Monday, 30 July 2018

Late July birding


Despite being out and about quite a bit yesterday (Sunday), we really didn't connect with any birds of particular note. Eleanor saw a single Turtle Dove at Harrington Airfield and I saw eight Little Egrets and at least four Yellow-legged Gulls from the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir in the evening. The anticipated increase in terns and possibly gulls and a few waders at Pitsford just didn't materialise!

This morning (Monday) and a pair of Raven paid Hanging Houghton village a visit, and a Silver-washed Fritillary spent a short time on one of the garden buddleia in blustery conditions (another new butterfly for the garden)!

Eric was at Titchmarsh Reserve at Thrapston again this morning and located the two Great White Egrets again plus three Little Egrets, a Green Sandpiper, a Hobby, a Spotted Flycatcher and a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler still.

Two more Ravens were at Staverton again today and this evening the summering Marsh Harrier was again at Pitsford Reservoir, hunting the east side of the Holcot and Walgrave bays. There was also a decent summer flock of 120 Pochard and eight Little Egrets.


Neil M

Marsh Harrier.



Northants Bird Club Indoor Meeting 1st Aug


The next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club will be this coming Wednesday (1st Aug) commencing at 7.30pm. The venue will be the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and all are welcome.

The presentation 'Patagonia' is a photographic record of a trip in 2017 to Chile, Argentina and a day in Brazil to see the special wildlife and landscape on offer in these South American countries. Tour participants were Wendy and Robin Gossage and Eleanor and myself. All the images have been provided by Robin which I hope to present appropriately!

This presentation is instead of the planned Red Kite talk by Dr Rebecca Thomas who is currently unwell and her talk has been postponed for a future date.

As usual there will be minimal notices and formalities, but there will be hot drinks and biscuits on hand and I hope you find the evening enjoyable!


Neil M


American Kestrels.

Both images courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

The Glaucous Gull


Many people will know that I enjoy watching gulls! Big, bold and beautiful they are frequently an identification challenge and there aren't many places in the world where they don't inhabit or visit. For many, the idea of watching gulls or 'sea-gulls' if you like is a big turn-off - they tend not to sing beautifully, they can regularly be found at landfill sites, sewer works, ports, industrial sites and other such delightful places, some are predatory and of course some have developed a tendency to mug holiday makers of ice creams!

Anyway whilst in Iceland I was hoping we would see some 'white-winged gulls', a small group of species which tend to visit the British Isles during the winter months in varying numbers and one of the reasons why some of us (sad!) birders go visiting landfill sites (the few that are left) and reservoir roost sites during the short days of winter in the hope of seeing one.

In Iceland we saw small numbers of Iceland Gulls (which strangely enough don't normally breed there) and rather larger numbers of the Glaucous Gulls (which do breed there). At one particular small town harbour we came across a fishing boat that was off-loading its catch of fish and not surprisingly this activity attracted a large number of gulls hoping to take advantage. The most numerous gull around the boat and pier was the Glaucous Gull...


Neil M

Bold, intelligent and in
stunning plumage with a
beautiful soft grey upperside,
pure white wing-tips and no
dark feathers anywhere, these
large, ghostly gulls are generally
a little larger than Herring Gulls
and only just a little smaller than
 most Great Black-backed Gulls.
All these images relate to adult
birds which are likely to be at least
 five years old. It is likely that picture
 seven (head shot) relates to a male bird
with a large bill and more the proportions
 of a Great Black-backed Gull...

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Stormy weather!


This morning Eleanor located a male Redstart in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton, close to the Brampton Brook.

Two Ravens were at Staverton and Eleanor located two juvenile Whinchats on a rough area near to the entrance of Kentle Wood (Daventry). A wander around Borough Hill Country Park failed to find any birds of interest but there were three or four Clouded Yellow butterflies.

The gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this evening (off the Sailing Club) provided at least six Yellow-legged Gulls and two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls.


Neil M

Common Buzzard.

Lesser Whitethroat.

Juvenile Green Woodpecker.

Friday, 27 July 2018

The Red-necked Phalarope


One of the special birds of our trip to Iceland in June is the beautiful Red-necked Phalarope. Like many waders it completes a long distance migration to find suitable wintering and breeding areas, and Iceland is home to a great many of them. We saw them every day, often in tiny patches of water by the roadside, sometimes on marshes and lakes and frequently by the shore. In the main they completely ignored our presence and they were just impossible to ignore! No matter how many photos you take of them you just can't resist taking some more!


Neil M

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Mediterranean weather


At risk of sounding repetitive, Eric was at Titchmarsh Reserve again today and was able to find both Great White Egrets and a singing Grasshopper Warbler...

The gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this evening didn't really materialise due to the amount of craft on the water and the only birds of note were four Yellow-legged Gulls, a Little Egret and a Common Sandpiper. 

Pristine Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow butterflies were encountered today, presumably as a result of the strong, warm winds from southern Europe...


Neil M

Painted Lady butterfly.

Clouded Yellow butterfly.

Great White Egret.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Red Kites galore!


On Sunday John Gamble came across an amazing scene between Bulwick and Blatherwycke in north Northants, where as many as 200 Red Kites were feeding in a harvested field - probably unprecedented foraging numbers in Northants!

This morning and Eleanor saw a Marsh Harrier in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton which from its description sounds like the same wandering individual noted at Harrington and Pitsford during the last couple of weeks...

Eric's efforts at Thrapston on the Titchmarsh Reserve this morning was good for confirming the continuing presence of the two Great White Egrets plus an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Some of the warblers were still in song including a Grasshopper Warbler.

Birds visible north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir this evening included five drake Red-crested Pochard, half a dozen Little Egrets and singles of Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper.


Neil M

Red Kites courtesy
of John Gamble,

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Harrington migrants


Eleanor paid Harrington Airfield a visit this afternoon and despite very warm, crispy conditions managed to find some migrants in the shape of a male Redstart in bushes between the chippings compound and the first bunker and two juvenile Whinchats near to the second bunker. Two Turtle Doves were also flying around near to the second bunker...


Neil M

Male Common Redstart.

Juvenile Whinchat.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Pitsford update


Early this morning and a Barn Owl was very vocal around the houses at Hanging Houghton.

A subsequent visit to Pitsford Reservoir in the vicinity of the Sailing Club provided a few birds in the shape of a trilling Whimbrel flying south at 7.10am, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, at least four adult Yellow-legged Gulls, a Common Sandpiper, three Little Egrets and a Raven.

This afternoon a small band of 'willing volunteers' braved the very hot temperatures and added two more Tawny Owl boxes to the twenty or so already in situ on the reserve section of Pitsford Reservoir. We lost two boxes (which rotted and eventually collapsed) which were well-used by Tawnies a couple of years ago and these replacement boxes are in much the same position.

This evening there were four drake Red-crested Pochards in the Scaldwell Bay, visible from the Bird Club Hide. At least one of these birds has lost all it's flight feathers as it progresses through a complete moult and so won't be going anywhere soon! A couple of Yellow-legged Gulls were loafing here too...


Neil M

Adult and juvenile
Rook, courtesy of John Tilly.

Shelduck duckling.
courtesy of John Tilly

Juvenile Blackbird.
Image courtesy of John Tilly.

Silver-washed Fritillary.
Image courtesy of John Tilly.

A potential new Tawny Owl
home, image courtesy of
Helen Franklin.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Sunday's sightings


Debbie and Eric again saw the two Great White Egrets at Thrapston Pits today plus five Little Egrets.

Birds visible at Pitsford Reservoir off the Sailing Club this evening included at least nine Yellow-legged Gulls (four juveniles), an Oystercatcher and three Common Sandpipers.


Neil M

Yellow-legged Gulls.

Common Sandpiper.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Here come the gulls!


A ringing session at Pitsford Reservoir sited around the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station provided over sixty captures which included seven Mallard, a Magpie, two Blackbirds, two Starlings, and twenty juvenile Tree Sparrows (local priority species). Singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler added some variety with juvenile tits making up the majority of the remainder.

Other birds noted there today included at least three Yellow-legged Gulls, five Red-crested Pochard and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.

Eleanor's visit to Borough Hill Country Park at Daventry today provided four Crossbills in the mature woodland on the opposite side of the hill from the car park, this same piece of woodland attracting two White Admiral butterflies. A single Raven was seen at Staverton.

This evening and the gull roost off the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir produced a second juvenile Mediterranean Gull (darker than the bird seen earlier in the day), eight Yellow-legged Gulls and a Common Sandpiper.


Neil M

Adult Yellow-legged Gull
courtesy of Neil Hasdell.

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull
courtesy of Dave Jackson.

All the gull images today were
from the Bird Club hide in the
Scaldwell Bay.