Monday, 21 May 2018

Otmoor Under Threat

It hardly seems like a day goes by without another woodland or wetland being threatened by destruction or development. 

Over the border in Oxfordshire a much-loved reserve is under threat from a new road proposal. Many Northants birders will be familiar with Otmoor- it’s a regular venue for the monthly Bird Club car trips and regularly visited by others due to its relative proximity to the county but did you know it’s under threat? 

Inconceivable as it might seem, a new road proposal is threatening to cut right through this marvellous reserve just as it’s reaching its prime.

More information and details of a Government petition can be found here.

Dunnock - Otmoor, Dave J.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Birds of Yunnan talk


Talks by Bird Club member, Jeff Blincow are for me, one of the
highlights in the calendar and this talk, looking at his three-week
winter trip to Yunnan, lived up to expectation.

In birding terms, Yunnan is not very well known, so this was a bit of an expeditionary birding trip made with his regular comrades Bob Bullock & Nigel Goodgame. They met up with a Chinese guide from Chengdu & then over the next few days drove south to Yunnan, a province in south-west China that borders Laos & Myanmar (Burma).

Jeff explained, that like most countries, China's landscape & wildlife has suffered from human activities such as deforestation & hunting, but pockets of good habitat still exist and are now protected. Within these parks, a number of species can be found. Some, like the Dusky Warbler, White's Thrush & Red-flanked Bluetail were familiar as they occasionally turn up in the UK, but many others like the Rusty-fronted Barwing and Scimitar Babblers are unique to Asia.

Seeing birds in lowland forest, with bamboo thickets can be hard work, so it was good to hear that the locals have seen a business
opportunity and set up feeding stations & hides. Where, for a small
fee, you sit & wait quietly and can get great views of a variety of
forest species that you would struggle to see, let alone photograph if you were walking the trails. The fact that the locals are involved
gives hope that these remaining forest areas will be well looked

Judging by the number of quality photos of species such as Pheasants, Babblers, Bulbuls, Barbets, Flycatchers, Laughing-thrushes, Minlas, Sibias, Leafbirds, Sunbirds & Thrushes it looked like the hides were well worth the £5 a day fee!

As with all of Jeff's talks, it was interesting, educational & not all
about birds. There were a variety of other species thrown in, Trees,
Fungi, Dragonflies and by visiting a local museum, even managed to include Dinosaurs!

But birds were the main theme and as well as discussing migration
routes, taxonomic splits and the identification of Phylloscopus
warblers, there were some gripper photos including Ibisbill,
Forktails, Chinese Rubythroat & Red-headed Trogon to name a few.

All in all, I thought this was one of Jeff's best illustrated talks
yet, which is remarkable considering he didn't even take his camera!

Mark Williams

Sunday, 29 April 2018

New Hookpod initiative to reduce albatross and turtle casualties...

Message from Becky Ingham from Hookpod...

I am contacting you to seek some support for a project I am involved in to save thousands of albatrosses and turtles from a grisly death on longlines in the rich waters off the Brazilian coast. I’m hoping this may be of interest to the members of the Northamptonshire Bird Club.

We are aiming to completely equip five Brazilian longliners with Hookpods. The Hookpod is an ingenious new British invention, which covers the barb of the hook during setting the lines in longline fishing operations, and thus prevents the accidental capture of seabirds, particularly albatross and also turtles. It then opens when it reaches 20m depth, beyond the diving depth of birds and the feeding depth of most turtles, to release the hook to begin safely fishing. In this way, fishermen catch fish and not birds or turtles. It is re-usable, durable for around 2-3 years and has no impact on either the fishing operation or the catch rate of target fish.

As you will see from the website we have the support of both Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham in delivering this project and are working closely with partners in Brazil to monitor the results. If we see the expected decline in turtle bycatch, the Hookpod will be the first EVER mitigation device to prevent cross-taxa bycatch in fisheries. 

We are seeking support in the form of any level of donation - every £1 will go towards the final total. However, as this is a crowdfunded project we have to reach our target of £57,000 to receive any funds at all! The link to the website is here:

Spreading the word about this project is also part of the help you could provide. Even if a donation is not possible, sharing this email, flier and information with anyone you know who might be interested in supporting this work would be incredibly helpful. 

If you have any queries about either the project or the work that Hookpod carry out, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are confident that getting Hookpods out into longline fisheries will make the difference between survival or extinction for some of our most iconic albatross species and I very much hope that you and the group feel able to support this in some way.

With very best wishes and thanks. 


Becky Ingham

CEO Hookpod Ltd

Find out more and donate at..

+44 (0) 1692 580068 | 07535 270077
Follow us on Twitter: @Hookpod

Black-browed Albatross.
Image courtesy of Dave Francis.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 2nd May


Our next indoor meeting is on Wednesday 2nd May when club member Jeff Blincow will be providing an illustrated digital presentation 'Birding in Yunnan'.

This talk highlights the superb birds seen on a birding trip to South West China in the winter. At first this would seem an unusual idea but the remaining lowland forest along the Burmese border holds a strong resident avifauna and the region is the wintering ground for migrants from nearly all points of the compass.

The meeting starts as usual at 7.30pm and hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening.

Everyone is welcome!

Neil McMahon

White-rumped Sharma.

Rusty-fronted Barwing.

Both images courtesy of Jeff Blincow.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Dawn Chorus Event at Pitsford

Sunday 6th May 4am—6am

Celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day by rising with the larks and taking in nature’s symphony as the birds announce the start of a new day. Maybe you might also catch a glimpse of some nocturnal animals making their way back to bed. Enjoy a walk in the fresh morning air with The Wildlife Trusts’ Ant Smith as he guides you through the dawn chorus.

Booking essential   £7 per person, £2.50 for under 16’s.
Breakfast pastries and hot drinks are included in the price. Sorry no dogs allowed on the nature reserve.

The Fishing Lodge, Holcot, Northants. NN6 9SJ — Please bring suitable footwear for muddy, uneven paths, warm clothes and binoculars.

For more information or to get involved contact:  Mischa Cross on: 07734478473

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Summary of Indoor Presentation 4th April

On 4th April a packed meeting much enjoyed Part II of Chris Ward’s excellent illustrated talk “Birds and Wildlife of Australia”.
Chris and his wife Caroline spent 3 months down under during (our) summer in 2016 having cleverly arranged a house and car swap with a couple in Brisbane, who happily spent three months in Milton Keynes for the duration!

Having covered most of their time in Brisbane and it’s surroundings in Part I a few months ago, we were treated first to very close views of Humpback Whales in Hervey Bay where the females gather in the warmer water there to give birth every winter and guide boats guarantee close sightings due to the inquisitiveness of these whales when the boats approach.

Next the illustrated tour moved on to Sydney, where after a brief spell in the city they moved out to the western edge of the Blue Mountains, staying at a couple of the more rural sites recommended for their wildlife interest, particularly catching up with Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wallaroos, Duck-billed Platypus and the tiny shrew-sized marsupial the Yellow-footed Antechinus.  Slides of these mammals were complimented by lovely shots of the birds of the area, some looking a little drab in their winter plumage, some of everything from Eagles to Honeyeaters.

The scenery here was stunning, the amazing sandstone cliffs of the Capertee Canyon – said to be the widest canyon in the world – framing the scenic shots of the wilderness on the valley floor with some welcome slides throughout the talk showing us the accommodation and surroundings in the areas where they had enjoyed their driving and walks.

Next we saw views and animals and birds in and around Darwin.  The monsoons visit this area every year from October to April, but in July when they were there conditions were ideal, although that year some of the dams were on the dry side and some of the most intimate photographs were taken of birds taking advantage of a puddle under a standpipe in a camp site.  They also enjoyed a visit to the famous rock art sites in the Kakadu National Park although somewhat disappointed that some of them have been so obviously embellished in recent times. 

Like most places in the natural world, visiting water bodies is key to finding the birds and animals – here around Pine Creek and Bird Billabong.  Similarly, as in UK road accidents take their toll too, but an Agile Wallaby that had met with an accident had attracted a Dingo briefly which Chris was quick enough to snap before it retreated back into the roadside bushes.  Rare Hooded Parrots were spied here despite having a very restricted range and the magical Bower Birds.  And like true tourists they took a boat trip on the Yellow River to take shots of the Crocodiles and maybe one of the best shots of the whole presentation – a beautiful pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles flying across a perfect blue sky in tandem!

Lastly, Chris closed this thoroughly enjoyable and informative narrative with the “must do” shot standing beside a 7ft giant termite mound and an iconic sunset shot over the lagoon back at Laguna Lookout at Noosa outside Brisbane.

Helen Franklin

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

NBC Photographic Stats 2016/17.

All points awarded in F1 fashion, 1st= 25pts,  2nd= 18pts, 3rd= 15pts.

Results in brackets refer to 2015. Order in total points scored.

2016 STATS,  15 photographers entered, 9 were commended (11 in 2015 ). 

                              IMAGES                 POSITIONS 
NAME                     ENTERED            GAINED                                   POINTS       Pts / IMAGE               P/Im  POSITION.

1  D Jackson.                  33               7 (10), 3x1st, 2x 2nd, 2x3rd.          141 (199)             4.27                          2nd

2  R Gossage.                 39              6 ( - ),  3x1st,  2x2nd, 1x3rd.          126 ( - )               3.23                           5th

3  P Gilbert.                     31              6 ( 1 ), 2x1st,  3x2nd, 1x3rd.          119 (25)               3.83                           3rd

4  D Thomas.                  14              5 ( 9 ), 3x1st, 1x2nd, 1x3rd.          108 (187)              7.71                           1st.

5  B Boswell                    22              4 ( 3 ), 1x1st, 1x2nd, 1x3rd.           73 (48)                 3.32                           4th.  

6  C Bowley.                    20              3 ( 2 ),  1x1st, 1x2nd, 1x3rd.           58 (33)                2.9                             8th.

7  M Swannell                 19              3 ( 3 ),  1x2nd, 2x3rd.                      48 (61)                2.52                           9th.

8  J Spinks                      14              3 ( - ),   3x3rd.                                  45 ( - )                3.21                           6th.

9  J Blincow.                    12              2 ( 2 ),  2x2nd.                                   36 (40)              3.0                             7th

Category Winners as voted by the audience,

1st    D Jackson,                12votes                   NUTHATCH.

2nd  D Thomas,                 11votes                   CRAB PLOVER

3rd   R Gossage                  4votes                    WREN.      

2017 STATS,   14 photographers entered, 13 were commended  

                             IMAGES               POSITIONS
NAME                   ENTERED            GAINED                                  POINTS       Pts /IMAGE                  P/Im POSITION. 

1  D Jackson.               30                   7x1st, 2x2nd, 1x3rd.                      226              7.53                               1st

2  R Gossage.              34                   3x1st, 2x2nd, 4x3rd.                      146             4.29                                3rd               

3  M Swannell.             27                   1x1st, 2x2nd,                                   61             2.26                                5th

4  B Bullock.                34                    3x2nd.                                             54              1.59                                8th

5  P Gilbert.                 26                    1x2nd, 2x3rd.                                  48              1.85                               7th

6  C Bowley.                28                    1x1st, 1x2nd.                                  43               1.54                               9th

7  J Blincow.                 6                     1x1st, 1x3rd.                                   40               6.66                              2nd

8  J Showers.              24                     2x2nd.                                            36               1.5                                10th

9  J Spinks.                 30                      2x3rd.                                            30               1.87                              6th

10 D Thomas.               7                      1x1st.                                             25                3.57                              4th

11 B Boswell.              25                      1x1st                                              25               1.0                                11th                       

12 B Gill.                     26                      1x3rd.                                            15                .58                                12th

13 M Williams.            27                      1x3rd                                             15                .55                                13th

Category Winners as voted by the audience,

1st   D Jackson,               8votes                       BLACK HEADED GULL

2nd  D Thomas,               7votes                       RED BISHOP

3rd  D Jackson                5votes                       RUFF

Photographers with equal points are placed in order with their Points per Image score.

4 more photographers gained places in 2017 than 2016, DJ has improved his hit rate and Jeff Blincow
is  very close to DJ in the points per image score
Again it goes show that a Northants bird can win Graham’s shield, it doesn’t necessarily need to be rare
or taken abroad, saying that a Spanking Red Bishop by DT again missed out by one vote  the same margin 
now for three years.
DJ’s Black headed Gull was a deserved winner striking a wonderful pose in its attempt to catch a fly.
I’m not sure what the outcome was but maybe Dave will let us know.

I Keep banging on about the quality and standard of all the entries and as ever there were some corker’s
this year and you only have to look back over the years on the blog to see some fine imagery.
Sadly some did not gain places but that is not to undermine  their Quality.

I’d like to remind you all that the competition is open to all members,  I reckon that most of these take pictures
so if you have only one image you like (thats what really matters) why not enter it.

The Competition is a great evening’s entertainment but its running time is getting quite long, Hopefully the committee
will come up with some new idea’s for future running.

Lastly as always Thanks to everyone who helps to make the evening special, they know who they are.

Keep Clicking’    Robin.

Catch me if you can.

Monday, 2 April 2018

New Photographic Competition Rules

Hi all,

Over the last few years the NBC Photographic Competition has grown enormously, time was when photographer's entered  'packers' to fill in the competition' entries to make it last an evening.

With the advent of digital and more photographers taking part, we needed to make a few changes in the way the competition is run.

Discussions with interested parties has led to a few rule changes. Also the format of the competition on the night will change slightly and hopefully it will not run on for too long.

So for all members taking part and those that are interested please be aware of the new changes, these can be found under the page header Photographic Rules.

Water Rail
Cheers Robin.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Indoor Meeting 4th April


Our next indoor Meeting is on Wednesday 4th April and our guest speaker will be Chris Ward. Chris is a regular speaker at the club and on this occasion he will be presenting the second part of his adventures in Australia, photographing the birds and other wildlife that came close enough to his lenses 'down under'!

Many members have managed to travel to Australia over the years and these images no doubt will bring back many fond memories. For those of us yet to travel there the presentation will provide a further insight as to what we are missing!

The meeting will commence at 7.30pm at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir and hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening.

Everyone is welcome!


Neil M

Black Swans.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

NBC Car Trip

Otmoor, was the venue for this months trip. I can hardly believe it's been a year since club member's last visited. Alas time flies.
This lovely valley is always worth visiting, although the skies were grey the day as always is made up of good company and the expectancy of something unusual.
Leaving the car park we missed a Barn Owl showing 10 minutes after we passed the fields. Reaching the ridge the evocative calls of Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher could be heard. A Cetti's Warbler sang with near deafening volume, so we ignored it.
Today (Sunday) was the day volunteers were counting Hares so inevitably we didn't see many as they had all run off. Normally this is a great place for Hares and I was hoping to see a bit of boxing.

Reaching the hide, a flock of Reed Buntings, Linnets, Goldfinch and Yellow Hammers etc, were coming to seed on the ground, but the local Sparrow Hawk terrorised the small passerines although after several sorties we didn't see any success by this aerial commander.

Wendy called a Grey Heron catching a frog on the other side of the hide, I Just cannot imagine what it must be like going down that long throat alive !

The local Corvids were also hanging around with menace and intent, their huge bills can be formidable.

After a short time, a Little Egret flew in commencing to fish in the near water,

I suspect he could have done with some chips with that. Moving on Bob needed a pee and went off piste, typically seeing a Kingfisher for his troubles, it didn't stop tho' as I think the perch was too short.

Grass Snakes had been seen but we didn't manage it, again this is a good place to find them, I have seen them entwined half way up the fencing sunning themselves

Around here we met Steve Bennison and Martin Swannell, both NBC member's. They regaled to us about a pair of Peregrines they had observed earlier.

We were without our chief spotter Mark today but Wendy soon stepped into his shoes, finding a very distant Bittern camouflaged on the edge of the reed bed

We headed onward to the screen hides both Marsh Harrier and Red Kites quartered the reeds.

Water Rail squealed and a wonderful pale Buzzard caused a bit of conjecture.

We retraced our steps heading back to the car park.

Back at the feeders a Great Spot raided the peanut feeder.

Reaching the car park for a welcome cup of coffee as we chatted to Martin and Steve who had a similarly wonderful day.

Getting home to watch the race, Bugger, Vettel stole the win from Lewis.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Proposed fencing at Earls Barton GP

A message from Alan Smith at the Wildlife Trust...

Mary’s Lake and Moon Lake form part of the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits, a series of pits that are of international importance for overwintering waterbirds, and which has been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA). Mary’s Lake and Moon Lake, along with Summer Leys Nature Reserve, sit within one of the most publicly-accessed units of the SPA, with a good network of Rights of Way, permitted paths and informal access.
The lakes are regularly visited by good numbers of overwintering birds such as Gadwall, Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted Duck. Public disturbance and lack of management have been identified as the main threats to the wildlife of the sites. Moon Lake is the least-visited of the lakes in this area, as there are no Rights of Way around the lake and access is not possible all the way around. There is a large area of grassland around the lake which has been covered in scrub in recent years, meaning it is less-suitable as grazing habitat for the waterbirds using the lake.
The Wildlife Trust is working with Natural England, Wellingborough Council and the landowner to address the disturbance and management issues on the site. The aim is to allow management, through scrub clearance and grazing, and provide an undisturbed area of open water at Moon Lake.
It is therefore proposed to construct a fence line, as shown below, to create a grazing unit around Moon Lake and create an undisturbed area for birds. The fence line will not impact on any of the current Rights of Way and access will be possible along the western edge as shown.

Should you wish to comment on this proposal please contact the Wildlife Trust on 01604 405285 or email
We will also be on-site to explain the project and answer any questions on Thursday 22/03/18, between 9-30am and 12-30pm, and again on Monday 09/04/18, between 1 and 4pm, at the Moon Lake Fisherman’s car park ( see above for location ).
We are also aware that the Angling Club is considering putting an otter fence around Mary’s Lake itself. Whilst this is their own project we will be liaising with them to ensure that no Rights of Way are affected and that signage and footpath surfaces are improved around that lake.

Alan Smith 
Planning and Biodiversity Officer 

Direct line: 01604 774046
Office: 01604 405285

Tweet: @wildlifebcn
Like: /wildlifebcn

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire
Lings House, off Lings Way 
Billing Lings 
NN3 8BE 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Petition to ban driven grouse shooting

A message from Dr Mark Avery...

This is a note to many of the groups to which I have spoken in the last few years about the problems associated with driven grouse shooting - environmental damage and wildlife crime.

To cut to the chase - there is another e-petition putting pressure on this government to act on this matter, and I am trying to give that e-petition some help in reaching a good target.  It's already at over 36,000 signatures, and although 100,000 looks impossible, a good showing somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 is possible.  It closes on 2 April.

This is the link to the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting

Thank you.

Dr Mark Avery

Red Grouse
courtesy of Dave Jackson.

courtesy of John Gamble.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Club AGM and Indoor Meeting


This coming Wednesday evening (7th March) is the club Annual General Meeting, followed by a presentation by Gary Prescott 'the Biking Birder'!

The AGM is traditionally a very short meeting as presided over by our Chairman Bob Gill. Club accounts will be available for perusal and it is a time to elect or re-elect members for the committee and to perhaps reflect on the past year as well as the future.

Gary is a very keen birdwatcher who has successfully utilised pedal power to see birds all over the UK and beyond. He has raised huge amounts of money through sponsorship for conservation and next month embarks on his next big challenge - Peru!

The meeting starts promptly at 7.30pm as usual at The Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening. We look forward to seeing you there!

Neil M

Courtesy of Dave Jackson.

Courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Frampton and the Beast. NBC Car Trip.

View over the marsh.
To be fair it wasn't much of a beast, the sun broke thro' early and remained all day although it was bloody cold.
It's amazing what you find when having a waz, in this instant Bob saw the only Merlin of the day but paid the price of ripping his winter trousers on a barbed wire fence.

So us  retirees and Mark began our meandering's around the reserve, thats the only way when you've retired.
The reception centre is always good for a few Goldfinch, Greenfinch, and Sparrow shots, as they have some feeders just outside. Lots of waterfowl were on the move, flying Wigeon, Cormorants and flocks of Brents.

Head on Mute.

Sitting in the hides Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew all seen, but typically in a lull  looking at my images I missed a Spotted Redshank, must be a lesson there.

Ambling back to the car park for a bit of snap we then headed back out  toward the Saltmarsh hoping for a Hen or Marsh Harrier or even another Merlin . Distant views were had of Marsh Harrier and Grin'.

Photogenic Canada
Walking along overlooking the Salt marsh to our right by channel, a Water Rail searched the edge of the reeds, then swam across and searched the other side.

'Green' Plover.
As we approached a reedbed on our way back the calls of Bearded Tits could be heard, stopping to try and photograph them soon attracted several other photographers.

The wind blew the reeds constantly, the birds moved constantly, keeping to the back of the reed bed,
but still we tried, the sound of some guys shutter going hundreds to the dozen spurred us on although we couldn't see what he was firing at.
Still we carried on,  I had to wonder what we were doing with the odds stacked against us, but hey who worries about shutter counts .


Frampton is fast becoming the new Titchwell if only for us old buggars I mean retired folk, a lot of effort and strategies have been implemented to make it a wonderful place for birds. Long may it be.

My gratitude goes to Bob Gill for supplying all the accompanying images on this blog, thanks mate.