Monday, 30 November 2015

A day of calm would be nice...!


Birds noted at Pitsford Reservoir north of the causeway this morning included a Great White Egret, a Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, four Red-crested Pochard and three Shelduck. Four Bramblings were at Hanging Houghton first thing.

The Great White Egret was still at Ravensthorpe Reservoir early this afternoon, showing well on the small side from the causeway.

Goldfinches are not the only small finches attracted to sunflower hearts and niger seed; Siskins and Redpolls also enjoy the feast as illustrated by the below male Lesser Redpoll photographed at a feeder a couple of days ago by Cathy Ryden.


Neil M

Bird Club meeting on Wednesday


This is an invitation to non-members and a reminder to members that the next indoor meeting of the Northants Bird Club is this coming Wednesday (2nd December) starting at 7.30pm. As usual the venue will be the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir which is found off the Brixworth Road just outside the village of Holcot north of Northampton (post code NN6 9SJ). Parking is possible close to the lodge with overflow facilities at the bottom of the track next to the boats or on the causeway itself.

This month our speaker is our very own charismatic chairman Mr Bob Gill! A man of few words but those that he does utter are pretty spicy, Bob hopes to entertain us with a digital presentation of wildlife from Spain. In the main the images will be from the trip earlier this year with other Bird Club colleagues.

As usual hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening and of course it is an opportunity for a natter and meet fellow wildlife enthusiasts.

I very much hope to see you there!

Neil M

courtesy of Robin Gossage

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Wet and wild!


More wild bird feeding station maintenance today with Marsh Tits greeting me with their distinctive calls at two sites on the Kelmarsh Estate. Well it might have been a greeting but perhaps they were just being impatient whilst I was filling up the feeders and were swearing at me! In any event they are always one of the first birds to the feeders and I find their mixture of calls particularly cheery. Plenty of other birds coming to the feeders too despite the mild and wild weather conditions.

Kelmarsh Hall hosted a Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail and about 25 Siskins around the niger feeders.

Eleanor was over at Staverton again today and the two Ravens remained.

This afternoon was very blustery up at Harrington Airfield but it didn't stop swirling flocks of Starlings, Redwings and Fieldfares feeding off the berry bushes and wet fields. Not surprisingly a female Sparrowhawk was in close attendance.

I finished the day checking through the gulls by the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir but the only bird of note was an adult Caspian Gull that appeared to be the same bird as yesterday afternoon...


Neil M

Recent images of a Short-eared Owl
at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell courtesy
of Simon Wantling.

More of Simon's work can be found
at http//

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Creatures of the water...


Jim Dunkley's persistence paid off yesterday with a further visit to Market Harborough in an effort to see the Otters in the River Welland there. He struck gold with a fabulous animal that was fast-moving but still photogenic. Please see images below...

In the sometimes gloom of diminishing wildlife, it is wonderful to see that some creatures are able to take advantage of the unnatural world that we have created and there can be few things as uplifting as a lively, gorgeous 'charm' of Goldfinches. Sunflower hearts and niger seed tends to be the suspended food that brings them to garden feeders as suitably illustrated by Cathy Ryden (below). Like most creatures though aggression plays it's part, and the image shows a typical display of volatile interaction as they argue for the best perching post.

This morning I undertook another birding boat safari for the Wildlife Trust at Grafham Water, and we located good numbers of wildfowl which included three adult Bewick's Swans, Pintail, lots of Goldeneye and a group of five Goosanders. Three or four Kingfishers were noisy and the Little Egret count reached thirty or so.

Eleanor noticed a couple of Ravens at Staverton today and called in at Ravensthorpe Reservoir causeway and saw the Great White Egret and a Green Sandpiper.

Birds noted elsewhere included a single Brambling at Hanging Houghton and this afternoon Pitsford Reservoir provided a Great White Egret in the Holcot Bay, at least seven Little Egrets, two Shelduck were in the Scaldwell Bay and an adult Caspian Gull was present in the gull roost.


Neil M

Courtesy of Jim Dunkley


Courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Day out in Norfolk


A day out on the North Norfolk coast today started with a three hour excursion at Snettisham. Right from the word go hundreds of Starlings and Fieldfares were flying past us heading in to a strong south-westerly wind, most of them at very low level and presumably in off the sea further to the north. Four Waxwings went past with one flock of Starlings.

High tide was at dawn and we witnessed thousands of waders on the edge of the ebbing tide, Golden Plover, Knot and Oystercatcher being the most common. Also thousands of Pink-footed Geese flew from the flats and shallows to inland fields and six species of raptor included a fine juvenile male Pallid Harrier plus Hen Harriers, Marsh Harriers and a female Merlin.

Other birds included Stonechat, Common Scoter, a flock of Whooper Swans, Brent Goose, Pintail and a Spoonbill.

Inland from Brancaster we looked for a Rough-legged Buzzard reported the day before but there was no sign. Sugar Beet harvesting attracted Black-headed and Common Gulls and nearby additional raptors included Peregrine and Red Kite bringing our raptor species total to nine for the day.

We spent the last couple of hours at Titchwell where the highlights were a stunning adult male Hen Harrier, a drake Long-tailed Duck, plenty of common waders, lots of Marsh Harriers, Water Rail, three Red-crested Pochard, a Water Pipit and more flocks of Brent and Pink-footed Geese.


Neil M

Distant shots of
a Pallid Harrier


Sugar Beet harvesting

Thursday, 26 November 2015

No birding today!


No time for any birding today but Chris Payne managed a short ringing session in his Greens Norton garden today resulting in 46 birds being assessed, 20 of which were Goldfinches. In addition he caught a smart male Lesser Redpoll (please see image below). The Sparrowhawk from yesterday has since been identified as a bird ringed locally as a nestling in 2010...

A couple of images from Robin Gossage too following an excursion to Harrington Airfield...


Neil M

Male Lesser Redpoll

Courtesy of Chris Payne


Pied Wagtail

Both above courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Autumn to winter


Nice weather locally today, just a shame the days are so short!

A quick wander at Harrington Airfield this morning was sufficient to see plenty of thrushes on the scrubby areas and large numbers of Fieldfares moving over. A day-flying Barn Owl was clearly injured and struggling which was sad. A flock of about 63 Golden Plovers completed a circuit or two of the complex and one or two redpoll sp were also flying around.

Feed station maintenance ensured I visited a number of places today and birds noted included a Grey Wagtail at Brixworth and a Willow Tit at Scotland Wood.

A visit to Ravensthorpe Reservoir, once a very regular place for me to visit, was enjoyable this afternoon and provided views of a Great White Egret, a Green Sandpiper, a Grey Wagtail and a redpoll sp.

Local birder and conservationist Ian Dobson today reports a gathering and murmuration of some 2,000 Starlings at Fawsley Park, which in turn attracted 2-3 hunting Peregrines.

Local ringer Chris Payne captured a male Sparrowhawk in his garden today already bearing a ring. We await news of when and where this bird was initially ringed...


Neil M

Male Sparrowhawk
Courtesy of Chris Payne.

In memory of Graham Soden


All the below-listed items have been donated to the Northants Bird Club by the late Graham Soden.

The NBC committee are seeking to sell these items in order to raise funds for a celebratory shield in Graham's name, 

This shield will be engraved with the Northants Bird Club emblem as well as his name and is to be presented to the photographer whose image is deemed the best overall by Bird Club members during the course of the club's annual photographic competition.

It is planned for all winners to have their name engraved.

Should you be interested in purchasing the listed items please make email contact with committee member Robin Gossage on

In addition Graham donated a selection of books and Robin will bring these to Bird Club evenings where it is hoped members will purchase those they wish to own.

The photographic/ optical equipment for sale consists of:-





Neil M

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bits and pieces


Yesterday John Gamble saw a flock of ten Goosanders on Abington Park Lake, Northampton and managed an image of a fine drake (please see below).

Jim Dunkley has been experimenting with garden feeders in an endeavour to try and outwit the acrobatic and persistent Grey Squirrel. Errrr I think the pictures indicate it might be back to the drawing board Jim...!

Following Eleanor's previous photos of the Vulcan, Jim decided to go one better and went to see the largest plane in the world - the Antonov AN225. Back to birds and Jim welcomed back a Green Woodpecker to his garden today...

And to finish, a pair of Red Foxes as portrayed by Robin Gossage enjoying the winter sun...


Neil M

Drake Goosander
Courtesy of John Gamble

Grey Squirrel lunch-time
Courtesy of Jim Dunkley

Antonov AN225
Courtesy of Jim Dunkley

Green Woodpecker
Courtesy of Jim Dunkley

Red Foxes
Courtesy of Robin Gossage

Monday, 23 November 2015

More county ringing...


Chris Payne was ringing in his Greens Norton garden in South Northamptonshire today and caught nearly fifty birds, the majority being Goldfinches. One of these was already bearing a ring from elsewhere (control). He also caught a Nuthatch which was a garden first and a House Sparrow which is also a scarce visitor. A male Blackcap was feeding on apples there.

Some more bird ringing at Pitsford Reservoir over the last two days provided 73 captures which included 46 new birds. Fourteen Dunnocks reflected a good breeding year and other birds of 17 species included 9 Tree Sparrows, 8 Yellowhammers, 6 Starlings, 5 Reed Buntings, 3 Song Thrushes, 3 Snipe, 2 Redwings, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Goldcrest, a Pied Wagtail and a House Sparrow.

We didn't really have time to commit to any birding there but at least one Great White Egret was present today and a drake Smew was picked out in the Scaldwell Bay.

Birds visible at Blueberry Farm, Maidwell this afternoon included a Barn Owl, fifteen Red Kites and eight Stonechats (Short-eared Owl reported).


Neil M

Common Snipe. The upper
bird was considered to be an
adult, the lower bird a bird
hatched this year.
Images courtesy of Neil Hasdell.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Local Bird Ringing


November has been a difficult month for local bird ringers as the weather has compromised most planned efforts, so it wasn't surprising to see a great deal of local ringing going on today in colder but more stable weather conditions...

Nick Wood was operating at Chase Park Farm near Yardley Hastings this morning, catching 65 birds of which 16 were re-traps from previous efforts. Highlights included a fine Sparrowhawk (please see image below), a Goldcrest, a Bullfinch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and plenty of common woodland birds of ten species.

Kenny Cramer was presiding at Linford Lakes on the outskirts of Milton Keynes where 113 birds of 16 species found the nets. There was a high proportion of re-traps (72) which is indicative of the on-going efforts on-site. Scarcer birds included 15 new Siskins, a control Lesser Redpoll, 5 Song Thrushes, 3 Redwings, a Treecreeper and a Chiffchaff.

At Stortons Gravel Pits John Woollett and team caught 109 birds also of 16 species of which 65 were new birds. This catch included 18 Reed Buntings, 8 Chaffinches, 14 Greenfinches, 5 Robins, 5 Blackbirds, 4 Redwings, 2 Bullfinches, a Lesser Redpoll, 3 Goldcrests and 3 Cetti's Warblers.

Finally a small band of ringers operated at Kelmarsh Hall resulting in 109 captures of 14 species of which 76 were new birds. Tits made up the majority of the birds but the total also included a Treecreeper, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Nuthatch, 4 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, 5 Bullfinches and a control Great Tit.

Other birds noted at Kelmarsh Hall included a dozen Siskins, a Brambling, about half a dozen redpoll sp and a Grey Wagtail.


Neil M

Sparrowhawk at Chase Park Farm,
courtesy of Nick Wood

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Windy and cold...


My apologies but I forgot to mention a few birds for Pitsford Reservoir yesterday, namely the Ruddy Shelduck, the Shelduck and two Ravens all north of the causeway.

A couple of visits to Blueberry Farm, Maidwell by Eleanor today provided a list of two Short-eared Owls, a particularly pale Barn Owl, ten Stonechats, plenty of Red Kites and good numbers of Fieldfares. Another Barn Owl was showing this afternoon in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.

Very windy conditions from the north was probably the reason for an influx of common thrushes at Harrington Airfield this morning and about 25 Golden Plovers were present too.

Bits and pieces today included single Chiffchaffs at Brixworth Sewer Works and Pitsford Reservoir with the Redshank still off the causeway at the latter site and a Kingfisher at the Sailing Club.

I spent much of the day filling feeders at eight feeding stations, the plummeting temperatures causing the birds to respond by visiting the feeders in good numbers.

Two new birdwatching hides constructed on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir have now been completed. One replaces the Bird Club hide in the Scaldwell Bay and the other replaces the main hide in the Walgrave Bay. Both to my mind have been built to a high standard with hinged and glazed viewing ports and movable benches to cater for all heights and optical equipment.


Neil M

Little Egret

Great White Egret

Grey Heron and Great White Egret

All images taken yesterday by Robin Gossage
on the reserve at Pitsford Reservoir

Friday, 20 November 2015

Pitsford WeBS count...


Much of today was spent completing the monthly WeBS count of waterbirds at Pitsford Reservoir in pleasant weather conditions. Two Great White Egrets remain (Walgrave Bay) and there were up to twenty Little Egrets present too. Waders included two Golden Plover, a Redshank, four Green Sandpipers, forty-eight Snipe and a Jack Snipe. Waterfowl were not present in large numbers, with scarcer birds being just six Pintail and thirteen Red-crested Pochard (all present north of the causeway). A juvenile female Peregrine was active around the reserve section first thing and passerines included a Grey Wagtail and just a few each of Brambling, redpoll sp and Siskin.

Nearby, Brixworth Country Park attracted a Crossbill, fifteen Siskins, three Bramblings and six Lesser Redpolls.

Eleanor visited Blueberry Farm near Maidwell twice today and noted a male Peregrine, two Short-eared Owls, a Barn Owl, ten Stonechats and more mobile Bramblings, redpoll sp and Siskins. A small flock of five Pink-footed Geese flew low over Blueberry Farm in to the Brampton Valley and on towards Pitsford Res (but were not seen there) at about 8.20am.


Neil M

Little Egret

Grey Heron

Mute Swans hunkering down
before a squall

Common Buzzard

All images taken today at Pitsford
Reservoir by Robin Gossage.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Quiet day


Not much to report today due to a variety of commitments but Eleanor saw a pair of Stonechat still in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and at 12.05pm I happened to be at Riverside Retail Park off the A45 on the outskirts of Northampton when four vocal Ring-necked Parakeets decided to fly around!


Neil M

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Crooked Spire 0 Birders 2


A fourth visit to Chesterfield this morning finally provided us with an opportunity of seeing the vagrant Crag Martin. This astute bird appears to be using the football stadium in the town as it's home base, and with the strong winds and inclement conditions recently it can clearly choose which of the four stands is the most protected. We also saw it briefly around the Crooked Spire of the St Mary's and All Saints church in the centre of this well-maintained town.

Back in the county and a quick look around the Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir provided views of just a single Ruddy Shelduck. Eleanor spent some time around the Blueberry Farm area again today and saw just one Short-eared Owl...


Neil M

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Blustery Blueberry Birding

Today most of my birding has been around Blueberry Farm area. 
This morning I was constantly wiping my binoculars due to the heavy drizzle and I did get pretty wet, but the weather did not deter the birds.  There were literally hundreds and hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwings chattering in the hedgerows or feeding on the soggy fields. Certainly no shortage of food for them. I wasn't at all surprised when a male Peregrine put in an appearance, his presence causing panic and chaos. He didn't have a thrush for breakfast but instead a Skylark which he pursued and caught.

About an hour later as I was scanning from the shelter of a hedge I saw a female Merlin who also was in "hunting" mode and she flushed up quite a few passerines from the grass but I didn't see her catch anything. 

On my walk back I caught a very slight movement in a hedgerow and came face to face with two pairs of eyes looking at me, two Short-eared Owls. I think that they were sheltering from the weather and rather reluctantly they flew across the field [ southern most field] and sat in the hedgerow I had just walked along.  I suspect that these are very recent arrivals as I have been checking this area regularly. Other birds of note were 2 pairs of Stonechat, 2 Grey Partridge and a Barn Owl.

The larger raptors were absent this morning, not a single Kite or Buzzard.  However this afternoon it was quite a different story. It was extremely blustery with grey skies and some amazing cloud formations. At times the skies looked quite eerie and more akin to what you expect in a horror movie. Then I became aware of "shapes" twisting and turning and hanging in the air......Red Kites. The kites were flying straight into the wind and as such were seemingly being tossed about in slow motion. In the space of 30 minutes I counted a staggering 30+ Red Kites all following the same path. It really was an incredible sight and I just wish that I could have captured the atmosphere. It certainly was an exceptional sight.

They weren't the only ones being tossed about as the two Short- eared Owls were literally being blown about all over the place so I wouldn't like to say where they ended up.

Watch this space tomorrow for the latest scoreline in the Crag Martin versus birders match !!!!!!!

Regards Eleanor

Monday, 16 November 2015

Crooked Spire 3 Birders 0 !


Yes another visitation to Chesterfield this morning and no we didn't see the Crag Martin again! It was seen on three occasions during the day but sadly not when we were there or where we were! A fly-over Marsh Harrier was unexpected. Do we give up or try a fourth time? Only time will tell...

Sarah Gibbs saw three unidentified 'wild' swans at Pitsford Reservoir today as visible from the new Walgrave Hide and John Woollett caught and ringed a female Blackcap at Astcote today which weighed a heavy 20.1g. The mild conditions seems to be invoking passerines to sing with regular bursts of song from Wren, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush and even Blackbird during the last week or so.

Eleanor saw a Barn Owl in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this morning and an adult male Peregrine and two Little Owls there this afternoon. Two Chiffchaffs were present at Spring Pond alongside the Brampton Valley Way below Brixworth as were 6+ Siskins and 2 Ravens.

Eleanor also paid the River Welland at Market Harborough some attention today in case the Otters were on show. No Otters were seen but 2-3 Grey Wagtails and 2 Kingfishers were easy to see.


Neil M

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Ditchford WeBS count


A very breezy but incredibly mild weather pattern today as we completed the Ditchford GP WeBS count. Not that many birds about, the highlights being a Great White Egret on a small pit west of Ditchford Lane, at least eight Egyptian Geese on fields near there, 6 Kingfishers, 4 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Water Rails, 3 Grey Wagtails and just a few Siskin and redpoll sp. 

It seems that storm-driven birds are mostly to the south and west of the Midlands but it will be interesting to see if an ocean-going bird turns up in Northants during the next couple of days...

A brief scan from the causeway at Pitsford Reservoir this afternoon was sufficient to note a single Great White Egret on the reserve plus half a dozen Little Egrets and the very long-staying Shelduck. There was a pre-roost gathering of 75 Cormorants and the large corvid roost was looking and sounding lively!


Neil M

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Grafham Boat Birds


A boat safari trip at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire this morning was a little different and we managed to complete it before any heavy rain or high wind hit. Good numbers of common wildfowl were inevitably present with Tufted Duck, Coot and Mallard being the most common. Two Pintail, small numbers of Shoveler and a couple of flocks of Goldeneye provided some variety. There were particularly large numbers of Little Egret, one of which was watched consuming small Zander one after another. A Kingfisher, a Green Sandpiper and a flock of ten Redshank were located near to the Mander car park.

Back in the county this afternoon and some feed station maintenance in the lovely rain. It was good to see that the local Marsh Tits had found the Kelmarsh Estate feeders, joining numbers of Blue, Great and Coal Tits. By next week the Nuthatches, Long-tailed Tits, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and finches should be feeding regularly ahead of some early winter cold weather.


Neil M

Friday, 13 November 2015

Crooked Spire 2 Birders 0


Out of the blue the Crag Martin reappeared at the Crooked Spire in Chesterfield town centre (Derbyshire) today, which caused a car-load of Northants birders to head up north along the M1! Typically this rock-loving hirundine had disappeared again by the time we arrived at 3pm. We watched the light disappear rapidly in the vain hope that it may show but to no avail! The much cooler air and lack of insects and the wet weather of the week-end causes me concern for it's welfare, albeit the Crag Martin is probably one of the hardier of the swallow family. Will it be third time lucky?


Neil M

Images of Crag Martin
taken in Georgia earlier
this year. A chunky brown
martin with creamy underparts
blackish auxiliaries and pale
tail spots. The typical habitat
is rock-dominated and they
particularly like gorges, rock-
strewn upland valleys and low
mountains. The eastern population
is at least partly migratory but many
birds in the west will endeavour to
winter north of the Mediterranean Sea.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pitsford ringing


The last ringing session in the Scaldwell Bay at Pitsford this year was completed by Dave Francis and Neil Hasdell, taking down the Constant Effort nets as they worked. This provided 51 captures which included 6 Redwings, 5 Goldcrests, 2 Treecreepers, a Willow Tit, a Song Thrush, a Pied Wagtail and a Moorhen.

Most ringing sessions at Pitsford for the winter will concentrate on the Old Scaldwell Road Feeding Station with the occasional foray in the Walgrave Bay around Christies Copse and hopefully a couple of other efforts trying for Snipe and similar wintering and passage birds. Please let me know if you would like to come along and watch proceedings or would like to become more involved in the discipline of wild bird ringing.


Neil M

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Crooked Spire 1 Birders 0


A trip to Chesterfield in Derbyshire early this morning to see a lingering Crag Martin ended in failure! It seems that the bird was sharing the famous crooked spire with a pair of Peregrine and a Kestrel and there was no sign of it today. Oh well whilst we were looking up we saw a couple of Grey Wagtails, views of Sparrowhawk and a couple of large skeins of Pink-footed Geese presumably en-route to Norfolk from Lancashire.

Back in the county by lunchtime, some feed station maintenance was called for and then some scrub clearance at Kelmarsh Hall where birds of interest included c25 Siskins and a Kingfisher. Wagtail numbers at Brixworth Sewer Works included c30 Pieds and a couple of Greys and the Magpie flock was also about thirty birds. Scanning the gull roost at Pitsford Reservoir yielded an adult Mediterranean Gull.


Neil M

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Summer in November !!!!

I wore a T shirt today what you might ask ? I cannot recall the last time that I went out walking across the fields during the middle of November without my fleece. 
I was not alone in enjoying the unexpected warmth as there were numerous Red Admiral butterflies flitting about along the hedgerows looking splendid in the sunshine . There were  many other winged insects about providing a welcome food source for the birds.
The hedgerows laden with their fruit are a magnet for huge numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings as they are busy gorging themselves. This afternoon I felt as if I was caught in a blizzard of birds as these Fieldfares decided to fly out of the hedgerows and onto the soggy fields to feed on the worms etc.  At times I could have reached out and touched these birds and their chattering was quite deafening.
Birds seen below Hanging Houghton today included a pair of Stonechat, Barn Owl and a Short Eared Owl following the ditch along.
Now that the Vulcan has come to the end of her flying life and the Blades put away in their hangar for the winter the skies are pretty empty and quiet. However today I heard the very distinctive low thumping noise of the Chinook helicopter and infact they came right over my head on three occassions . Firstly they literally came over the garden then twice over the valley below Hanging Houghton.  They were low and I felt compelled to wave at them whilst the dogs just looked, one of them would have liked to have given chase !!!. Goodness only knows what the crew thought to me and my woofs .

Regards Eleanor 

Grafham Water Guided Boat Trips

Opticron will also be demonstrating various
optics at this event and there is an opportunity
of trying them out in the field...

However, if you fancy a boat trip be warned because
I'm one of the boat guides!
Neil M

Monday, 9 November 2015

Blueberry Farm


Eleanor spent two periods in the Blueberry Farm area today, the morning session concentrating on the southern-end providing a male Peregrine, a Barn Owl, 6 Stonechats and 25+ overflying Golden Plovers.

The afternoon period was spent in Hill Field and the most northerly fields and birds noted included a female Merlin, two pairs of Stonechat (total of ten for the day), 2 redpoll sp, 10 Siskins and a Barn Owl.


Neil M

Sunday, 8 November 2015

November birding


A ringing session took place at Stortons GP this morning under John Woollett's leadership and birds caught included a juvenile male Sparrowhawk (please see below).

Some ringing at a garden in Scaldwell village this morning provided 34 captures of common birds which included a Lesser Redpoll and three Goldcrests. A significant passage of winter thrushes and a variety of finches over the village included a Crossbill at 10.10am, a Brambling, six Siskins and about another 15 redpoll sp.

A pair of Stonechat remain in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton and another three were still present in the southern-most field of the Blueberry Farm complex.

A regular flock of Red Kites has been consistently present around the fields west of this seta-side area for the last couple of weeks, taking advantage of the winds and air currents lifting them above the escarpment and allowing them to pick of invertebrates in the fields below. This afternoon the flock was at an all-time high of thirty birds, far and beyond anything I have seen in this part of Northamptonshire.


Neil M

Juvenile male Sparrowhawk.

Images courtesy of John Boland.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Quiet Day!


Eleanor was over at Staverton again today and saw two of the local Ravens. A visit to Daventry Country Park yielded two Green Sandpipers and the feeders there attracted a couple of Nuthatch and half a dozen Siskins. Half a dozen Lesser Redpolls were in nearby trees. Two Green Sandpipers were also on show at Ravensthorpe Reservoir, visible from the causeway.

I spent some time in the Kelmarsh Estate woodlands today but only noted a few Siskins. And I'm afraid the Pitsford Reservoir gull roost was unspectacular with no gulls of note seen...

Oh well there is always tomorrow!


Neil M

Friday, 6 November 2015

Soggy Sywell

Another day of wet dog walking !!
A pair of Stonechat remain below Hanging Houghton but the surrounding fields and hedgerows appeared very quiet.
I walked around Sywell Reservoir this afternoon. It was such a pity that it was raining as it detracted from the beautiful Autumn colours and the fallen leaves were simply a soggy mess. However the dull day was brightened up by the sight and sound of at least 80+ Siskins. Such gorgeous little birds and always so happy.
Other birds in the wooded areas were several noisy Jay's, 6+ Lesser Redpoll, 2+ Brambling and plenty of Goldfinches.
Two Water Rails were making all sorts of high pitched squeals as they chatted to each other and at times popped out from the cover of the reeds. 
I nearly over looked a pair of Red Crested Pochard which were sitting among the Wigeon and blended in very well.
My surprise find was a Jack Snipe, found accidently as I went to retrieve the ball which the dog had lost !!
Other birds present included Tawny Owl, Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtail and a flock of 50+ Skylark on the nearby fields.

Regards Eleanor

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Harrington in the rain


This morning's rain ensured that no ringing took place at Harrington Airfield. Birds present included a vocal Water Pipit over there heading south at 8.05am and a mobile Short-eared Owl. Only small numbers of Golden Plover were present and the thrush numbers were unspectacular, both perhaps because of the mild weather. A few Siskins and redpoll sp joined the Linnet and Goldfinch flocks briefly.

Eleanor espied two Ravens near Walgrave this afternoon.


Neil M

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Less fog, more birds...


A second morning ringing at Harrington Airfield today was more productive than yesterday with 45 birds caught and assessed. Eight thrushes were made up of four Redwings, two Song Thrushes, a Blackbird and a handsome Fieldfare. Smaller birds included two more diminutive Goldcrests, four Reed Buntings and eight Yellowhammers plus a couple of Chaffinches and eight Goldfinches. Three re-trap (birds ringed previously at this location) Green Woodpeckers provided more colour, this area being a focal site for local birds.

Other birds noted at Harrington Airfield today included a Raven, a Chiffchaff, six Bramblings and a couple each of Siskin and redpoll sp plus a flock of up to seventy Linnets.

Eleanor saw a Barn Owl and a pair of Stonechat in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton this afternoon.


Neil M

Monday, 2 November 2015



Foggy all day today which prevented much in the way of birding, but local ringers were active in the murk...

Chris Payne ringed birds in his garden at Greens Norton and caught an impressive 84 birds which included a superb total of 46 Goldfinches. Other birds included 3 Coal Tits, 9 Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest and 2 Collared Doves.

In the meantime Neil Hasdell and I checked nets at Harrington Airfield which were surprisingly quiet with just 30 birds caught and processed. These included migrants in the shapes of 4 Redwings, a Song Thrush and a likely continental Blackbird. Other birds included a Magpie, 6 Chaffinches, 3 Yellowhammers, a Reed Bunting and 2 Goldcrests.

Birds noted consisted of a single Brambling and a couple of Siskins cruising about.

Eleanor located a pair of Stonechat in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton.


Neil M

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Is it really November?


Several members of the Northants Ringing Group provided a bird ringing demonstration at the Wildlife Trust Pocket Park at Woodford Halse this morning. Ian Dobson the reserve warden organised a wildlife day for residents of Woodford Halse and was keen to provide an opportunity to showcase a variety of fauna and flora.

The ringing provided a modest catch of birds but of a significant variety which included all the common tits, Goldcrest, Wren, Robin and several species of finch including a single Lesser Redpoll. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird and Treecreeper provided more variety.

Other birds noted on-site included a couple of Bramblings, c6 Siskins and another 4+ redpoll sp plus a couple of Ravens. The incredibly warm weather brought forth insects such as Brimstone and Red Admiral butterflies, wasps, bees and a Hornet.

A brief stop on the causeway at Ravensthorpe Reservoir early this afternoon provided views of three Green Sandpipers, three Goldeneye, a Snipe and a couple of Kingfishers. Significant disturbance caused the ducks to fly and we couldn't see the long-staying Garganey (and reported today).

Simon Hales took a photo of a Comma butterfly near Oundle today (please see below) and reports that a small murmuration of Starlings took place at Titchmarsh Local Nature Reserve this afternoon, possibly a modest start to greater numbers later this month as happened last year...


Neil M

Comma butterfly on

Courtesy of Simon Hales