Monday, 31 July 2017

Chats on the move


A visit to Harrington Airfield this morning provided two Redstarts by the first bunker, a Whinchat at the second bunker and a Wheatear at the third. A Turtle Dove flushed from some bushes.

The footpath between Walgrave village and Pitsford Reservoir was checked today and two or three Redstarts were again present in a field hedge. One was a juvenile male and there was at least one adult male present too, all birds near to a red trailer in a sheep field. Harvesting over the next couple of days may cause some disturbance to this site.

The Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton was also good for migrants this evening with two Redstarts, two singing Grasshopper Warblers and a Wheatear.

Birds in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this evening included two Garganey, three Little Egrets, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, a Redshank, nine Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper, about six Yellow-legged Gulls and a Wheatear.

A vocal pair of Hobbies were hawking insects over the field behind our house at Hanging Houghton late in to the evening.


Neil M

Wheatear. A movement of these
birds follow hot on the heels of
a significant movement of Redstarts
in the centre of the county...

Dramatic skies at Pitsford
Reservoir this evening...

Green Sandpiper
courtesy of Robin

Common Tern
courtesy of Robin

Chiffchaff at Yardley Gobion
courtesy of John Tilly.

Banded Demoiselle at
Yardley Gobion courtesy
of John Tilly.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting 2nd Aug


This coming Wednesday (2nd August 2017) sees the next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir. The meeting begins at 7.30pm and the speaker will be Becky Thomas who will present on an interesting study conducted to establish the impact of domestic cats on British wildlife, including birds.

All are welcome and hot drinks and biscuits will be available throughout the evening. Free parking is available at the Fishing Lodge or by the moored fishing boats at the bottom of the track from the lodge.


Neil M

Breeding Spotted Flycatchers...


Yesterday (Saturday) and Jacob found a family party of Spotted Flycatchers in Scaldwell village.

This morning (Sunday) and a walk at Harrington Airfield provided views of a singing and displaying Turtle Dove, a Grey Partridge with two well-grown young and a singing Grasshopper Warbler.

Eleanor located two family parties of Spotted Flycatchers today, one in Cottesbrooke village and another at Haselbech Grange. Two Grey Wagtails were at Beck Dairy, Cottesbrooke, another was at Hanging Houghton, a Siskin was at Haselbech Grange and the Grasshopper Warbler and Redstart remain in fields just east of Blueberry Farm.

This afternoon some scanning at Naseby Reservoir produced only two Common Sandpipers of note.

Cathy Ryden was at Hollowell Reservoir this evening and saw an Osprey and a Common Sandpiper.


Neil M

Spotted Flycatcher courtesy
of Jacob Spinks. Sightings of
local family parties is great news!
Grasshopper Warbler. It is likely that
both late singing adults and juvenile
Grasshopper Warblers will be responsible
for birds singing in the late summer...
Other warblers do much the same thing, most
adult Willow Warblers have stopped singing
now but it is possible to hear juveniles
trying out their first practice songs!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Late July migrants


Four Ravens circling over the village (at Hanging Houghton) was a good start to the day, followed by a singing Grasshopper Warbler and a Redstart in the valley towards Blueberry Farm.

Two Ravens were also at Staverton as usual and a walk around Borough Hill Country Park at Daventry provided views of a fly-over Osprey moving south and two Redstarts in the hedgerow close to the car park.

Ravensthorpe Reservoir hosted a Great White Egret, a Little Egret, three Green Sandpipers and the unexpected sight of a Wattled Jacana (presumed escape from nearby Coton Gardens)!

Birds at the dam end of Pitsford Reservoir this evening included a minimum of six Yellow-legged Gulls and a Redshank but the best was a flock of eighteen Whimbrel flying south at 9pm, probably the largest flock I've seen in the county.


Neil M

Raven and Common Buzzard
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Muntjac images...


Other birds noted at the ringing session at Lamport yesterday evening (Thursday) included a pair of Raven which flew over a couple of times and a pair of Hobby which showed a great deal of interest in the martins and swallows there...

Today (Friday) and Jacob and George's birding efforts at Pitsford Reservoir turned up a Great White Egret, two Garganey, two Turnstones, six Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper, a Ringed Plover and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.

A couple more initial ringing details of birds caught locally have been received as follows:-

Z844742 relates to a male Reed Bunting which was caught and ringed at Fish Lake Meadow, Romsey, Hampshire on 2nd November 2016. This bird, almost certainly breeding, was caught again at Harrington Airfield in Northamptonshire on 26th June this year. That is 236 days later and 162km in a NNE direction from where initially encountered;

HCP605 relates to a juvenile Chiffchaff caught and ringed at Balscote Quarry, Oxfordshire by a Banbury Ornithological Society ringer on 5th July 2015. This bird was caught and processed at Pitsford Reservoir three days ago on 25th July when it was assessed to be an adult female. The evidence suggests that this bird was hatched in Oxfordshire but is likely to be breeding at least 47km further north (751 days elapsed between the two).


Neil M

Reed Bunting.


Muntjac portfolio
by Jacob Spinks

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Pitsford birding.


Further birding efforts at Pitsford Reservoir today by George and Jacob resulted in a good haul of birds made up of two Garganey, two Red-crested Pochard, an adult Arctic Tern, six Common Sandpipers, two Green Sandpipers, two Dunlin, five Yellow-legged Gulls and a Willow Tit.

Some evening ringing at Lamport Hall provided twenty six captures made up of five Swifts, two Swallows and nineteen House Martins.


Neil M

Common Swift.

Buff Arches Moth.


Magpie Moth.

Spotted Flycatcher.

All images courtesy of
Jacob Spinks.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

More images from the Camargue


Jacob and George were at Pitsford Reservoir today committing to patchwork birding and in the Scaldwell Bay they located the two Garganey again, two Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers, a fly-over Curlew, two Yellow-legged Gulls and a Marsh Tit.

Eleanor located a Redstart at Blueberry Farm this evening, an adult male in the hedgerow at the bottom of The Hill field.

Below are a few more images from the Camargue in Spring tours (Southern France)...


Neil M

Purple Heron.

Black-winged Stilt.

House Sparrow.

Camargue White Horses.

Male Little Bustards.

European Roller.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July ringing


A ringing session at Pitsford Reservoir which included a little bit of yesterday evening and this morning yielded 75 birds of 18 species.

Blackcaps were the most common species caught with 18 birds, one of which is a female which is at least seven years old, very old for this species and an active brood patch indicates she is still a fertile bird. Other warblers included 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Warblers, a Garden Warbler, a Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler. Three new Coal Tits, three new Treecreepers, a Goldcrest, a Song Thrush and a new Tawny Owl added more diversity.

Other birds noted at the reservoir today included several Marsh Tits, a Siskin, a Green Sandpiper, 10 Common Sandpipers, 2 Dunlin and a Redshank.

Also today, John Woollett, Chris Payne and Helen Franklin teamed up to check Swallow nests in the south of the county and ringed 30-40 nestlings.

A Long-tailed Tit recovery relates to a female bird ringed at Potton near Sandy, Bedfordshire on 16th April 2016 which was then caught at Howe Park Wood, Milton Keynes on 1st July this year, 441 days later and 41km WSW from where initially captured.

Birds in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon included two individual Redstarts in different hedges, a singing Grasshopper Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. A Roe Deer showed this evening, the second time in a week.


Neil M

Blackcaps, courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Nestling Swallows
courtesy of Stuart and Wendy Andrews.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Redstarts and other migrants...


Yesterday morning (Sunday) and a walk around Harrington Airfield provided views of a single Grey Partridge and a Turtle Dove.

A re-visit to the fields between Walgrave and Pitsford Reservoir late this morning (Monday) successfully located the two Redstarts from yesterday, one a cracking adult male. From the village of Old take the footpath from Bridle Road and traverse two fields, walk down a track for a short distance and then turn left and check the hedgeline to your right. The fields both sides of the hedgerow currently hold a crop of oats. Both birds were initially in the same hedge but further down in a sheep field and by a red trailer. They then moved further up the hedgeline between the two crops of oats. I would anticipate there will be passage birds on and off here for the next six weeks if previous years are anything to go by.

Three more Redstarts were located this afternoon, another adult male and two spotty juveniles, this time around the hedges next to the buildings at Blueberry Farm (near Maidwell). It's tempting to think that this is a family party migrating together...

Birds north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir today included two Garganey, two Yellow-legged Gulls, a Dunlin, two Green Sandpipers, 12 Common Sandpipers, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and with a Willow Tit at the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station.


Neil M

More images of Common
Redstarts taken at Walgrave
and Harrington Airfield in 2015.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Ringing on a Sunday


Kenny Cramer and team were busy ringing at Linford Lakes this morning, braving a damp start. They had a very successful session by catching 78 birds of 22 species which only included 6 birds previously ringed. At this time of year of course many of the new birds would have been hatched this year.

The totals were 14 Reed Warblers, a superb 8 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 9 Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler, 3 Whitethroats, 7 Wrens, 4 Dunnocks, 3 Robins, 3 Great Tits, 3 Blue Tits, 2 Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Kingfisher, a Reed Bunting, 2 Bullfinches, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches, 2 Song Thrushes and 2 Blackbirds.

A much more modest ringing session took place this afternoon at Brixworth Treatment Works and included five Magpies and eight Grey Wagtails (an estimated ten birds on-site today). One of these wagtails was first ringed here in January 2014 and is at least four years old. A Hobby was also seen.

The fields on the ridge between Walgrave village and Pitsford Reservoir (now a traditional migration stop-over site for Redstarts, chats etc) were checked today and the hedgerows there contained two Redstarts and three or four Spotted Flycatchers. This area is best reached by walking from the footpath that runs from Bridle Road in the village of Old, the footpath running alongside some of the best hedges.

Jacob and George Dunbar were at Pitsford Reservoir this morning and located some good birds in the shape of a Great White Egret, two juvenile Garganey which arrived during something of a downpour, a Green Sandpiper and at least sixteen Common Sandpipers, all these birds centred around the Scaldwell Bay.


Neil M

Grey Wagtail. One adult male
and seven juveniles were caught,
 assessed and processed at
 Brixworth STW today.

Magpie. Five juveniles
were caught and ringed at
Brixworth STW today, a site
that can hold up to forty birds. They
are attracted to the filter beds where
they search for grubs under the
filter rocks.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Vis Mig to the south


Some early morning visual migration at Pitsford Reservoir today included small numbers of Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins migrating south over the dam. Gulls were also on the move and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls went over (in addition to three more ensconced birds on the buoys off the Sailing Club). Four Whimbrel trilled their way south at 8.35am.

Later in the day, a single Whimbrel dropped in to the back of the Scaldwell Bay at 12.25pm, joining the flock of Lapwings there. However migration urge caused this bird to take flight, climb up and head off south at 12.52pm, 'trilling' delightfully as it did so!

Two Ravens were noted over the reservoir today and an impressive Common Sandpiper presence was at least twenty birds strong! A single Grey Wagtail could be found on the dam and at least five Little Egrets were also present.

Two Grey Wagtails were on a garden pond at Hanging Houghton today, Eleanor saw her pair of Raven at Staverton and a check of the reducing water levels at Ravensthorpe Reservoir was sufficient to locate singles of Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper.

Eric Graham and family enjoyed a walk at Titchmarsh Reserve today, the best birds being a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler, three Little Egrets, three Oystercatchers and the usual excellent array of breeding warblers.


Neil M


Common Sandpiper
courtesy of Neil Hasdell.

Friday, 21 July 2017

More Redstarts...


The below link should take you to a petition aimed at collecting signatures from individuals opposed to development on the outskirts of Irthlingborough and adjacent to the Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows reserve. Please click or cut and paste into your browser to find out more and sign if you are concerned like me that large swathes of Northamptonshire are being built on in a seemingly never-ending project to build, build, build!

Birds today were few and far between but Eleanor found two more Redstarts today, one at Harrington Airfield by the chippings compound and another at Sywell Country Park in hedging next to the bay nearest Mears Ashby.

Birds in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this evening included fifteen Common Sandpipers, an eclipse drake Goldeneye still and earlier a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls...


Neil M

Redstart from near
Walgrave in 2015.

Lots of Rabbits out
and about now!
Image courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Woodpigeon rather dominating
the bird bath!
Image courtesy of Chris Payne.