Monday, 26 September 2016

N B C Monthly Trip

Sunday 25th September, Bob Gill kindly took Mark, Dave J, Wendy and myself to RSPB Titchwell
on the east coast.
Although the winds did not perform as we would have liked, the prospects of a few nice migrants
was enticing.
As always we missed most of the rain and had a typical autumnal day out, although Bob had a
change of clothes after being totally soaked emptying Pitsford moth traps at 5.30am. (don't laugh you
haven't seen his haircut yet).
One of these days we will find that elusive Woodcock on route to reception. Jack snipe had been reported from Patsy's pool, we saw Common Snipe, Wendy picked up a largish well marked male Sparrowhawk.

We then made our way around the relatively new track called the Autumn trail, at the end we had distant views of Spoonbill.
Walking back along the Meadow Trail the resident invisible Cetti's sang. Onwards to Island hide
picking up a couple of Beardies and Marsh Harrier. The water on the Fresh water marsh was quite low but held numbers of waders, mainly Ruff and Reeve, with Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Godwits, etc.

Off to the beach visiting Parinder on route, a lone Turnstone was feeding on the near tidal marsh.
A vagrant Pectoral Sandpiper was seen on the Volunteer marsh.

A fair bit of stuff was seen from the beach including Red-necked Grebe, G N Diver, Sandwich Terns
Gannet, waders etc. Dave built a sandcastle and tried to frame Sanderling in his camera, they were having none of it.............I lied about the sandcastle, but he did bring a plastic bucket and spade.

Back to the car for a drink and some nosh. We then had a little foray further down the coast having some nice views of Turnstone then back to Titchwell.

Back to look for the ever elusive Jack Snipe, while Wend and I made our way back towards Island Hide the others looked for and found Yellow-browed Warbler with Dave getting some great pics.

Walking back along the West Bank path we met up with bird club member Alan Coles who along
with his wife Jackie were spending a week in Norfolk.
Whilst Wendy found a Chinese Water Deer a male Scaup emerged on the Reedbed pool opposite.

All of a sudden time had overtaken us and it was time to return home.

Titchwell in autumn always holds that expectation of something unusual, we had a great day out.
Bob, Dave and myself must have looked strange as we walked together down the West Bank Path
each one of us limping for one reason or another.
Thanks go to our personal chauffeur Bob, great drive.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Migfest 2016


Last week-end saw the fourth annual celebration of bird migration at Spurn on the east coast of Yorkshire, known as Migfest:-

Nine of us trundled our way north on either the Friday or Saturday and despite the continuous rain on the Saturday, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. A visit on the way to Alkborough Flats in North Lincolnshire was called for, this comparatively new and extensive reserve hosting a rare Purple Swamphen (or Purple Gallinule if you prefer). Eventually this bird put in an appearance and the shallow wetland attracted a wealth of other birds including 550 plus Avocets, large numbers of common waders, eight Spoonbills, a couple of Marsh Harriers and Peregrine and Hobby.

At Spurn the wind was really in the wrong direction for any rare passerines, but the waders put on a tremendous show and many provided excellent views including Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper and even a Kentish Plover. Passing sea-birds involved Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, a variety of terns and ducks and plenty of Red-throated Divers.

Visible migration was very evident on the Sunday with thousands of Meadow Pipits flitting southwards supported by smaller numbers of hirundines, wagtails, Reed Buntings, Tree Pipits and others. Quality birds in the bushes included Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher and plenty of common warblers and chats.

The event celebrated migration and there were demonstrations of bird ringing, visible migration watching, moth traps and tips on sea-watching and other field work skills including art, digi-scoping and species identification. Open access was provided to all the main birdwatching sites and there was a procession of talks and presentations to support the event as well as plentiful refreshments.

Local birder and NBC member Jacob Spinks was one of four young birders nationally to be recognised for their talent in birdwatching skills and during the event was presented with a trophy and a selection of quality books. Well done Jacob!

It is hoped a more in-depth account will feature in our newsletter soon but I would like to record my thanks to committee member Mark Williams in organising our excellent long week-end away which will surely be repeated in future years.


Neil McMahon

Convolvulus Hawk-moth
on Migfest baseball cap!


Mediterranean Gulls were in
good numbers around the Spurn area...

A rather soggy Wheatear on the Saturday!

Juvenile Swallow.

Sunday, 11 September 2016


Hi, Just to let you folks know, that the winners of the NBC Photographic Competition in 2015 (2016)
has been updated, not before time I hear you cry.

All top 3 positions in all categories are now posted, however for the sake of  completeness
would the photographers involved please let me know which photo's have not been acknowledged
correctly, so I can do so.

Thanks and enjoy. Contact Robin Gossage.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Next Indoor Meeting - Wednesday 7th Sept


A reminder to members and invitation to non-members that our next indoor meeting will be this coming Wednesday (7th Sept) starting at 7.30pm prompt. As usual our venue is the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir, just outside Holcot village on the Brixworth road (NN6 9SJ).

Our popular speaker is Tim Newton who will be presenting 'An Introduction to the world of Parasitic Wasps'. Anyone out and about during the summer months will see a myriad of flying insects, and looking just a little closer will identify groups or families of insects. We enjoy good numbers of these parasitic wasps locally and Tim will provide an insight in to their identification and behaviour.

We will begin the meeting with notices and any announcements and then it is over to Tim to deliver his presentation.

As usual hot drinks and biscuits will be available throughout the evening. 

I hope you enjoy your evening!

Neil McMahon


Hello everyone, I  cannot believe how quickly this year is disappearing.

Three quarters into 2016 and I'm thinking maybe I oughta' start organising some images
for the N B C Photographic Competition.

Being the judge for the last 3 years I've looked in awe at some of the images presented in that time.
Every year the images  have been steadily getting better and with more photographers entering the overall standard just gets higher.

The digital revolution has helped in many ways, I can  remember when birds in flight was once the domain of only a few photographers, but now with Auto Focus etc we all routinely take such pictures.
But having the best gear does not, by any means guarantee you a winning image, of course not.
That can only be done by yourself !

I guess entering any photographic competition is not for the faint hearted, after all, having your
own images displayed for all and sundry to see and criticise is a little daunting.
I personally love to see other members pictures and I'm certain everyone else does too, that's what makes the Competition evening one of the best meetings during the year. I maintain that I've never taken a great image and I'm sure you will agree, but I love to strive and try.

Now after 3 years of not being able to enter I look at my images so far for this year wondering how they might compare?
But the truth is, that it really does not matter,  if  you like your images and enjoy taking them, then
that is surely what counts.

My good friend Graham Soden bequeathed a wonderful photographic shield to the Bird Club
last year.
Given to the overall winner, decided on the night, by the audience.  A great way to support your favourite shot.
Last year Dave Jackson was that winner not only taking the shield home for a year but having his
name engraved upon it.
Mind you it was a brilliantly close fought battle with Nikon guru Dave Thomas and deservedly so.

There are lots of wildlife categories in which you can enter and it does not need to be a rarity or some far flung exotica to stand a chance.

Remember though you do not stand any chance of winning if you do not enter and all you need to enter is to be a Northants Bird Club member.

Take the Bull by the horns and enter your favourite shots and be damned.

You never know the Judge may take pity on you and award a category winner...... please!

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Inglorious 12th

Today is the start of the grouse shooting season when shotgun wielding ‘hunters’ who probably can’t tell the difference a Common Buzzard and a Golden Eagle, (unsurprising really as they’re not likely see either species on a grouse moor) aim to shoot as many Red Grouse as they can for pleasure.

You may ask what this has to do with Northants Bird Club, after all the nearest moor is almost a hundred miles away. Well, for a start, we regularly run trips to the parts of the UK to appreciate the birds and habitat we’re not graced with here.

Secondly, it’s the county’s own Mark Avery who’s behind the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting.

I’ve been out delivering leaflets in Northampton and seen a small increase in votes over the last few days but we’re still under 100 votes in each of the constituencies I’ve delivered to. The petition currently has around 87,000 signatures, at 100,000 signatures this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

An excerpt from Chris Packham’s press release:

Foxes, stoats, weasels and crows are legally shot or killed in traps or snares. Birds of prey are illegally shot, poisoned, trapped or trampled in their nests. This is big business. A day’s shooting can cost a fortune and a single shooter can blast hundreds of grouse from the sky. But ask the people downstream about grouse moors being drained – their houses were full of water off the hills last winter.

Yesterday the BBC reported on the 8th tagged Golden Eagle to go missing in a notorious area of Scotland:

Please sign and help to ban this out-dated and wildlife-destroying practice once and for all.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Happy Birthday Ken Scales

Many happy returns Ken, on your 80th birthday! 🎂

Wishing you all the very best on your birthday and we hope you have a speedy recovery from your recent knee operation. 

Ken is a very active member of the Bird Club and regularly attends meetings and trips at home and abroad keeping us all entertained with his good humoured tales. The shot above is from our March trip to South Africa.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 3rd August


A reminder to members and an invitation to non-members that our next indoor meeting will be tomorrow evening (Wednesday 3rd August) when our very own intrepid traveller and expert naturalist Jeff Blincow will provide a presentation on the Wildlife of Chile.

Chile is a challenging country to locate and study wildlife, but Jeff and the team managed some exceptional sightings as well evidenced by the images on show tomorrow evening.

The meeting starts at 7.30pm, the venue being the Anglian Water Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir which is situated off the road causeway between Holcot and Brixworth villages (post code NN6 9SJ).

Parking is available next to the lodge with additional facilities next to the fishing boats below the lodge. Hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Neil M

Friday, 22 July 2016

Rutland Birdfair 19th - 21st August

It's that time of year again when birders from Northants and beyond make the annual migration to Leicestershire for the Rutland Birdfair.

If you're looking for new optics, ideas for a birding holiday or just browsing the incredible artwork on display this is the place to be. If you've never been before you're in for a treat.

If you visit on the first day you could join in the debate as Mark Avery asks "Is there a future for grouse shooting" in the events marquee at 4.45pm

Or on Sunday at 3.30pm

I'll be volunteering at the event so if you're in marquee 7 or 8 on Saturday afternoon tap me on the shoulder and say hello, I won't say no to an ice-cream!

See you there.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

African blues

Its been a little while now since the Northants Bird Club came back from South Africa.
David Arden has sent a few of his images from the trip, so I thought it would be nice to
share them with you and remind ourselves of a Great trip supported by Diverse Africa.

So in no particular order

Doesn't it take you back, Thank you David, for reminding us, with your lovely images.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Last Wednesday evening offered a great opportunity for bird club members to catch up with
old and new friends alike. Relaxed discussions whilst enjoying burgers, sausages etc
cooked by Bob Gills own fair hand seemed to be the order of the day.

This is Bobs 2nd year of cooking the BBQ by himself and as yet no fatalities,  so not a bad  record then, so far. To be honest Bob spent most of the evening cooking, cleaning,
washing and ironing  not having enough time to enjoy a burger himself (never mind!).

Members enjoyed a stroll around the reservoir with highlights of Buzzards and Red Kite sightings.

Later on it seemed like everyone made for the indoors all vying to take photographs of a range of
insects that were on the loose, not only was it good fun to watch but good to know the varied interests of our members.
John Showers had also set up his microscope, coupled to a computer screen  and everyone took a good look at mini-beasts in great detail.

A big Thank-you to Sarah, John, Bob and all those that helped to  make the meeting a  success, I'm
sure everyone had a thoroughly good time.

A great venue with good nosh and a wonderfully friendly atmosphere, what more could you ask for.

Another one next year? we'll see what we can do.

On another note I was rather saddened to hear that our friend Frank Smith is not too well at this moment.
Green Sandpiper Pitsford

We all send our best wishes, get well soon Frank.

Monday, 4 July 2016


Jeff Blincow, hosted our Saturday morning Photographic meeting this last weekend .

This meeting was intended to show the different aspects and methods of making not
only good foto's into very good foto's but to retrieve desperate images into a state
you would be pleased to keep and not automatically put into the trashcan.

Jeff showed us a few tricks of the trade in not only cloning from one image, but also
how to amalgamate the best parts of two images into making one superb image.

Coupled with a good back grounding of editing processes Jeff also showed us how an
old and free editing program (paint shop pro) could hold its own with more up to date packages.

All in, we had a very informative and very interesting meeting that as far as I was
concerned could have gone on much longer.

I'm sure that all who attended went home with a few more skills and very much
appreciated all Jeff's efforts.

I  would just like to  Clarify one point however, that is these processes cannot be used in the
NBC photographic competition, but are are really useful for personnel and show images.

Many Thanks Jeff.

On another  note, an effort will be made for the Wednesday NBC meeting for a selection of
insects to be available to photograph, so please bring your cameras along.

Keep Clickin'..............Robin.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Photographic Meeting, Saturday 2nd July

Hi All,

A reminder of the meeting tomorrow at Anglian Water Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir, Holcot where Jeff Blincow will be giving us a talk on cloning. 

Here are before and after shots of an Indian Roller, see if you can spot the difference, 7 in all. If you'd like to see how it's done come along tomorrow for 10.15am to learn more.

We hope to see you there.

Monday, 27 June 2016


Sunday the 26th June the N B C car trip.

B****y weather, will the forecast ever get it right? good job we were in Stingray with Troy Tempest
at the helm. It was still raining on our arrival at the RSPB's premier reserve Minsmere, downing a coffee, a Mr Kipling cake , sandwich, a Kit Kat, a Jam tart, etc I managed to catch up with the rest of the crew.

 Apart From Trish joining us, we were the only participants Troy (Bob) Wendy and myself and I'm pretty sure our dear friend, Graham was there in spirit.

Bearded Bellbird

Sand martins whirring around like a cloud above their nesting chambers didn't seem to mind too
much about the rain.  An interlude of, I think it was sunshine brought out a good selection of hover
flies and a few other bits and bobs, it wasn't long before Wendy picked up a Hobby probably picking
off some of the newly emerged dragonflies. As expected Little Egret and Marsh Harriers were soon added.

Mindfull of the dark clouds approaching, the Beach  hide was beelined for, so not much time to look
for Wasp spiders, Lizards and the like.

Feeling hungry I ate another Kit Kat and a sandwich that Wend had brought. Munching away we
watched a perch full of Kittiwakes, the resident flock of Barnacles were about, as were around a
dozen or so sum plum Med Gulls. Also in their finery were beautiful Black Tailed Godwits. No sign
however of the infamous Black browed Albatross. Troy found our only yum yum Sandwich Tern.

Passing the sluice gates with more dark clouds arriving Wend' pointed out her second Hobby.
Moving ever onward I stopped for a general look for invertebrates, the only thing of note was one

of our lovely Soldier flies, this was a Flecked General don't you just love the names. Sadly it was
dead may be parasitised by something , don't ever come back as an insect!
One of a group of Linnets in the gorse

Singing Golfinch

We made our way back to the car park noting the Koniks, as I began to feel a little peckish.

Suitably refreshed, we reckon Trish had some Victoria sponge at the cafe, we trundled off to
the Tower hide, as I entered a Bittern was about to  land in the reed bed directly in front of the hide.

A lot of neck

Look at those long legs

In all six different Bitterns showed in under one hour, as all this was going on a fine Short Eared Owl
was giving super views near the sluice but we were a little distant, with the threat of a good downpour we decide to remain in the hide.

Even with the inclement weather wildlife has to go on, we had homes to go to. Minsmere is a fare
distance to travel approximately two and a half hours from Northampton and its no mean feat to drive
all that way and back in a day, so many thanks from all to Bob for getting the business done.

Minsmere always has lots to offer, the warden told tales of Bee wolfs attacked and dismembered by
Wasps, flying Antlions,  etcetera, won't belong before we're back then.

Anyways must go now, apparently my dinner is ready.