Saturday, 17 September 2011


Last Thursday morning (15th September) broke with a beautiful crimson red sunrise, and after a cool night, a few mist patches started to fill the hollows in the surrounding countryside.
It was 6am as Keith, from holdingmoments , and myself set off for a visit to Pitsford Reservoir near Northampton.

We arrived at about 6.45am and after buying our permits at the self service hut by the main gate (£5 well spent, as it turned out) we set off along the causeway which carries the road between the A43 and Brixworth and separates the wildlife reserve from the boating and leisure part of the reservoir.


We could see in the distance across the water large rafts of Coot, Mallard and Gulls and on the water's edge below the causeway  Pied and Yellow Wagtails flitted up and down accompanied by a couple of Goldfinches. Keith then spotted, cruising back and forth across the water what we later identified as a juvenile Black Tern (a lifer for me).

Black Tern (juv.)

Black Tern (juv.)

On through the gate that leads to the pathway and a 7 mile walk around the reserve and it's nine hides. At the first hide we were scanning over  a large (very!) raft of Tufted Duck mixed with numerous Pochard when all of a sudden they all took to the air in a mass of beating wings and were gone, spooked  by an Osprey maybe we thought, but then coming into view from behind the hide.......  

The Culprit!

Along the trail to the next hide we encountered a large flock of Meadow Pipits  a few of which kindly posed for their portraits. 

Meadow Pipit

The chill morning had now given way to a pleasantly warm day as we made our way around to the other hides through various types of woodland and grassland areas and on the way passing a couple of ringing sites with their associated mist nets. All the hides afforded good views across the water (although the birdlife was a little distant) 

A Grey Heron wondering if it had come to the right party!

We also encountered a few butterflies, mainly  Speckled Wood  with the odd 'White' and a single Comma......

Speckled Wood

Comma with Ladybird

.....and a few Dragonflies

Ruddy Darter (male)

Ruddy Darter (female)

Migrant Hawker (male)

In an adjacent field a farmer was busy kicking up a dust storm.

After about 7 hours we finally arrived back at the car where, after driving down to the lay-by on the causeway, we had  a much needed cup of coffee and a sandwich.
 Here once again Keith came up trumps and found what we later confirmed as a Yellow-legged Gull on a spit off mud not more than 200yards from where we were parked, another lifer!

Yellow-legged Gull

Comparison of between a Lesser Black-Backed Gull on the left and a Yellow-legged Gull on the right

So,  perfect weather, a gentle stroll and with a count of 58 birds (plus two or three maybe's / probably's ) it turned out to be an excellent  days birding.