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