for a nice long walk.  This included our new foster rescue dog Alma who seemed to enjoy herself but is new to the game after being in dog rescue compounds all her life.  In very pleasant conditions, Fieldfares were again the most obvious species as we wandered from Maidwell village along footpaths to connect with Maidwell Dales and the Blueberry Farm complex.  Back then across the width of the Brampton Valley and up the hill to Hanging Houghton.  Still plenty of Redwings and Starlings going the same way as the 'chacking' Fieldfares and the sunny breezy conditions meant that the raptors were up cruising around and included 1-2 Red Kite(s) which seem to be maintaining an almost permanent presence now.  Other passerines on the move included finches, 4 Bramblings and 3 Siskins being the most noteworthy.  A couple of Ravens greeted us over the hill at HH.

And the thrushes are not just moving during the day.  For a short period last night I spent time listening to birds moving south over Hanging Houghton (just after 10pm when there was almost a full moon showing and not too much other noise).  Not surprisingly Redwings were the most common audible migrant with many emitting their high-pitched 'se-eep' call note.  There were Blackbirds on the move too, their nocturnal call-note also similar to a Redwing but it is not so high-pitched, is a little longer and wavers in its consistency.  Such are the numbers of Fieldfares moving at the moment, there were even Fieldfares calling last night.  Song Thrushes are identified from their high pitched but gentle 'stic' call which is bunting-like.  Quite a number of other birds can be identified as they migrate at night.  Typical species for this time of the year includes the ducks (Wigeon are the easiest with their whistling call), occasionally geese, and Moorhen and Coot which remain audible the year round.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 29 October 2012

Owls and gulls.

Hi

Birds this afternoon included 2 Short-eared Owls and 2 Barn Owls at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell plus hundreds of Fieldfares in the hawthorn hedges.  At Pitsford Res, the gull roost produced a smart 3rd year Yellow-legged Gull that was curiously small, plus the first real pulse of Herring Gulls of the autumn with both 'argenteus' and 'argentatus' types present.  The Black-necked Grebe was still in the vicinity of Yacht Bay next to the Yacht Club.

Regards

E & N

Bird Club trip to Norfolk

Hi

Members of the Northants Bird Club ventured to the Norfolk coast yesterday on the monthly car trip.  They enjoyed the spectacle of coastal migration which tends to be more spectacular and varied than inland.  Below are some images taken by Robin Gossage who did well to combat the very grey conditions.  As is usual on these car trips, NBC members tend to notch up some interesting species, and on this occasion came across a Barred Warbler moments after it had been found in a garden at Salthouse...

Neil M

 
Barred Warbler

 
Little Egret

 
Redshank

 
Redshank

Harrington Monday am

Hi

A pleasant if squelchy walk at Harrington Airfield this morning provided a further opportunity to witness visible diurnal migration.  Fieldfares were the most obvious with undulating flocks steadily progressing south over the top fields, often at low level.  Starlings and Redwings were probably the next most numerous with smaller numbers again of Woodpigeons and gulls moving in the same direction.  At Harrington it is difficult to ascertain Skylark passage as most of them seem to be simply flying around and chasing each other and often with many singing.  Persistent viewing seems to indicate that they do gradually disappear off the south or west, but I think that some birds do recirculate and appear over the fields again once they have completed a circuit or two.

The Linnet flock attracted Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and a Brambling.  At least two Short-eared Owls flushed up from the long grass and there were Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks on the prowl.  Sparse migrants included Meadow Pipit, Tree Sparrow and redpoll sp.  The broadcast seed at the concrete entrance track is attracting common birds with Chaffinch and Yellowhammer being the most numerous.

Regards

E & N

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Harrington migration

Hi

A wander around Harrington Airfield this morning and plenty of winter thrushes on the move.  Many of the Fieldfares were resting in the hawthorns and eating the haws, with smaller numbers of Redwing and appreciably more Song Thrushes and Blackbirds joining in.  With reasonable numbers of migrant Starlings moving over low to the south, a flock of a hundred or so stayed to feed on the top fields.  There were also plenty of finches again this morning with good numbers in particular of Linnet and Chaffinch.  Many of the latter were feeding on scattered mixed seed just inside the concrete track entrance.  A single male Brambling was present by the roadside early on.  Raptors included a Red Kite, and a Raven was with other corvids to the west of the concrete track.  A couple of flighty redpolls included a large-looking individual which for a time was with the Linnet flock.  It also had a lower-toned call than is usual for Lesser Redpoll but only ever presented as a silhoutte in flight so I'm afraid no specific identification was possible.  Migrant Woodpigeons moved over is small fast-moving flocks early on and quite a number of the same species were feeding on the stubble fields.  Other visible movers and shakers included Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and common finches but nothing of particular note was picked out.  Never mind, the thrill of migration was enough to keep me happy in cool and dank conditions!

Regards

Neil M

Ringing Scotland Wood

Hi

Neil Hasdell and I completed a short ringing session at Scotland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate today.  Birds captured included 9 Goldcrests, a couple of Nuthatches and typical woodland birds.  Neil H suffered a slight occupational hazard injury (see below) as inflicted by a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on his hand!

Good numbers of Fieldfares swirled over the wood in the strong wind and a couple each of Siskin and redpoll sp lingered briefly.

Neil M


 


 
 
 
 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Ditchford WeBS

Hi

On a cold, grey and blustery day we found ourselves completing a late WeBS count today at Ditchford Gravel Pits.  No sign of the forecast bright and sunny conditions unfortunately!

An adult Peregrine and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls were present west of Ditchford Lane this morning and a Rock Pipit flew west there at 11.20am.  An unidentified pipit flew from the viaduct pit in windy conditions and called similar to a Water Pipit.  It flew over the railway but couldn't be found thereafter.  Small numbers of Siskins and redpoll sp were seen in flight on and off all day but winter thrushes were restricted to little more than a hundred Redwing and barely fifty Fieldfare.  Only one Cetti's Warbler was heard calling and 3 Kingfishers were present in the mature pits between Higham Ferrers and Irthlingborough.  The only wader noted was a single Green Sandpiper. A single Water Rail was audible and 3 Little Egrets were mobile throughout the complex.

E & N

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Harrington again...

Hi

In a complete reverse from yesterday, an excursion to Harrington Airfield this afternoon suggested that the top fields and bunker areas were mostly devoid of passerines.  However in the space of five minutes, a Red Kite flew east followed shortly after by a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier taking exactly the same line.  A Short-eared Owl then flushed up shortly afterwards.

With a cold northerly wind whistling down the reservoir, the gull roost at Pitsford Res failed to produce any birds of note.

E & N

Brampton Valley

Hi

In a rather extreme way we decided to go for a run along the Brampton Valley Way this morning to try and shift the jet-lag!  Between Merry Tom Lane and Hanging Houghton we didn't meet a soul but there were plenty of birds in the hedging on both sides.  The more obvious were Goldcrest in good numbers and relatively small numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare.  A small covey of Grey Partridge encouraged us up the hill to HH and a couple of delightful Grey Wagtails were on show at the village sewer works.  Yesterday afternoon in the murk a flock of about 30 Wigeon were circling the village seemingly in a slightly confused state about which way they should be going, and Redwings could be heard going over during the evening despite the presumed reduced visibility due to mist and low cloud.  With a change in the weather seemingly imminent it will be interseting to see how this affects the visible and audible migration.

E & N

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Birds in the murk

Hi

A Crossbill was present at Scotland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate) early this afternoon and the Black-necked Grebe was present in the yacht bay at Pitsford Res later this afternoon...

Neil M

Harrington

Hi

A late morning recce at Harrington Airfield today yielded good numbers of common birds with particularly good numbers of Woodpigeons, corvids and finches.  With the amount of available potential prey present I can see why there have been a couple of recent records of Merlin from this site.  Linnets were the most common finch with a good 60 or so present and smaller numbers of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.  Up to 8 Bramblings and 6 redpoll sp were also present.  With good numbers of Yellowhammers and small numbers of Reed Bunting and other birds in the bushes, the areas around the second and third bunkers were particularly lively.  Migrants included a few Meadow Pipits and 4 Redwings.  Birds feeding on the top fields included reasonable numbers of Skylark and Starling and a few Golden Plover.  Murky conditions and a breeze from an easterly direction are ideal conditions to see birds at Harrington in the autumn even if they are not particularly rare or unusual.

E & N

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Brazil!

Hi

This evening Eleanor and I arrived back from a superb 18 day trip to Brazil, concentrating on the Pantanal and a little slice of the Amazon.  My apologies in advance if images of a few tropical species appear on this blog over the next few weeks!  Our thanks go to our travelling companions Robon and Wendy Gossage for putting up with our daily (very) early morning expeditions, patience whilst I looked for yet another ant-bird and the daily climbs up to the observations towers, night treks looking for critters and many other things!

Also our thanks to Neil Hasdell for endeavouring to keep the blog alive in our absence, and populating it with relevant images and local sightings.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 22 October 2012

Autumn Moths

A session at the Pitsford moth traps this morning had a small selection of autumn species on show.  These included a couple of Carpets (Red-green and Spruce), Red-line Quaker, Green-brindled Crescent and Beaded Chestnut.  The only immigrant on show was a Silver Y.

    Regards,

               Neil H.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Ringing session

Hi,

Another misty start to a ringing session at the Pitsford feed station.  The ringing was pretty slow again with the majority of the birds caught being Tree Sparrows.  Most were new captures with a few retraps.  Also trapped were Goldcrest (2), Great-spotted Woodpecker (2), Yellowhammer and a rather surprising House Sparrow, not a bird that is often seen let alone caught at Pitsford.
The only bird of note seen was a Peregrine Falcon terrorising the local Lapwings.

    Regards,

                  Neil H.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Stour Estuary

Hi,
I have just got back from a few days spent visiting friends on the Essex/Suffolk border.  Whenever I travel to this area over the autumn and winter months I love to visit the Stour estuary in the area between Mistley and Manningtree.  As the tide rises large flocks of waders are gradually pushed up the mud bringing them closer and closer to the banks of the river.  It's always exciting scanning through the mass of Black-tailed Godwits, Turnstones, Redshank, Knot and Dunlin in the hopes of finding something rarer.  There are often Grey Plovers with their plaintive calls, small groups of Curlew, and the occasional Bar-tailed Godwit.  Wintering Acocet, numbering up to 50 birds, skimming their bills from side to side as they feed, are a frequent sight.  Occasional small flocks of Red-breasted Merganser sail past on the tide.
In recent years a colour ringing study of Black-tailed Godwit has been conducted with a number of birds being ringed on the adjacent Orwell estuary.  On this latest visit I was able to spot 6 ringed birds whose details I have sent off to the rining scheme co-ordinator.  I have had one result back already, a bird ringed as an adult in 2003 in Western Iceland whilst on passage, meaning it is at least 10 years old.  The bird has been seen on the East coast every year since, often in the Stour estuary.  I am looking forward to receiving information on the other 5 birds.



        Regards,

                        Neil H.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Monday Moths

Hi,

A relatively quiet night's mothing at Pitsford reservoir last night.  There were however some very attractive species present including: Blair's Shoulder-knot, Merveille du Jour, Black Rustic (see below), Garden Carpet, Spruce Carpet and Red-line Quaker.  There was also a lone immigrant Silver Y.




Regards,

       Neil H.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ringing in the fog

Hi,

Despite the very foggy conditions (see pic below) a ringing session was carried out at the feed station at Pitsford reservoir this morning.
Total number of birds captured was 54, which included 22 new Tree Sparrows (mostly youngsters), 1 female G.S. Woodpecker, 1 male Goldcrest, 1 Coal Tit and a Song Thrush.  Unfortunately the weather went from foggy to bright sunshine in a very short space of time, neither conditions being ideal for ringing.  There's no pleasing ringers itseems:)
The Pintail was still in the back of the Scaldwell Bay.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Black-necked Grebe

Hi,

Not much to report after a gloriously sunny autumn morning walk at Pitsford.  There was quite a lot of disturbance on the reserve half of the reservoir today from a number of low flying hot-air ballons making the most of the conditions.  The only bird of note in the Scaldwell Bay was a Pintail.
At the other end of the reservoir the Black-necked Grebe was showing well close into the dam wall along with a couple of Little Grebes.



Regards,

              Neil H.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Brampton Valley migration

Hi

This morning there were migrants moving over the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and included a Fieldfare, a Brambling and quite a number of redpoll sp and Siskin.  Two Barn Owls remained on show at Blueberry Farm.

A little later 5 Curlews arrived in the valley between the Brixworth and Spratton crossings, having arrived from the direction of Pitsford Res.

A smashing mixed flock of small birds in the garden included Long-tailed Tits, a couple of Goldcrests and 4 Chiffchaffs.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Grumpy Sparrowhawk!

Hi

A trundle around at Harrington Airfield this morning provided an opportunity to again witness visible migration with passerines passing over the airfield in a southerly direction.  The most dominant species were Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Swallow and House Martin.  Other species moving in smaller numbers included 'alba' wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Siskin and redpoll sp.  No particular birds of note were seen but there were at least 24 Golden Plovers in the fields.  Two Ravens were cruising over Hanging Houghton during the late morning.

Whilst at home today, anxiety calls from the garden birds announced the arrival of the usual male Sparrowhawk.  He was on the lawn with prey in his talons, 'kneading' an unidentified victim in the way they kill small birds.  However it soon became clear that he actually had a sprig of ice plant in his talons and no bird!  I assume he had impacted with the bird and the ice plant at the same time and thought he had both.  After realising his mistake the now grumpy Sparrowhawk walked around the border looking for his anticipated victim, but I don't think he found it and it had long gone!  Please see the images below.  The bird was ringed and although four males have been caught and ringed in the garden over the years, it is likely that this bird was DB92870 and originally ringed as a yearling in 2005 and retrapped in 2011.  He is now very much a mature male.

Birds off the yacht club at Pitsford Res this evening included the Black-necked Grebe and the 4th year Caspian Gull.

Regards

E & N



Monday, 1 October 2012

Meadow Pipits and others...

Hi

A wander in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and around Blueberry Farm was very busy with birds this morning.  Large numbers of Meadow Pipits were on the move so it was no real surprise when a male Merlin appeared in pursuit.  Other birds included 3 Redwings, 2+ redpoll sp, plenty of Skylarks and Siskins and 2 Barn Owls.

Then up to Harrington Airfield and much of the same with large flocks of Meadow Pipits, a Wheatear, a female Stonechat, a Redstart (the first for a little while), a Grey Wagtail, 30+ Golden Plovers and further visible migration included flocks of Linnets and a few Tree Sparrows passing over.

This afternoon it was back down to the Brampton Valley with many of the morning species still present.  Additional birds included 2 Red Kites, a Grey Wagtail and 2 Crossbills.

Birds visible from the causeway at Ravensthorpe Res this afternoon included a juvenile Caspian Gull and a pair of Red-crested Pochard.

E & N