Thursday, 28 February 2013

Spring tomorrow!

Hi

At Harrington Airfield this morning there were 8 Bramblings on the spread seed and 2 Grey Partridge on the top fields.

At Hanging Houghton today a Red Kite and 2 Ravens re-appeared after an apparent absence during the last few days.

At about 2pm the Great White Egret was visible in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res (visible from the Old Scaldwell Road feed station).

A Swallow was espied in Merseyside today and an Osprey in Cornwall yesterday.  So that's it then, Spring has arrived!

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Owl boxes

Hi

No birds of significance to report today I'm afraid.  Yesterday Neil H and I spent the day stalking around Pitsford Res with a ladder over our shoulder and a couple of tubs of assorted equipment.  Our task was to visit all the owl boxes on the reserve and make them serviceable for suitable occupants this year.  Not so appropriate current occupants were the Pitsford Reservoir Grey Squirrel population that find these boxes exactly to their liking!  Due to the still heavily water-logged conditions on the reserve, it was a case of striding out to locate all the boxes rather than driving around, climbing up and clearing them out.  In some years Tawny Owls begin nesting in February but they can't compete with squirrels so hopefully we have given them a helping hand for 2013.

We didn't see much in the way of bird life on our travels around the reserve.  An egret was seen in flight but provided an obscure view to the degree that we didn't identify it.  A good twenty Siskins were with other birds around the feeders in Christies Copse and a Brambling was heard calling at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station.

Regards

Neil M

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wetland Breeding Bird Survey

Hi

Colin Wilkinson from the local RSPB office is keen to identify volunteers to assist in an urgent breeding bird survey in the Upper Nene Valley in Northamptonshire.  Would-be surveyors are asked to visit selected flooded pits just once a month between April - July and record details of potential breeding evidence of about 30 specific species.  This is a re-run of a survey completed 10 years ago and there is an urgent requirement for a further assessment so that the status of the valley remains intact.

If you are in a position to assist in this local survey, please make contact with Colin (please see contact details below).  I have details of the survey forms should you wish to peruse before signing up.  Colin is running a short day training event on Sunday 10th March at the Summer Leys Reserve to ensure understanding.  This will run from 10am until 12.30pm, the meeting point being at the reserve car park at post code NN29 7TD.

Please contact:-


Colin Wilkinson MSc MRTPI Senior Conservation Planner The RSPB, Midlands Regional Office 46 The Green, South Bar, Banbury, OX16 9AB
Direct line: 01295 676463 Fax: 01767 685442 
E-mail: colin.wilkinson@rspb.org.uk




Monday, 25 February 2013

Cold finch watching!

Hi

A damp, drizzerley and still very cold day here in Northants, I think without sunshine at any stage of the day.

I could hear a Brambling or two at Harrington Airfield in the half-light of dawn this morning as I was spreading out their daily breakfast!  A similar story at Kelmarsh Hall with singing Siskins adding their vocalisation to a background of calling redpolls and Bramblings.

I was fortunate to visit a East Hunsbury garden today at the invitation of our county recorder Mike Alibone.  The garden feeders are attracting good numbers of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls at the moment but also one or two redpolls of debatable identity (not seen today).  An estimated 40 Siskins and 15 Lesser Redpolls were visiting the garden during the three hour period.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Another cold day out there!

Hi

At Hanging Houghton today there were 3-4 Red Kites and 2 Ravens and 4 Lesser Redpolls.  At least 3 Bramblings were at Harrington Airfield first thing.

A couple of hours of ringing were conducted in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res today, the captures included a Green Woodpecker and 3 Siskins.  Other birds present included another 3 Siskins, a Lesser Redpoll, a Red Kite and 2 Woodcock.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Cold day birding

Hi

A ringing session at Kelmarsh Hall today confirmed the presence of at least 1 Brambling, 4 Lesser Redpolls and 19 Siskins.  Big gulls were seen regularly moving north over this site from lunch-time well in to the afternoon.

At Hanging Houghton today the Red Kites had increased to 3 and the 2 Ravens were seen again, with at least 4 Lesser Redpolls in the garden.

A visit to Ravensthorpe Res this afternoon paid off with a Bittern visible from the causeway on the small side at about 3.30pm.  Other birds included 6 Smew (4 'redheads' on the small side and 2 drakes by the dam), a Water Rail, 4 Siskins and a Kingfisher.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 22 February 2013

Niger feeder alert

Hi

A quick foray to Harrington Airfield this afternoon confirmed the presence of 10 Bramblings and a pair of Grey Partridge.  Six Lesser Redpolls fed on the feeders in the garden here at Hanging Houghton.

It seems that most gardens with niger feeders have Lesser Redpolls and Siskins in them currently, and it seems worth checking the redpolls in particular as Mealy and unidentified pale birds are appearing in county gardens at the moment.

Regards

Eleanor

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Mobile Ravens

Hi

I've no idea if it was the same pair all the time, but today there were 2 Ravens at Harrington Airfield, Hanging Houghton village, the Brampton Valley east of Cottesbrooke and Pitsford Res!

Harrington Airfield also attracted at least 12 Bramblings and a day-hunting Barn Owl.

Two laps running around Sywell CP with a dog in tow was sufficient to record c50 Siskins, c10 redpoll sp, a Grey Wagtail, a Water Rail and 2 Kingfishers.

The two Red Kites remained at Hanging Houghton.

Eleanor

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Changing priorities

Hi

Gosh that easterly wind is cold!

Today was about visiting and restocking all the local wild bird feed stations.  Harrington Airfield still had at least 2 Bramblings among the birds this morning, but a walk around the bunkers and top fields failed to connect with much more than a few singing Skylarks.

Several each of Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Brambling remained at the Kelmarsh Hall feeders and a couple of Lesser Redpolls popped in to our garden at Hanging Houghton to feed on the niger feeders.  The feeders at Christies Copse in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res attracted 3 Siskins this afternoon plus both Marsh and Willow Tit.  A third calendar year Yellow-legged Gull was the only bird of note seen in the gull roost by the dam at Pitsford.

Two malingering Red Kites at Hanging Houghton this afternoon reminded me of the days before the re-introduction of this species.  It was always from about this time through to the first few days of April that wandering Red Kites showed up in the county, presumed migrants from the continent. 

Even though the winter isn't over yet, many species begin to think about setting up territories and begin wandering in order to find and stake a claim to suitable habitat and a partner.  This may be just Great and Blue Tits moving out of gardens and back in to the woodlands, but many of the winter thrushes are contemplating moving back to the continent and tension between local rival pairs of Carrion Crow, Robin, Coot and other territorial species now begins to grow.

Regards

Neil M

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ditchford WeBS Count

Hi

Eleanor had a number of commitments today, so it was down to me to complete the WeBS count at Ditchford GP.  It took nearly nine hours, and although the thick mud and high water levels was rather troublesome the beautiful sunshine and quite warm conditions more than made up for it.  I half expected to see an early butterfly, but a nice buzzy Bumble-bee was just as good!

The birds were mostly uneventful for the majority of the day as I counted the pits from east to west, arriving at the Ditchford Lane area mid-afternoon.  Just before 5pm, a juvenile Glaucous Gull appeared among other gulls on the viaduct pit, as was a near-adult Caspian Gull.  Five minutes later the Glauc flew west over the railway line and out of view - it seems many of the gulls are loafing on floodwater to the west of the railway line currently.  Other birds included two drake Scaup on the Watersport Pit to the west of Ditchford Lane, 2 Shelduck, 6 Goosanders, 33 Goldeneye, 3 Oystercatchers, 5 Water Rails, 6 Kingfishers and only 5 Cetti's Warblers.

Regards

Neil M

Canada Goose

Kestrel

Goldcrest

Goldcrest


Glaucous Gull

Monday, 18 February 2013

Finch feast

Hi

Birds at Kelmarsh Hall this morning included a Brambling, 13 Siskins and 4 Lesser Redpolls.  At the concrete track entrance to Harrington Airfield off the Draughton Road, 8 Bramblings and c10 Lesser Redpolls were present.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A day out!

Hi

Today an excursion south to Berkshire was a change of scenery and a search for a wintering Pallas's Warbler, a rare occurrence in the UK.  Moor Green Lakes was the venue, a well managed reserve associated with a chain of gravel pits south of Wokingham divided by the River Blackwater (www.mglg.org.uk).  The warbler gave us the run around and we didn't see it until in to the afternoon.  Sadly it remained high in the tree tops and close views and good images were not possible.

Whilst looking up, the air traffic from Heathrow was ever present but I don't think we were guilty of constant plane-spotting!

While we were there, the day list included Kingfisher, Egyptian and Barnacle Geese, Mandarin Duck, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Red Kite and Green Sandpiper.  Four Barn Owls showed well in the winter sunshine...

Regards

Neil M








Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ringing Pitsford Feed Station

Hi

This morning a ringing session was undertaken at the feeding station at Pitsford Reservoir, on the Old Scaldwell Road site.  Although cool first thing the spring-like weather continued for the remainder of the day, the calm conditions being ideal for using mist nets.

Some 70 birds were caught coming to the food which involved many new birds including 22 Tree Sparrows, 17 Yellowhammers and 18 Reed Buntings.  A Willow Tit was a retrap; this individual which is a couple of years old now regularly comes up from the back of the Scaldwell Bay, following the field hedge parallel to the reservoir boundary fence.

Although the ringing has been very infrequent during this calendar year (due to the weather), we can already account for 90 different Yellowhammers and 27 different Reed Buntings visiting the broadcast seed during January and February, and the true figure for both species will obviously be higher than this.

Birds of note were few and far between today, with at least a single each of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford, and a Raven and a couple of Lesser Redpolls at Kelmarsh Hall.  The turn in the weather the last few days has enticed local Little Owls to vocalise, and the Tawny Owls (which should already have established territories by now) have become more persistent with their calling too.  The Grey Herons are currently very noisy around the heronry at Pitsford as they sort out their early nesting arrangements, and about six pairs of Cormorants have already patched up their nests and could even have early eggs.

Regards

Neil M

Friday, 15 February 2013

Spring on it's way?

Hi

At least 5 Bramblings came down on to the food at Harrington Airfield first thing this morning.  At Kelmarsh Hall there were 2 Ravens, at least 3 Bramblings, 8 Siskins and at least 3 Lesser Redpolls.  Another visit to Pitsford village early this afternoon failed in an effort to find the Firecrest from a week ago.

In the gull roost at Pitsford Res this afternoon, two Yellow-legged Gulls (adult and second winter) materialized and the Redshank was still present.

Definitely an early Spring feel today...!

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Flood birds

Hi

This morning there were 6 Waxwings in the village at Hanging Houghton and at Kelmarsh Hall the birds around the feeders included 4 Siskins and 2-3 each of Brambling and Lesser Redpoll.

Birds visible from the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station at Pitsford Res at lunchtime today included 2 Bramblings and a pair of Goosander.  The Great White Egret was on flood-water at the back of the Holcot Bay as visible from the Hannington Road.

Finally there was a hunting Barn Owl alongside the B576 at Harrington Airfield this afternoon.

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Garden Yellowhammers

Hi

Too busy for birding again today but the cold conditions has done something to the local Yellowhammers as at least a dozen found their way in to the garden today!

Eleanor

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

February menagerie

Hi

At Pitsford Reservoir this morning there were 3 Siskins on the feeders in Christies Copse and a pair of Grey Partridge in fields to the west of the Walgrave Bay.  This afternoon a Barn Owl was hunting the Scaldwell Meadow and successfully caught a large vole.

At least one Brambling was at Harrington Airfield this morning and several were at Kelmarsh Hall together with a few Siskins and Lesser Redpolls.  Several Lesser Redpolls were in the village at Hanging Houghton this morning and the Nordic-type Jackdaw was present again, with a pair of Grey Partridge in fields below the village

A flock of at least 8 Waxwings were in bushes by Beck Dairy, Cottesbrooke at about 10.30am and an adult female Peregrine was at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Monday, 11 February 2013

Pitsford WeBS

Hi

The arrival of the snow brought a flurry of birds to the garden today, particularly finches.  A single Brambling, a couple of Lesser Redpoll and a Yellowhammer were among them.

As usual a few Bramblings were present at Harrington Airfield and Kelmarsh Hall.

A WeBS count was completed at Pitsford Res today, but the numbers of wildfowl present on the over-full reservoir were low.  Highlights included a flock of 17 Waxwings flying over the Scaldwell Bay at 2.30pm, a Kingfisher in the Walgrave Bay, 2 Ravens and 9 Smew were present south of the causeway as were 4-5 Lesser Redpolls and another 2 Kingfishers.

Late news was received today of a calling Firecrest in Pitsford village last Friday.  A brief visit there this afternoon in cold and wet conditions failed to locate it, but a male Blackcap showed briefly.  The Firecrest had been heard calling in evergreens in the garden of a large house off High Street opposite the turning for Pitsford School and the Village Hall.  This garden and trees border High Street but this is a busy village road and any would-be attendant birders need to be aware of moving and noisy traffic and behave appropriately in this residential area.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Sunday, 10 February 2013

What a horrible day!

Hi

With rain all day turning to snow this evening and a cold northerly wind, today was probably the most miserable weather of the winter to date.  The birds seemed under the weather too with little in the way of sightings today.

A Woodcock was flushed at Sunderland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate) this morning and at least 2 Bramblings were at Harrington Airfield.  Calling finches at Kelmarsh Hall included a singing Siskin, redpoll sp and Brambling.  Three Lesser Redpolls remained at Hanging Houghton.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Birds of mud and winter showers

Hi

Birds in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res this morning included singles of Brambling, Siskin, redpoll sp and Red Kite.  Four Woodcock were flushed from Christies Copse and the Great White Egret was on view on the west side of the Walgrave Bay for most of the late morning.

This afternoon a Barn Owl was hunting at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell and 2 Woodcock were flushed, but despite a good stomp around nothing else of note could be found.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 8 February 2013

Static finches

Hi

Apologies for the lack of information the last couple of days.  We have both been committed with a variety of tasks during the last two days which has curtailed much of our birding.  The few bits we have noticed are simply repeats of birds during the last week with still daily sightings of Raven here at Hanging Houghton and still regular Bramblings at Harrington Airfield, here at Hanging Houghton and Kelmarsh Hall.  Ringing recoveries seem to suggest that at least some of the current Lesser Redpolls and Bramblings are the same birds that were here locally in November and they have remained reliant on the food placed out for them during that time.  However that is soon to change I think and these finches will soon begin to move more freely again as Spring beckons around the corner (but with snow to come first yet methinks)!

Regards

Neil M

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cold and windy again!

Hi

The weather conditions today were similar to yesterday with strong cold winds, some wintery showers and a very dull afternoon.  Not particularly inspiring stuff and the birds locally remain the same.

The finch entourage at Kelmarsh Hall included at least 4 Bramblings and a minimum of 5 Lesser Redpolls and 5 Siskins.  A Raven was heard croaking somewhere in the village.

Two Ravens remain here at Hanging Houghton and a small buzz of Lesser Redpolls circulated in the village gardens.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Cold and windswept

Hi

We didn't bump in to any birds of note today in rather wild and cold conditions.  A couple of Ravens remain around the village here as well as a small flock of Lesser Redpolls and a Brambling.  A similar story at Kelmarsh Hall this morning which continues to host a Brambling, at least 5 Siskins and 5 Lesser Redpolls.  A Raven was by the side of the A508 between Lamport and Maidwell.

Scrutiny of the gulls in the roost at Pitsford Res provided two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and the Redshank showed up again.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Monday, 4 February 2013

Chiffchaffs

Hi

About 10 Bramblings came down on to the seed at Harrington Airfield this morning amongst a mob of Chaffinches, Yellowhammers and others.  Small numbers of Brambling and Lesser Redpoll were present at both Hanging Houghton and Kelmarsh Hall.

A visit to Ecton Sewage Farm/Billing Gravel Pits provided views of at least 8 Chiffchaffs at the western end of Clover Lake at its junction with the stream.  The strong wind has evidently pushed these birds and a large flock of Long-tailed Tits the other side of the hedging - none of these birds were visible from the small stone bridge.  Most of these birds were 'collybita' types and were calling and singing accordingly.  One Siberian-type was seen briefly, a washed-out bird with a broad supercillia and a slight wing-bar.  Another sepia-coloured bird was seen briefly but the mantle was green/olive and the overall plumage tones and lack of clean ear-coverts would not have been typical of this race.  At no point did I ever hear the distinctive 'peep' or 'pee-ip' calls of Siberian, the grey birds seemingly keeping quiet.  All these Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits were joined by Goldcrests and other birds fly-catching over the stream - some images below...

Other birds nearby included a Green Sandpiper and a Grey Wagtail.

This afternoon there was an adult female Peregrine at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell and there were 60 Golden Plovers and 2 Ravens in the Brampton Valley between HH and Cottesbrooke this morning.  Possibly a different pair of Raven were in Hanging Houghton village late morning and in to the afternoon.

Late this afternoon a second winter (or third calendar year if you like) Yellow-legged Gull was the only bird of note seen in the Pitsford Res gull roost (apologies for the ropey image - it was a bit gloomy).

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Canada Goose

Chiffchaff

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Long-tailed Tit

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Goldcrest

Yellow-legged Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Local patch birding

Hi

Well while Neil was gossiping, slurping coffee and testing optics at Pitsford, someone had to carry on birding our local patch!

Harrington Airfield played host to about 20 Bramblings again today, together with a Red Kite and 2 Ravens.

Birds in the garden here at Hanging Houghton included 6 Lesser Redpolls and a Brambling with 10 Golden Plovers and 2 Ravens in the Brampton Valley below the village.

Blueberry Farm near Maidwell provided 2 Barn Owls and a Short-eared Owl this afternoon.

Regards

Eleanor

Pitsford Opticron event

Hi

A big thank-you for all the people that turned up at the optics demonstration event at Pitsford today.  Among the attendees there was some familiar faces from the present and the past and it was great to meet some of the followers of this blog and put faces to the names!  Thank-you all for making the event successful in support of the Wildlife Trust, particularly as it was a touch cold and a little grey on the shoreline below the Lodge!

For those that missed it a similar event will be held at Pitsford in June when again the full range of Opticron binoculars and telescopes and accessories will be available to test under field conditions.

Thank-you

Neil M

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Opticron optics demonstration

Hi

Just a little reminder...

The Pitsford Opticron event is on tomorrow between 10am and 4pm (see post of 28th Jan).  We look forward to seeing you there!

Neil M

Bird feeding again...

Hi

In between and including plenty of dog walking and other chores, it was a case of visiting and replenishing all the local wild bird feeding stations again today.  Despite mud everywhere, it was nice to be out and about with cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine and exceptional visibility.  It's hard to beat a really nice winter's day!

A single Brambling was present at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station at Pitsford Res this morning and the birds at the feeding station in Christies Copse were pretty much standard fare.  At nearly all my feeding areas I now have tame cock Pheasants that almost run to greet me, and now the shooting season is over I guess they are going to be nice and fat and resplendent for the breeding season!

Sunderland Wood was particularly muddy, but I didn't mind as the slog to the feeders was worth it with a flock of Long-tailed Tits almost landing on me as I added some more fat to the feeder.  The local Robins seem to have survived the cold snap and hop up to meet me, and thankfully there are still reasonable numbers of Goldcrests and Wrens in the woods, but some must have perished in the severe conditions last month.

Two noisy Ravens were at Kelmarsh Hall, and the impressive finch flock utilizing the feed station here remains with 4 Bramblings, 3 Lesser Redpolls and a Siskin mixing in with the Chaffinches and Goldfinches.  Greenfinches seem very scarce though.  Scotland Wood was uneventful but the cheeky Marsh Tits were both scolding and singing at me as I refilled the feeders!

A brief visit to Harrington Airfield to broadcast more food was enough to spot two female Bramblings this morning, but I assume there would have been plenty more later.

A Raven was noted on the northern outskirts of Brixworth village just off the A508 today (possibly attracted to no less than three road kill Badgers in the last 48 hours).  

The food at the eighth feeding station was almost completely exhausted today (one of three feeding stations at Pitsford), but the birds soon came to see me as I filled the feeders here too.  Which just about left time to check the gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon and it yielded a first winter Kittiwake, distant views of the Slavonian Grebe near the Holly Tree and a Redshank.

Regards

Neil M

Friday, 1 February 2013

Bramblings only

Hi

Nothing much to report today, but a fabulous twenty Bramblings were still at the feeding station at Harrington Airfield this morning...

Regards

Eleanor