Sunday, 9 August 2015


Two days in one blog such is the quality of the images, seriously out of practice.
FRIDAY: Not lot before my shift ended I was watching from the office windows huge flocks of gulls hawking all over the industrial estate. The advantage of the upstair offices I could see two massive plumes of insects in the distance towards Duston/St.Crispins. When I went outside I was covered in flying ants. By the time I got home it was getting overcast but needed to check out the Barn Owl site. It hadn't been seen by anyone for over a week, including myself. The railway line was heaving with a variety of small birds hawking the flying ants. Apart from good numbers of common species there was the additional Willow Warbler, Chiff-Chaff and Blackcaps sadly no flight shots, light was awful and shutter speeds to low. Saw three Treecreepers then heard a pair of Nuthatches. Which was launching off the phone lines. Got a record shot of one on the ground. 
 Not much better but in a tree, a beautiful call though.

It was getting both dark and late and no sign of the Barn Owl. For me I had some concern about it's nest. Firstly both Mr.Z and I had only ever seen one bird, secondly the nest box is not your typical box. It's a plastic drum similar to those blue metal drums chemicals get transported in. Just with a small aperture cut out and perch nailed to the top. It was likely the adult bird had taken the young to a natal site away from the box but I was a bit concerned due to the plastic material maybe the young couldn't get out.
Then I saw the Barn Owl. It's came from a totally different direction (from the general direction of Brixworth) and was quartering the course of the river. It caught something and sat in a tree near where Mr.Z and I saw the farmer in the 4x4 and kids on motorbikes (sorry that bit was for Mr.Z). The Kestrel started to call but weirdly perched on the owl box, where it didn't move from.  I watched the owl eat it's catch, it soon started to hunt again, it wasn't hunting with the same urgency and perched up in the small tree in the middle of the above picture
I'm no expert when it comes the Barn Owl behaviour and their young. So not sure if they continue to feed the young for a while after they leave the nest or if they're left to fend for themselves? However it didn't share it's catch and up until I left at 21:45 it never went back to the box.
SATURDAY: I was a bit gutted to read that 400+ Dunlin dropped into Holowell reservoir all but a few miles from my location on Friday, I should've read my twitter feed lol. I was also a bit gutted that since using my bike for birding my year list was stuck on 100 species. I needed some migratory waders or small birds. So rather suicidally opted to ride from Northampton/Brampton Valley/Maidwell/Cottesbrooke and on to Welford Reservoir.  About 17 miles (34 in total).
I turned off the cycle path at he bottom of Hanging Houghton and followed the track towards Cottesbrooke. Got a Kestrel, Whitethroat but the most interesting thing was the management of the fields (Leaf scheme) which had a good variety of butterflies and other insects and sadly this

 A snap shot of the fields. It looks good and given the size of the farmland a positive.
I got to the sawmill just outside Cottesbrooke and had to stop. It wasn't for the Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Blackcap nor numerous juvenile Blackbirds but the Redkites, eight in total 4 juveniles and 4 adults. The light was from the side but still very close and low

On I went along the road that leads from Cottesbrooke to Hasslebeech, I turned off towards Naseby oh dear, big mistake/big hills it almost killed me. You know you're in trouble as you cycle up a hill and a Blackbird hops (not flies) past you.....I  chuckled to myself. Ignore the time I did not switch the tracker off when I stopped, honest. Note the heat and elevation

I eventually got to Welford and no sooner had I sat down I got stung by a wasp, bastards. I hate them. Wish this helped out
Last time I was here I was in my car so on my bike list couldn't include the Osprey nor Pintail. But I soon added a new bird to the bike list, right down the far end near the dam separating Sulby/Welford Reservoir, so crap long distant record shot, Osprey number 101 for the list
It never came closer but did visit a few times during the visit. I was soon onto bird 102, a Common Sandpiper, a juvenile?

Sadly,  new bird wise,  not much else. I was really hoping perhaps for a few more waders. I did see a Kingfisher, Linnet and Goldfinches but no Yellow Wagtails which is bit unusual but a little early too. But the reservoir is one of my favourite locations for Housemartins and Swallows over water.

 Juvenile Housemartin
 Even chasing off a solitary Swift.
Juvenile Swallow
The cycle back was uneventful, I opted to cycle back from via Hasslebeech as I fancied the hill I avoided on the way to Welford the maximum speed listed below should give an indication of the steepness and reason I avoided it, 34mph is quite an adrenaline rush I can tell you  and also explains why I didn't see much bird wise (eyes shut lol)  apart from after the hill and two Spotted Flycatchers just outside Cottesbrooke unbelievably I hadn't seen one this year so now my "Bike List" is 103 now. I'm aiming for 120+


  1. An excellent tally and for me well worth all your pedalling.
    Great shots as always.

    1. I'm developing thighs made from carbon fibre :-)

  2. What a fantastic post Doug, you are a natural storyteller and support your experiences with excellent images, its always a pleasure to read of your latest adventures ...... keep em coming.

    1. Cheers John, trying my best for a balance between work, birding and biking hasn't been easy of late the advantage of 4days on/4days off meant I could get time and weather but the current 5 day pattern means I'm struggling somewhat.

    2. Well I thought that was a greast tally of birds you saw and I loved the images of the Kites and the Martins over the water.

    3. Thanks Margaret, it's not a bad list which includes Redstart and Wheatears for the year but I want to reach 120 just to prove a point about birding by bike versus car etc

  3. Replies
    1. Fuck me I thought you had died mate, or did you use a ouija board to write that lol. Would be nice to see you once in a while stranger. Hope you're OK and still working at the engineering firm?

    2. Feels like I'm always at work mate. Do you fancy meeting up at the weekend?

    3. I know that feeling mate work sucks at times, send a comment with your number I won't publish it and I will call you ok

  4. If I was a younger man, I'm sure I'd be inspired to bird by bike after reading this great post, Doug. Really enjoyed your account, with a super list of birds seen and great images. Keep it up!

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

    1. Thanks Richard. I have had older people then myself zip past, there's no excuse lol.