Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Wilson's Snipe over Iceland (Yann Kolbeinsson)
I've been busily tapping away on the laptop keyboard for days finishing off articles (and starting others). I've learnt that I am totally disorganised and I'm always surprised to have finished an article or Urban Birder task.

I was particularly happy to have finished my Iceland article for Bird Watching Magazine's Holiday Supplement due out in January. I even managed to get comments back from the guys in Iceland and an image of the Wilson's Snipe that I twitched from top Icelandic lister Yann Kolbeinsson.

Writing it brought back great memories though!

Here's to the next pressing deadline.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Photography - Russell F Spencer's talk at the London Bird Club AGM

Azorean Yellow-legged Gull (Russell F Spencer)
Tonight I attended the London Bird Club (part of the London Natural History Society) AGM for whom I used to be chairman. Afterwards, my amazing photographer Russell Spencer gave a brilliant talk on photography and his thoughts on photographing birds, particularly urban ones.

Well done fella. I know that I work with him, but sometimes you have to big up the members of your team!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Nice day in the office

Tonight I attended the BTO's Awards Ceremony held in the plush Kohn Centre and the Marble Hall in the impressive The Royal Society. I've been hanging out in quite a few posh buildings recently and as usual I was dressed appropriately in jeans and a jacket!

This awards ceremony is almost like the Oscars but only three awards are awarded. The Marsh Award for Ornithology, Marsh Local Ornithology Award and The Dilys Breese Award - the equivalent of the Best Film Award - went to my colleague Chris Packham for his outstanding communication of BTO Science to the public.

I hung out with the usual suspects; my BTO mates, journalist and all round nice guy Stuart Winter, Bird Watching Magazine's Editor Sheena Harvey and Swarovski's Peter Antoniou amongst others. I was most delighted to meet and chat with Ian Newton the migration guru. He wants to come up on Tower 42 next spring to observe the migration. He is a true giant.

Oh and I nearly forgot, I was also invited to be an ambassador for the BBC Wildlife Fund. What an honour!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A foggy day in paradise

Fog over The Scrubs
This morning's shoot with CBS News at The Scrubs was decidedly murky. They filmed me taking some members of the Peut-Etre Theatre (www.peutetretheatre.co.uk) on an urban birding crash course. They are putting together a children's play that featured city birds and had wanted my advice. After a fairly birdless wander I did a piece to camera about John Audubon. I will be doing more filming with them next week.

This afternoon I sent my errant Blackberry to the menders and picked up the most basic of phones to tide me over. It's amazing how used I had got to having a personal computer at my fingertips. How am I going to cope with a phone that you can barely send a text from?

This evening I journeyed up to Stevenage in Hertfordshire to deliver a talk to the Stevenage RSPB Group. It was a fun night and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. Got home pooped after midnight and after enduring a couple of arduous train journeys.

Monday, 15 November 2010

John James Audubon

American Flamingo & Gyr Falcons (JJ Audubon)
A frustrating day was had today crowned by the loss of all 600 or so of my contacts and phone numbers from my stupid malfunctioning Blackberry. I won't even bore you with the details. All I will say is that there was a lot of shouting involved with the occasionally interspersed blue word!

I have been indoors in self imposed imprisonment trying to honour the copy deadlines that I have looming. I have two pieces to scribe for Bird Watching Magazine, one for the Guardian and some stuff for my newly sexed up website.

Tomorrow morning will be fun as I am filming with CBS News who approached me to feature in a programme called Sunday Morning to be screening in the US. They have asked me to comment on John James Audubon especially in the light of the upcoming auction of some of his art at Sotheby's in December. I will be shooting at The Scrubs.

Also, tomorrow night I will be speaking to the Stevenage RSPB Group delivering my well travelled Scrubs talk.

If you are in the vicinity pop in and see me.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Black-headed Gulls (Russell F Spencer)
It looks like Lee Evans is the flavour of the month as I met with him this morning at the Birdguides offices for an interview. The idea was for him to put the record straight after his contentious appearance on Twitchers - A Great British Obsession. I thought that he gave a very good account of himself despite a heavy and uncompromising grilling from myself. You will be able to see the interview online on Birdguides' site fairly soon.

Other news from the past few days included the fact that my remixed and funked up website relaunched yesterday. Take a look and see what you think.

Finally, I got a call from CBS News in their London office asking me to appear on a programme imaginatively called Sunday Morning to talk about John James Audubon and in particular, the Southerby sale of some of his original artwork in December. They will be filming that next week and my little bit will be broadcast across the States. Thanks to my good buddy, John Hague for sending them my way.

Enough writing. Time for sleeping.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Lee Evans

Searching (Russell F Spencer)
The topic of the day on the birding forums and my twitter was the Twitching programme on BBC4 last night. I think it left the viewer under no uncertain terms as to what a twitcher was and to what lengths they would go to achieve a tick. In a nutshell, it followed the stories of four or five different twitchers in their quest to add to their respective life and year lists. Central to the whole show was our very own Lee Evans who proclaimed his self appointment as guardian of twitching etiquette and birding standards.

Of course, he was hammered - and I mean, hammered - by most forum participants. But if you ask me, we need characters within our birding world. Love him or hate him, he makes us think, debate and for some people, laugh. I'd be the last person to slate him because although I may not necessarily agree with some of the things he says, I admire his sheer nuts.

My turn on Wednesday night on Birds Britannia, BBC4 at 9pm.