Record-breaking Birds

Undoubtedly one of the best things about bird ringing is the learning. The discoveries. I thought I knew a lot about birds before I started to train to bird ring. And I did. But now I realise I was only scratching the surface. There are so many more fascinating facts and statistics that only come to light during the process of ringing and recording birds. From subtle morphological differences that can determine the age and sex of a bird, to details about fat, muscle, brood patches... I could go on and on. Bird ringing is a journey of discovery!

But perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries are those surrounding migration. We often get retrap reports from the BTO giving us information about birds we catch at our site near Woking, and some are very surprising.

One bird we caught recently has a truly astonishing past. On the 9th July, I processed an adult Reed Warbler, who we now know has been alive for more than 11 years. 11 years. This bird was ringed in the nest on the River Wey n…

My piece in The Curlew Magazine

Last month, I was approached by the Editor of 'The Curlew', a periodical dedicated to writing about the natural world, and was asked if I would like to write a piece to feature in the magazine. I happily accepted...

My piece, 'Explorations in Extremadura', is about my experiences in the Sierra de Gredos, searching for Iberian Ibex, a rare species of mammal confined to the Iberian Peninsula. Here is a quick preview:

"We had arrived with one particular species in mind – the Iberian Ibex, one of Europe’s rarest mammals. There are four known subspecies of Iberian Ibex, two of which are extinct. The subspecies of interest to us in Extremadura was capra pyrenaica victoriae ; the Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex, found only in a few  small mountain ranges in Central Spain, one of which being the Sierra de Gredos, the range surrounding Guijo de Santa Barbara. To be quite honest, we didn’t arrive with the expectation of seeing any – Iberian Ibex are renowned for being esp…

Winter Bird Ringing

Now that the winter months have drawn to an end, and all our winter migrants are leaving our shores, I thought I'd take this opportunity to summarise the highlights of last season's bird ringing.

Ringing during winter is often quieter than during the rest of the year, as birds become less active and our large numbers of summer migrants are no longer around. But despite this, we had good numbers of birds, and a few new species for me that were not only fantastic to see so close, but also to learn more about as I processed them.

When looking back over our photographs, despite the noticeably slower sessions, I realise we did catch a very good number and variety of birds.

Early in the season, at the end of November, we caught a particularly special bird that came as a complete surprise to us all. The site we ring at is mostly made up of relatively large patches of reedbeds which snake their way around the ponds. We caught many a reed and sedge warbler here last summer, but this speci…

Young Naturalists on Conservation - World Wildlife Day 2017

In 2013, the United Nations declared the 3rd of March World Wildlife Day, commemorating the date CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) was signed. Every year, millions of people across the planet celebrate Earth's flora and fauna, and help raise awareness of the natural world.

This year, the theme is 'Listen to the young voices'. The UN say that "vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife", and this is the purpose of World Wildlife Day - to engage with young people, and to show the impact young people can have on decision-making regarding the natural world.

So, for World Wildlife Day 2017,I've decided to consult the inspiring and active community of young naturalists here in the UK for their views, and share them here in this post, to show how forward thinking young people can be when it com…

Searching for Short-eared Owls

It's that time of the year again when the Short-eared Owls are expected back at Papercourt Meadows for the winter. In fact, they should in theory have arrived about a month ago, but with none being reported (with the exception of a passer-by in mid-October) I headed down to the meadows on an overcast Sunday evening to see if any had arrived.

We arrived at just before 16:00, approximately 30 minutes before sunset. This would give us time to walk around the reserve for a short while to look for the owls before darkness fell. Unsurprisingly for a dull winters evening, there was very little about, with the exception of a few Mallards and Swans on the river, and the crows passing overhead.

It felt very peaceful, being out in the twilight, away from busy streets and noise pollution. But sadly, as darkness approached, there was no sign of any Short-eared Owls. It seems the winter of 2016-2017 may have to go down as another that failed to produce regular Short-eared Owls at Papercourt.

With …

My article for New Nature Magazine

Around the end of November last year, nature writer James Common tweeted about an idea that caught my interest. He was thinking of producing a monthly e-magazine, written and produced entirely by young naturalists between the age of around 12-30. Soon enough, a first issue was in the works - and I was given the opportunity to submit an article.

And sure enough, on the 2nd January 2017, the first issue of New Nature Magazine was released online - featuring my article on page 45.

You can read the magazine here.

My article, the last in the magazine, focuses on the CITES Conference of the Parties 2016, and the details and decisions that came out the end of it. It features information about Pangolins, Ivory and Sharks - all of which were discussed throughout the event.

As of the time of writing, the magazine has been downloaded over 5,500 times - a really impressive amount for the first ever issue. I urge you to download and read all the superb articles in the magazine. 'New Nature' wi…

2016 - A Year In Review

Now that 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the year, and highlight some of the best bits from the past twelve months.

So here, in no particular order, are my (wildlife-related) highlights from 2016:

1) Rainforest Trust Interview.
At the very beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to have an interview published on the American conservation charity, The Rainforest Trust's website - where I discussed Borneo and the threat of deforestation to the world's forest. This was the first time my work had been properly published before, so this was a very exciting opportunity and certainly led to me doing more of this kind of thing throughout the year.

2) Papercourt Meadows Short-eared Owls
Going back to Papercourt Meadows in Surrey in the winter of 2016 was fantastic yet again. We were greeted by beautiful sunsets and at least three individual Short-eared Owls - a great number for such a small reserve. It was a great winter for Papercourt - and…

Thoughts on Planet Earth II

10 years after the original series blessed our screens and introduced a generation to the wonderful world we live in, it's fair to say Planet Earth II has yet again enchanted the nation. Every Sunday night for the past six weeks, Twitter has been alive with people discussing the series, and evidently revelling in the incredible scenes being presented to them on their television screens.

I personally have thoroughly enjoyed the series. Some of the stories told by the BBC this time have been truly incredible. And what's been really encouraging for me is to see the statistics being released following the series. Namely the fact that "more young people are watching Planet Earth II than the X Factor". For me, this is a great sign that the next generation are more interested in the environment and the animals that live around them than ever before.

Sir David Attenborough and the BBC have yet again produced a nature documentary that has captured the interest of the nation, an…