Enjoying a waif from the East

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with the long-staying male Black-throated Thrush at Whipsnade Zoo, in Bedfordshire (a long way from home for this Geordie). Enjoying a scarce bird is always a pleasure but, I confess, the experience of observing just such a lost waif in the company of free-ranging South AmericanContinue reading “Enjoying a waif from the East”

Dipping a Toe into the Natural History of Crete

A week ago, I begrudgingly returned home from a spur of the moment family holiday in Crete – a part of Europe I had yet to visit which, in retrospect, turned out to be rather beautiful. The week was marked by blissful temperatures, great food, a lively local culture and numerous excursions on foot toContinue reading “Dipping a Toe into the Natural History of Crete”

Nets Down for Nature: when people power works for wildlife

There is rarely any cause for hope in the environmental field. Indeed, everywhere we look, habitats are being erased, ecosystems dismantled and vulnerable species pushed ever closer to the brink of annihilation. It can be grim, at times, and outright depressing at others. Every once in a while, however, something bucks the trend – theContinue reading “Nets Down for Nature: when people power works for wildlife”

A once in a lifetime encounter

Before yesterday commenced, I had only seen three Red-necked Grebes in my lifetime. Two as distant apparitions amid undulating heat haze on a vast swath of Estonian marshland, and the other, as an equally uninspiring spec on the horizon here in the UK. The latter being tossed astray by the tide around half a mileContinue reading “A once in a lifetime encounter”

Top 10 Facts: Waxwing

Winter visitor. Waxwings are winter visitors to Britain, migrating here from their breeding grounds in the boreal forest belt that stretches from Scandinavia, through Russia and across parts of North America. The numbers that reach the UK depend on the availability of berries on the Continent. In years where berry crops fail, birds are forcedContinue reading “Top 10 Facts: Waxwing”

The benefits of ‘curtain twitching’

We all have days when everything feels like just a little bit too much: like myriad tasks are mounting up uncontrollably while motivation [and self-worth] are cascading downwards. Slumps and spells of low creativity as we bemoan mounting pressures but do little to combat them due to persistent, nagging and quite frankly, irritating, doubts. Yes,Continue reading “The benefits of ‘curtain twitching’”

Cuddy ducks, clowns and stench of guano

Britain’s seabird colonies represent a spectacle like no other: bustling, raucous municipalities where a multitude of species congregate to form a single, far larger, living being. An avian city, cramped and lively, which moves and reacts as one when presented with danger, or opportunity – similar in many ways to the concrete jungles so manyContinue reading “Cuddy ducks, clowns and stench of guano”

Rose-coloured Starling

I’ve had very little time this week for my usual outdoor pursuits, largely owing to a growing workload and a multitude of mounting side projects. That said, yesterday I managed an all too brief outing in search of a bird I have wanted to see for many years: a Rose-coloured Starling. A rare vagrant to BritishContinue reading “Rose-coloured Starling”

Advice from a not so Expert Birder, a guest post by Liam Thompson

I don’t know about you, but whenever I talk to a birder with decades of experience I leave the conversation with two feelings. First: admiration, for their ability to confidently identify any species by call or the slightest glimpse. This feeling is surpassed, however, by the disappointment at realising I may never reach their levelContinue reading “Advice from a not so Expert Birder, a guest post by Liam Thompson”

Glossy Ibis and more

  Spring has sprung, at long last. And all about my local area, the sapphire blooms of English bluebell mingle with the garish, Simpson-yellow of lesser celandine and the pristine white of flowering wood anemone. The air encompassing them ripe with the stench of ramsons carried on the breeze and nearby waterways – the ponds, streamsContinue reading “Glossy Ibis and more”

Magnificent Frigatebird – Sabrina Salome

In every way, the Magnificent Frigatebird lives up to its name. This bird does not produce any of the waterproofing oils that other sea-faring birds possess; a submerged frigatebird will drown, and never can it land at sea. Yet the frigatebird enjoys a diet of fish. How? If you’re a gull, it’s bad news toContinue reading “Magnificent Frigatebird – Sabrina Salome”

Northumberland’s Wild Interior

Uncharacteristically, I haven’t managed many far-flung ventures of late – the combined result of some drastic life changes, a busy schedule and the build-up of myriad more menial tasks. This, of course, has frustrated me to no end, boiling over with a snap decision this past Saturday to drop everything and travel outwards: inland toContinue reading “Northumberland’s Wild Interior”