Oscar Dewhurst – Red Deer stag

Oscar writes: I’m now back at university for a research masters, but before I left I had time to squeeze in a couple of visits to Richmond Park for the annual deer rut. The morning this was taken on was one of those magical sunrises where the ground is covered in mist, so shooting into the rising sun gives a lovely golden colour to the image.
Nikon D800, Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR lens



Other blogs (9)

In this occasional series of links to other interesting blog posts, here are some more blogs that have caught my eye:


If you’ve had an email

It’s becoming clearer to me who is behind the surge in signatures for the ‘protect grouse shooting’ e-petition, and exactly why its support is centred on the richer parts of central London and places such as the Cotswolds.

If you have been sent an email asking you to sign the e-petition on behalf of grouse shooting then I’d be interested to see it.  Just forward it to mark@markavery.info  – after all, you were expected to forward it to your friends…

More on this soon.


Timothy Richard Cleeves – 1951-2017

Tim Cleeves. photo by Tim Melling

Tim Cleeves died suddenly on Friday night.  He will be greatly missed by many friends, former colleagues and birders who came across him in the field.

Tim was born on the outskirts of Bristol in Hanham, across the River Avon from where I spent my earliest years, and he kept a rich Bristol accent all his life. Hearing Tim’s voice would always take me home to Bristle.

An ace birder, Tim kept notebooks of his sightings from the age of 13 onwards – I’ve seen some of them. He was a very knowledgeable and skilled birder but it was as a wit and raconteur that I will always remember him. Sitting in a bar with Tim and some friends and listening to story after story roll out in that fruity accent was a delight and we often reached last orders when it felt that we’d only just got together. Tim’s stories were well-observed but never nasty, and were told with such a cherubic smile on his face that he could get away with a lot.

Tim had various jobs from taxidermist to petrol pump attendant and debt collector in his early years which helped to fund birding trips abroad.  But he also worked for the RSPB as Species Protection Officer on a summer contract in Wales, guarding Red Kites and Peregrines in the mid-1970s.  Later he landed the job of warden of Hilbre Island where he lived for four and a half years (1977-81), with his wife Ann.  As they started their family Tim got a job in the RSPB Midlands office and was involved in coordinating volunteers on such projects as the Symonds Yat Peregrine Watch.  Tim worked in a variety of roles for the RSPB, mostly in the north of England, but all benefitting from his skills with people.

Here are a few of the things that people have said about Tim on hearing of his passing:

Tim Melling:  ‘One of the most charismatic, entertaining, generous, caring people I have ever had the pleasure to know’

Andy Clements: ‘Very sad to hear of Tim Cleeves passing, a passionate and generous birder & conservationist – great memories from Fair Isle Bird Observatory in 1975 when he and Ann met – thoughts are with you’

Lee Evans: ‘Sad to wake up to the devastating news that long-standing keen birder Tim Cleeves has died overnight. Full of enthusiasm for birding to the very end. He brightened up many a stressful day on the Scillies with his witiful yarns and is a ginormous loss for the hobby. A wonderful man.’

BirdGuides: ‘Very sad to learn that Tim Cleeves passed away during the night. Our thoughts are with Ann and his family.’.

Mark Thomas: ‘My favourite Tim Cleeves saying – ‘game of three halves’. Massively enjoyed weekend birding with him when he worked at the Lodge in late 90’s. Always made me laugh, especially that he had a pager but couldn’t work it ! It would mega & he wouldn’t know what to do ! – technobirder!’


Those are some of the ways in which Tim Cleeves will be remembered by his mates.  Others might remember the 1998 Druridge Bay Slender-billed Curlew that was a curlew with a slender bill but probably not a Slender-billed Curlew. When I last spoke to Tim about this he said that ‘If you are going to claim what might be the last record in the world of an extinct (probably!) bird then you have to be sure – and I think the new information on the underwing pattern by Andrea Corso from Sicily means that we certainly can’t be sure. So it’s not on my British List because I only count species that are accepted by the BBRC.’.  He seemed pretty cheerful about it all things considered.

Tim leaves two daughters, Sarah and Ruth, and his wife Ann, the very successful crime novelist.  Tim and Ann met on Fair Isle, Tim proposed to Ann on Fair Isle and they have been frequent visitors ever since.  Tim will be missed by friends and birders from the north of Shetland to the westernmost point on Scilly. And like all the best Bristolians – he was a Bristol Rovers supporter.


Tim Melling – Racoon


Tim writes: Raccoons (Procyon lotor) were once thought to be related to bears but they are an early offshoot of the dog family.  They are only found naturally in the New World and the family includes Coatis and Kinkajous.  The generic name Procyon means “before the dog” indicating that distant relationship.  But the specific name lotor means washer because of its habit of appearing to wash its hands in water. Alas the food washing habit isn’t entirely true.  Captive animals have been seen to wash their food but this hasn’t been observed in the wild. They do forage with their hands in water though.   I photographed this individual at Ucluelet on Vancouver Island doing just that.

Taken with Nikon D500 and Nikkor 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x converter at f5.6 ISO 16000 1/640s