Every issue, we ask well-known birders questions about their hobby. This month it’s the turn of teenage birder and conservation campaigner
What sparked your interest in birdwatching?
Since the age of six, I have developed a growing passion for the natural world. I would often sit and observe the many woodland bird species feeding on my grandparents’ bird feeders in North Wales.
Who was your birdwatching inspiration or mentor?
I developed my own interest in birds and never had an inspirational individual or group to get me going. However, as I’ve become more passionate about conservation, certain individuals and organisations have been real mentors in guiding and driving me in this area.
Do you bird alone or with a friend?
Sadly, I think it is quite often the case with young birders that there isn’t anyone or many other young people in the same area sharing similar interests, so I mostly bird alone, though I do try to meet up with fellow young birders.
Your dream bird to see?
The Black-naped Monarch. One day, maybe.
Your favourite birding spot?
Spurn Bird Observatory for its insane migration, or my own patching area, Winsford Flash.
Your classic birder’s lunch?
Prepared the night before; bacon sandwich on the way.
House Martin or Sand Martin?
The House Martin. For years they have nested on the eaves of the house, and it is certainly a bird I feel close to.
Favourite bird song or call?
On migration, while scanning large quantities of waders, the Greenshank call among many other thousands of waders stands out the most for me.
Birdwatching’s biggest myth or misconception?
The fact that some birders think they have to go on twitch after twitch to see ‘good’ birds. In my opinion, birding on your doorstep or patching one local site regularly provides as much pleasure as travelling to see a rare bird that someone else has come across. Birding one site can provide more information about a species or habitat.
The best bird you’ve seen?
A stunning male Hen Harrier gliding in and out of the mist over the hills of North Wales.
Identifying gulls – nightmare or nice day out?
I love scanning them and find the identification to be fine, except for Ring-billed Gulls in anything but adult plumage.
Your favourite bird joke?
That hilarious campaign called “You forgot the birds”!
How do we encourage young people to watch birds?
I’d like to see natural history/environmental studies incorporated into all core subjects in schools.
Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler?
Willow Warbler. I am amazed by the extent of its migration and love the charismatic song.
The one place you’d love to go birdwatching?
Every habitat, every climate, has something unique.
A birding/conservation issue you feel strongly about?
The illegal persecution of upland raptors, particularly the Hen Harrier.
The bird that annoys you most?
Canada Goose, flocks of 150-plus on patch come hurtling onto the water, off balance, scattering most other birds.
The bogey bird that still eludes you?
For years, I have been trying unsuccessfully tosee an Iceland Gull, yet I can’t quite manage to see one.
The bird book you’d never be without?
Collins Bird Guide.
Why do you love birdwatching in three words?
Every day learning.
Advice for birders taking part in #My200birdyear?
Regularly watch local sites as you can be amazed at some of the species they can throw up. It’s not a number, it’s a journey, so enjoy everything you see along the way.
Teenage conservationist and birder Findlay Wilde has been passionate about nature since a very young age