Tuesday 20 February 2024

Photographic Competition - Winners 2023

Congratulations to Pete Gilbert for his wining shot of a Eurasian Wren taken in Northants. Pete also took 1st in 2 further categories almost on his doorstep proving anyone can get their name on the shield, not just us globetrotters! 

Apologies, but a few of the uploaded images are not in the correct order e.g. Mark's tanager was 1st in its category. Please bear with us while they're corrected.


Saturday 3 February 2024

Photographic Competition

The annual photographic competition is one of the most anticipated and well-attended meetings in the Bird Club calendar.

This year it will be held in the usual venue on Wednesday 7th February and we will be showing the photos on a large screen television following feedback that the quality of the entries surpass the resolution of a projector and screen. I'm guessing there could be a selection of entries from the Club's recent trip to The Gambia. 

We may dig deep and purchase a TV for all our indoor meetings if deemed a success and have enough funds in our coffers. Have your say on the night - see you there. 

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Merry Christmas!

With 2023 coming to a close, it is great to see that the club was again able to hold regular meetings and events and we were 'back to normal' after the complications and concerns that the Covid epidemic created during the last couple of years. This included an opportunity to re-run the annual photographic competition, car trips, the summer BBQ and summer evening excursion, our monthly presentations and recently the very successful foreign trip to the Gambia in search of exotic wildlife.

The programme for 2024 is coming together although there are still a few dates to confirm with speakers, and we hope to run events as normal in the coming year. The first presentation of the year will be a zoom presentation by globe-trotting Matt Eade, a Naturetrek staff member and tour leader who will be presenting on the Wildlife of Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia. This talk is on the evening of Wednesday 3rd January 2024 and all being well members will be able to enjoy the presentation on line from the comfort of home by way of an emailed link. Please do not turn up at our meeting venue of the Fishing Lodge at Pitsford Reservoir as it will be shut!

With Christmas nearly upon us and the New Year just around the corner, the committee would like to wish the membership and all our supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday 10 December 2023

The Gambia

The recent Bird Club trip to The Gambia, returning for the first time as a club since our inaugural visit in 2000, was a remarkable success. 

African Finfoot, Egyptian Plover and a few rarities e.g. Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Spotted Thick-knee and Spotted Honeyguide made the bird list while Patas Monkey and African Clawless Otter were unexpected sightings. 


Butterflies were plentiful whilst mosquitoes, thankfully, were few and far between!


Full report courtesy of Chairman Bob to follow.

African Finfoot
Egyptian Plover

African Clawless Otter

Friday 6 October 2023

The Gambia; Place Available 28th November - 5th December

We have a place available on the upcoming Bird Club trip to The Gambia where we will travel inland to search for specialities such as Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Bateleur and Egyptian Plover.

Please contact Bob Gill a.s.a.p. if interested.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Outdoor Evening Meeting 5th July 2023


Our outdoor meeting at Harlestone Lake was attended by sixteen members and we took a gentle walk around the village and lake on a pleasant summer evening. Birds were scarce but a Jay was spotted by the lake and the local Mute Swans and Coots had produced youngsters. Some large Common Carp lounged around in the shallows.

Song Thrushes were singing loudly and the cherry trees were fruit providers for them and the local Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes. Woodpigeons were the most high profile birds and a Treecreeper called from dark woodland with two Goldcrests singing from the canopy. Distant Red Kites and a fly-past of Jackdaws preceded a flock of Common Swifts quickly multiplying in numbers as they fed over the mature plantations. A couple of noisy Magpies were accompanying a field of bullocks and a Muntjac was on the grassy track ahead of us.

A couple of lingering Lesser Black-backed Gulls were interested in something nearby as we strolled past the traditional thatched cottages, water pump and village hall and threaded our way back over the golf course. Ancient Oaks and Sweet Chestnuts looked superb and a stand of hemlock dwarfed us all. Walking through St Andrews churchyard and back to the car park, a baby Tawny Owl called from laurels and taller trees but couldn't be seen. A quiet and serene summer's evening drew to a close and we motored home.

Neil M

Common Swift.


Harlestone cow.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

The Year So Far

 We started off the year with a very good turnout for a talk by club member and tour guide, Neil McMahon  as he recounted his love for the Isle of Scilly where he and Eleanor have been visiting for a good number of years finding some excellent birds over time.

February's meeting was the popular Club's photographic competition with new judge, Peter Walmsley giving expert advice and choosing the winners in each category. Those present on the night voted for the overall winner and it was that man again getting his name on the Graham Soden shield for the 5th time. ☺️


In March we had the AGM and Richard Bashford entertained us with his tales from Morocco and who wouldn't agree with Richard that Hoopoe Lark is the best lark of all?

The thoughts of Chairman Bob were shared in April as he recounted the Club's trip to Extremadura and the fabulous wildlife in this unspoiled part of Spain. Most enjoyable. 

Also in April, some lucky members managed to drag themselves away from the county to sample the delights of Lesbos and a talk will surely be in the making to make us all jealous of their intrepid trip.

Ever popular with our members and a member himself, Jeff Blincow gave us an insight to the MOD site, Yardley Hastings, in May where few have dared or been allowed to tread. "I'm not allowed to talk about that" was a recurring statement making this out-of-bounds locality even more intriguing. 

Fabulous food (so the chef says) and a warm and beautiful evening made for a good turnout for our June barbecue. The sunset was as good as the food, and that's saying something, apparently. 

That's half the year gone, keep checking the programme page for events in the coming months and join in the fun. Look forward to seeing you again soon. 

Pitsford sunset with Common Coot - Dave J. 

Tuesday 3 January 2023

January Meeting

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2023. 

The Bird Club calendar kicks off with the first indoor meeting of the new year with a talk by our very own Neil McMahon as he recalls his and Eleanor's many sojourns to the Isles of Scilly in autumns past. 

What do they and many other British rarity hunters find so attractive about this archipelago to make the stomach-churning boat journey 3 hours off the west coast of Cornwall? Come along and find out. 

Members and non-members welcome.


Yellow-browed Warbler, an arrival from Siberia and often seen on the Scillies in autumn. This one and another are currently wintering near Summer Leys, Northants.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Digital Photographic Competition

A reminder that the closing date for entries to the Club's photographic competition is December 20th. Please make a note in your diaries for February 1st when this most anticipated meeting will be held to select the winner.

Good luck to all who enter. 


Monday 28 November 2022

Wader Quest AGM

The on-line Wader Quest AGM held on Sunday 27th November highlighted the issues waders are facing around the world. We're very familiar with the plight of the Eurasian Curlew and its decline and Wader Quest fund several important studies for other waders including Wilson's Plover, Nordmann's Greenshank and Spoon-billed Sandpiper. 

It was particularly sad to hear that the population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, the original Wader Quest project, is declining at a rate of 8% a year and numbers have halved in the last 5 years to fewer than 250 individuals. The captive breeding programme is no longer operational as there are no females and the likelihood of taking adult birds from the wild seem highly unlikely given the situation with Russia.

All the effort to save this species from extinction seems to have been in vain as Spoon-billed Sandpipers could be extinct in the wild by 2035 if current declines continue, a terrible state of affairs. 

On a more positive note, the Chinese government have halted all land-grabs which will help protect vital wetland habitats of Nordmann's Greenshank, one of only three tree-nesting waders and the only one to build its own nest. 

The Bird Club continues to sponsor Wader Quest and the excellent work they do and individual membership is available at just £10 a year.

Eurasian Curlew - Dave Jackson

Saturday 29 October 2022

The Bird Club Photographic Competition and Trip to The Gambia 2023

Calling all photographers - It's that time of year when we start looking ahead to 2023 and one of the most anticipated meetings is the annual photographic competition. We have a new judge and we've made some changes so please read through the rules carefully and start getting those winning shots edited! 


Great Egret - Matthew Hazleton, 2022 winner

The Gambia 2023

Our first and last Club trip to The Gambia was organised by Dave Thomas way back in the year 2000 and led by Clive Barlow who helped put this small African country on the birding map.

A few things have changed since then; they have a new president, a new river bridge and a new tarmac road all the way up country. The trip will be based on the Naturetrek tour and will include all food, water, transportation and reserve entrance fees for a shorter 8 day trip. 

Dates have yet to be finalised and will likely be end of November into December to give us the best chance of seeing what is arguably the best wader in the world, Egyptian Plover as well as many of the country's colourful rollers, bee-eaters and sunbirds.

Beautiful Sunbird - The Gambia, Dave Jackson

Places are going rapidly so if you're interested, please let Bob know at the next meeting.

Talking of which, Matthew Capper, a Naturetrek leader will be giving us a talk entitled Birding Florida on Wednesday 2nd November, see you there.

Thursday 7 July 2022

Kelmarsh Hall Evening Walk


Yesterday evening was the club's outdoor meeting at Kelmarsh Hall. Sixteen members met up for 7pm and we took a gentle stroll to look at the Orangery, the stunning Walled Garden and further afield around the trees next to the River Ise and the lake and then a walk back up to the Hall building itself. It was rather breezy and cloudy but the sun broke through on several occasions and it turned out to be a very pleasant walk. After looking at the Orangery and hearing how birding on the estate helped to finance the rebuild, we walked towards the Walled Garden and saw a small group of Purple Hairstreak butterflies battling against the breeze around tall oak trees. Once inside the garden a Scarlet Tiger moth showed nicely in flight and birds included Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Chiffchaff with brief views of Nuthatch and Blackcap.

Ravens were heard calling some distance away and a family party of Spotted Flycatchers in the mature trees towards the river initially were difficult to see but then a couple of juveniles showed nicely and proved their adeptness at already catching their own insects. Down by the river and lake we heard Kingfisher, Treecreeper and Goldcrest but they remained hidden. A wary female Gadwall hid her ducklings in waterside vegetation and another female posed before flying off. A Common Buzzard and a distant Brown Hare were further wildlife on show as we walked the edge of the main lake, seeing a Grey Heron and two flying Little Egrets as we did so. The pair of Mute Swans had an excellent brood of eight cygnets. A Kingfisher shot past Richard and calling birds included more Blackcaps and Nuthatches with a couple of House Martins and a Swift overhead.

A little further on and the members ahead had the Kingfisher perched up and we were all fortunate to see it sitting in a part-submerged branch albeit at some distance. We talk a walk up the slight incline towards the Hall and one of the adult Spotted Flycatchers showed very nicely. At the Hall we saw a female Blackbird carrying food for her youngsters and one of the items in her bill was a still wriggling Scarlet Tiger moth!

I think we all enjoyed our two hour dawdle on a reasonable summer evening in the peaceful environment of Kelmarsh Hall gardens and grounds!


Neil M

Members in action courtesy
of John Hunt.

British White Cattle.

The 'Ugly Duckling'...

...and proud Dad!

Kelmarsh Church.

Wednesday 20 April 2022

The Wildlife of Finnmark - our first 'live' meeting since 2020!


At last, our first 'live' meeting since 2020! Please join us at the Fishing Lodge, Pitsford Reservoir on Wednesday 4th May 2022 when club member and all round wildlife guru Jeff Blincow will be presenting his talk on 'The Wildlife of Finnmark'. This is the most northerly and easterly part of Norway and the illustrations will reflect on some of the wildlife highlights of this special region.

The meeting commences at 7.30pm and we will again be providing hot drinks and biscuits on arrival which will be available just outside our usual entrance so as not to cause a bottleneck and provide a free flow access and egress to the building (plus more ventilation than normal).

We want to be social but responsible and for everyone to feel comfortable back in our club venue surroundings. 

The club committee welcomes you back!

Neil M

Drake Eider.

Arctic Skua.

Tuesday 5 April 2022

New Visitors' Centre at Summer Leys

The new Wildlife Trust BCN visitors' centre is now open, details in the link below. Amongst activities planed there will be an Opticron 'try before you buy' optics event on April 7th and with Jack Snipe and up to four Garganey there now might be a good time to visit! 



Female Garganey, Summer Leys April 5th 2022. Dave J.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Members' Photographic Competition

For anyone who missed the Bird Club’s photographic competition or if you’d like to view again the Zoom link is here (Passcode: *hsfQx5F)

Unfortunately, not all the submitted photos were included for judging and the committee would like to apologise to anyone who entered photos that were missed from the competition. If those affected would like to send their missing images to davidjac (@) mac.com they'll be posted on the home page. We’re taking steps to ensure the same doesn’t happen next year when we should be back to our normal face-to-face meetings.

Many thanks to Jeff for judging the competition, it’s always a difficult and thankless task with so many excellent photos entered, and well done to Matt Hazleton who gets his name on the Graham Soden Shield for the second time. 

Winning entries here 

Missed photos;

Goldeneye, Black-headed Gull, Stonechat and Little Stint. Birds in Northants by Robin Gossage

Fly Agaric, Plants & Fungi by Dave Jackson

Pheasant and Fox Cub, Birds or Animals in Their Environment by 
Dave Jackson

Sunday 6 February 2022

Two Events For Your Diaries

Bird Club Photographic competition, Wednesday 9th February and an exhibition in Northampton Museum - 10 Years of the British Wildlife Photography Awards


Friday 4 February 2022

The Kingfisher Screen at Pitsford

Work has been completed on the Kingfisher screen at Pitsford Wildlife Reserve in a quiet corner of Scaldwell Bay. It could be a month or two before the perches are in regular use as Kingfishers have only been photographed once in 6 visits since December from personal experience. 

This is the first purpose-built photography hide available to Wildlife BCN members and permit holders in Northants! 


Thursday 20 January 2022

Global Bird Fair


Yesterday it was announced that a Global Birdfair event will take place this year on 15th/16th/17th July at the Rutland Showground, Oakham, Rutland LE 7TW. Tickets will be available from 14th Feb 2022 and the format will be similar to the previous British Birdwatching Fair. Indeed Tim Appleton a co-founder for the Birdfair is behind this latest project too.

You can find out more by visiting:-


Neil McMahon


Black-tailed Godwit.


Thursday 30 December 2021


Hi all,

A quick reminder that 31st Dec is the closing date for entries to the NBC Photographic Competition. You can send your entries to Jeff Blincow, 9 Churchill Road, Earls Barton, Northants, NN6 0PQ or to Bob Gill, 41 Mountfield Road, Northampton, NN3 6BE.

It is probably too late to be posting memory sticks to either Jeff or Bob to arrive by this deadline, but if you reply to this email with your entry details and notify us that your entries are on the way we will still accept them. You should notify us of this approach by 31st Dec. Any entries / notifications after this deadline will not be accepted. It is preferable of course that you deliver your entries into Jeff or Bob in person.

The categories and rules of entry remain the same as last year and are as presented on our blogsite at https://northantsbirdclub.blogspot.com/p/photographic-competition-rules.html

Important feature to remember is that images should be entered in a JPEG format no larger than 1.5 Megabytes, they should NOT contain any text or borders. Jeff will not have time to resize or format images and so any images not complying with this request will be rejected.

Nick Parker

Thursday 25 November 2021

Northants Ringing Group update


Northants Ringing Group (NRG).


Currently the group has twenty-one members comprising fourteen qualified ringers, of whom five have training endorsements, and seven trainees.

The main ringing sites are Pitsford Reservoir, Stortons Nature Reserve, Harrington Airfield and Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, which although it is in Buckinghamshire is only about two miles from the County border and BTO allows it to be within the Northamptonshire figures. There are other numerous sites where ringing is conducted within Northamptonshire by group members.

This year, so far, the group has ringed over 7,009 new birds and re-trapped 1,780 birds. Of the 1,780 birds that have been re-caught only fifteen were ringed by other groups/individuals either within the County or farther afield. Interestingly Linford Lakes Nature Reserve has been a good place for control Reed Warblers this year with four having been ringed outside the county, one from Rutland Water, one from Marston Vale Country Park Bedfordshire, one from Baden Down Farm Wiltshire and one from Girande in France. The French bird was originally ringed in August 2017 as a juvenile, possibly having been hatched in the UK and on the start of its migration, and by the time it was caught at Linford in July it will have made eight journeys to and from sub–Saharan Africa.

Map 1 below shows the original ringing location of birds caught by NRG members, known as controls, although the bulk were originally ringed in the UK.

Map 2 below shows the location of recoveries for birds that were ringed by NRG members. The Red flag indicates that unfortunately the bird was found dead. In the UK, the bulk of the ‘Red’ recoveries were the result of predation by cats.

Map 3 below shows the detail that is entered on Google maps when plotting controls or recoveries. These maps are currently only available to NRG members.

In July two members of NRG made what has become, Covid notwithstanding, an annual pilgrimage to the island of Skokholm, known as Dream Island by the wardens. Chris Payne had previously installed some cameras into a specially built Storm Petrol nesting wall, known as the Petrol Station. This year Chris obtained some excellent footage of the comings and goings of the Storm Petrols and next year plans are in the making for Chris to visit with two sound recordists to place at least eight cameras and microphones into the wall to continue their research into the secretive life of this amazing little bird.


Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

 Night-time view of Storm Petrol curtesy of Chris Payne.

The totals for NRG since 2002.

The 2020 decline is the result of the inability to ring due to Covid-19 restrictions.


Nick Wood
Group Secretary

Northants Ringing Group

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Birdfair - The End of an Era

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust regret to announce that they will no longer run the annual Rutland Water Birdfair.


Friday 19 November 2021

Pitsford Nature Reserve Kingfisher Viewing Screen

Work has recently started on the Kingfisher viewing screen at Pitsford Nature Reserve overlooking a quiet backwater away from the main reservoir. The screen is being built with photographers in mind with openings at low levels as well as for general viewing from sitting or standing positions and is big enough for 5 or 6 people social distancing! 

There's evidence that the area in front of the screen is being used by both Great and Little Egrets from the 'whitewash' on the bare bank opposite and from the number of birds attempting to land while we were working there and Great Crested Grebes, Reed Warblers and dabbling ducks favour the varied habitat at different times of the year.

There will be perches set at various positions to allow for fluctuating water levels and it's hoped that Kingfishers will find it to their liking. More news including the location will be published when it's completed and ready for use. Watch this space.

Permits are required to access the nature reserve side and are available from the fishing lodge for £5 or free to Wildlife Trust members with a permit obtained through the head office.

The Wildlife Trust are also introducing car parking charges for Summer Leys very soon which will be free to members but you must register your car's number plate beforehand. 


Kingfisher - Dave Jackson

Sunday 8 August 2021

NBC Outdoor Meeting Wednesday August 4th

It was a long time coming and there were times when we wondered if it would ever happen – the Bird Club’s first gathering back at Pitsford since February 2020 for a barbecue in perfect weather. 

Well done for all involved and thanks to all who made it a great social occasion after all this time, it was strangely strange and strangely familiar at the same time. 


We’re not out of the woods yet and the September 1st meeting could be another Zoom event as we’re not sure if Anglia Water, or indeed, our members are ready for an indoor meeting just yet.


With a number of countries opening up for double vaccinated visitors thoughts have turned again to a Bird Club trip abroad and Poland could be back on the agenda. The Pyrenees and Iceland have also been suggested and the committee will be meeting over the coming months to consider all options.


In the meantime keep well, stay safe and we hope to get the indoor meetings back on track before the year end.