Saturday, 31 July 2021

Last day of July.


An early morning walk at Harrington Airfield seemed grey and generally quiet for birds. A single Grey Partridge sprung a couple of times, a Hobby cruised overhead and a very elusive Common Redstart was found on the way back between the Chippings Compound and Bunker One. Please note that a ringing session planned here for Monday will mean resticted access to the bunkers and the old airstrip area but the concrete track will still be accessible.

At least two Common Redstarts remain at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell, one of them being a stunning adult male.

At Pitsford Reservoir it seemed only standard fare was on show, the best on offer being a Great White Egret, the eclipse drake Goldeneye and three Yellow-legged Gulls which included a begging juvenile.

Over at Stanwick Pits a single Garganey was located and birds at Earls Barton Pits included a Great White Egret and a Common Sandpiper on the Summer Leys reserve and a Common Sandpiper on Hardwater Lake. Five Dunlin, a Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper were all at Clifford Hill Pits early this morning.


Neil M

Southern Hawker.

Four-spotted Chaser variant
courtesy of Jim Dunkley.

Great White and Little Egret
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Kingfisher courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Large Red-eyed Damselfly.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Blustery and grey Friday


A much quieter day in the county today, perhaps no surprise with the blustery and sometimes wet conditions in contrast to the sunshine of yesterday.

Although they couldn't be found this morning, two Common Redstarts popped up in the footpath hedgerows between Blueberry Lodge and Blueberry Hill near Maidwell this evening.

A near-adult Caspian Gull appeared again at Stanwick Pits this afternoon and at Welford Reservoir this evening there was a moulting adult Caspian Gull plus four Egyptian Geese and a Grey Wagtail.


Neil M

Blue Emperor dragonfly.


Ampedus sanguiolentus Click Beetle
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Cassida rubyginosa Tortoise Beetle
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Corizus hyoscyami
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Pitsford Day Tour


Today was a Naturetrek Day Tour on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir which started with the contents of the moth trap of fifteen species with perhaps a couple of Ear Moths and an Elephant Hawk-moth being the highlights. A Painted Lady and a Red Admiral butterfly were on the buddleia next to the Fishing Lodge.

Despite the breezy conditions odonata were out in good numbers, particularly Southern and Brown Hawkers. We also saw Blue Emperor, Migrant Hawker, Four-spotted Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Ruddy Darter, Beautiful Demoiselle, Emerald Damselfly, Large Red-eyed Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and of course large numbers of Common Blue Damselflies. Other interesting insects included Hornet Hoverfly.

Great Crested Grebes are clearly having a good year with several broods of young on the reserve but the small birds were pretty quiet but Goldcrests, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit showed themselves. A Hobby was seen a few times, there were a few Little Egrets but a Wigeon was the only duck out of the ordinary.

Peacock butterflies showed nicely, we saw several Commas and the usual species we expect at this time of the year and we tracked down just one well-behaved Purple Hairstreak.

Elsewhere and the Common Redstarts are still arriving in the county with a male seen near Old, three at Blueberry Farm (including two new males) and three or four at Harrington Airfield which again included a new adult male on-site.

At least two Spotted Flycatchers were also at Blueberry Farm and a juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen flying from Harrington Airfield off towards Pitsford Reservoir.

At Earls Barton Pits a Wood Sandpiper and two Common Sandpipers were on the Summer Leys LNR with a Common Sandpiper and a Great White Egret on Hardwater Lake.

Waders at Deene Lake this afternoon included eight Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and one hundred and sixty-seven Lapwings. A near-adult Caspian Gull was at Stanwick Pits this evening.


Neil M

Painted Lady.

Elephant Hawk-moth.

Hornet Hoverfly.

Peacock butterfly.

Southern Hawker.

Grey Heron.

All images from Pitsford
Reservoir today.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Juvenile wagtails.


A Raven was cronking loudly in Hanging Houghton this morning and a subsequent ramble around Blueberry Farm, Maidwell provided three Common Redstarts and a Barn Owl.

I paid Market Harborough a visit this morning but during the time I was there I didn't see any Peregrines around the church in the town centre.

This afternoon and I spent some time watching and photographing all three species of wagtail - Pied, Yellow and Grey - feeding on filter beds near Brixworth. Most of the birds were juveniles and the Pied Wagtails in particular show a variable range of plumages at this time of the year.

A Caspian Gull was seen off the A5 pools at Lilbourne today and other birds present included five Yellow-legged Gulls and four Common Sandpipers.

A flock of six waders seen flying over Harrington Airfield may have been Whimbrel and a Great White Egret and two Yellow-legged Gulls (one a juvenile) were at Pitsford Reservoir.

Sixteen Black-tailed Godwits flew in at Summer Leys LNR at about 6.30pm this evening and a Barn Owl was in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Juvenile Pied Wagtails.

Juvenile Grey Wagtail.

Juvenile Yellow Wagtail.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Humid wildlife


As forecast pretty unsettled today with some patchy and sometimes heavy showers but it remained warm and with little in the way of a breeze.

A probable Gull-billed Tern which flew through at Stanwick Pits would have been the summer's highlight had it stuck around - but sadly it flew SW at 7am and hasn't been re-located since. We still await our first confirmed county record of this species which remains quite a rare but annual roamer in the UK.

Summer Leys LNR provided a Wood Sandpiper this morning plus a Common Sandpiper and a Great White Egret with nearby Hardwater Lake harbouring another Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover.

A field ploughed to the west of Thrapston Pits attracted five Yellow-legged Gulls, three Common Gulls and twelve Red Kites late this morning.

There was little in the way of change at Pitsford Reservoir it seemed today with a Great White Egret north of the causeway, two Common Sandpipers on the causeway and a Wigeon and a Grey Wagtail in the Scaldwell Bay. A visit to the dam area this afternoon provided just two Yellow-legged Gulls.

At Harrington Airfield this morning there was a female-type Common Redstart in bushes next to the main concrete track just beyond the Shooting Wall plus a vocal Siskin. Just outside the county, two Hobbies were watching over a group of hirundines at South Kilworth this afternoon.

This evening there were three vocal Common Redstarts at Harrington Airfield - one just off the concrete track and singles in bushes next to Bunkers One and Two.


Neil M

Iceland Gull with Herring Gulls
courtesy of John Gamble.

Glaucous Gull with Lesser Black-backed Gull
courtesy of Dave Jackson.

Wood Sandpiper courtesy
of John Gamble.

Common Green Colonel Soldierfly
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Blue-eyed Hawker (or Southern
Migrant Hawker if you like) at
Finedon courtesy of Jim Dunkley,
a tricky dragonfly to catch up with
in the county.

Woodland Barklous courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Late July snapshot


A few other birds reported in the county yesterday (Sunday) included two Cattle Egrets on the Main Lake at Stanwick Pits and a Caspian Gull visible off the A5 on pools betwen Lilbourne and the DIRFT3 site.

Today (Monday) and a Garganey was present at Daventry Country Park and two Common Sandpipers were on the Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadow reserve. Over at Thrapston Pits Eric's wander around secured sightings of a Peregrine, four Ravens, a Green Sandpiper, an Oystercatcher and a Kingfisher. Warblers on-site included Cetti's Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

A mid morning yomp at Harrington Airfield confirmed the continued presence of at least two Common Redstarts in bushes on Bunker One (an adult female and a juvenile male), a sprinkling of juvenile Willow Warblers and butterflies included small numbers of Marbled Whites.

Bob's WeBS count at Clifford Hill Pits today included a Barnacle Goose, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Little Ringed Plover, two Oystercatchers and a Common Sandpiper.

Over the last couple of days there have been a freshly-fledged brood of Great Tits frequenting the garden which seems very late even for a second brood.

A Barn Owl was between Lamport and Old this evening.


Neil M

Lapwing courtesy of
John Tilly.

Turnstones courtesy of
John Tilly.

Hornet Hoverfly.

Large White.

Marbled White.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Cloudy and dull Sunday


Seemingly another quiet birding day in the county but a flock of five Common Scoters at Kinewell Lake, Ringstead Pits was a good find this morning - I'm sure there are not many records for this site. Two Yellow-legged Gulls and a Wigeon were subsequently noted here too.

Over at Lilbourne Meadows reserve there were two Common Redstarts working the hedgerows - one wonders how many of these birds pass through Northants every year. At this time many are adults which are staying for periods of time, choosing our hedgerows to undergo the moult process before they filter back to Africa.

Birds north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir today included two Great White Egrets, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Common Sandpiper. Over at Thrapston Pits there was a Great White Egret again plus a Green Sandpiper. Similar fare at Earls Barton Pits also with a Great White Egret and three Little Ringed Plovers feeding on Hardwater Lake.

A Grasshopper Warbler was singing in the north west arm of Sywell Country Park this afternoon.


Neil M

Adult Common Buzzard. For 
some weeks now many of
the local buzzards and
kites have been showing signs
of wing moult as they replace their
main flight feathers.

An evening photo of
the Brampton Valley below
Hanging Houghton with the
Cottesbrooke Estate woodlands
in the far distance.

Cormorant courtesy of
John Tilly.

Peacock butterfly courtesy
of Robin Gossage. A fresh
hatch of this distinctive 
butterfly is currently under way.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

A quiet birding day in the county


A wander up and around Harrington Airfield this morning was breezy but pleasant weather-wise. Two vocal Common Redstarts were in the bushes right on Bunker One with a pair of Grey Partridge nearby. There were quite a number of juvenile Willow Warblers in the bushes, not I suspect all locally bred.

This afternoon there were at least four Yellow-legged Gulls at the southern end of Pitsford Reservoir and two very distant juvenile gulls could have been this species too.


Neil M

An alternative way
to go birding maybe?

Small Skipper at
Pitsford Reservoir yesterday.

Common Tern at
Pitsford Reservoir yesterday.

Meadow Brown at 
Pitsford Reservoir yesterday.

Gatekeepers or Hedge Browns in cop
at Pitsford Reservoir yesterday.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Pitsford CBC and ringing


I completed the last Common Bird Census of the season on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir, and it proved to be a quiet affair. A few warblers were still singing but several were clearly using their energy feeding the next generation and I saw several Garden Warblers carrying food. At least six Little Egrets were on the reserve but another year goes by without us being able to confirm whether or not they breed on the reserve. There are still young Cormorants squeeking in the nests and they seem to have done very well.

A Crossbill was in one of the plantations at the juncture of the Walgrave and Holcot Bays, a Tawny Owl was day-hunting in Christies Copse, a Lesser Whitethroat was the first on the reserve since the spring (but they have a habit of breeding right under your nose) and the Gadwall numbers reached over four hundred. The very last of the Black-headed Gull chicks and the latter half of the Common Tern chicks have still yet to fledge off the rafts.

Butterflies noted included Marbled White and Small Copper (both in the Scaldwell Meadow section) and the odonata were absent for much of the walk and the range of species unremarkable when they did appear.

A little ringing around the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station yesterday evening and this morning provided forty-three captures which included six Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, two Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat and five Tree Sparrows.

A very industrious ringing session at Linford Lakes this morning caused 106 birds to be processed which included a whopping fifty Reed Warblers, nine Sedge Warblers, eight Garden Warblers, ten Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a juvenile Cetti's Warbler and a Sand Martin. One of the Reed Warblers bore a French ring and two more Reed Warblers were birds ringed elsewhere in the UK and had previously been controlled at Linford. Birds about included a Marsh Harrier and a Common Sandpiper.

Elsewhere and a Cattle Egret was seen at Stanwick Pits both yesterday and today, there was a Common Sandpiper at Clifford Hill Pits, and a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow-legged Gull at Thrapston Pits.

Over at Braunston four pairs of Spotted Flycatchers are being monitored and two of these pairs are attempting second broods. Steve found at least four Spotted Flycatchers at Lamport Hall today.

Painted Lady butterflies have been rather scarce so far this year and today singles were seen at Braunston and south of Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Sand Martin courtesy
of Kenny Cramer.

Sedge Warbler courtesy
of Kenny Cramer.

Juvenile Robin
courtesy of Lewis Aaron.

Gatekeeper or if you
prefer Hedge Brown
at Pitsford today.

The Vapourer moth
caterpillar at Pitsford today.

Small Copper at
Pitsford today.