Rutland Osprey Project officer Anya Wicikowski answers our questions
What first sparked your interest in birdwatching, and when?
I started volunteering on the Rutland Osprey Project when I was 15, and this was what inspired my interest in birdwatching. I met and worked with some amazing people who taught me so much and really inspired me. We also have some amazing birds at Rutland Water, so it’s a great place to start. Who is or was your birdwatching inspiration or mentor? Dr Tim Mackrill and the team at Rutland Water (especially Lloyd Park and Becky Corby). They encouraged me to volunteer, taught me bird identification and looked over all my job applications. I’m very lucky to have their support.
Do you bird alone or with a friend?
Mostly with friends. Your dream bird to see? Wandering Albatross.
Your favourite birding spot?
Rutland Water, it will always be my first love.
Your classic birder’s lunch, grabbed from the petrol station shop?
Kitkat Chunky – two if I’m really hungry!
Spoonbill or Great White Egret?
Spoonbill – it’s mesmerising to watch them feed.
Favourite bird song or call?
Turtle Dove, it’s a sound I miss from my childhood.
Birdwatching’s biggest myth or misconception?
That young girls don’t birdwatch, it’s not just men in anoraks anymore, I feel there has been a change in the last few years making birdwatching more accessible for everyone. I hope it continues and we get more young people interested in birdwatching and wildlife conservation.
The best bird you’ve seen?
Cape Vulture. Identifying gulls–nightmare or a nice day out? Nightmare! I’m rubbish.
Your favourite bird joke?
Why do hummingbirds hum? Because they don’t know the words.
How do we encourage young people to watch birds?
I think it needs to be as accessible and engaging as possible and we can all do our part. When I started it was really scary to open a door into a hide full of birdwatchers. It’s so much easier now I’m older and more confident, but it also helps when people are friendly.
Curlew Sandpiper or Curlew?
Tough one as all shorebirds and waders are so amazing and distinct, but the Curlew is a really iconic bird. Their call is so unmistakable, it’s so sad to see their numbers drop each year.
The one place you’d love to go birdwatching?
Costa Rica. One birding or conservation issue you feel strongly about? Climate change, it is a global problem that the next few generations will have to deal with, which is very unfair as they would not have caused it in any way. Climate change will affect people and wildlife alike, it will degrade habitats, cause mass migration and worsen water shortages. I feel like it’s something that can easily slip from people’s minds, but I really think it is something we should be focusing on.
The bird that annoys you most?
The bogey bird that still eludes you?
The bird book you’d never be without?
Collins Bird Guide.
Why you love birdwatching, in three words?
Relaxing and exciting.
One piece of advice for birders taking part in our #My200birdyear challenge?
Look for the little things.
Anya’s dream bird to see: Wandering Albatross