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.

NBC Car Trip


Yesterday a car-load of us headed to the North Norfolk coast, stopping first at Sandringham where we were treated to at least one Firecrest.

On next to Holme in an effort to see the Great Knot, only to see the complete flock of summering Knot  (which it spends it's time with) lift off and fly rapidly east! A Marsh Harrier and a Turtle Dove were some compensation.

We drove to the RSPB reserve at Titchwell but there was no sign of the GK. Three Ruff included a couple of moulting males, one of which was displaying between bouts of feeding. Up to four Spotted Redshanks were still in summer plumage, three or four first summer Little Gulls were mobile as were three summer plumage Mediterranean Gulls. Some fledged juvenile Marsh Harriers clearly required further practice at food-passing, losing the hard-earned prey on two occasions!

On next to Brancaster where we walked down to view the Knot flock on Scolt Head. Little, Common and Sandwich Terns fished the shallow waters as we scanned the mostly soft greys of the Knot, interspersed with summer plumage 'Red Knot'. And there it was, the super Great Knot, keeping to the edge of the flock and then coming down to feed on the receding tide! After putting the news out we helped other birders on to the bird as they ambled amongst ordinary holiday makers enjoying the classic sandy Norfolk beach.

We concluded our successful car trip back at Titchwell where Bearded Tits showed well, five Spoonbills were in flight, a Bittern boomed and we watched the antics of the volatile breeding Avocets as they tried to force out any other bird from 'their' stretch of mud and shallow water.


Neil M


Moulting male at Titchwell.

Upside down Little Tern!


Sandwich Tern