Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Stortons ringing

Hello

Ringers John Woollett, John Boland and Chris Payne were busy at Stortons Gravel Pits this morning and really found the warblers including plenty of juveniles. Some 64 birds were caught which included Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and a juvenile Grasshopper Warbler too.

Raptors active around the site included Hobby, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk.

Regards

Neil M




Lesser Whitethroat


Grasshopper Warbler

All images courtesy of Chris Payne.

Pitsford am

Hello

This morning was phase one of a planned 'bio-blitz' on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir, as managed by the Wildlife Trust wardens Sarah and Mischa. Phase two kicks in later this evening centred around the Christies Copse complex in the Walgrave Bay. 

Birds noted today included a Little Egret, a Common Sandpiper, a Kingfisher and Siskin was heard on a couple of occasions. The Muntjac Deer were out in force first thing, no doubt nosing around before it became too hot. And of course plenty of insects are taking full advantage of the very sunny and warm conditions with good numbers of common butterflies (including Painted Ladies) damselflies and a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers.

A flock of 180 Gadwall were loafing in the Walgrave Bay, and with birds elsewhere on the reserve the total must be well in excess of 200.

A Barn Owl was hunting around a cut hay field in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning.

Regards

Neil M


Muntjac munching
on willow leaves

Kingfisher

Song Thrush

All these images were taken
from the Bird Club hide in the
Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Res

Monday, 29 June 2015

Pitsford update...

Hello

Birds on show at Pitsford Reservoir today included several 'post-breeders' already on the move. They included at least 12 Siskins on the reserve, a Common Sandpiper and a few Teal now, and there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls off the Sailing Club. Other birds of note included an adult Cuckoo and a Hobby. Butterflies were out in force with a particularly large hatch of Small Tortoiseshells.

Regards

Neil M



A rather 'tardy' Red Kite already having
lost some flight feathers ahead of it's annual
moult.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Week-end gliders!

Hello

A pair of Grey Partridge and a pair of Hobby at Blueberry Farm near Maidwell this morning and two Ravens nearby...

Some more images from the last two days as below...

Regards

Neil M


Scarlet Tiger moth
courtesy of Cathy Ryden




A close Common Buzzard
at Hanging Houghton - sadly
in very poor light!

Avro Vulcan
Courtesy of Eleanor

Bird Club Outdoor Meetings

Hello

On Wednesday 1st July 2015 we will be holding the first of our two summer outdoor meetings at Pitsford Reservoir. As usual we ask that we meet at the Fishing Lodge for a prompt 7.30pm start where we will quickly run through any notices and a briefing for the evening. The plan is then for us to take an evening ramble around the Holcot Bay looking at whatever wildlife is on offer. We plan to be back at the Fishing Lodge at dusk for a cuppa and biscuits. Hopefully then we will have the opportunity of trying out a bat detector to at least hear some of our flying mammals about the reserve, some of which are believed to be quite numerous.

In addition we hope to have some captured 'mini-beasts' on show from the Pitsford bio-blitz the day before and if the anticipated warm summer evening dissipates in to a wet/windy evening, Bob Bullock has kindly provided a contingency in the shape of his excellent 'Northants Birds' digital presentation.

Hot drinks and biscuits are available all evening so even if you don't fancy a walk there is an opportunity to wander around the Fishing Lodge and have a good natter! 

Non-members are most welcome.

The second outdoor meeting on Wednesday 5th August 2015 is in the process of being finalised and this will be a 7pm start in order to compensate for the shorter period of evening light. Again a nature walk is anticipated plus we hope to host a BBQ (free to NBC members) and again plan to have other activities on tap in case of unpleasant weather.

We look forward to seeing you there!'

Regards

Neil M

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saturday update

Hello

Not much to report today but please see some images taken by Eleanor during the last few days...

A wander around the Holcot Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon was sufficient to find a female Gadwall chaperoning a brood of five ducklings.

John Woollett and Chris Payne have been busy ringing nestling Swallows in the south of the county during the last few weeks. A couple of us had a go at finding some active Swallow nests today and we ringed eleven nestlings and a couple of adults.

Regards

Neil M



Common Spotted Orchids


Bee Orchids

Juvenile Carrion Crows

Juvenile Pied Wagtail

Friday, 26 June 2015

Harrington pm

Hello

Eleanor took a wander at Harrington Airfield this afternoon and was not successful at dodging the showers!

Common Spotted Orchids are quite numerous on the old airstrip but Bee Orchids appear to be having a poor year there. Birds included two Turtle Doves purring in the bushes at the end of the concrete track, four Ravens over, a pair of Grey Partridge and a late calling male Cuckoo.

Regards

Neil M

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Pitsford update Part 2

Hello

Dave Francis was active at Pitsford Reservoir again today, committing to another Constant Effort Site session in the Scaldwell Bay. This resulted in the capture of 85 birds which is close to the long term average for this timed session, the early results suggesting a mixed picture for our locally breeding birds.

Birds processed were made up of 11 Great Tits, 7 Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, 2 Marsh Tits, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Treecreepers, 9 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, 4 Wrens, 6 Song Thrushes, 7 Blackbirds, 10 Chiffchaffs, 6 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroats, 3 Reed Warblers, a Goldcrest, a Bullfinch, 3 Chaffinches, a Goldfinch, a Greenfinch and 3 Reed Buntings.

One of the Reed Warblers was a re-trap of at least 7 years! A few birds caught near to Old Scaldwell Road feed station included a Canada Goose, a Carrion Crow, 5 Mallard, 2 Starlings and a Blackbird.

In very pleasant sultry conditions this evening, birds noted at Pitsford Res included a pair of Oystercatcher, a Redshank, a Mandarin Duck and a Barn Owl hunting south of the causeway. Already the traditional summer build-up of ducks is well under way with an increase in numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. Plenty of post-breeding Lapwings are also present, spending much of their time loafing on the concrete parapet of the causeway.

Regards

Neil M

Pitsford update...

Hello

On Tuesday evening (23rd June), Dave Francis and Chris Payne activated the duck trap at Pitsford Reservoir, culminating in the capture of ten Mallard, five of which had been ringed at Pitsford previously.

In addition they visited the tern rafts in the Scaldwell Bay to check on progress and were able to locate and ring several Common Tern chicks (please see below).

Sadly one of the adult Oystercatchers was killed on the road causeway recently, the fast moving traffic is a hazard to many water birds moving between the two sections of the reservoir.

This morning a pair of Grey Partridge were present in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was perched on one of the buoys off the dam at Pitsford Res. Yesterday afternoon a Turtle Dove was purring away and on full view in the dead willows half way along the main concrete track at Harrington Airfield - another day when Eleanor regretted not taking her camera with her!

I have been away for a couple of weeks so I am grateful to Neil H and Eleanor for providing the postings in my absence.

Regards

Neil M



Aahhh...!
Cute little Common Tern chicks

Courtesy of Chris Payne

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Flowers and Insects

Today at Summer Leys was more about flowers and insects than birds. There were birds present; the first brood of two LRP's hatched yesterday, not from the nest we have been watching, but from a completely unobserved one. The other pair are still incubating. A third pair may be sitting, but in an area obscured by vegetation.
A pair of Red-crested Pochard were loafing on Gull Island, but no sign of the Garganey today. The other broods are doing well, although only two Redshank chicks have been seen for the last couple of days. A single Dunlin was on Round Island.
On to the other bits and pieces. The orchids are now showing well, all four regular species (Common Spotted, Bee, Southern Marsh and Pyramidal) are now out in various locations around the reserve as well as on Mary's Lake.
A number of insects were on the wing including Four-spotted Chaser and the first Ruby-tailed Wasp, a stunning little jewel of an insect, although the one seen today wasn't at its brightest. It can been seen on the woodwork of the bridge over the Grendon Brook (as well as several other locations) which feeds into the reserve about 100yds from the car park on a clockwise circuit. Be warned though, it's only a few millimetres long, fast and easily overlooked.




         Regards,

                    Neil H.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Summer Leys

Summer Leys was situation normal this morning. The 7 Shelducklings are doing well and catching up with there parents in size. There are probably 3 baby Redshank still, now becoming more obviously Redshank as their plumage begins to change.
The pair of Garganey are still present, although they have relocated to Mary's Lake. Three new broods of Lapwings have appeared this week on the scrape. The Med Gull was seen yesterday, but still hasn't any young, the odds on a successful incubation are becoming longer daily.
Finally a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin were on Round Island this morning.

On Thursday I visited Glapthorn Cow Pasture to look for Black Hairstreak's. Several butterflies were seen in and around the tops of the blackthorn, although none dropped down to feed on the bramble whilst I was there.

          Regards,

                       Neil H.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Ramblings.......

For a variety of reasons my birding is somewhat restricted at the moment.  I am managing to visit Blueberry Farm area and Harrington Airfield on most days.
A Quail is still calling on and off from the southern most field of the Blueberry complex. I have heard it up until this morning when the field was silent, but could easily still be there.
There are one or two Grasshopper Warbler in the area.  The Barn Owls have become quite elusive but I did see two hunting yesterday evening.
This morning I watched a Cuckoo searching the hedge row , obviously looking for a nest in which to deposit eggs. It was so intent on its mission that it was totally unconcerned by my presence.
Birding at Harrington has been quiet, with Grey Partridge and Turtle Dove being the highlight.   Nine times out of ten I either see or hear the Turtle Doves. They seem to favour two main areas. Firstly the area around the bunker next to the concrete track. They are either perched in the obvious bare tree's or foraging on the brown earth behind the bunker. Secondly they are often in the bushes at the end of the track.  If you are walking along the concrete track, go past the first heap/strip of smelly muck and loiter around the bushes on your left.  This evening they were "purring" from the bushes in this area before flying past me and landing in the dead tree's.
The Common Spotted Orchid and Bee Orchid are out and looking pristine. The orchids are on the rough grassy strip and I'm sure that there are more to come out. 
More and more insects and butterflies are also about, especially Small Heath Butterflies.
This evening I also encountered both a Brown Hare [ my favourite] and a Badger walking up the track head on to meet me . Neither seemed to be aware that myself and two dogs were on a collision course with them !!!  For me, it was a case of hold on very tightly to one of the dogs who is part hound or face being pulled headlong across the airfield in pursuit.
However bird of the day yesterday was the Red Arrows who came very low and slow over the house, such a distinctive noise and sight.

Regards
Eleanor

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Pitsford CES

Dave Francis was at Pitsford Res today to conduct visit 5 of the CES season. A slightly disappointing session with a total of 53 birds captured, well below the average for this visit of ~80. The main reason for the shortfall was the lack of tit flocks.
Great Tit 4 (all Juvs)
Blue Tit 6 (5 juvs)
Blackcap 5
Chaffinch 1
Ciffchaff 6
Coal Tit 3 (all juvs)
Dunnock 1
Blackbird 3
Greenfinch 1
Wren 3
Great-spotted Woodpecker 4
Reed Bunting 1
Robin 6
Song Thrush 3
Treecreeper 3
Whitethroat 1
Wood Pigeon 1
Garden Warbler 1

A visit yesterday to the Nene barrage at Clifford Hill was rewarded with distant views of 2 drake Common Scoters, always as far away from me as possible as I circumnavigated the lake. A solitary Black Tern was sweeping the length of the lake as well.

      Regards,

                      Neil H.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Rainy day birds

The persistent rain this morning increased my anticipation as I headed to Summer Leys once more. It's a little late in the season now for much migration to be happening, but there have been a number of good waders reported from surrounding counties lately. Alas I was to be disappointed on the wader front, Ringed Plover being the only unusual bird to report. The day was considerably brightened by the presence of two Black Terns catching insects over the main lake. These elegant marsh terns are always a pleasure to watch as they swoop and climb effortlessly backwards and forwards.
A further surprise was a pair of Garganey which were feeding in the weedy margins of Gull Island.
The usual suspects were still in evidence, the Med Gull appearing briefly and the young Shelducks increasing in size daily. The Oystercatcher chick was visible for the first time in nearly a week and has grown massively being hardly smaller than its parents now.
The 4 Redshank young are all flourishing and are moving between the islands of the scrape, which must be a little daunting when you are so little and haven't experienced water before.


      Regards,

                         Neil H.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Summer Leys

Autumn is coming. I know summer has barely started, but the first signs of autumn are appearing, at least as far as the birds are concerned. Teal have started to reappear on the reserve with 8 drakes and a duck appearing this week along with an unseasonably early drake Goldeneye.
More appropriately to the time of year the first orchids are blooming with over 20 Southern Marsh Orchids in flower in the car park field. 


Young birds are in evidence with a brood of Shelduck doing well with 7 of the original 9 ducklings still surviving.
A pair of Redshank are rearing a quartet of youngsters, despite the harassment of a non-breeding pair of birds.
A number of Lapwing families are present on the scrape and Gull Island with the first 3 Common Tern chicks hatched on Round Island in the last few days. A solitary young Oystercatcher has been hatched by the only successful pair on the reserve.
Of the 6 Little ringed Plovers resident only one pair seem to have settled down, so fingers crossed for a successful outcome.
Finally the 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull is still sitting on Rotary Island after having presumably paired with a Black-headed Gull. It's impossible to be sure of what is going on due to the vigorous growth of the vegetation on the island, probably guano fuelled. With luck there will be some interesting chicks for people to puzzle over shortly as many of the gull eggs have now hatched.

           Regards,

                    Neil H.

Monday, 8 June 2015

More from Pitsford...

Hello

More images from Pitsford Reservoir at the week-end, courtesy of Cathy Ryden...

Regards

Neil M


Garden Warbler

Common Blue Damselfly

Cormorant

Adult and juvenile
Carrion Crow

Common Blue butterfly

Small Copper butterfly

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Local Bird Ringing

Hello

A ringing session at Stortons Gravel Pits this morning as led by John Woollett provided 55 captures, the highlights being 5 Cetti's Warblers, 9 Robins, 8 Reed Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Whitethroat. A Peregrine maintained a presence in the area.

At Pitsford Reservoir this morning, a ringing session including a Constant Effort Site visit as led by Dave Francis provided 52 captures, the more interesting birds perhaps being a Kingfisher, a Carrion Crow, a Moorhen, a Tawny Owl, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Garden Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Warblers, 7 Bullfinches and 5 Song Thrushes. The Tawny Owl was first ringed as an adult on-site in 2007 so is in excess of eight years old and one of the Garden Warblers was first ringed in 2010.

Other birds seen on-site included a drake Wigeon and a Hobby and the sunny weather brought forth many day-flying Chimney Sweep moths, a Silver Y moth, a Painted Lady butterfly and smaller butterflies including Common Blue and Small Copper.

Regards

Neil M


Garden Warbler
Pitsford Reservoir
Courtesy of Lynne Barnett

Juvenile Cetti's Warbler
Stortons Gravel Pits
Courtesy of Chris Payne

Chimney Sweep Moth
Pitsford Res

Common Tern
Pitsford Res

Small Copper butterfly
Pitsford Res

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Pitsford in June

Hello

A visit to Harrington Airfield this morning yielded a calling Quail by the first bunker and two Turtle Doves towards the end of the concrete track.

Today three of us were checking the large nest-boxes on the reserve section of Pitsford Reservoir, and sadly our efforts confirmed that it has been a very poor breeding season for Tawny Owls with just one pair successfully utilising the boxes to raise young. We located two broods of well-grown Stock Doves, this species regularly use these large boxes successfully.

A couple of singing Spotted Flycatcher remain on the reserve and the pair of Oystercatcher continue to feed one or two young on the tern rafts.

Since the significant tree-felling near to the Bird Club Hide last year, many birds now loaf on the stumps and posts near to the hide affording excellent views, in particular Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns.

Kenny Cramer and team committed to some general ringing at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve near to Milton Keynes this morning and caught 24 birds of a variety of species including a Jay, a Kingfisher, a Garden Warbler, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A Quail was still calling at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon close to the southern border of the complex.

Regards

Neil M


Great Crested Grebes displaying
Pitsford Reservoir

Cormorant
Pitsford Reservoir



Common Tern
Pitsford Reservoir

Friday, 5 June 2015

Warm and sunny at last!

Common Toad
Blueberry Farm



Hello

This morning I was treated to a 'behind the scenes' look at some of the wildlife projects at Rutland Water, with an opportunity to examine the relatively new and innovative Sand Martin 'banks' with their open-backed nest-holes and anti-predation baffles, a Swift Tower which houses multiple nest-boxes affixed to a pole and equipped with an audio system to attract passing birds, and three Osprey nests, two of which were active. The site is pretty vast and there are a number of other long-term plans and strategies at play here which would be good to emulate within this fair county of ours!

In the rather sudden warm and sunny conditions which have been a touch scarce this spring, there has a been a bloom of insect activity. The damselflies at Rutland Water were flying in their hundreds and a few dragon-flies included Four Spot Chaser.

At Blueberry Farm this morning, the Quail was audible again in Big Lichfields, and this afternoon there was a pair of Hobby and insects on the wing included Small Heath and Painted Lady butterflies.

Regards

Neil M


Four Spot Chaser
Rutland Water

Underside of Painted Lady
butterfly Blueberry Farm


Small Heath butterfly
Blueberry Farm


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Here come the young birds!

Hello

An early morning foray at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell provided the sound of the calling Quail in Big Lichfields and a singing Grasshopper Warbler in Hill Field.

At Harrington Airfield this afternoon two Turtle Doves were flying around at the far end of the concrete track and good numbers of Common Spotted Orchids are beginning to emerge. This evening a walk in Rabbit Hill Spinney on the Kelmarsh Estate yielded a pair of Spotted Flycatcher and a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest with the young close to fledging.

Many Blue Tit and Great Tit broods will have fledged today and will continue to do so during the week-end, so watch out for lots of begging tits in bushes and trees by you!

Regards

Neil M

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Wednesday update

Hello

Not much opportunity for being out and about today, but a morning visit to Blueberry Farm confirmed the continuing presence of a calling Quail in Big Lichfields (southern-most field), and at lunch-time a single Turtle Dove was seen in flight at Harrington Airfield (from bushes towards the end of the concrete track)...

Regards

Neil M

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Blustery spring day!

Hello

This afternoon a Quail was again calling in the field known as Big Lichfields at the southern edge of the Blueberry Farm complex, between Maidwell and Cottesbrooke. At Hollowell Reservoir this afternoon the point area attracted two Dunlin and six Ringed Plovers...

Regards

Neil M


Cock Linnet
Courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Kestrel
Courtesy of Robin Gossage.