Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Life after the Notting Hill Carnival

Let us prey that the carnival be banned in the future (photo: Sue Rylance)
I am an absolute Carnival hater. Every year, the thought of an August Bank Holiday fills me with dread. The Notting Hill Carnival hits my area. Residents movement is restricted as roads get blocked off and shops board up and put their prices up in readiness for the hordes of people who decend upon the normally relaxed streets of my area.

I actually live on the route of the Carnival floats. Although I have nothing against people partying in the street and having a good time, what I do detest is the amount of litter left behind. More alarmingly, the number of people - which is a very inacurate and perhaps over polite term to describe the animals that used my Mews as a latrine. Someone even took a dump on my doorstep. All the while, the toilet blocks or 'pissoirs' as termed by the Metropolitan Police on their website, were just yards away down the road!

I had a couple of nicer moments at this year's Carnival. The nicest, apart from leaving the area to seek refuge in East London, was hearing and seeing a migrant Yellow Wagtail bound overhead as I neared the relative sanctuary of the local tube station.

Here's to hating the 2012 Carnival!

Friday, 26 August 2011

At bit more Birdfair

TUB doing a bit of arm signing! (Russell F Spencer)
TUB talk (Russell F Spencer)
Call My Ruff - again (Russell F Spencer)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Rutland 2011

TUB knocking out those signatures! (Russell F Spencer)
Call My Ruff teams (Russell F Spencer)
Call My Ruff (Russell F Spencer)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Meanwhile, back at The Scrubs

Spotted Flycatcher (Russell F Spencer)
I have been neglecting my local patch in a major way recently. Everytime the alarm goes off at silly-o-clock I just can't raise my eyelids let alone my head off the pillow. But last Sunday I dragged myself out of bed, albiet at 6.30 a tad late by my standards and hot-footed it to The Scrubs.

When I arrived it was one of those mornings when you could feel the autumnal magic. There was a soft westerly wind and it was slightly cloudy. There was little to see at first. The usual common suspects headlined by a flyover male Pied Wagtail and a couple of Collared Doves (a scarce bird here). By the time I had crossed the playing fields heading east to sift through the trees in the Southern Copse, I noticed that there was a bit activity with a fine Lesser Whitethroat popping out into the open.

The grassland back in the western end was a hive of activity. At least 20 Common Whitethroats were rummaging through the Blackthorn occasionally joined by upwards of 5 Lesser Whitethroats. As I was enjoying the scene, a 1st winter male Common Redstart suddenly popped up out of nowhere. It was our earliest returning autumn bird ever. I was well pleased. My pleasure was multiplied when I noticed a immature Whinchat sitting on top of a nearby shrub.

On the final part of my circuit I walked along the embankment which is shrouded in shrubs, gorse and some unsightly Hogweed. Whilst watching the parade of warblers interspersed with Linnets, Greenfinches and juvenile Starlings, 2 Spotted Flycatchers suddenly flew into view. A scarce migrant here, I was really made up now!

I must go birding more often!

Olympic Birding

Last week I had an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Olympic Village alongside some of the key players that helped to build ecology into the site. I'll be writing a piece about in a forthcoming issue of Bird Watching Magazine.

I was very impressed at how well nature was integrated into the whole complex. It has to be said that once work is completed I think that it will make for a very interesting little urban patch. They have already recorded Short-eared Owl flying around inside one of the stadiums last winter and a Cuckoo this spring!
David Stubbs, TUB & Claire Holder (Ben Hurley)
TUB & some Waxwing food (David Stubbs)
The northern wetland area (David Stubbs)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Shoot at Lemsford Springs, Hertfordshire

I spent yesterday morning shooting two youtube films for Opticron about how to choose binoculars and digiscoping. Our location was the delightful Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve run by the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust.
TUB & Opticron's Sarah Onacko (Pete Gamby)
Digiscoping (Pete Gamby)
Shooting (Pete Gamby)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

RSPB Conwy Reserve - my 1st official book signing!

The roadshow has finally hit the trail and last weekend saw me at RSPB Conwy to help celebrate their centenary.

The day involved a two-teamed birdrace (my team lost by 3 birds!), co-leading a bird walk with Reserve Manager and good mate, Julian Hughes (who very kindly allowed me to stay at his house the previous night - despite being growled and spitted at by his big dog!) and of course, my first book signing.
TUB & the lovely Ruth Miller of the Biggest Twitch (Alan Davies)
The very first book being signed!
Our birdrace team
It was quite a weird experience signing my book for the first time, but luckily I had Ruth Miller and Alan Davies on hand - a couple of seasoned book signing veterans - who between them have signed loads of their book 'The Biggest Twitch', about their around the world record breaking trip seeing over 4,000 species in one year.

Monday, 1 August 2011

It's out!!

On a bookshelf near you!