Saturday, 31 March 2018

Next NBC Indoor Meeting


Well for much of the day today the weather was pretty dire! Not surprisingly many outdoor events over the Easter Holidays have been cancelled due to the consistent wet weather and saturated ground. And it seemed that the birds were mostly hidden away from us today with very little in the way of significant sightings despite being out and about for much of the day...

A Raven in flight between Hanging Houghton and Brixworth this morning was carrying something, and a Barn Owl in the Brampton Valley below HH showed exceptionally well. Harrington Airfield hosted another daylight hunting Barn Owl plus a pair of Grey Partridge. We enjoyed brief views of a male Brambling and now two Jays in the garden plus still good numbers of Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers.

This coming Wednesday (4th April) is the next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club, commencing at 7.30pm at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir. The speaker is the popular Chris Ward who returns to deliver the second part of his birds and other wildlife of Australia talk.

Hot drinks and biscuits are available during the evening, there is parking around The Fishing Lodge and the meeting is open to members and non-members alike...we look forward to seeing you there!


Neil M


Reed Bunting.
Courtesy of John Tilly.

Little Grebe.
Courtesy of John Tilly.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Birds of Good Friday


Debbie and Eric enjoyed their time on the Titchmarsh Reserve today seeing seven Sand Martins, a singing Blackcap, plenty of  Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers, a male Brambling and a pair of Oystercatchers.

Phil Horsnail had some good finds this morning, locating a pair of Garganey on floodwater (there will be plenty of that about this week-end!) between Oundle and Ashton, close to the Olive Tree nursery and three Hawfinches (including a singing bird) in scrub and ash trees on the grown up section of the disused Polebrook Airfield.

I'm afraid that our birding opportunities were minimal today with a Barn Owl in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton, the Jay again in our garden and six or so Sand Martins over Station Road, Earls Barton this morning whilst I was passing the western end of Earls Barton GP.


Neil M

Sand Martin.
Image courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Drake Garganey.

Image courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Great Crested Grebe.
Image courtesy of Cathy
Ryden. The fish is a Ruffe
or Pope, which is related to
 the Perch. It tends to stiffen it's
 body when threatened in the hope
that the rigidity might prevent
it from being consumed - not
successful on this occasion!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Pre-Easter birds


Yesterday (28th March) John Hunt found a nice selection of birds on flooded meadows at Oundle between Lower Barnwell Lock and the A605 bypass, made up of two Shelduck, four Redshank, a Dunlin, a Black-tailed Godwit, five Golden Plovers and also Lapwing and Snipe. With most gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs sporting very high water levels currently and with more rain forecast it seems that river valley floods in meadows will provide the best opportunity for wader passage in the county this spring!

Today (29th March) and Dave Francis completed a mini ringing session in his garden on the outskirts of Northampton, catching and ringing 7 Siskins, 6 Goldfinches, a Greenfinch, 2 Long-tailed Tits, a Great Tit and 2 Starlings. Ringing is planned this coming Sunday at Stortons Pits and Linford Lakes.

Eleanor's foray into the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning yielded a Barn Owl and about ten Golden Plovers and later birds at Harrington Airfield included 2-4 Wheatears and 4 Grey Partridges.


Neil M

Golden Plover.
Image courtesy of
Dave Jackson.

Image courtesy of Jacob.

Image courtesy of John Tilly.

Cock Pheasant.
Image courtesy of John Tilly.

Carrion Crow.
Image courtesy of John Tilly.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A good time for garden birdwatching...


The exceptional run of Barn Owl records continues with singles today at Pitsford Reservoir, between Holcot village and the A43 and in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

It seems that Reed Buntings are still in many gardens and they are likely to remain well in to April as they feed up and condition themselves for the forthcoming breeding season. A Jay again paid a visit to our garden today but didn't linger.

Harrington Airfield seemed quiet for birds today but produced a Chiffchaff and a small flock of Golden Plovers. An adult male Peregrine was hunting at Pitsford Reservoir today.

This morning a male Wheatear was in the Brampton Valley between Hanging Houghton and Gamboro' Plantation (a traditional stop-over site) but early this afternoon and after the rain there were four males in the bean field there.

Eleanor paid East Carlton Country Park a visit late this afternoon and saw two lingering Hawfinches, a Siskin, two Redpolls and good numbers of Redwings.


Neil M

Reed Bunting and
House Sparrow.

Lesser Redpolls.


A selection of recent garden bird
images courtesy of David Arden.

Jay courtesy of
John Tilly.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

March birding


Eric Graham visited Blatherwycke Lake this morning and espied two pairs of Mandarin Duck, a pair of Black Swans and a pair of Shelduck. Nearby Deene Lake also attracted a pair of Black Swans plus three pairs of Shelduck.

Pitsford Reservoir was generally quiet today but the Slavonian Grebe was still in the Pintail Bay, there was a pair of Shelduck and an Osprey flew from the dam area north towards the causeway at about 4.15pm.

Two Hawfinches were in Cottesbrooke village this afternoon, still in Station Road but further along the road near to the brook. A Raven was at Haselbech and a Barn Owl was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

A check of the ring numbers relating to re-trap birds at Pitsford Reservoir yesterday included a female Yellowhammer with ring number Y576700. This bird was first ringed at the same site as an adult on 18th June 2013 and hasn't been caught or processed since.  She will be at least six years old this year.


Neil M

Field Elms near Oundle,
very few of these still exist
in the county...

Male Brambling on a
feeder, courtesy of David

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
in Lings Wood courtesy of Robin
Gossage. One or two birds have
apparently been showing well at
this site during the month with many
photographers managing to record some
good shots.

Barn Owl Blueberry Farm
courtesy of Tom Gautier.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Pitsford Reservoir ringing


A day of bird ringing at Pitsford Reservoir today in very pleasant spring-like weather provided 141 captures of 15 species. Forty-nine of these birds were re-trapped birds from previous sessions and the remainder were new birds. The total was made up of 6 Dunnocks, a Robin and a Wren, 3 Meadow Pipits, 17 Blue Tits, 11 Great Tits, 6 Coal Tits, a Marsh Tit, a Long-tailed Tit, 20 Reed Buntings, 55 Yellowhammers, a Greenfinch, 6 Chaffinches, 2 Lesser Redpolls and 10 Tree Sparrows.

Chiffchaffs were on site today in small numbers, as was a singing Blackcap, a couple of Siskins, 5 Snipe and a pair of Oystercatcher.

Eric's saunter on the Titchmarsh reserve at Thrapston yielded plenty of Chiffchaffs, three male Blackcaps, 8 Cetti's Warblers and butterflies in the colours of Brimstone, Comma and Peacock!

A Barn Owl was alongside the road near Holcot early this morning, a male Brambling was in our garden again, thirty Golden Plovers were seen heading north over Lamport village and the Brampton Valley had plenty of singing Chiffchaffs and Tortoiseshell and Brimstone butterflies...


Neil M

Male Chaffinch.

Lesser Redpoll.

Male Yellowhammer (sunglasses
are recommended for viewing)!
All images courtesy of
John Tilly.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Linford Lakes ringing


A group of ringers descended on Linford Lakes near Milton Keynes today where they successfully captured and processed 29 birds of 13 species (21 were new). Kenny Cramer and team experienced a mixture of summer migrants, winter migrants and residents made up of 6 Redwings, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Meadow Pipits, a Robin, a Dunnock, a Goldcrest, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Treecreeper, 4 Great Tits, a Blue Tit, 3 Long-tailed Tits, a Bullfinch and a Reed Bunting. A Great White Egret remained on-site.

Eleanor saw a Raven again at Staverton today but didn't see anything of note at Daventry Country Park or Borough Hill CP. However she saw 2-3 Otters showing on the small side of Ravensthorpe Reservoir again (5.50pm), two Hawfinches again at Cottesbrooke (almost opposite the playing field) and a Barn Owl next to the A508 near Scotland Wood.

There were two Shelduck in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon and a Little Egret was the first there for a little while. Spawning Pike are splashing around in the shallows there currently...


Neil M

Meadow Pipit
courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

More Barn Owls, Hawfinches and deer!


Yesterday (23rd) and Diane Freeman picked up a dead Water Rail at Pitsford Reservoir. In the evening three different Barn Owls were observed along the road between Woodford Halse and Priors Marston.

Today (24th) and a wander around the Polebrook Airfield complex was good with the open fields area attracting displaying Lapwings, two Golden Plovers, two Ravens and the first Chinese Water Deer that I have ever seen in Northamptonshire! A check of the more enclosed scrubby area provided up to seventeen vocal Hawfinches in ash and hawthorn, all east of the private track that leads to the house and old hangers/storage area. Other birds included three Woodcock, a couple of Bramblings, a singing Chiffchaff and a couple of Muntjac.

A subsequent visit to Barnwell Country Park added a pair of Mandarin Duck, another singing Chiffchaff and a couple of Marsh Tits coming to a feeder. We looked for any returning Curlews at Wadenhoe but failed; another drake Mandarin was the only bird of note and a third Chiffchaff was singing near Aldwincle.

Some newly levelled land on the outskirts of Corby attracted good numbers of big gulls and a small herd of Fallow Deer. We saw a Peregrine here too and Blatherwycke Lake attracted a Water Rail, a Kingfisher, a pair of Shelduck, a Chinese Goose and a Black Swan.

Eleanor saw two Ravens at Staverton and this evening we saw single Barn Owls between Lamport and Old and near the villages of Pytchley and Walgrave.


Neil M

Dead Water Rail,
courtesy of Diane Freeman.

House Sparrow,
courtesy of John Tilly.

courtesy of John Tilly.

Courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Friday, 23 March 2018

More Ugandan wildlife...


Little opportunity of wildlife watching today so some more images from my trip to Uganda in January...


Neil M


White-winged Tern.

Pied Kingfisher.

Dwarf Mongoose.

Common Bulbul.

Ugandan Cob.

African Elephant.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Thursday's birds!


Eric Graham and Ken Spriggs enjoyed some birding at Thrapston GP today noting a Little Egret, three pairs of Egyptian Geese, a pair of Goosander, a pair of Oystercatcher and a calling Chiffchaff.

Jacob embarked on some garden ringing at Scaldwell, successfully catching and processing a male Blackcap which has been a regular visitor, a Lesser Redpoll, ten Goldfinches, a Greenfinch, a Reed Bunting, a Blackbird, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, six Great Tits, three Blue Tits and a Long-tailed Tit.


Neil M

Male Blackcap.
Lesser Redpoll.

Male Reed Bunting.

All images courtesy of Jacob Spinks.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The birds of Wednesday.


Despite spending quite a bit of time out and about today and enjoying the spring sunshine of this morning, it seemed relatively quiet for birds.

Fieldfares and Redwings are very much on the move and already the large flocks are dwindling to much smaller ones. Finches, Meadow Pipits, wagtails and gulls are also busy moving through and probably mostly under the radar, Blackbirds, Robins and wildfowl are doing much the same thing. All are trying to navigate themselves in to an area suitable for breeding and to arrive there in the best possible condition.

Eleanor's daily walk in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton provided an observation of a Common Buzzard tucking into something pretty substantial on the ground. She went over to investigate to find that the Buzzard was eating a Barn Owl - presumably one of the two regular birds she sees (or did see) most days! The Barn Owl was bearing a ring so we will find out in due course from where it originated. Barn Owls are occasionally predated by a variety of raptors including Peregrine and Common Buzzard but this is our first confirmed instance. Over the last twenty years we have found a couple of remains around Blueberry Farm indicating predation but couldn't confirm the identity of the predator.

The Kelmarsh Estate woodlands were very spring-like this morning but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Pitsford Reservoir also seemed quiet although the Slavonian Grebe was still in the vicinity of the Pintail Bay and other observations included a Grey Wagtail and a Peacock butterfly!


Neil M

Barn Owl.

Common Buzzard.

Peacock butterfly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spring at last?


Eleanor visited Cottesbrooke village today and saw four Hawfinches in the trees and bushes just downhill and opposite the playing field. The birds were not showing particularly well and weren't very vocal either... The usual pair of Raven were still on territory.

Another Raven was at Naseby village, a pair of Grey Partridge were again at Harrington Airfield and two Barn Owls continue to hunt the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Bethan and Jacob's birding efforts today included locating the three Scaup still on the Watersport Pit west of Ditchford Lane at Ditchford GP this afternoon, and the Slavonian Grebe and a second winter Caspian Gull at Pitsford Reservoir.

Metal ring NZ27670 was placed on the leg of a first year Great Tit at Bradden in South Northants on 30th November 2017. This young male was then caught again but this time at Adstock in Buckinghamshire on 13th March 2018, 21km SSE and 103 days later. The tit family are renown for not moving too far from their hatching area but spring and post-breeding periods are the time for wanderlust!


Neil M

Female Reed Bunting at
Scaldwell village courtesy
of Bethan Clyne.

I love this shot of a
Coal Tit sharing his
food with those in range!
Courtesy of John Tilly.

Courtesy of John Tilly.

Nuthatch with lunch!
Courtesy of John Tilly.

Sun-loving Great Tit!