Everyday birding

I may have been AWOL from the blog and not out for any proper birding recently, but I have been enjoying the everyday birding- the way you enjoy the birds that are around us every day. For Chris and I, the only outdoor space we have in our new abode is a little balcony on which we’ve got a couple of pots filled with violas. From our 3rd floor flat, although we look out over the city and can see a lot of greenery, the only birds we can not only see but also identify are the Magpies, Wood Pigeons and occasional Crows which settle on the nearby lawns and rooftops.

My day-to-day birding mainly revolves around my walk to and from work. A few Blackbirds digging for worms on the lawns outside the flat, which are constantly home to a cluster of grazing Wood Pigeons. On a daily basis I can hear Coal Tit, Greenfinch and Goldfinch as I leave the house, but always too far away to get a proper view. Although my walk is along a fairly main road, it is quite heavily vegetated amongst the houses, and the birdsong is really hard to miss- Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Blackbirds by the bucketload (but such a lovely song), Goldfinch, Long-Tailed Tit, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw all keep me company on my daily commute.

Birding though, is a joy which can be taken anywhere. A birder makes any journey an opportunity to eke out the local birds- I see cheerful Pied Wagtails from a particular meeting room at work, bobbing along a nearby roof, always hear a Wren singing away outside the office, and over the past  few months there has been a glorious Goldfinch roost tweedling away from the treetops by the office at the end of a day.

lbbgull

Once you’re tuned in to looking and listening to birds, there are no end of birds to be found. I spied this Lesser Black-Backed Gull from the South Bank Thames Path when I was in London for work recently. Always looking, always finding.

If its not something you do already, making birds an everyday part of your life brings a little more joy to your day.

Jo

Catch up #2- February 2012

Moving swiftly on to February, the month started with a planned trip to Slimbridge being postponed due to snow. Twice.

Undeterred, we continued to bird but kept things local including this snowy walk. Gosh, I love winter.

Somehow, through the blog our birdy obsession became contagious and my friend Sarah and I (go team Jo!) made a little trip over to Pulborough Brooks in Sussex where (I think) she caught the bug. I also got up close and personal with a Water Rail, but that’s a story that has already been covered…

We FINALLY made it, third time lucky, to WWT SLimbridge where we purchased some shiny new binoculars, I got very excited about grazing flocks of Wigeon (correct plural for a group of Wigeon anyone?), we absolutely froze in the Zeiss hide where every bird seemed to elude us (seriously, seriously quiet), but the day was made better by a good old fashioned Eider Duck. Happy days.

In case you don’t know, Eiders have THE best noise EVER. Seriously. If you don’t know, you can listen here if you can stand the musical soundtrack. Just don’t waste away too many hours imitating that amazing ooooohhhhhh. But if you do, a big high five and welcome to mine and Chris’s crazy world. Also whilst searching for good Eider noises the RSPB website has informed me that they are the UK’s heaviest duck and also ‘highly gregarious’. What a description.

February also saw us make a trip to the Hawk Conservancy for Chris to enjoy his birrthday pressie of an Owl Experience where he got to fly all sorts of owls. Whilst he was off having lots of Owl related fun, I spent my time around the park seeing the other residents, like the young Bald Eagle above. What a stare. He also looks like he has very angry yellow eyebrows, but that might just be me.

And, not forgetting that more common garden birds can be just as beautiful. Blackbirds are my ABSOLUTE favourite bird of all time. I could spend all day watching them. Just look at the Mrs B above, so much character and a lovely song to boot. I guess birds like this have been the common denominator throughout the year.

Hope you’re enjoying the catch up posts. I’m definitely enjoying recalling our year so far.

Jo x

Catch up #1- January 2012

So, in true birdy style, we kicked the year off with a real birding fest. Keen to out bird one another, we really got off to a flying (*excuse the pun*) start to 2012. My highlights:

Keen to out bird Chris, I started a new habit of getting out and walking more after work. This is something I really must get back into, its surprisingly refreshing of an evening. I had stuck really well to one of my new year’s resolutions (to get outside more) for about the first half of the year, then other parts of my life (like a big office move followed by new job applications, interviews and preparation) took over. Now I’m more settled this is something I fully intend to get back into as I love being outside so much. It really makes me feel at peace with myself and means I really start to appreciate the world around me more. I am so lucky to live near so many beautiful places but I just don’t get out and see them as much as I should.

I discovered a new love for one place in particular- Farlington Marshes. The photograph above does not do the view justice, even on a windy and cold day it is one of my favourite places to be. I love being by the sea, and being here in winter, full of waders and wildfowl, is a real treat. Simple pleasures.

My bird obsession took to new heights- I took this photo whilst walking to the Southampton offices at my old job!

A very successful trip to Blashford resulted in this amazing Bittern sighting, right in front of the hide. A definite highlight of the year so far.

Chris started to take the big year seriously by investing in a true birder’s essential (although I still prefer my pretty Rob Ryan notebook any day) a waterproof notebook!

I successfully (and without Chris…oops) twitched the infamous Spanish Sparrow in Calshot, Hampshire. Now as much as I think your usual House Sparrow is a real beaut and definitely under-rated, this guy was a stunner.

That’s my January highlights in a nutshell. Check the archives on the blog if you’re after further info.

Jo x

Catching up

Well, its been quite a while, so I think before I come on to what we’ve been doing really recently, it only seems fair to have a bit of a catch up as to what we’d been up to for the rest of the year. Here goes, prepare yourself over the coming days for a little refresher from me on 2012 through the NYAB eyes…

In case you’re wondering, the beautiful sculpture above is at the Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover. If you’ve not been before it is well worth a trip. Full of childhood memories for me (RIP Lucy the Kestrel) I’d say its a bit of a must for any bird lover like myself. Before we went I don’t think Chris was that convinced but even before our big year (and thus his subsequent birding obsession) he loved it.

More soon,

Jo

Back to blogging!

Eek. A quick look at the blog shows me my last entry was on 22nd May. Oh dear, nearly a whole 6 months without an update, I do apologise.

I can assure you that as much as we have both been crazy busy, we have been out and about a fair bit, and I have a huge mental stash (and camera full of photos) of trips to blog about before they become any more of a distant memory. Until I get some proper posts up over the weekend, this is a bit of a holding post to say we’re back and what a lovely time of year to get back out there!

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Thanks for sticking with us,

Jo x

Is that the time??

So, I feel that a massive apology is in order dear readers. I regaled you with stories of what was to come and what had gone and promised photos that would show just what we had been up to and how amazing it was.

The truth is that it was amazing but I just haven’t found the time to do it justice. For this reason I’m going to have to draw a line on all that’s gone before. There have been numerous trips to Cornwall, trips around Hampshire and everything else that you’ve been told about but now we will be starting afresh.

I’ll put a link up when I’m back from work in London to my flickr site that contains all the photos (well, the good ones) of all of it so it will be more like a montage (imagine Rocky playing whilst you watch)

One thing I would like to mention is a trip to Portsmouth RSPB group to listen to a talk by David Lindo, better known as the ‘Urban Birder’ who talked about his life growing up and what he loves about birds and nature. I would recommend his book to anyone with an interest in birds and if he comes to speak anywhere near you, you won’t be disappointed check his website out here: David’s Website

His talk really reignited my passion for birding which admittedly dimmed over the summer. I found summer (I speak in the past tense as it’s definitely got cold) frustrating and it has passed me by. There were very few birds in my garden and the walks that we went on consisted of the same species again and again. Whilst I do love a Chiff Chaff, when they are all you can hear on a 2 hour walk I did find that I lacked a certain enthusiasm that I had at the start of the year.

So new season, new passion. I have invested in a massive walking pack, Jo has purchased a second hand scope and we are all set to commence battle again. I am going to be heading out this weekend using bird tracker for Android and trying to identify the best place for my local patch.

I had never considered a local patch before David suggested it in his talk. The thought of observing how much it changes throughout the year and the (hopefully) wide selection of visitors will be fascinating to see, I will let you know more on Sunday!

I will sign off now as the train is about to arrive in Winchester,but I am back dear readers and I will ensure Jo gives you an update ASAP.

Chris

P. S nearly forgot about Birdfair which was such a brilliant weekend meeting so many people who have inspired me with their passion. The talks were fantastic (if not a little hot in the marquees!) and showed me just how many people and places there are to see out there. Make sure you check it out next year!

Birdfair bonanza

Hello all- it has been far too long.

Just a quick post tonight to promise that we are back and after a weekend at Birdfair, our birding passion has been reignited. I suppose one of the benefits of not blogging for so long is that at least we now have a lot to tell you all about- right back to April needs a proper update really. For those of you who don’t know- a description I’ve read somewhere (which will give you some idea) is ‘Glastonbury for Birdwatchers’…

Well this weekend turned out to be the hottest few days of the year so far, and the two of us spent it dripping in sweat whilst traipsing from marquee to marquee. Were we mad? Probably. Was it worth it? Most definitely, although we now need to win the lottery to spend the next decade touring the world to go and see all the amazing species we got a glimpse of at the various travel stands. Top of the list is the Galapagos, although we’ll need to save for quite some time for that trip. Chris and I sat in on several lectures over the 2 days we were there, but for me the talk by Andy Tucker of Naturetrek made me want to head to Galapagos right away. See why for yourselves- just amazing! I just cannot imagine being so close to so many amazing species- Galapagos Tortoise, Galapagos Sea Lion, Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue footed Booby, Sea Iguana, Waved Albatross- the list goes on and on. I have never wanted to go somewhere so much.

Blue-footed Booby, taken in the galapagos isla...

Blue-footed Booby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata...

Waved Albatross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Galapagos lecture was swiftly followed by another, this time on the Russian Far East, by Chris Collins. Chris has a real fascination with Russia and I am totally captivated by Spoon-billed Sandpiper– possibly the most beautiful wader ever? The talk guided us through species after species with particularly amazing auks- Tufted Puffins, Horned Puffin, Crested Auklet. I also discovered an amazing animal that I had never even seen before- Ribbon Seal.

Ribbon seal

Ribbon seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The marquees were just filled with companies or tourist boards offering birding in all manner of far flung (and closer to home) adventures, and it was absolutely overwhelming. There are so many places I would love to explore, and aside from the Galapagos Islands, I am totally drawn to the Azores, Spain’s Raptors, migration through Israel and in the UK, a trip to Skomer is going to be a must before the year is out.

Finally on the travel front, I do not know anyone who doesn’t love Owls. Chris and I have a massive soft spot for Owls, so when we went to hear David Lindo, The Urban Birder speak at Portsmouth RSPB Local Group a few weeks back and he briefly mentioned Serbia, and in particular Kikinda, we were sold. This town is the Long-eared Owl capital of the world, with up to 750 birds coming together in daytime roosts. At Birdfair, David’s talk was just about Serbia and I think a trip there in 2013 may well be on the cards.

 

More to come later in the week about the rest of our bird highlights- organisations, charities, books, celebrity spotting (yes, Bill Oddie!!). In the mean time, they may not be anything special, but how about a cheeky pair of Herring Gulls to end with:

 

 

Back soon- enjoy the sunshine,

 

Jo

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Not Forgotten!

Hi Guys,

Just a quick one to say we haven’t forgotten you! We have both been extremely busy since we got back from Cornwall and I want to sit down and write a blog entry that will do what we saw and experienced justice (it’ll be a long one!)

I am also waiting for my glasses to arrive (the years in the office and gaming have taken their toll!) so once they’ve arrived the blog will get going again.

I promise lots of photos and some (hopefully) witty stories as well as a dramatic ending

See you soon

Chris

I’ll leave you with Mr B, taken at the Eden Project 🙂

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This is strange..

Well hello there readers (if we have any left!) it has been a long long time since I last blogged, I even forgot my password…d’oh!

This will be a brief blog, as I have been up since 6.30 (cycle training for a 26 mile walk on June 10th) and so am flagging a bit now.

To say that the last few months have been busy is a little bit of an understatement. I have been meaning to blog for ages, but to be honest I just haven’t had the energy to form any sort of coherent sentences. Its a good job that Jo has been updating her side of the blog, certainly more than I have anyway.

One thing I would like to point out now though is that I have seen lots of yellowhammer this year, one bird that Jo hasn’t, in fact both times I have ventured out on my bike I have seen a pair close up…jealous yet Jo??

Anyway, I will blog properly tomorrow and cover these topics:

 

  1. My complete list so far this year
  2. My Top 10 and why I chose them
  3. Trip to Wales
  4. Puffins
  5. Meeting Nature Bites
  6. Photography
  7. Bird Festivals
  8. Petrol Prices
  9. Garden Birding
  10. Birding On Bikes
  11. Miscellaneous drivel (what’s new I hear you cry!)

I would also like to take this opportunity to ask if anyone would be interested in a Q+A session, either on the blog or on twitter, I will imagine it is a no, but thought it may be a good way to get to know Jo and I better and find out how strange we really are. Also, if you have any birdy questions then we can try to blag them.

This may be a rubbish idea and Jo will probably dislike and we probably don’t even have a big enough following, but hey ho, c’est la vie!

Chris

P.S Congratulations to the New Mr & Mrs Phippen whose wedding I was best man at, more birding awaits in you married life 😛

P.P.S Congratulations to Toby Harbour on his speedy recovery from his horrible injury, we will get the birding walk in soon!