Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Birding pm

Hello

The pleasant weather of this afternoon incited a few raptors over the garden, the best being a couple of Hobbies.  A couple of Nuthatches were the only other birds of note in the village.

A quick walk around Welford Res this evening was pleasant but quiet, although there was a family party of Spotted Flycatchers nearby.

Scanning from the dam at Pitsford Res this evening provided views of 4 Yellow-legged Gulls and 3 Common Sandpipers.

Regards

Neil M


Great Crested Grebe
Pitsford Res

Peering through the heat haze

Hello

A visit to the Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton GP this morning provided views of a Wood Sandpiper, a Greenshank, a Dunlin, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Snipe and a Little Egret.

A scan from the Old Scaldwell Road at Pitsford Res early afternoon was difficult with a strong heat haze. Birds noted included an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Goldeneye and a Common Sandpiper.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer in to Autumn

Hello

This morning an Osprey appeared again in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and one or two Hobby were about too.

This afternoon a visit to the west end of the Nene Barrage/Clifford Hill GP provided good views of the Great White Egret (present for its third day), and was still present at 5pm.  Other birds included a Little Egret, a Wigeon and 2 Common Sandpipers.

This evening a Hobby and 2 Grey Partridges were noted at Harrington Airfield.  An evening visit to Hollowell Res provided little that was new due to an increase in the water level.  Birds seen included a Kingfisher, a Wigeon, a Snipe and a Common Sandpiper and now four broods of Tufted Ducks. Ravensthorpe Res attracted a Kingfisher and the Mandarin Duck was still present.  A single brood of Tufted Duck was present here too.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Adult and juvenile
Great Crested Grebe
Ravensthorpe Reservoir

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Visible migration

Hello

Although autumn migration has been going on for some weeks now, today was noteworthy inasmuch that quite a few species were visually easy to see on migration.  Gulls were drifting south over the county all day, in the main Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed, with smaller numbers of other species.  Other birds on the move today included Swift, hirundines with Sand Martins in particular, and small numbers of wagtails.  At Pitsford Res this morning, birds south of the causeway included the Bar-headed Goose, a Little Egret and a Dunlin.  The first returning adult Great Black-backed Gull was by the dam this evening, and there were two Grey Wagtails at Hanging Houghton.

Many adult birds, particularly the larger birds, will now be in the process or just starting to moult their flight feathers.  Many of the gulls overhead are clearly moulting primaries and secondaries, the stark gaps in the trailing edges of the wings often denote this.  This process often leaves ducks and geese temporarily flightless as they often tend to drop their major flight feathers all in one go. However, most birds sequentially moult these larger feathers so that they can continue flying and even migrate whilst undergoing the process, and frequently both wings mirror each other to stay on an even keel! Just a few birds actually undergo primary and secondary wing moult whilst still feeding young (Sparrowhawk is probably the best local example).  Many juvenile birds at this time of the year undergo a body moult, where they begin to replace their first 'nest' feathers with more substantial attire.  In the main though, most juveniles will retain their flight feathers.  It is these processes that sometimes helps us to age the birds we are looking at.

Regards

Eleanor & Neil



Lesser Black-backed Gull
Pitsford Reservoir

If I hide behind this board
at Pitsford you won't be able
to see me!

Greylag Goose in flight
Pitsford Reservoir

Garden butterflies

Hello

Sometimes there is no need to go any further than the garden for a stunning splash of summer colour...!

Neil M


Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Comma butterfly

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Birds before the rain...

Hello

A walk around the Blueberry Farm complex near Maidwell this morning provided views of Barn Owl and Hobby, and a Grasshopper Warbler was singing from an oil seed rape field between Brixworth and Hanging Houghton.

A ringing session at Stortons GP this morning was busy with 95 birds caught and processed, 79 of which were new birds.  Highlights were 4 juvenile Cetti's Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, 36 Reed Warblers, Linnet and 4 Reed Buntings.

A ringing session in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res this morning was much quieter with only about 40 birds being caught.  However it did include three juvenile Kingfishers and a few each of Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.  Two Mallard, a Coal Tit and a Marsh Tit added a bit of variety.

A Hobby was seen and two parties of Crossbills flew south-west over the reservoir during the morning, the first flock was only heard and probably numbered 4-5 birds and the second flock contained at least 5 birds.

A walk around Harrington Airfield this afternoon before the change in the weather failed to locate anything specifically of interest.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 26 July 2013

Pitsford gull roost

Male Brimstone butterfly

Hello

A visit to Pitsford Res this evening confirmed the presence of a very small gull roost off the yacht club containing five species. This included three Yellow-legged Gulls and three summering Great Black-backed Gulls.  There were six Common Sandpipers flying around and two Green Sandpipers were heard calling but not seen as they flew over.  A Bar-headed Goose with the Canadas is probably the same individual that has been an occasional visitor for a few years now.

A Hobby was the only bird of note at Harrington Airfield this evening.

Regards

E & N


Juvenile Whitethroat


Bar-headed Goose




Thursday, 25 July 2013

Frustrating observations!

Hello

Some computer problems are affecting our ability to post blogs currently but hopefully we will fix this soon.

Yesterday (Wednesday) and a Barn Owl was hunting at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell in the morning.

A visit to Harrington Airfield in the afternoon was eventful with a Red Fox vixen out in the open with her two well-grown cubs.  And I didn't have my camera!  A further frustration was witnessing an unidentified and interesting dark raptor moving north over the airfield.  Another one to add to the list of ones that got away!

This evening, and there were one or two Barn Owl(s) again hunting at Blueberry Farm.

Regards

Eleanor

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Summer Leys N.R.

Hello

A short scanning session from the The Pioneer Hide at the Summer Leys Nature Reserve (Earls Barton) this evening provided views of 5 Little Ringed Plovers (2 adults), 2 Common Sandpipers, 4 Snipe, 3 Little Egrets, a juvenile Shelduck and five broods of Tufted Duck with one brood of 14 ducklings!

Regards

E & N

Humid Highs

Hello

This morning a family of Spotted Flycatchers was visible at Lamport Hall, and Harrington Airfield provided views of a pair of Grey Partridge with three young, a Hobby and a Red Kite.

Hollowell Res this afternoon hosted 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a Wigeon, 20 Common Terns, three broods of Tufted Duck and a Grasshopper Warbler.  Dragonflies included Emperor, Brown Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer and both Ruddy and Common Darter.  An eclipse drake Mandarin Duck was again at Ravensthorpe Res and a Hobby was successfully hunting dragonflies around the causeway.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Monday, 22 July 2013

Sultry birds

Hello

Yesterday evening (Sunday) provided a Kingfisher at Welford Res and a Little Egret at adjacent Sulby Res, with families of Great Crested Grebes on both waters.

A walk around Harlestone Heath this morning (Monday) produced small numbers of very mobile Crossbills.  They were only ever seen in flight and there may have been just up to half-a-dozen birds involved.  A family of Spotted Flycatchers were also present near the A428 entrance.

A Hobby and the family of Little Owls were again present on the outskirts of Hanging Houghton this evening and four Crossbills flew south west over the Walgrave Bay at Pitsford Res at 8.10pm.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Raptors and ringing

Hi

This morning there was a ringing session held at Stortons GP under the leadership of John Woollett. Reasonable numbers of birds were dominated with catches of both adult and juvenile Reed and Sedge Warblers.  However, there were also plenty of juvenile Whitethroats about plus a couple of Blackcap and Willow Warbler. Other birds trapped and ringed included Linnet, Song Thrush and a male Sparrowhawk that was already in heavy wing moult.  Birds flying about included a couple of Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail and 2 Little Egrets.  Water Rails and Cetti's Warblers could be heard calling from the reeds.

At or just before 8.30am this morning, an Osprey carrying a very large fish laboured over the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.  He/she finally landed in a tree to try and subdue the wriggly monster which was eventually accomplished!  Other birds in the immediate vicinity included a Red Kite and a Hobby, with a pair of Grey Partridge near Beck Dairy, Cottesbrooke.  Another Red Kite was at Walgrave, where there have been regular sightings all summer.

At lunch-time today, a Common Buzzard was found in a bewildered state in the carriageway of the A508 Brixworth bypass, presumably having been clipped by a vehicle.  It was picked up and briefly rehabilitated before being released at Pitsford Reservoir where it flew off strongly.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Sparrowhawk

Common Buzzard

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Look out for 'crossbills'

Hi

Well it's looking interesting at the moment if you like Crossbills! Five Two-barred Crossbills have been found in Norfolk/Suffolk today and it looks like the southern half of the UK is experiencing visits from flocks of immigrant Common Crossbills including sites today in Northants.  

However, we didn't come across any ourselves and in fact the only birds of note were a single Red Kite at Harrington Airfield this morning and singles of Red Kite and Hobby in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this evening.

Regards

E & N

Friday, 19 July 2013

Little to report...

Hi

This morning there was a first summer Yellow-legged Gull off the dam at Pitsford Res and this evening a Hobby was seen at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell.

Regards

E & N

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Redstart

Hi 

This evening there was a juvenile Redstart on the old airstrip at Harrington Airfield, in the general vicinity of the second bunker.  It was quite vocal and as Redstarts go, quite easy to track down.  A single adult Grey Partridge was the only other bird of note.

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Pitsford Ringing

Hi

Ringers at Pitsford Res operating in the Scaldwell Bay were busy this morning in very warm conditions. Some 95 birds were caught and included nearly 30 warblers and many juvenile tits, which is something of a relief after last year's poor breeding season.  A juvenile Grasshopper Warbler was probably the bird of the session, and with no regular singing birds on site this year it is likely to be an early migrant passing through.

My thanks to Dave Francis for providing this update.

Regards

Neil M

Purple Emperors and supporting cast

Hi  

This morning was spent in the Fermyn Wood CP/Fermyn Wood/ Lady Wood and Souther Wood complex east of Corby looking at interesting insects.

The star of the show was the Purple Emperor butterfly which is currently showing very well in this warm weather.  The majority were males but one larger female was on the wing today.  These extraordinary insects can show very well and regularly spend long periods on the ground taking minerals, and it is quite common for them to land on delighted observers in search of salt!

Plenty of other butterflies were on the wing including White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak and White-letter Hairstreak.  

The country park ponds attracted Brown Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Four Spot Chaser, Ruddy Darter, Large Red Damselfly and Emerald Damselfly.  The Long Pond still contained plenty of Great Crested Newts showing well.

A Moorhen family included two adults, three first brood youngsters and three second brood youngsters.  Surprisingly the adults were feeding youngsters of both broods even though the first brood birds were easily capable of feeding themselves!

Plenty of common birds in the woods included good numbers of Nuthatch and Marsh Tit.  A Crossbill flew over Fermyn Wood and a Siskin was also present.  A small party of Crossbills were heard calling in Lady/Souther Wood.

Scanning over Blatherwycke Lake produced a Wigeon, two Black Swans and a Tufted Duck brood.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Small Tortoiseshell


Moorhen



Purple Emperor

Large Skipper

Emerald Damselfly

Ruddy Darter



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Evening flights

Hi

This evening a warm walk around Harrington Airfield was fairly uneventful, albeit that the bushes held plenty of juvenile warblers and finches.  A Hobby hurtled past as it began to cool.

Later this evening a Barn Owl was hunting the outskirts of Cottesbrooke village and the Little Owl family was again present just below Hanging Houghton, the juveniles being quite comical as they bobbed and tilted their heads trying to work out what a Border Collie and a birder on a bike was!

Regards

Eleanor

Monday, 15 July 2013

Hot wildlife

Hi

Warm and sunny right from the start today and insects dominated the sightings.  A drive to the north-east of the county yielded a Spotted Flycatcher at Fotheringhay before we strolled around Old Sulehay.  The birds were all predictable but included an extraordinary number of juvenile Green Woodpeckers.  Butterflies included plenty of Marbled Whites and some Small Heaths and Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids were on show.

A hot trundle then to Polebrook Airfield which produced three Turtle Doves (one singing and two in flight) and further specimens of Pyramidal Orchid and Marbled White.  The bean and linseed fields towards Hemington attracted Yellow Wagtails in some numbers, and a couple of juvenile Little Owls were on show near Barnwell.

A hot and sticky walk around the Titchmarsh Reserve at Thrapston GP was literally buzzing with insects but few birds of note. Redshanks were vocal, three Oystercatchers were still present and a couple of broods of Tufted Ducks were on the old Barclaycard Pit. A single Little Egret was on the trout lake and dragonflies were well represented with good numbers of Brown Hawker, Emperor and Black-tailed Skimmer plus the usual damselflies and Banded Demoiselle.  A single apparent Scarce Chaser showed well.  Two Silver-washed Fritillaries dancing around alongside the river was unexpected.  Plenty of other butterflies were on the wing including Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and a Red Admiral.

Plenty of small birds singing today were restricted to the species that attempt multiple broods in a season.  As such, some warblers are now singing with almost the same passion as when they first arrived, and even Blackbird, Song Thrush etc are singing despite the very hot conditions.

A quick look from the Pioneer Hide at the Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton provided views of  five broods of Tufted Duck and good numbers of fledged Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls. Three Little Egrets, a couple each of Shoveler, Gadwall and Teal and four Wigeon were also on show and there were numerous Black-tailed Skimmers chasing each other around the muddy margins of the scrape.  Emperor and Brown Hawker were here too and at least one Marbled White was on the wing by the main car park.

Regards

Neil M




Hoverfly sp


Meadow Brown

Southern Hawker.  Misidentified
as a freshly-emerged Brown Hawker,
the markings at the end of the body
are diagnostic of Southern.  My thanks
to Doug Goddard for pointing out
my error (perhaps I should stick to birds)!

Pyramidal Orchid

Red Kite

Emperor Dragonfly

Scarce Chaser.  I hope I
have identified it correctly -
a new species for me!

Tufted Duck brood

Juvenile Sedge Warbler

Comma

Ringlet

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Pitsford CBC

Hi

Yesterday evening provided a beautiful summer sunset in the Brampton Valley and over Blueberry Farm.  A Hobby was seen just below the village at Hanging Houghton.

This morning I accompanied David Arden to complete the last Common Bird Census of the season at Pitsford Res.  Plenty of common birds on-site and good to see plenty more juveniles than last year.  Ducks included a female Red-crested Pochard, a Wigeon and a pink or red-billed Tufted Duck all in the Walgrave Bay and several Teal and about 140 Gadwall scattered about north of the causeway. There were plenty of broods of Coot and a couple of broods of Great Crested Grebe and a brood of Tufted Duck.  Eight species of warbler were recorded and some of the young Common Terns have fledged from the rafts in the Scaldwell Bay.

We saw a Grass Snake and when the sun did finally come out, insects included Emperor and Brown Hawker dragonflies. Butterflies included large numbers of Ringlets, smaller numbers of Meadow Brown and a single Gatekeeper.  Large and Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma were also on the wing.

Regards

Neil M


Sunset over Blueberry Farm

Small Skipper

Large Skipper

Ringlet

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Livestock checks

Hi

Today I accompanied Neil Hasdell as he visited a number of county Wildlife Trust reserves checking on the livestock.  The trust manages many reserves with the grazing power of sheep and cattle, but of course these animals require daily welfare checks.

We visited High Wood in the west of the county first, and a collection of Marbled White butterflies was good to see, an insect which seems to be less localised in the county these days.  Common woodland birds included fledged juvenile Green Woodpeckers and Song Thrushes.

A quick look at the small meadow reserve of Ramsden Corner provided Spotted Flycatcher and Marsh Tit in the adjacent copse.

Then a bit of a drive over to the Titchmarsh reserve at Thrapston GP.  In this heat the livestock can be surprisingly hard to find as they take shelter in bushes and scrub, but today they gave themselves up easily!  A few waders present here included 3 Oystercatchers, a Greenshank, 2 Redshank and a Dunlin.  Fledged juvenile Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls were from the reserve island and raft. As always, plenty of Common Buzzards and Red Kites here and large numbers of insects on the wing.

A Marbled White and some Roselle's Bush-Crickets (also spelt Roesel's it seems) were on show from a small lay-by off the A45 near Thrapston and we then drove on to Ditchford GP to check two areas managed by cattle.  Birds noted included a couple of Kingfishers and plenty of dragonflies included Southern Hawker.

Regards

Neil M



Marbled White

Two juvenile Song Thrushes accompanied
by an adult bird sunning themselves in the
canopy at High Wood

Female Banded Demoiselle

Male Banded Demoiselle

Longhorn Beetle sp


Seemingly a Four Spot Chaser but
the 'jizz' just didn't seem right!

Roselle's Bush-Cricket

Red-eyed Damselfly



Thursday, 11 July 2013

Harrington Orchids

Hi

A wander at Harrington Airfield this morning and I couldn't get over how overgrown everywhere was!  There has obviously been a really good show of Common Spotted Orchids mostly along the old airstrip, but sadly they are going over now.  Normally there are also Bee Orchids but they have been dwindling in recent years.

A couple of Kingfishers were along the brook in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon and the Red Kite remains in the immediate area.

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Birding re-adjustment!

Hi

A visit to Ravensthorpe Res this morning played a part in my re-adjustment to local birding expectations!  Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Moorhen were the first in over six weeks!  A Mandarin Duck was on the small side visible from the causeway and there was evidence of the now traditional local summer build-up of ducks as they progress through the eclipse stage.  Good numbers of loafing Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck were interspersed with a few Pochard and Shoveler.

Not much else to report today but a Red Kite was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton late morning, and there has clearly been a major Ringlet butterfly emergence during the last few days.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 8 July 2013

Back to Northants birding

Hi

On arrival back from Scotland this evening, I took the dogs out for a good walk at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell and then back to Hanging Houghton.  An Osprey flew over from the direction of Cottesbrooke towards Maidwell (honestly we didn't bring it back with us)!

A bird very much more associated with Northants (and we didn't see any in Scotland) is the Little Owl, and it was nice to see two fledged youngsters just below the village here at Hanging Houghton.

Regards

Eleanor

Scotland Day 43 and 44 (6th and 7th July)

Hi

Our last two days of our Scottish trip, started on Saturday morning with further visits to small woodland reserves within the Insh Marshes complex, a return to Uath Lochans and associated woodland and a look at Loch Insh itself.  We then drove to Newtonmore and took the dead-end road to Laggan which we were advised was good for wildlife.  It seemed quiet but then a Pine Marten hopped, skipped and jumped across the track and disappeared in to a plantation carrying prey.  However all the subsequent wildlife sightings from this road were pretty much repeats of what we had seen elsewhere.  We then said good-bye to the Highlands and drove south in to Perth and Kinross.  A singing male Common Rosefinch has been summering in a hamlet off the beaten track to the west of Pitlochry.  Although it hadn't been reported for five days, on arrival and even before we had turned the engine off the bird could be heard singing!  It kept its distance at the top of some very high conifers but was a smashing pink bird.  Apart from its own song, rather disconcertingly it also sang a perfect rendition of a Greenfinch and also phrases of Goldfinch and Chaffinch!  Clearly it has been there too long!  A fly-over Osprey was about the sixth individual that day.

We finished the birding day in Forestry Commission woodland near Pitlochry which produced yet more Crossbills, Siskins, Tree Pipit etc, and then drove on to B & B accommodation in Callender.

Sunday morning and we explored the Braco area which in the spring is good for Black Grouse.  However, despite plenty of searching we again failed to connect, so we simply had to do with Crossbill, Raven, Red Kite, Osprey, Tree Pipit etc.  The roadside verges were good for day-flying moths such as Chimney Sweeper and plenty of orchids.

Nuthatch, Magpie and Yellowhammer were the first for some weeks and a few Chiffchaffs were on territory (scarce much further north).

In the afternoon we visited a Red Kite feeding station west of Stirling near Doune at a farm called Argaty.  Lots of research locally emanating from this centre including Red Kite support and monitoring.  Relatively small numbers came down to feed on bits of carrion, swooping down and snatching morsels in their characteristic fashion.  A couple of local Common Buzzards had learnt too, but used a bold horizontal dash and grab tactic rather than the vertical stoop of the kites.  A few images of the kites flying around in the hot conditions are subject of a separate tab on this blog-site entitled 'Hot Red Kites'.

The evening was spent exploring the hills and lochs to the west of Callender.  Plenty of common birds and another juvenile Cuckoo was seen with attendant Meadow Pipits as adoptive parents.  

And that was finally the end of our Scottish trip and now time perhaps for a rest!

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Four Spot Chaser (dragonfly)

Goldeneye with ducklings

Common Rosefinch

Common Buzzard