Sunday, 25 October 2015


In quite a lot of places I cycle or even pass on the way into work (including my estate) I'm seeing similar scenes as in in the image above. Small flocks but quite a few of them scattered around I'm hoping they'll merge into one big flock and give us a decent murmaration this winter.
There was quite a lot opposite the entrance to the old quarry plus a welcoming sight in the form of this new gate.
It stops one entry point for the annoying motocross bikes and gives a subtle hint this site isn't going to be built on anytime soon (probably just cursed that).
The quarry itself was still a little quiet but better than my previous visit. Plenty of flyover Meadow Pipits and encouragingly Skylarks too. Still no Snipe in the pits but at least I did get to see the Little Owl in it's tree before having to beat a retreat thanks to the blasted corvids. Who were busy chasing everything the Kestrel, Buzzard and Black Headed Gulls got some hassle from the corvids.
At least the Kestrel put on a show before being chased off.

I heard a true sign of winter,  a Redwing. Three of them, and they were really dark too. So much so I got my hopes up and thought I found something odd but I hadn't. A record shot for now.
Plenty of Reed Bunting, Yellowhammers and Wrens in Doug's Pit.

Monday, 19 October 2015


This Wren has every reason to look worried. At the current rate of hedgerow removal it won't have a home, most of it's valuable winter berries have been felled and removed already. And it's home has been demolished.
I of course refer to the Brampton Valley railway/cycle path.
AND PLEASE DON'T THINKING I'M TALKING ABOUT A BIT OF SENSIBLE PRUNING/MANAGEMENT OR FLAILING OF HEDGES. It's destruction on a massive scale so far, as I fear more is to come. This is completely unacceptable and no real need, not whilst the hedges were full of berries. The hedge wasn't some recent hedge planted by well meaning landowners, this was a mature hedge, Rowan berries, Blackberries, Elderberry and Hawthorne along with rough vegetation at it's edge with teasels and nettles and mature trees too meant it was a magnet for small birds and bigger birds too.
Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Goldfinch (hundreds of them), Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Starlings, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Goldcrest, Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtails, Yellow Wagtails, Yellowhammers, Linnet's Wren, Robin just some of the common species easily seen using the hedgerow in great numbers then there's the summer only visitors Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Turtle Dove and even Common Redstart. This hedgerow was a real stronghold for common breeding birds, Summer visitors and was proving and invaluable stop over for birds (especially small birds) on migration. Barn Owl's, Little Owl's, Kestrels often seen I've covered in previous blog posts.
Firstly let me give you one of my 'special maps' to give you an idea of not only the scale of destruction but possibly as to why/who has done it.
The Blue lines indicate the hedges and trees that have been 'removed', so far. The three blue lines on the left near Merry Tom Lane were hacked down a couple months back by people on Community Service. Right when the Elderberry were ripe and plentiful. Home to many nesting Chiffchaff (hadn't finished breeding). Nesting Blackbirds, Wren, Dunnock and favoured by a huge flock of Goldfinch. Branches of mature trees were hacked off too but IMPORTANTLY NOT BRANCHES OVERHANGING THE FIELDS. So we can rule out the farmer trying to expand his field, it isn't his 'doing'
The Blue line above the yellow arrow Mr.Z and I aren't exactly sure when it was done. We both were last there a week back. Turn up Sunday and again tree branches cut, trees reduced to stumps, hedges removed and the berries (mostly Hawthorne) left piled up on the side. Basically butchered on a massive scale.
The above image (hedgerow untouched so far on left hand side of image) perfectly demonstrates this point. But even better, ignore the Blackbird, he's homeless now.
Just past the white fence post (squint, lol) approximately 10 yards in the distance is where the hedgerow destruction begins. I fear left unchecked and questions not asked the hedgerow coming towards the Blackbird will also go. If regular readers look on the right hand side  you'll see a dead tree that was used a perch for the Whinchat, Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat this year.
Just recently the folk at the railway wish to extend to railway line by two miles in length. It's believed to being extended over the bridge (Yellow arrow on map image), however as Mr.Z pointed out they'd have to put in a crossing at Merry Tom Lane and the bridge on the railway line section is beyond repair. BUT THE BRIDGE IS OK ON THE PATH SIDE. Which in my opinion could be the reason for the hedge removal ie swap the track over onto footpath, strengthen bridge etc, and have the footpath go alongalong were the tracks currently are (reducing costs) . The section first removed a few months back used for storage of building equipment?... maybe. Or was it misguided person in charge of the Community Service work party under council orders? Personally I know which I believe it was.
But why bother closing a popular and well used footpath just to extend a railway line by a couple of miles. I know of many cyclists who commute from Brixworth, Maidwell, Hanging Houghton and the Brampton's into Northampton in safety without having to negotiate dodgy and busy A-roads...not for long!
I don't even hate the railway. I grew up next to the classic Bluebell railway so actually love seeing classic trains. But it's hardly beautiful. In fact this is the area the people who run the railway should consider spending their money on instead, in my opinion. And perhaps on the station too.
The trains used aren't exactly beautiful and there's plenty of stuff rusting away that could be 'beautified' instead, I mean imagine you're a train enthusiast and having visited perhaps the Bluebell or even travelled on the Graf Spey how disappointed would you be when you see this
Or this?
"WELCOME TO BRAMPTON VALLEY RAILWAY". YOU SHOULD SEE THE ROLLING STOCK HONESTLY NOT MUCH BETTER. Two miles of extra track or not would you pay good money and travel to see such beauty? It'd be a hard sell for even the Northants Tourist Board.
So my question is was it misguided council vandalism or is it vandalism by the Brampton railway? And will the guilty party replace/plant the hedge row and trees in time for next spring? Will either the council or Brampton Valley railway like to comment or respond?

Saturday, 17 October 2015


It's been a bit slow for me image wise of late. Moulton Quarry has been dead as the proverbial dodo. I had been hoping Stonechats would've stayed along the Brampton railway but they haven't. I have twice caught all to brief glimpse of a Merlin, most recently today. The light was horrible today but one section of footpath that branches off the Brampton railway, up pass Merry Tom farm has been a favourite of mine, a git to cycle up but worth it so far. Skylark, Meadow Pipits and a sizeable flock of Linnet's. Seen two Kestrels hunting but today wasn't the day for flight shots, this was 1/160th sec shutter was grim.
For me the next stop on the bike is the dam of Pitsford reservoir always worth a look. A Meadow Pipit, there is still a lot of flying insects about,the white blobs in the image below lol.

Monday, 5 October 2015


A bit quiet for me this weekend. I opted on Saturday to head out on the bike up towards Quarry Walk. I hadn't visited since the summer. It was very quiet. With the odd Cetti's Warbler still being camera shy, some (say 5)Water Rail squealing away. A very odd sighting in the form of a Reed Warbler which given the time of year and vagrants turning up had me hoping for a Marsh or Blyth Reed Warbler alas it wasn't and some Chiff-Chaff too. The light was horrible and no decent images.
Sunday saw me head out on the bike but along the Brampton Valley railway line. Unsurprisingly it was very busy with other cyclists, joggers, train spotters etc. Nothing special was found but plenty of common species. This Wren delighted me with its posing.

A dodgy Long Tailed Tit.
And the Ruddy Shelduck (never made it into the original post) from Pitsford reservoir.