Monday, 31 March 2014

Pitsford am

Hello

A number of gulls in the Pintail Bay at Pitsford Res this morning included a smart summer plumage Mediterranean Gull and six Little Gulls (all still present at 10.30am).  The Great Northern Diver was also in the same bay and the Red-necked Grebe was by the valve tower off the dam...

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Spring migration

Hello

Warm and almost sultry conditions today were perfect for bird ringing, but nobody told the birds!  Sessions at two sites at Pitsford Res only caught relatively small numbers of birds, the highlights perhaps being a Chiffchaff, 10 Tree Sparrows, 4 Goldfinches, 4 Yellowhammers, a Marsh Tit, a Willow Tit and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Chris Payne in the meantime was ringing down at Greens Norton, his garden being particularly good for finches and Reed Buntings. Amongst his usual fare was a splendid male Lesser Redpoll (please see the images below).

The first couple of hours of daylight this morning saw a heavy diurnal passage of birds at Pitsford Res, gulls and finches being the most obvious.  Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails joined Siskins, Linnets, Goldfinches redpoll sp and Brambling all moving north over the reservoir, some very high up (and mostly unidentifiable). Crossbills were on the move with two over south west at 7.15am, a flock of eight arrived at Christies Copse and fed in a Scot's Pine before moving south-west at 7.45am, and at 10am a flock of seven did much the same thing.

This evening the Red-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver were in the Pintail Bay and a fine adult Mediterranean Gull was in the now small gull roost.

Brixworth Sewer Works attracted a Grey Wagtail and a Snipe and Harrington Airfield hosted 8-10 Bramblings, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Wheatears and 3 Sand Martins over.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Saturday, 29 March 2014

Birds of a warm south-easterly

Hello

A ringing session at Sunderland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate today was useful in capturing 75 birds.  Most of them were new birds and included new immigrants in the shape of 11 Chaffinches and 3 Chiffchaffs. Resident birds included 7 Coal Tits, 3 Treecreepers and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

At Harrington Airfield today, birds seen included 6 Bramblings, 58 Golden Plovers and c70 Fieldfares.  The Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon yielded 2 Wheatears, 20 Golden Plovers and a hunting Barn Owl.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Friday, 28 March 2014

Northants Bird Club meeting - 2nd April

Hello

This is a reminder to Northants Bird Club members and an invitation to non-members to attend the next NBC indoor presentation on Wednesday 2nd April at our usual venue of Moulton Village Hall.  We aim to start at 7.45pm and our experienced presenter is our very own Paul Fuller, no doubt assisted by John Fuller his son, and the subject will be 'Trinidad and Tobago'.  This is a popular venue for British birders and naturalists and the presentation seeks to introduce us to the bird and wildlife highlights of these islands.

We look forward to seeing you there (that's Moulton of course - not Trinidad and Tobago)!

Eleanor and Neil

Summer Leys taking shape

Hello

Yesterday (27th), four Bramblings were noted on the food-stuff at Harrington Airfield.

This morning (28th), and there were two males feeding at the same spot.

Further waves of newly-arriving Chiffchaffs were evident today - two were even in our garden this morning. However despite spending some time in and around Hanging Houghton and the Brampton Valley and the Kelmarsh Estate today, little else of note was located.

We popped in to the Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton this afternoon.  Again nothing particularly noteworthy but the managed conditions look very good and I'm sure that the work on the islands and around the scrape etc will pay dividends during spring passage over the next couple of months.  Pretty much standard birds included a drake Shelduck, small numbers of Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall and Goldeneye, three Little Egrets, three Redshank, on-territory Lapwings, a pair of Oystercatcher and a Kingfisher.  It was good to see and hear the beginnings of the Black-headed Gull colony taking shape for the breeding season! 

The long-staying Long-tailed Duck was still present on Mary's Lake.

Regards

Neil M

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

March status quo

Hello

Not much located today, but both the Great Northern Diver and Red-necked Grebe were at Pitsford Res just north of the dam.  In addition at least two Bramblings were on the seed at Harrington Airfield.

Regards

Neil M

The Oystercatchers at
Pitsford Res - acting as if
they own the place!
Courtesy of Neil Hasdell

Fly-by image of a Symonds
Yat Peregrine, again courtesy
of Neil Hasdell

First year Common Gull
Courtesy of Jacob Spinks

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Busy, busy day !!

Busy, busy, busy day . Sadly not much time for birding, however I did manage a run at Pitsford Reservoir early this morning. The Great Northern Diver was very close to the bank in the Pintail Bay and the Red-necked Grebe close into the dam.  I am not one of those folk who keep various "bird lists", but I may start one for " birds seen whilst running" as this could be quite an interesting one.
I fed the birds at Harrington Airfield and waited in the car for a few minutes and easily saw 8+ Bramblings, again some stunning males.
I was expecting great things this afternoon as I went walking the dogs in the valley below us just after the rain stopped, but it was quiet, with only 10+ Golden Plover seen.

Regards Eleanor

Monday, 24 March 2014

Pitsford WeBs count

Hello

Although there were not many birds present, today was the last 'winter' WeBs count of water-birds at Pitsford Res.  Nothing new was discovered but both the Great Northern Diver and Red-necked Grebe were off the dam this morning.  The Green Sandpiper remained on the floodwater below the dam and a singing Grey Wagtail remains in residence on the dam.

Reasonable numbers of singing Chiffchaffs were present and single pairs of both Marsh Tit and Willow Tit were noted on the reserve section north of the causeway.  The Cormorant colony now boasts 34 occupied nests.  Between 30-40 Snipe remained in the margins north of the causeway and the pair of Oystercatchers continue to proclaim their territory in a predictably noisy manner.

Dave Francis managed a short ringing session by the Maytrees Hide, catching about thirty birds which included new Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows and a couple of Mallard.

First thing this morning there were about a dozen Bramblings on the seed at Harrington Airfield.  The males were singing and calling loudly from the flowering willow bushes at the track entrance, the cold early morning helping to enhance the wheezes and hard staccato gratings of these stunning northern finches.

In the Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Cottesbrooke, a hike around the fields in the cold but clear conditions succeeded in locating two Wheatears and a fine male Ring Ouzel.

Andrew Tyrrell kindly reported the Wood Duck still on the River Nene near Carlsberg (Northampton) this morning and Clive Bowley advised me that there were a pair of Yellow Wagtails on the Summer Leys NR this morning.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Forest of Dean

Hello

Today was a Northants Bird Club car trip to the Forest of Dean.  In a cool wind and some wintry showers but also periods of strong sunshine, we enjoyed an excellent day of wildlife watching.

For my crew, we started with a three hour dawdle in the open forest near to Crabtree Hill.  Lots of Lesser Redpolls and Siskins greeted us, and the Ravens were very busy chasing each other around.  A Wild Boar trundled in to view but wouldn't allow a close approach and I think our best views were of it's hind-quarters!

Crossbills were audible straight-away and varying numbers flew over us as we walked across some clear-fell to approach the Crabtree ridge.  The Crossbill sounds became noisier and we then found a monster flock of at least sixty birds which also attracted other finches including a couple each of Hawfinch and Brambling. The unmistakable sound of a singing Woodlark could be heard in the same area, and he eventually came in to view and fluttered above us in a typical song-flight.  A Goshawk called from the depths of the forest and Mandarin Ducks were also audible but went unseen.

We began checking the Crossbill flock and it wasn't long before we located a resplendent male Two-barred Crossbill.  This bird hung upside down in an effort to tackle some of the cones, and was regularly displaced by the Common Crossbills.

We eventually tore ourselves away from this avian bounty and checked the clear-fell again.  Andrew Tyrrell located the sought-after Great Grey Shrike this time and we manoeuvred to obtain closer views.  As we watched the shrike caught a Bumblebee attracted to a flowering willow, and it was consumed whole. Walking back to the car and an adult Peregrine appeared overhead, toying with the local Common Buzzards.  And a couple of mature yew trees attracted five Hawfinches, the males in particular looking stunning in the spring sunshine.

In the meantime Bob Gill and his crew had started at New Fancy View with the main objective of seeing Goshawk.  This spot is surely the most assured place in England to see this scarce and mysterious raptor, and they were well-rewarded with seven individuals on view!  Plenty of Common Crossbills, Siskins etc were on show here too and they also found a basking Adder which showed well.

Our next venue was the New Fancy View site, but the wind had picked up and the sun was initially lost to view.  However, patience paid off with an immature Goshawk displaying over a mature plantation opposite the viewpoint and several views of Sparrowhawk.  The sun came out and we re-located the Adder and a Common Lizard.  We left the car park here and were lucky to locate a singing Firecrest at the roadside. This bird kept to the holly but showed well as it fed on the woodland outskirts.

A brief stop at Cannop Ponds provided views of a female Goshawk directly over the road and a gaggle of Mandarin Ducks and a singing Marsh Tit.

Bob and crew decided to try the Crabtree Hill area and were rewarded with the shrike and Woodlark.  We decided to drive to the edge of the forest to try some scanning from the popular Symonds Yat viewpoint with its stunning views over the River Wye.  Up to three Peregrines kept us entertained and ridiculous numbers of Common Buzzards were harried by the local Ravens. Neil Hasdell pulled a surprise bird out of the bag (not literally) when he spotted a first year Little Gull flying strongly past the hillside wood opposite!  

The river below attracted more Mandarin Ducks and a nearby nest-box housed a pair of industrious Nuthatch.  A couple of Sparrowhawks enjoyed the strong blustery breeze and intermittent sunshine but the star was an awesome adult female Goshawk which was initially seen hunting and then later displaying in the afternoon sunshine.  As she 'rowed' across the valley it was a display of pure power and confident beauty and it felt as if all wildlife simply stopped in their tracks and watched!  Certainly we all did!  This was a fitting finale to yet another fabulous day in this stunning Gloucestershire forest.

Eleanor in the meantime had to stay local and notched up two Ravens at Harrington Airfield plus a Wheatear and about eight Bramblings.  A Barn Owl was hunting the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton first thing and a Wheatear was on the fields too.

Regards

Neil M

Adder

Common Lizard

Goshawk



Saturday, 22 March 2014

Saturday afternoon notes...

Hello

Neil Hasdell picked up a dead Common Buzzard from the edge of the Brixworth by-pass yesterday, the bird presumably having collided with a vehicle.  The bird was bearing a ring and it turned out to be the individual found in a bewildered state in the same location back in July 2013.  On that occasion the bird was in the centre of the carriageway after presumably being clipped by a vehicle.  It was taken in to care for several hours and released once it had composed itself and showed no obvious injuries.  Clearly the A508 was part of it's territory and like many Common Buzzards and an awful amount of wild-life out there our roads prove fatal.

This afternoon a Raven was over Clint Hill, Hanging Houghton and drifted towards Lamport.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon the Green Sandpiper was below the dam on floodwater, the Great Northern Diver was in the mouth of the Pintail Bay and the Red-necked Grebe was in open water between the yacht club and The Pines.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday morning notes...

Hello

A wander around the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton early this morning located several small flocks of Golden Plover, totalling about sixty birds in total.  Three Wheatears were in the fields adjacent to the track.  The usual pair of Oystercatcher were present at Pitsford Res this morning and Harrington Airfield hosted at least six Bramblings still...

Neil M

Common Buzzard

Oystercatchers

Friday, 21 March 2014

Ringing at Scotland Wood

Hello

An unexpectedly productive ringing session was held at Scotland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate today.  The woodland block shielded us and the two nets from the strong breeze and occasional gusts, and the strong spring sunshine was very enjoyable!  Four of us processed 105 birds which included two Chiffchaffs, a Nuthatch, a Treecreeper, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Marsh Tits and 36 Chaffinches, the majority of them being new birds.  Other birds of note seen in this private woodland included a Lesser Redpoll, several Siskins and at least 8 Crossbills. 

At Pitsford Res the Red-necked Grebe was again off the dam showing well near the valve tower.  A pair of Smew were in the Holcot Bay still and two Sand Martins were north of the causeway.

There were still eight Bramblings at Harrington Airfield and two Wheatears were sheltering from the strong breeze.  A flock of about 150 Golden Plovers were also present.

This evening Eleanor counted about 300 Golden Plovers and the female Peregrine in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Some more images of the Red-necked Grebe are below...

Regards

Eleanor and Neil







Drake Goldeneye

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Three G's

Hello

Eleanor was out and about today in very blustery conditions.  Not surprisingly, Eleanor's first venue was the dam at Pitsford where yesterday's Red-necked Grebe showed itself.  In addition a drake Goldeneye came quite close and the Great Northern Diver also put in an appearance.  The grebe is clearly in transitional plumage and the diver sported some adult-type black feathers.  The Green Sandpiper remains on the flood water below the dam.

Harrington Airfield was very windy and at least four Bramblings were present on the seed off the Draughton Road, with a Wheatear in the Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Cottesbrooke, a regular site for migrating chats.

Neil M




The Three G's -
Goldeneye,
Red-necked Grebe &
Great Northern Diver


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Wednesday writings

Hello

A pleasant walk around the woods on the Kelmarsh Estate this morning failed to locate any birds of note but did include Chiffchaff, Siskin and resident Marsh Tit and Nuthatch.

Harrington Airfield attracted at least 8 Bramblings today and 2 Wheatears and a pair of Grey Partridge.

A Red-necked Grebe was found off the dam at Pitsford Res by David Arden this afternoon, but couldn't be found later.  The bird is presumed to have moved further north down the reservoir and hopefully will be re-located tomorrow.  Two Grey Wagtails were on the dam this afternoon and the Great Northern Diver was again in the mouth of the Pintail Bay.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil M

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Winter meets Summer !!!!

This morning it felt like a summer's day with blue skies and sunshine, rather than winter.  A bird called which I haven't heard for a while, which heralded welcome return of one of our lovely summer migrants, a Yellow Wagtail, which was feeding around a manure heap. The fields below Hanging Houghton are quite bare and dry at the moment but have been attractive to Golden Plovers, and this morning there were at least 200 birds, in a variety of plumage.  Also on these fields this morning were 2 Wheatear, the first ones I have seen this year. 
The rather attractive and distinctive "white Common Buzzard" was also in the general area.
Late afternoon found me at Harrington Airfield feeding the birds. We are feeding the birds every day as so many are enjoying a free feast !!!  The numbers of Brambling vary day by day and even hour by hour. At one point there were 10 stunning males feeding together, with at least another 6 dull and female birds. A single Tree Sparrow was also present, along with numerous Reed Buntings, Yellowhammer and Chaffinch.
A wander along the concrete track produced a single Wheatear, Raven, female Peregrine and 2 Grey Partridge.
It was noticeable today that the winter thrushes are on the move as small parties of Redwing and Fieldfare were heading northwards.
I popped over to Market Harborough but failed to spot any Otters, the water level in the River Welland is quite low , so I presume that they may have moved into deeper water somewhere. Folk I spoke to hadn't seen them for a few weeks.


Regards  Eleanor

Monday, 17 March 2014

Ring Ouzel

Hello

A modest ringing session at Kelmarsh Hall this morning provided 37 captures which included 15 new birds. Interesting re-traps included Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Other birds noted on-site included the regular Raven(s) and singing singles of Brambling, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Chiffchaff.

In the meantime Eleanor took a short walk at Harrington Airfield and saw a male Ring Ouzel by the first bunker along the airstrip from the chippings compound.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 16 March 2014

March bounty

Hello

A ringing session at Stortons GP this morning successfully caught many of the usual species including a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff.  The ringers on-site believe there are two pairs of Bearded Tits present in the Phragmites beds.

Nick Wood was checking nest-boxes out at Chase Park Farm (near Yardley Chase) today and came across a roosting Little Owl (please see below).

Eleanor was out and about locally and saw a Grey Wagtail at Beck Dairy, Cottesbrooke and at least c100 Golden Plovers in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.  A visit to Harrington Airfield yielded 2 Bramblings, a Tree Sparrow and 4 Red Kites. Pitsford continues to host the Great Northern Diver and the pair of Oystercatcher.

In the meantime I was over at Ditchford Gravel Pits completing the monthly WeBs count.  The pits west of Ditchford Lane attracted two Great White Egrets, five Little Egrets, two Egyptian Geese, the drake Scaup, three Oystercatchers, three Kingfishers, a Water Rail, two Peregrines, a Grey Wagtail and two Chiffchaffs.  I spent some time watching the wintering Water Pipit, this bird now advancing in to summer plumage.

Birds on the older pits east of Ditchford Lane included three Goosanders, a Little Egret, a Water Rail, three Kingfishers, three Cetti's Warblers and eight Chiffchaffs.

And of course with the warm sunshine today, there were good numbers of butterflies on the wing which were made up of Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma and Brimstone.

Regards

Neil M


Male Great Spotted Woodpecker,
happily drilling a series of small holes
in to the fingers and knuckles
of a Trainee Ringer!
Courtesy of Chris Payne.



Little Owl Chase Park Farm
Courtesy of Nick Wood

Male Brimstone
Ditchford GP

A very worn Peacock
nectaring on Blackthorn
blossom.  Ditchford GP.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Spring flights

Hello

Out of the strong wind and today's sunshine was glorious and warm. In tune with the conditions was a singing Chiffchaff in full voice at Sunderland Wood (Kelmarsh), and nearby Scotland Wood hosted two unidentified Crossbills seen only briefly in flight.

At Hanging Houghton a female Peregrine was over the village, several Siskins flew north and a flock of c300 Golden Plovers inhabited fields below the village in the Brampton Valley (morning only).

Another singing Chiffchaff was along the Brampton Valley Way at the Draughton Crossing and at Harrington Airfield this afternoon a single Golden Plover flew over and two Bramblings were feeding on the seed.

The Great Northern Diver was in the mouth of the Pintail Bay at Pitsford Res this afternoon and an adult Mediterranean Gull was in the dwindling gull roost as watched from the yacht club.

Local ringer Chris Payne caught three Lesser Redpolls in his garden yesterday at Greens Norton, which is one of many gardens in the county at the moment attracting increasing numbers of Reed Buntings.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil




Lesser Redpoll
Greens Norton

Male Reed Bunting
Greens Norton


Cock Pheasant Kelmarsh.
At this time of the year you might
expect the male Pheasants to look
at their best.  However they are continually
fighting each other and it isn't
uncommon to see resplendent males
walking with a limp and sporting broken 
tail feathers.

Singing Robin
Kelmarsh Hall

Displaying Common Buzzard
Scotland Wood, Kelmarsh Estate

Friday, 14 March 2014

A foggy Pitsford

Hello

A ringing session at Pitsford Res this morning failed in an effort to catch some more Snipe, but we were fortunate to catch a number of gorgeous Yellowhammers which included 25 new birds.  The Oystercatchers could be heard in the morning fog, a Jack Snipe was flushed and we saw singles of Siskin and Willow Tit.  A small number of Meadow Pipits were moving over the site, the fog bank not preventing their northward projection.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Thursday's notes

Hello

Whilst walking the dogs early this morning I could hear the evocative calls of the Golden Plover penetrating through the fog below Hanging Houghton, but I never saw them!

At lunchtime there were 2 very noisy Ravens flying over Brixworth Country Park.

Late afternoon found me walking the dogs again, this time at Harrington Airfield.  Birds here included at least 8 Bramblings with a few bright males looking rather splendid.  Other birds on my circuit were 2 Grey Partridge, a Green Sandpiper, approx. 25 Golden Plover and a Chiffchaff.

Regards 

Eleanor

Bird v Fish

Hello

Robin Gossage's images below illustrate the fishing and swallowing capability of the Cormorant.  Having latched on to a Pike, which is itself a fearsome predatory fish, the Cormorant achieves the impossible and consumes it's very large prey whole!  I doubt if it needs to eat again for a little while!

Regards

Neil M













Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Not a lot today

Hello

Little to report today, despite some time at Pitsford Res and Harrington Airfield.  In the morning fog, two Oystercatchers and a Redshank were noted at Pitsford Res and this afternoon there was a modest four Bramblings at Harrington Airfield.  Dave Jackson kindly allowed me access to his Kingsthorpe garden to try and see the Lesser Whitethroat that has returned to his garden, but unfortunately I didn't see it (but it was seen in the morning).

Chris Payne had been ringing down at Greens Norton today and caught a range of species including Lesser Redpoll and Yellowhammer (please see images below).

Regards

Neil M


Lesser Redpoll


Yellowhammer

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A cool easterly breeze

Hello

A modest ringing session at Pitsford Res this morning was enhanced with the capture, ringing and release of two Snipe.

Other birds at the reservoir today included an Osprey near to the dam at 2.45pm, the Great Northern Diver, a Green Sandpiper and two Oystercatchers.

A Woodcock was present along the Brampton Valley Way between Brixworth and Hanging Houghton and another was flushed at Scotland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate), which also hosted a couple of Siskins.  A Raven could be heard calling at Kelmarsh Hall and the Brampton Valley fields below Hanging Houghton continued to attract twenty Golden Plovers.

Birds on the seed at Harrington Airfield this afternoon included 35 Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrow and 10+ Bramblings.  This site also attracted a pair of Grey Partridge, a female Peregrine and a white wing-tagged Common Buzzard.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Snipe
Pitsford Reservoir

Monday, 10 March 2014

Cooler than yesterday!

Hello

Neil Hasdell was on the Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton this morning, and after a 40 minute wait the male Bearded Tit showed well (first seen yesterday), from the Pioneer Hide.  The long-staying Long-tailed Duck was back on Mary's Lake and two Great White Egrets were still present on the reserve.  A flock of nine Ruff was reported.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon, a pair of Oystercatcher were present in the Scaldwell Bay and quite mobile - it looks like another breeding attempt will be made this year!  The Cormorant colony occupied nest tally has now gone up to at least 19.

Regards

Neil M

Sunday, 9 March 2014

That Mediterranean feeling...

Hello

As forecast it was sunshine from dawn to dusk today and must rank as one of the warmest days in March that I can remember.

John Woollett and his team of ringers were in action at Stortons Gravel Pits this morning and their planning and preparation paid off with the capture, ringing and release of good numbers of birds which included singles of Snipe and Jack Snipe. These species are particularly difficult to catch and monitor (as well as see).

At Pitsford Res this afternoon, the Great Northern Diver was in the mouth of the Pintail Bay and the gull roost again attracted two adult Mediterranean Gulls.

Regards

Neil M

More flutterbies

Hello

With the amazing weather today it just has to be a day to go out walking etc.  A very pleasant circular walk along the foot-paths around Harlestone Lake early morning located plenty of common birds but no hoped-for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  This always used to be a good site for this species and I can't see that the habitat has changed much.  Today there were ridiculously high numbers of Great Spotted Woodpeckers instead.

Pitsford Reservoir was very busy with people but I managed to espy the Great Northern Diver before the yachts hit the water, and a Redshank and a Green Sandpiper were on the flood pools in the fields below the dam.

Neil H in the meantime took a lengthy walk around Salcey Forest. No birds of note but there were large numbers of butterflies on the wing, particularly Brimstones.  Other butterflies fluttering by include Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Peacock, these latter individuals being insects that have successfully over-wintered.

Neil M

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Saturday selection

Hello

Despite the very welcome weather today, I was tempted to stay at home and watch the birds in the garden. A singing male Siskin, a smart male Great Spotted Woodpecker and singles of Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer made it all quite compelling.

Nevertheless there were duties to perform with more wild bird feeding stations to be maintained.  A couple of Siskins were present around the feeders at Kelmarsh Hall where there were also good numbers of common finches too.  The regularity of our visits ensure that some birds now come to greet us!  Some of the Pheasants trail behind us and all the local Robins have tamed-up to the degree that a couple of them sit just a couple of feet away whilst we are filling up the feeders and sing to us!

Harrington Airfield attracted up to about 12 Bramblings today plus a Raven, a pair of Grey Partridge, the usual raptors and the Green Sandpiper still.

This afternoon a female Peregrine was in pursuit of about twenty Golden Plovers in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton. Approximately sixty Snipe were still in residence at Pitsford Res this afternoon and a pair of displaying Sparrowhawks in the Scaldwell Bay put on a good performance.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil



Goldeneye in flight, the duck
endeavouring to catch her drake!
Pitsford Reservoir

Friday, 7 March 2014

'Tis the Brimstone season

Hello

Another very spring-like day today with plenty of insects on the wing including bumble-bees and a Brimstone butterfly or two.  I always think that a vivid yellow male Brimstone looks particularly stunning this time of the year, probably because normally the back-drop is dull and uninspiring before the buds and leaves emerge in profusion.

Birds on the move today included winter thrushes, Linnets, wagtails and Meadow Pipits.  A Grey Wagtail at Hanging Houghton was part of this northward movement.

A quick wander around at Harrington Airfield failed in an effort to find an early Wheatear, and I had to make do with a Raven, several common raptors and at least one Brambling.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thursday's Tales !

There is nothing better than starting the day with a run !!!!! This morning I ran around the big side of Pitsford Reservoir with our new boy Tor attached to my waist. This was a new experience as he is a "scent hound type" so I expected to be dragged all over the place, but after the initial excitement he settled down into his stride, and it was actually quite a pleasurable experience !!!.  The big side looked quite devoid of birds, but I managed to notch up 4 Smew, Great Northern Diver, Great White Egret, 2 Little Egret, Grey Wagtail and the Ross' type Goose.
Although I didn't see it myself, NH, saw the Scaup half way down the bigside, near the gorse bushes.
A late morning meander around Blueberry saw double figures of Common Buzzard, circling and meewing overhead. There were at least 4 Red Kites, pair of Grey Partridge and 5 Golden Plover over.
Whilst gardening this afternoon there were several Siskins flying about, more Common Buzzards, 2 Red Kite and a Raven .


Last night it was the AGM of the Northants Bird Club and discussion and decisions needed to take place over some important issues facing the club. Sadly the turnout of members was so poor, a total of 15, of which 8 were committee members, making it impossible to proceed with making any decisions. The club may have to move venue and we wanted imput from the members as to possible suitable halls etc, and to share our thoughts about using the Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir as a possible new meeting place. If you have any thoughts, opposition to using the Lodge or ideas of suitable venue's, please let us know.  Thanks.
The evening was not all "business" as we finished with a light hearted quiz and pictures of Tanzania.......it was worth coming along just for that !!!


On another note, the road at Hardwater Crossing is now open which makes it easier to get to Summer Leys, where I understand the Long Tailed Duck on Mary's lake has been showing well and worth a visit as the plumage is quite striking.




Regards  Eleanor

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pied Wagtail portfolio

Hello

The Pied Wagtail may be a familiar bird to many of us.  It is very much the British race of the nominate species White Wagtail which has a large European distribution.  This species and all races are renown for their variation in plumage.  Adult males tend to be the blackest and the young females tend to be the palest, but there are a significant number of plumage types in between that provide a challenge to those of us that try to ascertain their age and sex.  All the below images taken today relate to Pied Wagtails.  If you fancy having a go at ageing and sexing them, be my guest!

Neil M







Classic spring day

Hello

A beautiful spring day with almost warm temperatures, a gentle breeze and plenty of sunshine.

A couple of Siskins were present at both Kelmarsh Hall and Scotland Wood this morning and c6 Bramblings were feeding at Harrington Airfield.  Two Grey Wagtails remained at Brixworth Sewer Works.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon the Great Northern Diver was still present (in the mouth of the Pintail Bay) and the gull roost included two adult Mediterranean Gulls (one a stunning full summer plumage bird).

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Harrington

Hello

Eleanor managed a visit to Harrington Airfield this afternoon and noted ten Bramblings on the seed by the concrete track entrance, and the Green Sandpiper was again near to the road on the shallow pool just opposite the entrance.

Regards

Neil M

Monday, 3 March 2014

Bird Club AGM

Hello

Plenty of tasks and meetings ensured that we had little time for birding today.  However there were still 10 Brambings on the feed-stuffs at Harrington Airfield at 1pm this afternoon.

A reminder to Northants Bird Club members that our next meeting is this coming Wednesday evening at our normal venue of Moulton Village Hall.  This month it is the Annual General Meeting which is generally a rather short affair.  As always there will be the election of committee members and other business such as the financial state of the club to be discussed.  This year the membership will be asked to comment and vote on a couple of proposals from the existing committee in order to take us forward through 2014/2015.

Robin Gossage and Bob Gill will host a light-hearted quiz immediately after the AGM.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Different month, same weather!

Hello

A grey dull day with a strengthening wind then giving way to persistent and heavy rain.  Obviously we are paying for yesterday's decent weather.

Fifteen Bramblings and a Green Sandpiper remained at Harrington Airfield this morning and two Golden Plovers flew over.  Red Kites have become a regular sighting at this site during the last year and the numbers locally are at their most significant, to the point where we will stop routinely reporting their presence. Hopefully this regularity of sightings will be a precursor to breeding.

Pied Wagtails were much in evidence today, there clearly being an increase in numbers as migrants move north through the county. Gulls and Linnets were the other more obvious diurnal migrants on the move today.

Two Woodcock were flushed at Scotland Wood (Kelmarsh Estate) but probably the bird of the day was a Chiffchaff that moved through our garden here at Hanging Houghton this morning.

A walk around Welford Reservoir, a scan over Naseby Reservoir and checking through the gulls at the Pitsford roost all failed to find anything different.

Regards

Eleanor and Neil

Saturday, 1 March 2014

March is here!

Hello

At last the weather conditions today permitted some wild bird ringing locally at three sites, with about 118 birds being caught. Species included Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail and Siskin.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon, local birder David Sharp located the Great Northern Diver north of the dam and also saw a juvenile Glaucous Gull which flew a couple laps of the reservoir as seen from near the Holly Tree, and was then associating with some Great Black-backed Gulls.

Andrew Tyrrell in the meantime spent some time at Thrapston GP this afternoon and located the two Firecrests - again in scrub and brambles next to the River Nene by the footbridge that connects Town Lake with the northern section of the Titchmarsh Reserve. He also espied the Long-tailed Duck and the drake Scaup on Town Lake.

Fifteen Bramblings were feeding on the seed in the fog at Harrington Airfield this morning and Kelmarsh Hall attracted two Siskins and two or three Ravens.  Birds in the vicinity of Brixworth Sewer Works included two Snipe, one or two Water Rail (s), two Siskins and two Grey Wagtails.

Local birder Jacob Spinks was lucky to have a Willow Tit visiting feeders in his Scaldwell village garden today.

Regards

Neil M