Friday, 30 June 2017

Pitsford waders


An early morning foray to Harrington Airfield provided views of three Turtle Doves and a couple of pairs of Grey Partridges.

Seven species of wader were noted at Pitsford Reservoir today with a fly-over Curlew, a Black-tailed Godwit between the causeway and the Maytrees Hide, three Redshanks, two Oystercatchers, four adult Little Ringed Plovers, a Green Sandpiper and of course Lapwings which still included the leucistic bird.

The drake Goldeneye was still present and presumably will remain so whilst it undergoes it's moult and butterflies included my first Gatekeeper of the year and a Marbled White.


Neil M

Little Ringed Plover.

Black-tailed Godwit - this image was taken
at Pitsford in July 2015.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The challenging life of a bird...


This evening some scanning over the reserve section at Pitsford Reservoir provided views of a smart leucistic Lapwing, a Green Sandpiper, the lingering pair of Oystercatchers, two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers and a moulting drake Goldeneye. An injured and distressed Cormorant (probably ensnared in fishing line) was just able to take to the water to avoid two foraging Red Fox cubs and three Sparrowhawks were busy - one terrorising the Tree Sparrows and Starlings at the feeding station bushes, another taking a bird near the causeway (probably a Starling) and another catching and then dropping a Green Woodpecker which flew away! Stand still long enough and sometimes the action comes to you!


Neil M

Adult Tree Sparrow. Both adult
and juvenile Tree Sparrows inhabit
the bushes around the Old Scaldwell
Road Feeding Station at Pitsford
Reservoir, taking advantage of the
mixed seed on offer. However their constant
 'chirruping' calls act as a beacon for foraging
Sparrowhawks which are desperately trying
to find enough food for their demanding offspring...

Image courtesy of Robin Gossage.

The Oystercatchers remain at
Pitsford despite yet another failed
effort at sustaining their young to
the flying stage. Three of the chicks died
one by one and the fourth chick successfully
paddled to shore from the tern raft
but disappeared overnight. The open shoreline
 and adjacent vegetation is constantly patrolled
by predators so their chances of success are minimal.

Image courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Lapwing at Summer Leys NR.
Good numbers are building at
Pitsford Reservoir, the extensive muddy
shoreline is very much to their liking.

Image courtesy of John Tilly.

Swallow. Many first brood
youngsters are on the wing now...

Image courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Brixworth ringing


A modest ringing session at Brixworth Water Treatment Works today provided 37 captures all of which were new birds. These comprised of a Green Woodpecker, three Magpies, twenty Starlings, a Blackcap, three Pied Wagtails, a Yellow Wagtail, three Grey Wagtails and five Swallows. A Hobby whizzed through the site a couple of times.


Neil M

Yellow Wagtail.

Green Woodpecker.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Quiet day


A brief visit to Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway this evening provided views of five adult Little Ringed Plovers, two Oystercatchers, a Green Sandpiper and a Yellow-legged Gull...


Neil M

Reed Warbler family.


Starwort Moth.
Above three images courtesy
of John Gamble following a
day out at Frampton at the week-end.

Common Toad
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Adult Jackdaw
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Red-legged Partridge
courtesy of Jacob Spinks.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Local bird ringing


Some planned ringing took place today at both Pitsford Reservoir and Harrington Airfield.

The CES session at Pitsford yielded 18 species of birds, dominated by 13 Blackcaps and 10 Robins, but also with 7 Wrens, 5 Dunnocks, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Great Tits, 2 Treecreepers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Garden Warblers, and 2 Song Thrushes. There were also singletons of Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Blackbird and juvenile Kingfisher.

Mist nets at Harrington produced 117 captures of 18 species too, warblers dominating with 22 Common Whitethroats, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps, 24 Willow Warblers and 8 Chiffchaffs.
Other birds included 3 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 3 Robins, 2 Wrens, 5 Dunnocks, a Coal Tit, 16 Blue Tits, 9 Great Tits, a Greenfinch, 3 Chaffinches, 3 Linnets, 6 Yellowhammers and 3 Reed Buntings (which included a bird initially ringed elsewhere). Two Turtle Doves were present and numerous butterflies included small numbers of Marbled Whites.


Neil M

Two Turtle Doves at
Harrington Airfield today...

Sunday, 25 June 2017



On Friday afternoon a wander at Harrington Airfield in the afternoon was mostly uneventful apart from a female Grey Partridge that was fully engaged in a convincing distraction display towards a Fox. She was making a great deal of noise and feigning injury in an effort to lure the Fox away, a sure sign that she has chicks close by. As it was the Fox saw me and made off and I didn't see the chicks but I did hear one. I hope her brave actions mean that the brood still survives.

Yesterday (Saturday) and Eleanor heard the Grasshopper Warbler still singing from it's weedy field between Lamport and Blueberry Farm and saw a pair of Grey Partridge in the same area.

Yesterday a female Bufflehead was an excellent find on the Nene Barrage section of Clifford Hill Gravel Pits. If a wild bird this individual originates from North America where this small duck is relatively common and widespread, at least in the northern states and Canada. Eleanor and I managed to see this bird yesterday evening, it was a very tired soul and was asleep almost throughout the hour we were watching it for. Alert observers earlier in the day noticed a metal ring on one leg which rather than devaluing it's status could provide authenticity of a wild origin if only we could read it!

Other birds noted here included a drake Wigeon, two striking Bar-headed Geese amongst the huge numbers of geese present, a Little Ringed Plover and four Oystercatchers (made up of two adults and two full-size and flying youngsters).


Neil M

Burnet moth on Common
Spotted Orchid at Harrington
Airfield. I struggle to identify
specific species of Burnet Moth
with at least three species possible
locally, so I'll just call it a
Burnet Moth!

Female Bufflehead.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

More ringing recoveries...


Another batch of ringing recoveries with a local association have kindly been sent though by Nick Wood and include the following...

1. An adult male Siskin (S122683) was ringed by John Woollett at Astcote on 29th March 2016 and was found dying only two days ago (22nd June 2017) at Resipole, Argyll in the Highlands district of Scotland. That is a lapsed period of 450 days and the bird was presumably breeding 586km NNW of where initially ringed by John in his garden.

2. A first year male Siskin (S122504) also ringed by John at Astcote on 7th March 2016 (he was invaded by Siskins at this time!) has been re-trapped by a ringer operating in Drummond near Inverness, again in the Highlands. This bird must be struggling with the concept of mist nets because he was caught and released three times this month - on 10th, 12th and 13th June! Clearly another bird that is assumed to be breeding 622km NNW of Astcote, initially being re-trapped 460 days later.

3. S215098 relates to a male Goldfinch that was ringed at Hanging Houghton on 12th December 2016 and sadly was found freshly dead in Bedford on 18th June 2017, a mere distance of 37 km in a south-easterly direction 188 days later.

4. A juvenile female Blackcap was ringed (Y635398) at Marsworth Reservoir, Tring in Hertfordshire on 22nd September 2013 and then turned up in a mist net at Linford Lakes on the edge of Milton Keynes on 18th June this year. This now adult (four year old) female bird is presumably trying to breed locally, being re-trapped 1365 days after the initial ringing date just 29km to the NNW (but surely having travelled south to the Mediterranean or beyond four times in between).

5. An adult Reed Warbler was ringed (Y634425) at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring, Hertfordshire on 22nd June 2013 and was re-trapped again at Linford Lakes on 18th June 2017 when identified as an adult male bird. This individual is at least five years old and like the Blackcap will have travelled huge distances during the last five seasons albeit that it's potential breeding site this year is only about 30km north of where first caught (and 1477 days later).


Neil M

Slow worm.

Scarlet Tiger moth.

Elephant Hawk-moth.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

All images taken by John
Gamble in Dorset last week-end.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Pitsford CBC


Although breezy and rather grey for much of it, I completed a Common Bird Census on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir this morning. Bird song is dwindling now but Wrens and Blackcaps are still loud and persistent!

Nothing particularly exciting was found but a female Gadwall with six very small ducklings in the Holcot Bay was good news and there was a singing Spotted Flycatcher there too. A Nuthatch was in the Walgrave Bay, a Grey Wagtail was foraging on the causeway and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers were present, one displaying. A just-hatched brood of Moorhens was sadly quickly predated by Carrion Crows. Marsh Tits seemed to be well-spread around the reserve and there were quite a number of juvenile Goldcrests too.

Non-bird sightings included three Red Fox cubs, plenty of Muntjac, a Beautiful Demoiselle and a Black-tailed Skimmer. Butterflies were in low numbers the best being a freshly-emerged male Small Skipper.

Eleanor whizzed around Sywell Country Park this morning but the only thing she could find was a family party of Grey Wagtails around the dam area.


Neil M

Common Terns.

A recently-fledged juvenile
Green Woodpecker.

Muntjac! The second view is the
more frequent one, tail up and
running away!

Common Buzzard.

Common Blue Damselfly.

Male Yellowhammer.

Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly.

Small Skipper butterfly.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Evening visit to Pitsford...


Eleanor visited Brixworth Country Park again today and the Marbled White butterfly hatch has gone up to about seventy individuals.

This evening I completed a little birding on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir and noted two second year Yellow-legged Gulls, a couple of Little Egrets, a drake Red-crested Pochard with it's hybrid female partner, in excess of sixty Lapwings, a pair of Oystercatcher now minus any young and three Little Ringed Plovers. An adult Grey Heron caught and successfully consumed a well-grown Mallard duckling which wasn't particularly pleasant to watch. Even with the very low water levels there is a slow build-up of non-breeding ducks with good numbers of Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Ducks and a handful of Teal all arriving during the last few days.

Further work to try and prevent bank erosion is planned for August when it is thought the water levels will be at their lowest, so it seems we might be in for some autumn wader passage (and after such a good spring too)!


Neil M

Chris Payne's nestling
Robins are now ten days old!

Image courtesy of Chris Payne.

Juvenile Bullfinch at the
Summer Leys Feeding Station,
surely one of the best places in
the county to enjoy good views
of Bullfinch and see plenty of them.

Images courtesy of John Tilly.


Grey Plovers.

Ringed Plovers and Turnstones.

Can we expect flocks of waders at Pitsford
Reservoir this autumn?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Breeding at apace!


A walk at Harrington Airfield this evening in cooler, breezier conditions was altogether more comfortable than the stifling heat of the last few days. Two Turtle Doves remain and three Grey Partridges showed too and a calling Cuckoo must have been a passing bird, but much of it was pretty much no change on the bird front. Earlier today Eleanor visited Brixworth Country Park and witnessed a good hatch of about ten freshly-emerged Marbled White butterflies; traditionally this species was very localised in the county but is now producing small, new colonies every year.


Neil M

Hornet Clearwing moth
at Wicksteed Park, Kettering
courtesy of Sarah Gibbs.

A Robin nest in Chris
Payne's garden (using a
wooden open-fronted nest
box). The natural transition within
six days from four eggs to nestlings
 with feather sheaths is one of
those remarkable things of nature!

Images courtesy of Chris Payne.

The enigmatic little Wren!
Noisy second broods of tiny
chestnut fledgling Wrens are out
 and about now, these birds always
seem to do much better than the first

Images courtesy of Robin Gossage.

First year male Blackbird. Already some
Blackbirds will be attempting their third broods,
but most will still be contending with the needs
of the second broods!

Image courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hot June birding


Yesterday (Saturday) and Eleanor's wanderings provided records of 'reeling' Grasshopper Warblers at Blueberry Farm (bottom of The Hill) and in the regular weedy field between Lamport and the farm.

A brief foray to Harrington Airfield also yesterday confirmed the continuing presence of a pair of Sedge Warblers at the north-west end of the concrete track, at least three Grey Partridges and a couple of Turtle Doves. Small butterflies included a fresh Grizzled Skipper and the first emergence of the day-flying Burnett moths.

This morning and a small band of ringers were operating mist nets at Linford Lakes providing 90 captures, a very good total mostly of new birds (76) and a small number of re-traps (14) which included a Reed Warbler and Blackbird which have been ringed elsewhere (known as 'controls').

This relatively new ringing site just outside Northamptonshire is proving a profitable location for some long term studying. Highlights included 7 Whitethroats, 13 Reed Warblers, 8 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, 3 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, a juvenile Treecreeper and a Kingfisher.

Also today a small number of Northants birders drove south in the sweltering heat to Pagham Harbour in Sussex. A coastal tern colony has recently attracted an Elegant Tern to linger and after a bit of a wait we finally obtained good views of this pristine-looking bird. A little larger than a Sandwich Tern and armed with a long orangey-yellow bill, this bird will have originated on the Pacific coast of the USA. However the colour-ring sequence on it's legs indicate that this is a male bird that has previously tried breeding with Sandwich Terns in France, it's identity apparently having been confirmed by DNA (there are many large yellow/orange billed terns in the world)!

Other birds included a fine adult Roseate Tern sporting impossibly long tail streamers, lots of Sandwich, Common and Little Terns, good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls, a couple of Avocets and a Peregrine.

Eleanor noticed a flock of at least thirty Lapwings in a scuffled field at Blueberry Farm this afternoon, the first flock of these mostly failed breeding birds.


Neil M

Common Whitethroat.

Mediterranean Gull.

Distant images of
the Elegant Tern.

All images courtesy of
Jacob Spinks.