Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Update on Fineshade Wood

From Friends of Fineshade website...

Just a quick email to let you know that on Friday afternoon our MP Tom Pursglove will be visiting Fineshade to talk to residents, to have a walk in the wood and then to meet other Friends of Fineshade and visitors. If you live locally and are able to be here at 3.30pm it would be very helpful indeed. The meeting place will be in front of the Top Lodge Visitor Centre, just outside the courtyard, looking out over the fields.

Tom objected to the previous Forest Holidays application and is on record as saying "Should the application be re-submitted, and local concern persists, I will of course be objecting again in the strongest possible terms – Fineshade Wood is a beautiful spot and it must be preserved." Please help us make it clear that local concern does persist!

In fact we will be asking Tom to help us persuade the Forestry Commission that they should remove the continuing threat to Fineshade's biodiversity and tranquillity once and for all.  The uncertainty and threat has gone on long enough and we want the FC to begin celebrating the wildlife richness and tranquillity of the woodland that they are supposed to be managing for us. They should be proud of the dormice, adders, bats, birds, butterflies and plants that are here.

Even if you can't manage to be here on Friday afternoon please try to join in on Facebook and Twitter during the evening. Once again the message is "FC should remove the threat to Fineshade once and for all".

Thanks once again for supporting Fineshade Wood.

Friends of Fineshade.


Silver-washed Fritillary.

Both species are seen regularly
at Fineshade Wood.

Ladies behind the lens!

Song Thrush

Tree Sparrow


Images courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.


A visit to Pitsford Reservoir this evening was sufficient to confirm that the injured Ruddy Shelduck was still present around the grounds of the Sailing Club. A Hobby hurtled through large numbers of martins and Swifts trying to to find a tired or unsuspecting victim...


Neil M

Lesser Stag Beetle as found in a
Kingsthorpe garden at the week-end.
Images courtesy of Amanda Fraser.

Adders Tongue Fern

Calcareous grassland

Goats Beard

Fairy Fax

Merry's Meadow near Oakham.

Above five images courtesy
of Lynne Barnett.

Monday, 30 May 2016

More ringing recoveries...


Eric Graham ventured out to the Titchmarsh Reserve once again this morning and enjoyed an aerial mass of Swifts hurtling around. Four Cuckoos together was a treat (one a female) and two Little Egrets were noted too.

Harrington Airfield seemed quiet today and a Hobby was the only thing of note at Blueberry Farm.

Some more interesting ringing recoveries have filtered through, two of course relating to those gorgeous little Siskins! These and Lesser Redpolls seem to provide some excellent recovery opportunities and certainly standard ringing procedures are able to provide some pretty comprehensive tracking data.

S122558 was a first year female Siskin ringed at Astcote by John Woollett on 15th March this year and she was re-trapped 22 days later at Burgh Castle, Great Yarmouth. She was tracking ENE and one wonders if she was heading for the continent.

S122569 was an adult female Siskin ringed at Astcote one day later on 16th March 2016. Just six days later, on 22nd March, she was re-trapped at Zwolle, Overijssel, the Netherlands, travelling 485km in that time and very much in an easterly direction. Surely she was heading for a North European breeding ground?

John comments that his garden was busy during this period with good numbers of Siskins and from the plethora of ringing recoveries it seems that the flock was made up of different populations of Siskins, some heading up to Scotland to breed with others bound for much further north and east...

D820672 relates to a first year Lesser Redpoll first ringed on 6th September 2015 at Kilnsea, near Spurn on the East Yorkshire coast. Chris Payne captured this bird at Greens Norton on 17th April 2016, some 224 days later. This suggests that this bird wintered in Southern Britain or even further south and was feeding up in Chris's garden for an onward northerly journey, perhaps to the continent too...

Ring Y662784 was placed on a young male Blackcap at Rye Meads, Hertfordshire on 1st September 2013. On 10th April this year, this bird was re-trapped at Kelmarsh Hall north of Northampton, some 952 days later. Although this is only some 95km from where it was originally ringed, there can be little doubt that this warbler has accumulated many hours of flight during that time, probably wintering in Iberia or even Africa during the intervening three winters.


Neil M

Adult Starlings.

Juvenile Starling.

Male Bullfinch.

Adult Long-tailed Tit.

All images courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Many Starlings now have fledged
young and the moist spring and the
apparent abundance of food in these
conditions appears to have suited Starlings
and probably Rooks too.

The image of the Bullfinch and Long-tailed
Tit are from the ringing session at Pitsford
Reservoir on Saturday.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Ringing at Stortons GP


John Woollett and his merry team of ringers were active at Stortons Gravel Pits this morning, netting about 27 birds the majority of which were new. An adult male Green Woodpecker was a pleasant change and other birds included seven Reed Warblers, five Sedge Warblers, two Garden Warblers, a Bullfinch and a Song Thrush. A re-trap Whitethroat was interesting inasmuch that it was first captured on-site in 2011 and subsequently in 2012 and 2014. An excellent example of site fidelity from a bird that spends its winter south of the Sahara!

The Cuckoo from last week was still about and a couple of broods of tits in the boxes were old enough to ring (Blue Tits and Great Tits).

A Spotted Flycatcher was at Scotland Wood this afternoon, Blueberry Farm hosted a singing Grasshopper Warbler and a Hobby and birds in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton amounted to a Kingfisher and a Barn Owl.


Neil M

Male Green Woodpecker.

Reed Warbler nest and eggs.

Images courtesy of Chris Payne.

Northants Bird Club indoor meeting 1st June


The next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club will be on this coming Wednesday (1st June) at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir (NN6 9SJ).

Our speaker will be David Ogombar from the British Trust for Ornithology who will present  'Hooked on Albatrosses'. The presentation will revolve around the fortunes of these fantastic ocean-going birds from the southern hemisphere and what has been accomplished in trying to reduce deaths associated with commercial long-line fishing.

As usual the meeting will open at 7.30pm will a few notices and then straight in to the main presentation. Hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening. Car parking facilities exist around the Fishing Lodge itself with an overflow capacity down by the water's edge by the fishing boats. Please note that the causeway does not provide an opportunity for parking now due to the installation of permanent wooden bollards.

Members and non-members alike are invited to the meeting and I look forward to seeing you there!


Neil M

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Breeding birds of Pitsford Reservoir


Yesterday at Pitsford Reservoir, a recce by boat provided an opportunity of accurate nest recording when 24 Common Tern nests were found on the rafts and the Cormorant colony numbered 57 active nests. The pair of Oystercatcher have relaid after the first clutch disappeared and it seems that the early nesting waterfowl have benefited from the constant high water levels with Mallard and Coot being rewarded with large broods.

Checks of the large nest-boxes around the reserve confirm usage by breeding Tawny Owls and Jackdaws have successfully bred in two of the boxes. The take-up rate of the small nest-boxes appears good and this year a couple of pairs of Coal Tits have used them with nestlings ready to fledge and face the big wide world any day now. Strangely young birds of more general species seem to be in short supply with two recent ringing sessions failing to catch any at all. Hopefully we will see a flood of juvenile birds soon.

Today a ringing session in the Walgrave Bay was sufficient to process 43 birds which included two Garden Warblers, five Blackcaps, two Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, a Song Thrush, a Marsh Tit, a Woodpigeon and six Bullfinches. A Hobby was hawking insects overhead.

A Hobby and the family party of Ravens were seen at Staverton again today and Debbie and Eric Graham stepped out on the Titchmarsh Reserve at Thrapston to see and hear plenty of warblers, two Oystercatchers, 2-3 Cuckoos and Four Spot Chaser Dragonfly.

Kenny Cramer presided over a ringing session at Linford Lakes on the outskirts of Milton Keynes this morning, catching 23 birds of 10 species which included 6 new Reed Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler and 2 Chiffchaffs.


Neil M

Tawny Owl nestling
Pitsford Reservoir

'Drifts' of  'flowers'
from willow trees and bushes...
Willow Warbler

Garden Warbler
Coal Tit

Particularly good numbers of
Robins on territory this spring, possibly
an influence of the mild winter...

Last five images above courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Ringing recoveries


Here follows a quick summary of some of the more interesting Northants Ringing Group contribution to ringing recoveries, if a little dominated by Siskins!

Z451592 was a female Siskin first ringed at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory in Kent on 17th September 2015 which then showed up at John Woollett's garden in Astcote on both 24th and 25th March this year. Although the data shows this bird to have travelled 194km in 190 days this is no doubt a distorted picture and it is more likely that she was initially trapped heading south in the autumn and was on her way back north tracking a slightly different route this spring.

D543830 was a female Siskin first caught at Humshaugh in Northumberland way back on the 8th May 2013, John re-trapping her again at Astcote on 22nd March this year. It is likely that she was at or close to her breeding site when first caught and on her way back up from Southern climes earlier this year with a stop-over in sunny south Northants!

Z946874 was a male Siskin first caught and ringed by Chris Payne at Greens Norton on 2nd April this year which was then re-trapped at Selkirk on the Scottish Borders 36 days later and having travelled 397km in a NNW direction. Tempting to think that this bird is from Scottish or Scandanavian breeding stock which again re-fueled in South Northants.

Following a similar pattern, male Siskin S122655 was caught and ringed at Astcote on 24th March this year and was then controlled by another ringer at Drummond near Inverness on 2nd May, this bird travelling 622km in 39 days.

S122416 (another male Siskin) showed a slightly more lateral dispersal after initially being caught and ringed at Stortons Gravel Pits on 28th February this year. This bird was re-trapped at the RSPB headquarters at Sandy in Bedfordshire on 9th April, this time moving in a relatively short ESE direction.

But it wasn't just Siskins stealing the limelight! Chris Payne caught an already ringed male Goldfinch (Z453729) at Greens Norton on 12th April this year and it transpires this bird was first ringed at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory on 23rd October 2015. This movement correlates in some respect with Siskin Z451592 and is probably a bird moving back to more northerly climes.

Finally, a female Blackbird bearing the Dutch ring of L417709 was found in a mist net at Scotland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate on 6th March this year. She had originally been ringed as a migrant at Korverskool, de Koog on Texel in the Netherlands on 17th October 2015, confirming that the UK is an important winter refuge for continental Blackbirds. Whether she spent the whole winter in Northants is speculative, but she travelled at least 391km in a westerly direction to find us.


Neil M




Thursday, 26 May 2016

Finding the elusive


Birds yesterday (Wednesday) included a Barn Owl again hunting the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and a singing Grasshopper Warbler again singing in The Hill field at Blueberry Farm in the morning (but not the evening).

This afternoon (Thursday) and the two Turtle Doves were on show at Harrington Airfield, showing in the dead branches half way along the concrete track and later in bushes at the end of the track. Like most years it seems that these sometimes very elusive birds will continue to play hide and seek with us for the summer and early autumn! However the good news is of course that these now rare bird have avoided the guns in the Mediterranean and finally returned to this local site.


Neil M

Turtle Dove
Otmoor RSPB reserve 2015.

Singing Wren at dawn.


Adult male Pied Wagtail
feeding a fledged juvenile.

Fledgling Pied Wagtail.

Above four images courtesy
(again) of Cathy Ryden.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Dorset delights!


John Gamble is not long back from a little wildlife tour of Dorset and the below images indicate he enjoyed himself down there!


Neil M

Little Owl
Portland Bill

Mandarin Duck
New Forest (Hants)

The very long-staying
drake Hooded Merganser
at Radipole Lake and possibly
of feral origin.

Spotted Flycatcher

Male Stonechat
Stobourgh Heath.

All images courtesy of
John Gamble.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Creatures of the bright and breezy!


Bright sunshine and pleasant conditions at Harrington Airfield wasn't enough to cause the Quail to call or Turtle Doves to show this morning so I'm afraid the best of the birds was a single Grey Partridge which soon melted away in to the fast-growing grasses and ground cover. Some Fox cubs playing in the early morning sunshine would have been a lovely photo without the vegetative barrier and curious collie to ruin proceedings!

The injured Ruddy Shelduck was loafing in the grounds of the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir this late morning...


Neil M

Grey Partridge
Harrington Airfield

Poplar Hawk-moth

Puss Moth

Sanderling at Pitsford
Reservoir on Sunday

Above four images courtesy
of Jacob Spinks.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Pitsford wildlife


A Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing session was undertaken again at Pitsford Reservoir this morning, and despite plenty of birds being about, only twenty were caught. The breezy and bright conditions probably caused the low capture rate but the variety was high with thirteen species being represented. Perhaps the most interesting was a control Reed Warbler (initially ringed somewhere else) and a returning six year old Garden Warbler.


Neil M

Muntjac in heavy dew.

Red Fox

Early mornings around the reserve
are good for seeing some of the bigger
mammals. The trouble is they often see me
first or the conditions are dull hence the
distant images...

Great Crested Grebe

Mute Swans. The dominant cob
was seeing off a couple of other swans
and these images depict him escorting
an intruder from his stretch of the
reservoir after some mid-air contact.
The cob (male) is the lower bird.

Oystercatcher perched on one of
the rotting willow stumps.