Friday, 22 September 2017

More ringing returns...


A couple of recent ringing returns as follows...

A juvenile Starling was ringed at Scaldwell village on 7th June 2017 and was found dead, seemingly predated, in the Headlands district of Northampton on 21st August, a distance of about 10km. This year seemed to be a good breeding season for Starlings, the sometimes moist conditions providing optimum conditions for adults to find sufficient numbers of leatherjackets, the all-important larvae of Crane Flies, a critical food for Starlings during the breeding season. A large proportion of these flying juveniles are thinned out by predators, in particular they regularly fall prey to domestic cats, Sparrowhawks and Peregrines.

An adult Reed Warbler was caught and ringed at Stortons Gravel Pits on 25th August this year and only six days later was again found in a mist net but this time at Icklesham, Sussex, a distance of 185km in a south-easterly direction. It would be interesting to know if this was a breeding bird at Stortons or indeed was perhaps a passage adult from further north?

The weather in west Cornwall today was blustery and grey and sometimes rather wet but we managed to see a few birds including a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Sennen, the third one in two days!
A two hour walk at Kenidjack provided at least five Choughs, a Peregrine and a heavy passage of Gannets offshore, but passerines were minimal. A Firecrest remained secretive on the outskirts of Penzance and the infamous headland of Porthgwarra was the venue for a little sea-watching in challenging conditions; diversity was limited and Gannets and Manx Shearwaters dominated but also a couple of passing Balearic Shearwaters made it more interesting. We finished the day at a very wet Hayle Estuary where the choice waders were Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper.


Neil M

Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull.

Adult Gannet.

Little Egret.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Autumn waders


Chris Payne committed to some ringing in his Greens Norton garden yesterday morning, quickly catching 47 birds made up mostly of Goldfinches and Greenfinches but a Chiffchaff too. Raw ringing data from all the birds ringed in the UK last year indicates that Goldfinches were the second most common bird ringed (for the first time and second only to Blue Tit), indicating a significant increase in numbers and a growing tendency to utilise garden feeders.

Bob Bullock, Neil Hasdell and Cathy Ryden have all seen a colour-ringed Little Egret at Hollowell Reservoir which was present at the start of the month. It seems that this bird was ringed as a nestling at Netherall in Essex on 7th May 2016, the Northants sightings being nearly 500 days after it was ringed, this bird moving 96km in a north westerly direction.

Jacob notched up some good wader numbers today at Pitsford Reservoir with a Little Stint, 8 Dunlin, 5 Ruff and 24 Ringed Plovers all congregating in the Scaldwell Bay.

A trundle down the road to Davidstow Airfield in Cornwall today provided some close views of waders which included two fine Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and a more distant view of a Spotted Sandpiper on nearby Crowdy Reservoir...


Neil M

Ringed Plover.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Chats on the move!


This morning the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton provided an excellent suite of chats with a single Redstart, two Whinchats, two Stonechats and a Wheatear all on show.

The ringing session at Harrington Airfield today provided 99 captures of 17 species made up of 2 Green Woodpeckers, 9 Blackbirds, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Wrens, a Goldcrest, 22 Yellowhammers, 10 Dunnocks, a Greenfinch, 4 Chaffinches, 6 Goldfinches, 4 Linnets, 8 Great Tits, 6 Blue Tits, 6 Robins, 12 Meadow Pipits, a Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Reed Buntings.

Birds noted on-site included a Stonechat, a pair of Ravens and 7 Golden Plovers.


Neil M

Stonechat, courtesy of
Jacob Spinks.

Whinchat courtesy of
Jacob Spinks.


Common Redstart.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Little Stints


No birding opportunities for me or Eleanor today but Cathy Ryden was at Hollowell Reservoir this evening and saw two Little Stints and seven Ringed Plovers...


Neil M

Little Stints and Ringed Plover
at Hollowell Reservoir today,
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Portrait of a young Red
Fox at Pitsford Reservoir
courtesy of Jacob Spinks.

The low water levels at
Pitsford make it easy to
see Red Foxes and Muntjac Deer
and they are regularly on show
along the shore between the
water's edge and more established

Monday, 18 September 2017

Pitsford WeBS count


The Pitsford Reservoir WeBS count was completed today, the highlights being a Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ruff, 6 Dunlin, a Little Stint, 2 Greenshanks, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, 7-10 Ringed Plovers, a Snipe, a Great White Egret, 20+ Little Egrets, a Barnacle Goose, 8 Pintail, a Grey Wagtail and up to 4 White Wagtails. Visible migration included over 400 Swallows heading south.

A ringing session is planned for Harrington Airfield this coming Wednesday and the area around the bunkers and old airstrip will be out of bounds during this period. Anyone wishing to come along to observe proceedings is quite welcome providing you email me beforehand. Access to the public footpath and concrete track remains unaffected.


Neil M

Adult female and juvenile Bullfinch.
Often a late breeder, dependent juveniles
can be with their parents into October...
Images courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Lion's Mane jellyfish,
photographed by Dave
Francis in the harbour at
Ullapool recently. A little
different to the usual birds
and mammals!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Pitsford ringing


The bird ringing demonstration at Pitsford Reservoir this morning attracted a good number of visitors, many very junior in years! We managed to catch fifty birds near to the Fishing Lodge to show attendees, surprisingly it was the Goldcrest which was the most common bird with 16 little waifs caught and ringed. Other birds included 9 Blue Tits which included a 4 year old bird, 8 Great Tits, 2 Coal Tits, 2 Marsh Tits, 2 Robins, a Wren, a Dunnock, 3 Blackcaps and 6 Blackbirds.

Jacob tried a little ringing at the Old Scaldwell Road feeding station and captured 32 birds which included 5 Meadow Pipits, a Wren, 7 Chiffchaffs, 7 Blue Tits, a Great Tit, 3 Goldfinches, a Chaffinch, a Robin, 4 Dunnocks and 2 Blackbirds.

Birds noted at Pitsford Reservoir today included a Great White Egret, good numbers of Little Egrets, at least 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, a juvenile female Peregrine, a Hobby and 2 Ravens and a Grey Wagtail. Waders included a Spotted Redshank, 1-2 Greenshank, a couple of Green Sandpipers, a Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ruff, several Dunlin, 6-10 Ringed Plovers and a Snipe.

A Siskin was singing in our garden at Hanging Houghton this afternoon and birds at Hollowell Reservoir included the Grey Phalarope still plus a Dunlin and a Wheatear. Three Green Sandpipers remain at Ravensthorpe Reservoir.

Eric Graham visited Blatherwycke Lake today and notched up 50+ Mandarin Ducks and a couple of Little Egrets, with a nearby Osprey at Deene seen flying towards Blatherwycke.


Neil M

Meadow Pipit
Pitsford Reservoir.

Dunlin at Hollowell Reservoir
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Wheatear, courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Grey Phalarope, courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Goldcrest, the star of today's
bird ringing session!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Mid September birding


Yesterday afternoon Chris Payne tried some ringing in his Greens Norton garden and was surprised to catch 60 birds! These were made up of 16 Goldfinches, 19 Blue Tits, 4 Coal Tits, 3 Great Tits, 5 Greenfinches, 3 House Sparrows, 7 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Goldcrests and a Woodpigeon.

Jacob was at Pitsford Reservoir (again!) today and amassed a good list of birds made up of a Spotted Redshank, a Redshank, 6 Greenshanks, 4 Green Sandpipers, 6 Ruff, 9-14 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Barnacle Goose, 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, a Pintail, a Hobby, 3 Stonechats and 2 Whinchats.

Cathy Ryden's visit to Hollowell Reservoir threw up a surprise when a Short-eared Owl flushed in front of her, very much a rare bird for this site.


Neil M

Ever watchful Redshank at
 Hollowell Reservoir yesterday,
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Chiffchaff courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Strange high pitched 'squeeky' calls
can be heard coming from our
hedgerows and trees at this time
of the year and many of these highly
variable contact calls are emitted
by the diminutive Chiffchaff!

Preening Swallow
courtesy of Chris Payne.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Migration in full swing...


Nick Wood and Chris Payne conducted some ringing at Chase Park Farm (near Yardley Chase) on Saturday 9th Sept, processing 59 birds made up of 15 Blackcaps, 2 Whitethroats, 11 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 4 Wrens, 13 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, a Marsh Tit, a Song Thrush, a Blackbird, 2 Robins and 3 Goldcrests.

A ringing demonstration will be taking place this coming Sunday at Pitsford Reservoir between 6.30am and 9.30am when local ringers hope to catch birds close to the Fishing Lodge. This is an opportunity to see common birds in the hand and appreciate their beauty and finesse close-up. Licensed ringers will be on hand to explain the processes and answer questions and refreshments will be available. The weather forecast currently looks favourable!

Jacob noted some birds at Pitsford Reservoir today amounting to a Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshanks, a Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and visible migration amounted to 10 Skylarks, 37 Meadow Pipits and 2 Siskins.

Cathy Ryden was again at Hollowell Reservoir and saw the Grey Phalarope plus a Redshank and an early Goosander.

A WeBS count at Ditchford Gravel Pits today was essentially quiet, the more noteworthy birds being a couple of Hobbies, an 'aythya' duck hybrid, 2 Ringed Plovers, a Green Sandpiper, a Snipe, 2 Ravens, 10 Kingfishers, 4 late Swifts, a couple of Water Rails and at least 5 Cetti's Warblers and 3 fly-over Siskins and a couple of Grey Wagtails going the same way.

Birds in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton today included a Marsh Harrier, 2 Golden Plovers and 5 Stonechats which gave the impression of being a family party. Harrington Airfield this afternoon produced a Wheatear, a Whinchat, 2 Redstarts and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.


Neil M

'Aythya' duck hybrid at Ditchford GP today.
Maybe of Pochard x Tufted Duck parentage
or perhaps Pochard x Scaup?

One of the Wildlife Trust
grazing cattle at Ditchford,
used extensively on
 reserves locally

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Sabine's Gull


The juvenile Sabine's Gull at Daventry Country Park stayed for another day today and attracted quite a number of admirers including county photographers Dave Jackson and Robin Gossage. Please see their images below... Other birds included a Ruff and 2 Green Sandpipers.

At nearby Borough Hill Country Park there was an adult male Redstart and 3 Spotted Flycatchers in bushes on the adjacent golf course and other birds on-site included a female Redstart, a Whinchat, a female Peregrine and Blackcaps and Whitethroats.

Jacob Spinks conducted some visible migration counting at Pitsford Reservoir today, with a Grey Plover over north, plus at least 84 Meadow Pipits south by 11.30am, 3 Grey Wagtails, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Mistle Thrush and a Siskin.

Cathy Ryden watched the Grey Phalarope again at Hollowell Reservoir today and there were 4 Turnstones there for a while before flying off south. There were 3 Green Sandpipers at Ravensthorpe Reservoir and 2 Ravens were noted flying over Wootton Hall, Northampton.

The Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton held large numbers of migrant Meadow Pipits this afternoon plus a Wheatear and 2 Golden Plovers.


Neil M

Sabine's Gull courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Sabine's Gull courtesy
of Dave Jackson.

Turnstones at Hollowell Reservoir
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.