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Every is­sue, we ask well-known bird­watch­ers ques­tions about their hobby. This month it’s the turn of ‘mys­tery birder’ Yolo­birder

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

We ask ‘mys­tery birder’ Yolo­birder a se­ries of ques­tions about his hobby

What first sparked your in­ter­est in bird­watch­ing?

Be­ing dragged on fam­ily walks as a kid. I had to make them in­ter­est­ing some­how, so I started look­ing at birds. I kept a list and ticked them in my book. “Golden Ea­gle on a gate: Tick! Wall­creeper be­hind the school bins at play­time: Tick!” My list may have needed some re­vi­sions over the years.

Who was your bird­watch­ing in­spi­ra­tion or men­tor?

I’m pretty much self-taught, which is why I still say Hoopoe wrong ap­par­ently! But David At­ten­bor­ough and Chris Pack­ham were in­spi­ra­tional fig­ures to me grow­ing up.

Do you bird alone or with a friend?

Either alone, with my mate Davy or with my dog, Space­dog.

Your dream bird to see?

Le­git white-morph Gyr­fal­con. Or Wall­creeper, as I only heard the one be­hind the bins in the ju­niors that time.

Your favourite bird­ing spot?

Northum­ber­land coast. Or Baz Scott’s al­lot­ment in Wallsend for crip­pling views of Lady Amherst Pheas­ant and Ea­gle Owl.

Your clas­sic birder’s lunch?

Fraz­zles and/or Mon­ster Munch. Curly Wurly (or Chomp).

Arctic Tern or Black Tern?

Tricky. Looks/uk rar­ity ver­sus awe­some en­durance? Arctic edges it I think.

Favourite bird song or call?

Loads! I love Lap­wings: they sound like Star Wars. Waxwings, be­cause it means you are about to see some Waxwings. The bub­ble of a Curlew (I’m fundrais­ing for the BTO Curlew ap­peal with #99Birds). Not Yel­lowham­mers, though, they yell on about not lik­ing cheese and I hate cheese-ism.

Bird­watch­ing’s big­gest myth or mis­con­cep­tion?

That Thayer’s Gulls ex­ist. It’s a Her­ring. Move on.

The best bird you’ve seen?

Pere­grine. The one that I loved most as a kid and still do. Beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful and the fastest bird in the world.

Iden­ti­fy­ing gulls – night­mare or a nice day out?

I re­spect gulls’ tenac­ity when ac­quir­ing food and the fact they eat their sib­lings when they get too an­noy­ing. But iden­ti­fy­ing them? Un­less it’s a Ross’ Gull, life is too short.

Your favourite bird joke?

“I went bird­ing with Bill Od­die for a week­end once. We saw loads of waders, egrets, herons…” “Spoon­bill?” “No, we had sep­a­rate beds”.

How do we en­cour­age young peo­ple to watch birds?

Take them to the Farne Is­lands to be pecked by the fur­thest mi­grat­ing bird in the world, or to a Pere­grine view­point.

Spot­ted Fly­catcher or Pied Fly­catcher?

I’m a sucker for a mono­chrome clas­sic so it has to be the Pied.

The one place you’d love to go bird­watch­ing?

Pa­pua New Guinea. With Sir David A to show me the ropes.

A bird­ing/con­ser­va­tion is­sue you feel strongly about?

Rap­tor per­se­cu­tion. The plight ofthe Hen Har­rier in par­tic­u­lar is a na­tional dis­grace. It must stop.

The bird that an­noys you most?

Green Wood­peck­ers mock me be­cause I can’t see them.

The bo­gey bird that still eludes you?

White’s Thrush. Eye­browed Thrush. Tur­dus are hard I find.

The bird book you’d never be with­out?

My Collins and Helm field guides are my ‘go to’ books, but I still love my old Collins Gem book from when I was a kid.

Why do you love bird­watch­ing, in three words?

Crex, Ducks, Rookn­roller.

One piece of ad­vice for bird­ers tak­ing part in our #My200birdyear chal­lenge?

Boost your list with a visit to your lo­cal Pet’s Cor­ner for rare Mus­covy Duck sub­species. In­clude but­ter­flies. If nec­es­sary, in­voke the ‘Five Mam­mals = One Bird’ rule.

‘MYS­TE­RI­OUS BIRDER’ YOLO­BIRDER Twit­ter: @Yolo­birder

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