14 November 2004

About my local patch

Leamington Spa is an attractive, largely Regency, town in mid-Warwickshire, England. To the north lies the city of Coventry and the major industrial conurbations of the West Midlands. To the south lies Stratford, with Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds beyond, and to the west is Worcestershire, with plenty of open countryside running across to the Welsh borders.



It is on the east side of the town, however, on a mixture of farmland, woods, reservoirs, rivers and a canal, that I do most of my birding. This is my 'patch', that local bit of turf that many if not most birders have. The map above shows the extent of this patch, including some of the key birding sites. The patch is broadly defined by two key waterways, the River Leam and the Grand Union Canal, and most of my key birding locations are either on or near one of these. My patch list, here, provides an updated list of all the birds I have seen on the patch.

I should point out that at the very northeast tip of the map, you can see Draycote Reservoir, one of the best known and most productive birding destinations in the Midlands. Although I do visit Draycote from time to time, particularly in the winter, I have deliberately excluded it from my patch notes and records. This is partly because there are already many excellent birders monitoring this area on a daily basis, and partly because its size and productivity makes it a patch in its own right - I simply couldn't do it justice with the time I have available.

However, the key areas that do make up my patch are:

A. Radford Semele
A village less than three miles from Leamington, surrounded on three sides by mixed-use agricultural land. The only water is a village pond, tucked out of sight on scrubland to the south. It is a favourite spot for a wide variety of typical farmland birds, including Yellowhammer, Sky Lark, Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard and, in the winter, Lapwing and Fieldfare.

B. Leam Valley
The heart of my patch work, this local nature reserve (managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust) has a good variety of habitats including a flood plain (Welches Meadow), a reservoir (sadly locked and difficult to view), woodlands (both deciduous and coniferous), the River Leam itself, and a scrape, an open area of shallow pools overlooked by a hide. I also count in this area Newbold Comyn Park and little bit of the Offchurch Bury Estate, including some farmland, a weir and a stretch of reedy river. Leam Valley is probably the most diverse and productive part of the whole patch, and has been home to everything from Little Egrets to Long-tailed Tits , Green Woodpeckers to Goldcrests.

C. Offchurch and Offchurch Bury Estate
Offchurch is a lovely village surrounded by farmland, the Grand Union Canal, and the Offchurch Bury Estate, a large area of private parkland managed for equestrian events. This combination throws up good birds in and around the village - possibles include Little Owls on the estate, Spotted Flycatchers in the village churchyard and, although sadly I'm yet to see it, a Barn Owl over the farmland.

D. Cubbington Woods
This is the southern tip of Warwickshire's oldest area of woodland (the better known parts, Ryton, Wappenbury and Princethorpe, are just to the north). This whole area is well managed for conservation by the owners of Weston Hall Farm - there are wide grass and wildflower margins around the arable planting, restored and managed hedgerows throughout, and permission to access South Cubbington Wood itself. The result is some fantastic woodland birding, including classic birds like the Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker. The nearby hedgerows and fields hold Yellowhammer, Linnet and Lesser Whitethroat.

E. Ufton Fields
This is another Warwickshire Wildlife Trust managed reserve, a mix of woodlands, pools and scrubland left after the industrial excavation of White Lias Limestone during the fifties. The reserve is small, but has a wide variety of habitats. It looks ideal for birding, but is a surprisingly hard place in which to find good birds. With some perserverence, however, I have found various warblers, Hobby, Green Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, and even a female Mandarin Duck! It is widely reported as a good place for Turtle Dove, but I have never found any here.

F. Napton Reservoir
A much smaller reservoir than Draycote, and a few kilometres to the south. This is the main deep water location in my patch, and so is useful for finding diving ducks and grebes. It also attracts a good range of passage birds, and some real rarities - a Ring-necked Duck in early 2006 for example. Alongside the deep water, its other attraction is a truly massive (by local standards) reedbed at the back - this means that the reservoir plays host to Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers, and, very very occasionally, Bearded Tits and Cettis Warblers.

10 November 2004

Picture Gallery

I am no photographer, but with the aid of a Contax SL300 point-and-shoot digital camera attached to my Zeiss 65 Diascope, I am able to grab some photos of the birds I see. Here is a selection of my favourites.


A Common Redshank, taken at Titchwell RSPB reserve in Norfolk.

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker, taken at Draycote Reservoir, Warwickshire.

A classic pose from this Cormorant, also at Draycote Reservoir.

A Kingfisher at Brandon Marsh, nr Coventry.


A House Sparrow in my Warwickshire front garden.

A splendid male Pintail (with Pochard in foreground) at Slimbridge.

A Blue Tit taken at Draycote Reservoir, Warwickshire.

9 November 2004

Year List

This is a list of the bird species I saw in 2005 in the UK - 166 species in all.
Apologies to anyone interested, but I did not keep track of 2007 or 2008, and 2009 looks like it's going the same way. Sorry, life just keeps getting the way...

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Fulmar (Northern) Fulmarus glacialis
Gannet (Northern) Morus bassanus
Cormorant (Great) Phalacrocorax carbo
Bittern (Great) Botaurus stellaris
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
White-fronted Goose (Greater) Anser albifrons
Greylag Goose Anser anser
Bean Goose Anser fabalis
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Wigeon Anas penelope
Pintail (Northern) Anas acuta
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Teal Anas crecca
Shoveler (Northern) Anas clypeata
Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Scaup (Lesser) Aythya affinis
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
Eider Somateria mollissima
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Smew Mergellus albellus
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Goosander Mergus merganser
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Avocet (Pied) Recurvirostra avosetta
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Lapwing (Northern) Vanellus vanellus
Knot (Red) Calidris canutus
Sanderling Calidris alba
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Curlew Numenius arquata
Redshank Tringa totanus
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Turnstone (Ruddy) Arenaria interpres
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus Iobatus
Common Gull Larus Canus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Little Gull Larus minutus
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Guillemot Uria aalge
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
Swift Apus apus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Swallow (Barn) Hirundo rustica
House Martin Delichon urbica
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Pied Wagtail / White Motacilla alba
Waxwing (Bohemian) Bombycilla garrulus
Dipper (White-throated) Cinclus cinclus
Wren Troglodytes Troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Wheatear (Northern) Oenanthe oenanthe
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
Blackbird Turdus merula
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Willow Tit Parus montanus
Coal Tit Parus ater
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie (Common) Pica pica
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Raven Corvus corax
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparow Passer montanus
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Redpoll (Mealy)
Redpoll (Lesser) Carduelis flammea
Siskin Carduelis spinus
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

7 November 2004

County List

This is a list of the birds I have seen in my home county of Warwickshire. I should add that I take a slightly historical definition of Warwickshire to include Coventry - so Brandon Marsh is in.

Total to 6th August 2016: 157

Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisigena
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Cormorant (Great) Phalacrocorax carbo
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Bittern (Great) Botaurus stellaris
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus
White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhuncus
Greylag Goose Anser anser
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Brent Goose (Dark Bellied) Branta bernicla
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Wigeon Anas penelope
Pintail (Northern) Anas acuta
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Teal Anas crecca
Garganey Anas querquedula
Shoveler (Northern) Anas clypeata
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Scaup (Lesser) Aythya affinis
Scaup (Greater) Aythya marila
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Smew Mergellus albellus
Goosander Mergus merganser
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Red Kite Milvus milvus
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Lapwing (Northern) Vanellus vanellus
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Red Phalarope PHalaropus fulicarius
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Redshank Tringa totanus
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Wood Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Turnstone (Ruddy) Arenaria interpres
Great Skua Catharacta skua
Common Gull Larus Canus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Little Gull Larus minutus
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cahinnans
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Little Owl Athene noctua
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
Swift Apus apus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Swallow (Barn) Hirundo rustica
House Martin Delichon urbica
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Pied Wagtail / White Motacilla alba
Waxwing (Bohemian) Bombycilla garrulus
Wren Troglodytes Troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Common Redstart
Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Wheatear (Northern) Oenanthe oenanthe
Blackbird Turdus merula
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Willow Tit Parus montanus
Coal Tit Parus ater
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie (Common) Pica pica
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Raven Corvus corax
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparow Passer montanus
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Siskin Carduelis spinus
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Redpoll (Mealy) Carduelis flammea
Redpoll (Lesser) Carduelis cabaret
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

5 November 2004

Patch List

This is a list of birds I have seen on my local patch, a wide area of land to the east of Leamington Spa. For more information about my patch, click here.

Update #1: When I picked this list up in October 2014 for the first time in many a long year, the most recent note said: "Total to 1st March 2009: 101 species. Most recent new species - Golden Plover, more than 100 seen wheeling high over fields between Offchurch and Hunningham." Well, I might not have done a huge amount of birding in recent years, but that was due an update. To the list I was able to add Stonechat (Leam Valley, 2009); Black-Necked Grebe (Napton, 2011); and Great Grey Shrike (Napton, 2010). Total now 104.

Update #2: In May 2016 I found a Red Kite near Napton; in early August a Redstart at the reservoir. As a result my patch list now stands at 106.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Black-Necked Grebe
Cormorant (Great) Phalacrocorax carbo
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Greylag Goose Anser anser
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Wigeon Anas penelope
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Teal Anas crecca
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Shoveller
Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Goosander Mergus merganser
Red Kite Milvus milvus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Water Rail
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Lapwing (Northern) Vanellus vanellus
Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Common Gull Larus Canus
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Little Owl Athene noctua
Swift Apus apus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Swallow (Barn) Hirundo rustica
House Martin Delichon urbica
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Pied Wagtail / White Motacilla alba
Wren Troglodytes Troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Common Redstart
Stonechat
Blackbird Turdus merula
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Willow Tit Parus montanus
Coal Tit Parus ater
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie (Common) Pica pica
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Raven Corvus corax
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Siskin Carduelis spinus
Redpoll
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Corn Bunting
Yellowhammer
Reed Bunting

4 November 2004

My Birding Lists

Most birders keep some sort of list. Whether it is the birds they've seen that year, in that county, on that patch of land, or in their entire lives, lists are a useful way of keeping some focus on your birding.

They also inject a bit of competitive spirit in the proceedings, even if you are only competing against yourself (cheating, in this case, would of course be desperately sad). Some birders do take listing further with the concept of bird races, competing to see who can see the most birds in a day / weekend / year.

I generally keep the following lists, all of which can be found on The Hornet's Nest. None are very impressive by serious birder standards, but then I'm not a very serious birder.

Click to view my:

Life list
Patch list
County list
Year List

Life List

This is a complete list of all the bird species I have seen in Britain since I started birding 'properly' in 2002. I will keep it updated with new 'lifers' as and when I find them.

The list now stands proudly at 213 (as of May 2012) with recent additions including: wood sandpiper and red crested pochard at Brandon Marsh, black-necked grebe at Napton Reservoir, tawny owl in Harden, Yorkshire, nightingales at Fingringhoe, Essex, turtle dove, also at Fingringhoe, and pectoral sandpiper at Draycote Reservoir.

This sounds like a nice little burst of activity when I put them all together, but in fact it took me slightly more than two years to add these seven to my list. And progress shows little sign of speeding up!

It took me from the tail end of 2005 to the beginning of 2007 to get from 194 to 200 species (we welcomed a son into the world in the intervening period, slowing me down somewhat) but it was worth waiting for - the 200th species was a magnificent Common Crane at Cropredy in Oxfordshire. It then took two years to crawl to 206, and the next 18 months to get to 210. Eight months later I'd crept to 213.

Still, it's not like I'm racing anyone but myself!

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisigena
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Fulmar (Northern) Fulmarus glacialis
Gannet (Northern) Morus bassanus
Cormorant (Great) Phalacrocorax carbo
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Bittern (Great) Botaurus stellaris
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
White-fronted Goose (Greater) Anser albifrons
Greylag Goose Anser anser
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus
Bean Goose Anser fabalis
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Brent Goose Branta bernicla
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Wigeon Anas penelope
Pintail (Northern) Anas acuta
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Teal Anas crecca
Green-winged Teal Anas carolinesis
Garganey Anas querquedula
Shoveler (Northern) Anas clypeata
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Pochard Aythya ferina

Red Crested Pochard
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Scaup (Greater) Aythya marila
Scaup (Lesser) Aythya affinis
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
Eider Somateria mollissima
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Smew Mergellus albellus
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Goosander Mergus merganser
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Red Kite Milvus milvus
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Merlin Falco columbarius
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Crane Grus grus
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Black-winged Stilt Charadrius himantopus
Avocet (Pied) Recurvirostra avosetta
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Lapwing (Northern) Vanellus vanellus
Knot (Red) Calidris canutus
Sanderling Calidris alba
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
Wood Sandpiper

Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Curlew Numenius arquata
Redshank Tringa totanus
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Turnstone (Ruddy) Arenaria interpres
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus Iobatus
Great Skua Catharacta skua
Common Gull Larus Canus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Kittiwake (Black-legged) Rissa tridactyla
Little Gull Larus minutus
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cahinnans
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
Little Tern Sterna albifrons
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Guillemot Uria aalge
Razorbill Alca torda
Puffin (Atlantic) Fratercula arctica
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Tawny Own Strix aluco
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Little Owl Athene noctua
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus
Swift Apus apus
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Swallow (Barn) Hirundo rustica
House Martin Delichon urbica
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Pied Wagtail / White Motacilla alba
Waxwing (Bohemian) Bombycilla garrulus
Dipper (White-throated) Cinclus cinclus
Wren Troglodytes Troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Wheatear (Northern) Oenanthe oenanthe
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
Blackbird Turdus merula
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Willow Tit Parus montanus
Coal Tit Parus ater
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie (Common) Pica pica
Chough (Red-billed) Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Raven Corvus corax
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Siskin Carduelis spinus
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Redpoll (Mealy) Carduelis flammea
Redpoll (Lesser) Carduelis cabaret
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

3 November 2004

Glossary of Terms

Like any hobby, birding has its fair share of jargon. There are probably thousands of phrases that a non-birder might come across - I will simply do my best to cover the ones I consider to be most important and those I think I am likely to use in these pages.

Birds: Actually not that easy to define. Descended from the dinosaurs, birds all (as far as I'm aware) have two legs, feathers, a beak and lay eggs. Beyond that, the variety is astonishing. The majority fly, but some swim so well they could seriously be considered water creatures first and foremost. Best just to use your common sense - they're difficult to define, but pretty hard to mistake for anything else.

Birder aka Birdwatcher: Someone who watches birds.

Bins: Binoculars, the tools of our trade. Birders can often talk for hours on the subject of binoculars, so here's a quick tip - if you're not really really interested, just don't ask.

Digiscoping: the practice of combining a digital camera with a telescope to get a really powerful lens. Not as high quality as a good DSLR and long lens combination, but cheaper (if you already have the scope) and capable of handling longer distances. All of the photographs in The Hornet's Nest before January 2006 are digiscoped (with a Zeiss Diascope 65 and Contax 300SL for anyone who is interested). Since then, the majority have been taken with a Panasonic FZ20 and TCON1.7 teleconverter combination, although I do still digiscoping occasionally.

Dipped: A twitcher term for not seeing (or 'connecting with') the bird you had travelled to see. Not a good feeling, as in: "I travelled 200 miles to see the Sooty Tern, and dipped."

Dude: someone who has all the gear but no idea. If someone has £1,000 bins, a smart new Barbour jacket and Tilley hat, but can't tell a Gannet from a gull - that's a dude. For some reason, being a dude is considered far worse than being a normal beginner ie. someone with £100 bins, any old jacket and hat, and also can't tell a Gannet from a gull (we've all been there by the way).

Gripped Off: A not-nice twitcher phrase describing a moment when you saw the bird, but someone else didn't (or vice versa). As in: "I saw the Black Lark and gripped off Dave, who travelled all night to get here but arrived an hour after the bird had left."

Joke #1: OK, so let's get it out of the way. I watch birds. Hurr hurr hurr - the feathered kind I hope?

Lists: Birders, like many other hobbyists, make lists. We list all the birds we have seen in this country ever (life list), or in the world (world life list). We also count those we have seen this year (year list), in our local county or state, and on our local patches. Some people have a walking-the-dog list, an out-of-the-office window list, and even a birds-I-have-seen-on-television list. As you may be starting to realise, it can get a bit silly.

Little Brown Job (LBJ): While many bird species are splendidly coloured and highly visible, many others are basically brown, prone to hiding in bushes, and very similar to a host of other (often closely related) species. These can often be difficult, if not impossible, to identify, and are labelled LBJs. ie "I saw a Green Woodpecker, two male Chaffinches and a couple of unidentified LBJs".

Migration also Migrant: Migration is one of the wonders of the natural world, with birds the master exponents. Every year millions of birds travel thousands of miles as the seasons change. In the summer, the UK get a huge influx of birds that have spent the winter in the south (in Europe, Africa or even as far as Antarctica). In the autumn those birds return to those wintering grounds, and in turn, we become a wintering ground for birds which have bred in the north.

Parus Major: Birding joke #2 is calling someone a Parus Major. This is the latin name for a Great Tit. And it's not a great joke.

Pod: Short for tripod, a bloody great big bit of equipment which is sadly essential if you want to use your scope properly. Sods law says if you get lazy and leave the whole kit and caboodle in the car, you'll really really need it when you're out.

Resident or Resident Breeder: Bird species which spend all year in this country, both breeding and over-wintering here. The picture with many species is slightly confusing however. With Blackcaps, for example, those which have bred in Britain head south for the winter, but other Blackcaps which have bred further north move south to over-winter here. The overall effect is to ensure we have Blackcaps all year round, making them appear Resident Breeders despite the fact that these are not the same birds.

Scope: a telescope, or more accurately, a spotting scope. These invaluable devices allow you to see much further than binoculars do (being often six or seven times more powerful). They are very useful for wide open spaces, such as reservoirs, estuaries and so on. The disadvantages are that they can be heavy, typically require you to carry a tripod as well (see 'pod) and can make you look like a berk / weirdo if you are near a built-up area.

Shortened names: There are far to many of these for me to list, but they are commonly used in the birding world – after all, birders are as lazy as anyone else. So a Tree Sparrow becomes a treep, a Grasshopper Warbler a gropper, and a Pied Flycatcher a pied fly. I tend to avoid them unless talking with another birder, and even then I think they are best used sparingly.

Summer visitor / migrant: Birds which winter to the south (Europe, Africa or Antactica) and then travel up to Britain and other parts of Europe to breed.

Twitcher: Someone who travels far are wide to see as many different species of bird as possible. Often perfectly happy to travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to see a bird if it is particularly rare.

Winter visitors: Birds which have bred in the far north of Europe or the Arctic Circle and returned to the milder climes of Britain to see out the winter.

Equipment Reviews

Many birders seem as obsessed with the equipment they use as with the birds they seek. I, sadly, am no exception.

I know I'm certainly not alone, because a large number of Google searches which bring people to these pages are from people looking for equipment reviews and comments. So for their benefit, and for anyone else who might be interested, here is my current birding equipment list and my comments on them. I have also included comments on other equipment I have used, or which my partner uses.

Binoculars - Leica Trinovid 8x32 BN
Binoculars are the most important piece of equipment for any birder, and these are a real favourite of mine. The Trinovid 8x32 is a classic birders bin and a design that has stood the test of time over more than a decade. I bought these second-hand when I was a relative beginner and have never regretted it. They are smallish and lightweight, but the high quality optics means they are also bright enough for Nightjar watching and other low-light activities.
It probably goes without saying that they are as sharp as a tack, edge to edge, with good depth of field and close focusing (the BN range has better close focusing than the earlier BA models). They are also built to last, with a real solidity, and good to use with glasses.
The Trinovids have now been replaced by the Ultravids, but while the 8x42 Ultravid is a revalation compared with its Trinovid counterpart (so much lighter for a start), I can't really detect a huge difference at 8x32 size - they are similar in size, weight and optics. At just over £600 new, and around £400 second hand, the Trinovid is still one of the best pair of bins you can buy.

Binoculars - Optricon Discovery 8x42
My partner's bins, a much cheaper pair than my own Leicas. She chose them because they hit all her criteria in a decent budget package. They are very bright, extremely compact for an 8x42 (about the same size as my 8x32) with a wide field of view. They are also waterproof. The drawback, and hence the budget £100 price tag, is some soft edging to the image and a degree of distortion when panning. My partner doesn't mind this at all, and I get used to it after a few minutes (they are OK for spectacle wearers), so that's not a huge problem. Plus Opticron seems to be a decent company and our after-sales experience with them has been great. Overall, she is delighted with them and they are a decent pair of bins for an occasional birder.

Binoculars - Opticron LE 8x25 Compacts
My first pair of compact bins (apart from those £5.99 throwaway pairs you can buy) and optically they are pretty good. The LE stands for Long Eyerelief which is important if, like me, you wear glasses. They have decent screw up / down eyecups, are pretty compact, and have really sharp bright optics - and all for around £85. There are just two drawbacks which frustrate me. The least important is that they're not waterproof. But the real killer is the narrow field of view. It makes finding your target just that bit harder, and makes using them a lot less fun than it should be. If I could choose again I'd sacrifice the compact size for wider, brighter optics and go for the Taiga.

Binoculars - Optricron Taiga 8x25
My all-time favourite compact binoculars, because of the balance they strike between price and optical performance. They are a porro-prism design, which means they are bulkier that my LE compacts, but the result of a much sweeter handling experience.
Optically they are superb - and I mean superb. I bought a pair for my parents and was reluctant to hand them over. Bright, wide and sharper in some cases even (and I swear this is true) than my Leicas when I tested them over several days. They are a bulky compact, they aren't waterproof, but for around £80 they are brilliant. You will only improve on them by spending £250+ on one of the big brand compacts.

Spotting Scope - Zeiss Diascope 65 + zoom
This was my biggest investment to date, although not so big as it might have been thanks to a superb special offer from Warehouse Express (they deserve the plug, they saved me a fortune!).
This is one of the top four scopes (along with Leica, Nikon and Swarowski) and while they all have their idiosyncracies and differences, they all produce first-class optics. The Zeiss Diascope is famous for its wide bright zoom, genuinely class-leading. Against that, when the zoom is at its lowest / widest setting, it is slightly soft at the edges. For me this is a design feature not a drawback - I scan with the wide setting, find the bird, zoom in and the softness goes - you've found the bird more easily than you might with a narrower field scope, and ended up with a lovely sharp bright image.
With its 65 objective it is pretty lightweight, although not as much as the Leica 62 scope (a big favourite of mine as well). I can't imagine ever wanting to change.

Spotting Scope - Kowa TS611 + TSN 30ww
My first scope, and a cracker. It is now out of production, but if you can find a secondhand model it will be well worth considering - particularly with the TSN extra wide eyepiece.
It is ultra light for a 60 objective scope, with great optics. I gave it up with huge reluctance, changing to the Zeiss simply because I started to digiscope (using a compact camera attached to the scope to take pictures) and for that you really need the high-grade ED glass which the 611 doesn't have. Optically I don't think this makes any difference at all (although purists will claim otherwise) but sadly, for digiscoping it does. If you need ED glass for this reason, look out for the 613 - again out of production, but still hugely popular.

Spotting Scope - Mighty Midget 2 ED + HDF zoom
As I started to do more patch birding on foot, I found that I didn't want to lug my Zeiss 65 around so much, particularly with a tripod. So I bit the bullet and invested in this little gem, the MM2. It's about half the size, half the weight, and does the job a treat. I carry it either over my shoulder or in the shoulder bag I use for all my birding, and don't even notice it's there until I need it.
The HDF lens upgrade is, in my opinion, essential - with the standard eyepiece the scope simply doesn't do it for me. The upgrade from standard MM2 to ED MM2 (better quality glass) is of less value. I did it in case I ever digiscope through it, but to be honest, I can't see that ever happening.
My recommendation would be save the money and get the standard model with an HDF zoom, or the HDF 18x eyepiece - both are great. Or spend quite a bit more and treat yourself to a Nikon ED50 - that has the benefit of being slightly more compact, optically better still, and waterproof.
Whichever one you choose, I can also wholeheartedly recommend the Cullman shoulder pod. It makes the MM2 a dream to use, and is so much better than lugging a full size tripod around (which sort of defeats the idea of using a lightweight scope in the first place).

Camera - Contax SL300
My first digital camera, bought specifically for digiscoping. It was highly recommended at the time, and still popular. The reason is the split-body design, which allows you to angle the screen towards you while the lens is held against the scope eyepiece. It is also fast, extremely compact (like an old cassette tape) and takes a decent picture. I used it extensively for digiscoping until I bought the Panasonic FZ20 and started 'normal' photography, and got some great results with it. I also use it for video footage of the family and for taking to parties and the like (it easily slips into a jacket pocket).
BUT... ugh, the battery life. It is appalling. Not just bad, but bloody awful. I get through a battery in no time (ie I can just about fill a 1gb SD card with video footage, maybe 8mins in all, and it is totally flat). In the cold a fully charged battery can last as little as 5, 4 or even 1 shot, making a battery pack essential for digiscoping! It's a fun camera which is capable of great things, but I'm afraid that battery drives me mad.

Camera - Panasonic FZ20 + TCON 1.7
My first introduction to the world of 'proper' photography and I love it. This is one of the so-called superzoom cameras, also known as a prosumer cameras, and it about as good as fixed lens cameras get (the alternative being a DSLR with interchangeable lenses, see below).
Effectively this is a 'proper' camera in a single, easy to use bundle. By proper I mean it gives you full manual control over shutter speed and aperture (the essential tools for good photography), as well as a host of other important features like a hot-shoe for external flash, remote shutter release, manual focus and thread for filters and teleconverters (I have a Pemeraal adaptor that makes this a standard 55mm).
For birding I screw on an Olympus TCON 1.7 teleconverter, and I also have a wide angle converter for landscapes, interiors and so on. That means I can take this lens from 28mm at the wide end to 730mm at the top end, an astonishing range for the price and size (I paid just over £400 for the lot, including adaptors and convertors).
There are as ever, compromises you make. DSLRs do take better pictures - they have bigger sensors, bigger lenses and produce great results. The FZ20 struggles in low light - it only goes to ISO400, and anything over ISO100 is noisy (not insurmountable - for dark indoor shots I either switch to B/W and get atmospheric grainy pictures or stick the external flash on).
But there are also drawbacks to DSLRs, and for me, just too many. The cost, including a decent 400/500mm lens, is unlikely to be less than £1,000 and could easily top £1,500 (frankly, could easily top £4,000). Those lenses are telescope sized, so the bulk is 3/4 times greater than my kit (which fits easily in my shoulder bag for whenever I need it). Changing lenses results in dust on the sensors, a minor niggle but a niggle nevertheless. And every DSLR owner I knows spends their whole time lusting after bigger, brighter or different lenses. It's a bottomless pit for money as far as I can tell.
I am regularly tempted by the fantastic quality of bird photography that good local photographers with their DSLRs produce, but at the moment I am a birder first, photographer second. For me, the FZ20 is as good as it gets.

2 November 2004

Fishing Kit

If a few years ago I thought that birdwatchers were terrible kit obsessives (see equipment reviews here!), that was only because I hadn't kept up to date with modern angling at that point.

Now I've taken up angling again I realise that birders are rank amateurs - fishing is absolutely riddled with new technology, toys and gadgets and it would be so, so easy to never stop on the acquisition trail.

At the moment I'm resisting talking about the kit use, if only because it might encourage me to get some more. However, I am a bit prone to 'all the gear and no idea', so in the future... well, who knows?

A Guide to Birdwatching

OK, so this isn't going to be a full guide to birdwatching. Plenty of people more qualified than me have written those, and if you are really interested you would do well to take a trip to the local library, bookshop or even have a quick browse on the Internet.*

However, I would like to present a personal view of this absorbing hobby, if only to help make the rest of The Hornet's Nest slightly less incomprehensible to non-birding visitors. A quick visit to my glossary of birding terms might also help!

What is Birdwatching?

Perhaps the first thing I should make clear is that 'birding' and 'birdwatching' are largely interchangeable terms.

If that is so, you might ask, why do you prefer to call yourselves birders rather than birdwatchers? Well, that's a good question, and to be honest we just think it sounds cooler. Sad but true.

The second thing I should make clear (and probably most important of all) is that 'birding' and 'twitching' are not the same thing at all.

Birding (birdwatching) is a catch-all phrase that refers to anybody whose hobby is watching birds, whether for pleasure, to draw, as an amateur contributor to natural history surveys and so on. Twitching on the other hand refers to the practice of chasing rare birds in order to build as big a list of sightings as possible.

Twitchers are driven creatures, often travelling hundreds if not thousands of miles to ensure they see every rare birds that turns up on our shores. I am not a twitcher (although I might go on the occasional local twitch if a rare bird turns up close to home) but I do recognise that it is a perfectly valid hobby for those that like that sort of thing. The only thing I ask is please don't call me a twitcher!

Remember the golden rule - all twitchers are birders, but only a minority of birders are twitchers.

Birding Types

So, that leaves one question. If birders don't twitch, what do they do?

Well, this is a hugely varied hobby, with many different approaches. As an overview, here are a few different types of activity that fall within the catch-all of 'birder'.

1. Garden birder - Perhaps where the majority of birders start, watching the birds in their own back gardens. It might sound a trifle dull, but if you put a bit of time in, plant a few of the right plants and put out a bit of food you might be surprised what turns up. When I get the chance I'll tot up my own garden list to prove my point.

2. Patch birder - someone who closely studies one area of land, often close to their home. This allows them to become familiar with the changing nature of their patch over the year, hopefully becoming something of an expert on that area. However, no matter how good your local patch is, there are always other temptations nearby, and that may lead you on to becoming a...

3. County birder - or someone who puts most of their efforts into studying the birdlife of the county (the UK equivalent of a US State). This can be most rewarding, since it blends good local knowledge with reasonably wide area in which to operate.

4. Trip birder - most of us want to see birds further away than our own county, particularly if there are habitats and types of birds we can't find locally. I live in a landlocked county for example, so if I want to see sea birds then I have to head for the coast. Similarly if I want to see the birds of mountains, moorland or northern coniferous forest. The UK, like most countries, is awash with places of great beauty and majesty - birding is one of the best ways to visit them.

5. Artist / photographic birder - many birders are principally there for the aethetic beauty of the birds, and who could blame them. Many of us dabble in photography or drawing as a complement to our core birding activities, but when you find a real artist or photographer birder you quickly come to realise how much talent and dedication it requires to become a specialist in those fields.

6. Scientific birder - many birders contribute in one way or another to scientific work, whether through close study of bird behaviour (leaning towards ornithology) or through helping carry out surveys of bird populations, whether breeding, wintering or migrating. Birds are a fantastic indicator of the health of any environment, so this work is critical to understanding how our environment is faring.

However, there are probably as many different types of birder as there are birders in the world.

Most of us are a combination of many if not all of the above types - I try to focus on my patch, contribute to bird surveys, get around the county a bit, travel further afield a few times a year, and take photographs and sketch much of what I see.

Conclusions

So there are many different types of birder, and many many different areas a good introduction needs to cover. Out there is a world of primaries and secondaries (feathers), bins and scopes (optics), LBJs and juvs, waders, raptors, treeps and groppers. Twitchers are getting gripped off every day, and dudes derided wherever they go (you might want to take that trip to the glossary of terms now, if you feel up to it.)

The point is that behind this seemingly incomprensible world of jargon is one simple truth. What we do is far more important than what we are called.

At its most basic, birding is simply about being outdoors, feeling connected to nature and loving the world around you. And that is plenty good enough for me.


*As a proper introduction to birding, I would recommend tracking down a secondhand copy of the RSPB Guide to Birdwatching by Peter Conder. Although now sadly out of print, it is fairly easy to find, and is by some considerable margin the best introduction I have found to the hobby.