Friday 31 August 2018

Trip to Richmond Park

29th August 2018
Today I had a peaceful walk around one of London's largest green spaces, Richmond Park, armed with my new Nikon D3400. After lunch, I walked through a Skylark-protection field, on my way to the Pen Ponds. Unfortunately, I didn't see any Skylarks- that would have been a lifer!



Record shot of a Kestrel chasing a Jackdaw

Mallard chicks

Female Mandarin

Great Crested Grebe

From the Pen Ponds, I walked to a nearby stream, where the famous herds of Red Deer were feeding.

A juvenile Common Frog!

Red Deer

Red Deer grazing

Stag feeding

I then headed up King Henry's Mound, a viewpoint I'd been wanting to see for ages! From the viewpoint, you can clearly see St Paul's Cathedral, as it is one of many protected 'sightlines of St Paul's' in London, which are protected, undisturbed views of the Cathedral. As there was a huge crowd, it was very difficult to get a clear shot!

A very faint view of St Paul's

A much better shot on my brother's Coolpix L340

I'd definitely come here again, especially to try and find a Dartford Warbler! 

Monday 20 August 2018

Birdfair 2018

17th August 2018
For my birthday this year, I finally attended the British Birdwatching Fair, more commonly known as Birdfair. The Fair was in its 30th year, so it was probably the biggest ever. This also gave me a chance to use my new Nikon D3400! As soon as I arrived, I was meeting many people who I knew from social media, and quite a few people came up to me and said 'Oh, you're Kabir! Keep up the good work!' How did they even know who I was???

Chris Packham at the Canon Theatre

I also met with many young birders from Birdcamp, and also from the London Young Birders meet up at Rainham. Afterwards, I stood outside the very crowded Canon Theatre, where Chris Packham was giving advice on photography skills, and showing photos of Emperor Penguins he took in the Antarctic. At the BTO Ringing Hut, there was a ringing demonstration, which I would go to quite a few times to throughout the week. I finally got to see a Treecreeper in the hand, (my second ever Treecreeper, the first being at my patch-that-was-to-be, St John's Wood Church Gardens) which Ben Rumsby released. This followed with a juvenile Blue Tit and a Reed Warbler, which I was lucky enough to release. By some coincidence, the only two birds I have ever released are both Reed Warblers!

Treecreeper in the hand

Treecreeper in the hand

Juvenile Blue Tit being ringed

Releasing a Reed Warbler

Afterwards, I went to a talk at the Wild Zone by Nick Baker, about pond dipping, from which I learnt a lot about the many plankton, beetle larvae and dragonfly nymphs which live in ponds, and he used a microscope to help see these pond-dwelling creatures in detail. I also got a few books signed by David Lindo, the Urban Birder, at Toby Carter, Molly Carter and Ben Moyes' stand, Wildsounds.

With Nick Baker

With David Lindo

At 5pm, I attended Would I Fly to You, where two teams, one led by Mike Dilger, the other led by Bill Oddie, showed how good famous naturalists were at identifying each other's truths and lies. By chance, I found Stephen Moss outside the Events Marquee, and told him I was the one who had spotted a mistake in one of his books, Tweet of the Day. Straight after that, I bumped into Mike Dilger, who I had written an article for in RSPB Nature's Home. It was amazing meeting them both!

With Stephen Moss

With Mike Dilger

In the evening, a question time on the state of nature took place, and motivating speeches were given by Chris Packham, Simon King, Kerry McCarthy and Mary Colwell. At the end, I was very fortunate enough to meet Chris Packham, and got my copy of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar signed. 

With Chris Packham

18th August 2018
I ran to the Fair hurriedly in the morning, because I was about ten minutes late for David Lindo's Urban Birding talk, in which he introduced common urban birds, and where to see them. After the talk, I met Mark Avery at Wildsounds, who informed me about his petition to persuade the Icelandic government to ban whaling in the country.

With Mark Avery

Then, I headed to the BTO Ringing Hut, the meeting place for Toby's Young Birders Walk. There, I met many birders whom I knew from Birdcamp, as well as from social media and around Europe! We spent two hours in many hides across the reserve, but found hardly anything. 

The reserve

Common Tern

Lapwing and Ruff


The Young Birders

However, after the walk, Calum Mckellar and I decided to twitch the Red-necked Phalarope that had been found on the other side of the reserve. It was a 25-30 minute walk for us to get to the southernmost hide, the Goldeneye Hide, which was extremely crowded! Fortunately, one kind birder had a scope with him, from which I took some record shots of my most recent lifer:

Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

After a successful twitch, I listened to the chair of the London Bird Club, Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne, talk about the 34 endemic bird species that live in Sri Lanka. After his talk, I realised that I had seen quite a few endemic species, such as the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Junglefowl and the Red-backed Woodpecker when birding in the country three years ago. 

With Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne

I then visited Rob Sheldon, chair of the Ornithological Society of the Midle East (OSME) on a query I had about seeing a rare Great White Pelican when birding in the UAE. Before the Fair closed for the day, I ran to the BTO Ringing Hut, where Lee Barber, who led the nest finding in Birdcamp, was leading the demonstration. Finally, I rushed to the Swarovski Tower, after hearing about an Osprey, another lifer!

Chiffchaff in the hand

Sedge Warbler in the hand

Sedge Warbler in the hand


Osprey at its nest

19th August 2018
Sunday was all about visiting stands, such as Spurn Obs, RSPB and A Focus On Nature, and going to talks. I said hello to many more people, and attended a talk by a panel young naturalists, who all spoke very articulately about the many issues we face today in wildlife conservation. I really enjoyed this year's Birdfair, and want to go next year!

Thursday 16 August 2018

London Young Birders at RSPB Rainham Marshes

13th August 2018
I woke up early, I could head on a one-and-a-half hour journey to Rainham Marshes, an RSPB reserve, for a day out with other birders from and around London. When I got there at about 9:30, I met Calum Mckellar and Arjun Dutta again, as well as Samuel Levy, Alex Liddle and Ben Rumsby. I was also introduced to the site warden, Howard Vaughan, and we walked down the riverfront to see some estuarine birds.

A Budgerigar at the feeder!

Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwits

Black-tailed Godwits

Many Gulls and Shelducks

My first shot of a Reed Warbler

Record shot of my first Grey Seal!

After birding by the Thames for a bit, we headed to the Shooting Butts Hide (what the hide was when the reserve was owned by the Ministry of Defence), and on the way we saw many wildfowl and a few Raptors, including a Kestrel and a Peregrine.

Mallards, Shoveler, Coot and Greylag Goose


On the way to a viewpoint, we got amazing views of Bearded Tits, Marsh Frogs and even a green wing tagged Marsh Harrier! At the viewpoint we got amazing views of Canada Geese, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff and many Black Headed Gulls.

Bearded Tit (credit: Calum Mckellar)

Bearded Tit (credit: Calum Mckellar)

Marsh Frog

Female Reed Bunting

Marsh Harrier with a green wing tag

Black-tailed Godwits with Black Headed Gulls

Little Egrets with waders

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

We then walked through a wooded area, seeing many butterflies and dragonflies. In the bushes there were quite a few warblers, including Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

Common Blue

Willow Emerald

Ruddy Darter

Marsh Frog

My first Linnet!


Digiscope shot of a Barn Owl

Willow Emerald

We ran back to the visitor centre, because it suddenly started raining heavily! After lunch (it eventually stopped raining) I saw my first Whimbrels in Britain, and we went back down to the riverfront. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, and might have missed a lifer- a Caspian Gull which Arjun had found! However, I was standing outside the visitor centre for a bit, so I might have seen a similar bird. I won't tick it off my life list though!