BTO Conference 2014!!

Back in September, I got an email from Ieuan Evans saying that I was going to be talking at the BTO's 81st Conference/AGM which will be held at the Hayes conference centre in Swanwick Derbyshire between the 5-7 December. I was ecstatic to know that I'd be talking in front of such an inspirational audience. Also my friends had been invited by the likes of Findlay Wilde, Evie Miller, Josie Hewitt, Ben Moyes and Ellis Lucas. One or two days before the conference I got an invitation to have dinner with Andy Clements and CHRIS PACKHAM!!!!!!!!

Invite to have lunch with Chris Packham

Day 1

I got home from school on the Friday afternoon, races to my bedroom, got changed and we were off to the conference, the traffic was horrible in Nottingham, we arrived at the conference at 5:30pm after going through Nottingham at rush hour was a bad idea! We were greeted by Chris Morley and some of the other staff. They showed us to our family room, with a double, single and a bunk-bed, so I had dib's on top bunk! Then I rushed down to the Lounge and Ben Hoare from the BBC Wildlife Magazine, Dawn Balmer, Ieuan Evans and Ellis Lucas and his dad. After the rest of the 'crew' arrived, we headed to the first talk of the weekend, it was Helen McDonald's talk about raptors, falconry and humans connecting together, also Helen has just released a book called H is for Hawk! After Helen's talk, all us young'uns went to the quiz straight after, our most important aim was to beat our parents! And yes we did, also we came 3rd out of 9 groups!

Day 2

At the start of the day after breakfast, we headed down to the first talk of the day which was by Liz Humphrey's talk  how renewable energy could affect birds and how birds cope with turbines offshore, which was shortly followed by 2 amazing talks by James Pearce-Higgins talking about climate change, and Kevin Gaston talk about Urbanisation and how this is affecting the birds and humans. Then after lunch it was kicked off by Mark Thomas from the RSPB, to talk about Raptor Persecution in the U.K .

75 years of the NRS

2 shot Buzzards found

Followed by Dave Leech celebrating 75 years of the Nest Recording Scheme with some of the younger nest recorders and what they've found including my Spotted Flycatcher nest!

As I said earlier we were just about to have dinner with Chris Packham, when we arrived at our table I was sat diagonally opposite to Chris, whilst we were having our lunch we talked about his experiences, especially his few weeks in Malta back in April. Also giving us sneak peeks at one of his new shows and some of his younger experiences with him collecting skulls of mammals and birds. After some amazing discussions and Andy Clements gives all 6 of us one of Chris Packham's books called '100 things that caught my eye' then Chris sign them all

All us 'Young-ns' with Andy Clements and Chris Packham

After lunch we had the option of going to a ringing meeting or more amazing lectures, so my dad and I chose the lectures, this started with Kate Plummer talking about why Blackcaps are starting to winter in this country and the BTO have found that the birds that winter in this country have developed to have a sharper bill so they can collect more fat from fat balls. After that fascinating talk it was Viola Ross Smith talked to us about her Lesser black-backed Gulls, then Ed Drewitt celebrating our Urban Peregrines. And Tanya Hoare talking about the Swifts that she has nesting under the eaves of her house, she even filmed them at the nest with some amazing footage.
After a delicious dinner, Fin, Ben, Ellis, Josie, Evie and I went with our parents and Lucy McRobert  to go and practice our speeches before the big day! When went up to the podium, and whilst I was doing my talk, my knees were shaking uncontrollably, this got me wondering what my knees would be like in front of 350 people! 

Blackcap Study

Day 3

I woke quite early and practised my speech a couple of times before taking to the podium, we all had a very nice breakfast, then us 'Young-ns' headed down to the Conference Hall early, so we could set up, and soon as we got in, everyone flooded into the hall, all 350 people, full of Ringers, Nest Recorders. Birders and Experts! Lucy introduced all of us and Ben Moyes stepped first with some amazing watercolour pictures and birding around his patch, next was Josie talking about her week on Bardsey and getting her C-permit recently, then it was my turn, I was talking about my ringing experiences, finding bird nests and starting to do the House Martin Survey. After my talk was Ellis (who had never spoken in front of an audience before!), but he talked about Waxwings outside his house, and his amazing nests which he has found including Whinchat, Common Sandpiper and Chaffinch. Next was Evie Miller (which this is her first time talking in front of an audience before) and she talked about her ringing, and last was Fin who talked about how he got interested in nature and that he wants to save nature. After our talks there was a sigh of relief from all of us, after our talks there was a break so I headed down to the bar, I never got down there because people were just asking me questions about my House Martins and Nest Recording, I bet the others had the same thing, it was amazing.

I would just like to say a massive thanks for those who have supported me and inspired me over this weekend; Evie, Ben, Ellis, Fin, Josie, Dawn Balmer, Lee Barber, Andy Clements, Chris Packham, Dave Leech, Andrew Tongue and finally my family.

But before we left, we stayed for lunch and us Young-ns and one of the people from Wildsounds, approached us and had many copies of 4 bird books, including Helm Confusing Species and North American Helm guide as well, so I ordered to which would come for free! What an early Christmas present!

Us Young-ns

Wordle of the highlights of the Conference

And a massive thank you to the BTO for hosting this event and for letting me speak in front of an amazing audience.



Blogs on there way!

Sorry that there hasn't been a blog since October, I've had some problems with Blogger but between now and the New Year, touchwood I will have to brilliant posts o a 5 day trip to Norfolk and the BTO's 81st Conference.

Sneak Peaks

Sneak Peaks


Save our House Martins!!!!

I bet most of you who are reading this blog, have seen our lovely summer migrant; the House Martin. This bird is about the size of a 15cm ruler and it migrates from the Tropics and South of Africa, to the breeding grounds of Northern Africa and Europe. The reason that I'm blogging about this lovely black and blue hirundine is because its in danger as this species has dropped down to Amber listing and we don't want it to fall to RED, as it has declined by 16% over the last 10 years, but more worrying they've declined by 50% over the last 50 years!!!! AND WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING.

The BTO are launching from 2015-2016 a special survey on House Martins will be conducted in 2015:
  • A national survey in 2015 to gather information on the House Martin population, local distribution and their habitat preferences.
And in 2016:
  • A nest monitoring study in 2016 to learn about breeding success, timings and location of nests.

So here are some ways to help out our House Martins:

  1.  If you are not already a member of the BTO, DO SO!
  2. Go to the BTO's website and donate or sign up for their Survey by clicking on the link; http://www.bto.org/support-us/current-appeals/house-martin-appeal?dm_i=IG4,2TMR2,5AE8W7,A90TI,1 
  3. Over this Autumn and Winter put artificial nests up under eaves of your house to encourage the birds to come and nest.
  4. Don't forget to add your sightings to Birdtrack as well!!

For as long as I can remember, my family have been lucky enough to have House Martins breeding under the eaves of my house, and last Autumn my dad bought 2 artificial nests to help boost our local House Martin population so we have 2 artificial and 5 natural nests, during this summer holiday just gone, my ringing group decided to do a study to see how many juveniles and adults will return, also to see if the juveniles from last year will take the nest from which they came from, from the adults?
So far we have ringed 13 birds so can't wait to carry on the project next spring!!!

House Martins 



Boy what a great month for ringing

Sorry about the lack of blogging recently, because I'm settling in to Year 10, with coursework starting already so even less birding time.

Since I've last done a ringing update (its been a while), I've been trying to get out ringing when I can, especially if the weather plays in our favour and boy it has, even when I've been able to go ringing, the others have been catching so many great birds.

A week after the Birdfair I went and cut the rides with my ringer, it started raining so we took shelter under a tree and talked about what we would catch tomorrow, both of us agreed the usual lot like Blackcap, Chiffchaff and possibly a late Willow Warbler. When I got home I got told that I couldn't make the session down to seeing friends, but I wish I was there as they caught 1 TREE PIPIT, 2 Male REDSTARTS, plus even better a NIGHTINGALE!! Nightingale and Redstart are species I've never seen.


Tree Pipit


If you had seen my last update we managed to catch a Kingfisher, 2 weeks later. Sadly I couldn't make the session but they managed to catch another Kingfisher, plus another stonking male Redstart!!

Also we've caught Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Tawny Owl as well recently!!!

Tawny Owl


Birdfair 2014

As many people know over the weekend,the 26th Birdfair took place at Rutland Water and as I live so close I went with my Dad for all 3 days.

Over the last year I've started blogging and back in January I got Twitter, people have got to know me more, so this Birdfair was going to be the busiest one for me yet. Meeting new and old friends, including people from Norway to Cheshire.

Day 1

Woke up and set off for the Birdfair at 8:00am to get there for 8:45am, and there was a lot of queuing and as soon as I got in I rushed over to the Urban Birder Stand, as David Lindo was launching his National Bird Vote (Click the Link to vote), and I was to help publicise this vote by helping out on David's stand on Sunday. After that headed straight to the BTO stand to see Dave Leech and Mike Toms, but as soon as I walked in I was called from the WWT stand, it was Kane Brides and we talked about his recent trip to Iceland, ringing Auks, Phalaropes and Whooper Swans. After meeting Kane I headed over to the BTO stand, they had a nest challenge to get all 8 nests right, sadly I only got 7 but it was very challenging. Then we headed over to the Optics Marquee to catch up with Ruth Miller and Alan Davies and thier amazing tours this year including a trip to Finland and Norway in June. And I caught up with Tormod Amundsen a Norwegian architect and birder, they come from Varanger which is a county in high Arctic Norway, I recommend checking out his pictures on his website to see Puffin fights, and amazing King and Steller Eiders.

After an amazing first day I only managed to get around 7 stands!!
Your  Country Needs You

Selfie with Harry the Hen Harrier

Best Bird Box ever
King Eider ©Tormod Amundsen

Day 2

After a very busy Friday the Saturday would be less packed, we headed straight to the optics stand to see what we could see and I found a Garganey basking in the sun, also 4 Teal and 4 Curlew along the spit, after that we headed straight to the BTO Ringing Stand to find that yesterday they had caught 52 Blue Tits!! In the afternoon Richard Crossley was doing a talk for NGB and other young birders, as no one else knew where they were going I lead the way and headed to Dunlin hide to find Common Sandpiper, Teal also an Egyptian Goose on the Osprey nest. Then we headed to Shoveler hide and got Pochard, Mallard, Teal and Tufted Ducks in their hundreds. After an amazing tour by Richard, learning new ways of ID'ing eclipse ducks, I went with one NGB member and I got to hold a Death-Head Hawkmoth!!! After that amazing experience I headed to Lecture Marquee 3 for Lucy McRobert's talk about A Focus on Nature and how it's helping budding conservationists to get a head start into wildlife careers, after the brilliant talk, all AFON members were to go to the Opticron stand and have Beer and and get a chance to talk to other AFON members (of course no beer for any youngsters), and I met Georina Locockt, a young wildlife enthusiast from Staffordshire, look at her blog for amazing footage of Foxes, Badgers and Otters!!

It was the end of another amazing day meeting new and old people, so what can Sunday hold for me?
BTO Ringing Stand
Death-Head Hawkmoth

Fin and I under Harry

Day 3

Its the last day, knowing that after today I would have to wait 365 days until the next Birdfair, but still today would be so much fun, I bumped into Findlay Wilde again and went to a Lecture on Dragonflies, Damselflies and Demoiselles with Fin and his Family, it was funny but fascinating about some different species of Dragonflies, Damselflies and Demoiselles, my favourite now has to be a Golden-Banded Dragonfly, after that lecture, my Mum, Poppa and 2 cousins were coming down for a few hours, they ended up with more freebies than I did over all 3 days!!! After that I had to go and volunteer on David Lindo's stand and it was really good fun, not all the people who voted were British, I managed to get Norwegian and American to sign up too. The stand was always packed full with people, after a successful 2 hour stint, I helped out on the LROS stand which is my local Ornithological club, as my dad was doing his part I helped out and talked about good migration Hotspots in Leicestershire so I could try and get Redstart on the County List. Then the day had ran out of time it was all over the Birdfair 2014 had finished.

But what an amazing 3 days meeting people and enjoying (apart from Birthday and Xmas) the best few days of the year. Can't wait for next year, if you didn't manage to make this get it written in highlighters as next will probably be better than this year!!!

Just a small amount of the freebies
Urban Birder Stand

For Tormod Amundsen video of the Birdfair click on this link Biotope Birdfair Highlights


Northumberland Part 2

Day 4
Today after an amazing day yesterday, we decided to go to Holy Island or its also called Lindisfarne, we arrived and in the car park got Linnet and House Sparrow with c200 Golden Plover fly over, looking around the village of Holy Island Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and Chaffinch were everywhere, after looking around the old Priory, we went up to a watch tower where in the bay we could see loads of Grey Seals, after watching the seals, my Dad and I went along the North coastline to do some more sea-watching, we found 10 Sandleing, Gannets everywhere, Seals everywhere and Eider almost everywhere.

Day 5
This was the event that I was most looking forward to going to the Farnes, so we arrived at Seahouses and booked our places with Billy Shiels and had a 1 Hour boat trip, which I saw my first ever Shag, also saw thousands of, Puffins and Kittiwakes, most of the Guillemots and Razorbills had already left but  a few were dotted around, also on the one of Outer Farnes about 20 Grey Seals were posing for the camera. We landed on Inner Farne with thousands of Terns along the jetty, including Sandwich, Common and Arctic, also 3 Ringed Plover Chicks along the beach, and thier were loads of Arctic Terns chicks amongst the vegetation and the boardwalks were covered with adults with Sand Eels in thier mouths, I went into the visitor centre and met David Steel, he is the Head Warden of the Farnes, he showed me around Inner Farne and then let me watch him ring a Puffin!!! After that we had to catch the boat back to Seahouses, what an experience.


Grey seal

Grey Seals 

Hello There




Shag and audience 

What's wrong I'm posing for the camera?

Arctic Tern

Caption thier

After an amazing day yesterday, in the morning we went to Long Nanny again to see more Little Terns sadly we didn't see another one but saw 10 Roseate Terns!!!! Also a flock of 140+ Curlew, did check for Whimbrel but didn't have much look with that one, also saw 3 Wheatear and my first Whinchat flitting around on the floor. Also I took some pictures of some Burnet Moths could anyone help me with what type?

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

Burnet Species?

Blue Butterfly Species?

Day 7

This was my Final day in Northumberland before I go back home, my dad said that he had planned something for both of us, but I had no clue until we got to Seahouses at 9:30am and saw that Billy Sheils were setting off for a all day boat trip round the FARNES!!!!!!!! Sadly today was very foggy so on the boat we didn't see as much as we would of liked, but it was brilliant loads of Gannets and a very fond Lesser-black-backed Gull kept following the boat. Then a species which we had missed out on before a Fulmar flew past the boat quite close. After looking at the lovely Grey Seals again which came even closer.

This is close

Hello there

Grey Seal

Grey Seal
We docked on Staple Island and were greeted with Puffins, Shags, Guillemots and Kittiwakes, we had 2 hours to look around this lovely Island and we came close to more Shags, Puffins feeding young. Also I spotted a Purple Sandpiper which had been flushed by another boat.

Purple Sandpiper

Its Puffin Time


Further round the Island, Fulmars were on chicks with 1 nest quite close by, at one time thier was three Puffins that came really close and I laid down and waited to see if they came any closer and look at the results.

You can just see the head of the chick




After having a wonderful time on Staple Island, we headed out to Inner Farne, were we caught up with the Ringed Plover chicks and what seemed like more Terns on the Jetty, one thing that I set out for whilst I was on the Farnes was to get a Arctic Tern the land on my head, and it happened, also I found 2 Swallows flitting around, also the Shag chicks had grown so much over the last two days and the adults became even tamer. I met up with David Steel again and found a Roseate Tern flying over, later at the gift shop a woman called Anne Wilson who is the Farne isles historian listening about the history of the Farnes and how St Cuthbert died on Inner Farne. After an amazing day on the Farnes sadly we had to leave the island, memories thier will never be forgotten.
Arctic Selfie!!!
Shag pic with phone!