2 Days Running

After finally getting round to blogging yesterday i thought I should continue my new found enthusiasm. Yesterday I promised a link to my Flickr account which will be forthcoming, but for now I will run through the Notyouraveragebirders year from April until now in pictorial format.

At this point I will apologise that some of the pictures aren’t great (I’m still learning) and I know little about ISOS or shutter speeds and the like, so be patient!

It all kicked off in April with a trip to Cornwall for my birthday. Cornwall holds a special place in my heart as its the first place in the UK that myself and Jo went on holiday for a week. Obviously the added bonus is that there are a multitude of birding paradises down there and the scenery is something else. Here is a couple of pics from Porthgwarra:

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And the Chough we picked up along the way at the Lizard…

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After that came a trip to see Jo’s grandparents where we also managed to fit in a trip to Anglesey that resulted in my first ever Puffin! (here’s where the warning about photos is applicable)

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We also got the added bonus of meeting a twitter contact in the form of @naturebites on a lovely beach where we got to see a huge collection of Terns and put a face to a contact. Here is Kathy and Jo looking a bit cold…

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Work took hold after this trip until we headed back down to Cornwall in July to see some more wildlife, but the weather took hold. We managed to get out on a sea trip though which was pretty awesome including a leatherback turtle and some very lazy seals

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Lazy Cormorant

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Lazy seals!

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This is a turtle trust me!

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Possibly my favourite bird at the moment (just edging a goldfinch)

That concludes part 1 of the update, I’ll carry it on tomorrow.

Enjoy everyone

Chris

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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.

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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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Quick update before the big day

Hello readers!

Since my last blog I have been pretty busy with work and real life, I really need to win the lottery so I can just watch birds and blog all day (cross fingers please, promise I’ll share 🙂 )

I know I have a lot to still cover from my list, but I will cover that later on. The main reason for this blog is to give you an update on my bird ‘banquet’ station. It’s been in place for a good while now, and I was starting to get very jealous of Jo having such a diverse range of birds in her garden that weren’t in mine, the main one being a greater spotted woodpecker. This particularly rangled with me as it is a bird on the front of the RSPB bird guide and I always thought it raised hopes to people who purchased it as beginners that they should expect these birds in their gardens, especially if they live in urban areas…

It turns out I was wrong (not for the first time this year) and when I was working from home a couple of weeks ago I ran into my living room ( I was testing out my hamstring, don’t ask!) and saw a bird fly off the suet log feeder to a nearby tree, grabbing my binoculars I saw it was a GSW! I cannot describe my excitement and had to call Toby at work (sorry for the ramble Toby!) as well as texting Jo.

I had a fear that I would have frightened it off but am pleased to report that it visits every day, although I have had to put in more bird food orders so I’m doing my best to help out local business!

We also have 9 starlings that have reached adulthood, and 2 baby goldfinch that have finally come to terms with the fact they can fly and now spend all day eating sunflower hearts, they are turning into proper fatties! Out of curiousity does anyone know when their red heads start to come through?

All in all I would recommend anyone with a garden to get a bird feeder set up, even on a grey day (lots of them recently) they brighten up the day and I have lost hours watching them so far.

I suppose I should explain my ‘big day’ tomorrow now. I decided to sign up for a 26 mile walk, for charity, from Winchester to Salisbury, I thought it would be a good thing to aim for and to be honest I’m really looking forward to the challenge, however my plan to take binoculars and see birds along the route has gone out the window, I shall just rely on my eyesight as quite frankly I don’t want to carry any extra weight especially with the ridiculously wet forecast. When I get back and if I can move I will blog and finish that list.

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy the summertime if the weather allows!

Chris

A Day Late

Yesterday turned out to be a wipeout, purely because a friend came round and we played Xbox, (birding hasn’t overtaken that yet!) so here I go covering some if the things I promised on Sunday.

    My Top 10 for the year

This is the “mini competition” that I introduced to keep myself interested. Both Jo and myself picked 10 birds that we wanted to see, the winner being (obviously) the one who sees all 10 first. I will be honest with you here dear reader that a few of mine were based purely on a comical name, so apologies. Here they are (in no particular order)

1. Bittern
This was for two reasons, it looks pretty cool in a herony way and also it’s pretty rare, I obviously fancied a bit of a challenge. As it turned out it was one of the first birds that I spotted this year (peaked too soon!) but if you hear of any in your area I recommend going to look for one, they are illusive but be patient, they are awesome!

2. Ruff
Purely for the name, and the link on google that produced “ruff bird” it is a pretty ordinary bird until it displays, I will hopefully get you a picture before the year is out!

3. Kingfisher
As you will tell from my earlier posts, I love these birds and have now seen them, they just don’t look like they should be from England, so blue and so elegant, Leo and Toby I will find you these before the year is out as they should be shared with every person possible!

4. Osprey
Going back to my childhood these are awesome, so big and I have yet to see one fly, so that’s a mission for this year.

5. Woodcock
Obvious why I picked this, if the name isn’t worth it for shouting out alone, the waddle and noise it makes means this is one of the most comedic birds I have seen online, fingers crossed for the year.

6. Spotted Flycatcher
To be honest, no idea why I picked this. I think I meant to pick pied flycatcher when I was flicking through my Collins but wrote spotted. It’s not very impressive but is proving illusive so far this year and I’m sure I’ll be excited if I manage to see one

7. Firecrest
A small bird with a reddy orange Mohican. Nothing else to say, it HAS to be in my top 10! Also managed to see it..epic

8. Nightjar
I saw one last year and it made such an awesome noise that I need to see it again, I also know where one is\was in the New Forest so it should be relatively achievable (famous last words)

9. Goldeneye
I know the birders amongst you will cry that this is easy BUT it is on the list as a homage to the 1997 Bond Film of the same name. Seen and recorded (the film and the bird)

10. Hawfinch
Last but by no means least, this bird has a relatively funny name (finch of the night anyone??) but also looks pretty damn cool, also seen this year (an awesome day where Jo and I saw these for the first time) and they are a LOT bigger than I thought they would be.

There you go, that’s my top 10, I am half way through, so am a few behind Jo, although the Little Owl could hold her up!

I will cover the trips we have been on at a later date as I just wanted to share a few things that have made my year so far.

    My Garden

About a month ago I purchased a banquet table Bird Banquet Feeder similar to this one, in the hope of attracting birds to the garden which has rarely seen birds for years.

It was partly in jealousy of the vast amount of visitors to Jo’s garden and also that watching birds now cheers me up. It was a very slow start, however I can now report that we have regular visitors and also baby blue tits, baby starlings, baby goldfinches and baby sparrows in the garden. My main reason for enjoying this is that my mum and dad are also getting enjoyment out of seeing birds in the garden, it seems that the bird bug is biting!

I will try and get photos over the next few weeks as I shall be purchasing a new camera as I have been bitten by the photography bug after being lent a camera by Jo’s grandad, I will do a separate post talking about it as it really is such a good method of stress relief, I have some pretty good photos from the Wales trip 🙂

I shall stop rabbiting on now, I will try to blog more tomorrow after football

Chris

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!