Thursday, 17 October 2019

October ringing


A ringing session at Pitsford Reservoir in the Scaldwell Bay provided 105 birds of twenty species (60 new and 45 re-traps). Highlights were a juvenile female Sparrowhawk, a Kingfisher, two Moorhens, three Song Thrushes, three Redwings, seven Blackbirds, ten Goldcrests, two Marsh Tits and a Willow Tit.

Chris Payne committed to a little ringing in his garden at Greens Norton today, quickly catching and processing 67 birds made up of 25 Blue Tits, 10 Great Tits, a Coal Tit, 24 Goldfinches, six Greenfinches and a Stock Dove.

Eleanor saw the pair of Stonechats in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton again today and at least two Barn Owls were close to the village late this afternoon.

It is anticipated that there will be ringing operations at Harrington Airfield this coming week-end which ensures that the area around the bunkers and the old airstrip will have restricted access. Anyone who would like to attend to observe is asked to make contact.


Neil M



Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Birds of the drizzle!


Low cloud and drizzle this morning produced large numbers of migrants at Harrington Airfield probably amounting to over a thousand small birds in and over the bushes around the bunkers. The biggest numbers included 275 Redwings, 200 Chaffinches, 50 Skylarks, 50+ Meadow Pipits, 50 each of Linnet and Goldfinch and Yellowhammer, over a hundred Starlings with smaller numbers of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Reed Buntings, Greenfinches, Tree Sparrows, Siskins, Redpolls and wagtails. Once the breeze kicked in and the drizzle lifted, many of the birds appeared to depart. An immature male Merlin was a bit late for the party and whizzed off north.

Steve's efforts at Stanwick Pits this morning provided a Great White Egret, two Cattle Egrets, a Ruff, two Fieldfares. five hundred Redwings, eighteen House Martins and fifteen Siskins.

Eleanor spent some hours this afternoon in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and up at Blueberry Farm and notched up an immature Ring Ouzel in a hedge at the bottom of Hill Field and the area around 'shrike hedge' provided a female Merlin, a pair of Stonechat and a Barn Owl.

The gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir this evening provided a second winter Mediterranean Gull and nine Yellow-legged Gulls.


Neil M



Ring Ouzel (this
one an adult female).

Meadow Pipit.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

October migrants


After such a wet, filthy night it made sense that something should have been brought down.. and an early morning visit provided a flock of five Common Scoter at Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway. Two of these birds were drakes. Redwings were also passing over in good numbers with smaller numbers of Siskin and Starling. A Common Sandpiper was in the Scaldwell Bay and later there was a Rock Pipit on the causeway. Eleanor had poor views of a mystery raptor flying north over the reservoir that reminded her of a Black Kite but sadly it didn't hang around.

Steve Fisher was out during the early morning too and his haul at Stanwick included an impressive 42 Little Egrets (surely a county record?), two Great White Egrets and four Cattle Egrets (later in the day all six) and 930 Redwings moving over in a SW direction. Later he added two Goosanders and two Redpoll. Just down the road and Chris Green notched up another Great White Egret at Ditchford Pits (Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows section) plus a Pintail and a Kingfisher. Nick Parker confirmed the continued presence of the adult Whooper Swan on Town Lake, Thrapston Pits (I wonder if it is last year's bird returning?).

Harrington Airfield was full of common birds today in very soggy conditions. A male Ring Ouzel showed well near Bunker Two and another bird with it may have been another bird of the same species. A pair of Stonechat were at Bunker Three and vis mig birds included plenty of Starlings, Redwings and fifty Fieldfares.

A ringing session was held in the extreme west of the county today at Glyn Davies Wood which is a Banbury Ornithological Society reserve. It was going fine until the local Bicester and Warden Hill Hunt turned up and rampaged through the reserve with dogs and horses. Not only were they trespassing but they completely trashed two mist nets and the ringers present were fortunate that no birds came to harm. A couple of the hounds remained in the wood with bloodied muzzles and the ringing session was abandoned. Birds caught and successfully processed were made up of four Goldcrests, two Wrens, three Robins, seventeen Blue Tits, two Coal Tits, a Marsh Tit, twenty-two Great Tits, two Nuthatch and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Local ringing sessions, hopefully with the absence of the local hunt, are planned for Pitsford Reservoir on Thursday and at Harrington Airfield at the weekend.


Neil M

Great White Egret
courtesy of John Tilly.

Green Woodpecker courtesy
of John Tilly.

Dunlin courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Curlew Sandpiper
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Waderquest AGM and World Watch

Lesser Black-backed Gulls


My apologies for the lack of messages recently, I'm afraid we suffered a complete broadband failure which lasted over a week! Hopefully it is sorted now.

As many will know I definitely have a soft spot for gulls and will happily gaze at them for hours (often trying to work out what they are)! In August this year I was fortunate to be in Glasgow where there is quite an urban community of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, surely one of the better looking large gulls? Anyway the following photographs depict some of the birds close to hand...


Neil M

Adult or near-adult.

Juvenile (hatched this year).

First summer (second
calendar year).

Probably a fourth summer
but some third summers can
be very advanced.

Advanced first summer
(second calendar year).

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Birds of Thursday...


A couple of busy local ringing sessions took place today in almost perfect weather conditions with the usage of mist nets. Dave, Lynne and Lewis were at Pitsford Reservoir where they captured and processed 90 birds of 14 species (53 new and 37 re-traps). This total was made up of 30 Blue Tits, 20 Great Tits, a Coal Tit, 9 Dunnocks, 5 Robins, 3 Wrens, 7 Tree Sparrows, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Chaffinch, 5 Reed Buntings, a Song Thrush, a Blackbird and 3 Moorhens.

Harrington Airfield enjoyed a second consecutive day of ringing, this time with some 170 captures of 16 species (144 new and 26 re-traps). The session was dominated by Goldfinches with 74 new birds and 8 re-traps from previous sessions. Other birds were made up of a Song Thrush, 6 Dunnocks, 7 Yellowhammers, 8 Great Tits, 14 Blue Tits, 2 Wrens, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Robins, 18 Meadow Pipits, 4 Linnets, 7 Chaffinches, 5 Reed Buntings and 8 Swallows.

A few Redwings were on-site as were a couple of Golden Plover and calling Grey Partridge. Skylarks were very evident there today with one flock totalling 48 birds. A female Merlin arrived this afternoon and went storming after Meadow Pipits.

Elsewhere and Stanwick Pits/Lakes held three Cattle Egrets today plus a late Common Tern and a Ringed Plover. Seventy Golden Plovers were located in a field south of Cogenhoe village and Summer Leys reserve at Earls Barton hosted a Great White Egret and Garganey with a Spotted Redshank reported from the Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows reserve at Ditchford Pits.

Birds in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning include a pair of Stonechats, a Whinchat, a Little Egret on the brook and a hunting Barn Owl and 15 Redwings were seen flying over Moulton Agricultural College.


Neil M




All images courtesy of
John Tilly.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

October's cool air brings new birds...


Birds for yesterday (Tuesday) included several Redwings locally, although speaking to other birders it seems they were not the first of the autumn (but certainly the first I have encountered). Plenty of Meadow Pipits and other diurnal migrants were taking advantage of the pleasant conditions at Harrington Airfield in the morning and the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton produced a Whinchat, a pair of Stonechat, a Siskin, two Redpolls, a couple of Redwings and fifteen Golden Plovers plus an increase in the number of visible Skylarks and Blackbirds.

The Little Stint was again at Boddington Reservoir, the Titchmarsh Reserve attracted a Great White and twelve Little Egrets and Pitsford Reservoir hosted a Great White Egret, a Pintail, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Greenshank.

Today (Wednesday) and Adam saw a late Common Swift heading north over Corby this morning and Andy Cook saw a Red-crested Pochard and a Hobby at Clifford Hill Pits. Nick's efforts at Titchmarsh were again rewarded today with an Osprey and a Great White Egret and Steve Fisher found the six Cattle Egrets and a Peregrine at Stanwick, this time around the roadside pit.

A ringing session at Harrington Airfield this morning netted 76 birds of twelve species made up of two Blackbirds, a Chiffchaff, two Long-tailed Tits, ten Great Tits, eight Blue Tits, ten Yellowhammers, five Reed Buntings, a Chaffinch, twenty-two Goldfinches, ten Meadow Pipits, a Robin and four Dunnocks. Another session is planned there for tomorrow (Thursday) and access to the rough area around the bunkers and old runway will be restricted.


Neil M

Meadow Pipit at
Harrington Airfield
today...courtesy of
Lynne Barnett.