Friday, 31 March 2017

Thrapston Pits

Both Eric Graham and Nick Parker were birding at Thrapston today, albeit at different times and areas.
Graham & Debbie spent a day picnicking and birding around the reserve area and were rewarded with an assortment of birds: 2 Egyptian geese, 4 Cetti's warblers and 7 Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler was singing too.
2 Oystercatchers were on Elinor and the feeders held 5 Redpoll, 2 male.
3 RCP were around the Palmer hide as well as a pair of displaying Redshank near the backless hide. A pair of Kingfisher flew by calling.
Butterflies were enjoying the weather with peacock, tortoiseshell and brimstone all on the wing over a background of cowslips.

Nick had an evening outing mostly around Town Lake and had his first Common Tern fly through as well as a Little Gull. 2 Shelduck headed south and c15 Sand Martin appeared and disappeared rapidly.
A significant number of Goldeneye are still present with 23 on Town Lake and 33 on the reserve pit. C25 Wigeon flew over in the twilight. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

More spring migrants...


Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon and Andrew Tyrrell located a Wheatear at the Nene Barrage on the outskirts of Northampton.

This morning the reliable if a little repetitious Red-necked Grebe and White-fronted Goose were both at Pitsford Reservoir, again just north of the causeway.

Early this afternoon there were 104 Golden Plovers flying around the Harrington Airfield complex and further east Paul Gosling had a Dunlin on the gravel pits east of Wellingborough and at 2.50pm a migrating Osprey heading west over Little Irchester towards Summer Leys...


Neil M

Image courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Golden Plovers.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Willow Tits are still hanging on...


Birds at Pitsford Reservoir today included the Red-necked Grebe and White-fronted Goose again north of the causeway and the Slavonian Grebe off the Sailing Club. Other birds included two Oystercatchers, two Green Sandpipers, a distant Ringed/Little Ringed Plover, a Little Egret, two Grey Wagtails and as many as five Willow Tits (including two at the Christies Copse Feeding Station).

Jacob came across an Icelandic race Redwing between Scaldwell village and the reservoir.

Several Siskins and a singing Willow Tit were present at Scotland Wood on the Kelmarsh Estate, a pair of Grey Partridge were between Draughton and Maidwell and a pair of Raven remain at Staverton.


Neil M

Willow Tit.

Canada Geese.

Cock Pheasant.

Drake Tufted Duck.

Above three images all courtesy
of Jacob Spinks and taken at
Pitsford Reservoir.

Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting 5th April


The next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club is on Wednesday 5th April 2017 when club member Paul Fuller is kindly providing an illustrated presentation on the wildlife of Tanzania.

This is a country dominated by interesting mammals but there are excellent birds and other interesting aspects of wildlife too, and knowing Paul he would have photographed it!

The meeting starts at 7.30pm utilising the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir. Hot drinks and biscuits will be available!


Neil M

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pitsford small bird census


Birds north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir today included the Red-necked Grebe still, a Peregrine, a Raven, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Kingfishers, three small parties of Siskins, a singing Blackcap and 2 Sand Martins. There were 26 singing Chiffchaffs on the reserve today and a minimum count of singing song birds on the reserve located 59 singing Robins, 50 singing Wrens and 23 singing Dunnocks.

Of course not every singing bird represents an established pair but certainly an individual bird intent on holding territory. It took seven hours to complete the whole census with the optimum period being the first couple of hours after dawn. This means that some would-be songsters will have been silent by the time I had reached their territory and not every nook and cranny was visited, so the true number of birds holding territory will be higher. The mild conditions during the winter would have benefited all these birds.

A Raven and a Peregrine were over the village at Hanging Houghton this afternoon, a few Siskins were at Ravensthorpe Reservoir with two more at neighbouring Hollowell Reservoir which also hosted 5 Sand Martins, a Little Ringed Plover and a Dunlin.

Eric Graham's walk around the Titchmarsh Reserve today recorded 4 Little Egrets, a Water Rail, 8 singing Cetti's Warblers and 3 Redpolls.


Neil M

Carrion Crow
Pitsford Reservoir.

Brown Hare
Pitsford Reservoir.

Little Ringed Plover and
Dunlin at Hollowell Reservoir.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Otters in Northampton.


Andrew Tyrrell enjoyed a wildlife spectacle when he turned up for work this morning at the Carlsberg depot at Southbridge, Northampton and watched three Otters playing and fishing in the River Nene there (at 6.30am)! At last urban Otters in Northampton! Let's hope they stay and show regularly...

At Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon the Slavonian Grebe was again in Yacht Bay and birds immediately north of the causeway were the further long-stayers of Red-necked Grebe, White-fronted Goose and two Redshanks. Single Grey Wagtails were noted at Beck Dairy, Cottesbrooke and in the Brampton Valley below Lamport and three pairs of Grey Partridge remain at Harrington Airfield.

One of the Reed Buntings caught at Harrington Airfield on Wednesday was already bearing a ring (Y576214). This male bird was originally caught at the main feeding station at Pitsford Reservoir on 15th February 2013 when it was judged to have been a first year bird (believed to have hatched in 2012). As such this bird will be five years old this summer.


Neil M

White-fronted Goose.

Drake Tufted Duck.
The week-end forecast
suggests we are all going
to suffer a bad hair day!
Well apart from Robin...!

Male Reed Bunting.

All images courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

More garden birds


A big push of Fieldfares today with huge numbers moving north pretty much all day in NN6, and at about 4pm this afternoon, three Ring Ouzels overflew Blueberry Farm also heading north trailing one of the Fieldfare flocks.

Two days ago Jim Dunkley was pleased to see a Tree Sparrow on his garden feeder, the first time he has seen this species in his Sywell garden...

Cathy Ryden has been taking more photos of her garden birds as depicted below...


Neil M

House Sparrow (on the left) and Tree
Sparrow, courtesy of Jim Dunkley.

Male Bullfinch munching
his way through the spring buds!

Brimstone butterfly
on hyacinth.

Cock Pheasant.

Male Starling.

Collared Dove.


Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Above ten images courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Thrush gallery


Strong and sustained sunshine is absolutely fine for the soul but is no friend to ringers using mist nets, as the sun shines on the nets and makes them much more visible to birds.

Nevertheless some limited ringing activity today still provided a number of captures including some quality species...

Dave Francis completed a little garden ringing today on the east side of Northampton and caught 26 birds using just a couple of very small nets with 18 exquisite Goldfinches dominating.

Chris Payne spent a couple of hours using mist nets at Bradden and this provided just over 20 captures including a cracking bold Mistle Thrush, new Nuthatch and several new birds including a couple of Coal Tits, Goldfinch and Blackbird. Many of the tits are spending larger parts of the day away from feeders at the moment as they pair up and ratify nesting sites in our copses and woodlands.

A pair of Egyptian Geese are currently lodged in some wet woodland near there...

This morning's ringing session at Harrington Airfield in very warm and sunny conditions netted 55 birds, 46 of which were new. Perhaps surprisingly thrushes dominated with a Fieldfare, two Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and thirteen Redwings all extracted from mist nets. Other birds included 13 Yellowhammers, 8 Reed Buntings, 8 Dunnocks, 2 Robins, 3 Chaffinches and a Meadow Pipit.

Birds seen using the site included a fly-over Raven, a redpoll sp, a Chiffchaff, at least one hundred Golden Plovers and a Woodcock.

Jacob watched a mobile flock of five Waxwings in Moulton village today plus a Chiffchaff and noted a Raven flying over Scaldwell village this evening.


Neil M

A smart adult male Blackbird
exhibiting white flecks to the head.
Image courtesy of
Chris Payne.

Big, bold and beautiful, the
stunning Mistle Thrush.
Courtesy of Chris Payne.

This Fieldfare was judged to be a
first year female...

Some of the Redwings today
exhibited some plumage fading,
perhaps suggesting they had come
from sunnier climes where the sun
had blanched some features.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

More spring sunshine...


A little wander at Harrington Airfield this morning provided views of an adult female Peregrine, about sixty Golden Plovers and a pair of Grey Partridge.

Tomorrow a limited ringing session is planned for the site during the morning using the rides on the old airstrip. As such access will be restricted during this time but the usual public footpaths and concrete track remain unaffected. My apologies if this affects any planned excursions.


Neil M

Male Kestrel at Pitsford
 Reservoir yesterday.

The Goldcrest. Our smallest common
British bird. Following yet another mild
winter, there are plenty of Goldcrests around
currently and they are singing well in this bout
of spring sunshine... With lots of Chiffchaffs
about too, there are now quite a few small
green-looking birds fidgeting around in the
 bushes and trees!

Goldcrest images courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Chiffchaffs have arrived!


Yesterday (Sunday) and Nick Parker's jaunt around the Titchmarsh Reserve provided views of six Goosanders and calling Water Rails. Ravens are still scarce in this part of the county and two that overflew the reserve were the first that Nick had seen here since regularly birding from the 1970s.

Also yesterday a Water Rail showed at Brixworth Water Treatment Works and other birds included a Chiffchaff and two Grey Wagtails.

Today and Paul Gosling spent some time at Wellingborough Pits east of the Embankment and noted his first spring Chiffchaff plus eight Little Egrets and three Oystercatchers. The stunning weather today was another ideal opportunity to watch Common Buzzards and Paul saw six move over in a northerly direction. More birds on the move included a good number of Pied Wagtails and two Cetti's Warblers were vocal.

In a similar vein, Nick Wood watched seven Common Buzzards over Chase Park Farm near Yardley Chase and watched as four Ravens decided to chase them around!

The Pitsford Reservoir WeBS count took place today and the amazing sunny weather provided an opportunity to cover much of the site in just five hours. Lingering birds included the Slavonian Grebe in Yacht Bay, the Red-necked Grebe just north of the causeway, the White-fronted Goose just south of the causeway, a female Goosander, six Little Egrets, two Oystercatchers, two Redshanks, three Green Sandpipers, a Jack Snipe, fifty-five Common Snipe, a Kingfisher, at least seventeen Chiffchaffs, a Grey Wagtail, a Sand Martin and three Siskins.


Neil M

Jack Snipe at
 Pitsford Reservoir.

Cormorant at
Pitsford Reservoir.

Water Rail at Titchwell.
Courtesy of John Gamble.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Damp but mild Sunday


Kenny Cramer presided at a ringing session at Linford Lakes on the outskirts of Milton Keynes this morning and, whilst dodging the showers, 41 birds of 13 species were caught, processed and released. Fourteen of these birds were new and twenty-seven were re-traps. Highlights included singles of Redwing, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit and Chiffchaff with three Reed Buntings too.

Jacob spent much of the day at Pitsford Reservoir today, again locating the Red-necked Grebe north of the causeway, a Black-tailed Godwit on the shoreline between the causeway and Maytrees Hide and one or two Sand Martin(s). Several Chiffchaffs were on-site again and waders included two Green Sandpipers, two Redshanks, two Oystercatchers and several Common Snipe.

Eleanor noted four Grey Partridges at Harrington Airfield but otherwise it was quiet for migrants. Little Owls were vocal during the day at both Hanging Houghton and Pitsford Reservoir.


Neil M

 Look at me - I'm an Oystercatcher!
Courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Green Sandpiper and Redshank
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Spring migration is underway...


Jacob was out and about all day concentrating most of his efforts at Pitsford Reservoir where he noticed significant all day diurnal migration, in particular north-bound Meadow Pipits, Starlings and gulls. The Red-necked Grebe was again north of the causeway and other bids noted included the White-fronted Goose still, seven Little Egrets, two Redshanks, a Green Sandpiper, two Oystercatchers, two Snipe, a Siskin, a Grey Wagtail, six Chiffchaffs, three Marsh Tits and a hunting Barn Owl at dusk.

Jacob also paid Harrington Airfield a visit this afternoon noting a large concentration of thrushes amounting to four hundred Fieldfares and two hundred Redwings. Other birds involved forty-five Golden Plovers, a Willow Tit and two Chiffchaffs.

Eric Graham's walk on the Titchmarsh Reserve at Thrapston today was enjoyable with several Chiffchaffs, seven singing Cetti's Warblers, seven Redpolls and a Siskin coming to the feeders and six Oystercatchers on-site.

Helen Franklin, John Woollett and Barbara and Chris Payne committed to some woodland bird ringing at Glyn Davies Wood today way over to the west of the county. They caught 78 birds of 12 species made up of a Wren, 2 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 31 Blue Tits, 29 Great Tits, 5 Coal Tits, a Robin, a Dunnock, a Chaffinch, a Nuthatch and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Two of the Great Tits were first ringed there in the winter of 2012/2013. Interesting birds noted included at least one Raven.

Two Ravens were again on territory at Staverton this morning and a single was at Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Processing birds at Glyn Davies
Wood in comparative comfort!
Once the birds are extracted from
mist nets they are placed in a soft
cotton bag and taken to a nearby
ringing station. Here Helen is recording
 all the details whilst Chris and John
 handle and assess the birds.
Image courtesy of Barbara Payne.

Little Egret.

Blue Tit.
Image courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

The Raven, and now very
much a county bird!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Friday's offerings...


Dave Francis presided over a ringing session at the main feed station at Pitsford Reservoir today catching and processing fifty birds made up of 26 new birds and 24 birds previously ringed on-site.

Six Mallard were among the total and one of these birds was originally ringed there six years ago. A Chiffchaff appeared to be a genuine summer migrant, exhibiting pollen and nectar from flowers around it's head, a significant indicator that it has just arrived from warmer climes!

More typical birds of this venue were made up of two Reed Buntings, ten Yellowhammers, two Greenfinches, three Goldfinches, two Chaffinches, two Tree Sparrows, eight Blue Tits, four Great Tits, a Marsh Tit, eight Dunnocks and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Today I spent most of the day at Ditchford Gravel Pits, completing a WeBS count slightly ahead of the core count day. At least three Great White Egrets were on pits west of Ditchford Lane as was a female Wood Duck and three Egyptian Geese. Other birds noted included two Oystercatchers, a Jack Snipe, fifty Common Snipe, a Goosander, three Shelduck, four Little Egrets, four Water Rails, nine Kingfishers, two Grey Wagtails, seven Cetti's Warblers, three Chiffchaffs and a singing Blackcap. An active Mink was the first I've seen there in a long time...


Neil M


Common Snipe.