Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Post Birdfair Blues

Hello birdwatchers

After 3 days at Rutland Water talking to fellow birders, watching events and walking around the extensive Rutland Water reserve, I'm now back at my laptop feeling a little deflated. It has been a weekend filled with friends, old and new, and some amazing views of ospreys.

The last event I attended on Sunday was a celebration of ospreys led by one of my conservation heros, Roy Dennis, and Tim Mackrill the Rutland Osprey Project Officer. I think for the first time ever at a Birdfair, a choir, Global Harmony, sang songs originating from Scotland and Africa to mark the 3,000 mile journey the ospreys take before and after each breeding season. Scottish singers, Fiona Kennedy and Ruriarh MacDonald, performed their new single, Fly Lady Fly which was inspired by Lady, one of the Loch of the Lowes ospreys. You may be able to watch it for yourself on Birdfair TV once it gets updated with this year's highlights but, in the meantime, you may still be able to find the Rutland ospreys on the nest before they leave for Africa.
One of this year's osprey chicks at Rutland Water

As I turn the pages of my diary, I can't feel deflated for long. I'm getting excited about the coming season of trips and the new indoor classes at Hollybush Conservation Centre in Kirkstall, Leeds. There is still time to book your place on my new beginner's class which will take place on Monday evenings from the beginning of September.

Between September and December I'll not only be visiting local beauty spots in and around Leeds but I'll also be running trips to fantastic places such as Northumberland; the Humber estuary; Alkborough and RSPB Blacktoft Sands; Carsington Water; Nosterfield; Staveley; Martin Mere; the Idle Valley; Denaby Ings and Top Hill Low.

You can also join me on the RSPB's Shearwater Cruise out of Bridlington Harbour in September (you'll need to book early for that so that I can get tickets). All being well, if the weather is suitable, we'll be visiting a well known bird ringer in York at the beginning of October to help ring, record and release birds in the Lower Derwent Valley.

Learn more about birds by attending a ringing session
I hope that has whetted your appetite and that you'll be emailing me soon to book a place on one of the trips or to find out more details. You can also sign up to receive my regular newsletters which will keep you up to date on future classes. All outdoor classes will give you the chance to view birds through a high powered telescope and I also bring along my popular travelling cafe.

Hope to see you soon or give me a call to find out more on 07778 768719

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sun, sea and Yorkshire Day

I really thought that I would be able to catch up with myself over July and August but how wrong I was. Life events have pulled me in all kinds of unexpected directions and the old adage "best laid plans" has been mentioned on more than one occasion.

Well, we can only do what we can do and, over the years I've learned that people are far more important that lists of jobs to do at the computer. That being so, I hope that I've managed to look after the people side of life at the very least. I've also been kind to myself and spent some time enjoying the sunshine, celebrating Yorkshire Day, paddling in the sea and reflecting on life.

I'm grateful that the people side of my life often involves watching birds and, this year, July and the beginning of August have been filled with more people and bird activities than past Start Birding programmes. My Tuesday and Wednesday classes have experienced their first full day trips and have visited new habitats to watch previously unseen species of birds.

Yesterday we were watching ospreys at Rutland Water. There was an air of excitement and expectation as staff and volunteers prepared the site for the International Bird Fair. I'll be making my annual pilgrimage on Friday 16th August and meeting up with friends and birding colleagues from around the world. I really recommend a visit - have a look at what's on offer here

Here are some photographic (I use that word loosely!) reminiscences of July and August so far.

Bridled and normal forms of common guillemot at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

Puffin at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

Gannet and chick at RSPB Bempton Cliffs
Lesser black-backed gull at YWT North Cave
Grey heron at RSPB Blacktoft Sands


Snipe at RSPB Blacktoft Sands

Toadlet at RSPB Blacktoft Sands

Ospreys at Rutland Water

Little egret at Rutland Water
For the rest of August, apart from travelling back down to Rutland Water, I'll be focusing on reserves nearer to home. Join me at RSPB St Aidan's in Leeds; Angler's Country Park, Pugney's Country Park and Calder Wetlands in Wakefield or Nosterfield in North Yorkshire. Call or email for further details.