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.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


After the furore  of last Wednesdays competition one of the best moments of the evening was the Captioned Pics category. These are not judged in any way except by the audience reaction on the night
Causing quite an amount of laughter, I thought I'd reproduce them here so we can  all enjoy them once again.

In Gambia,  Mark haggles over the going rate
Yes smells like a Dusky
Supposed to be a night Heron here ?

Phone Home
I've Picked up my Penguin 
Oh no ! I'm going Bald

Hope you all have a good chuckle at these, thanks to all those  submitting a Captioned Pic.

On a more serious note someone entered this image in the Mammals category, when it clearly
should have been in  Other Vertebrates !

Hope you enjoyed,    Cheerz for now Rob.

Friday, 9 February 2018


So the battle commenced at 7.30 pm sharp, by 10.15 pm the battle had ended and it's fair to say that Dave Jackson had emerged victorious .
That's not to say that the battle was not intense,  exactly the opposite, there was some very fierce fighting encounters.
I would say that 2017 had arguably the best set of images entered over the years.
I would like to Thank all the photographers who entered, spending vast amounts of time, energy, and money to present their images.
As always a big Thank you goes to John Showers for getting it all together for our delectation, no mean feat.
The audience plays a crucial part in the evening simply by turning up and voting in return for the Bird Club's efforts, as they say it's not what your Bird Club can do for you, but what you can do for your Club so thank you, to all those members and visitors who stayed for what was a long evening's entertainment.
Lastly, THANKS to Sarah for all her hard work behind the scenes.

So for the 3rd time in a row DJ pulled the rabbit out of the hat and won the GRAHAM SODEN SHIELD. Graham was an all round good naturalist, photographer and nice guy, a competition involving all aspects of nature is his legacy to the Northants Bird Club.

I guess rather I know, as always there will be great debates until next year on the images presented, but this is all part and parcel of a competition, at least there are no blurred entries ... God forbid, who'd be a judge eh !
So it falls to me to congratulate Dave on a battle well fought and have the Graham Soden shield engraved for presentation next meeting........Well Done Dave .

All the images received will be on Competition header along with all the winners 1, 2, 3 in each category) separately......

Overall Winner, Black-headed Gull. Dave Jackson

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Club photograhic competition


Wednesday 7th February sees the return of the annual club photographic competition. Members have submitted their images from the last twelve months and these have been judged by an independent professional photographer.

The meeting commences promptly at 7.30pm and following notices we will immerse straight in to the images which are placed in a variety of wildlife categories (it's not just birds) for our perusal. Our judge has selected his personal favourites and members will be asked to vote on the overall winner who will then receive the Graham Soden trophy.

The venue will again be the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and of course hot drinks and biscuits will be available. Come along and enjoy!

Neil M

Courtesy of Dave Jackson.

Monday, 29 January 2018


A change is as good as a rest is the old expression, so for a change the Bird Club trip visited Rutland Water.

Rutland Water Nature Reserve is managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust in Partnership with Anglian Water.
Created in the 70s it is an important wildfowl reserve, and is a credit to all involved.
Over the years the sanctuary has evolved for not only the wildlife but also those who wish to enjoy it. Comprising of around a thousand acres the lagoons have been purposely made with the wild life in mind. There are nearly 30 hides in which to view the area, not including the visitors centre.

Sunday turned into a gorgeous day weather wise, a welcome relief for those who have been suffering from SAD so long.
The usual guys Bob, Mark, Wendy and myself met our good friend Tim Newton and later Richard Barford joined us.

Tree Rat
Brown Tree Rat

Adjacent to the Visitor's Centre is a bird feeding area this is the best site for Tree Rat along with various other passerines. A Muntjac quietly moved around but disappeared as the lady came to refill the feeders. This area also had a purpose built photography hide, not a bad idea when you consider how many Trust Members carry a camera these days.

Redhead Smew

Male Smew
Tim was paid large sums of money, we are talking footballer numbers here, as our team leader. Slowly we made headway to the Sandpiper hide overlooking lagoon 4. A treat in the bright sunshine were a party of Redhead Smew supplement by several  iconic males absolutely wonderful ! I guess these were the highlights of the day.

Male and female Pintail
Now I don't know how Mark does it, but he has the knack of finding a needle in a haystack, lucky for us, with  great number's of waterfowl mulling here there and everywhere Mark found the only American Wigeon on site, Well Done.
Eurasian Wigeon, Shoveler, Goosander and Pintail all made an appearance along with Sparrowhawk and Red Kite.

First Primrose for the year

One of a party of Siskin

We  ambled around many of the hides picking only the best as advised by our expensive trip leader. We were seeing lots of incidental stuff and I could not help but feel a yearly pass would be very beneficial.

It's no doubt that good weather helps to make a nice day out but good friends both human and feathered make an exceptional day out.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Post meeting synopsis - The Gambia by Dave Jackson.


The first indoor meeting of the year was held on Wednesday 3rd Jan when we were privileged to enjoy Dave Jackson's presentation and take on the Gambia, that fabulous little country on the west coast of Africa. The Gambia, now an independent country once 'owned' by Great Britain, provides an excellent opportunity for the wildlife enthusiast to sample a little of the African experience. Although there is little in the way of free-ranging mammals these days, there are still plenty of birds and an opportunity of seeing reptiles and insects too.

Dave provided plenty of high quality digital images depicting much of the bird life on offer, and also ensured that the cultural aspects of this small country were illustrated too. It seems that over the years there has been some development with improved roads and other infrastructure with investment from overseas but the general easy going and friendly character of this country remains.

During our winter months the Gambia plays host to quite a number of birds that during the summer can be found in Europe, making it even more interesting to find and identify wintering migrants among the often more exotic African residents! I particularly marvelled at Dave's Abyssinian Roller images, somehow capturing the poise and action of this charismatic and beautiful subject and also the incredibly bright azure colours of the flight feathers. The presentation was made all the more enjoyable with stories of ventures that went according to plan and also those that went not so well, such is the nature of this vibrant little country entirely surrounded with the much bigger and French-dominated country of Senegal!

A well crafted and vivid presentation that provided plenty of information and expectations to anyone planning to go to the Gambia, and bringing back some fabulous memories for those that have already ventured and enjoyed the charms of this tiny African nation. Thank-you very much Dave!


Neil M

Violaceous Turaco.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Back from the brink project


A message from Susannah O'Riordan...

I’m one of the Project Officers working on Back from the Brink, an initiative supported by The National Lottery which has 19 projects across the country working towards saving a number of rare and threatened species.  I’m based in Rockingham Forest, leading the ‘Roots of Rockingham’ project which is focused on improving woodland habitats in Rockingham for 15 priority and 11 secondary target species including birds, plants, moths, butterflies, bats and reptiles.  5 of our 15 priority species are birds, namely Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Spotted Flycatcher.  You can find out more about the project here

To gain a better idea of the distribution of the target species and to monitor the impact of habitat management work being carried out, we are aiming to survey as many of the target woodlands as possible and are looking for willing volunteers who’d like to get involved in this work.  We’ve got a couple of training workshops coming up soon that will inform people about the target species and how we are going to survey for them, and allow people to sign up to help. These are being led by one of our project partners, the RSPB. I’ve attached information on these workshops to this email and they can also be found on our website

If there are people that would like to get involved in the bird surveying but can’t attend either of the workshops, they can contact me directly as we could still use their help.  

If you’d like any further info, please let me know

Thank you

Best wishes
Susannah O’Riordan 

Rockingham Forest Project Officer - Back from the Brink

Tel 01780 444067 Mobile 07483 039324 (limited reception)

Based at: Forestry Commission Office, Top Lodge, Fineshade, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 3BB

Butterfly Conservation, Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5QP
Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468). Charity registered in England and Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268).

Back from the Brink – Inspiring collaboration to save England's most threatened species

Back From the Brink
Heritage Lottery Fund
Butterfly Conservation

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Next Indoor Meeting and Happy New Year!


Our first indoor meeting of 2018 will be this Wednesday 3rd January when our very own Dave Jackson will be presenting on the birds and other wildlife of Gambia. Dave has visited this tiny country in Western Africa several times and made every effort to digitally record the fabulous birds and additional wildlife for our enjoyment. The club visited the Gambia as part of our international tours a few years ago and no doubt Dave's presentation will bring back some pleasant memories for many.

The meeting begins promptly at 7.30pm at our usual venue within the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and hot drinks and biscuits will be available - we look forward to seeing you there!

Happy New Year with Best Wishes for a successful birdwatching year in 2018!

Neil M

Spur-winged Plover.


Saturday, 23 December 2017


With the advent of the cooler weather we had a short time ago, I stocked up on bird food and feeders.
Thinking that the poor mites, after  freezing nights and cold days the very least I could do was to give them a helping hand.
 My Starlings and woodpigeons quickly ate the bulk of what I had put out, with my Tits, Robins and Wrens etc turning up too late to find the meal worms and suet that was meant for them gone.
Fat balls attracted several beautiful Blue Tits absolutely gorgeous in the cold sunshine, while the Robin braved conflict searching my food bucket as I was dealing with other items.
A lone male Blackcap knew I hadn't got my camera and posed in full view on the ivy covered Hawthorn and a band of nomadic Long Tailed Titmice descended upon the apple tree to glean
anything that was still available.
Goldfinch beauties,  Chaffinch and Greenfinches commandeered  the seed feeders. Blackbirds spent valuable energy chasing their counterparts around , a lone Redwing also paid a visit.
All was well, I felt good that in my own little way I could help these hapless little darlings, they must have realised it was Christmas time, my work was done I wished them well.

So it brings me nicely around to wish all our members and readers a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year and remember, giving brings its own rewards.

A Sparrow Hawk at Mcdonald's

Friday, 15 December 2017

Vinehouse Farm Birdwatch Events


We recently enjoyed a presentation from Nicholas Watts MBE, mostly associated with his wildlife-friendly farming business at Deeping St Nicholas in Lincolnshire. There are two 'Winter Birdwatch' events at the Vinehouse Farm complex early next year, Sunday 21st January and Saturday 3rd February. Tickets are available at £5 each and can be booked by 'phoning 01775 630208 or on-line -


Neil M

Tree Sparrow
courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Reed Bunting.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Post meeting synopsis


On Wednesday we were well entertained by Chris and Caroline Ward with their presentation of the birds and wildlife of Australia (Part 1 Queensland). Judging from the comments, plenty of the audience had been to the same part of the world and were able to relate to many of the images and the dialogue delivered by Chris. 

Their trip to Australia had been a three month extravaganza all accommodated cost-wise because they completed a short term house and vehicle swap. So while they were enjoying the sunshine of Australia, an Australian couple were enjoying the delights of Milton Keynes. I think I know where I would rather be of the two!

As always Chris presented some stunning images of the colourful birds of 'down under' and some of the endemic mammals too, all well-researched and put into context in the way that Chris being a perfectionist always manages.

Chris and Caroline return to the club in April 2018 when they will present the second part of their adventure. It was an excellent turn-out of both members and non-members on Wednesday evening and I'm sure the same will happen again in April!


Neil M

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Indoor Meeting 6th Dec


Our last indoor meeting of the year will be this coming Wednesday (6th December 2017) when we will enjoy a presentation from Chris Ward on the birds and wildlife of Australia. Chris is a regular visitor to the club and his presentation is in two parts with Part 2 due to be delivered in April 2018.

The meeting will commence at 7.30pm at our usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and hot drinks and biscuits will be available as usual. All welcome!

Neil M

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Northants BTO Newsletter

Northants BTO Quarterly Newsletter - Autumn 2017
View this email in your browser

From Barrie Galpin and Ben Reeve, Regional Representative and Regional Ambassador for the BTO in Northants

Hi all,

We're proud to announce the release of the first of a regular quarterly newsletter for the BTO in the Northants region. The autumn edition includes an introduction to the regional team, information on the various BTO surveys undertaken in the county, a spotlight on Pitsford Water and other interesting information including BTO Training Courses and the brilliant BTO Bird ID videos.

The newsletter can be viewed by clicking on the following link -

Northants BTO Autumn 2017 Newsletter

Or by typing the following web address in your browser -

We do hope you enjoy the newsletter and if you have any feedback including suggestions for things you'd like to see in the the next newsletter we'd love to hear from you!

All the best,

Barrie and Ben.

Barrie Galpin
BTO Regional Representative for Northants
15 Top Lodge, Fineshade, Corby. NN17 3BB
01780 444351
07717 446417

Ben Reeve
BTO Regional Ambassador for Northants
7 Rectory Close, Crick, Northants, NN6 7SY
Twitter: @NorthantsBTO
Personal Twitter: @BeardWarbler
01788 824413
07961 038455

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Hi all,

This Sunday's (26th) NBC trip will be to Woodwalton Fen.

Woodwalton is a great place to spend a few hours rambling or sitting in hides.

A chance of Marsh Harrier, Short Eared Owl, Chinese Water Deer and Otter etc.

An outside chance of Long Eared Owl if we are very lucky.

So if you fancy the prospect and a bit of fresh air, why not give Bob Gill a ring on   07938680386.

Just a reminder PLEASE, NBC Subscriptions were due in March, so if anyone still needs to pay their subs would they do so to any Committee Member ASAP. Thanks !