Champions of the Flyway!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review of the Year 2018 - part two

It was always going to be a pleasingly busy spring and summer, and by mid-March, it was time to head to the Negev for the climax of the Zeiss Yorkshire Terriers Champions of the Flyway campaign. After months of increasingly frenetic fund- and awareness raising via, well, any means necessary, the Terriers joined 30-odd teams from around the world, with the Champions family coming together for the event week at the magical migration bottleneck of Eilat, Israel.

For the full story of our exploits - an adventure I don't think any of us expected to be such a success - see here; for a How to guide I wrote shortly afterwards, including our masterplan and how we delivered it, see here;

...for a series of bird-heavy, migration-overloaded posts from our time out there, see here; and for team member Jono's ace little film of the Terriers on manouvres, see below (the sound kicks in after ten seconds or so)....

But in short, it's fair to say it was a uniquely wonderful trip, and what a blast to experience it all with the perfect team of enthusuastic, inspired and inspiring friends - Rich, Darren, Jono, you're the greatest... GO TERRIERS!

Returning to the UK at the beginning of April, I was straight into various work contracts, including another full and very enjoyable season surveying the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I had the privilege of conducting these bird surveys last year (again, with partner-in-crime Rich), and this season had even more opportunity to work in a variety of diverse habitats, from pristine oak woodland to river valleys, in-by and moorland. I was fortunate to find lots of rare breeding species on territory, and it was a survey season to savour (see e,g here and here) in a beautiful part of the world.

Another repeat contract for 2018 involved running the Living Seas Centre at South Landing, Flamborough every weekend, from late March into November. As well as running the centre during its busiest times, there were also lots of events and activities to deliver, something regular readers will know I've hugely enjoyed for many years now.

While this year's contract sadly involved less school visits, it was still a pleasure to work with a fair few, as well as lots of great kids, families and many thousands of members of the public who hopefully left the activities, and the centre, with a stronger and more inspired connection to the wildlife around us. (More from the rockpools here). A season at the LSC wouldn't be complete without a host of random adventures, one of which involved rescuing a young Grey Seal from the beach at South Landing (see below - bodily fluids not pictured...).

Regular readers will also know that, after five years of obsessive and purposely blinkered patch birding at Filey, a couple of years back I decided to experiment with a somewhat more holistic approach to local birding by spreading the love and extending the perameters a little further afield. Happily the experiment paid off, and while Filey remains a key component of my birding / wildlife experience, throwing off the shackles and mixing it up has proved much more enjoyable (and mentally healthy).....

Flamborough - all of twenty minutes down the road - has become an increasingly important part of the picture, while working at the LSC has provided even more impetus to put more time in on the Great White Cape - and my office / work list saw plenty more action as a result. One particular treat was a Dotterel (above and below), which occupied the field next to the LSC for several days in May, and at one point fed within metres of me.

Which was the perfect way to decompress after a particularly mad and busy day, at that point involving delivering various events and activities as part of the inaugural Yorkshire Puffin Festival. For four days over the bank holiday, we welcomed thousands of visitors, engaged local schools and the community and generally exploited out iconic clown-faced friends as a means to connect the public with the importance and vulnerability of the Greater Flamborough Headland seabird colony; a great success, and a pleasure to co-coordinate and deliver.

Another event I was excited to organise, this time on behalf of Filey Bird Obsevatory, was our Bioblitz in July, as part of Chris Packham's Nature Reserves Are Not Enough campaign to highlight the catastrophic loss of biodiversity in the UK. I'm proud to say Chris's team approached us off the back of our reputation for delivering quality (and totally voluntary) community engagement and outreach through various events and activities over recent years here at the Observatory. Again this was a great success thanks to the team - the full story is available to read over on the Obs site here.

Which takes us up to around mid-summer and a suitable half-way point to break off - more to follow in a couple of days....