Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sunday pm


Ringers at Stortons Gravel Pits yesterday morning (Saturday) caught and processed 40 birds, the majority being Blackcaps (18 new and 1 re-trap). Seven Swallows were ringed and released from the previous evening roost.

This afternoon there was a steady passage of Yellow Wagtails moving in to a strong south-westerly breeze over Hanging Houghton, the majority of them not being easy to see as they passed over against a deep blue sky. However one large flock of twenty-six birds was easier to pick out! A few Meadow Pipits were associated with the same movement.

The Redstart was still in 'Shrike Hedge' in the Brampton Valley this afternoon and there was another one at Blueberry Farm, a few hundred metres west of the farm-yard 'crossroads' on the approach to Blueberry Hill.

Other birds noted at this complex included the adult female Peregrine, a Hobby, a Spotted Flycatcher and eight Whinchats. 

Two Grey Wagtails and an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Little Egret were visible from the dam at Pitsford Res this evening.


Neil M

Juvenile Sedge Warbler
Pitsford Res courtesy of
Jacob Spinks

Vulcan on it's way to the
Bournemouth Air Show 1500hrs

Pitsford Reservoir this evening

Vulcan on it's way back
from the Bournemouth Air
Show 1615hrs

Swarm of Flying Ants
Brampton Valley

Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting


This is an invite to non-members and a reminder to members of the Northants Bird Club that we will be resuming our Indoor meetings this coming Wednesday (3rd September) at our venue of the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Water (Reservoir), Brixworth Road, Holcot (NN6 9SJ).

We would ask that you attend as soon after 7.30pm as possible with a view to starting the meeting at about 7.45pm. There should be sufficient parking next to the Fishing Lodge, but further parking is possible down by the water edge next to the fishing boat pontoon, and on the causeway. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available all evening.

Our presenters this Wednesday will be our own Chairman Bob Gill supported by Robin Gossage. They will be providing a pictorial account of their photographic trip to Ethiopia with other Bird Club members last year.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Northants Bird Club Committee

Redstarts and company


The daily visit to Harrington Airfield this morning was sufficient to confirm the continuing presence of Redstarts, with three birds present. This species is now a much more common bird during the spring and autumn passage periods (it used to be a very scarce migrant thirty years ago despite being a species that once bred in the county regularly), and this year has provided an excellent opportunity to catch up with this elusive but stunning bird. The birds today include singles in roadside bushes near to the concrete track entrance, in bushes just before the first bunker along the old airstrip approaching from the gravel compound and at the very end (north-west) of the concrete track. Other birds included the two Turtle Doves still, a Whinchat and a Wheatear plus plenty of Whitethroats.

'Shrike Hedge' in the Brampton Valley between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton hosted a very large flock of birds with many Whitethroats and Willow Warblers plus another Redstart late morning. A Wheatear was in nearby fields.

At Pitsford Res this morning, an Osprey spent some time over the Scaldwell Bay from about 10.50am before moving off west. A strong diurnal migration of hirundines (particularly Swallows), wagtails (one Grey, c20 Yellow and c10 'alba') and pipits were audible and partly visible all morning. The pipits were made up of one Tree and c6 Meadow. Other birds noted included Hobby, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and the two Black Swans still.

A ringing session at the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station became wind-affected and produced only a small catch of birds. Pick of the bunch was Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Tree Sparrow all of which delighted the 'new to ringing' attendees!


Neil M

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday's birds...


A check on the reserve section of Pitsford Reservoir this morning was sufficient to see five Red-crested Pochard in the Scaldwell Bay plus an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Common Sandpiper.

Harrington Airfield yielded singles of Redstart, Whinchat and Wheatear.


Neil M

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday pm


Birding this afternoon at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell produced eight well-scattered Whinchats but nothing else of note. There were two Grey Wagtails at Brixworth Sewer Works and 16 Yellow Wagtails and a Swift flew south there.

A visit to a very low water Hollowell Reservoir this afternoon provided views of a Spotted Redshank before it seemingly flew off at 5.20pm.  Four Dunlin were the only other waders noted despite plenty of mud.  Other birds included an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Raven, two Barnacle Geese and two Yellow Wagtails.

Birds viewable from the dam at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon and evening included the two Ruddy Shelduck, two Black Terns, a Ruff, two Swifts and twenty Yellow Wagtails.


Neil M

Grey and breezy autumnal day


A breezy but pleasant autumnal morning at Harrington Airfield felt good for migrants but actually most of the birds seen have probably been there for a little while now.  The couple of Ravens were mobile and there were plenty of other corvids there too.  Two Redstarts included the rather elusive one in bushes by the first bunker again plus a first year male showing better in roadside bushes near to the concrete track entrance. A Whinchat was here too.

Subsequently at Pitsford Res, birds of note in the Scaldwell Bay included seven Red-crested Pochard, a Goldeneye and two Little Egrets.

Two Ravens remain at Hanging Houghton.  Our garden feeders are busy now with tits, and lots of juvenile House Sparrows and Greenfinches.  Two Nuthatch and the regular Marsh Tit can just about squeeze in to grab a sunflower heart or two!


Neil M

Harrington Airfield

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thursday Morning

Today was rather frustrating as it had the feel of being a "good birding" day and my suspicions were confirmed whilst out early this morning walking the dogs around Blueberry as the hedgerows were alive with birds.
One of the favourite hedges for birds which we call Shrike hedge although we have never seen one here.......yet , was especially busy with a mixed bird flock which was following the hedgeline.  Here there was at least one Redstart showing and another one calling. Warblers included Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. There were also two Spotted Flycatcher flitting about catching insects and quite a mixture of Tits and Finches. I had to tear myself away from these birds much to the relief of the dogs who were keen to get going.
As I continued my walk around the fields I saw two Whinchat and a Grasshopper Warbler in the southern most field and another four Whinchat in the furthest corner of the big field. 
Most of the hedgerows held birds, notably Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Finches which were obviously on the move. There also seemed to be more Blackbirds in evidence.
The usual Red Kites, Common Buzzards and Kestrels were up and about and I saw the stunning "White Buzzard" . This is the first time I had seen her for a while, she is beautiful and very striking.

Sadly, that was my birding over and done with due to other commitments.  The only other birds of note were two Ravens which were loitering in the field behind the house this morning and were still there when I returned this evening.

Regards Eleanor

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday's birds


A couple of visits to Harrington Airfield today provided views of a Redstart, 2 Whinchats, a Spotted Flycatcher and two Turtle Doves.

At Pitsford Res today there was a ringing session in the Walgrave Bay which produced about thirty birds, the best probably being singles of Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler.  Birds noted on the reserve included a Hobby and a Spotted Flycatcher.

This evening birds on view from the vicinity of the Sailing Club at Pitsford Res included the two Ruddy Shelduck still, a Mandarin Duck, a Ruff, two Common Sandpipers, three Yellow-legged Gulls, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and four Swifts.


Neil M

County images


Some local images from Robin Gossage  - all taken in the county during the last few days (please see below)...

My thanks to Robin for sharing these with us.


Neil M

Red Fox
Summer Leys Nature Reserve

Little Egret
Summer Leys Nature Reserve

Vulcan and escort over
Harrington Airfield

Harrington Airfield

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Weather birds

Apologies for late blog, computer problems !!

I managed to spend most of the day out birding, dog walking and dodging the showers !

During my first wet walk of the day in the valley below Hanging Houghton, a group of 5 Greenshank flew over heading towards Brixworth.

I decided to walk the two young dogs around the south side of Pitsford Reservoir, hoping that the drizzle and winds would produce some birds.  One of the first birds I noticed was a Woodpigeon sitting on one of the picnic tables . Nothing unusual in that you might think ? But it was sitting in an elongated pose looking skyward and as I followed it's gaze and saw a female Peregrine Falcon circling around.  Minutes later the gulls flushed up in a panic and I assumed that it was the Peregrine.......wrong, it was an Osprey.

I continued my walk round and saw a Garganey and a colour ringed [green on right and red on left leg] Little Egret near Pintail Bay.

A juvenile Arctic Tern was near the sailing club and a Ruff and a Sanderling on the shoreline near the Grange Bay.

On the long stretch from the Grange Bay to Catwalk Bay there were at least 4 Little Egrets, the Bar-headed Goose, 2 Ruddy Shelduck, a Whinchat, a Curlew flying over calling and a male Merlin. Finally there were 2 Common Sandpiper on the causeway.

After popping home to grab a cuppa and swap dogs I headed off to Harrington Airfield where it was obvious that there had been quite a fall of birds. I only walked along the "rough strip around the bunkers" and notched up Redstart, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroats and a Ring Ouzel.  There was a large mixed flock of birds moving through the bushes from the first to middle bunker.
The Turtle Doves were flying around the bushes and as I stood around at the end bunker a Curlew flew over calling and a male Merlin flew through. I wondered whether these were the same birds I had seen earlier in the day at Pitsford ?

There were also numerous Red Kites, Kestrel and Common Buzzard loafing around the recently harvested fields.

Butterflies included several Clouded Yellow including one of the 'Helica' form.



Stortons Ringing


A short ringing session took place at Stortons GP this evening targeting Swallows.  Thirty-two Swallows were caught and ringed, a combination of juveniles and adults.  Other birds caught and ringed included a juvenile male Sparrowhawk, three Reed Warblers, a Whitethroat and a Wren.

Other birds noted included an adult male Peregrine, a Little Egret and four Swifts.


Neil M

Courtesy of Chris Payne

Monday, 25 August 2014

Wet Bank Holiday Monday!


Excursions out today ensured we were always going to become somewhat wet, and birding is always a little more challenging in very wet conditions.

This morning Eleanor wandered around the complex at Harrington Airfield and connected with the Redstart by the first bunker, the 'cream-crown' Marsh Harrier and two Turtle Doves. Nearby there were three Grey Wagtails at Brixworth Sewer works.

At Pitsford Res, at least three Red-crested Pochard and a Goldeneye and a Common Sandpiper were in the Scaldwell Bay. Two Redstarts were in a field hedge between the village of Old and the reservoir boundary fence. In the late afternoon, birds visible near to the dam included a couple of Little Egrets, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a juvenile Ruff and a juvenile Arctic Tern.


Neil M

Pitsford Res

This Great Tit was captured at Pitsford
reservoir yesterday.  This species seems to
be regularly afflicted with growths, sometimes
to the head and often along the flanks and
breast.  On this occasion the growths are
affecting it's left eye to the point where it may
eventually lose sight, and the right eye also exhibited a
very small growth. Local ringers have reported similar
issues with both Dunnock and Bullfinch in recent
days, each time the head and eye being affected.
Another Great Tit seen yesterday exhibited large
bulbous growths on it's flanks. For the most part these
birds seem to live a normal if somewhat shortened life
to the point whereby it is unusual to see such afflicted birds
by the following spring.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Pitsford Ringing


Sustained efforts at ringing at Pitsford Reservoir during the week-end has resulted in the capture of some 215 birds.  Forty-one Tree Sparrows were caught (thirty-six were new juveniles) suggesting that this species locally seems to have enjoyed a reasonable breeding season.  Warblers included 16 Reed Warblers, 7 Sedge Warblers, 4 Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Chiffchaff and 7 Willow Warblers.

The star bird was a first year male Redstart trapped in the Scaldwell Bay (see images below).  Other birds included 4 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Pied Wagtails, a Marsh Tit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Other birds noted at Pitsford Res today included an adult Yellow-legged Gull, several Little Egrets, 1-2 Common Sandpiper(s) and a Spotted Flycatcher.

At Harrington Airfield this morning birds noted included a Redstart by the first bunker, a Tree Pipit over south at 6.30am, a Wheatear and two Ravens.  This afternoon Eleanor went on to locate a fine adult male Redstart and several Clouded Yellow butterflies in a field between Walgrave village and Pitsford Res.


Neil M

Courtesy of Chris Payne

Yellow Wagtail
Courtesy of Simon Hales

Saturday, 23 August 2014

'Shrike hedge' delivers!


This afternoon a Raven was spotted soaring around quite high up between Brixworth and Pitsford Res.

In the Brampton Valley between Cottesbrooke and Hanging Houghton this evening, new migrants included a Tree Pipit, two Redstarts, a Spotted Flycatcher, two Whinchats and good numbers of common warblers, most of these birds being in 'shrike hedge'. 

This is a low, inauspicious field hedge which for some reason regularly attracts passage migrants, particularly chats, warblers, pipits and wagtails.  One day there will be a shrike there (hence the name)! Oddly enough there was even a vocal Nuthatch 'out of habitat' in the loose bird flock there...


Neil M

Forest Holidays at Fineshade Wood - update

Hello again,

Following a period of relative calm, there has been a flurry of activity this week. 

Firstly, on Wednesday there was an (unaccompanied) site visit from councillors on the planning committee who came to view both the Forest Holidays (FH) site and also the Glamping site. Residents were not allowed to talk to the councillors. The planning officer for the FH proposal was not present as he has been ill this week - they may therefore have only got as far as Top Lodge itself  and not entered the wood at all. But they should have been able to see the problems with road access - probably the most easily understood problem for most councillors.

Secondly, also on Wednesdaythree extra documents from FH appeared on the ENC website under 14/01156/FUL.
These are:
Final Ecological Report (104 pages inc, Appendices)
Ecological Procedural Method Statement (7 pages)
Habitat Management Plan  (10 pages)

Most of you have already objected to the proposal but there may be extra information here which will warrant a second submission. Below this email are some interim comments from me that may help you decide whether you need to make another objection now. For those of you who have been keeping your powder dry so far, this may be the time to make your objection.  We have asked East Northants planning department for a deadline date but all we can glean, in the absence of the planning officer, is a re-assurance that comments may be submitted up to the time of determination (whenever that may be!)
Thirdly and perhaps most urgently, a new Screening Opinion (SO) request in relation to this application has also been published this week (see EN/14/01573/SCR) and is marked as Pending Consideration. The new request applies to a larger area than that considered before, so it provides the planning officer with a new opportunity to rule that this application requires an Environmental Impact Assessment. His earlier decision against EIA was queried by many of us including East Northant's own ecological advisers, the local Wildlife Trust. The WT advice is published with this new SO request and it would be possible for you to make a comment to help the planning officer now. An easy direct way to do this is to make a short (less than 1000 characters) comment using the online facility on the website. (NB needs to be done on this EN/14/01573/SCR page). In forming his opinion the planning officer has to decide whether "this Schedule 2 development is likely to have significant effects on the environment" - perhaps worth remembering that planners see the environment as wider than simply ecological concerns. For example, one planning officer elsewhere argued that a FH development was worthy of EIA because "the proposals will introduce built form into the existing recreational woodland with the potential to change the character of the woodland". Sometimes the terms Environmental Impact Assessment - EIA-  and Ecological Impact Statement EcIA are used )

Finally, as far as the Glamping proposal is concerned, no news may be good news: the applicant seems not to have provided the very substantial missing information from his application and without that it is almost impossible for ENC to grant the planning permission. Determination will apparently be sometime in September.

I hope all this makes sense - please do get back to me if any queries.

Best wishes for a very good bank-holiday weekend.

Barrie Galpin

Common Buzzard passage


This morning was dominated by an unprecedented passage of Common Buzzards over Harrington Airfield, first noticed at about 9am.  An estimated hundred birds moved south in an hour, most of them skirting down the western edge of the complex and heading towards the Brampton Valley.  'Kettles' of birds included 18 at a time and on one horizontal scan it was possible to see 50 birds in the air at the same time.  Although Common Buzzard passage has developed over the last ten years as the population has increased, this seems unusual inasmuch that it is very early in the autumn when many begging juveniles are clearly still reliant on the hunting skills of their parents to sustain them.  Whether these birds are from further afield or are failed breeders etc is pure speculation but a remarkable local record in any event.

Other birds of note included c6 Red Kites, an adult male Merlin flying south at 9.15am, the 'cream crown' Marsh Harrier again and a Redstart on the airstrip between the chippings compound and first bunker.

At Pitsford Res this morning, three Red-crested Pochard were on show in the Scaldwell Bay which also hosted an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 1-2 Common Sandpiper(s) and a Hobby.


Neil M

Lamport migration


Eleanor toured the fields adjacent to Lamport Hall this morning and there was plenty of obvious migration on the go with a Spotted Flycatcher and an adult male Redstart in an old hedge, a Tree Pipit flying over in a south-east direction, a Grey Wagtail flying south-west and two Crossbills flying in to trees in the hall grounds.


Neil M

Friday, 22 August 2014

Martins and wagtails


An evening conducting some bird ringing near to the dam at Pitsford Res led to the capture and ringing of a Swallow, a House Martin, three Sand Martins, two Pied Wagtails, a Yellow Wagtail and singles of Robin, Linnet, Goldfinch and Moorhen. Three Grey Wagtails, about a dozen Yellow Wagtails and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were in the same area and earlier four Red-crested Pochard and two Common Sandpipers were noted in the Scaldwell Bay.


Neil M

Sand Martin

House Martin
All images courtesy
of Chris Payne.

Harrington Friday morning


A circuit around Harrington Airfield this morning was pleasant with a warmish autumnal breeze and lazy sunshine.

A Meadow Pipit was likely to have been a migrant and no doubt the precursor to the usual large movements in most autumns of this species through the county.

Small numbers of common warblers were busy in the bushes and an elusive Redstart was on the old airstrip in bushes between the second and third bunkers. Up to eight Red Kites patrolled the skies and the two Ravens enjoyed a little skirmish with a couple of them.


Neil M

Thursday's birds


Apologies for the late posting which refers to birds on Thursday 21st Aug...

A ringing session in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res in the morning followed on from efforts the previous evening and resulted in the total capture of 90 birds. This total included a female Sparrowhawk, three Kingfishers, 13 Wrens, 10 Bullfinches, 9 Robins, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 9 Blackcaps, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Reed Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. Extra birds caught near the dam during the evening included 5 House Martins, a Sand Martin, a Swallow and a Pied Wagtail.

A Hobby was in the Scaldwell Bay this morning and there was one worrying the martins by the dam in the evening. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was the only larid of interest.

Harrington Airfield in the morning hosted two Ravens and two Turtle Doves and there were again two Ravens around Hanging Houghton village.


Neil M

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Migration is back on!


Today was the first day of several planned days of bird ringing at Pitsford Reservoir, extending in to the week-end.

The initial session was in the Walgrave Bay and then at locations in the Scaldwell Bay and at the Old Scaldwell Road by Maytrees Hide in the late afternoon/evening.

Eighty birds were processed in the Walgrave Bay with no surprises but some good numbers of common warblers and tits in particular. It was a similar story in the back of the Scaldwell Bay, but with the Old Scaldwell Road location also producing three new Moorhens and a Yellow Wagtail.

An Osprey fished the reserve for over thirty minutes from 5pm, before finally catching it's trout supper!

Other birds noted included at least four Red-crested Pochard, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, several Little Egrets, the two Black Swans still pus a Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit over. A Wheatear was on adjacent farmland to the west of the Walgrave Bay.

At Harrington Airfield this morning there were two Wheatears but little else.

This afternoon there was an apparent fall of migrants in the Brampton Valley and in particular around Blueberry Farm which hosted three Redstarts (including two stunning males), two Whinchats and a Tree Pipit on the ground.  Raptors included the same summering cream-crown Marsh Harrier and the seemingly now regular female Peregrine.  Two further Whinchats were in a field near to the Brampton Valley Way below Hanging Houghton village.


Neil M

Ravensthorpe insects...


Gary Burrows kindly forwarded some images through of some insects he located on the dam at Ravensthorpe Reservoir yesterday. 

Three Clouded Yellow butterflies were finding the meadow-like conditions to their liking as were more common small butterflies...

My thanks to Gary for his colourful contribution!


Neil M

Common Blue

Common Darter

Clouded Yellow

Small Copper

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Autumn lull?


The impression is that the early tempo of a busy early autumn migration has flattened out and we are possibly in something of a comparative lull.

This afternoon a Grey Wagtail was again at Brixworth Sewer Works and two Ravens were again in a sheep field on the outskirts of Hanging Houghton. A couple of Swifts were noted in my travels around South Northants.

Eleanor spent time in the Brampton Valley and Harrington Airfield today but struggled to find anything much out of the ordinary.


Neil M

Monday, 18 August 2014

Evening at Blueberry Farm...


Eleanor ventured out to Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this evening and saw a hunting Barn Owl and a Cuckoo.

Neil H and I were down at the yacht club at Pitsford Res this evening but the gulls et al all kept their distance. The best birds noted was a Hobby, 2 Swifts, a Little Egret and 3+ Yellow-legged Gulls (one adult).  Birds caught and ringed included five House Martins and a Sand Martin.

The geese flocks were gleaning the stubble fields adjacent to the reservoir and included the Bar-headed Goose.


Neil M

Pitsford WeBs


Much of today was taken up completing the WeBs count at Pitsford Reservoir. Decent numbers of wildfowl and other water-birds were present but nothing particularly remarkable was seen. 

Highlights included the pair of Ruddy Shelduck still (Pintail Bay), the Bar-headed Goose, two Black Swans, six Red-crested Pochard (again two drakes in the Walgrave Bay and a drake and three females in the Scaldwell Bay), up to six Little Egrets, a couple of Hobby, c6 Common Sandpipers, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Kingfisher and 20 Yellow Wagtails. 

Good numbers of Sand Martins were again feeding over the reservoir and Swallows and House Martins were moving through. Common butterflies on the wing included Small Copper.


Neil M

The wildlife subjects
didn't want to be photographed
today, so a couple of
'machinery' images from
Pitsford Res instead!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

British Bird-watching Fair


No birding news from us today as we have been at the British Bird-watching Fair at Rutland Water and as usual spent far too much money!

As good as ever, this event has to be a big must for anyone who is interested in bird-watching and like-minded interests.  Huge marquees packed with art, optics, holidays, information services, books, outdoor clothing and much more makes it easy to look at and potentially purchase items at competitive prices, to the extent that each year we often wait for the fair to buy any bird-watching commodities.

The local Nuthatches were on our garden feeders first thing this morning, but apart from a few birds at Rutland Water and plenty of Common Buzzards en-route, nothing else to report!


Neil M

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Pitsford and the rest...


Eleanor visited Harrington Airfield this morning and again saw the 'cream-crown' Marsh Harrier.  Passerines in good numbers included plenty of Whitethroat and Willow Warbler and the large mixed flock of Goldfinch and Linnet had returned. Two Ravens were also present.

With much of the day spent at Pitsford Reservoir, there was a reasonable day list of birds which included an Osprey in the Scaldwell Bay at 2.45pm, at least one Hobby, 6 Red-crested Pochard (two drakes Walgrave Bay, a drake and three females in the Scaldwell Bay), 2 Kingfishers, 3-6 Common Sandpipers, a Redshank, a Snipe, a Curlew, 4+ Little Egrets, a Bar-headed Goose, the pair of Ruddy Shelduck, 2 Black Swans, a Goldeneye, ca6 Yellow-legged Gulls (2 adults), and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull in the evening roost.

Ringing operations there today led to 102 birds being caught, perhaps the most interesting being a Green Woodpecker, a Marsh Tit, 6 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler, 24 Chiffchaff, 11 Willow Warbler and 4 House Martin.  Large numbers of migrant Sand Martins were whizzing over the water all day.

Nick Wood and Chris Payne were ringing at Stortons GP this morning and caught a number of warblers which included 9 Whitethroat and several each of Blackcap and Garden Warbler as well as the usual Reed Warbler.  They also noted several Kingfishers and a Peregrine.

This evening two Ravens were in a sheep field at Hanging Houghton adjacent to the A508.


Neil M

Hornets seem to be
occupying several
nest-boxes at Pitsford
this year, this one being
in Christies Copse.

Eclipse and flightless
drake Goldeneye
Scaldwell Bay.

Pitsford Reservoir looking
towards the Maytrees Hide from
the New James Fisher Hide.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Birds at Pitsford


Overall a quiet day for birds today.  The reserve section of Pitsford Reservoir is beginning to show a significant drop in the water level so hopefully the muddy margins will increase and begin to attract some south-bound waders.  Birds noted north of the causeway included a Common Sandpiper, two Little Egrets and about a dozen Yellow Wagtails.  

This evening birds noted in the vicinity of the dam and yacht club at Pitsford Res included a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, four Yellow-legged Gulls, a Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper.


Neil M

Quiet at Harrington?


Eleanor has not long returned from an excursion to Harrington Airfield, but her impression was that there had been a significant shift in the transient migrants that have been present and many have left.  There were still plenty of Whitethroats moving around the bushes and the agricultural activities had attracted Red Kites and a large flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but few passerines of note.

However this site has a habit of luring you in to a sense of  'there's nothing here' and then some bright spark goes and find something good, so we will see what develops!

At Hanging Houghton this morning a calling Tree Pipit flew south at about 6.45am.


Neil M

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Pitsford update


Minimal birding opportunities today I'm afraid, but a family party of Spotted Flycatchers around the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir this evening was a pleasant surprise.

The Pitsford Reservoir reserve as managed by Wildlife Trust wardens has for many years attracted a team of volunteers keen to monitor all aspects of wildlife on-site. We enjoy regular meetings, and it is a fine opportunity to share information and support one another in all aspects of wildlife disciplines.

Although a warm (and wet) summer, the numbers of moths captured and monitored on-site this year has only been about on par with average years. Two moth traps are run every night and all specimens attracted are examined, identified and released every morning. A Small Rufous moth captured on 1st August was a first for Pitsford, despite being a wetland species. A recent 'moth night' event held at The Fishing Lodge to coincide with National Moth Night was successful and well-attended, despite a very poor weather forecast.

National Moth Night for 2015 will be 12th - 15th September and again Pitsford will be holding an event on the reserve.

To date, about 1730 birds have been ringed at the reservoir this year which includes juvenile Common Terns on the rafts, juvenile Tawny Owls from the boxes, some waterfowl and of course plenty of warblers, tits etc. Ten of the required twelve Constant Effort Site sessions have been completed.

Other breeding bird monitoring requires eight Common Bird Census visits to the reserve, whereby a recorder walks a set transect around the whole of the reserve recording all relevant birds seen and heard in an effort to successfully plot breeding territories. All these CBC visits were completed by the end of July and these sheets will be scrutinised in an effort to evaluate such territories and the health of most species.

Plenty of other monitoring is on-going, which by example includes identification of freshwater plankton and the recent discovery of a very rare slime mould. Much of this activity is documented in an annual report which is due to be published this month.

To conclude, Sarah Gibbs the Senior Reserve Warden, took to the air recently on a private light aircraft flight and some of her images of Pitsford Reservoir feature as the footer to this blog (please scroll down to the bottom to view).


Neil M

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ditchford WeBs


The first part of today was taken up completing a WeBs count at Ditchford Gravel Pits. In breezy but sunny conditions, large numbers of dragonflies and butterflies were on the wing, the best perhaps being quite a number of Clouded Yellow butterflies. Seven species of raptor included two Hobby, three Peregrine and a juvenile Marsh Harrier heading west. A pair of Egyptian Geese with eight goslings was a nice surprise, and a brood of Tufted Duck were noted too. A family party of Cetti's Warblers with just-fledged youngsters were a treat and a Willow Tit was the first recorded here for many long years. Waders were poorly represented with just a Common Sandpiper and three Oystercatchers but there were at least nine Kingfishers whizzing around. Other birds included four Little Egrets and about half a dozen Grey Wagtails.

At Pitsford Res this evening, the gull roost provided two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls and three adult Yellow-legged Gulls. The Common Scoter was still present just north of Pintail Bay and the pair of Ruddy Shelduck flew in with the geese. Other birds included singles of Little Egret and Common Sandpiper.


Neil M

Egyptian Geese



Common Tern

Female Banded Demoiselle


Pitsford Res from the
yacht club looking towards
Holcot church

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tuesday Part Three!


Eleanor is just back in from a good hike around the Blueberry Farm complex this afternoon.  Birds on show included a female Peregrine, a Barn Owl, a Redstart and two Whinchats...


Neil M

Pitsford Pm

I was rather hoping that the strong wind would produce a good bird, but if it has I cannot find it !! Pitsford Reservoir looks interesting as the water level is beginning to fall revealing muddy margins. However the birds have yet to discover this.
The two Ruddy Shelduck were just south of the causeway, whilst birds north of the causeway included 2 Red Crested Pochard, Goldeneye, 2 Black Swans, 4 Little Egret, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper.

Regards Eleanor

Harrington Am

I was beginning to suffer "withdrawal symptoms" as I hadn't visited Harrington for a few days !!!!! but I'm feeling much better after my visit this morning with my collie companions.
As I drove from the chippings compound to the main gate I was aware of birds flitting about in the roadside bushes, mainly Whitethroat and Blackbird, but also a Redstart. A Marsh Harrier, presumably the same long staying individual, and 2 Red Kites were hunting the obvious harvested field on the left hand side of the road. I later saw the Marsh Harrier again near the pond.
A walk along the main track was fairly quiet. The large flock of Linnets, Goldfinches etc were nowhere to be found and the bushes silent.
At the end of the track there is a grassy area where I play with the dogs and there were 2 Turtle Doves and a bright male Redstart in the bushes.
Around the bunkers were more Whitethroats, a Whinchat, Wheatear and another Redstart.

Regards    Eleanor

Monday, 11 August 2014

Evening birds


Despite plenty of effort today it seemed like hard work out there today to find much out of the ordinary.  An early morning recce of the Brampton Valley and Pitsford Res failed to locate anything noteworthy.

This afternoon Eleanor again saw a female Peregrine at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell but the best I could find was a single Grey Wagtail at Brixworth Sewer Works.

This evening a visit to the yacht club at Pitsford Res paid off with a sustained view of a fishing Osprey which successfully caught and took off a wriggling trout.  A juvenile Common Scoter in the Pintail Bay was unexpected.  The relatively small gull roost contained five Yellow-legged Gulls (one juvenile) and three juvenile Mediterranean Gulls (two moulting in to first winter plumage).


Neil M

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Stormy Sunday


This morning Eleanor located a Redstart in 'shrike hedge' in the Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Cottesbrooke, and before the deluge from mid-morning!

Garden birds at Hanging Houghton still include the two Nuthatches and a Marsh Tit, coming mostly to a sunflower feeder.

At Pitsford Res this afternoon, I struggled to find anything out of the ordinary on the reserve, a Little Egret, the regular adult Yellow-legged Gull and the Goldeneye being about the best.  Two new broods of Tufted Duck now confirm four successful females on the reserve this year.

Scanning at the gull roost from the yacht club produced a Little Egret, two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls and the pair of Ruddy Shelduck (now capable of flight).


Neil M

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A trip to the west


Today we wandered towards the west of the county, our first venue being the Hellidon area where we managed to locate a Wheatear and a Redstart. Next we took a circular walk around Boddington Reservoir, which as usual bristled with carp fishermen.  There were plenty of Common Blue butterflies on the wing but the birds were rather minimal with common warblers and a Grey Wagtail being the best.

A visit to Catesby produced a flock of eight Ravens playing in the strong south-westerly and a Hobby. Borough Hill Country Park was our next venue, with two Redstarts on the west side of the hill, a pair of Spotted Flycatcher with nestlings and a juvenile Siskin being the best of the birds.  This site has to be one of the best in the county for Harebells, with small colonies dotted all over the hill grassland.

Daventry Country Park hosted a Garganey, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, two Green Sandpipers and an adult male Peregrine.  Three broods of Tufted Duck was a good breeding record.

A late evening visit to the reserve section of Pitsford Reservoir provided views of a Hobby, two adult Yellow-legged Gulls, three Little Egrets and a Kingfisher. The southern end of Blueberry Farm attracted two Whinchats and a female Peregrine, the latter putting off a male Kestrel as it was about a rob a Barn Owl of it's prey.


Neil M


Grasshopper sp

Male Grey Wagtail

Common Blue butterfly



Spotted Flycatcher nestlings