Sunday, 27 July 2014


Typical, I go and say"July Sucks" with not much to photograph and I go and find my own Common Redstart...sod's law.
I wasn't really going out birding either, just a cycle ride and check a few potential sites. I went along the Lamport Railway line from Church Brampton/Kingsthorpe end with the intention of going up to the Hanging Houghton crossing and the up along to Cottesbrooke as Neil/Eleanor have been blogging about some great birds along here.
For those not from Northampton the Lamport Railway is a collection (not much of) of old trains with a section of about 2 miles of track the rest is a cycle path/footpath. It's very popular with many cyclist turning up in cars and then riding along it, not sure why people drive to where they're going to cycle it seemed to me a bit odd, I was a hero and cycled from my home in Eastfield...."man points". As I went past the sidings heading towards Merry Tom crossing (Merry Tom Lane) I was watching the numerous Common Whitethroats feeding of loads of flying ants when a flash of red whisked past my face, I even pulled my head back and slammed my brakes on fearing a collision, "what was that", I knew it was something different, Bullfinch, one of the many Robins, possible Kingfisher (I have had one or two along here), after about ten minutes and a lot of cyclist all I could hear was Bullfinch...hmmm, I was just about to move on when I heard it call I recognised the call straight away (it was disputing with a Chaffinch) and on the cycle path feeding off the flying ants there it was...
 It wasn't just cyclist I had to put up with, there was a pheasant shoot taking place, not an issue really for me I have seen many birds of prey along here including one Goshawk so the keeper is one of the good one's, but at the railway station there is a vintage steam gathering and this bloke was taking pot shots at Wood Pigeons I saw him down one before him and his mate clocked me and walked off. I'm sure they were only after birds flushed by the pheasant shoot, but me being me I was keeping my eye on them and the Redstart.
 After all the flushing and much searching for the bird I finally located it again, it seemed to be in one place all the time but given the fact there was me and all the cyclist not very "showy" this is the best I could manage. However I was quite chuffed to see and find my own Redstart, saved me cycling to Harrington which was on the cards when I set off.
There was some good birds along here to keep me entertained, mostly common stuff.
A Blackbird on a concrete bollard at Merry Tom crossing, with plenty of food, these were unusually approachable, with one coming with inches of my feet.
 What had been my bogey bird this summer (you have to have one), I just couldn't get a clear shot of them this year, Common Whitethroat, busy feeding on the railway line.
 In the scrub.....
 Fence post
 And a tree! Loads of adults and juvenile birds along here.
Plenty of Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Chiff-Chaff, Willow Warblers and these scruffy Robins.
 Sitting on the wire fence that keeps the public off the railway line
 And a juvenile Robin in the sidings sitting on a step.
 Also got some Song Thrush, plain bird but I really like the Song Thrush (Mistle Thrush too) I like their song/call.
This one feeding off the cycle path.
 This one was on top of a fence post, gutted about the two telegraph poles in the background, grrrrr!
And finally a PROPER bogey bird for me, scrubbed off the list. This bird has been on my list for ages now, with only images obtained of a bird on a feeder, YUK! Couldn't believe my luck either, it dropped down onto the cycle path right in front of me for food.....Great Spotted Woodpecker....I know common bird really but for whatever reason it was a big bogey bird for me and had been for 10 years!!!...head hanged in shame.
 Despite being in between a railway cutting hence flat light, I would have been happy just to get one on the ground, BUT IT GOT BETTER! It seemed not to bothered about my pressence which is odd for a Woodie.
Below is the full frame uncropped image just resized to 800 pixels along the longest side as it popped up onto a telegraph pole and tried to hide from what turned out to be a Sparrowhawk chasing Swallows.
 Awkward light of the setting sun I did my best to position myself but was truly petrified I would flush this weirdly approachable bird, I was unaware that it was hiding from something worse then me, this below is the edited version.....with gorgeous feet
So to summarise, one "summer" bogey bird removed off the list and one "bloody ages" bogey bird removed off the list and one migrant bird found foot fetish satisfied, as I cycled home I wondered how many birds pass through Northants unnoticed/unseen in spots us birders wouldn't normally go too...a total of 20 miles cycled too and I wasn't supposed to have been out "birding" either.
I have a week off work starting Monday so shall go back and see if the Redstart is still there, fingers crossed.

Friday, 25 July 2014

KESTREL 24th JULY 2014

Well today Sandmartins were supposed to be my main quarry (eh!-see what I did there) but as with all my plans things never quite go as planned.
It was the weather that spoilt things today, first the searing heat and quite breezy weather spoilt it. The thing with these Sandmartins what I do is wait as they fly back with food for the young, of course nowhere near the nests, normally they'll line themselves up with the nest hole in the "cliff" face and then dive in, sometimes they have to abort for one reason or another then circle round and try again this is when I normally try and photograph them. With the wind they were struggling to get back into the nest holes so I opted to leave them in peace.
In one of my previous blogs about the quarry I mentioned the two juvenile Kestrels and the adults teaching them to hunt, well today I got to see them in action again.
It was along the field that had been harvested the day before, today the farmer was collecting up the stubble and creating bales, this brought the Kestrel in. Two birds an adult and a juvenile bird.
Both birds were hovering along the side of the field just above the hedgerow and too far away, I was cursing my luck and wasn't just about to run over and possibly disturb them to get an image or two, I just sat in the shade and watched, when the adult bird dived down followed by the younger bird.
There was a fair bit of calling and suddenly at speed the adult bird was low and (sadly) to the left of my position and very close, with prey.
 You can see the adult is starting to loose it's feathers. This is normal at this time of the year, they loose a few feathers at a time to be replaced by new ones. Obviously they don't loose all of them at the same time, otherwise they wouldn't be able to hover/hunt.
The younger bird, is notable by it's size and the undeveloped markings, it was chasing after the adult calling as it went.

They both dropped over one of the earth mounds to the log pile I went and had a look as there was still a bit of calling going on. Both birds were very distant but clearly sharing the catch I'd have thought the adult bird would have stopped doing this by now. However I did note one juvenile (this one) was smaller then the other juvenile which I haven't seen for a while. Nothing to worry about I hope I think it has been chased away by the adult bird to fend for itself as it seemed quite capable of hunting on it's own when I last saw it.
Below is a record shot of both birds going to share the kill, you can see the bird at the top is smaller.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

23rd July 2014-Moulton Quarry...again

I think it is safe to assume unless I state otherwise I shall be blogging about this site for the time being, call me boring, most do but there is so much I am yet to photograph and document yet on the site, the Little Owls, the Hobby and not to mention the butterflies and other insects.
The farmer was still harvesting his crops and was in the field adjacent/closest to the quarry. This meant the Buzzard was hanging around a lot sadly I didn't see the Kestrel the two didn't seem to like each other with the Kestrel being chased away, however the Buzzard was doing a great impression of a kestrel hovering "kestrel style" over the fields.
 I like this one of it soaring past the Budleia, still not sure that is the correct spelling.
Of course I am still going for the sandmartins, a bit of an improvement but still not got the "one" I am after.

I mentioned the crickets/grasshoppers on site and with the aid of my mobile phone managed one species, sadly not the one I wanted to show you all but this one will do for now, any ideas of the species?
I saw this dubious species, any clues to the identity please inform the local police via "crimestoppers"
No wonder the birds run away! And I'm not just talking about the feathered variety either!
As you can see in the background I spent the last part of the evening around the log pile and got at least one interesting species (me aside).
A fresh looking Willow Warbler in pale yellow stood out the most from the crowd.

It looked gorgeous in the setting sun. As did these juveniles............Blue Tit

And a Long Tailed Tit, that was on it's own which was a bit odd normally part of a flock it seemed lost calling out but no response from any other Long Tailed Tit

 It was time to go home so thought my parting image should be another from the mobile phone, this is in HDR mode, can't spot the difference myself to be fair, but I did like the effect it had on the sun's rays.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

MOULTON QUARRY....martins,butterflies,buzzards,kestrels and a greenie

Well that's the name for the ex-gravel pit I have been visiting of late. A chance encounter with a "follower" and fellow birder from Twitter who was jogging on the site let us know it's proper name, thank you Andy.
The weekend was really spent dodging thunderstorms and hail which didn't give me much chance to get out with the camera, I was supposed to me on a night out in my truck yesterday but got lucky with three cancelled drops in Oxfordshire so I was straight up the site yesterday after work.

The surrounding farm was harvesting the crops which in turn producded a lot of gulls and Buzzards. This shot you might not be able to make out (bottom/left talon) but there is a small mammal in it's talon. I did get a very distant image too of it carrying a rat. Not worth publishing, to far away.
One of the main plants on this site is the Budleia (spelt right?) which in turn produces a lot of butterflies and yesterday the place was SWARMING with them, if you look at Eleanor and Neils blog they were reporting the same thing with their budleia in their garden, as the crow flies their village is about 4-5miles away from where I was. On one budleia bush I had a remarkable 20 Peacocks feeding. And a few small tortoiseshell too, bear in mind it was taken with the 500mm lens but took a record image of them sunning on the earth banks. There was plenty more but trying to get them all lined up in the frame with a 500mm was near impossible.....


 Now I may have the plant species wrong but is this a white version of budleia?
The other thing about the site is the insect life here, I have seen a couple of species of crickets/grasshoppers that I need to photograph but whils sitting around I got with my camera phone this cinabar moth caterpillar.
The sandmartins are getting very active with some of the young flying out of their nests holes now, won't be long now before they leave, best get on with getting some images, still not happy with this lot.

The last one being my favourite out of a bad bunch. It was then the turn of the Kestrel to keep me entertained and frustrated. I was gutted I couldn't sneak up on this without it flying off just a little to far away it also held the high ground.......
 It seemed to have something in it's talon in this image, zooming in I know it is not a mammal or bird, it looks like either an earthworm or slow worm, given it was on the rock pile before hand, probably who knows?

And finally I got a surprise as the Little Owl flushed this out over towards me from the owl's tree, I am so close also to getting my first flight of a Little Owl too, more of that a later's the greenie....