We will make this page a bit tidier eventually – it’s a work in progress!
6 a.m. Sunday 1st January 2007, Marshside. My introduction to birding began with John Aitchison and Simon Glinn. We ticked 70 species that day, apparently: I knew about 12. Two years on and I am doing a bit better, learning it and loving it, and fortunately I am surrounded by some great birders and some of the finest people you could wish to meet. I regularly visit Marshside, Hilbre Island and Sefton Park. My finest hour was finding a Rose-coloured Starling whilst twitching a Lesser Grey Shrike (dipped) in Northumberland. 2 overseas trips so far: Donana and Barcelona, with Turkey to come in 2009.
Neill Hunt writes A lot of people know John through his excellent BirdBlog which he started on July 22nd 2005. It started getting better however once he discovered my photos and he hasn’t looked back since! He has recently also published Wild Merseyside, available in all good local bookshops and from Sandgrounders Hide for just £4.99. John has been birding since he was a young lad, learning the trade (ringing) from his Uncle Dave. The Marshside regulars of the 80′s started seeing John birding the marsh more frequently in the early 90′s and he was kidnapped into the group around that time. The usual conversation on the marsh before he was ordained went like this: Barry: “Who’s that birder with the red flat top ?” Neill / Simon / Paul: ” The one with a head that looks like a Brick!” and so ‘The Brick’ was born. John is fairly well travelled: Cape May, The Caribbean, Morocco, Spain, Finland, Latvia, France, Scilly, etc. His favourite hang-out though is up in the cold unspoilt Western Isles, which he visits probably 3/4 times a year. My first real twitch with John was on August 22nd 1994 to Kent, a great day with Lesser Grey Shrike, White Stork, Buff Breasted Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper and another 17 species of wader, Ruddy Shelduck and Hobby. Since then things just got better. Many trips over the years have resulted in some great birds and laughs and some impressive lists!
Django regularly escorted his owner to Marshside, and at an early age was invited into the hides by the reserve’s senior staff, something he has since done on many, many occasions. However, he has now been officially BANNED by the cruel Warden! Boo, hiss!
I got into birding over recent years as I gradually weaned myself off spending all my spare time and money following Liverpool FC home and away. My Dad always had a great love of the birds, and spending time with him during his last years here in North Merseyside kindled the interest, as did seeing Pink-feet flying over my house in vast numbers, and Black-tailed Godwits, Wheatear, Marsh and Hen Harriers at Marshside, almost on my doorstep. It brought me a whole new outlook on the world, and vast amounts to learn and experience, and I suppose I now bring a bit of birding into my daily life, work and travel. Overseas I’ve done a little bit in Spain, Turkey, Bosnia and Oman.
I’m still very ignorant (few would disagree with that) but I’m having fun and am lucky enough to share the odd pint with some life-long devotees, and these days I occasionally at least take a half decent photo or video snippet by digiscoping – I use the same set-up as Jason, but seldom with quite as stunning results! It’s a hit-and-miss affair, but as some of them are worth a second glance I blog them here, and have opened this space up for some friends who share the interest.
I started birding in 1979 as a 13 year old and started visiting the marsh about 1980. Back then I would visit the marsh weekly, transport allowing, as I lived in Ainsdale. Since ’83 I managed to visit more often, about twice a week, and since 1990 I feel that I have almost lived there! I’ve found a few good birds over the years including Red Footed Falcon (Ainsdale May ’81), Black Winged Stilt, Richards Pipit, Honey Buzzard, Temminck’s Stint, American Golden Plover, Avocet (in 1999, the first since 1972: look at them now!) Green-winged Teal, and Nightjar – all at Marshside. I’ve been birding with other regulars since 1980 and have learned a lot from them, mainly Barry, Simon Jackson and Paul, the old school as I like to call them. I’ve birded all over the UK, twitching heavily since 82 but picked up a lot of goodies along the way and found some half decent birds at various locations. I’ve birded America (twice), Australia (twice), India, Japan,Singapore, Morocco, Spain (3 times), Canaries, France (3 times), former Yugoslavia, Scilly (26 visits) as well as countless Norfolk/ East coast/ Scottish Trips. My Marshside List stands at 210 and British List 478.