Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Fair Isle Day 1

Hello

Well after waiting around all morning, Eleanor and I finally managed the short flight to Fair Isle at about 1pm today.

This gave us the opportunity to wander around some of the south end of the island in a strong southerly breeze and quite warm sunshine. New-in migrants included good numbers of Redwings and Bramblings, with small flocks of both species at a variety of different locations. I was surprised at how many Bonxies were still left with perhaps still a hundred birds still in residence.

A juvenile male Peregrine hunted passerines over Malcolm's Head and we recorded singles of Yellowhammer (scarce up here) and a Lapland Bunting. Birds moving in to the headwind included both Greylag and Pink-footed Geese. Remnant crop strips hosted good numbers of Skylarks and Twite and common waders included a Common Sandpiper. Summer migrants included plenty of Wheatear and Whinchat and a couple of Swallows.

Scarce birds keeping low on the island and not seen by us included Common Rosefinch, Bluethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler and a Rose-coloured Starling. With rarities on mainland Shetland and North Ronaldsay we await to see what will appear here over the next few days!

Regards

Neil M


Hooded Crow

Rock Pipit

Black Guillemot

Twite

Pitsford ringing

A ringing session was conducted around the feed station at the end of the old Scaldwell road yesterday evening and this morning. A fairly modest couple of sessions produced a total of 60 birds trapped and released, 38 of which were new birds including:
15 Tree Sparrows
6 Blackcap
6 Long-tailed Tits
2 Reed Buntings
2 Blue Tits
1 Goldfinch
1 Robin
1 Great Tit
1 Wren
1 Chiff Chaff
1 Blackbird

In addition to the ringed birds 2 Ruff were in attendance on the draw down as well as a solitary Snipe.

    Regards,

                 Neil H.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lerwick

Hello

Today was all about travelling as we meandered north for a short stay on Fair Isle, the birding island between the Shetland and Orkney Isles. We failed at the last hurdle as our last and third flight of the day was cancelled due to low cloud and we'll try again tomorrow. Birding opportunities were minimal today and birds seen from the bus on mainland Shetland amounted to little more than Raven, Hooded Crow, Rock Dove and the Shetland race of Starling.

Staying unexpectedly overnight at Lerwick meant we were able to spend the last hour or so of daylight around the harbour area. In excess of 50 Black Guillemots were a treat, as were several tame Grey Seals including a couple of big bulls. Other birds included Rock Pipit, Shag, Eider, Kittiwake and Gannet.

Regards

Neil M


Black Guillemot or
the Shetland name 'Tystie'

Shetland inter-island
ferry

Grey Seal

All images Eleanor McMahon

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday ringing...

Hello

The Stortons Gravel Pits ringing team were out and busy this morning, catching an excellent 102 birds. Highlights included an adult male Water Rail, 22 Greenfinches, plenty of Goldfinches, 8 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and 8 Reed Buntings.

At Harrington Airfield it was day two of ringing which provided a more modest catch of 42 birds in our efforts of trying to better understand population dynamics and migration. Six Blackbirds caught and ringed appeared to have just arrived and were probably of continental origin judging from their plumage and other traits. Other birds included a juvenile Song Thrush, 3 Blackcaps, 3 new Robins, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldfinches, 4 Reed Buntings, 4 Yellowhammers and 4 Meadow Pipits.

Other birds noted on the disused airfield included 6+ Golden Plovers, up to five Ravens, 3-4 Redwings, a couple of Yellow Wagtails and common raptors.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Next Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting

Hello

This is a reminder to members and an invite to non-members to attend the Northants Bird Club indoor meeting at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir on Wednesday 1st October. Our guest speaker will be Josh Hellon who will present on the Great Fen Project to the east of Northamptonshire. Please try and attend as soon after 7.30pm as possible with a view to the meeting starting at about 7.45pm. Hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening.

Regards

Neil M

Ringing in the county today

Hello

Chris Payne was ringing down at Greens Norton today and he caught and processed fifty birds which included 21 Goldfinches, 10 Greenfinches and a Chiffchaff.

At the same time ringers were working nets at Harrington Airfield in the vicinity of the old airstrip and caught 73 birds which included 4 Green Woodpeckers, a Linnet, 14 Goldfinches, 8 Reed Buntings, 3 Yellowhammers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests and 18 Meadow Pipits. Other birds noted included a Grey Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtails, c50 Golden Plovers and large numbers of Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits. Diurnal migrants on the move included south-bound Starlings, Skylarks, Swallows, Song Thrushes, Tree Sparrows and Jays (at least nine). There will be further ringing there tomorrow and access to the airstrip and bunkers will be restricted.

Birds in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res this afternoon included the Stonechat still plus a vocal Willow Tit. A pair of Stonechat remain in the large field on the hill at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell.

Regards

Neil M


Adult male
Green Woodpecker

Juvenile female
Green Woodpecker

Friday, 26 September 2014

Pitsford update...

Hello

This morning there were 13 Red-crested Pochard in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res including the leucistic bird (per Neil H). Also a Stonechat was present between the Maytrees and Bird Club hides.

Work on felling the big crack willows in the Scaldwell Bay has caused a significant amount of disturbance but the biggest trees are down now so hopefully observers will soon benefit from better viewing conditions from the hides.

A couple of Ravens and a Grey Wagtail were at Hanging Houghton this morning and another six Ravens were near Draughton Pool.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Keep on scanning!

Hello

Early afternoon today found Eleanor standing on Blueberry Hill near Maidwell waiting for another fly-over of the Vulcan and scanning for raptors too! In addition to the Vulcan, seven species of raptor showed, the best being an adult male Merlin and an adult female Peregrine (both birds seemingly moving freely between Harrington Airfield and Blueberry Farm for some weeks now), and a Hobby.

This evening a visit to Pitsford Res in the dam area resulted in distant views of two Ruff and a Ringed Plover, a Grey Wagtail and three Yellow-legged Gulls in the gull roost.

Regards

Neil M

Fineshade Wood - another update from Barrie Galpin

Hello and Good News!

Last night the Development Control  Committee of East Northants Council unanimously REFUSED the planning application for Glamping pods at Top Lodge.  We have no doubt that their decision was influenced by the number and quality of objections that many of you submitted - a great team effort!  The applicant did not attend to speak at the meeting and it seems unlikely that there would be any grounds for appeal... though they could always resubmit.

So that simplifies things. For the moment we can concentrate wholly on the Forest Holidays application. If you haven't submitted an objection yet details are below. If you are objecting because of the damage to wildlife there will be major and detailed objections from RSPB and the Wildlife Trust and it will be good to say that you support their views and conclusions.  If you have already submitted an objection please can you get someone else to object too - before 8th October? Objections are already flowing in but we really need more objections to this new application than we had last time.

Thanks once again for your invaluable support - we can't do it without you.
Barrie 

15 Top Lodge, Fineshade, Corby. NN17 3BB
01780-444351
07717-446417

1)  How to object

The new reference number for the application is 14/01704/FUL and it can be found online at 
Objections can be made online, or simply emailed to planning@east-northamptonshire.gov.uk
Or by letter to Planning comments, East Northamptonshire Council, Cedar Drive, Thrapston NN14 4LZ. 

All comments must include your name and address and the reference 14/01704/FUL. The consultation period ends on 8th October.
We suggest you also put very clearly at the top: Objection

2) Petition

Please also sign and share the petition "Forest Privatisation by the back door" . Over 600 signatures now.

3) Achievements so far
a) The Glamping Application has been defeated!
b) With Woodland Trust help, we forced Forest Holidays to withdraw from their original plans to build in the bluebell area
c) Forest Holidays were forced to withdraw from their first planned mitigation area
d) National publicity is building up  e.g. articles in Private eye, social media (Twitter and Facebook), the petition

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Harrington Airfield - restricted access at week-end

Hello

Birds in the garden here at Hanging Houghton this morning included a couple of Nuthatch still, two Grey Wagtails which have been commuting between this village and Lamport for several days now, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. It seems that there are Chiffchaffs scattered about in most of our decent hedges and copses right now, their inflected calls ringing out wherever I go.

The Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Cottesbrooke this morning attracted a Wheatear and 15 Golden Plovers, in wetter conditions as of late. A single Grey Wagtail was noted at Brixworth Sewer Works and Harrington Airfield this afternoon hosted a 'cream crown' Marsh Harrier, a female Peregrine, two Ravens and 4 Grey Partridge.

A period of bird ringing is planned for Harrington Airfield for this coming week-end and as such access to the old airstrip and bunkers will be restricted on both Saturday and Sunday. The main concrete track and footpaths remain unaffected. Anyone who would like to see ringing operations on-site is asked to make contact beforehand and we will endeavor to show you the key aspects of catching and processing wild birds and explain what we hope to achieve.

Regards

Neil M

Big Bird in the sky!

Hello

OK so it's not wildlife, but when the Vulcan puts on a flying display for free over NN6 I'm not going to ignore it! It should pass over this way again tomorrow...

Neil M










David Arden images

Hello

With many keen local naturalists embracing the digital world of photography it is possible to visually record (and appreciate at the time and later) what we see. Please find attached some stunning and very colourful images from David Arden...

Regards

Neil M


Comma

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Red Admiral

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tuesday's Trickle !

Autumn is undoubtedly my favourite time of year, the changing landscape from golden to rich brown, the earthy smell, hedgerows laden with their rich crops of fruit and of course the wonder of visible migration.
I spent a very pleasant couple of hours with my canine companions walking and sitting around Harrington Airfield.  Birds were definitely on the move as there was a constant trickle of hirundines, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks flying over. Other "fly overs" included 2 Siskin, 2+ Grey Wagtail , a Tree Sparrow and 4 Crossbill. 
The bushes appeared quiet and I could only find a handful of warblers, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, plus a Marsh Tit.
There were 4 Grey Partridge,15 Golden Plover and 2 Wheatear on the field between the main track and rough strip.
Plenty of Red Kite and Common Buzzard showing well as they remain attracted to the recently harvested fields.
After a quick coffee I was out again with the other two dogs who are on "shorter" walks. This time to the southern most fields of Blueberry Farm. A large flock of tits/warblers moved along one of their favourite hedgerows, but I couldn't find anything different amongst them.
Scanning the field produced 4+ Whinchat and "the" female Peregrine.  Again numerous Red Kites flying low or foraging on the newly scuffled fields. They were very vocal today with their beautiful evocative call which I never tire of hearing.
I did have a few "chores" to complete today and whilst undertaking one of these I picked up 3 cronking Ravens over Beckworth Emporium near Sywell.
Late afternoon found me back at Blueberry where I walked around the largest and highest fields. The views from the top of this field are superb and make the walk up worth it.  As I looked around the skies were littered with raptors, mainly Kestrel, Red Kite and Common Buzzard, but also 2 Hobby.
There were a pair of Stonechat tucked in the furthest corner of this field and 3 Grey Partridge were flushed up.
I was aware that Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Hirundines were still on the move. I wonder how many have moved through on this steady trickle today?


Regards Eleanor

More images from Spurn...

Hello

Please find a few more images of birds from Spurn on Sunday...

Neil M



Pied Flycatcher
Robin Gossage

Redstart
Robin Gossage

Roe Deer
Robin Gossage

Wheatear
Robin Gossage

Masked Shrike
Robin Gossage


Jack Snipe
Robin Gossage

Barred Warbler
Robin Gossage


Snipe
Jacob Spinks

Pitsford Ringing

Hello

A period of ringing at the main feeding station at Pitsford Reservoir yesterday afternoon and this morning was responsible for the capture of  93 birds, 78 of them being new birds. The new birds were 4 Wrens, 8 Dunnocks, 5 Robins, 1 Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, an impressive 37 Tree Sparrows, 6 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and a Reed Bunting.

Seven Little Egrets were noted flying from the overnight roost this morning.

I'm grateful to Dave Francis and Lynne Barnett for their efforts and disclosure.

Regards

Neil M




Images of the Sparrowhawk
captured at Pitsford last Saturday.
This was a re-trap male, first
caught and ringed at Pitsford
in 2013, then being aged as a
 bird hatched that year.
Image courtesy of Pete Gilbert

Monday, 22 September 2014

Masked Shrike

Hello

Neil H has kindly forwarded some images of the Masked Shrike at Spurn as seen on Sunday...

Please click on the images for maximum benefit.

Regards

Neil M





Summer Leys

I decided to visit Summer Leys this morning after yesterday's sighting of a Bittern. Disappointingly the bird didn't make a return visit.
There were compensations however. A Great White Egret was fishing on the Scrape when I arrived in the Pioneer Hide. It was accompanied by a Little Egret and a rather possessive Grey Heron. The latter bird was particularly envious of the Egret's fishing success and attempted to steal fish from it before eventually displacing it from it's preferred fishing spot.
An eclipse plumage Garganey was also feeding on the scrape. A pair of Grey Wagtail's flew in and started feeding in front of the hide. Shortly afterwards a juvenile Peregrine Falcon flew low over the scrape and gave a Wood Pigeon a nasty surprise. The bird wasn't really in hunting mode and the Pigeon easily evaded its half hearted stoop. None of the other birds on the scrape noticed the Peregrine's passage!
A pair of Snipe were on Brayshaw's Bund with a second pair on Eddy's Island. A lone Hobby was hawking insects high over the car park.



              Regards,

                        Neil H.

Autumn sunshine

Hello

A stunning autumnal day meant that Eleanor was soon out of the door this morning, joined by me a little later with a few chores completed.

A 'cream crown' Marsh Harrier flew along the Brampton Valley towards Brixworth from below Hanging Houghton at about 10.45am, but there was little else to report with the valley fields being very dry at the moment.

A quick late morning walk at Harrington Airfield was profitable if you like looking at good numbers of soaring Kestrels, Common Buzzards and Red Kites as there were plenty in every direction. A female Peregrine, presumably the Blueberry bird, came over the airfield causing some consternation among the gulls feeding on the fields. Passerines were generally in low numbers with just a few common warblers, Yellowhammers, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits perhaps being the most obvious on show.

Early afternoon saw us in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res where there were five Red-crested Pochard (including a leucistic individual) and a Little Egret. The bay was disturbed due to some tree felling which will hopefully improve viewing conditions around the Bird Club hide.

Regards

Neil M




Red Kite
Harrington Airfield

Spurn

Hello

Yesterday  (Sunday 21st Sept) I was fortunate to be able to visit the Spurn/Kilnsea area in East Yorkshire with fellow Northants birders Jacob Spinks, Andrew Tyrrell and Neil Hasdell.  There were plenty of birders on the ground when we arrived and good numbers of other would-be observers from Northants too! This migration hot-spot attracts large numbers of birders from around the country, the quality and concentration of birds making the long journey worthwhile. 

Many there had come to see a juvenile Masked Shrike which was on show all day along a particular shielded hedge-line, and this was my first opportunity of seeing one in juvenile plumage. The bird was just a little too far away for my lens to cope with so I'm hoping my colleagues will supply me an image over the next few days or so!

The supporting cast of scarce and rare birds ensured that birders didn't have far to stray and we walked a loop around Kilnsea itself to see most of the birds on offer.  I can watch members of the chat family all day and with good numbers of Stonechats, Whinchats, Wheatears and Redstarts on offer I was very happy with my lot. A juvenile Barred Warbler gave itself up on the second attempt and at one stage I was able to see Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher and Red-breasted Flycatcher all in the same 'scope view! We didn't connect with an elusive Olive-backed Pipit on-site but most patient observers did even if the views were brief. Other birds of the grassy margins included up to three Jack Snipe, Snipe and Water Rail.

Other warblers included Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and a Yellow-browed was reported. Fly-over migrants included Marsh Harrier, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Brambling and Siskin. A brief spell of sea-watching quickly provided distant views of Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Arctic and Great Skua and good numbers of Red-throated Divers as well as a supporting cast of Kittiwake, Common Tern, Gannet and Guillemot. 

As the tide turned good numbers and variety of estuary waders were pushed up towards us and we noted plenty of Little Egrets and a couple of Brent Geese. A Peregrine was about our last bird of note as we left the area during the late afternoon.

Regards

Neil M

Stonechat
Pied Flycatcher

Barred Warbler


Wheatear

Jack Snipe

Snipe

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Stortons Ringing

Hello

A ringing session took place at Stortons GP this morning which resulted in 69 birds being caught of which 52 were new. Highlights included some summer migrants still in the shape of a Chiffchaff, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Reed Warblers and 9 Blackcaps plus 3 resident Bullfinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Birds noted around Hanging Houghton today included 2 Ravens, a Barn Owl and a Grey Wagtail. An excursion at Harrington Airfield this morning failed to locate much with just a pair of Grey Partridge being noteworthy.

A walk around the fields between Walgrave village and Pitsford Res this afternoon was sufficient to see an Osprey, a Redstart and 3 Golden Plovers.

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Pitsford Ringing

Hello

A period of bird ringing in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res today was sufficient to catch and process 73 birds with perhaps the highlights being a Sparrowhawk, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 9 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcaps, a Goldcrest and 13 Meadow Pipits.

Other birds noted in the bay included at least 2 Hobbys, 13 Red-crested Pochard, a Kingfisher, a Snipe and a Willow Tit.

An adult male Merlin appeared at Harrington Airfield this morning and two Wheatears were present around the bunkers.

At Blueberry Farm this afternoon, the southern-most field hosted a Stonechat and a Whinchat with two mobile Ravens too.

Regards

Neil M

Friday, 19 September 2014

Staying local

Hello

A visit to the village sewer works at Brixworth today provided views of a Hobby and at least five Grey Wagtails (two caught and ringed).

An afternoon visit to the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res confirmed the continued presence of the Great White Egret and adult Yellow-legged Gull plus at least six Red-crested Pochard and four Snipe.

Regards

Neil M


Unidentified fungi
on dead Ash tree near
Pitsford Res. The structure
resembled a coral or cauliflower!
Any suggestions re identity
gratefully received!

And the Hornet nest just became
bigger again!
Pitsford Res.

Great White Egret with
friends, Pitsford Res