Friday, 4 August 2017

Hen Harrier Day Approaches.

Hello everyone. I am back in the UK after my fabulous time in Peru. After a couple of weeks working at the superb Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm, I am now down on the south coast of England on my way to a Hen Harrier Day event at Arne RSPB reserve in Dorset.

Today and tomorrow will be a dragonfly searching and birding on Studland and around Durlston, with some time visiting very close friends in Swanage.

Studland has all the British reptiles present on the heathland so hoping to find a few of them; smooth snake and sand lizard being the rarest.

Swanage was the town I lived in with my late wife and children so a visit there is always emotional.

Then to Arne via Corfe Castle.

Sunday is Hen Harrier Day at Arne RSPB reserve and I am really looking forward in joining the crowd of people fighting the evil of driven grouse shooting in the UK and the slide into extinction of hen harrier as a breeding bird in England.

For more on the reasons for this event and details of other events around the UK please go to the following websites. Please give your support in any way you can.

At Rainham RSPB reserve Chris Packham will be giving his views.

Meanwhile raptor - bird of prey persecution isn't just a hen harrier phenomenon. Sadly and disgustingly many birds of prey are killed across Britain. A superb group monitors, debates the issues and lobbies parties concerning this. More details may be found here. . .

Thanks everyone.

BCNU all soon with photographs of the next few days. Love to you all.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Biking Birder Adventure Plans for 2018 - Peru!

Great to be blogging again.

So much has happened since the incredible events in Israel.

I have been in Peru for almost three months, working at the Chaskawasi-Manu Project in Salvacion, Manu for two months and spending time in Cusco, where I am at the moment, preparing for next years Biking Birder Peru Adventure. I guarantee you that it is going to be a Biking Birder experience beyond anything done by any other Green Birder!

Now to tell you what it is all about. Next year I will be cycling-birding in Peru for six months.

The plan is to visit the best birding areas in Southern Peru; the coast, the Altiplano, the High Andes, including Machu Picchu and The Sacred Valley. Then down the famous Manu Road to the Madre De Dios river. All of this is to be cycled and walked.

The journey along the Madre de Dios river is going to involve a new form of transport for me, inflatable kayak. Downstream to the confluence with the Manu river and then upstream to access the lowland rainforest. Back downstream to Puerto Maldonado for a finish in the Tambopata National Park.

That is the basic route which may be modified as bird location news becomes more focussed.

During my time here I have been testing myself, especially by exploring the high altitude areas. I need to be sure that I can do what I need to do despite my asthma. The last week has shown me that I can.

The start date will be April 1st, April Fools Day in Britain (!) after next year's Champions of The Flyway event in Israel on March 26th. As reigning Green Birding Champions at this year's event, the team, The Spokesfolks, Erin, George, Samuel and myself, are hoping to be back there to defend our title. Something tells me there will be more Green Birding teams to compete against!

The distance for Biking Birder Peru, as I will call it, is not as great as the previous Biking Birder adventures, it is obviously the altitude that is key. The route takes me to a height of 15,000 feet at one point.

I will be asking for donations for the Chaskwasi-Manu project as always but also for the fabulous Birdlife International organisation.

Here I need to thank Rob Williams for his incredible support and advice. Also I would like to thank all at ACCA, the Association Para La Conservacion de la Cuenca Amazonica, at Crees in Cusco and at Inka Travel, as well as Amazonas Explorer. The diversity of characters I have met this week is truly inspiring.

So here goes. How many bird species will I see? How many butterflies? Will a bullet ant or ten get me? All will be answered next year.

Meanwhile if anyone has got any advice, any thoughts, any offers of assistance and the like please get in touch. I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

Love to you all,


Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Visit to the Jerusalem Bird Observatory - First of April, 2017

Morning! Xx

Yesterday a visit to the Jerusalem Bird Observatory was suggested. To be honest I wasn't aware that there was one but as my daughter, Rebecca, was at a synagogue for Shabbatt, I took the opportunity to visit.

Situated within a large parkland area west of the Old City, the observatory was easy to find and after stopping to look at a few terrapins in a nearby pool, I entered the Observatory's reserve.
Immediately it became apparent that this was no ordinary bird observatory. To the right beside an open hatched building a group of around thirty people, obviously not birders, were seated watching Observatory staff members ring a procession of various passerine birds. 

Sitting with them, listening to the commentary given as bird after bird was processed and handed to to a young girl to release, was fabulous as the visitors were obviously massively enjoying the ringing and the close views of such incredible small migrants. 

The talk was prolonged and by the visitors' reactions, must have contained amazing facts about the birds' journeys and humour too for they responded with laughter and exclamations of surprise and shock. Questions were asked and answered. All of this was in Hebrew and I didn't understand a word but really didn't need to.

Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, they all came one by one to be measured, rung and released.

Meeting with one of the birders met at The Champions of The Flyway, Ron and on receiving a wave from another net there also, the Dougal carrier from when our team, The SpokesFolks, was filmed at KM20, I was introduced to Gideon, the wonderful bird ringing man and his delightful eight year old daughter, Shira.
Given a Jerusalem Bird Observatory t-shirt, I became a member and went birding.

A superb two hour visit to an incredible place, the thrill of being there was in witnessing the visitors to this urban reserve obviously enjoying their close to nature encounter and one can see how the vitality of the staff engages the visitors so completely.

Thanks to everyone there. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Green Birding Champions of The Champions of The Flyway 2017.

Morning! xx
Thanks to the wonderful Nicky Heeley for her donation. Still time to do so everyone. xxx

It is 6:00 a.m here in Eilat. Rebecca and I head off for Masada today on a short tour of Israel and Jordan.
Meanwhile just a few photographs from yesterday of the presentation of the Green Birding trophy and the other winning teams, as a white-spectacled bulbul becomes the first bird singing. Still dark but the sky is lightening for dawn over the Jordanian mountains and the Red Sea.

Thank you Viking Optical.
Not everyone can afford the higher priced binocular make and we need the variety of price ranges in order for the birding community to diversify and grow. The binoculars we used on our exciting adventure here have been excellent. Thank you so much to everyone at the company.

Anyway, thanks everyone for your continued support. It has been the most wonderful and amazing journey and experience, one that will stay with every team member and participant for the rest of our lives.
The Green Birding section may have been small, seven teams, two cycling and five walking but The SpokesFolks has set a high benchmark for the future. 122 birds seen and 55 kilometers cycled . . . it felt like a lot more with the latter! I feel that the Green Birding contingent will get larger year on year and become a much more important part of the sport.
The amount of money raised for Doga Dernegi - Birdlife Turkey will have a significant effect on saving birds in that region and i particularly love the project involving the Syrian refugees there. Turkey is sheltering three million Syrians.

Many thanks to Yoav Perlman for his initial suggestion of there being a Green Birding team at the Champion of The Flyway event. His request came out of the blue while I was attending the Norfolk Bird Fair last year. Thanks Yoav.
Thanks too to Jonathan Meyrav. His patience, dedication and gentle sense of humour has been so inspiring and for everything we thank you. I hope you enjoy returning to your family, especially your children. they have a very special father; one that they can be so proud of. A man who is making a real difference. Thanks Jonathan.

Thank you Israel and especially Eilat. The birding has been superb, the people incredibly friendly and the stunning mountain scenery away from the cosmopolitan city and seafront is magnificent. We look forward to seeing more of this wonderful country, especially Jerusalem!
Our team, I hope will be back next year and hopefully there will be more Green Birding teams taking part (hint . . Howard Vaughan)
Maybe the purest Green Birding Champion of Europe, Ponc Feliu Latorre, will be here with a lycra-clad team of real cyclists from Spain. That would be fantastic. What a place to meet such an incredible man.
Maybe Chris Mills will be here, similarly clad as Ponc. Maybe. I hope so.
International Green Birders, such as Jim Royer or Dorian Anderson from the USA, will be here. To have such Green Birding megastars would be .... (favourite word!) phenomenal.
As for The SpokesFolks, maybe we will be the Finland team in the next couple of years and retire after three races. Who knows.
To the teams . . please spread the word of Green Birding to your nations. persuade, cajole and threaten (nicely!) birders who you know are Green in their approach (or semi-green) to consider bringing a team. Now wouldn't that be good if there were as many Green teams as carbon teams?
The event has been fabulous and for so many reasons is so important to the region and to all of Europe.

Finally to the birds that pass by Eilat and to those that live here. Your journey is awesome, the stories you tell are so mind-blowing as to defy belief. The moment when Erin found a Bonelli's (Balkan) warbler stuck to a short plant with sticky leaves was insightful. The bird had no fat reserves, probably weighing less than ten grams and yet it will still now, after it's lucky rescue, be heading north. Thank you birds.