Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Thrushes, Sparrowhawks and owls

Yesterday I went for an early morning amble around Blueberry Farm area. The field hedges were alive with the excited chatter from Redwings and Fieldfares. I love just listening to them and it was whilst I was standing there that I heard the much harsher "chak chak" call of a Ring Ouzel. Hearing it was the easy part as the bird was reluctant to show itself.  It was about 15 minutes before a male Rouzel popped up on the hedge and sat in full view for a while.  

A visit to Harrington Airfield late morning was quite productive. As I wandered through the bushes I disturbed a Short-eared Owl. There were a pair of Stonechat at the third bunker and a Brambling flew over calling.

Kenny Cramer and his helpers were at Linford ringing. A small catch of 31 birds of 14 species due to the bright and breezy conditions and fewer nets used.  In the thrush department there were 4 Redwings, 3 Blackbirds and a Song Thrush.  Warblers were represented by just 2 Blackcap and 1 Chiffchaff.  But it was the raptors which provided the most excitement beginning with a pre dawn capture of a Tawny Owl. This was followed by 2 Sparrowhawks, a male and female giving the opportunity to observe the considerable size difference between the sexes.

Regards Eleanor

Tawny Owl.


Images courtesy of
Kenny Cramer.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Islay images


Just a few images from the current Naturetrek Islay/Jura tour...


Neil M

Barnacle Geese.


First year Pale-bellied
Brent Goose.

Adult Pale-bellied
Brent Goose.

Red-throated Diver.

Roe Deer.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Quiet Days

Lack of birds, problems with the internet connection and agility training means that this will be a very short blog. Personally I have seen very little apart from a pair of Stonechat below Hanging Houghton and a noticable presence of Skylarks, Redwings and Fieldfares.

Eric visited Titchmarsh Reserve today and saw a single Great White Egret at least 20 Little Egrets and a pair of Stonechat. Also a couple of Common Darter on the wing.

There appear to be two small flocks of Pink Footed Geese in the county, 4 on the Titchmarsh Reserve and 7 at Hollowell Reservoir.

If you are anywhere near Summer Leys Reserve in the evening keep your eyes peeled for the acrobatic and mesmerising display courtesy of a large murmuration of Starlings. 

Regards Eleanor

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Autumn Glory

The only problem with going on holiday for a few weeks is that it takes a few days to catch up. The last couple of days have been spent doing the mundane chores of shopping, washing, opening the mail etc etc.  Hopefully I am now up to date.

Today I managed a fair amount of birding and it was lovely to be out and about on such a glorious day.  My first outing was an early run where I noted a pair of Stonechat below Hanging Houghton and good numbers of skylark, starlings, corvids and winter thrushes feeding on the newly sown crop fields.

I had to go to Duston late morning and my route took me past Harlestone Firs so it seemed the perfect opportunity to stop off for a walk. I very nearly didn't stop as there were so many cars parked on the road near the entrance, but my two young collies needed a walk so the decision was made for me.  Once I got off the main track I hardly met anyone. All I can say is "wow", the trees looked magnificent in their autumn colours, such a wonderful mixture of green, reds, orange, yellows and gold, although I think that the best is yet to come. Probably in a couple of weeks time the trees will look at their best. I must remember to take my camera !!  After a 2 hour amble I had notched up quite a list of birds including 4 Crossbills, 2 Ravens, Chiffchaff, pr Stonechat , Jays and at least three large mixed tit flocks.  The other thing that I noticed was the amount of different fungi present. A lovely array of shapes, colours and sizes. Such a shame that I didn't know all their names, perhaps I need to put this on my "to do" list !!!

As it was such a beautiful afternoon I went to Harrington Airfield where again the autumn colours of the bushes/trees contrasted against the deep rich brown earth of the deeply ploughed fields creating a stunning backdrop. All the while I was there small flocks of Golden Plover were flying around and filling the air with their evocative calls. They settled on the fields between the airfield and Lamport and a rough estimate was 200 birds.  Plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares in the bushes plus a single Chiffchaff.  I came across a pair of Stonechat near bunker 3 and as I stood scanning the fields picked up a male Merlin hunting the numerous skylarks.

It was no great surprise to find a few butterflies on the wing today. I saw Speckled Wood, Peacock and 2 Red Admirals in a sunny sheltered spot near the dam at Pitsford..

Regards Eleanor

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Loch Hogganfield


Ahead of a Naturetrek tour to the islands of Islay and Jura, I took the opportunity to pop to Loch Hogganfield on the outskirts of Glasgow today. Although raining for some of the time, this site provides some excellent opportunities for photographing habituated wild birds coming for regular food hand-outs!


Neil M


First calendar year
Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Second calendar year
Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Tufted Duck.

Juvenile Whooper Swan.

Adult Whooper Swan.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Back from the Scillies


Kenny and team committed to a bout of bird ringing at Linford Lakes, Milton Keynes yesterday which resulted in 91 birds of 19 species being processed, the majority of which were new birds. The highlights were 5 Blackbirds, 7 Song Thrushes, 16 Redwings, 8 Chiffchaffs, a Cetti's Warbler, a Blackcap, 2 Moorhens, 4 Goldcrests and singles of Siskin, Meadow Pipit, Treecreeper, Goldfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A Great White Egret was also on site and non avian interest included Grass Snake, Great Crested and Common Newts and Toads.


Neil M

Male Siskin courtesy
of Kenny Cramer.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

Bishop Lighthouse Isles of Scilly.

Pied Flycatcher, St Mary's
Isles of Scilly.

Stonechat, St Martin's,
Isles of Scilly.

An electric vehicle on
Tresco, the Isles of Scilly
called Boris!

Saturday, 17 October 2020

The Scillies Photo Diary Part 3


A few more images from the latter half of our three week stay on the Scillies. The weather improved and the storms from the west brought in some American birds. During the last week the weather system emanated from the east and this brought migrants from the continental shelf mostly from northern climes. October also brought the usual influx of birders to the isles and the extra eyes ensured more birds were found...

Neil M

Barred Warbler.

Common Rosefinch.

Boat trips Covid-19 style!

Great Black-backed Gull.

Hugh Town, St Mary's,
Isles of Scilly.


Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Scillies Photo Diary Part 2


The main issue relating to the Scillies this autumn is the weather! Gale force winds have swept the islands for over a week! The wind direction has been from the north and west and like much of the mainland it has been accompanied with plenty of rain too! Few birds have left the island albeit many have arrived since the weather abated. Fortunately there are quite a few common birds on the islands so at times like this I go about trying to photograph some of the common species, some of which are more common than on the mainland.


Neil M

Female Blackbird digging
in the beach for invertebrates.

Dunnock consuming a
Crane Fly.

Male House Sparrow.

The dogs are enjoying
the beaches - Jaeger covered
in sand.

Lapland Bunting, also having
just consumed a Crane Fly!

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Scillies Photo Diary Part 1


Apologies for the lack of blogs recently, unfortunately our current accommodation does not permit a WiFi/Internet facility. We have been in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly for the past week and are currently bracing ourselves for gale force winds tomorrow and a wet week ahead! Nevertheless the last week has been good where perhaps sea-birds and waders have dominated but hopefully with good passerines to come...


Neil M


Semi-palmated Sandpiper.



Common Snipe.


Great Skua.

Sooty Shearwater.