Thursday, 31 December 2009

Well, what a year it's been!! Almost near the end of 2009 - had some amazing days birding recently and just been relaxing in Bristol getting some good online bargains with outdoor clothing!!

Highlights in the past few days have been red-breasted goose with brents at Topsham, alongside spotted redshank and scaup. While at Cheddar, three black-necked grebes and a goosander where definitely worth driving through the heavy rain! A trip to Slimbridge was also amazing with large numbers of Bewick's Swans, pintail (including one that I ringed) and an awesome display of 70,000 starlings coming in to roost! While I was ringing the pintail, a huge black cloud of them gushed past!!

Female teal preening at Slimbridge

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Let it snow!

After an incredibly snowy and icy day yesterday, today remained icy but beautifully sunny!

I managed to drop the car off at Ford to get a problem checked out before pigeon walking into work along the harbour. Despite the fog it was a very atmospheric walk. Had a great lunch with friends at Goldbrick House before heading off home at 4pm to get the car and travel home. Heard two separate song thrushes singing close to the river which was nice - still amazed they have enough energy to sing on these cold, short days!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Snow in Bristol!

Woke up and looked out to see everywhere covered in snow!! Wow! This wasn't forecast for Bristol so what a bonus. Everywhere looks so pretty and perfect! Looks like getting into work may be impossible though - all roads in are blocked at the moment so may just have to work from home.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Had a brilliant day yesterday filming for my new show reel. At minus 4 degrees Celsius in Bristol, four of us set off for Bath to do a piece about peregrines. Arriving there in minus 6 degrees Celsius it was a cold start to say the least but a lovely place to be first thing. The peregrines had eaten a woodcock the evening before - a fresh head of one lay on the ground below. The male peregrine arrived around 9am with a pigeon which it was tucking into. We left a sunny Bath for Chew Valley Lake - the smaller pool was frozen, with the mallards and coots skating around when people came to feed them!! I interviewed Robin Prytherch, a renowned ornithologist about the lake before setting off to Chew Valley Ringing Station nearby to film some ringing. We had a lucky morning and got to see two great spotted woodpeckers and a male bullfinch in the hand!
Ready for lunch we set off back to Bristol, grabbed some food and then went looking for berries on the Downs as part of a challenge sequence - I quickly found ivy, rose hip and white beam. The sun had gone behind the clouds and it was feeling pretty wintry, esp as some snow began to fall (didn't come to anything sadly!!). Our last sequence was down at Severn Beach - a Countryfile style piece talking about the pros and cons of the Severn Barrage. No kidding, it was a chilling experience as the wind cut through us all but we had all the pieces in the bag by 3.30pm and finished off for a celebratory drink in the nearby Boar's Head in Aust!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Last night's talk went well - I love being able to see all the New Zealand wildlife I saw all over again!!

Had an early start this morning for a phone interview on BBC Radio Bristol about not feeding birds turkey fat!! Apparently it can kill them which I hadn't even realised until I saw the press release from the RSPB - the juices that often get mixed in can go rancid and cause bacterial death! Nice!

I then ventured out into the sub-zero temperatures and went into the BBC Radio Bristol studio to do the newspaper review, focusing on BA's strike (now called off until the new year), Copenhagen (and Hilary Clinton's halo), the death of two soldiers in Afghanistan and the display of a famous painting that was stolen in 2003 and refound in an office earlier this year!

Time for a quieter morning at work!!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Off to speak about my trip to New Zealand tonight to the Bristol Ornithological Club! Despite it all being so close to Christmas it's quite nice giving talks - it makes it all feel very festive. Off to Coleford in the Forest of Dean tomorrow to talk about peregrines too - my last one for 2009!

Talking of peregrines, both adults were on St John's Church in Bath yesterday - sitting on opposite sides of the spire (hopefully, they've not had a falling out!). A very cold day but warming by the fact my brother was graduating with a PhD in physics! Various prey on the ground around the church - water rail, woodcock, jack snipe, fieldfare, redwing (at least 4) and a fresh teal!! Amazing to think many of these birds would have travelled thousands of miles to get here for the winter (seems rather sad they then get eaten but that's mother nature for you!).

I wonder whether this snow will come to anything in the Bristol area over the weekend. I'm filming various things on Saturday to update my showreel so hoping for clear, sunny weather (even if it's freezing!!).

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Appearance on One Show still on iPlayer

My One Show appearance on Thursday is still available on BBC iPlayer! This shows me colour ringing robins - it's around 20 minutes into the programme!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

One Show appearance!

Keep an eye for me on the One Show on Thursday this week (10th) sometime between 7pm -7.30pm. There's a 4.5 min piece all about me colour-ringing robins for the BTO and looking at who's who in gardens.

Diving at Babbacombe, Devon

Wow - what a week it's been. Last Tuesday I gave a talk about peregrines at Bristol Zoo for Mandy Leivers with a full house. The rest of the week was busy at work and X-mas parties in the evenings! Friday evening was a real highlight - it was the opening of Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition with over 200 visitors and guest speaker Charlie Hamilton James. Charlie gave an excellent speech, supported by his wife Phillipa Forrester. It was also a great chance to catch up with people I've not seen for ages! Finished off in a lovely South Indian restaurant on the Triangle with some of the judges and key people involved with the exhibition.

The next day, after getting myself a shortie for diving, I headed up to Beachley, a village on the Severn by the old Severn Bridge. My target was a pomarine skua which has been living on the foreshore for the past week left over from the storms. I saw the bird within 5 metres of so, but not before sinking knee deep in black, smelly mud - a marshy area I hadn't predicted! I slopped back to the car and shyly had to get some petrol at a service station before heading home!

Sunday just gone was a real highlight - it was my first sea dive. After getting all the gear together, 13 of us heading down to Babbacombe beach in Devon. It was a beautiful day - the wind had dropped and the sea was pretty calm. I got to show fellow divers various birds while we waited our turn - highlights included shags, kittiwakes, a Balearic shearwater, a little auk and three great northern divers. My turn came and it was such an exhilarating experience. It wasn't cold like I had imagined - instead it was an amazing immersive experience seeing crabs, murk, and bioilluminescing seaweed (glowing a neon blue!). We headed back around 3.30pm after an incredible fun day.

This week's back to work and beginning to think more about Christmas which seems to have crept up on me very quickly. Just got my Christmas cards so that's a start!!