Thursday, 30 April 2020

So that was an unprecedented April!


A dry but breezy interlude in the rain this morning was the time to get out if you could and birds at Harrington Airfield included the long-staying Greenland Wheatear pair and a Grasshopper Warbler singing intermittently. Good numbers today of singing Common Whitethroats and Willow Warblers were joined by a singing Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

A singing Common Whitethroat in our small garden this morning is the last new bird on our 'recorded from the garden' list for April. The list suffers from a lack of passage finches this year. Normally I would expect Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Brambling to have visited the garden feeders during the month of April but we haven't recorded any!

Birds noted in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and towards Blueberry Farm included two Fieldfares, a Little Owl and two Hobbies.


Neil M

Fieldfare courtesy of
John Tilly.

Little Owl courtesy
of John Tilly.


Wednesday, 29 April 2020

White Stork and more...


Clifford Hill Pits continues it's excellent spring with some great finds of a Little Tern, up to three Whinchats and at least two Wheatears today.

Pitsford Reservoir hosted an Osprey this morning south of the causeway and this afternoon an Osprey was north of the causeway at about 5pm together with five Arctic Terns and the long-staying drake Mandarin Duck.

Elsewhere a Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' at Kingsthorpe, Northampton and a female Common Redstart flew over the A508 at Lamport Hall.

However potentially bird of the day was a White Stork seen flying over Brackley town this morning, disappearing to the west at about 10.20am. Despite it's size this is a species that is hard to catch up with in Northants and with an active re-introduction scheme in the south east of England at an early stage hopefully we will gradually see more records in the Midlands. Congratulations to Ian Moore on his South Northants sighting!


Neil M

Chris Payne's image of a
fledgling Dunnock came with
the title 'Grumpy'!

The successful Woodpigeon as
photographed by John Tilly.

Not the Brackley bird but a
White Stork in flight nonetheless!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Cold and wet!


Cold and wet out there today made it quite different to what we are used to!

Birds noted today included two Cuckoos at Stortons Pits, two Wheatears, two pairs of Grey Partridges and a Grasshopper Warbler at Harrington Airfield with a flock of Arctic Terns being reported at Clifford Hill Pits. 

Birds at a cold, wet Pitsford Reservoir today included plenty of hirundines, six Swifts, a Hobby and two Yellow-legged Gulls. A Barn Owl was again near the village of Old.

The dried mealworms are a favoured treat in our garden with plenty of Starlings, Blackbirds, Jackdaws and Pied Wagtails and there was definitely an increase in the frequency of visits and numbers of birds turning up with such a downturn in the day temperature!


Neil M


A very young Blackbird!

...and with Mum!

All above images
courtesy of John Tilly.

Cetti's Warbler.

Garden Warbler.

Above three images courtesy
of Pete Gilbert.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Change in the weather


A dull, cloudy start in my part of the world this morning, then a period of warm sunshine and blue skies before becoming dull and cloudy and cool again by evening. A change in the weather with rain forecast overnight and on and off for tomorrow with much the same on Wednesday too. No complaints though after the stunning dry and warm weather of the last month.

A Wood Sandpiper was a good find at Barnwell floods this morning, continuing the theme of different waders each day as they stop over briefly before continuing their long journeys. There was also a White Wagtail there too.

The Curlew Sandpiper was at Clifford Hill Pits for it's third day with a supporting cast of two Dunlin, two Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Ringed Plover, a Little Ringed Plover and an Egyptian Goose.

Peregrines appeared overhead today in Earls Barton village and St Crispins, Northampton and a Hobby was over Barton Seagrave and Hollowell. Swifts were noted at a few sites today and our garden was blessed with a singing Willow Warbler this morning which was another addition to the April 'recorded from the garden list'!

After an apparent period of absence there were two Great White Egrets at Pitsford Reservoir today plus Little Egrets, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Raven. Nearby a Barn Owl was active near Old this morning.


Neil M

Curlew Sandpiper.

Wood Sandpiper.

Hobby courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Long distance Great Tit!


Birds in the county today included the Curlew Sandpiper still at Clifford Hill Pits, a Dunlin at Barnwell floods, two Little Ringed Plovers at Upton Valley, two Wheatears at Harrington Airfield and a Great White Egret at Thrapston Pits. There were several reports of Cuckoo in the county today and Stewart Short located a male Blue-headed Wagtail with Yellow Wagtails on the Northants/Cambs border between Clopton and Bythorn.

A few bird ringing recovery details have been received as follows:-

1. An adult female Magpie was ringed at Brixworth on 15th June 2016 and this bird was caught in a larsen trap and sadly destroyed also at Brixworth on 11th April 2020, 1396 days later;

2. An adult female Blackbird was ringed at Astcote, South Northants on 10th January 2019 and this bird died after hitting a glass greenhouse in the same village on 12th April this year, 458 days later;

3. A Great Tit was ringed as a nestling in Caysbriggs, Moray, Scotland on 30th May 2019 and was next encountered in a mist net in Astcote on 3rd April 2020 when assessed as a first year female before release. This astonishing record means that this young bird traveled 632km in a SSE direction over 309 days. Not bad for a species that is supposed to be essentially sedentary!


Neil M


Female Blackbird courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Great Tit courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

And here come some more waders!


Spring migrant waders rather dominated birding affairs in Northamptonshire today, with the Nene Valley pulling in some quality birds. A spring Curlew Sandpiper is a rather rare event in the county so a lingering one at Clifford Hill Pits was a great find by Mark Williams. Other waders seen there today included Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper.

This year seems to been a reasonable one for spring Bar-tailed Godwits too with singles today still at Barnwell and Stanwick Pits. A Greenshank was still at Barnwell today too and other birds noted at Stanwick included three Cattle Egrets and two Little Ringed Plovers.

Three Ringed Plovers flew east through Summer Leys this morning and then this afternoon four Whimbrel were found on Fisherman's Point and the Garganey remains in situ. A Marsh Harrier was seen there yesterday evening. A drake Red-crested Pochard was at Stortons Pits today.

Away from the valley and a Tree Pipit flew over early morning between Brackley and Evenley and two Wheatears and two Ravens were at Harrington Airfield. A flock of about a hundred Fieldfares were at Blueberry Farm this morning and a Turtle Dove was discovered in NN6, the first I've heard of locally.

Birdguides information indicates that a Great White Egret remains at Thrapston Pits today and a Hobby was seen there too.


Neil M

Cowslips in the cold morning dew.

Turtle Dove courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Female Sparrowhawk courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Here come the warblers!


Birds in the county for yesterday (Thursday) included two Spotted Redshanks, two Greenshanks, a Little Ringed Plover and a Reeve all at Lower Barnwell Lock floods.

Harrington Airfield attracted a fine male Ring Ouzel which showed next to the old shooting wall off the concrete track and other birds on-site included a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler, two Wheatears and still over a hundred migrant Fieldfares.

Pitsford Reservoir yesterday hosted two adult Little Gulls and six Arctic Terns north of the causeway early in the afternoon and by the evening the dynamics had changed to nine Little Gulls, five Arctic Terns and two Common Terns.

Today (Friday) and after a cold start this morning the sun shone all day! Birds at Barnwell this morning courtesy of John Hunt included a Bar-tailed Godwit and two Greenshanks.

Incoming migrants seen in the county today included a Hobby at Bozeat, Swifts, more House Martins and a variety of warblers included the first wave of Garden Warblers and Reed Warblers and lots more Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats and a few Grasshopper Warblers too.


Neil M

Willow Warbler.

Garden Warbler.

A female hoverfly with the scientific name of
helophilus pendulus as kindly identified by
 Fiona Barclay.

Speckled Wood butterfly.

Lady's Smock.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Lockdown - sites to peruse


If you have time on your hands and would like to look at digital images taken by some of our talented local wildlife photographers here are a couple of sites for your perusal...


...and if you want to see some nocturnal Storm Petrel action from Skokholm -

A daily blog is completed by the wardens on Skokholm (Pembrokeshire) and can be found at:-

..and of course there is the Northants Bird Club site with last year's best images from the photograph competition displayed at:-



Neil M

Honey Buzzard.


Wednesday, 22 April 2020

More garden snaps


Yesterday (Tuesday) evening and David Arden again saw an Osprey north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir plus an Arctic Tern.

This morning (Wednesday) and John Hunt found two Spotted Redshanks at the flooded area near Barnwell plus a Greenshank. Birds at Stanwick Pits this morning included the Garganey and Bar-tailed Godwit still, plus a Mediterranean Gull, a Green Sandpiper and two Shelduck.

Stewart again found his Ring Ouzel near Clopton this morning and this evening Adrian saw a drake Garganey at Summer Leys and a Common Sandpiper and a White Wagtail. David Arden's evening foray at Pitsford Reservoir provided five Arctic Terns and Tom Green located a Little Ringed Plover on a pool at Sidegate Lane Landfill.

I connected with my first Lesser Whitethroats of the year today and an addition to the April 'from the garden list' was a fly-over Tree Sparrow.


Neil M

Sunflower hearts-loving
Collared Dove.

Male House Sparrows
just coming into summer
plumage with extended bibs
and breast markings.

Female Pied Wagtail now
almost as tame as the male!

The Swallows are already
inspecting last year's nests!

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Birds of the breeze and sun


Another bright and breezy day but nothing new for the garden list today!

Yesterday (Monday) evening and David Arden saw a fishing Osprey at Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway plus an adult Little Gull and about fifteen Arctic Terns.

Today and Steve Fisher's early morning visit to his local patch of Stanwick Pits provided a bumper number of about 170 Arctic Terns, a Bar-tailed Godwit, two Common Sandpipers and a drake Garganey.

Stewart was able to locate his male Ring Ouzel near Clopton again this morning and a visit to Harrington Airfield this morning provided 3-4 Wheatears, a pair of Grey Partridge and a singing Grasshopper Warbler which eventually showed well.

The Whinchat was again in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton today and local information indicates that at least one Barn Owl is flying around fields and adjacent gardens on a daily basis in the village of Scaldwell.

Birdguides information recorded a Montagu's Harrier overflying Cottingham this morning and a record of three possible Eurasian Bee-eaters heard calling over Islip this afternoon (about 4.15pm).


Neil M

Life is a tussle if you
are a cock Pheasant!

Caterpillar of the Scarlet
Tiger moth in our Hanging
Houghton garden.

One of the Wheatears at
Harrington Airfield today.
The large size, pot-bellied
stature and plumage would
suggest this is an adult female
of the large 'Greenland' race.
Amazingly these stoic migrants
really do migrate from Africa all
the way to Greenland and even the
Canadian mainland...and the only
way is to cross the Atlantic with
 no stops!

Monday, 20 April 2020



A blustery wind and some strong sunshine but not a lot of new birds found locally today.

At long last a Song Thrush struck up a ballad a couple of gardens away and finally made it on to the April 'from the garden' list! Two Bar-tailed Godwits flew low over the garden just before midday and this species not surprisingly was also an addition to the said list!

The Black Redstart and Common Redstart couldn't be found at Blueberry Farm today but a Grasshopper Warbler was singing nearby and a flock of about two hundred Fieldfares were in the paddocks there. 

The Whinchat was present in the valley below Hanging Houghton for it's fifth day and this afternoon it was joined by a Wheatear.


Neil M

Kelmarsh Estate woodland.

Badger Sett Kelmarsh Estate.

Bluebells Kelmarsh Estate.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Ring Ouzels and more...


Plenty of migrant activity today in sometimes blustery conditions but with plenty of sunshine from mid-morning.

John Hunt kicked off proceedings at Lower Barnwell Lock flood with three Whimbrel and a Greenshank, and then located nine Wheatears in a sheep field between Benefield and Deenethorpe.

Stewart checked up on his Ring Ouzel this morning and he was still present near barns along the Clopton to Bythorn road.

Harrington Airfield finally attracted a spring Ring Ouzel with a female near Bunker One at about 8am, and there were 5/6 Wheatears, a Raven and a pair of Grey Partridge also present. Nearby an adult male Black Redstart was at Blueberry Farm buildings (Maidwell) at about 9.30am but was not seen subsequently. Other birds included a female Common Redstart in hedging nearby, two Yellow Wagtails and ten Fieldfares. The Whinchat remains on his haystack in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

An addition to our April 'seen from the garden' list was an Osprey that spiraled NW over the garden just before 3pm. A Barn Owl was alongside the A508 at Hanging Houghton early this morning.


Neil M

Very much a 'record shot'
of the Ring Ouzel at
Harrington this morning!

Swallows at Blueberry Farm today.

Osprey overhead at
Hanging Houghton
this afternoon.

A rather tatty Common Buzzard
over the garden at Hanging
 Houghton this afternoon.

Garden male Sparrowhawk
courtesy of Chris Payne.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

April showers


A reasonable amount of rain overnight and this morning is the first substantial drop for some time and is likely to be partly responsible for some of the passage migrants seen in the county today.

The male Ring Ouzel is near Clopton for it's third day, and a Lesser Whitethroat was also there today. Near Oundle at Barnwell Lock floods, John Hunt found a Garganey this morning plus a Green Sandpiper, a Greenshank and a Yellow Wagtail. Two Oystercatchers overhead at Barton Seagrave heading towards Wicksteed Park was a good 'seen from the garden' bird!

Eleanor's run out this morning provided a male Common Redstart in roadside hedging at Drummerboy Lake (between Cottesbrooke and Brixworth) and a calling Cuckoo.

At Pitsford Reservoir today there was a fishing Osprey, a hunting Barn Owl, the usual Yellow-legged Gull and a Common Sandpiper.

Much of the week ahead looks to be breezy but sunny and no doubt more summer migrants will be arriving each day...


Neil M

This Cetti's Warbler was photographed by David
 Arden in scrub adjacent to Pitsford Reservoir a
 couple of days ago.

A small herd of British White Cattle
are managed at Kelmarsh Hall and the
next generation are now enjoying the
lush green grass of spring.

Female Starling.