Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


A pleasant jolly up to the forests a few days ago with Pearson Snr produced lovely views of various raptors, most notably Goshawks, our intended target; not the worst way to kill an hour or two nearby.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Over the line

Well, with less than a week to go before I fly to Israel and just ten days before the race itself, I'm very stoked to say that we - The Birdwatch-Birdguides Roadrunners - have passed our £3000 fundraising target. It's genuinely humbling to scroll down the donations on the Just Giving page and recognise so many friends and family, dozens of whom have coughed up for the cause (and that's not including those who did so anonymously - I know at least some who have....). I know some fine people, really.

Meeting the target doesn't mean stepping off the pedal though. Far from it - £3000 was a lofty figure, but an essentially arbitrary number and one that, as it grows, translates directly into more and more funding for the brilliant, on-the-ground work of Doğa Derneği (Birdlife Turkey), who will use every penny to help stop the slaughtering, shooting, trapping and killing of many millions of birds that migrate every year via the eastern Mediterranean flyway. You can find out more about their work here - and I'd heartily recommend reading my good friend, Israeli birding ace and Champions of the Flyway pioneer Yoav Perlman's wonderful blog post about it here - but in short, if you've a love of the natural world, migration and all its breathtaking, esoteric glories, then it's a cause that fits your profile.

I'll be blogging, facebooking and live tweeting during the lead up to the race, the race itself and during the aftermath - via this channel, via my Facebook page and via my Twitter feed -
and I'll be using #COTFRoadrunners throughout, so please do follow our journey and find out why your money is so valued and essential for an extremely worthy cause.

If you haven't given yet, everything counts and donating takes literally seconds:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gingrich pickings

It's that time of year - Carr Naze pond here in Filey hosting both smart summer plumage Black-headed Gulls meandering through on passage and tragically gormless Smooth Newts acting like the species that evolution forgot.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bride's made

Morning Bride third album recording sessions, February 2017

It's been a while since we recorded new material - let alone a new album - and so the homespun sessions here in our seaside bolthole a couple of weeks ago were somewhat cathartic. For the first time, the studio came to us, with our good friend and sound engineer / producer Pete Hughes over from Leeds to take care of the technical business, and long-time Bride lead guitarist and as-good-as-brother Pete Bennett up from London to sprinkle his stardust over my just-hatched nestlings. With eight songs written, formatted and pretty much arranged, we spent a few days prior to the tapes rolling getting to know them and making them fit together as a unit, which was perfect preparation to dive headlong into the recording.

Despite unforeseen technical challenges, we still managed to get the lion's share down; particularly satisfying in that we were truly on it from start to finish - from the seemingly endless drum/percussion tracks I put down in a weirdly effective trance-like state, through to all my electric rhythm guitars (which, with no bass, occupy much of the mid and lower frequencies and are genuinely the rhythm of most of the songs), through to all of Pete's beautiful guitar playing (applied in often unexpected dabs and splashes, as you would hope from an artist of some standing), through to the majority of Amity's spine-tingling lead vocals.

We've been singing and playing together for many years, and even though I write the songs (and specifically their words and melodies) with her at the forefront of my mind, I still can't get used to the magic with which she breathes life into them (nor the focus she applies, with most vocal tracks in the can at the second or third take). We still have a fair bit to do before we can think about the mixing process, but we're aiming to finish the all the recording next month with a wrapping-up session over in Leeds, and then plough on the mixing a few weeks after that; so we're roughly on schedule to have the album done and dusted by the summer.

Without wanting to go into it too much before it's fully fledged and independent, it's something I and we are very excited about; it has a warm, dark, paired-back and fragile sound all of its own, reflecting the subject matter and circumstances it came from, and it showcases our strengths as individuals and as a unit better than anything we've done before. More, naturally, to follow....

in the meantime, here's the first two albums over on our bandcamp page.

Jackdaw, Filey - 10th March 2017

I'm spending a fair bit of time up on the highest, most northerly point of the Observatory recording area at the moment (hopefully more on this to come), and an otherwise fairly quiet session this morning was made much more interesting by this Jackdaw, which dropped in for a couple of minutes on the clifftop path and then left north soon after, thankfully giving me a close-up evil-eye fly-by. Lack of time restricts how much subspecific delving I can do at the minute, but I wanted to get the photos up now to encourage informed comment from those who are more familiar with them than I - specifically, is this within the range of variation for C.m.monedula (Nordic Jackdaw), or is it a potentially better fit for C.m.soemmerringii (Russian Jackdaw)? The standard reference (Offereins 2003 - see here), Martin's (and Alan's) Birding Frontiers musings (see here and here) and a scan of various others (though not extensive!) certainly provide various reasons to chin scratch.... more hopefully later. If anyone would like to comment, I'm at or @Fileybirder.

(The above photo shows the initial distant views, and when taken with the other photos also illustrates the symmetrical collar/neck patterns from both sides)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weasely distracted

A sunny, cold and otherwise quiet morning session on Carr Naze and the Brigg was made all the more entertaining thanks to this comedy beast tearing around the grassland in staccato circuits, apparently tempted by the live mole action unfolding just beneath the surface. No clear shots or particularly decent photos (there are better here from a while ago), but no matter - just a pleasure to watch.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Snow boots

Before, during and after bathtime, this freshly-arrived Snow Bunting emphatically could not give less of one as I sat down next to it on Carr Naze this morning. After a few minutes, the bird approached so close as to render my camera useless - at which point, it came right up to my foot, picked seeds from around where my boot met the ground, hopped over my boot, and did the same on the other side. Yes, I am still grinning like an idiot.