Friday, 28 February 2014

Cool and wet!

Hello

A planned ringing session at Kelmarsh Hall this morning was partly compromised due to the wet and cool weather, but we managed to catch 67 birds between the showers.  Perhaps surprisingly 43 of these were new birds and there is clearly a good number of new birds on-site.  

Only nine species were represented but number-wise it included two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and ten Goldfinches.  Considering the number of Goldfinches caught and ringed in the county these days, we seem to have a rather poor rate of follow-up reports.  In most winters it is assumed that we support both local and birds from elsewhere, but the data so far is rather limited. 

A couple of Siskins were also noted at Kelmarsh Hall and nearby there were twelve or so Bramblings on the scattered seed at Harrington Airfield.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A quiet day...

Hello

Today was one of those "quiet times" at Harrington, with the fields being devoid of the winter thrushes and Skylarks. It was indeed eerily quiet !!  

The only birds of note were at least 10 Bramblings and 2 Red Kites. But there was lovely blue skies and sunshine.

There was a single Raven over Scotland Wood and at nearby Blueberry my little "helpers" found 2 Woodcock, and a Barn Owl was out hunting, which looked very ghostly in the late afternoon sunshine.

Regards

Eleanor

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Fulmar!

Hello

A walk at Harrington Airfield this morning was very pleasant but the birds were restricted to a Raven, several Red Kites, a Green Sandpiper and just four Bramblings. One or two Grey Wagtail(s) were present at Brixworth Sewer Works.

A Fulmar was found at Ravensthorpe Res today by local birder Mark Piper.  I popped over there this afternoon and saw it by the island near to the dam at 4.20pm.  Eleanor went over later and walked around the reservoir.  The Fulmar was still by the island at 5.45pm and looks in good health.  Other birds noted included six Smew (three drakes) and 42 Goldeneye, both species displaying well.

I examined a long-dead Goshawk today which had been found on the Kelmarsh Estate.  This bird was an escaped captive bird and unfortunately it looks as if died after the devices on its legs becoming entangled in a bush.

Regards

Neil M



Grey Wagtail


Pied Wagtail


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Pitsford Glaucous Gull

Hello

Eleanor's midday excursion to Harrington Airfield today provided further views of the female Merlin, the Green Sandpiper still, at least two Red Kites and twenty Bramblings (the latter at SP 755799) as well as a Roe Deer at the north-west end of the concrete track.

The gull roost at Pitsford Res this afternoon gave the impression of new birds passing through and the large gulls included a pale juvenile Glaucous Gull, the first one to be seen in the gull roost there for a good few years.

Regards

Neil M



Tor and his disabled
companions Bobsey
and Theo enjoying
Harrington Airfield!


Tor, seemingly a Harrier Hound
and the latest addition to the family!



Monday, 24 February 2014

Pitsford WeBs

Hello

Today was spent at Pitsford Reservoir, completing the monthly WeBs count.  Birds noted included the Great Northern Diver (near the Holly Tree), a Great White Egret (Moulton Grange Bay), a Little Egret, an adult male Peregrine, an Oystercatcher, 67 Snipe, a Jack Snipe, a Green Sandpiper, the immature drake Scaup (Holly Tree area), a Ross's Goose, a Bar-headed Goose, 9 Goosanders, 1-2 Raven(s), 2 Nuthatches, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Grey Wagtails, 6 Bramblings, 2 redpoll sp and 20 Siskins.

Four Bramblings were present at Harrington Airfield this afternoon and a Green Sandpiper was present yesterday.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil


Black-headed Gull
Pitsford Res



Drake Goldeneye
Pitsford Res

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A day trip to Norfolk

Hello

Eleanor visited Harrington Airfield this morning and again saw a female Merlin, two Red Kites and at least 12 Bramblings.

In the meantime I visited Norfolk with a small crew.  It seemed that no matter where you were today the wind was very strong and sometimes made birding difficult.  A probing Woodcock on a roadside verge near Wolferton was a little unexpected.

Our first venue was mature conifer plantations near to Holt Country Park, a site that is currently attracting a flock of Parrot Crossbills. Initially we saw a splendid adult male, and then up to five, which then grew to nine, then eleven and finally fifteen or sixteen birds. At least two Common Crossbills were present in the trees too. Unfortunately the windy conditions prevented a close approach and no decent images are available.  A couple of Woodlarks were a pleasant surprise.

By noon we had finally arrived at the sea and saw the first of several large flocks of Brent Geese.  A flighty Richard's Pipit showed in flight at Granborough Hill, Salthouse.  A walk around Stiffkey Fen and scanning in to Blakeney Harbour produced some extra birds in the shape of many common waders which included both species of godwit and a decent flock of Avocet.  Plenty of wildfowl included Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck and a calling Mediterranean Gull graced the freshwater pools there.  Six Great Northern Divers were fishing the shallows in the harbour mouth and a slow-flying Sparrowhawk attempted to catch waders in the creeks of the saltmarsh.

Our last venue was Holkham Freshmarsh which normally at this time of the year hosts vasts numbers of geese, particularly Pinkfeet. However, the huge skeins of Pink-footed were absent, presumably due to the very mild conditions.  Small numbers of Pinkfeet associated with good numbers of White-fronted Geese and Egyptian, Canada, Brent and Greylag were dotted about in twos or small flocks.  We failed to connect with the rather elusive Rough-legged Buzzard which is currently in residence, the three Common Buzzards, six or so Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine were the best we could do!

Regards

Neil M



Turnstone




Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Quality passerines

Hello

After morning chores (more feed stations), I picked up Neil H and we went off to complete some birding in the county.  A dozen Bramblings were on the seed at Harrington Airfield and 13 Grey Herons flew up from the heronry at Pitsford Res when a couple of Common Buzzards strayed too close.  Hopefully this means that there are at least half a dozen pairs breeding in the dense conifers.

A rare visit to Stanwick Gravel Pits was made in an effort to see the Marbled Duck, but despite scanning from a variety of angles the bird couldn't be located on the main pit.  Waders included c130 Golden Plovers, 9 Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers.   A couple of Cetti's Warblers included one showing rather well and singles of Siskin and redpoll sp flew over.

We decided to have a look for the normally rather elusive Great Grey Shrike near Lowick.  This bird hadn't been reported for a couple of weeks, but it soon showed itself in trees and hedges along the footpath that runs between the village and the Greenside Wood complex.  In the strong wind this bird was prone to Kestrel-like hovering and at one stage seemed to have a bumble-bee in it's bill. In the strong sunlight it was possible to determine a weak pinkish flush to the underside, presumably indicating it is a male bird.

Next was a wander around Fermyn Wood Country Park where there were plenty of people but not much in the way of birds, apart from a Siskin or two. A single Great Crested Newt showed itself a couple of times in one of the ponds and the cafe paninis were very good!

Our final destination was Thrapston GP and we noted a Little Egret, three Goosanders, two Oystercatchers, the Long-tailed Duck on Town Lake and a Chiffchaff.  However the best birds were two Firecrests which were reasonably vocal but quite secretive in the bushes and brambles alongside the River Nene and Willowbrook Lake, close to the footbridge that leads from Town lake on to the Titchmarsh Reserve.

Regards

Neil M


Kestrel
Lowick
Flying-away shot of the
Great Grey Shrike!

Firecrest
Thrapston GP

Friday, 21 February 2014

Ditchford WeBs

Hello

This morning the Nordic-type Jackdaw was noticed again at Hanging Houghton, there were a couple of Siskins at Scotland Wood and at least four Bramblings were on the seed at Harrington Airfield.

Then it was time to drive over to Ditchford Gravel Pits and complete the monthly Wetlands Birds Count.

A strong cool wind created an edge to what would have been a bright and pleasant day, some of the gusts making birding west of Ditchford Lane quite difficult.  Birds of note in this section of the complex included the drake Scaup still, a pair of Smew, an adult female Peregrine and an Oystercatcher.  The older pits were quieter but did attract three Goosanders and a Water Rail.

The planned bird ringing demonstration for Stanwick GP this Sunday (23rd) has been cancelled due to the weather forecast indicating strong winds and powerful gusts.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 20 February 2014

More stirrings of Spring?

Hello

Garden birds here at Hanging Houghton this morning included three Reed Buntings and a Brambling.

This afternoon and a foray around the Harrington Airfield complex provided views of a female Merlin, a couple of Red Kites and 20 Bramblings.  Skylarks had either increased in number or were simply more obvious both visually and vocally today, there perhaps being no coincidence that a Merlin was there too!

The Great Northern Diver was again visible from the dam at Pitsford Reservoir late this afternoon.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Ancient Great Tit

Hello

Yesterday (Tuesday), and Eleanor saw two Otters again at Market Harborough on the River Welland next to Sainsbury's.

A mid-week ringing session at Pitsford Res at two sites (Old Scaldwell Road and Christies Copse) provided an opportunity of catching and assessing 124 birds.  The weather conditions have meant it has been impossible for sustained ringing operations but the relatively still and dull conditions today provided an opportunity to utilise mist nets.  There were no surprising species, but the catch included five Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 11 Tree Sparrows, 5 Reed Buntings and common tits and finches.

For me, the most interesting bird was a re-trap Great Tit.  This bird was first ringed at the reservoir by The Lodge in December 2007 when it was aged as a bird hatched that year.  Today it was located at Christies Copse - this bird now being six and a half years old.

A couple of Siskins were around Christies Copse and a rabbit-sized Muntjac confirmed that they breed all-year-round on site.

The Great Northern Diver was visible off the dam at Pitsford this afternoon, as was a Kingfisher and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.  A Grey Wagtail was again at Brixworth Sewer Works and Harrington Airfield hosted 20 Bramblings, 2 Ravens and a pair of Grey Partridge this morning.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 17 February 2014

Not long 'til Spring now!

Hello


A day of consolidation was required with plenty of odd-jobs around the house this morning.  A furtive Goldcrest inspected the now three still-live potted Christmas trees that adorn the garden and three Common Buzzards in the field behind us were very noisy and seemed to be involved in a bit of a 'domestic dispute'.


A brief visit to feed the birds at Harrington Airfield was sufficient to witness a big hike in the Brambling numbers, with 25 birds counted just after 2pm.


A single Red Kite sauntered over Maidwell village, half a dozen flighty redpoll sp were in Brixworth Country Park and a Barn Owl and two Ravens were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Finally the Great Northern Diver at Pitsford Res was viewed off the Holly Bush late this afternoon but my efforts at finding a storm-driven pelagic gull in the roost drew a blank!


Regards


Neil M

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Gloucestershire attractions!

Hello

Today was another day out in Gloucestershire, the initial venue for our small crew being a small valley in the south of the county which is currently hosting a wintering Red-flanked Bluetail.  This little star was on show as soon as we arrived and although he didn't come as close as we would have liked, his Redstart-like behaviour, tail flicking, sharp call and apricot-coloured flanks with a blue fore-wing and tail ensured it was a pleasure to behold.  In the strong sunshine he was sub-songing, albeit that the rush of the nearby water meant we couldn't hear what it sounded like. 

A couple of Ravens and a singing Grey Wagtail were the best of the rest and after some brunch we decided to spend the rest of the day at the Wildfowl and Wetlands reserve at Slimbridge.

The winter sunshine continued as we panned through very large numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and other waders on the wet meadows and dumbles, and checked the grazing geese to locate Eurasian White-fronted and a single Tundra Bean.  Raptors included Sparrowhawk, several Common Buzzards and a marauding Peregrine.  A couple of Common Cranes strode the dumbles between the hides and the River Severn and scarcer waders included Little Stint and Avocet.

The pens or paddocks holding the pinioned and captive waterfowl are always interesting and our experience included hand-feeding captive Smew, photographing potential vagrants to the UK and studying exotic water-birds from all over the world.  Some North American River Otters were on show in one pen (a close relative to our Otters).

More wild bird birding was good for a variety of common birds, particularly with plenty of feeders bringing them in nice and close.  A couple of Cetti's Warblers were both showy and vocal.

We finished the day by watching plenty of waterfowl coming in to the afternoon feeding session, although not as many Bewick's Swans arrived as we had hoped.

Nevertheless a super end to another great day's birding!

Regards

Neil M


 
Raven


 
Bewick's Swan

 
Captive female Lesser Scaup.
A bird yet to be recorded in
Northamptonshire, and surely
a hot contender as the next
addition to the county list?

 
Rook

 
Drake Pintail

Sunny Sunday !!

Hello

A day of wall to wall sunshine made a pleasant change from the recent rain. Consequently I spent most of my day outside. I started at Harrington Airfield where the birds were waiting to be fed. At the moment the numbers of birds visiting mean that we feed every day. 

At one point this morning there was a myriad of colours as Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches, Robins, Blackbirds, Redwings, Woodpigeons, and at least 10 Brambling fed side by side.

There were a pair of Grey Partridge at the end of the track and several Common Buzzards loafing around the bunkers.

I didn't see anything else until I spent a hour loitering along the track waiting for Tor, our new boy, to come back from his foray following his nose.  This enforced wait produced 2 Ravens, 2 Red Kites, a Grey Wagtail and at least 4 Lesser Redpolls.

Whilst in the garden the air was filled by the mew of the Common Buzzards, evocative calls of the Red Kites and the baritone calls of the Ravens. These birds may have been the ones seen earlier at Harrington.

Late this afternoon I took a good walk around the Blueberry area and saw more of the same, 2 Ravens, 3 Red Kites, 10+ Common Buzzards, plus a female Peregrine whom I often bump into.

There were also 2 Barn Owl, but no sign of the Stonechats which may have moved on.  But it was really just nice to be out and about !

Regards

Eleanor

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Winter storm birding

Hello

This morning was taken up squelching through a variety of sites topping up the feeders at our wild bird feed stations.  The lengthy and very powerful storms of last night have caused a great deal of tree damage locally, many of the toppled trees hanging against others.

Late morning saw seven Bramblings feeding on the seed at Harrington Airfield and a Red Kite sauntering over nearby fields.

This afternoon a large flock of c100 Yellowhammers were feeding in a field near Pitsford Res, and it was great to see them feeding with good numbers of Skylarks, Linnets and other birds - just as we used to see it thirty years ago!

At Pitsford Res the resilience of the breeding Cormorants continues to be tested, the south-west gales blowing straight in to their tree colony.  However fifteen nests were still occupied this afternoon - they are obviously as tough as they look.  They certainly coped better than one of the observation hides which lost it's roof wholesale!

Despite spending the rest of the day at Pitsford Res I struggled to find much of note.  Five Goosanders flew in to the Scaldwell Bay but scanning in the vicinity of the dam and subsequent gull roost provided nothing new.

Eleanor witnessed a Great White Egret and a Little Egret flying over the main causeway in a southerly direction at about 4.30pm and Neil H notched up two Little Egrets and the Bar-headed Goose south of the causeway this morning.

Regards

Neil M


 
Little Grebe
Pitsford Res

 
Mute Swan
Pitsford Res

 
Not taken today, but a deserved
splash of colour and contrast courtesy
 of Jan Devito with her image of a
Marbled White butterfly at
High Wood from a couple of
years ago.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Rain birds!

Hello

Plenty of wind and rain again today, just for a change!

Three Bramblings were visible at Harrington Airfield at lunch-time and c60 Golden Plovers were seen in flight there.

At Pitsford Res, a Red Kite was just west of the Walgrave Bay this morning and this afternoon the Great Northern Diver was fishing at the mouth of the Yacht Bay and an adult Mediterranean Gull appeared amongst the gulls coming in to roost.

Regards

Neil M

 
Pied Wagtail
Pitsford Res

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Pitsford Reservoir Wildlife and Habitat update

Hello

A Pitsford Reservoir Team Meeting was chaired by the wardens Sarah and Mischa this evening, providing an opportunity of learning the results of some of the recent wildlife monitoring and habitat management processes.  Some points are summarised below:-

  • Quite significant tree damage has occurred on the reserve due to the winter storms, with several of the mature poplars in the Scaldwell Bay having collapsed;
  • Another sixty or so trees around the reserve will require remedial work for safety reasons;
  • Following an innovative design and airing at the recent BTO Conference by Dave Francis, further Treecreeper nest boxes will be erected and adopted as part of a national survey;
  • In excess of 22,000 individual moths were captured and released in the nightly moth traps during 2013.  This included 288 different species which is above the average for the site and included five new species for Pitsford;
  • On-going long-term algae survey work by Chris Carter continues to locate interesting blooms in a variety of habitats associated with open water, ponds and back-waters, and Frances Hicks has collated all the records of local Bryophytes associated with the reserve, this programme commencing in the early 1990s;
  • The monitoring of insects and similar small creatures has identified 13 species of Harvestmen, 49 species of Caddis Fly and 10 species of ant utilising the reserve;
  • A Grass Snake survey using strategically placed reptile refuges will continue, mostly in the Holcot Bay, and has produced reasonable numbers of individuals habitually using these warm-up shelters;
  • Breeding Bird Surveys have been conducted consistently since 1994 and this project is now providing medium-term data trends and an opportunity for meaningful analysis.
Much of this monitoring has been carried out by volunteers working on the reserve, with their endeavours being documented in the Annual Report.  To the future this report will concentrate on the specific activities of the previous year and master lists of species recorded etc will be maintained by the full-time wardens.  It is hoped that the Annual Report for 2013 will be published in May this year.

Regards

Neil M

Harrington update

Hello

Eleanor spent a couple of hours wandering at Harrington Airfield this morning and at least 14 Bramblings were on the feed at the concrete entrance off the Draughton Road.  A couple of Tree Sparrows have joined the throng during the last few days.  Other birds noted at Harrington Airfield included a pair of Grey Partridge, two Red Kites, two Ravens and a female Peregrine.

Regards

Neil M

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Gale force birding

Hello

In interesting weather conditions today, joint birding and wild bird feeding station maintenance was accompanied with sunshine, rain (plenty of it), hail, sleet and violent gales!  Despite these conditions, no storm-driven birds could be located at Pitsford Res.

A walk around Sywell Country Park with the precipitation coming violently horizontal was interesting, the only birds of note being a pair of Smew (about noon).  Still the dogs enjoyed the outing and they virtually had the whole place to themselves!

A few Siskin were noted at Hanging Houghton and Kelmarsh Hall and a Grey Wagtail was accompanied by a few Meadow Pipits in water-logged fields near Brixworth Sewer Works.

This morning there was a pair of Raven in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and a Grey Wagtail was at Draughton Pond, which continues to host good numbers of wildfowl particularly Wigeon and Teal.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Bird Ringing Demonstration

Hello

Some advance notice that on Sunday 23rd February there is a planned wild bird ringing demonstration at Stanwick Lakes, which is part of the Stanwick Gravel Pits complex off the A45 between Higham Ferrers and Thrapston.  This event is weather-dependent and with luck the constant strong winds and rain will have subsided by then!

The event is a team effort between the rangers on-site and members of the Northants Ringing Group, and on the day we will be led by Ian Wrisdale who is also the leader of the very active Mid-Nene RSPB group.

It is anticipated that most of the birds will be common birds of the Northants countryside, with a blend of species more akin to aquatic habitats.  More details will follow as we progress nearer the day and everyone is invited to attend and to witness exactly what bird ringing is about, what it hopes to achieve and also observe our feathered friends up close and personal.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 10 February 2014

Stortons Ringing

Hello

I wasn't the only one out ringing today.  With the comparative lull in the weather before the next onslaught, John Woollett and team undertook a ringing session at Stortons Gravel Pits today.

Eighty-three birds were caught including many new arrivals.  Species included Great Spotted Woodpecker and lots of Reed Buntings, Goldfinches and Greenfinches and a good selection of other common birds.  Much of the influx of new birds was made up of Reed Buntings; the ringing team here have come to expect this at about this time.  A Chiffchaff was noted on-site.

Regards

Neil M

The calm before yet another storm...

Hello

Another period of ringing was undertaken at Sunderland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate today.  Sixty birds of 12 species were caught and assessed in pleasant spring-like conditions.  These included iconic woodland species such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Marsh Tit.

At least two Bramblings were with other birds on the seed at Harrington Airfield this afternoon and the Great Northern Diver at Pitsford Res was fishing in the mouth of the Yacht Bay late this afternoon.

Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Bramblings

Hello

Little opportunity of birding today but I enjoyed some decent fresh air whilst servicing five of our wild bird feeding stations this morning.

I spent several minutes watching the broadcast seed at Harrington Airfield and it didn't take long for the myriad of colours to start blending as gorgeous male Yellowhammers fed alongside the pinks of male Chaffinches, greens of male Greenfinches and blacks and browns of the male and female Blackbirds.  More sombre colours were provided by Dunnocks, Reed Buntings and Pied Wagtails but of course the centre-stage birds were twelve Bramblings with that unique and stunning vivid orange, most striking in the males.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Gale force birds!

Hello

An excursion to Blueberry Farm near Maidwell this afternoon provided views of birds moving fast in the very strong wind and included a pair of Raven, a Red Kite and the regular female Peregrine.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon the Great Northern Diver was seen in flight and splashing down in to the waves in the main basin and later seen fishing towards the mouth of the Pintail Bay.  An adult Mediterranean Gull was present in the gull roost off the yacht club.

Regards

E & N


 
Common Gull



 
Cormorants in breeding
plumage


Pitsford update

Hello

A meander around the reservoir at Pitsford this morning produced some birds of interest.  The Great Northern Diver was seen in flight and it splashed down near to the dam.  A Great White Egret was mostly concealed in willow bushes in the Moulton Grange Bay as were three Goosander and three Little Egrets.  Gary Burrows saw the drake Scaup but we couldn't find it and I assume it had found a nice bay to shelter from the increasingly strong gale!

A female Merlin was seen a couple of times, a Jack Snipe, a fourth Little Egret and six Smew were all south of the causeway (a pair near the Holly Tree and four concealed under willows in the Catwalk Bay).  Another two Smew were in the Holcot Bay, making a total of eight birds present today.  A pair of Red-crested Pochard were visible in the Walgrave Bay and the Bar-headed Goose was reported.  A couple of Grey Wagtails and wind-blown redpoll sp were south of the causeway.

Elsewhere, a Brambling and a Red Kite were noted at Hanging Houghton and there were two Bramblings on the seed at Harrington Airfield, albeit that the feeding area was somewhat wind-blasted!

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 7 February 2014

Siskins and tits

Hello

Yesterday (Thursday), and a walk around Sywell Country Park provided a flock of c50 Siskins, but nothing else of note.

Today (Friday) and about c6 Siskins were around the village here at Hanging Houghton.  At Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon, the birds included 2 Red Kites, 2 Ravens and a female Peregrine.

A ringing session at Sunderland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate this afternoon provided a capture of 63 birds, 48 of which were new.  One of the first Blue Tits processed was a bird first ringed at Hanging Houghton in September last year.   Blue Tits and Great Tits made up the bulk of the captured birds, the vast majority of these tits being birds hatched just last year. 

Other birds caught and ringed included 3 Coal Tits, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Treecreepers, a Bullfinch and a couple of Chaffinches.  A couple of Sparrowhawks were racing around the wood and other sightings included a Siskin and 2 Woodcock.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Moulton Grange Bay

Hello

Scanning the Moulton Grange Bay at Pitsford Res this morning confirmed the continuing present of one Great White Egret.  Other birds included two Little Egrets and a drake Goosander.  The gull roost off the yacht club later in the day was unremarkable.  In a windy and difficult day for birding, the only other bird of note was a Grey Wagtail at Brixworth Sewer Works.

Regards

Neil M

Northants Bird Club presentation tonight on Bhutan

Hello

A reminder to Northants Bird Club members and an invitation to non-club members to attend the illustrated talk tonight on the Birds of Bhutan.  This will be a presentation delivered by our own Jeff Blincow who is a well-known and seasoned presenter as well as an excellent all-round naturalist talking about his recent visit to the poorly-known country of Bhutan.  The more obscure Asian countries probably retain more of the natural fauna and flora than the adjacent high-population countries and I know that Jeff will have tried his very best to photograph most of it!  Anyone who knows Jeff's photographic skills will know we are in for a treat!

The venue is the Moulton Village Hall off Pound Lane, Moulton on the southern outskirts of Northampton.  We gather from 7.30pm with a view to starting at 7.45pm.  Non-members may be asked to provide a small contribution for attendance.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Neil M

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bits and Bobs

Today it was a case of snatching birding moments when I could.

Firstly whilst playing football in the field behind the house with the dogs there were 2 cronking Ravens and 4 Redpolls over . Whilst drinking coffee in the garden afterwards to recover I could hear the evocative calls of a couple of Red Kites and mewing call of the Common Buzzards as they had woken up and were clearly making the most of the bright and breezy weather.

I went for a run and again heard Ravens, probably the same two birds and a Grey Wagtail.

I then made a brief visit to Pitsford Reservoir to top up the feeders.  As I walked along to the main feeding station I noticed that the water appeared empty of birds. Why?  I then met a very unhappy birder who had his first ever visit to Pitsford ruined by the presence of 3 boats and 3 + men from DEFRA who were attempting to shoot the two remaining Ruddy Ducks which have been frequenting the Scaldwell Arm.  Of course this had severely disrupted and unnerved all the wildfowl.  I think this whole issue and handling raises so many questions, and it is actually quite a distressing sight to witness.

This afternoon I took Bazra and Tor on a good walk around Blueberry Farm where there were plenty of Common Buzzards,  including the stunning white individual, 4 Red Kites, a Barn Owl, a Grey Wagtail and a female Peregrine, the raptors finding the sun and wind to their liking and clearly enjoying themselves.

Regards

Eleanor

Monday, 3 February 2014

A dry day in Northants

Hello

A Red Kite was worming at Harrington Airfield this morning and the usual woodland birds were very vocal in the woods on the Kelmarsh Estate.

This afternoon and a visit to Pitsford Res provided views of the Great Northern Diver, a drake Scaup and two 'redhead' Smew north of the dam in the vicinity of The Holly Tree . North of the causeway, birds in the Walgrave Bay included a Woodcock, a Chiffchaff and three Siskins.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Finches galore

Hello

A ringing session at Stortons Gravel Pits this morning provided an opportunity to catch about fifty birds.  The highlights included a Water Rail, two Moorhens, and plenty of Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings.  Two Reed Buntings were controls from elsewhere.

I was one of a small crew that ventured down to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire today where the weather was not quite as good as the bright and sunny conditions here in Northamptonshire!
Nevertheless we enjoyed a great day of quality woodland birding with the finch family taking centre stage.

Various sections of the forest were visited which included the viewpoint at New Fancy View and the woodland outskirts of the villages of Parkend and Brierley.

Exceptionally we saw large numbers of Hawfinches, probably in excess of forty birds which included flocks of 17 and 21.  A large mixed finch flock included many Bramblings, although they remained elusive amongst the leaf litter and beech plantations.  Crossbills were on show at almost every venue and the star birds of the day for many were about six Two-barred Crossbills in amongst one flock of Common Crossbills.  The Two-barreds emitted three different calls which included the superb nasal bugle calls.

A Dipper looked a little bizarre as it swam and fed in a shallow pond and the forest Goshawks showed very well with up to five individuals which included perched adult females and displaying males.  If only we could replicate these sightings in our own county!

Regards

Neil M


 
Water Rail at
Stortons GP by
Chris Payne

 
Male Two-barred Crossbill

 
Male Two-barred Crossbill
and nearby male Common Crossbill.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

From rain to wind

Hello

Today was good inasmuch that there wasn't any sustained rain and hopefully everyone saw some sunshine, even if it was a strong, cold wind.

Brixworth Sewer Works again hosted up to three Grey Wagtails this morning, and also provided cover for a Snipe and Water Rail with a redpoll sp over.

The Great Northern Diver was seen at Pitsford Res, riding the choppy brown water near to Yacht Bay (about noon).

Four Bramblings were found along the Brampton Valley Way just north of Lamport Station and another eight were at Harrington Airfield, which also hosted a pair of Grey Partridge.

A good hike around Blueberry Farm was just that - the strong wind ensured that all the birds were keeping their heads down!

A quick visit to Market Harborough this afternoon failed to locate the Otters; the very brown River Welland was swollen but still attracted Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail and I'm sure the Otters weren't far away!

Regards

Neil M