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Ev­ery is­sue, we ask well-known bird­ers ques­tions about their hobby. This month it’s the turn of nat­u­ral­ist, au­thor and TV pro­ducer, Stephen Moss

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - Stephen on Twit­ter @Stephen­moss_tv

This month we ask nat­u­ral­ist, au­thor and TV pro­ducer Stephen Moss a se­ries of bird­ing ques­tions

What first sparked your in­ter­est in birdwatching?

I started be­fore I can re­mem­ber! My late mother al­ways said that she took me to feed the ducks, and I asked her what the ‘funny black ducks’ were – she then got hold of the Ob­server’s Book of Birds and iden­ti­fied them as coots. I was three years old and have been in­ter­ested in birds ever since then!

Who was your birdwatching in­spi­ra­tion or men­tor?

Lots of ‘big names’: Ian Wal­lace – I wrote to him and he kindly replied, Bert Ax­ell who I met at Mins­mere, and Eric Hosk­ing – I used to read Eye for a Bird from cover to cover! Also John Good­ers and Birds of the World.

Do you bird alone or with a friend?

Ini­tially, with my mum who fer­ried me around var­i­ous places; then from the age of about 12 with my school­friend Daniel (now a Pro­fes­sor of Bi­ol­ogy at Sus­sex Univer­sity) – we cy­cled to places like the New For­est and Dun­geness!

Your dream bird to see?

Re­splen­dent Quet­zal, or a cock-of-the-rock.

Your favourite bird­ing spot?

My lo­cal patches on the Som­er­set Lev­els, Trinidad & Tobago, where my wife Suzanne and I got to­gether, and The Gam­bia, where we had our hon­ey­moon.

Your clas­sic birder’s lunch?

BLT, or­ange juice, Snick­ers bar.

Red­start or Black Red­start?

Tricky – but male Black Red­start I think!

Favourite bird song or call?

Duet­ting pair of Mrs Moreau’s War­blers in Tan­za­nia’s Uluguru Moun­tains – the bird in the ti­tle of my forth­com­ing book on the ori­gin of bird names.

What do you think is birdwatching’s big­gest myth or mis­con­cep­tion?

That you have to be an ex­pert to en­joy it.

The best bird you’ve seen?

Em­peror Pen­guin in Antarc­tica, Plains-wan­derer in Aus­tralia, Mrs Moreau’s War­bler – again!

Iden­ti­fy­ing gulls – night­mare or a nice day out?

Bit of both.

Your favourite bird joke?

Can’t think of any (ex­cept ter­ri­ble puns…)

How do you think we can en­cour­age young peo­ple to watch birds?

By lis­ten­ing to them, men­tor­ing them and spend­ing time in the field – as a di­rec­tor of A Fo­cus on Na­ture I have re­ally en­joyed meet­ing the new gen­er­a­tion of bird­ers…

Wheatear or Ring Ouzel?

Wheatear – great name (from An­glo-saxon for ‘white arse’) and great bird!

The one place you’d love to go birdwatching?

Pan­tanal, Brazil.

A bird­ing/con­ser­va­tion is­sue you feel strongly about?

Cli­mate change.

The bird that an­noys you most?

Feral Grey­lag Geese.

The bo­gey bird that still eludes you?

Nutcracker – any­where in the world!

The bird book you’d never be with­out?

Hand­book of The Birds of the World – my Desert Is­land Discs book choice – all 17 vol­umes!

Why do you love birdwatching in three words?

Es­cape. Sur­prise. Birds.

Ad­vice for bird­ers tak­ing part in #My200birdyear?

Take time to en­joy the com­mon bird­sas well as­the rare ones. Ev­ery bird re­ally is spe­cial.

THEN & NOW Above: a young Stephen Moss with spar­rows, and top: with Bill Od­die at Bird­fair

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