Monday, 24 October 2016

NBC Monthly Birding Trip

Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk,  was the meeting place for this months venue. On arrival all the
off road parking spaces were already taken, so we opted to park further up the lane. This was not
as easy as you might expect, the lane wasn't that wide and the verges quite narrow.

Eventually parked, we ambled down the long track toward the dunes. Mark had made us aware of two rare wheatears that might be available so hopes were high.

Good job we had a bit of nosh or "nosebag" as Dave Young would

 call it, before we left as it was a fare trek.The weather was very kind, bright and sunny with a slight breeze. But as a budding photographer a bit contrasty (one excuse).

Isabelline Wheatear

The first rare Wheatear we came across was a Isabelline. A rare eastern vagrant, a second for
me within a week as I had seen the Spurn bird earlier. Shortish tail accentuated by long legs
upright stance with a prominent dark alula , possibly the best features to look for.
Most people with a telescope had good views but it was flighty (excuse two). We only managed
distant shots.

The Stonechats would have looked like this, but with no leg iron

Two or three nice Stonechats performed but as I didn't want to incur the wrath of others they
remained distant.

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

Moving on the mobile Desert Wheatear was more obliging giving nice views, a more confiding
bird altogether but it nearly caused altercations amongst a couple of photographic plonkers.

Satisfied with the rather cute Desert Wheatear we wandered back toward the Isabelline.
However the small crowd we joined were waiting for a Pallas's Warbler. As ever Mark was quick
off the mark pun intended in locating this little gem. A gorgeous little thing preening in the
bushes. How these tiny mites ever arrive here is just amazing!

John and Wendy

Reaching the Isabelline again but it was still remaining distant. Slowly but surely we made our way
back when ever observant Mark noticed a couple of Grey Partridge slowly wander across the adjacent
field, this number magically rose to 5 or 6.
Now this bird has been in decline in recent years so I was quite excited to get some images even
though they were not that close and in high contrast light.

Last of the summer wine

Wandering up the narrow lane towards Bob's transport I could not believe the parking of vehicles after we had arrived. Virtually in the middle of the road with wing mirrors still stuck out, no way would a tractor have been able to get by.


A group of Waxwings  had been seen at Burnham Norton so that seemed a good place to go. Just behind a picturesque windmill a small  flock were perched in bushes.
Within a couple minutes a sparrow hawk appeared, whoosh the lot took flight.

Oops gotta go

Moving to Hunstanton cliffs where a short period  of sea-watching was performed then off home
to watch the recorded F1 qualifying.

Many Thanks to Bob Gill as always and for Trish and John for their pleasant company.

Friday, 14 October 2016

NBC Photographic meeting

Hi Folks,

Our next photographic meeting "TALK" about MACRO will be on Saturday 22nd October,
at the usual venue the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford, kick off 10.15am.

We'll discuss the aspects of taking macro photography  of wild mini beasts and all that might
entail, including lenses, settings, etc.

It will be an informal meeting so please join in with questions, points  of view, ideas, etc.

Hopefully we will have a good chat and come away a little bit wiser, at least thats the idea.

Look forward to seeing you there, Coffee, T and bikkies will be available.

Cheerz for now Robin.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

This weeks competition

The first person to give the correct number of Knot in the photo will win this weeks prize.

A stunning pair of used wonky reading glasses

All entries in braille  to my e-mail  address please.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Indoor Meeting 5th October


The next indoor meeting of the club will be on Wednesday 5th October 2016, the venue again being the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir. Our speaker will be the Midlands RSPB Reserves Officer Mike Pollard who will illustrate a personal and corporate view of the work of the RSPB in the Midlands and provide an update on some of the flagship reserves such as Otmoor and Middleton Lakes.

The meeting will commence at 7.30pm with our Chairman Bob Gill presiding and members and non-members are invited to attend. Free hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening.

Please make every effort to attend!


Neil McMahon

Bittern and Turtle Dove.
Both these rare species
breed on RSPB Midlands

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.