Showing posts from June, 2022

When the birding and football worlds collide!

Red Kite - nowadays easily seen from football pitches across the nation Back in April I was watching the Sutton United v Crawley game in the company of Jake Everitt (Brighton and Hove Albion season ticket holder and a top Sussex birder) when we started to list birds that we had observed whilst watching a match - we swapped Little Egrets, Red Kites and Peregrines - and there and then we devised a challenge for the 2022-23 season. These are the rules: The winner be the person who has observed (or heard) the highest number of birds species during the 2022-23 season, from football ground premises whilst attending a match. Birds seen prior and post kick-off will count, but hanging around outside of the ground does not! Confined to games that involve at least one club from Steps 1-6 in England and Wales (Scottish equivalent permitted.) Friendlies, league, cup and play-offs allowed. No optics, just eyes and ears. There is no prize, just the ownership of bragging rights for the following seaso

Butterfly balm

Yesterday, on a gloriously sunny and hot afternoon, Gordon Hay and myself spent several hours wandering the rides and footpaths that criss-cross Bookham Common, an area of outstanding Surrey butterfly real-estate. Our aims were to see if there were any Purple Emperors on the wing and to luxuriate in amongst one of our favourite species, the White Admiral. On arrival I met one of the National Trust rangers who told me that the Emperor had first been seen on June 17th - it looked as though, with a fair wind, our luck might be in. We didn't have to wait long before we knew that our visit was going to be blessed. The well-known 'master' trees, on the higher ground at Hill Farm, were playing host to three Purple Emperors, with much sparring, circular flights and easily observed perching indulged in (above, from 12.30 - 14.30hrs).  We were also fortunate in coming across a further individual - at 16.23hrs, some way from the favoured area - that was grounded. This butterfly was fi

Low times and a Purple Heron

The past few months have been a bit of a struggle for me. It started last summer, when a very close family member became ill, and we had an unpleasant and uncertain spell when their treatment was being discussed and the possible outcomes were uncertain. You never want to see someone that is so close to you frightened and in danger. Fortunately, touch wood, we seem to be in a good place right now, thanks to the wonderful staff at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Our NHS is nothing short of wonderful when the chips are down. Throughout this whole episode I was able to keep it all together, to stay strong and positive - but it has come at a price. I'm now shot to pieces. My confidence has never been lower. My mojo has shrivelled up. Anxiety and worry rule my days. This has manifested itself in many ways, turning my ever-so-mild OCD into a fully blown case. After 63-years on this earth I am finally able to understand that those suffering from mental health are not in a good place at all. It