Posts Tagged ‘2018


2018 – the best bits

2018 for me set off being a somewhat muted year but rapidly escalated into something as special as it gets. Finding someone special to share my life was a revelation that I didn’t expect. The downside of that is a whole planet separates us. 2019 will be spent putting that right.

One discovery for me in 2018 has been the state of Victoria in Australia. The pull of this part of such a remote continent has been extreme. It’s undulating landscape, amiable weather, compelling wildlife and of course one special inhabitant have made this the most special place I’ve ever been. Australia is just the best. My two months here within 2018 have been the most outstanding part of my personal year. Within that two months Tania has taken me to some fabulous places. Mountains, remote bushland, deep dark eucalypt forests, small islands and open wide beaches. However, one place stands out in my mind as it holds birds that have been a part of my life for so long in the UK. Rare birds. Birds that blew to the UK as waifs and strays. Birds such as Red necked Stints and Sharp tailed Sandpipers. In Victoria, Werribee has a water treatment plant holding these birds in mind boggling numbers. Numbers I could only have dreamed about. Who would have thought a sewage plant would have topped my years best bits… but it has. It even topped the Beluga in the Thames!

But what of my professional year. There have been some great times. Scilly once again was terrific, so was Wales, the Farnes were at their best and the Scottish tours were formidable. Picking the best? … well that’s easy. The 2018 Mammal Tour of the UK. Without doubt the best tour I’ve ever done. Some fabulous wildlife; Minke Whales and Dolphins of three species you could have touched. Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and Badgers at arms length. However, to single out one moment of the tour I would have to go to a small beach at the fishing port of Wick on the Scottish East coast. Reading books from being a child through to adulthood enables everyone to conjure up dreams. Bucket lists. Events to experience. Things to see, places to go. I crossed off number one on my own bucket list on that small beach last May. My guests and I experienced the sight of a Walrus in British waters. OK it’s not the cuddliest looking animal you’ll ever come across. But hell … what an animal!

Roll on 2019. Happy New Year.


The cat’s out of the bag

When you are amid a gathering of (mostly) silent birders you just cant help but let your mind wander. As a five year old I’d sit with my mum identifying birds visiting the threaded peanut shells hung in the garden. On Thursday morning, a couple of score years and more later, I found myself with my guests and a group of twitchers on a windswept Cornish headland. In the intervening period I’ve seen a lot of birds in the UK; 499 species to be exact.

The first warming rays of the sun were stretching my shadow towards sallows surrounded by brambles: this small patch of vegetation was the focus of everyone’s attention. We had spent the lat week on the Isles of Scilly and had returned to the mainland on the previous afternoons ferry. This was the last day of ‘The Isles of Scilly Birders tour’. We were calling at a few places in Cornwall before heading back to Norfolk. Hence our ‘bush-staring’ close to the village of Sennen.

Hidden within the bush was a Grey Catbird. A North American crepuscular bird …way …way out of its normal range. This was the second occurence of this species in Britain.

As the sun lit up the lime bark of the willows a dark thrush sized grey bird with a black cap and a rusty vent hopped up to become the landmark of my 500th British species.

Do you think we could use the ‘cat carrier’ we saw hung on the wall at the pub during our last night of the tour to take it back to the states? No? … well no need to get into a flap about it. Better nip this in the bud right now!




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Dec 2022


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