Local Patch

Napton Reservoir at sunset.
Napton Reservoir is a much smaller reservoir than the nearby Draycote Water and is located just opposite the canal junction. This is a deep water reservoir that feeds the canal system and so is useful for finding diving ducks and grebes. It has also been known to attract a good range of passage birds, and some fine rarities. A Ring-Necked Duck in early 2006 for example and Bearded Tit the following year and again in 2011! The most recent visitors have been Black-necked Grebe and a Spotted Crake, which graced the reedbeds for several days in September 2013 and on Friday April 10th 2015 a Ring Ouzel spent the day.

Alongside the deep water the reservoirs other attraction is a large reedbed at the back - this means that the reservoir plays summer host to Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warblers. In the winter months large murmurings of Starling can be seen with the occasional Sparrowhawk dropping in!

View of Napton Hill from the locks
Napton is derived from the Old English cnaepp meaning 'hilltop' and tun meaning 'settlement' in the Old English language. In 1086 the doomsday book recorded the village as Neptone.

The hill on which the village is built is just over 500 feet above sea level and is renown for small falls of migrant birds during the spring and autumn, it has thrown up the occasional gem over the years such as Firecrest, Ring Ouzel, Snow Bunting, Icterine Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler.

Only a short walk from the marina I often arrive just before sunrise and make my way from the churchyard to the windmill. When the visibility is good you can get some spectacular views across several counties including Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.

NBQuidditch at her mooring
The Cruise Option is what makes my way of life even more rewarding. Apart from the wildlife in my immediate vicinity I get the option to pop out for the odd weekend or overnight cruise and take a look at what's on offer slightly farther afield. My favourite stretch of canal is the section that runs from Napton Junction through to Braunston.

This passes through open countryside with a backdrop of hills. The land is agricultural, with just a few houses in sight. There are initially no locks, no villages and the bridges are well spaced, making a very pleasant rural stretch of canal. There's also a good section of the disused LNWR railway line which ran from Marton Junction to Weedon to explore, the line closed to passenger traffic in 1963.

The cruise from the marina to Braunston takes around 90 minutes and has in the past thrown up some good moments. For example it was on this stretch that I first watched a pair of boxing Hare's and also spotted my first American Mink. On one particular trip I spotted no less than 4 individual Kingfishers on a cruise to Braunston and back but sadly not in more recent times due to the massive increase in traffic along this stretch!