Save the dates – 15-17 November, N3N

The 10th anniversary New Networks for Nature conference is this week, starting on Thursday evening and ending Saturday afternoon.

I’ll be there on the Friday and I am particularly looking forward to the chat between Caroline Lucas and Barbara Young.

Click here for more detailsplease note, ticket sales close at 9am on Wednesday 14 November.


Remember (2)

It seems appropriate today to mention this review of a book about Second World War British prisoners of war.

Birds in a Cage by Derek Niemann was reviewed here on 14 November 2012.

An extract:

Birds in a Cage is the story of four British prisoners of war, Second Lieutenant Peter Conder, Second Lieutenant John Buxton, Second Lieutenant George Waterston and Squadron Leader John Barrett, who, after WWII, went on to influence nature conservation practice and policy.

It’s a remarkable tale which is beautifully told.  On the face of it, it might not sound like the most interesting of subjects, but it really is fascinating.

The complete review is here.



The children at this local school are young enough to be my grandchildren. My two grandfathers were either down a Welsh coalmine or looking after horses on the Front in the First World War.

I don’t remember my grandfathers because they both died when I was very young but their wives were important characters in my childhood.  But my children did not know their great grandfathers and the children at this school could not possibly have known their great great grandfathers (or g-g-gmothers).  And yet we remember them as a Society.  I’m touched that we do.

But I do wonder how long it is fitting to continue and what would be the right way to evolve what we do on this day for the future. 


Not a review

This book was conceived on this blog when Paul Thomas approached me with the idea of producing regular cartoons.  I was glad to give him the opportunity to publish his work here and to promote his artwork.

And now he has produced a book of cartoons – some of which will be familiar to you but many will not.  And the text has been adjusted quite a lot over time. You’ll see Paul credits me with editing the book but all I did really was read it through and comment on some things for him. And in a spirit of openness – I have no financial skin in the game of this book’s publication.

And so, without hesitation, I can recommend this book to you as the type of book you will like if you like this sort of book!

And what type of book is it? It’s childishly funny and irreverent bordering on the mildly offensive at times.  Probably not a Christmas present for your staid aunt who likes watching birds in her garden – but you never know – give it a try!  She’ll certainly remember this present above all those bottles of talc you have given her in the past.

Here’s a reminder of one of the cartoons first published here in July 2017 and which now sits in A Tabloid History of Birdwatching although much modified in both words and layout.

The book’s birdwatching leitmotif works very well but you certainly don’t have to be a birder of any sort to enjoy the book.  However, if you are a birder you must be prepared to have fun poked at you in these pages as well as at everyone else.

These are wonderful cartoons, an hilarious who’s who of the twitcherati… I’m considering using Arse Full of Elderflower as the title of my next tour.


Original, tongue-in-cheek and often very amusing ornithological history tour…full of painful puns, wacky pictures and a healthily irreverent attitude.


Birding is a subject that some of us can take too seriously at times. After reading this book you’ll never have a serious moment again! Love this!

David Lindo

A beautiful and unique thing: a breathtaking work of art and an historical document… a birding bible, every inch as vital as your Collins and Helm fieldguides.

YOLO birder

Every hide on every nature reserve should have a copy of this book to provide a true perspective on the scene outside.

Mark Avery

The book is A4-sized which shows off the artwork very well and makes the text easier to read than it ever was on this blog.  I think that Paul has a rare talent as a cartoonist – the artwork is wonderful.

A Tabloid History of Birdwatching by Paul Thomas is available from the author at £12.99.


Tim Melling – Common Sandpiper

Tim writes: The “kitty-needie, kitty-needie” song of Common Sandpiper is a familiar summer sound on northern rivers and reservoirs.  Most breeding waders are resident in Britain, with their numbers bolstered by a winter influx from the north and east.  But Common Sandpiper is a summer visitor that migrates to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter.  It is one of the earliest migrants to arrive back in spring so its song is something I always listen out for.  It also has a characteristic stiff-winged display flight with flickering wing beats showing off the white wing bar.  These are interspersed with longer glides on bowed wings.  I photographed this one on a Pennine reservoir near Holmfirth in summer.