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Rut­land Osprey Project of­fi­cer Anya Wi­cikowski an­swers our ques­tions

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

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?

Egyp­tian Goose.

The bo­gey bird that still eludes you?

Dart­ford Warbler.

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

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