Tuesday 18 June 2013

Salcey Forest Wood Whites and Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows - 17th June 2011

Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows is the Wildlife Trusts latest reserve in Northants. It covers a large area and consists of lakes, meadows and lots of hedgrows including the hedge lined disused railway line that now forms the pathway heading from east to west creating a long natural "corridor". It is one of the best sites in Northants for wildlife watching and already this year it has come up with some great birds including Avocet, Green Winged Teal and the Firecrest so us birders are watching what the Trusts will be doing with interest. Perhaps wader scrapes and hides? Managing the water levels in the field near Irthlingborough town itself will be good as a continual flooding could create some much needed breeding habitat for some of our birds. As it is now though visibility is at a premium as much of the undergowth is so high a walk along the railway line currently only gives you the occasional glimpse of the lakes, but work can be seen to be taking place with new paths going in and signs going up. At the risk of sounding old I can remember not too long ago the vegetation used to be so high you could barely see above it and you had to crash through it at some places to get anywhere so it is improving all the time. I had a good walk around but didn't see much out of the ordinary. As always with this site the amount of Warblers was very impressive and it seemed that every few yards there were new Garden and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Reed and Sedge Warblers could always be heard cranking up into their rasping song along the reed fringed edges to the lakes. In the warm weather Buzzards were seemingly everywhere and were soaring in just about every direction you looked. Herons were calling from the Wilsons Pits area (another Wildlife Trusts reserve) but surprisingly I didn't see any Hobby, the whole area looks great for Hobby but the only falcons seen were a couple of Kestrels at either side of the reserve. It was a generally nice day to be out and after admiring a couple of Kingfishers on the river I set about looking around in the undergrowth as there had been a big emergence of Banded Demoiselle. I know that I quite often focus mainly on birds in this blog but I am interested in all forms of wildlife, especially insects. In the summer months I can sometimes forget all about birding and spend most of my time looking for butterflies and any other bugs I can find. I guess it's like reliving your childhood again, you know that feeling you got when at the beach as a child and you lift up a rock to find a crab? Well rockpools are in very short supply in Northants so I spend my time creeping around meadows and the reeds along the sides of rivers looking surprises in the undergrowth. It is something that I probably should have grown out of by now but I unashamably haven't, even if I do get some funny looks from walkers as they find me on my hands a knees taking pics in the grass. Anyway I am drifting from the point a little. I followed the river taking these following pics along the way, the Common Damselflies were taken just outside the reserve boundary but the rest were taken near the river section of the reserve itself.

 Common Blue Damseflies, River Nene, Northants.

Cardinal Beetle, Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Northants.

Mayfly, Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Northants.

Longhorn Beetle (Rhagium Mordax), Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Northants.

Slightly tatty Holly Blue, Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Northants.

By now the sun was starting to shine and the Holly Blue had whetted my appetite to see some more butterflies so I headed over to Salcey Forest in search of the Wood White. I had been here a week or so ago and only searched the south side without success so this time I tried the north and headed from the car park to the Piddington side of the forest. The crossroads here seems to be an absolute haven for butterflies in the forest, plenty of flowers in the summer coupled with the 4 pathways leading in off (which means whatever way the wind blows the butterflies can find shelter) and it is wide enough to get a substantial amount of sunshine almost all day. Once again the area didn't disappoint as a couple of Wood Whites fluttered passed on the gentle breeze as I approached from the south and when I reached the crossroads several Whites could be seen. They look so delicate that one wonders how they cope flying against any breeze at all but in fact they are quite strong flyers and a few times one would leave it's flower to whiz up to meet another before performing an amazing spiral "dance" in the air. The sun had got quite strong now and as it had been cloudy all day this had certainly woken them up. Unfortunately it had woken them a little too much and trying to get one settling so I could photograph it was becoming very difficult but I persisted and eventually succeeded.

 Wood White, Salcey Forest, Northants.

Wood White, Salcey Forest, Northants.

From here I called it a day and took a slow stroll back to the car. The sun was coming down and it was getting late. I find it amazing how all the birds come out and start singing almost instantly after the crowds of people go home. All in all it had been quite a nice day!


  1. Interesting observation about Hobbies David, I just don't think there's that many in the area this summer, I've seen a total of 5 at 3 different sites at that is very poor in my opinion.

  2. I completely agree, I think they are in short supply this year. I have seen them regularly at Whiston Lock and Thrapston Gravel Pits seems to be a favourite place for them this year. Whether these birds are passage birds stopping for a snack though I have no idea as the only breeding evidence I have found this year was at the place that will remain nameless where I met you last weekend.


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