Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday birds

Hi

A visit to a Spratton garden this morning was interesting with a variety of species on offer which included at least 12 Lesser Redpolls, a couple of Siskins, a Brambling, a Red Kite and a singing Blackcap.

Birds in the garden here at Hanging Houghton again included 5 Reed Buntings, a Brambling and 2-3 Lesser Redpolls.

Two Shelduck were in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res early this afternoon.

At Harrington Airfield this afternoon there were about 12 Bramblings on the food just inside the main entrance, 2 male Wheatears and an Osprey flew towards Kettering at about 3pm.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A cold but definitely a Spring day!

Hi

Very cold first thing this morning and then an interesting day developed with a combination of snow flurries followed by some quite powerful periods of sunshine.

A male Brambling was at Harrington Airfield this morning, and birds in and around the garden at Hanging Houghton included 3 Reed Buntings and a couple of Siskins.

A meander down to Christies Copse at Pitsford Res provided a good half-dozen Siskins and both Marsh and Willow Tit coming to the feeders.  The Cormorant colony nest count continues to go up with an apparent 30 occupied nests.  Decent-sized flocks of migrants today included c500 Fieldfare at Wellingborough Grange and a flock of 53 Meadow Pipits in fields on the west side of Pitsford Reservoir.

At Blueberry Farm, Maidwell a mobile Short-eared Owl was seen hunting over a succession of fields and a Peregrine was chasing Fieldfares in spectacular fashion.

Regards

Neil M

Robin

Siskin (female)

Peanuts might be 'old hat' but the
tits at Pitsford still love them!


Common Buzzard

Siskins (female to the left,
male to the right)



Short-eared Owl



Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday birds

Hi

A cold Harrington Airfield first thing this morning produced just a single male Brambling.

Birds at Kelmarsh Hall today included 1-2 Raven, at least 2 Bramblings, c20 Siskins, at least 2 Lesser Redpolls and a Willow Tit.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The migrants will not be denied!

Hi

This morning there were 3 Chiffchaffs along the Brampton Valley Way between Hanging Houghton and Brixworth, with 2 Red Kites and 4+ Siskins around HH village.

A walk around Sywell CP provided a surprise with two vocal fly-over Whimbrel.  Other birds included 2-4 Kingfishers, 100+ Siskins, c10 redpoll sp, a Red Kite and a Wheatear in an adjacent field.

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Birds of the cold wind

Hi

Birds at Harrington Airfield this morning included a day-hunting Barn Owl, a Red Kite, 6 Bramblings, a very unhappy-looking wind-blasted Wheatear and 10 fly-over Golden Plovers.  There were several Siskins present at Kelmarsh Hall.

This evening another daylight-hunting Barn Owl was on the west side of the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ditchford WeBS Count

Hi

Much of today was taken up completing a very late Wetland Bird Survey at Ditchford GP.  The cold wind remains but for at least some of the day the air temperature rose above freezing and again there was something of a thaw.

Birds at Ditchford included a juvenile Glaucous Gull west of Ditchford Lane between 2.30pm and 3.35pm when it flew east (different to the bird seen in February).  Waders were represented with a Curlew, 2 Oystercatchers, 8 Snipe, a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover.  Six Chiffchaffs included a couple of 'fluffed up' birds that were clearly not happy with the very cool conditions.  Only five Cetti's Warblers were located but for a change they were showy.  The drake Scaup was again on pits west of Ditchford Lane (quite mobile with the Tufteds) and other birds included 5 Kingfishers, 4 Goosanders, a Grey Wagtail and a couple of redpoll sp.  The Grey Heron colony seems small this year but a pair of Cormorant are breeding on-site.  An Otter provided close but brief views.

At Pitsford Res this evening a Barn Owl was hunting Scaldwell Meadow and a pod of six Smew (two drakes) were in the Scaldwell Bay near to The Point.  The occupied Cormorant nest count has now climbed to 25.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Muntjac


Glaucous Gull

Monday, 25 March 2013

A little sunshine...

Hi

Something of a partial thaw today in reasonably warm sunshine, but the wind strength has increased and it is freezing again now.

A short but busy ringing session was completed at Sunderland Wood today, most of the birds being common tits, but 2 new Nuthatches and 2 new Great Spotted Woodpeckers were most welcome.  Other birds noted in and around this ash-dominated wood on the Kelmarsh Estate included a Siskin and a Raven.

Two Woodcock and a Siskin were at Scotland Wood this afternoon and Kelmarsh Hall continued to attract 'winter finches'.

The best birds in the garden at Hanging Houghton included a Tree Sparrow, a Brambling and several Fieldfares and the two Mistle Thrushes again, plus small numbers of Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Dilemma!

Hi

I turned down an opportunity of heading out to the Norfolk Brecklands today, despite being excited about going to see the wildlife around the River Thet and Lakenheath.  With the severe weather at dawn and drifting snow in the strong easterly wind a pang of conscience couldn't be suppressed.  With Eleanor already committed, I knew that some of the wild bird feeding stations would require replenishing today so I opted to stay local.  The drifting snow provided some impressive 4' drifts on some of the minor roads so a few 'u' turns and extra miles were required!

Several Bramblings and quite a host of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls were near to the feeders at Kelmarsh Hall, and it took less that 10 minutes for 35 Blackbirds to gather on the food at Harrington Airfield.  A bit of a hike was required to reach Christies Copse at Pitsford Res with a couple of buckets of food, and I was greeted by a good dozen or so Siskins twanging and fizzing in the nearby trees.  Large numbers of tits immediately began to extract sunflower seeds, pausing only to provide a bit of space to Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

A day-hunting Barn Owl and a Red Kite were on the outskirts of Scaldwell village, the Barn Owl presumably being unable to hunt at night due to the wintery conditions.

There were plenty of birds at the main feeding station at Pitsford Res, dominated by Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers.  A Little Ringed Plover flew in calling at 10.45am - I'm not sure I have ever seen one in the snow before!  A Kingfisher was seen later in the day off the yacht club.

The garden here at Hanging Houghton hosted much the same birds as yesterday, both days seeing the return of apple-loving Fieldfares and today a couple of heavy-duty Mistle Thrushes.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spring is currently on hold!

Hi

With the on-going severe winter weather locally, today was spent feeding birds at a variety of locations.  A windswept and very cold Harrington Airfield was full of Woodpigeons and corvids desperately trying to find food in the snow.  After scraping away the top layer of snow/ice and revealing some of yesterday's food, a variety of passerines flocked around me at the usual feeding spot, with even more arriving as the fresh food was dispensed.

Sunderland Wood was like a scene from Narnia with an inch of snow covering even the lightest of branches and twigs.  Occasional loud snaps in the wood indicated that some of the branches couldn't always take the strain.  A Woodcock flushed up from the crystallised undergrowth and vocal Nuthatches seemed to celebrate the arrival of some more food.

Similar conditions at Scotland Wood ensured I had escorting Robins and a couple of Pheasants while topping up the feeders, and two Woodcock flushed up from the base of the same bush.

The birds here at Hanging Houghton were equally food-crazed and more interesting species included 7 Stock Doves feeding with over 50 Woodpigeons crammed in to our little garden, together with at least 7 Yellowhammers, 5 Reed Buntings, a Tree Sparrow, a Brambling, a couple of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin and a new Pied Wagtail.

A walk in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res this afternoon didn't provide any birds of interest.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 22 March 2013

Winter continues!

Hi

Well despite being out for much of the day, we really struggled to find anything today in very cold grey conditions.

Four Red Kites in and around Hanging Houghton today is probably as many we have ever seen here -  it would be great if they remained in to the breeding season.  A male Brambling with it's wonderful rasping song defied the conditions at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station at Pitsford Res, and several Siskins remained around the feeders at Kelmarsh Hall this morning.  Four Reed Buntings remain in the garden and Siskins were around the village in small numbers.

Regards

Eleanor & Neil

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pitsford birds

Hi

A ringing session at Pitsford Res yesterday afternoon and this morning was completed at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station with Dave Francis presiding.  Some 62 birds were captured and new birds included 9 Tree Sparrows, 9 Goldfinches, 7 Yellowhammers, 7 Chaffinches, 3 Reed Buntings, a Brambling, a Mallard and a Kestrel.

Other birds noted at Pitsford today included an Osprey around the feed station and Scaldwell Bay at about 2pm, the Great White Egret was in the flooded field at the back of the Holcot Bay just before this.  A male Wheatear and 3 Green Sandpipers were on a flooded field below the dam and still present at 3pm.

A dozen Bramblings were back at Harrington Airfield this morning, and a pair of Grey Partridge were still present.  Sadly we lost one of our Reed Buntings to predation in the garden today (scattered feathers was the only evidence).

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Harrington Merlin

Hi

I didn't see much today, but the immature male Merlin was still present at Harrington Airfield this afternoon.  A Red Kite and a pair of Grey Partridge were present just outside Hanging Houghton village and a couple of Reed Buntings fed in our garden.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

An afternoon at Pitsford

Hi

This morning there were 6 Bramblings and 2 Tree Sparrows on the seed at Harrington Airfield and 2 Grey Partridge between Lamport and Draughton.

This afternoon a WeBS count was completed at Pitsford Res in pleasant weather conditions.  An Osprey appeared over the reservoir from the south at about 3.35pm, and then went on to fish in the Walgrave Bay.  A Rock Pipit was present on the causeway, generally on the north facing parapet, and a Sand Martin flew north at 3pm.  Two 'redhead' Smew were north of the causeway and the third calendar year Yellow-legged Gull was again present.  Siskins were well-scattered all the way around the reservoir, with an estimated c40 in total.  A Brambling was near the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station, c6 'redpolls' were about and c65 Snipe were present in the margins.  At least 22 Cormorant nests are currently occupied.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil.

Monday, 18 March 2013

New and updated tabs

Hi

Today was spent visiting all the feeding stations after the shocking weather yesterday!  In the morning fog I could hear Brambling at Harrington Airfield and Siskin and 'redpoll' at Kelmarsh Hall!

Birds in the garden here at Hanging Houghton included at least 4 Reed Buntings, 3 Lesser Redpolls and a handful of Yellowhammers.

This afternoon a visit to Christies Copse at Pitsford Res confirmed the continuing presence of a small group of Siskins attracted to the feeders, plus both Marsh and Willow Tit and a Lesser Redpoll nearby.

Please note a couple of new tabs on the blog site - Robin's Flying Antics and Stortons Bittern, and new images down-loaded on Robin's and Bob's tabs.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Forest of Dean

Hi

Today was the Northants Bird Club car trip to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

First stop was the Speech House area of the forest and here like everywhere we went there was plenty of evidence of Wild Boar activity with upturned soil and turf alongside the roads and tracks.

The Nuthatches were vocal as we traversed the ancient trees and paddocks near to Speech House.  After a short time we glimpsed a couple of Hawfinches, one bird being particularly vocal and even singing a little.  We then crossed the road to the small arboretum and another calling Hawfinch flew over.  Two Ravens were the first of many during the day.

With the grey skies lightening and some blue sky appearing, we decided to head off to New Fancy View, a raptor watch-point a short distance away.  This is the place to try and see Goshawk, and on arrival an adult female was already perched up on top of a conifer.  Subsequent scanning located a male nearby in a similar pose, both birds being mobbed by Siskins and tits.  A third perched bird proved to be another adult female, the lack of a breeze presumably ensuring that it was too much effort to provide a display flight!  Shortly afterwards, two more adult females came in to view chasing each other both above and below the trees.  Several Ravens flew around the watch-point and the Common Buzzards managed to find enough thermals to strut their stuff.  A flock of Crossbills danced around distant conifers.

We then progressed to the village of Parkend which fits snugly in to the woodlands and folds of the land of the forest.  A flock of about twenty Bramblings were gathered around a garden laden with bird feeders, the food also attracting plenty of Siskins, tits and Nuthatches.  A pair of Dippers were watched constructing a nest on one of the streams running through the village.  A Hawfinch was heard calling but remained hidden.

Our next venue was Cannop Ponds which immediately yielded up to 26 Mandarin Ducks including many resplendent males as well as many common woodland species.

Our final stop was the watch-point at Symonds Yat which provides a fabulous vista of the countryside surrounding the River Wye.  A pair of Peregrine provided good views, with both birds catching avian prey within a minute of each other (the male apparently caught a Blackbird while we witnessed the female catch a Stock Dove).  They were good but not as awesome as the immature female Goshawk that circled up out of the woodland on the opposite side of the river and eventually disappeared at great height.  Good views were had of a variety of common species in beautiful spring sunshine.  Imagine our surprise when we returned to Northamptonshire and found snow on the ground!

Regards

Neil M



Mandarin Ducks


Peregrine with prey

Jack Snipe

Hi

The ringing team at Stortons GP went out of their way this morning to try and catch some of the more secretive species in the marsh.  As a result their hard work resulted in the capture of a Jack Snipe.  Please see images below courtesy of Chris Payne.

Regards

Neil M




Saturday, 16 March 2013

Subtle Spring

Hi

In wet breezy conditions for much of the day today, no new birds of note were located locally.

A Red Kite was again at Hanging Houghton, with 3 Reed Buntings in the garden.  Kelmarsh Hall hosted a couple of Bramblings plus small numbers of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls.  A pair of Goosander were north of the causeway at Pitsford Res this morning and a Barn Owl was hunting at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon.

There are subtle signs of a very slow change in the seasons, but it's looking very much like a late Spring this year!  Despite the cold temperatures and continual rain, stalwarts like Skylark and Mistle Thrush refuse to be intimidated by the weather and continue to sing from on high.  It is a good time to listen for the somewhat weak but appealing Bullfinch song, often issued from the cover of dense Blackthorn or similar.  Although they sing on and off for much of the year, the song is often drowned out by stronger songsters during the late Spring and Summer.  Fieldfares are flocking up on waterlogged fields often accompanied by Redwing and Starling, and small groups of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes are flushing up from hedgerows as they manoeuvre themselves back to their breeding territories.

Looking skywards, small numbers of Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, finches and Skylarks are quietly moving over, mostly heading east and north.  Gulls have continued to move through the county in big numbers, with plenty of vocal Common Gulls dropping in to feast on worms on the wet fields and Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls flighting over in small groups.  It is also a good time of year to watch small groups of Great Tits as they chase and display their belly stripes to each other!

Regards

Neil Mt

Friday, 15 March 2013

Great White Egret

Hi

I didn't manage to see much today on my travels but did see the Great White Egret next to Pitsford Res in a flooded field just outside Holcot village as viewed from the Hannington Road (4.15pm).  We forgot to mention that there was a 3rd calendar year Yellow-legged Gull at Pitsford Res yesterday.

A walk around Sywell CP today was very quiet.

Regards

Eleanor

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Spring sunshine day

Hi

At least 12 Bramblings were present at Harrington Airfield this morning.  At Pitsford Res this morning  the Great White Egret was present in the Holcot Bay and 2 Grey Wagtails were by the dam overflow.  This afternoon there was a pair of Goosander in the Moulton Grange Bay.

A visit to a Kingsthorpe garden today was enjoyable with about 20 Siskins visiting the garden feeders, occasionally joined by about 3 Lesser Redpolls.  A marauding Sparrowhawk caused havoc on more than one occasion.

This afternoon there was a Raven and 2 Red Kites in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Some lovely spring sunshine this morning and during the middle of the day was sufficient to encourage a Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone to provide a brief flutter!

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Seven raptor species day

Hi

A wintery walk at Harrington Airfield this morning provided another view of the immature male Merlin. He was perched up on one of the concrete bunkers but then disappeared off to the feeding birds by the concrete track entrance.  About 8 Bramblings were present.

The adult female Peregrine was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon with 2 Red Kites over the village.  I notched up Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard on my travels without too much trouble.  My seventh species of raptor today was an Osprey heading north over the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res at about 1.20pm, heavily mobbed by gulls.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Creatures of Christies Copse

Hi

This afternoon I visited Christies Copse which is a small plantation in the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res.  The name of this area was suggested following the retirement of the first Wildlife Trust warden at Pitsford, Cliff Christie and his wife Joyce.  During the last two winters we have been maintaining a wild bird feeding station in the copse, supporting woodland species in the main.

After filling up all the feeders I decided to sit down on one of the log piles and see what appeared.  One of the first was a splendid cock Pheasant, together with plenty of tits and other common birds and as many as 12 Siskins.  A scurrying noise on the opposite log pile turned out to be an inquisitive Weasel which mostly ignored me!

Other birds noted today included 2 Bramblings at Harrington Airfield this morning and 2 hunting Barn Owls at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon.

Regards

Neil M



Pheasant


Long-tailed Tit


Siskins - female to the left and male to the right

Weasel

Monday, 11 March 2013

Birds of the icy wind

Hi

A walk around Harrington Airfield this morning was something of an icy blast, but the birds only consisted of about three Bramblings and a Red Kite.

Another cold walk at Sywell CP produced 5 Goosanders, 2 Kingfishers, a Water Rail and c30 Siskins.

A visit to Ravensthorpe Res causeway provided obscured views of the Bittern on the small side between 12 noon and 12.30pm.  It was near to a broken-down Crack Willow and walked out of view to the right behind a large willow bush and didn't show again by 1.15pm.  Other birds included a 'redhead' Smew, a third calendar year Yellow-legged Gull, a Red Kite and a Chiffchaff.

A Red Kite was present at Hanging Houghton and 2 Reed Buntings and 2 Lesser Redpolls fed in the garden.

A wind-blasted gull roost at Pitsford Res didn't provide any gulls of note.  The icy wind was pushing a hunting Barn Owl all over the place near to the dam.

Some of the below images are of gulls (one of my favourite families), but for those of you that find them incredibly boring, look away now!

Regards

Neil M



First year Common Gull
and Black-headed Gull

Near-adult Herring Gull

Mixed gull flock Pitsford Res

Third-calendar year
Yellow-legged Gull

Third-calendar year
Yellow-legged Gull

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Probably the worst photo
of a Bittern ever taken!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Winter's back!

Hi

With snow and a cold north-easterly wind, it felt like winter all over again today!  You have to feel sorry for the Swallows, Sand Martins, Wheatears etc that have already made early landfall in the UK.

Despite spending time in some of the Kelmarsh Estate woodlands today, nothing out of the ordinary was discovered.

I had suspected that some of the finches visiting the well-spread local feed stations had been moving around them almost as much as me!  At least one photographer at Harrington Airfield has mentioned to me that they had seen and photographed ringed Bramblings coming down to the food, albeit that ringers do not operate at this site.  However we have been catching small numbers at Kelmarsh Hall, suggesting that birds were moving between these two sites.

To add to my suspicions, yesterday we caught a Siskin at Pitsford Res which we had originally caught and ringed at Kelmarsh Hall a couple of weeks earlier.  Today I caught a Siskin at Kelmarsh Hall which had originally been ringed at Hanging Houghton on 29th January.  Not long-distance movements but clearly demonstrating that these birds had stayed local but are presumably responsive to food availability and wherever their flocking colleagues take them!

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Early spring birding

Hi

A visit to Harrington Airfield early this morning provided another view of the adult female Peregrine which this time attempted to take Golden Plovers (but they were too quick)!  The Golden Plover flock numbered about 15.  About a dozen Bramblings included some drop-dead gorgeous summer plumage males and the pair of Grey Partridge showed again.

A couple of brief visits to Ravensthorpe Res failed to locate the Bittern (again!) but a pair of smart Smew was showing well on the small side.  Whilst at an event in Great Brington early this afternoon, a single Curlew flew over, followed shortly by an Oystercatcher.

At Pitsford Res today, the now summer plumage Great White Egret was in both the Walgrave and Scaldwell Bays and other birds north of the causeway included about 20 Siskins, a Woodcock and a Red Kite (all in the Walgrave Bay) with a pair of Smew and a pair of Goosander reported.  Birds south of the causeway included 2 Oystercatchers, a Shelduck and 4 Bramblings.

There was a heavy movement of gulls moving north through Pitsford Res all day but the gull roost by the yacht club didn't produce anything out of the ordinary.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Adult Male Siskin at Pitsford
Res today - part of the large
influx currently in the county
(courtesy of Neil Hasdell).

Friday, 8 March 2013

Reed Bunting mystery

Hi

A horrible claggy, foggy and wet day meant that nothing particularly different was found today.

News came through today of a Reed Bunting ringing recovery.  A male bird was trapped and ringed at Hanging Houghton on 20th March 2010 and re-trapped again at Hanging Houghton on 22nd March 2011.  On 2nd February this year, this bird was caught again but this time at Stortons GP on the south side of Northampton.

During the last two winters a feeding station has been maintained at Stortons GP and the feeders etc attract good numbers of Reed Buntings. The difficulty is to ascertain what these records actually demonstrate!  Is this bird simply an individual which spends much of the year wandering around the county and takes advantage of easy food sources?  Or is it a bird which winters to the south and drops in to the county on its way north, now finding the feed station at Stortons GP to its liking?  It will be interesting if this bird is caught again - all the records are currently biased towards late winter/early spring.  Where does this bird breed I wonder?

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Drama in the garden

Hi

The early Sparrowhawk catches the early Blackbird.  Well that's what happened in our garden this morning.  At 6.20am there was that awful 'distressed Blackbird' call that I have heard all too frequently over the years.  An adult male Blackbird had been captured by a/the male Sparrowhawk.  Male Sparrowhawks are very good at catching Blackbirds but they are just not strong enough to quickly dispatch large prey which are destined to be plucked and eaten alive.  Quite horrific and a terrible quirk of nature.  The regular piles of feathers in the garden suggests we lose a Blackbird out of the garden to a/the Sparrowhawk about once every two weeks.

Talking of Blackbirds, it seems to me that they have been slow to sing this spring.  I have been listening to Song and Mistle Thrushes  giving it everything for a number of weeks now, but the only consistent Blackbird song has been the last few mornings.

Birding opportunities were limited today but the usual 'winter finches' were still in situe at Kelmarsh Hall and Harrington Airfield.  Two Woodcock were flushed at Scotland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate) this morning.

The garden supported less birds in the dank wet conditions today, but with cold north-easterlies forecast in a couple of days time I guess they will be back!

Regards

Neil M

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Siskin bonanza

Hi

Dull and cool today but still plenty of birds about.

An early morning visit to Harrington Airfield this morning provided a further view of the immature male Merlin which again took a bird, this time from the top fields (the victim appeared to be a Chaffinch).  The adult female Peregrine was also present and she took a Fieldfare from the field by the shooting wall.  About 10 Bramblings were attracted to the food-stuff by the entrance and a pair of Grey Partridge were present.  No Wheatears though!

In Brixworth Country Park this afternoon about 80 Siskins were showing well with many singing birds, with quite a movement between the park and the Pintail Bay of Pitsford Res.  Five Waxwings were also present at about 2.30pm, perched in a tree by the main on-site pond.

Two Ravens appeared overhead here at Hanging Houghton again today and at least 2 Bramblings and 2 Lesser Redpolls fed in the garden.  A Barn Owl was hunting at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell later this afternoon.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 2 - Birders 0

Hi

A fabulous sunny day today which warmed the bones despite the still cool air.

First stop this morning was Harrington Airfield and after feeding the birds a bit of scanning is always worthwhile.  The usual birds came down and included a super summer plumage male Brambling that initially sang well from one of the nearby willow bushes.  Then pandemonium as an immature male Merlin came in from nowhere and snatched a male Yellowhammer from among the panicking throng.  The falcon bent to dislocate the bunting's neck as it made it's get away, pursued by a Magpie across the top fields (which gave up when it realised it couldn't keep pace).  It was over and done so quick that I think many of the birds didn't even realise what had happened and quickly returned to feed.

We decided to pay Lings Wood a visit as Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers have been showing on and off near Lings House.  However after 2 hours wandering in stunning sunshine and seeing plenty of other woodland birds we had to concede defeat.  Not a sight or sound!

A couple of visits to Pitsford Res during the day provided views of the Great White Egret in both the Walgrave and Scaldwell Bays.  A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls and a single Oystercatcher seemed to making homes of the tern rafts in the Scaldwell Bay, the same bay also hosting a pair of Smew.  There was a single Brambling at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station, at least 8 Siskins on the feeders in Christies Copse and a Redshank still around the yacht club.  A male Brimstone butterfly in Christies Copse was a sight for sore winter eyes!

The garden here at Hanging Houghton has been pretty good with 4 Reed Buntings, a couple of Yellowhammers, a Tree Sparrow and 2 Bramblings coming in for food with 2 Red Kites and 2 Ravens overhead.  A couple more Brimstone butterflies took advantage of the warm sunshine just east of the village.  The adult female Peregrine showed again in the Brampton Valley below the village, thought to be the same bird seen on and off in the immediate area all winter.

Finally at Kelmarsh Hall this afternoon the feeders attracted a Brambling, about 6 Lesser Redpolls and c20 Siskins.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bittern 1 - Birders 0

Hi

Two Bramblings in the garden here at Hanging Houghton today looked like fresh migrants, and Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting added some more variety.

A run with the dogs around Harlestone Heath and adjacent areas failed to find much more than several singing Siskins.

Despite plenty of scanning, there was no sign of the Bittern at Ravensthorpe Res while we were there today.  A 'redhead' Smew remained on the small side.

This afternoon a hike around Blueberry Farm, Maidwell in silky spring sunshine was very pleasant.  An immature male Merlin showed briefly and 3 Red Kites meandered around overhead (a Barn Owl was seen by other observers).

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Drake Goldeneye

Sparrowhawk

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A quiet day 'up north'

Hi

Locally birds at Hanging Houghton today included 2 Red Kites and 2 Ravens, with 4 Ravens at nearby Faxton.  The birds on the food at Harrington Airfield early this morning included 3-4 Bramblings.

Further afield, a wander around East Carlton Country Park included about 10 Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll but was otherwise pretty quiet.  The Welland Valley didn't provide much in the way of different birds but was one of many places today hosting migrant flocks of Lapwings.  The Wakerley Wood complex was also quiet in much of the wood, but a splendid flock of about 30 Crossbills showed well on the main track about 250m from the car park walking in a clockwise direction on the short walk route.  Other birds included several Siskins and up to 10 Lesser Redpolls and 2 Bramblings.

Fineshade Wood was busy with people but the well-stocked suspended feeders in front of the wildlife hide provided close views of tits and other woodland birds.  Nearby birds at Blatherwycke Lake included 7 Shelduck and an Oystercatcher but nothing else of note.  A late afternoon walk at Fermyn Wood and the adjacent Country Park failed to yield anything different.

Regards

Eleanor & Neil

 Coal Tit
Great Spotted Woodpecker

Marsh Tit


Red Kite

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Siskins and friends

Hi

At least one Brambling was still present at Harrington Airfield this morning and Kelmarsh Hall hosted 2 Bramblings, at least 30 Siskins and a couple of Lesser Redpolls.  Birds in Christies Copse at Pitsford Res this afternoon included several Siskins with a Red Kite over.  Also this afternoon a single vocal Raven flew over Sunderland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate).

Regards

Neil M

Friday, 1 March 2013

A little early spring transition

Hi

A little repetitive but a Red Kite and 2 Ravens again put in appearances at Hanging Houghton today.

A revisit to Mike Alibone's garden at East Hunsbury was productive again today with plenty of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls attracted to niger and sunflower heart feeders.  At this time of the year the plumage of Lesser Redpolls seems more variable than in the autumn, and of course many of the males are now sporting gorgeous pink breasts, rumps and flanks as they make ready for the breeding season. In early February the influx of Siskins to the county were dominated by adult males, all looking stunning in their stunning yellows and greens.  Now many of the males are the young birds from last year, still good-looking but not as pristine as the adults.

Early this afternoon eight adult White-fronted Geese were in fields with Greylags and Canada Geese off the A428 to the south of Northampton (on the left hand side travelling from Northampton).  The best place to view them was from the large lay-by between the respective turnings for Great and Little Houghton.  They were still present at 2.45pm.

On next to Ecton SF below the village of Cogenhoe and accessed via Cogenhoe Mill.  The wintering flock of Chiffchaffs still numbered about 10 birds, and I saw 1 maybe 2 Siberian-type birds which again remained silent (all the 'collybita' birds seemed to be calling well).  Up to three Bearded Tits were heard calling in the phragmites beds but didn't show themselves.  Other birds included a pair of Grey Partridge, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Cetti's Warbler.

The gull roost at Pitsford Res was scrutinised but I couldn't pick anything out that was different.  A Barn Owl was hunting to the east of the dam.

Regards

Neil M