Wednesday, 26 April 2017

NBC Scotland Trip

Just a few shots from our long weekend in the Scottish Highlands.

Some of the group, Mountain Hare, Pine Marten, Red Grouse, Black-throated Diver, Osprey & Mistle Thrush.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Ringing recoveries


Eleanor was greeted with a hunting Barn Owl, two Yellow Wagtails and two Wheatears in the Brampton Valley below Hanging Houghton first thing this morning...

Some recent ringing recoveries have come through from the BTO Ringing Unit and kindly disseminated by our local ringing secretary Nick Wood...

W24716 is a ring fixed on the leg of an adult Mute Swan on 5th April 2008 in Leicestershire. The ring was photographed by Cathy Ryden at Guilsborough Fish Ponds on 15th March 2017 where this bird is the male on territory. Cathy successfully photographed the ring on this bird at the same venue in 2015 so these small ponds are clearly his own back yard. This bird is at least eleven years old.

A male Fieldfare was caught and ringed at Pitsford Reservoir on 30th December 2011 (LC22169) and was sadly killed by hunters on or about 15th January 2017 at Trainou, Loiret, France. Although the simple distance between the two sites is 530km clearly this nomadic bird had travelled many thousands of km during its life.

On 28th July 2016 a young Blackbird was ringed by a Swedish ringer at Vanbo, Smedjebacken, Dalarnas Lan near Kopparberg. This bird turned up in a mist net at Milton Keynes Community Orchard on 20th February this year where it's gender was confirmed as a female. In 207 days this young migrant travelled a minimum of 1347km and probably wintered in Milton Keynes.

Yellowhammers are generally considered sedentary so when John Woollett caught and ringed a female at Astcote on 8th January 2015 and this bird was found dead in the village (believed to be a road casualty) on 17th March this year it wasn't particularly surprising. It is a shame that with small birds many of our recoveries are only recorded when they become a casualty.


Neil M

Mute Swan.


Courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Yellowhammer courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Images of spring in Northamptonshire


The pictures say it all!

Neil M

Kelmarsh Estate woodland,
images courtesy of Lynne

Tit nest and eggs in a Kelmarsh
nestbox, image courtesy of Lynne

Little Ringed Plover,
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Tree Sparrow, images
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Nestling Blackbirds,
image courtesy of Chris

Drake Garganey at Hollowell
Reservoir, courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Snakes Head Fritillary
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Lady Smock, courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Male Bullfinch,
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Female Bullfinch,
image courtesy of
Cathy Ryden.

Greenfinch, courtesy
of Cathy Ryden.

Yellowhammer, image
courtesy of Cathy Ryden.

Marsh Tit, image
courtesy of Chris Payne.

Singing Dunnock, courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Oystercatcher, image
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Indoor Meeting 3rd May


On Wednesday 3rd May 2017 Rick and Elis Simpson will be providing an introductory presentation on 'Waderquest', a project for wading bird enthusiasts intent on raising the profile of wading birds and their protection.

The meeting will start at 7.30pm as usual, commencing with notices and an opportunity for a hot drink and biscuits. The venue will be The Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir, Brixworth Road, Holcot NN6 9SJ.

All welcome!

Neil McMahon


Sanderling and Oystercatchers.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Environmental issue at Milton Malsor/Blisworth


A plea in relation to a local environmental concern on the south side of Northampton...

My name is Brian Sumpton and I have been a RSPB volunteer for over 30 years.

I am currently working on wildlife issues for a group called stop rail central. I am sure many of your members will know about the proposals to site two massive Rail Freight Terminals near junctions 15 and 15A of the M1. If these go ahead almost 1,200 acres of farmland will be lost to wildlife. Whilst this area is not of major importance for birds it is classed as supporting habitat for the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA. Notable birds include overwintering Golden Plover, (500+), Lapwings and Skylarks.

As a part of our fight to stop these proposals going ahead we have a petition that will go to the Secretary of State for Transport. Could I ask if your members would be prepared to sign a petition against this proposal at

Andrea Leadsom our local MP and SoS for the Environment is supporting us.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Indoor Meeting 5th April


Our next indoor meeting is on Wednesday 5th April when club member Paul Fuller will kindly provide an illustrated presentation on the wildlife of Tanzania, a stunning country in East Africa famous for many wildlife chronicles.

Even committed birders with cameras can't ignore the amazing mammals of this African arena and I'm sure Paul's images will reflect this with a cross-section of creatures prepared to be photographed.

As usual we start at 7.30pm and hot drinks and biscuits will be available and all are welcome to our venue at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir.


Neil M


Spotted Hyena

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Bird Club Photographic Meeting

Another successful meeting over with many topics covered including:

  • ISO - 'don't be afraid of the dark'
  • Auto-ISO - 2 members ahead of the game and already using!
  • Blurred image or grainy image? You choose
  • Cleaning up digital noise - Neat Image©
  • How to get that perfect background - thanks Paul
  • How the judge judged the BC competition
We ran out of time before we'd covered all the topics on the agenda so next time we'll be getting to grips with the camera settings and going outside to practice on birds in flight, depth of field and anything else you'd like to cover. 

See you next time.

Jackdaw taken with a Canon 7D Mark II on ISO 6400


We’ve been holding meetings at the usual venue for coming up to 2 years and thanks to Robin, the next date is Saturday 18th March where we’ll be looking at camera settings.

The aim of the meeting is to help you get the best out of your digital photography, but is it for you? Here’s a questionnaire to see if you’d benefit from coming along.

How often do you change the settings on your camera?

1)    Frequently, whenever you’re in the field and depending on conditions
2)    Occasionally, but not very often
3)    Almost never, you let the camera decide what’s right

How often do you shoot in RAW

1)    Every time
2)    Not sure, tried it once but didn’t like it
3)    No way! Have you seen the temperature out there?

You shoot a hundred photos and they’re blurred or under/over-exposed. Do you:

1)    Blame yourself & read the manual to see what went wrong
2)    Blame the light conditions, winter’s never a good time of year for photography
3)    Check out cameras & lens prices on Wex/eBay/MPB etc.

Everyone seems to be getting better shots than you, do you:

1)    Compare your shots, check the exif data and change your settings
2)    Resign yourself to the fact that they’re better photographers than you
3)    Tell yourself they’ve got better equipment

How often do you up your ISO?

1)    Whenever conditions dictate
2)    Only if the light isn’t good, but rarely above 400
3)    What’s ISO?

You’re disappointed that your shots didn’t do that well in the competition. Do you?

1)    Congratulate the winners and ask for tips
2)    Shrug your shoulders and try to take similar images for next year’s entry
3)    Blame the judge and sell all your equipment on eBay

How did you do? I’m sure you have a good idea but if you add up the totals e.g. if you answered question 2) for all of them then that’s 6 x 2 = 12 points. Your score:

6 – 7; Well done, the meeting starts at 10.30, be early as you’ll be running it!
8 – 10; Impressive. Come along, we’d love your input
11 – 18; The meeting is made for you, please come along, we'd love to see you

Below: Great Spotted Woodpecker. ISO1600, f6.3, 1/200 tripod mounted. Cropped, no noise reduction.