Twin Peaks

Here’s something a little different from your usual bird reports…

On the Summit of Ben Nevis

On the Summit of Ben Nevis

I have taken my son Samuel up Snowdon a couple of times so, with the spring half term approaching this year, we decided it was time to launch on assault on the other peaks that make up the well-known Three Peaks Challenge, namely Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, at 978m [3209 feet] the highest “mountain” in England; and Ben Nevis (1245m) [4411 feet], the highest mountain in Scotland and the UK. It would thus be a Twin Peaks Challenge. In contrast to the genuine Three Peaks, we would not be trying to do the whole thing in 24 hours, not with just me driving.

The very worst place to begin such a challenge is Poole, Dorset, where we live. As the old Irish farmer is supposed to have said when asked the way to Dublin: “Well, you wouldn’t want to start from here”. The nearest peak is about six hours drive away. Continue reading

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Champions of the Flyway 2017 – the Media Birders’ race day

COTF-logo-900-2016

CotF Media Birders

The Media Birders 2017 team. Andy Swash (left), Dominic Couzens (middle), Tim Appleton (right).

This year I was fortunate enough to take part in the annual Champions of the Flyway international Bird Race in Israel. 34 teams from around the world assembled to compete in a 24-hour Bird Race on Tuesday 28th March, seeing who could see and hear the most species in a 24 hour period in a defined part of Southern Israel, beginning and ending in Eilat, on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

The following is a detailed account of our race day. It is written to thank our many sponsors and supporters for their help.

The reason behind Champions of the Flyway is to raise money to try to put a stop to the widespread illegal slaughter of migrant birds on the eastern Mediterranean flyway. Incredibly, more than 20 million birds are shot or trapped in various countries along the flyway every year. In 2017 the money raised will go to Birdlife International’s partner in Turkey, Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) so that they may focus on halting the illegal killing of birds on migration. For more  information see http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/

RACE DAY – THE MEDIA BIRDERS

04.20 – We meet in the lobby of the Agamim Hotel, the starting point for all teams. Birdrace Organisers Dan and Jonathan are there and tell us that most other people are already out – have we blown this already with a late start? Ten minutes earlier a Common Whitethroat had struck the lobby windows, but had recovered from the blow and was released. That delay has cost us; we missed it and didn’t see another all day.

Downtown Eilat (04.30-04.45)
We go into the night of southern Israel; downtown Eilat is our first destination, where there is a roost of White-eyed Gulls by a shopping mall. A House Crow calls and the House Sparrows are well awake, but we cannot see the gulls. Let’s hope this starts to go better…

Then a Striated Heron calls out of the darkness. That’s a good bird.

1- House Crow 2- House Sparrow 3- Striated Heron Continue reading

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Hot off the Press!

Three years in the making, my new field guide to Britain and Ireland’s mammals is finally out!

Britain's Mammals Cover

Fully comprehensive, there are stunning photographs of every mammal recently recorded in Britain, including all 26 bats and 30 cetaceans (whales/dolphins etc).
There are detailed notes on how to identify every species, together with up to date distribution maps and notes on behaviour. It’s a must for every naturalist!

328 pages, 500 colour photos.

Signed copies are available from me on request (postage payable), and other copies can be bought through Amazon, NHBS and, in a few weeks time, from bookshops.
Only £17.95

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New book – out in April

A narrative book, it combines some of my birding experiences with lots of science about how birds live and survive.SOLAW Jacket

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Birding in Early Spring 2016

The days are already lengthening, the birds are singing more each day, so why not come along on a field trip in the next few weeks. These trips are open to all, but please e-mail dominic@birdwords.co.uk to make a booking. For more information on each trip, click under its entry in Events.

DAY TRIPS
10.30am-4.00pm unless stated otherwise. £15 per person per day. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited. Meet on site.


Friday 11th March – Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex
Friday 18th March – Climping Beach, West Sussex
Tuesday 22nd March – Fleet Pond and Greywell

SPECIAL TEN-PERSON TRIPS
Special trips for small groups only. £25 per person.
10.30am-4.00pm. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited. Meet on site.


Thursday 3rd March – Chidham and Cobnor, West Sussex

WEDNESDAY MORNINGS IN DORSET AND HAMPSHIRE
£8 per person per trip. Open to all. Please book. Meet on site.
10.00am-12.00pm.

2nd March – Hengistbury Head
9th March – Maiden Newton, Dorset
16th March – Middlebere, Wareham

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Merry Christmas, everybody

And here’s to a bird-filled New Year.

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Book Now for Autumn Trips

The summer seems to have flown by. Since my last post my wife has a new job (curate), we have moved house, we have been camping and it has been the school holidays. In September, I have to admit that getting back to taking people on field trips will seem tranquil and relaxing. I do hope you can join some. The trips are open to all, but please e-mail dominic@birdwords.co.uk to make a booking. For more information on each trip, click under its entry in Events.

DAY TRIPS

10.30am-4.00pm unless stated otherwise. £15 per person per day. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Friday 25th September – Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
Thursday 8th October – Hook with Warsash, Hampshire
Friday 16th October – West Wittering, West Sussex
 Thursday 5th November – Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex
Tuesday 17th November – Fleet Pond and Moor Green Lakes
 Friday 27th November – Hayling Island, Hampshire
Tuesday 8th December – Burton Mill Pond, West Sussex
Wednesday 16th December – Wisley and Papercourt, Surrey

 

SPECIAL TEN-PERSON TRIPS

Special trips for small groups only. £25 per person.

10.30am-4.00pm. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Friday 18th September – Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes, Hampshire
Tuesday 20th October – Thorney Island, West Sussex
 Tuesday 10th November – New Forest Finch Safari
Friday 4th December – Gulls Galore (Weymouth, Dorset)

 

WEDNESDAY MORNINGS IN DORSET AND HAMPSHIRE

£8 per person per trip. Open to all. Please book.

10.00am-12.00pm. 

23rd September – Lytchett Bay, Upton, Poole
30th September – Hengistbury Head
7th October – Lodmoor
14th October – Longham Lakes, Ferndown, Dorset
21st October – Upton Country Park
4th November – Middlebere, Wareham
11th November – Maiden Castle, Dorchester
18th November – Blashford Lakes, Ringwood
25th November – Studland
2nd December – Poole Park and Baiter

 

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Estonia

Wood Cow-Wheat (Melampyrum melanosum)

Wood Cow-Wheat (Melampyrum melanosum), Laelatu wooded meadows, Estonia, 12/6/15 (Dominic Couzens)

I have just been fortunate enough to visit Estonia for a few days. The flowers, as well as the birds, mammals, butterflies and dragonflies, were amazing. More details to follow in due course.

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Book Now for Summer Trips

My remaining programme of summer trips is outlined below. The trips are open to all, but please e-mail dominic@birdwords.co.uk to make a booking. For more information on each trip, click under its entry in Events.

DAY TRIPS
10.30am-4.00pm unless stated otherwise. £15 per person per day. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Tuesday 19th May – New Forest off the Beaten Track
Redstart, Wood Warbler, Firecrest, Hawfinch maybe.
Thursday 4th June – Marsh Common, Stockbridge
Warblers abound here, Water Vole.
Friday 19th June – Selborne, Hampshire FULL
Historical setting, variety of normal birds, butterflies.
Friday 10th July – London Wetland Centre (+ entrance fee).
If we get group rate (12+ people) entrance fee is £9.85 (no gift aid), concessions £7.34 (no gift aid), WWT members free entry.
Ducklings, chicks, coffee!

SPECIAL TEN-PERSON TRIPS
Special trips for small groups only. £25 per person.
10.30am-4.00pm. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Thursday 21st May – Cheesefoot Head and Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire FULL
Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat.
Tuesday 14th July – “Raptor Rapture”, New Forest
Hoping for Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, Hobby.

WEDNESDAY MORNINGS IN DORSET AND HAMPSHIRE
£8 per person per trip (price rise). Open to all. Please book.
10.00am-12.00pm.

20th May – Dancing Ledge
Chance of Puffin, Linnets, Whitethroats.
3rd June – Tarrant Rushton Airfield
Corn Bunting, other downland stuff.
24th June – Blashford Lakes, Ringwood
Loads of warbers, waders.
1st July – Middlebere, Wareham
Waders, Dartford Warbler
8th July – Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch
Returning waders such as Whimbrel.

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New Factsheets

I have been working on some new factsheets for this website. Do take a tour around them. Did you know that Scops Owls often migrate in families and that Red-legged Partridges double-clutch? If not, have a look at free bird factsheets.

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