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.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Autumn migration is here!


Birding at Pitsford Reservoir today provided a good number of sixteen Common Sandpipers and at least three Yellow-legged Gulls, and late this afternoon a Pied Flycatcher was accompanying a Redstart along the entrance track to the adjacent Brixworth Country Park. Sadly these interesting two passerines absented themselves and couldn't be found by subsequent observers.

This evening a Wheatear and over a hundred Lapwings were in fields in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Neil Hasdell has spent an age trying to read a metal ring as seen on an adult Redshank at Summer Leys nature reserve and on 16th July he was finally convinced he had the full number after sore eyes peering through his telescope! DE25754 was a ring affixed to a nestling Redshank at Brandon Marsh in Warwickshire on 18th June 2014 and this is the adult now breeding at Summer Leys. Neil's sighting is the first record since it was initially ringed 1124 days earlier; the distance between the two sites is just 52km.

Dave Francis caught a Reed Warbler at Pitsford Reservoir on 17th July 2017 bearing ring number Y815687 and we have now found out that this bird was first ringed as an adult bird at Rutland Water on 22nd April 2013, 1547 days earlier. This bird is at least five years old now and will have travelled the Africa to UK migration route at least ten times now.


Neil M


Reed Warbler.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Baby Swallows!


Yesterday (Tuesday) Jacob saw a male Ruff at Pitsford Reservoir and Eleanor again noted the two singing Grasshopper Warblers in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Today and the Grasshopper Warblers were still reeling away and Eleanor saw her regular pair of Raven at Staverton.

Neil Hasdell notched up the summering Goldeneye, a Green Sandpiper and two Common Sandpipers north of the causeway at Pitsford this morning and my walk around the dam and the Moulton Grange Bay area this afternoon was quiet apart from a really large flock of House Martins and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

With the dull and rather odd weather conditions today it felt like typical summer day doldrums.

Yet another of John Woollett's Siskins that he ringed in his Astcote garden in the spring of 2016 has turned up, not surprisingly in Scotland again! S122611 refers to a male caught and ringed on 21st March 2016 which on 5th March this year was caught by a ringer operating at Balfron near Stirling in central Scotland, 349 days later and 485km from where initially ringed.

Chris Payne is still busy monitoring breeding Swallows in South Northamptonshire as his images (below) prove...!


Neil M

Swallow nestlings all at
different stages, courtesy
of Chris Payne.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

More images from the Camargue...


With four short trips to the Camargue region of France this year, I am fortunate to have quite a few images of the wildlife that lives there. A few more (below) for your perusal...


Neil M

Slender-billed Gull.

Kentish Plover.

Woodchat Shrike.

Honey Buzzard.

White Stork.

Grey Heron.

Black-winged Stilt.

Greater Flamingo.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Monday's ringing efforts


This morning's ringing session at Harrington Airfield coincided with some warm temperatures and resulted in the capture of 96 birds of 18 species. Surprisingly there were only 12 re-traps from previous operations on-site, it seems that the birds that spend lengthy periods at the old airfield also know how to avoid the mist nets!

Warblers dominated with an excellent 28 Whitethroats (nearly all juveniles suggesting a good breeding year), single juveniles of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, 16 Willow Warblers and 3 Chiffchaffs. Other birds included a Linnet, 4 Goldfinches, 6 Chaffinches, 4 Robins, 8 Dunnocks, 2 Wrens, 2 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, 8 Yellowhammers, 4 Blackbirds and a juvenile Song Thrush.

Other birds seen included a fly-over Yellow-legged Gull, at least one Turtle Dove and a Willow Tit.

Birds in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton included the two singing Grasshopper Warblers still and a new migrant in the shape of a male Whinchat.

At Pitsford Reservoir this morning Dave Francis was busy conducting another CES ringing session in the Scaldwell Bay resulting in 76 captures of 18 species, 55 new birds and 21 re-traps. Apparently in Victorian times they used a collective audible term of a 'Heard of Wrens', but for Dave today he commented it felt more like a 'Plague of Wrens' with 16 of them hitting his nets! Other birds were made up of 9 Blackcaps, 8 Bullfinches, 7 Chiffchaffs, 6 Robins, 6 Great Tits, 5 Song Thrushes, 4 Dunnocks, 3 Reed Warblers (including an apparent 'control' bird), 3 Blackbirds, 2 Kingfishers and singles of Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Garden Warbler, a Marsh Tit and a Whitethroat.

Birds at Pitsford Reservoir this evening included two Red-crested Pochard (Jacob Spinks) and later birds included a fly-through Whimbrel, a Curlew Sandpiper briefly, a Little Ringed Plover, a Common Sandpiper, three Oystercatchers, a Yellow-legged Gull, five Little Egrets, a female Tufted Duck with 7 ducklings and a female Gadwall with 6 ducklings.


Neil M

The little and large show! A cracking
image of this month's Caspian Tern that turned
up in the Nene Valley alongside an adult
Common Tern...

Juvenile Common Tern
at Sywell Country Park.

Images courtesy of Clive Bowley.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sunday's birds


An early morning walk in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton in dull, still conditions provided a singing Grasshopper Warbler and an unexpected flock of seven Little Egrets which flew low and west at 5.40am.

A wander around fields next to Lamport Hall didn't provide any birds of note but insects included a single Beautiful Demoiselle. This once rare insect in central Northants is definitely becoming more common.

The weather at Harrington Airfield was beautiful this evening with late sunshine and horizon-hugging cloud creating a pleasing sunset. The Linnets and Swallows on site took evasive action when a hunting Hobby arrived on the scene and a Barn Owl was quartering the grassland and scrubby areas. A reminder that there will be a ringing operations at the old airfield tomorrow and the trapping area will be out of bounds to general visitors.


Neil M


Sunning male Blackbird.

Carrion Crow.


Reed Warbler.

Sand Martins.

More images from Steve Bennison,
taken mostly at Summer Leys LNR.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Saturday birding


Eleanor's morning walk around the Blueberry Farm area was sufficient to find a Redstart in the hedge line at the bottom of The Hill and two Crossbills in nearby Gamboro' Plantation. Yesterday still-singing Grasshopper Warblers were still present in a ditch below Hanging Houghton and in a weedy field between Blueberry and Lamport. The usual pair of Ravens were present at Staverton today, seemingly now their young have moved on. Single Grey Wagtails were noticed at Brixworth and Hanging Houghton.

Birds recorded on the Titchmarsh reserve at Thrapston this morning by Debbie and Eric Graham included many common warblers now forming flocks, a pair of Oystercatcher, plenty of juvenile Common Terns suggesting good breeding success this year, and up to ten Little Egrets too.

A walk at Harrington Airfield this morning didn't provide any surprises and no new migrants were detected. A ringing session is planned for this coming Monday when the rough, scrubby areas around the bunkers and the old airstrip will be out of bounds. Should anyone want to come along to observe this process please email me by Sunday evening and I will provide more detail. The concrete track and footpaths will remain accessible on the day.

Birds recorded at Pitsford Reservoir today included a drake Garganey, an adult Caspian Gull, two Yellow-legged Gulls, a Redshank and two Common Sandpipers.


Neil M


Adult White-tailed Eagle.

Steve Bennison shares with us his stunning
 images from a trip to Mull earlier this year...

Thursday, 13 July 2017

July birds and butterflies


This morning a single Turtle Dove and some summering Sedge Warblers was about the best of the birds at Harrington Airfield but Jacob and friend George were at Pitsford Reservoir completing the last Common Bird Census of the year. Among the more typical birds for Pitsford the highlights were an eclipse drake Garganey, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, a Siskin and a juvenile Wheatear. Butterflies there during the last couple of days have included a hatch of Purple Hairstreaks and yesterday White-letter Hairstreak too.

Some recent ringing recoveries/sightings are as follows:-

A juvenile Reed Warbler was caught and ringed at Stanwick Gravel Pits on 5th August 2016 and on 24th June this year was caught again by the Sorby Brek Ringing Group, this time near Blackburn Meadows in South Yorkshire when it was considered a female. The distance between the two sites is 132km, a total of 323 days elapsing between the initial ringing date and being caught again;

A Black-headed Gull chick was ringed at Pitsford Reservoir on 26th July 2011 using ring EL29337.
A sharp-eyed observer read the ring in the field on a fit and healthy bird at Rutland Water on the Eggleton reserve (40km to the north) on 11th April this year;

Neil Hasdell saw a colour-ringed Coot at Summer Leys Nature Reserve on 2nd and 6th June this year, the bird exhibiting a white ring on the left leg depicting the letters 'CRD'. This bird was ringed at Blunham, Bedfordshire on 24th February 2015 when considered to be a male and hatched in 2014. These sightings represent the first reports of this bird since initial ringing.


Neil M

White-letter Hairstreak.

Reed Warbler.

Black-headed Gulls.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ringing report from Linford

Kenny Cramer and his team have been busy ringing at Linford near Milton Keynes.
Kenny reports :
Another busy session at Linford produced 92 captures, 69 of which were newly ringed and 23 retraps of 20 species.
Sarah and I made an early start to see if we could catch any sandmartins coming out of roost and were rewarded with 2 new adults and 2 retraps.
Other highlights included 15 new reed warblers, a juvenile sedge warbler, a willow warbler, a garden warbler, 2 juvenile chiffchaffs and a retrap cettis representing the warblers.
A jay, a kingfisher, a treecreeper, and two great spotted woodpeckers were also noteworthy.

Totals for today's session.

Cettis warbler (1)
Chaffinch 1
Reed warbler 15 (8)
Dunnock 8 (5)
Wren 7 (1)
Sedge warbler 1
Robin 4 (1)
Jay 1
Blackbird 4
Great tit 11 (3)
Sand martin 2 (2)
Blue tit 6 (1)
Willow warbler 1
Great spot 1 (1)
Kingfisher 1
Garden warbler 1
Treecreeper 1
Goldfinch 1
Chiffchaff 2
Green finch 1

Saturday, 8 July 2017

All the R's !!

At Staverton the resident Ravens were very vocal and providing the entertainment at our agility training, although some of the antics of the dogs caused much laughter. Following his success last week in his first competition Tor was in a very playful mood !!
I stopped off at Ravensthorpe Reservoir on the way home and the water level is dropping leaving the shoreline exposed. There was a Yellow Legged Gull, Greenshank, Green and Common sandpiper. 
An early evening walk at Harrington Airfield was productive with 2 male Common Redstart and 2 or 3 Turtle Doves around the bunkers on the rough strip. I saw my first young Grey Partridge as I came across an adult with 4 very small young. The Sedge Warbler was again singing at the end of the track.  Plenty of butterflies on the wing including good numbers of Marbled White's.
Later in the evening there was a singing Grasshopper Warbler and Barn Owl just below Hanging Houghton.
The Red Arrows again came through Northamptonshire and I caught up with them near Kelmarsh and managed to get some better last !!


Friday, 7 July 2017

Round Up

For me it has been a quiet week. Although I have been out and about I haven't really seen anything different. The Turtle Doves, Grey Partridge and Sedge Warbler remain at Harrington Airfield and a singing Grasshopper Warbler near Blueberry.
This morning I was at Brixworth Country Park and had 3 Crossbills flying around and an Osprey fishing just off Pintail Bay. Typically I couldn't see the moment it caught a fish as the hedge obscured my view.
Plenty of butterflies on the wing. Looks as if it will be a good year. Nice to see so many Marbled White butterflies around, one of my favourite butterflies.
The highlight of today was superb views of the Red Arrows as they came low and slow over Scaldwell, shame that my camera let me down. !!

Dave Francis has been busy ringing at Pitsford during the week.
On 4th July visited the Tern Rafts and ringed a further 19 young Common Terns bringing the total for the season to 46 so far. There may be more to ring in a few weeks as there are still some nests with eggs.  Dave had a bit of difficulty reaching a couple of the rafts due to the low water level !
The following day, 5th July Dave completed visit 7 of the CES monitoring.  54 birds were caught which is below average for this time of year and again the main issue was a lack of tit flocks and at this time of year they often contain juvenille finches and warblers.
Wren 12.  Robin 8.  Chiffchaff 7.  Dunnock 6. Blackcap 4.  Blackbird 4.  Bluetit 3.  Treecreeper 2.  Marsh Tit 2.  Bullfinch 2.  Song Thrush 2.  Garden Warbler 1 and Sparrowhawk 1.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Swifts and House Martins


Debbie and Eric Graham were at the Titchmarsh Reserve today and enjoyed watching an Osprey and a singing Grasshopper Warbler.

Jacob is fresh back from a birding trip to Iberia and his birding at Pitsford Reservoir today produced views of 4-5 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Greenshank and a Grey Wagtail. Several Marbled White butterflies were on show.

This evening a ringing session took place at Lamport concentrating on Swifts and House Martins which breed in reasonable numbers there. In total we caught 42 birds, 18 Swifts and 24 House Martins. Eleven of the Swifts were new birds and seventeen of the House Martins were new and included three juveniles. Five of the re-trapped Swifts were returning birds from 2016 and three of the House Martins likewise.


Neil M

Marbled White butterfly.

Burnet moth (six spot?)

Both above images courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Common Swift.

Image courtesy of Chris Payne.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

1st July


A Caspian Tern was on the loose in the Nene Valley this afternoon, appearing initially at Summer Leys nature reserve, then Earls Barton Gravel Pits and latterly on the Nene Barrage at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits but we failed to catch up with it!

Eleanor heard the singing Grasshopper Warbler between Lamport and Blueberry Farm again this morning and waders in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon were made up of the Black-tailed Godwit still, two Oystercatchers, two Greenshanks and three Green Sandpipers. At least three Little Egrets were present but we still have to prove this species breeds at Pitsford.

I haven't seen many Hobbies this year so it was good to see three over Lamport Hall yesterday afternoon and one over the garden today.


Neil M

Comma butterfly.

Common Buzzard and
Carrion Crow escort.

Common Buzzard (the crow
isn't far behind!).