Twitter? this page is as close as I get. Birding has encouraged me to the coast on cold winter mornings, through woods, fresh with the greens of spring, and across grassland and heath alive with stridulation... In short, birds have, and continue to provide me with hours of pleasure. I enjoy the challenge of identification, and the satisfaction of a positive ID from just a snatch of song, or glimpse of 'jizz'. There is always the chance that one might see something unusual, or something common doing something unusual. Why shouldn't a bird brighten, or even make your day?
My birding has not always been informal. I have been employed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust as a research assistant at Loddington on the Allerton Project and since 2000 I have annually surveyed for the RSPB's Volunteer and Farmer Alliance programme. I am also an active member of my local RSPB group.
I've never really been into cobbling together lists, my lifetime UK list exists primarily in my memory, and is probably shorter than any twitcher's. I am happy to just watch our native and migrant birds rather than trek to see a rarity blown off course. However, I have also had the good fortune to get the binoculars into action in Africa, Asia and North America and I admit to making a bit of an India bird list, with observations from Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, and recording a few casual sightings from Hong Kong and Guangxi, China.
(right) Black-crowned night heron, Kashmir.
In 2008 I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Cariboo region of B.C., Canada. I owe a lot of my bird exposure there to Phil, Sandy and Kris, Williams Lake’s esteemed Sunday birding ‘club’. Getting up to speed with identifying a raft of unfamiliar species wasn’t too difficult; new world warblers providing the greatest challenge. I spent many hours at Scout Island, the local nature sanctuary and HQ for Williams Lake Field Naturalists, but my most productive and enjoyable classroom was a seat in the sunday birding car. Birdwatching Canadian style was more like a safari, driving out to the beautiful Mission Road, or down to Alkali, or up to Becher’s Prairie and on to the Farwell Road. I have fond memories of cool mornings listening to sandhill cranes and colder mornings counting trumpeter and tundra swans. Click here for my Cariboo list.
(left) Boreal Owl, Williams Lake (Christmas Birdcount, 2008)