Saturday, 29 February 2020

Northants Bird Club AGM and Indoor Presentation.


The Northants Bird Club will be holding it's Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 4th March at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir, commencing at 7.30pm. Club Chairman Bob Gill will run through a brief summary of the year and committee members will be present to answer questions. All members should receive a record of accounts by email beforehand.

Following the AGM which tends to be a brief affair, the main event of the evening is a presentation by club member Jeff Blincow depicting images of mammals and some gaudy birds following his adventures in South America. Jeff's in-depth knowledge of his subject, personal style and excellent images ensures he is a popular speaker at the club and elsewhere.

Hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening and we look forward to seeing you there!

Neil M

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Wintry Wednesday

It has been quite a wintry day today.  When I went out with the dogs early morning the grass was white and crisp with frost and there was a beautiful pink and grey sky as the sun rose.  A Barn Owl was out hunting against this backdrop and my young collie was completely mesmerized as it hunted a few feet above her head.
During the day there was a mixture of sunshine, wind, rain and snow flurries but late afternoon was definitely the best part of the day with sunshine and a gentle breeze, so I decided to take my two young collies for a good walk around Blueberry Farm area.  They loved it and I saw some good birds.
Just beyond Blueberry Farm on the track leading up to the highest point on the complex were 5 Waxwings sitting on top of the hedge. It's at times like this that I'm glad that the dogs are obedient as they sat down as soon as I asked them and didn't move which gave me time to get my binoculars onto them. I watched them for a couple of minutes before they gave their characteristic trill and flew off in the direction of Cottesbrooke.   Earlier in the day 3 Waxwings had been seen and photographed at nearby Harrington Airfield [not by me].
I always think that the view from the highest point at Blueberry is one of the best views in Northamptonshire. I never tire of pausing here for a few minutes and taking in the view.  I had the added bonus of a Short Eared Owl and 2 Barn Owls for company as they appeared and started hunting the field below me. A beautiful sight. As I returned to my car there was a Barn Owl hunting on the large grassy patch which I feel was a different bird to those hunting at Blueberry.
Other birds seen include Tree Sparrows, Grey Wagtail, 4 Grey Partridge, Woodcock and large numbers of winter thrushes in the hedgerows and feeding on the saturated fields.

Regards Eleanor

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Roundup and Owls

It really has been a very quiet week for birds. They have obviously been keeping their heads down in the wet and windy weather, and who can blame them !!  Even our garden and fields/hedges nearby have been quiet.
We carried out the Webs count at Pitsford during the week and I've never seen so few birds on the big side.  There was just vast expanses of empty water and things were not much better on the small side.
Both the Short Eared Owl and Barn Owl remain at Harrington although earlier in the week the Barn Owl was giving cause for concern as it seemed in a poor state and appeared weak.  But fingers crossed that it is able to find enough food as it is still flying around trying to hunt. 
I think that the owls have been struggling to find food as the saturated fields and verges combined with the very strong winds have certainly made things difficult for them.
However this afternoon the Northants Birds Whats App was pinging off every few minutes with sightings of Short Eared Owl and Barn Owl sightings.  There were Short Eared Owls reported from Borough Hill and Brixworth and Barn Owls at Borough Hill, Brixworth, Hanging Houghton, Summer Leys, Thrapston, Islip, Irchester, Yardley Chase and the Bringtons.......phew, and these are the ones that we know about.  
The wind finally dropped this evening and this must have been such a welcome relief for these birds who must be hungry and were making the most of this opportunity.   

Regards Eleanor

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Weekend Round Up

It has been a very quiet week on the birding front, the same 2 Great Egrets , Red Crested Pochard and Stonechats at Pitsford. 
The Short Eared Owl and Barn Owl remain at Harrington and I saw them both today. They were sitting quite close together in the rough grass. 
I've seen 3 different Barn Owls today as this evening there were two hunting together below Hanging Houghton.  The recent heavy rain has caused the fields to flood and this in turn has displaced the voles etc and they are easy prey.

Eric has been out on his local patch at Titchmarsh where he too saw a Barn Owl initially flying low over Aldwincle Lake then it headed off across the marsh before settling on a fence post at the southern end of the reserve.
The drake Pintail and pair of Stonechat remain on Elinor Lake and 2 or 3 Great Egrets on the Aldwincle part of the reserve.

Plenty of birds still visiting our garden and eating us out of house and home. I cannot believe how much food they are eating.  Today there were 4 Reed Buntings, 2 Yellowhammers, Pied Wagtails, Goldfinches, Tree Sparrow, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker to name but a few, plus a quick visit by a Grey Wagtail and a female Sparrowhawk who helped herself to a snack !

Regards Eleanor 

Monday, 10 February 2020

We have had a strange mixture of weather over the past week.  One minute there have been blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in double figures then today 4 degrees, gales and snow flurries !!!  The poor birds must wonder what is going on.  Last week the Great Spotted Woodpeckers were busy drumming, Great Tits in full song announcing that "spring" was here and other birds were eyeing up potential nest sites. Then over the weekend they were all keeping their heads down as gale force winds struck.  I felt really sorry for the Goldfinches who were desperately trying to hang on to the feeders in the garden.
I haven't seen anything different.  The Short Eared Owl is still present at Harrington Airfield along with Woodcock, Grey Partridge and Golden Plovers.  At Pitsford the 2 Great White Egret remain and also one or two drake Red Crested Pochard.  In the valley below Hanging Houghton a Barn Owl, Stonechat and Brambling.  

Last Wednesday the annual photographic was very well attended and those present were treated to some fabulous images from the talented photographers.  If you wish to see the winning images in each category follow this link

Congratulations to Dave Jackson for this outstanding shot, a very worthy winner

Regards Eleanor

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Another couple of quiet days where I am just bumping into the same birds.   In the valley below Hanging Houghton there has been a Barn Owl hunting and good flocks of Fieldfares feeding on the soggy stubble fields.
At Harrington this afternoon there was a Short Eared Owl . I assume that this is the same bird which has been present for weeks but can be quite elusive.  Also present were 2 Woodcock and a Brambling.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 5th February, is the members evening at the Northants Birdclub. It is a chance for the members to show off their photographs in the annual competition.   It is always a good and entertaining evening.  There is a high number of entries and there will be photographs to suit every taste.
Everyone is welcome, you do not have to be a birdclub member . 
The evening starts at 7.30pm, venue is the Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and there will be plenty of tea/coffee and biscuits.

Hope to see you there

Regards Eleanor

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Weekend Round Up

Over the last few days I've managed to get out and about a bit more. On Friday I walked around Sywell Reservoir. It is always a pleasant walk and there is always something to see and often you can get quite close to the birds.  A Cettis warbler was calling and clambering about in the reeds and as I stood watching it thinking " I wish that I had my camera" it literally ran over my feet !!
Other birds seen included Grey Wagtail, small flock of Siskins , Chiffchaff and a pair of Stonechat.

Yesterday I visited Pitsford.  I nearly got blown away as I stood on the dam and it was impossible to hold the scope steady. Needless to say that I didn't find anything of note.
The small side was sheltered and there was plenty of wildfowl loafing on the water and looking quite splendid in the winter sunshine.  In the Walgrave arm were 3 Red Crested Pochard, 2 males and a female plus a Great White Egret.  At one point the birds flew out from the very back of the bay and there was a pair of Goosander which after a short flight disappeared from view again at the very back of the bay.
There were 2 pairs of Stonechat in the Scaldwell arm.

Harrington has been very quiet, infact today it appeared to be a "birdless" zone.   The valley below Hanging Houghton hasn't been much better as this too appears to have lost all it's birds. But our garden has been extremely busy Blackcap, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammers and Reed Bunting visiting daily.

I wonder what the coming week will bring ?

Regards Eleanor

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Photographic Competition - Northants Bird Club


The annual photographic competition of the Northants Bird Club is due to be held this coming Wednesday (5th Feb) at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir. The meeting will start promptly at 7.30pm as there is a bumper number of images to look at! All the images have been submitted by members taken during the previous calendar year and have been placed into categories.

All the images have been assessed by an independent judge who has placed the top three in each category. However on the night it is the members who decide which winning image clinches the coveted Graham Soden shield!

Hot drinks and biscuits will be available on the night, and we might need them for sustenance with the number of images to peruse!

The meeting is open to members and non members alike, only members can vote on the night, but everyone can enjoy the undoubted photographic skills within the membership!

Neil M

Western Swamphen.

Stone Curlews.