Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Birds of early December


Birds at Pitsford Reservoir today included a Water Pipit at dawn which seemingly didn't linger, four Great White Egrets, a leucistic drake Red-crested Pochard, eight Pintail, a Green Sandpiper, three Snipe and three Kingfishers. Jacob estimated the dispersing roosts of corvids and counted 990 Rooks and an amazing 6,100 Jackdaws and a post roost dispersal of 3,000 Starlings from elsewhere which flew high over the reservoir.

Ringing on site provided eighty captures of small birds which included ten Tree Sparrows (a reserve conservation priority species) and a pleasantly surprising total of twenty-five Greenfinches which is quite a number by modern day standards. Nearby a Blackcap was seen in Scaldwell village and a small number of Golden Plovers remain at Harrington Airfield.

Down at Greens Norton Chris and team completed another ringing session which provided 74 captures with thirty Redwings and four Lesser Redpolls within the total. A Woodcock was seen on-site.

Deene Lake hosted over two hundred Teal today plus four pairs of Shelduck, a pair of Egyptian Geese and a pair of Black Swans.

The four Black-necked Grebes were seen again at Stanford Reservoir and a Green Sandpiper was noted at Ashton Water Treatment Works.


Neil M

Lesser Redpolls courtesy
of Chris Payne.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Ringing highlights


A cold night but then sunshine and blue skies for much of the day made it very pleasant to be out!

A ringing session at Harrington Airfield today was a modest affair with just 58 birds processed. Thrushes were the main impetus and we managed seven Fieldfares, two Blackbirds, nineteen Redwings and a Song Thrush. 

Smaller birds included two Reed Buntings, two Yellowhammers, ten Chaffinches, four Goldfinches and two Tree Sparrows. A first year male Sparrowhawk was a bonus! Another fifteen or so Chaffinches were released at the net due to their poor condition with the majority of them exhibiting diseased legs/feet.

Other birds on-site included a Woodcock, about sixty Golden Plovers, two coveys of Grey Partridges, a Raven and a male Brambling.

On Sunday a Corn Bunting was caught and ringed at a private site between Brigstock and Grafton Underwood.

Back to today and there was a Birdguides report of the Parrot Crossbill again at Wakerley Wood, south west of the car park early this afternoon with a small party of Crossbills. There were also four Black-necked Grebes at Stanford Reservoir both yesterday afternoon and again today with recent reports of the two Bearded Tits being present too with a drake Scaup there this afternoon.

At Clifford Hill Pits today there was a Great White Egret, six Goosanders and twenty-four Golden Plovers. Hollowell Reservoir continues to host the Great Northern Diver, a single Great White Egret, six Pink-footed Geese, a Caspian Gull, two Stonechats and a single Crossbill.

At Thrapston Pits today Eric notched up the five Great White Egrets, an Egyptian Goose and two Kingfishers but there was no sign of yesterday's scoters.


Neil M

First year male Sparrowhawk.



Blue Tit.
Above images courtesy
of Beth Clyne.

Corn Bunting courtesy
of Rich Goswell.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Dull and grey and new birds in


With some potential colder weather arriving at the end of the week, today was another mild, grey and damp affair.

Pitsford Reservoir today had a new flush of wildfowl with an influx of Shoveler and a few Pintail plus the usual three Great White Egrets, four Red-crested Pochards, two Yellow-legged Gulls, an adult Mediterranean Gull which roosted plus a Golden Plover, Raven and a pair of Stonechat.

A pair of Raven were at Hanging Houghton and Harrington Airfield continues to host good numbers of winter thrushes plus at least twenty-one Golden Plovers and a Grey Wagtail (ringing tomorrow restricts access to the bunkers and old airstrip).

Over at Thrapston Pits, Nick Parker located six female Common Scoters on Town Lake with a Black-tailed Godwit, two Dunlin and ca100 Golden Plovers at Stanwick Pits. The Great Northern Diver and six Pink-footed Geese were at Hollowell Reservoir again today and a Woodcock and two Bramblings were at Lamport Hall.


Neil M

Drake Shoveler.

Drake Pintail.

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Foggy Sunday


The fog and mist certainly made birding rather challenging today but it was okay for ringing.

Birds visible in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir this morning included a Great White Egret, two drake Red-crested Pochards, seven Pintail, a Woodcock, three Stonechats and a male Brambling.

Hollowell Reservoir was also suffering from poor visibility but Mark Piper managed to see the Great Northern Diver, two Great White Egrets, five Pink-footed Geese and three Stonechats.

At Summer Leys LNR there were two rather unseasonal Black-tailed Godwits plus fourteen Common Snipe. A Woodcock was seen flying along the A508 at Brixworth early this morning and up to a dozen Crossbills were seen at Wakerley Wood. A pair of Stonechats were seen at Wicksteed Water Meadows this afternoon.

Ringing efforts during Monday and Tuesday at Harrington Airfield this coming week will restrict access to the old airstrip and bunkers but the footpaths/concrete track will remain open.


Neil M

Female Stonechat.
Courtesy of Jacob Spinks.

Second year male
Sparrowhawk courtesy
of Eleanor McMahon.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Late November arrivals


A very grey and murky day but not really cold for the time of the year. Little birding opportunities for me today after completely filling the van full of bird food and re-organising the house and garage to cater for it!

Thankfully others managed some time out there and found some interesting birds many of which are lingerers and may well remain with us for much of the winter.

The Nene Valley was well-represented with a juvenile White-fronted Goose associating with Greylags at Stanwick Pits, two female Common Scoters and twenty Barnacle Geese at Clifford Hill Pits, a Great White Egret, two Goosanders and a Redshank at Earls Barton Pits (plus a spectacular Starling murmuration), a Great White Egret at Kinewell Lake, Ringstead Pits and five Great White Egrets, eight Little Egrets, a Green Sandpiper and two Chiffchaffs at Thrapston Pits.

Away from the valley and birds at Hollowell Reservoir today included the Great Northern Diver, seven Pink-footed Geese and eleven Crossbills with six Jack Snipe found at a field pond near Ravensthorpe. 

Birds at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon north of the causeway included three Great White Egrets, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Green Sandpiper, a Jack Snipe and a pair of Stonechats.


Neil M

Jack Snipe.

Green Sandpiper.

Woodcock. We are still awaiting
the main arrival of our wintering
population (probably due to the mild
conditions on the continent) but they
are on their way with recent arrivals on the
 east coast and with cold weather predicted
 more will follow...

Friday, 27 November 2020

Friday's offerings


A period of ringing at Kelmarsh Hall today provided 121 captures of fifteen species, the majority of them common tits. Amongst the lovely Blue Tits there was a single Marsh Tit, nine Coal Tits, three Nuthatches, two Treecreepers, a male Blackcap, a male Bullfinch, six Redwings, a Song Thrush and four Blackbirds. Other birds noted on-site included two Ravens, a Grey Wagtail, a Redpoll and in excess of twenty Siskins.

At Fineshade Wood today there were thirty Crossbills, six Redpolls and fifteen Siskins and a subsequent visit to Wakerley Wood eventually provided a view of the male Parrot Crossbill with twenty Crossbills just beyond the car park, all the birds feeding silently. Other flocks were encountered in a good walk around the complex and Stewart counted fifty-eight at one stage. A few each of Redpoll and Siskin were noted and the area adjacent to Harringworth Airfield seemed quiet today.

At Blatherwycke Lake there were three adult Whooper Swans, a Pink-footed Goose, two Egyptian Geese and at least thirty-six Mandarin Ducks plus a couple of Kingfishers. East Carlton Country Park this afternoon catered for six Bramblings around the beeches, two Crossbills, half a dozen Siskins and a couple of Redpolls. Harrington Airfield this afternoon provided two Ravens and a Redpoll.

The Great Northern Diver was still at Hollowell Reservoir today plus the Ruddy Shelduck and two Great White Egrets. Single Great White Egrets were reported at Stanford Reservoir and Stanwick Pits.

I have started to use a new mobile phone today (same number) and I'm conscious that not all the comms data has transferred successfully so my apologies if you have contacted me today and I haven't responded!


Neil M

Whooper Swan.

Pink-footed Goose.

Drake Mandarin Duck.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Frosty Thursday


A cold and frosty morning followed our coolest night this autumn as we rapidly approach winter.

Pitsford Reservoir today provided views of up to four Great White Egrets, three Little Egrets, a drake Red-crested Pochard, a Pintail, two Stonechats and two Kingfishers. A Short-eared Owl remained aerial for an hour attracting plenty of birds prepared to mob it including one of the Great White Egrets!

Hollowell Reservoir continues to attract good birds with the Great Northern Diver still present, a Ruddy Shelduck, two Great White Egrets, six Pink-footed Geese and six Crossbills.

Single Great White Egrets were also seen at Summer Leys LNR and on Otter Lakes on the Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows reserve.

An 'asio owl' sp was flushed from bushes between Harrington Airfield and the Brampton Valley Way this morning and there were still a few Bramblings on the old airstrip section of the airfield. A Raven and Siskins were heard calling at Kelmarsh Hall this afternoon.


Neil M

Short-eared Owl.

Male Siskin.

Red-legged Partridge.


All images courtesy of
Robin Gossage.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Not much to report


Very few reports of birds in the county today in rather wet, miserable conditions.

Three Great White Egrets and four drake Red-crested Pochards were still present north of the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir today, three or four Bramblings were in one of the ringing rides at Harrington Airfield and two Stonechats and a Grey Wagtail were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Sunset pictures from 
Sywell two evenings ago
courtesy of Jim Dunkley.

Atmospheric image courtesy
of John Hunt.


Lapland Bunting - the bird
to find in Northamptonshire
at this time of the year...

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Pitsford WeBS count


The Pitsford Reservoir WeBS count was completed today in mild and sunny conditions. Three Great White Egrets were using all three bays north of the causeway, three Little Egrets were in the Scaldwell Bay, four drake Red-crested Pochards (one leucistic) were also in the Scaldwell Bay and other birds included three Pintail, forty-eight Common Snipe, a Green Sandpiper and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. 

Finches included a flying Crossbill, a Brambling at the main feeding station and at least fifteen Redpolls. Other small birds included two Grey Wagtails, two pairs of Stonechats and five Chiffchaffs. A couple of Kingfishers were about as were 4-6 Ravens and two Water Rails were heard calling.

The gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir is very small these days but the roost at Boddington Reservoir this afternoon included a Caspian Gull, eleven Yellow-legged Gulls and estimates of 2000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2500 Black-headed Gulls and many Common and Herring Gulls.

Two Stonechats were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning and approximately fifty Crossbills remain at Wakerley Wood, mostly around the car park area.

Birds at Hollowell Reservoir today included the Great Northern Diver still, a Caspian Gull (some of the recent photos of a reported Caspian Gull there depict a Yellow-legged Gull), six Pink-footed Geese and a Crossbill.


Neil M

Great White Egret.


Monday, 23 November 2020

November birding and ringing


Yesterday Jim Dunkley saw a Short-eared Owl in a field edge on the Holcot Road, Sywell and a Grey Wagtail was in Sywell village.

Following a cold night and frosty morning, Hollowell Reservoir was the choice of venue for three observers today and between them they notched up the Great Northern Diver, five Pink-footed Geese, a Jack Snipe, two Great White Egrets, a male Crossbill and a pair of Stonechat.

Bob Bullock saw a pair of Red-crested Pochard at Clifford Hill Pits plus twenty Barnacle Geese (four colour-ringed birds). A female Stonechat was at Ditchford Meadows reserve today and two Crossbills and a Brambling were at Lamport Hall this afternoon.

Geoff Douglas watched several large flocks of migrating Woodpigeons over Barton Seagrave this morning.

At Harrington Airfield this morning a stint of visible migration by Jacob and Bethan provided totals of 1115 Woodpigeons, 610 Starlings, 32 Herring Gulls, 6 Siskins and a Grey Wagtail all going south-west. Whilst scanning they also saw about two hundred Golden Plovers and two different male Peregrines and other observations included a Snipe and two roving Crossbills. Ringing there provided sixty-three thrush captures made up of four Blackbirds, eleven Fieldfares and forty-eight Redwings.

A female Blackcap has been visiting a garden in Hanging Houghton recently and this afternoon we felt privileged to see a male in our garden - both birds have been feeding on apple.

An excellent two day ringing session at Linford Lakes provided 146 birds of 19 species, 125 of which were new. Probably the rarest bird was an apparent Siberian Chiffchaff among eight Chiffchaffs caught and ringed. Thrushes were well represented with a Fieldfare, seven Blackbirds, three Song Thrushes and fifty-five Redwings. Other notable birds included captures of a Meadow Pipit, a Reed Bunting, a Lesser Redpoll, two Goldfinches, six Goldcrests, a Treecreeper, a Cetti's Warbler and two Moorhens. A re-trap Robin was at least five years old.

'Bob' another Robin watched over proceedings landing on the ringers, the table and almost everything else - he clearly knew that Kenny had some mealworms on offer (and yes he was provided some at the end of the session)!

Other birds seen included a Great White Egrets and four Goosanders with a Peacock butterfly on the wing yesterday.


Neil M

The Hollowell Reservoir
Great Northern Diver courtesy
of Jim Dunkley.

Grey Wagtail courtesy
of Jim Dunkley.

Apparent Siberian Chiffchaff
courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

Fieldfare courtesy of
Kenny Cramer.

'Bob' the Robin in 
action, supervising affairs!
Courtesy of Kenny Cramer.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Sunny Sunday


A lovely day with mild temperatures (at least until nightfall) and sunshine felt unseasonal with even bumblebees and butterflies on the wing.

First thing this morning and Steve Fisher watched a female Merlin pursuing a Redwing at Stanwick Pits - other birds included two Great White Egrets, a Peregrine and a Brambling.

Jim Dunkley saw the Great Northern Diver off the dam at Hollowell Reservoir today and over thirty Crossbills were still at Wakerley Wood today but the Parrot Crossbill wasn't reported.

Andrew Tyrrell noted thirteen Golden Plovers at the Nene Barrage plus a Little Egret and a Peregrine and four Brambling were ringed just east of Braunston this morning. John Friendship-Taylor located eight Crossbills and a Brambling down at Bucknell Wood in the south of the county.

Four Stonechats were in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and a Raven and a Chiffchaff were near New Covert on the Kelmarsh Estate. Visible migration over Scaldwell village included a Brambling, six Redpolls, three Siskins and eight Tree Sparrows all going south.


Neil M

Juvenile Great Northern Diver.

Brambling courtesy of
John Tilly.

Merlin courtesy of
John Gamble.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Dry and mild out there


Congratulations to Ian Moore who managed to pin down the male Parrot Crossbill this morning at Wakerley Wood. The bird was with thirty or more Common Crossbills in larches near to the main car park.

Three Great White Egrets were at Summer Leys LNR this morning and the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford Reservoir retained a Great White Egret, three Red-crested Pochards, two Green Sandpipers, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a male Stonechat.

Eric's efforts at Thrapston Pits today yielded four Great White Egrets around Aldwincle Lake, a Chiffchaff was in the heronry and Stonechats were still present along the Harpers Brook fence line.

For me it was a day of feed stations. ringing ride maintenance and fixing things, very much taking advantage of the very mild and dry conditions. At Brixworth there was a small flock of Siskins, a Raven, a Water Rail, three Snipe, two Grey Wagtails and a Cetti's Warbler. At Kelmarsh Hall the Fieldfares were eyeing up the fallen apples in the Wilderness Orchard and a small flock of Siskins were drinking and bathing next to the upper reaches of the River Ise.

There will be bird ringing being undertaken at Harrington Airfield tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday and the area around the Bunkers alongside the old airstrip will have restricted access (the concrete track and footpath is unaffected).


Neil M

Male Siskin.

Male Stonechat.

Meadow Pipit.