Saturday, 2 March 2019

AGM and Indoor Meeting 6th March


The club's AGM is to be held on Wednesday 6th March commencing at 7.30pm at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir. Bob Gill, the club chairman, will be managing the meeting and after the AGM formalities we very much look forward to a presentation from visiting speaker Colin Wilkinson who will be speaking about a recent wildlife trip to Taiwan. Colin is supporting his presentation with images from this exciting Asiatic island.

As usual hot drinks and biscuits will be available during the evening and all are welcome to attend.

Neil M

Barn Owl.

Turtle Dove.
Images courtesy
of Robin Gossage.

Friday, 1 March 2019


Hear ye, Hear ye

and for your delectation, all entries for the Northants Bird Club Photographic Competition, are now on the blog.

So for all those that missed a great evening or would like to simply peruse some wonderful images,

go to,

Friday, 8 February 2019

N B C Photographic Competition.

Wednesday evening drew most Bird Club members to view some of the most exciting nature images brought together by the clubs top photographers.

Up for grabs is the prestigious and coveted,  Graham Soden Shield, to have and to hold for a year to the lucky overall winner (decided by the audience).

With 13 categories to enter and 24 entries each per 14 photographer's there were lots of images to peruse. Initial judging was carried out by a remote  professional photographer with no affiliation to the club or its members.

Several new Photographers joined in the affray this year with several others dropping out.

This year 2018, 9 photographers vied for Grahams shield.

The winning image was taken by new Bird Club member Matt Hazleton from the British Birds category.

Sanderling by Matt Hazleton.
The judge said, a unique and comical moment captured in great light and from a good viewpoint. The main individual is well placed between the out of focus background birds that they don't distract from the subject.

A very Well done to Matt.

A big thank you to all who took part, creating a very exciting evening.

All entered images will be displayed on the photographic competition page in due course.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

An armchair tick -after 32 years

For the old timers in the Bird Club the news that the Pitsford falcated duck found by Dave Burges and Matthew Rodgers in 1987 has just been accepted by the rarities committee finally confirms what we had hoped for. See

NBC Photographic Competition


The club's annual photographic competition is the subject of next Wednesday's indoor meeting on 6th Feb commencing at 7.30pm.

The venue as always is the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir and hot drinks and biscuits are available.

Following notices the images submitted by members will be shown in each of the categories and the membership will be invited to vote on their favourites. The overall winner will be awarded the Graham Soden Shield.

All welcome!

Neil M

courtesy of Dave Jackson.

courtesy of Robin Gossage.

Common Buzzard
courtesy of Clive Bowley.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

N B C Trip to Frampton Marsh.

I secretly wish I had taken this shot, well I did... from a poster in reception sadly.

Hoping to see Hen Harrier,  Frampton is always a good possibility. Walking to the bank overlooking the salt marsh, Bob quickly got the crew onto a Ringtail Harrier a great starter for the day.
Battling with optics against a strong cold wind another brown Harrier appeared but this bird had morphed into a Marsh Harrier, still nice to see especially when I remember how rare they once were back in the early 80's

A Merlin was seen dashing around looking for unsuspecting Mippits or the like over the marsh.

Lapwing Bob Gill

got a juicy one         Bob Gill

Flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover seemed to be in the air constantly, being harassed by at least two Hungry marauding Peregrines.

Peregrine Falcon

Back on Terra-firma, Wigeon and Brents were everywhere

Brent Geese            Bob Gill
Drake wigeon

Wendy, Trish, Mark and Bob
I'm not sure what Mark is adjusting ?

The Need for Feed,             

Back to the car for food and a warm drink,    uummmmm lovely.

Goldfinch          Bob Gill
Afterward a walk around the reserve. 

Gold and Green finches hungrily defend the feeders, two Water Rail break cover in front of us.
A Curlew and a lone Stock Dove search for food,


At best I would say the weather was bracing, but non the less, we all very much enjoyed the day.

We have a home to go to, how wildlife manages in these cold conditions is beyond me, they seem so frail but contend with it they do.

Thanks again to Bob our taxi driver and for Trish braving the weather and putting up with the banter.

Time marches on and so we must fly.

Brent Goose

Friday, 25 January 2019

Epetition on grouse shooting - an economic appraisal

An important message from Dr Mark Avery...

Some time in the last few years I have given a talk to the Northants Bird Club about why we should ban driven grouse shooting.

Today I am asking for your help to move that agenda on just a little.

A guy called Les Wallace has an epetition that simply calls on Defra to carry out a proper economic appraisal of grouse shooting and the land management on which it depends. If his epetiton reaches 10,000 signatures on 2 February then Defra will have to respond to this epetition.  Now, I suspect that they will respond by saying 'no, we're not going to do anything' but I'd like to make them say something publicly on this subject.

I have no doubt that a proper economic appraisal of grouse shooting would show that it is a drain on the public purse because of its impacts on flood risk, water quality, aquatic biodiversity, peat degradation and wildlife loss.  But let's see!

To support Les Wallace's epetition you simply have to click on this link, sign up and click on the confirmation email that you will receive. 

There are nine days left to amass another 3000 signatures.  I think it will be a close run thing so your help could make all the difference.

Many thanks


Dr Mark Avery

Red Grouse.

Meadow Pipit.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Back from the Brink 'Roots of Rockingham' project


A message from Susannah O' Riordan...

We’re looking for help to survey and monitor some of our threatened bird species across Rockingham Forest as part of the Back from the Brink ‘Roots of Rockingham’ Project.

Species that we are focusing on are Willow Tit, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll and Spotted Flycatcher.

We have some free training workshops coming up for WT & LSW in conjunction with RSPB (more details below), and will be running workshops for surveying remaining species later in March.  It’s also possible for people to get involved in looking out for these species if they aren’t able to come along to a workshop.

Upcoming workshops:
Thursday January 31st 10.30am-3.30pm  - Top Lodge, Fineshade, nr Corby,  
NN17 3BB

Wednesday February 6th 10.30am-3.30pm  - Benefield Village Hall, Main  
Street, Lower Benefield, PE8 5AF

Help monitor two of the UK’s rarest species!
We’re looking for willing surveyors with birding experience to help survey and monitor Willow Tits and/or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker across woodlands within the Rockingham Forest area. The training will involve learning survey methods, including the playback method for Willow Tits, and habitat evaluation before choosing a site to survey.

The workshop is running on two dates at different locations (you only need to come along to one of these). If anyone would like to book on a workshop, or find out more information about getting involved, please contact me Susannah O’Riordan,  Tel: 01780 444067

Thank you

Susannah O'Riordan |

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Big Garden Birdwatch

Male Bullfinch
courtesy of John Tilly.


Next week-end is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and most years Ian Wrisdale and members of the Mid Nene RSPB group host an event to help promote the initiative. Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be guided walks at Stanwick Lakes at 10am and again at 11am with an emphasis on garden and woodland birds. In the cabin near to the visitors centre there will be leaflets, childrens craft activities and a nature table display. There will also be a bird ringing demonstration starting at about 8am and concluding at lunch-time. It is likely that all the activities will be centred around the visitors centre and car park area or very close by.


Neil M

Long-tailed Tits courtesy
of John Tilly.

House Sparrow courtesy
of Cathy Ryden. Despite being
a much scarcer bird these days
the House Sparrow has nevertheless
still featured as the most common
bird seen on the RSPB Big Garden
Birdwatch in recent years...

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Picture of the week


Club member Dave Jackson has yet again won this week's Birdguides Picture of the Week with a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk in his garden being the winning subject. Despite taking the images through glass he again takes the crown!

Dave's story and the images follow...

'I arrived home and walked straight into the kitchen and noticed a Sparrowhawk perched low down about four metres from the back door. I slowly back-tracked to get my camera not expecting it to be there when I returned but fortunately he hadn't seen me otherwise he'd have been off like a shot.

I took a few shots from a distance and then knelt down and shuffled closer using a dining chair to hide behind and as a rest for my camera. It was clear from the full crop that the bird had enjoyed a sizeable meal and was in no hurry to depart. I daren't move even to check my images and camera settings and it finally flew off 35 minutes later when I moved to ease my aching knees! There was no sign of any feathers from its prey but I haven't seen the neighbour's cat for a few days now!'


Neil M

Adult male Sparrowhawk
courtesy of Dave Jackson.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Post meeting summary

On the first Wednesday in January the members were treated to a highly informative and entertaining talk by Dick Newell championing the Common Swift and the organisation Action for Swifts which is doing a huge amount of work to research and reverse the Swift’s decline over the past 20 or so years.

Dick’s talk fell into 3 parts.  The first outlined their history and distribution – they are not related to the very similar Swallows and House Martins, but share a common ancestor with and are related more closely to the Hummingbirds of the world.  Over the years, first ringing, and now work with geo-locators and new high-tech gizmos has, and continues to, enlighten researchers into their movements while on migration around across and up and down the globe and also provide information as to their breeding habits and longevity 

The second part of the talk focused on their steep decline – 50% over 20 years – more than even House Sparrow and Starling.  Remarkably, the House Sparrow and Starling are still Red Listed even though their decline is thought to have stabilized.  Whereas, Swifts are only Amber Listed despite their decline still plummeting at the rate of 5% per annum.  Loss of nest sites, declines in the insect supply, losses on migration to Southern Africa could all be partly or wholly responsible for this decline.  What isn’t in question is the figure of less than 100,000 breeding pairs reported in the UK.

And so, the third part of this fact-filled talk, focused on the many and varied methods Dick’s team have researched and experimented with to provided just one (or more) extra viable nest site alongside each current successful breeding pair, which it is hoped will fairly quickly double the number of breeding pairs across the country.  Dick left us all with literature and the link to the Action for Swift blogsite and inspired to see what we could all do in our homes, schools and churches to facilitate these iconic birds of the summer skies.

Helen Franklin.

Monday, 31 December 2018

January 2019 - Indoor meeting

2nd Jan  Action for Swifts by Dick Newell.

This talk will cover information about Swifts, their lifestyles, their migrations and their decline in the UK. As one of the main causes of the decline is loss of nest sites, the talk will cover a wide range of nest boxing solutions from off the shelf products to custom solutions. Dick is with Action for Swifts who develop many ideas and designs to help Swifts. Many of these are documented on In 2016, Dick and AfS were given a Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology.

This will take place at the usual venue of the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir. The meeting starts at 7.30 and tea and coffee will be available in advance. 

This is the last date when entries can be made to the Photographic competition 

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Wader Quest Newsletter

The latest edition of the Wader Quest Newsletter is available for members to access. Please go to The Wader Quest page to  access.

This edition is the Wader Conservation World Watch Special.

Northants Bird Club are organisational sponsors of Wader Quest.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Indoor Meeting 5th Dec


The club's next indoor meeting is on Wednesday 5th December when our guest speakers will be the wardens from the Pembrokeshire island of Skokholm, Giselle Eagle and Richard Brown. Their presentation for the evening will reflect on the journey through the birth and evolution of Britain's first Bird Observatory.

Fresh off from the island Giselle and Richard will speak of the early days of Skokholm and of course the latter years under their control and direction. Despite it's small size the island supports thousands of pairs of sea-birds, most notably Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel and Puffin.

The meeting begins at 7.30pm with the usual notices and of course hot drinks and biscuits will be available.

The December Newsletter is now available.

All welcome!

Neil M


Manx Shearwater.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

No Place Like Holme.

David Boucher, a new Bird Club member met the usual crew , Bob, Wendy, Mark
and myself just outside Holme village, Cambridgeshire.

David was a Bird Club member quite some time ago and now in his retirement has picked
up his binoculars again.

Reed Bunting.               RDG
A early but gentle stroll on the northern loop on the Great Fen a nice male Stonechat was enjoyed perched on the electric fence, I asked if Bob would do the same ? along with a small flock of Reed Bunting, Linnet and Goldfinch, feeding in the weeds.             Merlin habbo.

Whooper Swan            Mark Williams

Although the sky was still grey four Whoopers flew past, others with Mutes could be seen
on the distance dykes.

Whooper  Swan               Bob gill

Rough Legged Buzzard         Bob Gill

Rough Legged Buzzard        Mark Williams

Slowly moving on to the north end of the loop Mark ever vigilant pointed out a large bird
hovering in the distance.
All bins were aimed at a distant Rough legged Buzzard, a winter migrant from Scandinavia.
This was our main quarry, the black tipped white tail spread prominently, dark carpel patches
on whitish wings coupled with a dark lower belly against a whitish chest is a typical
Rough Leg.

Hanging around, the Rough leg decided not to approach  nearer and eventually flew out of site.
Cue for a cuppa and cake. Ambling back, the big bright thing in the sky decided to shine.

Fungi                 RDG

Everybody happy especially David, a walk in the fen woodland produced a tit flock, partying
through the birch trees along with a few fungi still in evidence. On the lake were the usual
culprits with the Gadwall being quite vocal.

Fen view          Bob Gill

Gadwall              RDG

A little more scoff, then back along the B660 to a point advised earlier by Alan Coles.

Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Red Kite and Kestrel all seen, obviously a great hunting
area. Then our second Rough Leg came into view. A little closer than our first but still
Rough Legged Buzzard                 Mark Williams

Red Kite        Mark Williams

About this time Bird Club member David Arden turned up, having been to Eldernel and
not seeing much.

About twenty minutes away near the A1 lies Ferry Meadows our last stop. Here a Red Necked
Grebe and Red Breasted Merganser had been reported.

Great Crested Grebe           Bob Gill
The RN Grebe was found by Mark, asleep floating in the middle of the lake, too distant for
anything but a record image.

R N Grebe  Kipping'    RDG

No sign of a Red Breasted Merg but a close female Goosander
was very nice.

Female Goosander                    Bob Gill

Grey Heron             RDG.

The problem with this time of year are the short days so paying the car parking charge we cruised
down the A605 and home.