Thursday, 31 May 2018

Thursday's notes


Eric and Nick Parker were at Thrapston Pits today, where the Nightingale was still singing by the river footbridge. Other birds noted included a Great White Egret, two Egyptian Geese and three Hobbies. A Scarce Chaser dragonfly was also on the wing.

Birding opportunities were minimal for us today but I have noticed a few Spotted Flycatchers the last couple of days with singing birds at Ravensthorpe Reservoir and Hanging Houghton. Even though its late, these could still just be passage birds...


Neil M

Spotted Flycatcher courtesy
of Jacob Spinks.

Tit nest boxes and
their contents courtesy
of Chris Payne.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Terns, nest-boxes and butterflies!


Eric Graham was again patch-working at Thrapston Pits this morning and enjoyed an excellent haul of birds which included a Great White Egret (set to summer here?), an Osprey fishing on Aldwincle Lake, two or three Black Terns, three Cuckoos and still the singing Nightingale by the bridge over the river between Town Lake and the Titchmarsh Reserve.

There is plenty of tit nest-box monitoring going on in the county these days with many recorders finding some large clutches and subsequent broods of chicks this year. The many nest-boxes on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir take up at least one day's monitoring of each week in the spring and this year there is a pair of Marsh Tits using a box (with young) and a pair of Nuthatch in another box with their seven nestlings!

Today the tern rafts at Pitsford Reservoir were checked for occupancy and 40 Common Tern nests were counted containing 97 eggs. Four of these nests were on a brand new raft only constructed, launched and moored on 22nd May! In addition the pair of Oystercatcher have hatched their three eggs. A Little Tern was busy fishing in the Scaldwell Bay this afternoon, close to the Bird Club Hide.

A modest ringing session at Brixworth Water Treatment Works today provided 31 captures amounting to four Magpies, twenty Starlings, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Blackbird, a Dunnock, a Great Tit and a Yellowhammer. A pair of Gadwall there was a new species for the site and other birds included a Hobby, a Yellow Wagtail and singing singles of Sedge and Reed Warbler.

Details of a ringing recovery of a Sedge Warbler came through today - a juvenile bird was caught and ringed at Pitsford Reservoir on 30th July 2016 and captured again on Alderney, the Channel Isles on 19th April this year as an early returning summer visitor. It is very likely that this bird has wintered south of the Sahara during the two interim winters, I wonder where it is now?

David Arden has been out and about with his camera again, this time photographing butterflies in the region...


Neil M

Duke of Burgundy butterfly. 

Grizzled Skipper.

Large Skipper.

Common Blue.

All images courtesy
of David Arden.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Wildlife of the Ardnamurchan Peninsular


Two weeks on the beautiful Ardnamurchan Peninsular in Western Scotland were mostly rain-free and with sunny conditions and a cool breeze the midges didn't come out to play much! I've added some images of some of the formatted photos of the trip which hopefully do justice to the wildlife of this special area and the immediate surround...


Neil M

Otter with fish.

Black Redstart.

American Black Duck.

Pine Marten.

Cat sp. Scottish Wildcat or
just a domestic moggie??

Bottle-nosed Dolphin.

White-tailed Eagle.


Juvenile Stonechat.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Forays to Lakenheath and The Lakes!


Please find some images from John Gamble following a trip to Lakenheath RSPB and also from Jim
Dunkley following his regular visits to the Lake District...


Neil M

Eurasian Bittern. John enjoyed
watching four fly around together!

Hobby. Good numbers converge
at Lakenheath most springs prior
to dispersing in to the Brecklands
to breed.

Buck Roe Deer.

Red Squirrel.

Adult and juvenile

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Back from Wild Scotland...


Just back in from two weeks in the West Highlands of Scotland, centred in the Ardnamurchan Peninsular. We were blessed with some fabulous weather and most of the wildlife behaved!

I was also fortunate to spend a week in Provence, France last month and here are a few images from that trip...


Neil M

Western Bonelli's Warbler.

Griffon Vulture.


Eurasian Roller.

Wild Boar.


Grey Heron.

Greater Flamingos.

Green Lizard.

Gull-billed Tern.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Catch Up

I haven't been able to get out and about birding as much as I would have liked. The only birds which I have seen regularly during the week are Turtle Doves, Grasshopper Warbler, Barn Owl, Cuckoo and Grey Partridge at Harrington.
Yesterday {19th May}as I was driving along between Fotheringhay and Warmington I heard a Nightingale in full song !!!  However it would not show itself and remained hidden in the hedge.
Also yesterday Eric Graham visited Titchmarsh Reserve and writes " warbler numbers greatly reduced, but still managed Willow, Sedge, Reed, Cettis and Garden Warbler , Whitethroat and Chiffchaff.. We watched a pair of Cuckoo, he was flying around her calling and she was giggling like a teenager, it was fun to see the interaction. There was a pair of Oystercatcher on the Long Island and plenty of Swift and at last hundreds of Martins hawking low over Aldwincle mixed with good numbers of Swallows.  As we walked along brancy brook we looked up to see a Great White Egret fly over head and land on Thorpe Lake ".

Over the weekend some ringing has taken place. Yesterday Kenny Cramer was ringing at Linford where 20 birds of 8 species were ringed including 6 Reed Warblers, 2 Blackcap and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker.  5 Greenfinches were caught, maybe an encouraging sign that this species is on the increase at Linford.  Interestingly 2 of the Reed Warblers were retraps of birds originally ringed in 2016 and encountered again 2017.
Today John Woollett undertook a ringing session at Stortons gravel pits where 23 birds were processed. Wren 1. Chiffchaff 2, Song Thrush 2, Blackbird 3, Garden Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 4, Cettis Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 2, and Robin 3.
Highlight was a retrap Reed Warbler from 2014.

Regards Eleanor

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Tuesday's Travels !

I was awake before 5am this morning so decided to get up and get out and about. I literally threw a few things into the car along with my dogs and off we went. 
It was a beautiful morning, clear blue skies and the deafening noise of bird song greeted me as I walked at Harrington Airfield. A Turtle Dove was purring in the bushes at the middle bunker and a Grasshopper Warbler reeling nearby. I haven't seen many Cuckoo's yet this spring but there was one flying low over the vegetation between the 1st and 2nd bunker intent on looking for an unsuspecting host. A Barn Owl was hunting and there were at least 2 pairs of Grey Partridge present.
I made a spur of the moment decision to drive to the coast and take the dogs to the beach and headed for Holkham.!!!!  I did wonder whether I had made a mistake because the coast was shrouded in a dense sea mist . I had to put plenty of layers on as it was quite cold and drizzly.  However the boys enjoyed themselves and had a good walk and plenty of games.  Birding was quite difficult as the birds were just vague shapes looming in and out of the mist and the calls of the Little and Sandwich Terns sounded very eerie.
I couldn't visit the coast without indulging in fish and chips from Wells. My excuse was that I was waiting to see what the weather was doing !!  As the sea mist showed little sign of lifting I decided to make my way home. The sun was shining once I had driven past Kings Lynn.
My plan was to visit a few old haunts on my way back.  First stop was Ashton Wold where there was at least one Nightingale singing well, a Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo.  Next , Titchmarsh Reserve were there were numerous Cettis Warblers, 2 Hobby, Little Egret and a very showy and vocal Nightingale by the footbridge which links the reserve to the main lake. I could here this bird singing long before I saw it as it was quite deafening.
Final destination was Twywell Hills + Dales. Plenty of common warblers but very little else.

Regards Eleanor

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunny Sunday

Eric Graham counted nine species of singing warbler around the Titchmarsh reserve including a reeling Grasshopper Warbler showing very well. A Nightingale was again singing at the footbridge and 2 Hobby were hunting over town lake and probably the same birds were seen over Aldwinkle. 2 Cuckoo were also noted.

There were 2 Turtle Doves at Harrington Airfield this morning, one purring in the bushes at the end of the track and the other on the ground at the bunker next to the track.   There were also 2 pairs of Grey Partridge.   However the "best" bird was a very low flying Lancaster Bomber which came over my head, looking magnificent with it's very distinctive sound.
A wander around the fields below Hanging Houghton this evening produced a Hobby, Barn Owl and a Grasshopper Warbler against the backdrop of a stunning sunset.

Regards Eleanor

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Birds of Daventry


Eleanor's visit to Borough Hill Country Park in Daventry this afternoon was worthwhile with the discovery of a singing Wood Warbler in the mature woodland on the south east side of the park. The bird was in full song and was showy too.

Nearby there is a Woodland Trust plantation on a high area called Kentle Wood and a visit there provided two Turtle Doves, and three Wheatears in a sparsely-vegetated field on the upper slope.


Neil M

Wood Warbler.

 A few images from my trip to Poland in April...

Black Redstart

Long-tailed Tit
of the white-headed form.

Lesser Spotted Eagle.

Ural Owl.