Saturday, 26 August 2017

Bits and Bobs from the last couple of days

Yesterday in the valley below Hanging Houghton there was a Marsh Harrier, 2 Common Redstart and a Whinchat.  
There were a further 2+ Common Redstart in a hedge between the villages of Old and Walgrave.  This is an "old" hedgerow which follows the fields from Old into the back of the Walgrave arm of Pitsford Reservoir and attracts a steady movement of passerines as they continue on their migration.
I have had a couple of very quiet visits to Harrington Airfield including one this morning in what seemed perfect conditions for a good bird, but sadly not. The bushes and fields were deadly.
At Staverton the resident Ravens were rather vocal and seemingly playing about, tumbling through the air and generally enjoying themselves.
On my way back home I stopped off at Borough Hill and it felt a bit like "old times" as there had obviously been a fall of birds. I lost count of the number of Spotted Flycatchers who were flitting about and flycatching along a couple of the hedges. There was easily 8 individual birds. These hedges were alive with birds, mainly Bluetits, Long Tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Whitethroats.   Also in the same area were 2 Common Redstart which were in addition to a Common Redstart seen near the car park.   There was a Whinchat in one of the furthest fields from the car park.  
A Marsh Harrier and Whinchat were again present in the valley towards Blueberry this evening.

Chris Payne undertook a ringing session at Stortons yesterday [25th] where 71 birds in total were trapped with only 6 being retraps.  The majority of birds caught were youngsters.  There were good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaff. 
A retrap Cettis Warbler was initially ringed in 2014.
Birds caught : Blackcap 21, Reed Warbler 12, Cettis Warbler 5, Sedge Warbler 1, Whitethroat 2, Bluetit 7, Robin 2, Long Tailed Tit 8, Great Tit 1, Chiffchaff 9, Wren 2,.

Regards Eleanor 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Pitsford and Harrington Birds

Dave Francis completed the final CES ringing session at Pitsford Reservoir. 72 birds were caught of 19 species.
Blackcap 10; Long Tailed Tit 8; Great Tit 7; Blue Tit 6; Robin 5; Treecreeper 5; Bullfinch 4; Chiffchaff 4; Willow Warbler 4; Reed Warbler 4; Wren 4; Dunnock 2; Marsh Tit 2; Whitethroat 2; Garden Warbler 1; Greenfinch 1; Blackbird 1; Lesser Whitethroat 1; and Yellowhammer 1.

A visit to Harrington Airfield early evening was quite productive. The recently scuffled field proved attractive to a large flock of passerines including Linnet, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Goldfinch. On scanning the field I picked up 2 Wheatears and a Whinchat. The bushes yielded at least 2 Common Redstarts and rather surprisingly a Cuckoo. 
Not to be outdone there were plenty of raptors enjoying the warm sunshine and gentle breeze, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Common Buzzard and Peregrine were all on view.

Regards Eleanor 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Mid week round up.

During the last couple of days I have been concentrating my efforts at Pitsford Reservoir and Harrington Airfield, however both sites have been disappointingly quiet.
No birds of note at Harrington Airfield, just plenty of tractors muck spreading and scuffling the fields.
Birds at Pitsford include a Great White Egret [scaldwell bay], 10+ Little Egret, 2 Greenshank, 3 Black Tailed Godwits, Green and Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plovers and Dunlin.  Pitsford looks the best it has looked for years with plenty of muddy shoreline, spits and emerging islands due to the dropping water level.

The harvest is in full swing below Hanging Houghton and it was extremely dusty there this evening which made birding difficult.

Regards Eleanor 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Autumn Days !!

It certainly appears that summer has been and gone and that we are already into Autumn !!. The air has a "distinct nip" about it, the mist hangs over the valley in the early morning and the evening's are drawing in.  This is undoubtedly my favourite time of year.  Birds also change as the breeding season comes to a close and the Autumn migration begins. Most of the birds which I have seen over the last few days are ones which I always associate with this time of year.  On Wednesday [16th] there was a Marsh Harrier, Grasshopper Warbler and Turtle Dove at Harrington Airfield . Several visits to Harrington has produced Common Redstart, Turtle Dove, Grey Partridge, Raven and Peregrine.
I ran around Sywell Reservoir the other day and there was a family party of Grey Wagtail on the dam, a calling Cettis Warbler and Green Sandpiper and Curlew flying over calling.
The hedgerow between Old and Walgrave continues to be attracting Common Redstart and on a couple of visits I have seen 2 or 3 birds which have been a mixture of males and female type and are clearly passing through.
There have also been a couple of Common Redstart, Wheatear, Peregrine, Grasshopper Warbler  and Grey Partridge in the Blueberry Area.
Yesterday at Staverton the Ravens were in attendance at our agility training and caused a great deal of commotion where a Peregrine strayed onto "their patch".
This morning there was a Tree Pipit, Common Redstart and Wheatear in the valley below Hanging Houghton and a Siskin and Raven over the garden.
The harvest is slowly being gathered in and some of the fields have already been ploughed. I love the rich earthy aroma of a newly ploughed field and the birds also find this attractive with good numbers of Gulls, Corvids and Raptors busy foraging. Always worth checking out these fields as you just never know what might turn up. 
Autumn is equally as exciting as Spring as you just never know what or where something good could turn up.

We have a new edition.......a Border Collie pup called Jaeger who we are just introducing to the joys of birdwatching. I couldn't resist posting a few pics !!

Regards   Eleanor 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Black-crowned Night Heron

Tree Pipit.

Lesser Whitethroat.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth
at Watford village on Sunday,
courtesy of Bill Draper.


A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron arrived in a Blisworth village garden at the end of July and was last seen on 7th August. This bird, a rare visitor to the county, was seen in trees at the private property and on one occasion actually at the garden pond. Sadly it seems this bird has now gone...

An all night vigil at Harrington Airfield last night in still, mild conditions provided a singing Quail between 1.30am and 2am and a hunting Barn Owl against the backdrop of a harvest moon and shooting stars.

Ringing operations began at dawn and concluded at lunch-time with 79 captures (17 re-traps). Nine Tree Pipits were present first thing, four of which were caught and ringed and another was killed by a marauding Sparrowhawk. Other birds trapped and released were made up of 3 Blackbirds, 10 Yellowhammers, 12 Greenfinches, 11 Dunnocks, 13 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 7 Robins, 2 Linnets, 3 Goldfinches, 3 Chaffinches, a Bullfinch, 4 Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 2 Blue Tits and a Great Tit.

Other birds present included Marsh Tit, two Hobbies, a Wheatear, a Turtle Dove and a few Grey Partridges.


Neil M

Juvenile Black-crowned
Night Heron

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Waders on the move


Neil Hasdell was at Pitsford Reservoir this morning and noted a Great White Egret, six Black-tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper.

Yesterday we had a Hummingbird Hawk-moth making repeat visits to the garden, the flowers of choice being phlox and verbena!


Neil M


Wood Sandpiper.

Black-tailed Godwit.

Begging juvenile
Common Buzzard.

All images taken by John
Gamble at Frampton Marsh
on Saturday.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Pitsford surveys


It was the WeBS count day at Pitsford Reservoir today and resulted in sightings of a Great White Egret, 15 Little Egrets, a Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid, 2 Garganey, a Wigeon, 7 Green Sandpipers, a Dunlin, a Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Kingfishers, a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls and 3 Peregrines (adult male, adult female and juvenile female). The latter Peregrine had emptied the Scaldwell Bay of birds and it sat perched on a stick protruding from the mud for a long period of time!

The last but one Constant Effort ringing session of the season took place at Pitsford Reservoir this morning with 16 species being encountered totalling 42 birds. Warblers were made up of 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers and 3 Blackcaps and other interesting birds included a Kingfisher, 2 Marsh Tits, 3 Bullfinches, 3 Treecreepers and 3 Goldcrests.

A couple of Grey Partridges and a Turtle Dove were noted at Harrington Airfield and this evening there was a Spotted Flycatcher at Lamport Hall.

Please note that there will be another ringing session at Harrington Airfield during the morning of Wednesday 16th August, the last session of the month. General access is not permitted in the catching area but observers and visitors are welcome as long as you can let me know beforehand (landowner's stipulation). The concrete track and adjacent footpaths remain open and unaffected.


Neil M

Little Egret.

Reed Bunting.

Tree Sparrow.


All images taken at Pitsford Reservoir,
the latter three courtesy of Dave Jackson.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Harrington Ringing


A ringing session at Harrington Airfield this morning was eventful with 70 captures which included 14 birds ringed previously.

The first capture of the day was a fabulous Tawny Owl extracted from a mist net at dawn. This was a bird hatched this year but seemingly now independent. Another early bird was a juvenile male Sparrowhawk which again has probably only just left parental responsibility behind. Other larger birds came in the form of two juvenile Green Woodpeckers and also two Blackbirds and a Song Thrush.

Other birds included 17 Willow Warblers suggesting a small 'fall' of these migrants, 11 Yellowhammers (nearly all juveniles), 2 Robins, 5 Chaffinches, 9 Whitethroats, 5 Linnets, 2 Reed Buntings, a Garden Warbler, 3 Dunnocks, 3 Greenfinches and 3 Blue Tits. Choice passerines however were a female Redstart already bearing a ring and a migrant Tree Pipit. A quick turnaround on the ring details of the Redstart indicates that it was ringed as a nestling at Ripon in Yorkshire in June, some 150 miles to the north.

Other birds noted on-site included a couple of juvenile Grey Partridges, a vocal Nuthatch or two and a fly-over Tree Pipit at 10.15am may have been the same bird which perhaps u-turned and was subsequently found in a mist net.

Away from Harrington there were two Redstarts at Blueberry Farm this evening and Pitsford Reservoir hosted two Great White Egrets, six Black-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank, a Common Snipe and three Green Sandpipers.


Neil M

Tawny Owl.


Tree Pipit.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Insects on show


It's that time of the year again when the WeBS autumn count season begins and a slog around Ditchford Gravel Pits didn't produce much in the way of birds. A few waders were present in the shape of three Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover and four Oystercatchers.

The Watersport Pit hosted fourteen Egyptian Geese and other birds included a handful of Cetti's Warblers, three Water Rails in habitat suitable for breeding and at least five Kingfishers.

Two adult male Redstarts remain at Borough Hill Country Park (Daventry), both in the hedgeline near to the car park still.

Please note that ringing operations are taking place at Harrington Airfield tomorrow and access is not permitted to the bunkers and old airstrip during this process. The concrete tracks and footpaths remain open.


Neil M

Speckled Wood butterfly

Head shot of a metallic male
Banded Demoiselle.

Male Common Darter.

Head shot of a Brown
Hawker dragonfly.

No birds to photograph today, so
insects shots from Ditchford GP instead.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Scarce passerines on the move...


The Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton hosted two Whinchats and a Redstart this morning.

At Pitsford Reservoir there were three Tree Pipits with singles flying south at 6.20am and 6.55am and then a third one lingering for a short time before disappearing. Other birds noted on-site north of the causeway included two Yellow-legged Gulls and singles of Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.

A Common Tern nestling was ringed at Pitsford Reservoir on 30th June 2010 and this bird was spotted at Manton Bay, Rutland Water on 4th August 2017 where an eagle-eyed observer read the details on the metal ring in the field (using a telescope I assume).


Neil M

Tree Pipit.


Both Whinchat and Tree Pipit are
scarce spring migrants but are more
plentiful during the south-bound migration
in the autumn.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Birds of Pitsford


A beautiful day out there today with plenty of sunshine but a cool start for the time of year.

Eleanor's foray in to the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning produced sightings of a Redstart and two Whinchats and a brief visit to Harrington Airfield provided just a sighting of two young Grey Partridges.

Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway looked very serene this evening and no real change in the birds with two Great White Egrets, a drake Garganey (one of probably three present currently), two Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and two Yellow-legged Gulls all on show.


Neil M

Plenty of Tree Sparrows are
utilising the seed feeders at
the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding
Station at Pitsford Reservoir
to the point where they are emptying
some of the feeders in a day!
Image courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Common Tern. The last few chicks
are still on the rafts at Pitsford Reservoir
and the margins and open waters still
retain many adults and flying juveniles.
Image courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Adult Great Tit. Plenty of juveniles are
out and about currently but their
comparative large size ensures
they are selected by Sparrowhawks
in mixed tit flocks as they are often
twice the weight of their Blue Tit
companions and this extra biomass
makes the effort of catching them all
 the more worthwhile.
Image courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Another wet day!


Blimey where is all this rain coming from? Hopefully that's it for a little while...

Eleanor located the long-staying Redstart in a hedge near to Blueberry Farm this morning and the Grasshopper Warbler was still there and singing (a very persistent 'reeler')! A male Peregrine was hunting around the same area.

Checking the reserve north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon provided views of two Great White Egrets, two Garganey, four Common Sandpipers, a Hobby and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls. The gull roost off the Sailing Club was mostly uneventful but the gathered House and Sand Martins attracted a Hobby and there was a vocal Redshank and seven Yellow-legged Gulls.


Neil M


Great White Egret.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

That was a lot of rain!


Heavy rain today and a couple of visits to Pitsford Reservoir today located two Black-tailed Godwits, two Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers, two Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlin, two Hobbies and eleven Yellow-legged Gulls plus an Osprey flew from the reservoir this evening.

A family party of Grey Wagtails was on the dam at Sywell Country Park and this afternoon a walk along the footpath between Walgrave and Pitsford Reservoir sheltered three or four Redstarts (two adult males), two Whinchats and a Wheatear and a juvenile Marsh Harrier was quartering the fields nearby.

Dave Jackson enjoyed a trip to Iceland this year and has kindly provided us with some images from the trip - the images can be found on the Tab 'Dave Jackson Images'.


Neil M


Monday, 7 August 2017

Harvest time


Ringing at Harrington Airfield on a consecutive day after yesterday was a little more modest with 54 birds made up of 9 Yellowhammers, 8 Dunnocks, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Robins, 10 Whitethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Reed Buntings, 4 Goldfinches, a Linnet, 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blue Tits, a Great Tit, a Blackbird and a Garden Warbler.

Harvesting operations was creating a great deal of interest amongst the local Red Kites and Common Buzzards which were up in the air for much of the day watching the combining and other work in the cereal fields. A high-up Golden Plover flew over.

Eleanor watched a juvenile Marsh Harrier in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning and located 2-3 Redstarts in one of the traditional stop-over hedges there.

Neil H visited Pitsford Reservoir today and saw a Great White Egret, a Redshank, 2 Common Sandpipers and 2 Green Sandpipers. This evening the GWE was still present in the Scaldwell Bay and there was also 7 Little Egrets, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Garganey on show from the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station.


Neil M

Gatekeeper butterfly.

Stoat and Rabbit prey at
Harrington Airfield today.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

D is for Dunnock!

Courtesy of Robin Gossage.


A ringing session at Harrington Airfield this morning succeeded in processing 87 birds, 78 of which were new. These birds included 19 Dunnocks, most of which were juveniles and seems to indicate they have bred very successfully on-site this year!

Other birds making up the total were 9 Yellowhammers (mostly juveniles), 2 Blue Tits, a Great Tit, 2 juvenile Marsh Tits, 2 Robins, 14 Whitethoats (all juveniles), a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 3 Reed Buntings, 11 Linnets (from a flock of about 70 there at the moment), 3 Goldfinches, 5 Chaffinches, a Bullfinch, 8 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs and 2 Wrens.

Other birds seen on-site included a male Peregrine, several Yellow Wagtails and a Willow Tit. Dragonflies noted were Brown Hawker and Migrant Hawker.

Debbie and Eric Graham paid Blatherwycke Lake a visit this morning and saw three Little Egrets, two Mandarin Ducks and plenty of raptors made up of a family of Sparrowhawks and flying young of both Red Kite and Common Buzzard.

Brief ringing operations at Stortons Gravel Pits in the scrub area this morning provided 41 captures which included a Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroats, Reed Warblers, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Cetti's Warblers, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks and Wrens. The ringing team were able to see plenty of birds of prey overhead including Hobby and Peregrine.

Ringers were also in operation in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir today with 53 birds of 18 species processed and assessed made up of 9 Bullfinches, 7 Blackcaps, 6 Wrens, 5 Treecreepers, 4 Great Tits, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackbirds, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Robins, 2 Coal Tits, 2 Kingfishers and singles of Long-tailed Tit, Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Song Thrush and a Mallard.


Neil M

Cock Linnet
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Juvenile Lesser Whitethroat
courtesy of Chris Payne.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Images from Pitsford Res today


A quick wander at Harrington Airfield this morning produced two Redstarts between the chippings compound and the first bunker and a Turtle Dove by the second bunker. Harvesting has begun so it could be a little noisy and dusty there this week-end! On Sunday and Monday there will be restricted access due to ringing operations but the concrete track and footpaths remain unaffected.

Pitsford Reservoir and the remarkably low water levels continue to attract migrants and today Robin Gossage saw an Osprey, a Great White Egret, just one Black-tailed Godwit and ten Common Sandpipers.

A family party of Spotted Flycatchers were active at Naseby, and Welford Reservoir this evening attracted a Hobby, a Kingfisher and three Common Sandpipers.


Neil M


Black-tailed Godwit.

Common Sandpiper.

Spotted Flycatcher.

Images from Pitsford Reservoir
today all courtesy of Robin Gossage.