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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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Biggest Twitch

The Biggest Twitch Home Counties Roadtrip!

By happy chance, or successful planning, we've been able to arrange giving talks to three separate birdwatching and wildlife groups in the Home Counties on three successive nights. Not only have we been able to combine meeting the BBOWT Group, the Berkshire Ornithological Club and the Chorleywood RSPB Local Group in one trip - reducing the costs and carbon footprint as much as possible - but it also gave us the chance to catch up with family and friends in the area, as well as sneaking in some local birding.


A little bit of bread and no cheese!

We didn't have to go far to start seeing great birds, no further than the breakfast table in fact as we enjoyed outstanding close-up views of Yellowhammers, Blackcaps and Great Spotted Woodpeckers coming to the feeders just outside the window. But it was the Red Kites who stole the show - as well as the scraps of food - by swooping right down over the lawn to pick up the food that Richard had thrown out for them. To see these gorgeous raptors only a few feet away from us was a pretty exciting way to start the day! How do Richard and Julie ever get any work done when there's so much to see going on just outside their windows?

Red Kite 1

Red Kite looking glorious in the sunshine

Our first talk to the BBOWT group in Great Missenden was a new one we've only given a few times before but it seemed to go down a treat, called 'The do's and don'ts of watching wildlife'. Not intended to be a serious lecture, it's a rather tongue-in-cheek look at how to get the best out of watching wildlife based on our observations and some of our own experiences around the world, covering everything from wearing camouflage to kissing crocodiles and all sorts of wonderful wildlife moments inbetween. Including plenty of great photos of birds, mammals, insects and a good pinch of humour thrown in, the group seemed to really enjoy it. So if you're looking for an entertaining, light-hearted talk for your group, give us a shout and we'd love to share our talk with you.

Star Tortoise

Some wildlife is pretty easy to keep up with, such as this Star Tortoise in Sri Lanka!

Heading over to our second talk at Reading University in Berkshire, via a quick visit to Ruth's Mum in Oxfordshire, gave us a chance to catch up with more Red Kites soaring over the Oxfordshire countryside. These handsome birds are beginning to get a stronger foothold in our part of North Wales but they're still cause us to get very excited whenever we see a fork-tailed silhouette in the sky. Perhaps the Oxfordshire residents are more blase about these birds, we counted over 30 Red Kites on a one-hour drive so it just goes to show how birds of prey can not just survive but thrive in this country with a little support. As we cruised slowly down a lovely meandering country lane in the sunshine, we could see signs of spring arriving all around us. The ground was festooned with a carpet of snowdrops - is this a particularly good year for them? Aconites were starting to unfurl their flowers, crocus and daffodil shoots were stretched to bursting point, clearly they were going to open up their flowers any day now, while even the trees seemed to have a green glow about them as leafbuds were fattening up. We saw various birds carrying twigs around, clearly nest-making was on their minds, so the spell of sunshine we've been enjoying the last few days has made everything start to hope that winter is behind us.

Close encounter with a Black headed Gull

A close encounter with a Black-headed Gull!

A farmer trailed an enormous plough across his undulating field and was followed by a cloud of hundreds of Black-headed Gulls looking for rich pickings as he steadily turned his field into corduroy. The gulls swirled and swooped like smoke up in the air as the farmer turned his tractor at the end of the row, flying in low over our car (how lucky we are to have a glass-roofed car!) to resume their frantic feeding in the furrow. Not sure what he planned to plant in his field but he was already sowing a very fertile crop of gulls!

Blue footed Booby head on

Blue-footed Booby blocking the path!

This time we were giving our talk on The Biggest Twitch in a rather smart tiered lecture hall in Reading University. Once we finally found our way through the maze of this huge campus, we were given a very warm welcome by the Berkshire Ornithological Group who enjoyed our talk about the highs and lows of our world record-breaking Big Year. Of course we don't change the ending (!) but with 27 countries visited during this year, we have plenty of stories to tell and photos to use so we always change the talk for every group to keep it fresh and entertaining for the audience. It helps to keep us on our toes too, and we are always asked new and interesting questions at the end. A frequent question is 'would we do it again?' Of course we would at the drop of a hat! But shhh! don't tell the bank manager!

Pheasant tailed Jacana

Pheasant-tailed Jacana in Sri Lanka, one of our favourite birding destinations!

Our route back to our base in Wendover late at night took us through some lovely woodland and we kept eyes peeled for nocturnal wildlife. Our vigilence was rewarded when a large badger trundled across the road in front of us! It's been a very long time since we've seen a live badger on the road as opposed to the roadkill we sadly see all too often these days. And only a few minutes later, a handsome dog fox crossed the road in front of us too, how wonderful to see these mammals peacably going about their business and a great reward for an evening's work!

Badger 3

Why did the badger cross the road? To get to the peanuts on the other side!

Tonight we're giving our talk on The Biggest Twitch to the Chorleywood RSPB Group, looking forward to meeting more old friends and new, and who knows what exciting wildlife encounters we might also have while we're out and about.

Elephant 3

A pretty unlikely encounter in the Chilterns countryside, but you never know what's round the next corner!

We thoroughly enjoy giving illustrated talks to birding, wildlife and general interest talks as we always meet such interesting people and it has given us the excuse to visit all parts of the UK, as well as Europe, America and India too. We offer a wide range of talks to suit all groups and our talks always seem to be well enjoyed by our audiences, so if you're interested in us giving a talk to your group, just drop us a line on Whether you want to know how to wear camouflage or how to complete a Big Year, let us entertain you!


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