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Tribute Page!

Malc Almey 

I need say nothing about this man ....only that I miss him dearly !  

Rosemary Mander

One of our stalwart who members passed away today Monday 17th. 2015

In 2000 Julie Brown asked me if I could take to New England a friend of  hers who had been diagnosed with incurable cancer.

I said to Julie, give me a good reason why not and if you can, i won't take her.

 So began a fifteen year friendship with a super lady and dedicated birder.

Over the years Rosie suffered the invasion of six rounds of  chemo, feeling constantly nauseous and losing her hair . 

That's all except one time when she decided to pre-empt the hair loss and shave it all off. 

Unfortunately when her consultant saw her he asked , "why have you shaved your hair off  Rosie" this chemo doesn't make it fall out !!!

Rosie said  , I felt such a fool Ken but who cares anyway. That was her, never moaning and always the birder with a smile.

She came with me to America, Scotland, Scilly Isles, Islay and her favourite, Majorca.

We will all miss you.

God bless you   ROSIE !

John Lowe Tribute

John Lowe   1937-2013.  

On a sombre day eleven club members attended John’s funeral and listened with pleasure to an account and celebration of his life. His boyhood was filled with train spotting and nature watching. An apprenticeship in Draughtsmanship was his Further Education, but on completion it did not obtain him a job immediately in that field so John’s “gap-year” was spent on the Calf of Man counting and ringing birds!

As he progressed through his career, he was developing his skills for constructing train engines, aeroplanes and boats and learning to fly gliders. Bird watching was continued and he joined BBC when he moved to Sapcote.

Members will recall his wide knowledge and skill in the hides and in the open air. John was elected chairman in 2005/6 and in this role, he ensured that members were well informed via newsletters and programmes of forthcoming meetings. John seldom missed our monthly walks and he made himself responsible for the list of birds spotted. John was keen to welcome new inexperienced members, checking that they could see the birds by making his focused telescope available.

Those members who knew John well, admired his wide ranging knowledge and interests and will have happy memories of time spent with him.


Peter Johnstone Tribute



A large number of club members gathered outside Nuneaton Crematorium on Friday the 11th February to support Maureen and the family on the sad occasion of Peter’s Funeral.  His Scottish ancestry was in no doubt as a piper, playing a lament, led the hearse to the Chapel of Rest.  The son of a mining engineer, Peter was born in Easthouses, Edinburgh and was an only child.  He did well at school and became an electrical engineer, eventually joining the RAF as ground crew.  He met Maureen at the Pally Dance Hall, Leicester and they married in 1963.  They had three boys, Stuart, Ian and Robert who subsequently provided them with 9 grandchildren.  Peter spent the latter part of his working life as a radio service engineer for the Home Office, but he was a man of many interests.  In addition to his lifelong love of the natural world, Peter was a keen radio ham, with friends and contacts all over the world.  He also played bass trombone in the Burbage Silver Band.

Peter was a founding member of Burbage Bird Club and a loyal servant, having served as both chairman and newsletter editor.  No surprise then that he and Maureen were recently made honorary life members.  He will be sadly missed by his many friends in the BBC   


Mike Thomas Tribute

It is with great sadness I report the loss of a good friend and  committed birder for the club Mike Thomas .

 Mike joined us 17 years ago and soon became a great asset to the club .He travelled with us on many trips throughout the UK,

Europe and the America's being always the gentleman .

 Mike dedicated many hours of hard work to the Fosse Meadows project and what you see now is tribute to this.

Walking Fosse Meadows will bring back all the memories I have of him including these  pictures of him  taking time to feed a 

 Scilly Isles Mallard in 2002 and "Two Hat's Thomas" on Islay 2006 .

Our sympathy goes out to all the family and his wife he affectionately called "The lady Ann" at their time of sorrow .

We will always remember you Mike.

Ken Reeves 2/8/2009

A seat was dedicated to Mike in Fosse Meadows at a service conducted by the reverend Barbara Bircumshaw

It was attended by his wife Anne, members of Burbage Bird Club and Mike's  friends from the meadows.


Archie Gilbert 

It is with heart felt sadness I report the passing of one of our stalwart and founder members

ARCHIE GILBERT. Archie had been birding for many years in the UK, Middle East, Europe

and the Americas. These travels and his reports added a dimension to the club we had not experienced

before. When after many years we all thought our monthly walks had been exhausted Archie stepped

in and continued them in his own inimitable way. The man , his records, humour and reports will be

sadly missed by us all. Our sympathy goes out to all the family and his loving wife VICKY who devotedly

cared for him during his last few painful months .

                                           Thanks for the privilege of knowing you Archie


MICK TATE “the Viking”  

Mick was a larger than life character and filled his 52 years to the full.

In the army as a Royal Engineer, a butcher, a Duke of Edinburgh scheme trainer, an archery tutor, a Scout leader.   

Guiding young people to find their way in life and become responsible citizens.  

He loved the outdoor life walking, climbing, canoeing, role play with the Viking group and more recently bird watching. 

He didn’t have long with this final pastime, joining the Burbage Birders in 2010 and sadly passing away on 6th June 2012.

He will be missed by all who knew him

























































































Burbage Bird Club


Newsletter No 23 May 2012   ( Edited by Maureen Johnstone )


North Norfolk in March

We leave Hinckley as dawn breaks, another unusually warm, sunny day with temps of 20-22degs on offer. We head off to the North Norfolk coast where the forecast wasn’t as good, with possible foggy patches. I started to get concerned as we travelled the Perterbo’ bypass, the fog so thick I couldn’t see Fred & Ken in the front of the bus. Fortunately this cleared to a mist as we reached Wolferton, no sign of the golden Pheasant. We could see our breather in the morning chill as we walked into the Dersingham Bog, Our spirits lifted in the gloom & cold by the sound of Woodlark singing, a lovely sight and a good start to our day list.

Off to Heacham and a walk along the coastal path, back of the Beach hoping for early summer visitors, Ring ouzel, Wheatear etc. Did get loads of Meadow pipit, wagtails, one very elusive Wheatear, Gray Partridge, Oystercatcher, Heron, and a few Duck species.

Holkham gave us Common & Rough Legged Buzzard, and some controversy over how many Barn Owls were seen (I’ll say no more for fear of recriminations). A number of ducks and waders on the flooded field down the drive, with only small numbers Brent Geese of the winter flocks still to go. Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Treecreeper in the pines, Sanderling and Ringed Plover were seen but the small flocks of very mobile Skylark, Meadow pipit and possible Shore lark to difficult to follow on a cold windy beach.

Titchwell was VERY cold with a lazy wind that didn’t bother to go round you, so most of the work was from the hides, Red Crested Pochard, interesting to see Common & Spotted Redshank, side by side, with Red Breasted Merganser, Avocet, Med Gull and White Wagtail making up the highlights of a busy reserve, a solitary Gray Plover  confusing us mere mortals for a few minutes. On to Choseley barns for Yellow Hammer & Corn Bunting, on our way back to Heacham Red Legged & Grey Partridge, occasionally stopping with the Fields full of Fieldfare & Redwing.

On our journey back we stopped off at the RSPB’s Nene Washes near Eldernell, a first visit for some of us, and what a treat, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Red Kite, Buzzard , Common Crane and Short Eared Owl. Definitely a return trip to this hot spot any time of the year, next time a warm summers evening maybe ……

86 + in the day with a number of first’s for some of our companions  

Nev Weston

Sunday Bird Walk April 22nd

The weather was sunny and breezy.Ten members met at the visitor centre car park and everyone agreed to go to Draycote Water.Nev met us there.

On the way down the Fosse 2 Grey Partridge flew up,and a skylark took off from the top of a hedge.House Martins were flying around near the railway bridge.

As we turned into Draycote there were signs directing us to the new car park on the right.Toilets were open on the ground floor in the centre and in may the upstairs cafe will hopefully be open again after agreements with severn trent have been finalised.There was a kestrel in the car park.

We first had a family of Mallard with 11 chicks bobbing on the water and another large one dozing in the grass by the jetty.

A bit further along Joan spotted a pair of Great Crested Grebes doing the mating dance.Along the wall there was a lot of wagtails,Pied,White,and Yellow.one had a blue head and after a long debate decided it might be French.Bonjour Mon Ami.also along the rocks were Wheatear,and coots in the water.In the fields on the right was a Whimbrel and a couple of Canada Geese.A group of ladies ran by wearing pink tutus.We carried on and added to the list; Cormarant,Shovelar,Tufted Duck,Greylag,Buzzard,Magpie.

Round in the next bay there was Linnit,Reed Bunting,Meadow Pippit,Teal,Swallow,Sand Martin,Black Headed Gull,GB Backed Gull,3 swans flew over and Neil spotted 2 Sparrowhawks in the air.A little walk through the wood saw and heard was Willow Warbler,ChiffChaff,Chaffinch,Garden Warbler,Black Cap,Blue Tit,and a long tailed tit seen by Joan and myself.We then decided to head back to the car park.

After a short break when the others went home Fred and Nev went a walk towards Rainbow corner and picked up a Little Gull.When i caught up with them i saw it too and also an Orange Tipped Butterfly.

On the way home Fred and i saw a Mistlethrush sitting on a telegraph pole by the farm at the crossroads before you reach the A5

Good day out.

Linda Burton


RSPB Middleton Lakes - ongoing development of the new reserve.

Prior to the Second World War the land where the reserve is now situated was all farmland.

Post war Britain required sand and gravel and the land became a quarry until 2007 when the RSPB acquired the site for development into a bird reserve.

Prior to this time there were no records of the wildlife on the site and so a survey was set up to monitor birds, animals, insects and flowers to provide a datum for measuring the changes as the reserve develops.

A Heronry has been present near to the new car park for a number of years, Egrets now roost with the Herons and it is hoped they will breed in the future.                                                                                  Barn Owl boxes have been erected and 14 young have been raised since 2007.                             Otters are known to visit the site and artificial holts have been created to encourage them to breed.

Initially the site was covered in willows and attempts to clear these by the volunteers was a mammoth task, so with a grant of £30,000 the diggers were called in to rip them out.                Once this had been completed, it was necessary to move some 100,000 cubic metres of soil in order to profile the pools and hence encourage waders.

Some viewing screens have been erected on the site to facility better bird watching opportunities and Longhorn cattle have been introduced to graze the meadows.

There is now a car park on the site and there are signed paths around the lakes, but to date there are no toilets or visitor centre. Funding is in place for these, but costs are high due to the distance from piped water and sewers. Currently the near bye old hall has toilets which can be used, plus a grand little café for refreshments after birding.

















Burbage Bird Club

Newsletter No 22 December 2011




On 28th September the swallows at Soper’s Bridge Farm, Stoney Stanton were still feeding their third brood in the same nest, diving into the outhouse every 5 minutes or so and shoving flies/insects into 3 open mouths. On the 17th October the last swallows had left the farm, whether the parents and the fledglings will have the strength to reach Africa who knows?


Whether you are supporter of HS2 or not, the Wildlife Trust have published a brochure outlining the cost to wildlife of this project. The tally at present of the phase 1 route, includes direct and indirect loss and damage to: 4 Wildlife Trust sites, 2 Local Nature Reserves, 9 sites of Special Scientific Interest, 48 Ancient Woodlands, 77 Local Wildlife Sites and 30 River Corridors But you will get from Birmingham to London by train around half an hour sooner than at present!


RSPB members should have received their Winter 2011 magazine by now and it contains two articles of particular interest to me. The first relates to David Lindo, who’s book I have just read and mentioned in this Newsletter.    The second concerns the RSPB new film "Born to Fly", which depicts the migratory lives of Cranes through mainland Eu-rope. The migration of Whooping Cranes in the United States is more of a do or die situation, these birds are one of the world’s most endangered species, their numbers fell to 15 in 1940 and they were still on the endangered list in 1967. In the nineteen nineties biologists considered it necessary to establish a secondary migratory flock to supplement natural migratory route from the Great Lakes in Canada to Texas. So "Operation Migration" started in 2000, eggs were taken from captive cranes and hatched in incubators. They were then reared by trainers dressed in white sheets to mask their human form and weird puppets that resembled the necks and heads of adult whooping cranes. Before hatching, the chicks were played recordings of microlight aircraft engines. When they see their cloaked trainers on a microlight and hear the engine their instinct is to follow it. The 10 chicks raised in Wisconsin this year are currently following a microlight on the first stages of their1000+ mile migration to Florida, which will take several weeks and involve 23 stopovers. After wintering in Florida, they will fly back to Wisconsin unaided, led by their own navigational instincts. In 10 years there has been a 100% success rate and you can follow them on www.operationmigration.org.


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Maureen Johnstone for taking on the role of Newsletter organiser, planner and editor. I’d also like to welcome new members Chris and Lynn Newey to the club and hope they enjoy their bird watching with us Thanks to all the members who supported the club by attending meetings and walks, without that support the club could not survive.


Please don’t forget the AGM is on 9th January and anyone who would like assist in running the club should send in their request to the secretary Ellen Sandeman at least 14 days before the meeting.

The AGM is a legal requirement and unless any contentious issues are received, it should be completed fairly swiftly so that the planned a bird quiz can take place.


Trip to Atlanta


On arriving at Atlanta to a very warm welcome from Paul (who we haven’t seen for five long years) we took a car journey down to panama city to Paul’s house, where we were to stay , this was about 100yds from a gorgeous beach. The next morning (late) we patrolled the beach looking for birds!! Then I noticed some wading birds!! Wow never seen those before!!

Any way back to my story, there were sanderlings and laughing gulls around and royal terns, as were morning doves and common ground doves. Back at Paul’s place we noticed a ruby throated humming bird at the feeder, this bird was on passage through. The next day we awoke to a tropical storm very windy and wet, but this proved to be advantageous because after the rains stopped we decided to go to a bay just down the road, this had a lagoon running off it , there we found 3 magnificent frigate birds flying around , a first for me, then a skua or as the yanks say , jaeger joined in, then to our surprise several sooty terns were also in the bay, all of these were brought in by the bad weather. The following few days brought lovely hot sunshine more ‘ birding’ on the beach! There was state park not far away which produced quite a variety of herons , 8 types in all, loggerhead shrikes appeared on the wires, along with Baltimore oriole in the bushes, but in the lake was our first alligator about 8ft long right next to the bank ! Quite a surprise to see it so close.

During the next few days we experienced jet skiing and boating , very enjoyable- recommend it, also we were able to swim with the dolphins in the bay which as you would imagine was enjoyed by all. It was during one of these activities that HAWKEYE PAUL noticed a bald eagle flying around the bay, it then swooped down and caught a fish ,flew into a tree and duly ate it, what a moment to see your first bald eagle. A few days later we began a long journey back up to Atlanta ,and further up into the Smokey Mountains home to the famous Cherokees. We took an 11 mile tour around one of the many noted tourist routes, the scenery was really nice, whilst on this tour which was a loop ,we encountered wild black bears not just glad to see one , there were 7 in one tree, 2 females with 5 cubs. Amazing, we were only 50 ft away. We also managed to see one of the birds which we failed to see on one of our previous trips with Ken ,and that is the piliated woodpecker , does it bring back memories Ken? There were many other species of birds we saw including warblers and vireos , flycatchers and wrens, hawks and buzzards, all in all about a hundred species without too much effort and time, it was not all birding , there were many other things we did.

Our final day before flying home was a fantastic trip to the largest aquarium in the world at Atlanta this was truly amazing, with sperm whales and giant manta rays plus sharks and all types of sea life , if you saw it believe me you wouldn’t go swimming in the sea again!! We had a great time lovely to see Paul again , he says hello to all those who know him.


Costa Blanca Query


I have just come back from 10 days in the Costa Blanca. I asked about local birds, but there is no interest at all. Nearest nature reserve is miles away. I only saw a few birds, yellow wag-tails, long-tailed tits, magpies and blackcaps. these were in the hills away from the coast. Any comments? Veronica Smyth

Hopefully someone will be able to help Veronica with this query


David Lindo


David Lindo born 1963 in London to immigrants from Jamaica grew up in the arse-end of NW London. He took an interest in wildlife from an early age, initiated by pictures of African animals and birds in a book. As a child he began exploring local suburban areas, parks, etc. looking for birds and "won" a bird book from the local library to help him with identification. Initially having to be content with his bird watching in London, he realised that if you really looked and explored the urban terrain numerous species of birds could be found.

This interest in natural history and bird watching in particular has stayed with him. Later, his career gave him access to cities and towns all over the world, where in his spare time he explored and found birds in the urban environments. He has become a TV celebrity, appearing in "Spring & Autumn Watch" and "The One Show", re-iterating his enthusiasm for conservation and bird watching when ever possible.


"The dried up Sunday 18th"


After an interesting early problem with GMT, BST and Hong Kong time our regular club

Sunday walk around Stanford Reservoir finally got underway.

Access to the site is now permit only and comes on request with membership of the Wildlife Trust. Da-vid Carman obtained the permit only to find out that Neville and Vernon Weston already had one pad-locked in Nev’s wallet.

Our first surprise was the water level; did I just say water; what water! It was almost totally dry in fact you could walk from one side to the other without getting your socks wet.

Now you would think with little water in the "res" birding over lets go home . Absolutely not! When the water goes it leaves lots of sticky mud and a small collection of wildfowl packed pools. Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted, Common Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck ,Gadwall, Canada, Greylag and much to our surprise five eclipse plumaged Garganey were all in their own bit of remaining water.

The mud told its own story with a complete Squadron of Grey Heron amassed in formation waiting to attack the remaining Rainbow Trout as the water vanished. Respectable numbers of Ringed Plovers (13), Greenshank (8), Dunlin in a bit of summer, winter, juvenile and anything they felt like plum-age (9) and only one distant Redshank. Stanford has never been renowned for its wader records but with all that mud exposed this autumn anything could happen.

The walk along the surrounding path was also interesting with Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Blackcap. Marsh, Long tailed, Blue and Great Tits, numerous Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and the stunning Bullfinch (7).

When you go on these Sunday walks it’s guaranteed that something happens that records it in your memory for all time and this one was no exception.

It was Fred (Hawkeye) Burton who spotted Common Buzzard being harassed by a Peregrine being harassed by a Hobby right above our heads. That one’s definitely going to be difficult to forget. And as a special treat I’m going to let Fred buy me a whisky on the Scilly’s.

Thanks to - Fred B, David & Joan C, Nev & Vernon W, The Viking, Mick H, Sue B & Ann G

Apologises to – Coot, All the Crows, All the Gulls, Moorhen, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Red Legged Partridge, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird and Green Woodpecker for not giving them a mention.

Ken R


Report from Bob Pacey


Myself and partner Marian went for our second visit of the year to Looe in Cornwall, and spotted 6 Oyster catchers, over 30 turnstones on Hannafore , I didn't expect to see them in September as well. The usual grey and pied wagtails forage amongst the seaweed and stuff when the tide was out. Plenty of cormorants, herons, egrets and too many gulls to identify.

After that a trip to Arnold in Nottingham, (daughter in law visit) and in the local park we fed a black swan who took bread from the palm of our hands, not very exciting I know, but it was really special


Stamford Reservoir


The reservoir was constructed and formed by flooding a small valley between the villages of South Kilworth and Stanford in the years between 1928 and 1930 by the Rugby Corporation Water Department; as a supply of drinking water for the town of Rugby, some 16 kilometres downstream.

Whilst the reservoir still performs this function (– hopefully not when we were there, as it was extremely low allowing people to walk across in some places) it is now used as a top-up for the much larger Draycote Water, some 24 kilometres to the south-west which was constructed in 1967.

The reservoir is now managed by Severn Trent Water Authority and has a well mowed perimeter path, 2 hides and feeding stations on the eastern shore at least, as this was the only part that we walked in the time available. A total perimeter walk while bird watching would require a full day.

As mentioned above, a permit is required to assess the site and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust members can apply for an annual permit by contacting the Bedfordshire / Cambridge / Northamptonshire and Peterborough Wildlife Tru st.


Dave Carman









 Burbage Bird Club

Newsletter No. 22 - June 2011





Although the weather wasn’t brilliant for the Common Open Day, it was a success for the club. Thanks to the donations of prizes from you the club members, very little had to be purchased for the Tombola.  Hence we made £172 for the club funds.  Again, thanks for your generosity.  Thanks as well to all the members who came and took their turn at manning the stall; I have 17 logged in as volunteers.  Also thanks to Ellen and my “better half” for preparing the prizes and setting up the stall.


Ellen and Ken were wearing their smart Burbage Birder sweatshirts at the Open Day.  These were purchased some years ago.  Some members have admired them and it has been suggested that we should purchase some more.  But before making enquiries, could members please let me know if they are interested.  I will provide a sample for people to see at the next meeting in June.


I’d like to welcome Veronica to the “crazy gang”, sorry the club!  She enrolled at the last meeting.


It would be useful if members could give me an indication as to whether they will be going to Middleton Lakes on Sunday 19th June.  This venue is an extensive new RSPB site near Tamworth, which has only recently opened to the public.  They have normally only allowed organised groups to view the work that has been carried out over the last 3 years, but they have agreed to let the club visit and bird watch rather than have an escorted tour.  I’ve been 3 times over the development period on the organised tours and it’s well worth a visit.


There has been some interest in mid-week morning walks at local bird sites, so if you are one of the “retired” breed of bird watcher or can organise an occasional “sicky”, let me know.  If there is enough interest I will suggest possible venues and dates.


That’s it for this month!  Looking forward to the Hebrides trip.  See you all when we are back on the 13th June.  



THE LINCOLNSHIRE COAST, 30/01/11 - A Belated trip report!  by Neville Weston


I was eagerly looking forward to this trip, my first birding experiences on the Lincolnshire coast, with three new locations to explore.  Fred Burton, Neil Pinckard and I snuggled into the back seats of the bus, and all settled down for our run to “The Wash”, accompanied by some light hearted banter with Tony Eaton.  As dawn broke and daylight improved, we scanned the passing countryside for early risers, our efforts frustrated by the condensation on the windows of our bus.  To our delight the first notable sighting was a close view of a Barn Owl coursing the ditches and hedgerows near Spalding, a great start to our day.

Song Thrush, House Sparrow & Woodpigeon were added to the list at our comfort stop.


RSPB Frampton Marsh

We met up with Graham Deeping and Dave Mason (who had travelled independently), and after the customary greetings, we found White-fronted Geese amongst the Canada and Graylag Geese and good numbers of Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Fieldfare & Redwing, Magpie & Pheasant in the adjacent fields.

We moved on to take up residence on the sea wall overlooking the salt marshes together with Malc Alney (who already had an impressive sightings list).  Frampton offered a good range of birds, although sea watching threw up very distant views of the shoreline and its bird-life over the salt marshes, including: - Redshank, Red-breasted Merganser, Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Starling, Peregrine, Merlin & Hen Harrier.

After a hot drink in the visitors centre (friendly and well informed) we set off for a walk around the fresh/brackish marshes and hides where we noted Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck and Shoveller,

Unfortunately we dipped out on Snow & Lapland Buntings, which were known to be around the reserve.


Freistone Marsh

We arrived at Freistone and consumed our packed lunch’s alfresco style, watching birds on the car park lagoon such as Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Pintail, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Goldeneye, Dunlin and Common Gull.  Also seen in the nearby trees & hedges were Greenfinch, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Siskin & Goldfinch plus a large flock of Tree Sparrows which kept us entertained thro’ lunch.  I must mention Heather at this point, who was as always, well organised with refreshments, and who treated us to a slice of cake to celebrate her Birthday on that day.  Nice touch Heather!

Our walk to the beach was punctuated with a platform view over the partially flooded pastureland revealing large flocks of Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover plus good numbers of Common Snipe, and in this location an unexpected sighting of Turnstones in the drainage ditches.  The distant shore and sea watch gave us Eider, Common Scoter, Goosander, Black-necked Grebe and Knot to add to our day list.


Gibraltar Point

A lengthy walk through the old salt marshes to overlook salt marsh and shore line produced large flocks of distant waders and gulls, frustratingly out of range for us mere mortals.  However, a couple of treats worthy of mention were, great views of a female Merlin perched, and fantastic views of Barn Owl coursing the marshes.  Delightful!

No sign of our target bird Short-eared Owl until in fading light Ken had very brief views of a bird dropping into a gully.  Unfortunately the rest of us dipped.

To round up, we were extremely fortunate with the weather, reasonable visibility with hazy winter sunshine and very light breezes, after the previous weeks high winds and storms.  A fantastic days birding with enjoyable company  (thanks to all my companions) ended in one of the celebrated chippies in Skegness.


My apologies to Neville for not being able to include this article in the April Newsletter – Ed.



BIRD CRIME  by Vicky Gilbert


An alert cleaner at Birmingham Airport sparked an investigation that led to a major smuggler being brought to justice.  On 3 May 2010, Jeffrey Lendrum from Zimbabwe, travelling on an Irish passport, was detained by West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit officers.  He was waiting in the Emirates departure lounge at Birmingham International Airport, ready to board a flight to Dubai.  Officers were alerted when cleaners became suspicious after Lendrum had asked to use the lounge’s shower facilities.  They found that the facilities were bone dry and unused, and that three egg boxes had been discarded along with one red egg.



CTU officers discovered that Lendrum had 14 eggs inside socks strapped to his abdomen.  Lendrum said they were duck eggs and were strapped to him to counter a back problem.  Lendrum was arrested on suspicion of possessing wild bird eggs.  Once the eggs were confirmed as peregrine eggs, they were handed to a local falconer.  The discarded egg from the shower was identified as a painted hen’s egg.  These are sometimes used to replace real eggs when wild nests are raided, so parent birds will continue to incubate.


The following day Lendrum was interviewed at length.  He admitted visiting the UK some three weeks earlier and that he had identified a number of peregrine nests in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales.  He returned a few days prior to his departure date to take 14 eggs from four nests.  He claimed he initially intended to take them back to Zimbabwe to hatch the birds out.  He denied that he had incubated eggs for any period of time and believed they were not viable so he was going to blow them for a collection.  He denied strapping them to his body to incubate them, maintaining the story about the cure for his back ailment.


His car had been left in the long-stay car park, and climbing gear and an incubator powered from the cigarette lighter were found inside it.  Lendrum was charged and remanded in custody.  In a lockup facility rented by Lendrum, another incubator was found.  Paperwork was also found relating to a conviction in 2002, when Lendrum was fined by Canadian authorities for taking Gyr and Peregrine Falcons.  On that occasion, he had hired a helicopter to allow him to access nesting sites.  There was also another conviction from 1984 for dealing in raptor eggs in Zimbabwe.  The information showed Lendrum was a highly organised and resourceful criminal, poised to make significant profits from his exploits.  From the evidence and intelligence gleaned, the eggs were due to be delivered to a contact in Dubai.


The falconer successfully hatched 11 chicks from the eggs.  The RSPB found some suitable wild nests and seven chicks were successfully fostered into three Scottish nests.  The remaining four chicks were later hacked back to the wild by falconers.


On 19 August 2010 at Warwick Crown Court Lendrum was sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to smuggle 14 peregrine eggs out of the UK to Dubai, contrary to the Custom and Excise Management Act 1979.  He was sentenced to a further four months, to be served concurrently, for taking the eggs from four nest sites in South Wales, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.


Credit – ‘Legal Eagle’, RSPB Investigations, Newsletter, November 2010.





17 members attended the Sunday bird walk at Swithland Reservoir on the 17th April and they were rewarded with some interesting sightings.  The highlight has to be the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, always a difficult bird to find, as I can personally testify.  Why is it that they seem to turn up at all the meetings I am unable to attend?  Answers on a post card please!  Other birds on offer included a good selection of summer visitors, namely Chiff Chaff, Blackcap, Sand Martin and Swallow.  Among the usual selection of ducks were a late Goosander (female) and a (non-breeding?) male Goldeneye.  Raptors included 4 Buzzards, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.  Also noted were Goldcrest, Tree Creepers, Nuthatch and Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

The party then moved on to Cliffe Hill Quarry, where 2 Northern Wheatears, 2 Ravens and Red-legged Partridge were added to the day’s list, giving a total of 40 species.

On Sunday the 15th May, a small group of members met at the Common before travelling to Beacon Hill with the object of finding some Tree Pipits.  Remarkably, thanks to the local knowledge of Dave Mason and Neil Pinckard, our object was achieved within 20 minutes, when several singing males were located and we enjoyed the spectacle of frequent song flights from and to the scattered trees.  In the same area we had good views of a singing male Cuckoo and Green Woodpeckers.  As might be expected at that time of year, the air was full of bird song and we noted the following species in good voice: - Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Yellow Hammer.  Also seen were Swallows and House Martins and a Nuthatch was heard.  Raptors were in short supply, but we did locate a Buzzard (impersonating a Kestrel by hovering) and later a genuine Kestrel showed itself.  Although only 25 species were noted, we enjoyed a very scenic walk in good company, before the rain became too persistent to continue.




The next newsletter will be published in August 2011.  Have you any snippets of information you would like to share with us.  Please send me anything you think other members would like to read, i.e. birding trip reports, bird identification hints, favourite bird haunts, etc.

In short, anything polite and not too controversial about birds and Burbage Bird Club.




Mon 13th June

“Strange Name for a Bird” – talk by Paul Fuller – meet 7.30 p.m.

Wed 16th June

Committee meeting at Dave Mason’s house – meet 7.30 p.m.

Sun 19th June

Walk at Middleton Lakes (RSPB) – meet 8.30 a.m.

Mon 11th July

Evening bird walk – details to follow

Mon 8th August

Summer Social Evening – details to follow

Mon 12th September

Talk by Ken Reeves – details to follow – meet 7.30 p.m.

Mon 10th October

“In Search of Wild Britain” - talk by Carl Baggott – meet 7.30 p.m.

Mon 14th November

“Looking at Waders” - talk by Charles Brown – meet 7.30 p.m.

Mon 12th December

Christmas Party – details to follow




    Burbage Bird Club


Newsletter No. 21 - April 2011





Please note the talk by Ken Reeves scheduled for the 13th June 2011 has been postponed due to circumstances beyond our control.  However, Vicky Gilbert has been able to secure another speaker for this meeting and we will now be entertained by Paul Fuller, whose talk is entitled “Strange Name for a Bird”.


KEN’S 500th SPECIES IN BRITAIN, by David Carman


As many of you will be aware, Ken Reeves eventually achieved his objective of seeing 500 bird species in Britain.  A copy of the Leicester Mercury article recording this milestone was e-mailed to all members for whom we have e-mail addresses.  In this article it mentioned that the 500 sightings were accumulated over 32 years using the British Ornithologists’ Union list.

If you go to www.bou.org.uk, you can find details of the work carried out by the British Ornithologists’ Union and an explanation of how the list is formulated.


For over 100 years the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) has maintained the official list of birds that have been recorded in Britain and Ireland. This 'official' British List has recognition across the following organisations, which have indicated their support for the work undertaken by the BOU and it’s Records Committee namely, the British Trust for Ornithology, Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Ornithologists' Club, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the various Wildlife Trusts.


To try to summarise, there are various categories within the current Official List (which now excludes Ireland) the most relevant of which is category ‘A’, as it is the list of species recorded (in an apparent natural state) at least once since the 1st January 1950.  There are numerous reports from the British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee available on the website, the earliest accessible being the 23rd July 1996, and this quoted 519 category ‘A’ species.  The latest is the 35th published in April 2007, when the category ‘A’ list had reached 553 species, with the addition of the Chestnut-eared Bunting seen on Fair Isle, Shetland in October 2004.


So Ken’s twitching is no mean feat.  Seeing 500 out of a possible 553 species has taken him far and wide across Britain.  Whether he can live up to his statement that he has now “retired” and will no longer pursue rarities into the distance, we shall see.  The real test will come if a Willet is reported in Britain.  This is the species he really wanted as his 500th!


I’m sure all the members of the BBC and other friends who attended his 500th celebrations at the Red Lion in Sapcote on the 23rd February would like to thank him for his hospitality and generosity in providing all the food and drink consumed that evening.


Keep on birding Ken!


A large number of club members gathered outside Nuneaton Crematorium on Friday the 11th February to support Maureen and the family on the sad occasion of Peter’s Funeral.  His Scottish ancestry was in no doubt as a piper, playing a lament, led the hearse to the Chapel of Rest.  The son of a mining engineer, Peter was born in Easthouses, Edinburgh and was an only child.  He did well at school and became an electrical engineer, eventually joining the RAF as ground crew.  He met Maureen at the Pally Dance Hall, Leicester and they married in 1963.  They had three boys, Stuart, Ian and Robert who subsequently provided them with 9 grandchildren.  Peter spent the latter part of his working life as a radio service engineer for the Home Office, but he was a man of many interests.  In addition to his lifelong love of the natural world, Peter was a keen radio ham, with friends and contacts all over the world.  He also played bass trombone in the Burbage Silver Band.

Peter was a founding member of Burbage Bird Club and a loyal servant, having served as both chairman and newsletter editor.  No surprise then that he and Maureen were recently made honorary life members.  He will be sadly missed by his many friends in the BBC.





As we have come to expect, the talk by Neil Glenn on the 14th February did not disappoint.  He regaled us with his experiences whilst leading bird tours in Morocco and seems to have visited most areas of the country in the process.  I imagine many in the audience were as surprised as I was, to discover how much variety of habitat can be found there and consequently, how many different species of bird can be seen.  This is not the barren desert one might have expected.  Neil had assembled a large number of excellent bird images, and frequent reference to maps enabled us to know which part of the country they could be found in.  The talk was delivered in Neil’s usual relaxed and entertaining style.  A great evening!


Our Sunday morning walk at Brandon Marsh NR, on 20th February was well attended and produced some interesting sightings.  An unexpected bonus was the chance to see a group of bird ringers in action, and they very kindly allowed us to look over their shoulders as they processed their catches.  They were using mist nets to catch birds in a small area near the visitor centre where food is normally provided.  We watched as a Nuthatch was examined, measured, and then had it’s uniquely numbered BTO ring applied.  A total of 41 species entered the notebook and highlights included a pair of Shelduck, an Oystercatcher, 2+Snipe, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Cetti’s Warbler heard.


I was unable to attend the talk on Watermead Country Park by Dale Osbourne on the 14th March, but I understand it was well received by a good-sized audience of 23 members and a visitor, namely Jack List, volunteer warden at Fosse Meadows CP.


However, I was determined to join the Sunday walk at Ladywalk NR on the 20th March, having missed the Club’s first visit to this venue last year.  First impressions as you approach the reserve through a large industrial estate are not good.  However, once inside the reserve, I was pleasantly surprised by what an attractive area it is.  Large areas of mature woodland, a nice river and plenty of open pools all seemed to promise good birding.  The West Midland Bird Club administers the area and it was suggested that a collection of £2 p.p. be taken to help provide bird food.  So 19 members and one visitor were able to donate £40 to Steve Cawthray (Head Warden) for the WMBC.

But was it worth it, I hear you ask.  Well how about 51 species, including Little Egret, a pair of Pintail, 20+ Goosander, 2 Oystercatchers, a Dunlin, a Green Sandpiper, 2 late Fieldfares, Chiff-Chaffs singing, a Kingfisher, and 50+ Redpolls.



SPRING INTO SCOTLAND, by Linda & Fred Burton


Saturday March 26th

Picked up by Ken and taken to Hinckley station. The train was 15 minutes late but I had booked passenger assistance at Birmingham so managed to catch the Edinburgh train ok. We arrived at 12.30 and had an hour for lunch before the train to Aviemore, where Heatherlea guide Dave picked us up at 4.30.


Sunday was spent locally.  First stop was Glenfishie, then Loch Insh, and Craigellache, stopping for lunch at Tomvaich.  Then on to Dava Moor, Lochindorb, Carr Road, and Torr Hill.  Species seen were Slavonion Grebe, Red breasted Merganser, all three diver species, Red and Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Dipper, Common Crossbill and Siskin.


Monday.  Early start to Mull leaving at 7am.  Went to Loch Laggan, taking the Corran ferry to Loch Aline, where Fred spotted an otter in the bay playing in the water.  Then on to the ferry to Fishnish bay and round to Salenbay for the Pied Billed Grebe.  Lovely bird!  At Loch Na Keal we saw White tailed sea Eagle, Golden Eagle, Wheatear and Raven.  Stopped at Island View before turning round to catch the ferry back to our overnight stay at the Ben Loch Hotel at Strontian.  After the evening meal we went to see PINE MARTINS.  Sneaking jam sandwiches, which had been left for them.



On Tuesday we left Strontian to go round Loch Sunart, then to Kingairloch where we saw an Iceland Gull.  After a walk round the little church we went on to Loch Linnhe.  Then on to Salachan where we had Grey Seals.  Crossed on the ferry and on to Loch Lagan Dam, finishing up at Creag Meagaidh and lastly Inch Kirk.



On Wednesday we went to the Cairngorms for Ptarmigan but the mist came down and we had no hope.  So went to Alt Moore to look for Crested Tits.  Fred got lucky and followed one to a nest with moss for nesting and we all got exited watching it fly in and out of the hole in the tree.  We then went on to Loch Insh and Glentrommie for Great Grey Shrike finishing the day at Poor House Wood seeing Common and Parrot Crossbills.  After the evening meal we went to the house of one of the guides to see the BADGERS.  We had 2 in the garden and 2 on the road.  What a treat!


On Thursday we headed to Moray Firth, stopping at Roseisle, Burghead Harbour and Bay where we saw at least 10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins.  Then on to Hopeman and Lossiemouth, seeing Velvet and Common Scoter, rafts of Eider and Long Tailed Ducks, Fulmar, Kittiwakes, Gannets, Linnits, Purple Sandpiper and a Yellowhammer.



Friday was Black Isle day.  On our way through Fortrose, we had a flock of 16 Waxwings in the high street.  Then to Udale Bay and Jemmimaville where there is the smallest post office in the country.  At Cromarty Bay we saw a raft of Scaup.  Then back to Dingwall, where we saw Knot and B.T.Godwit.  We finished the day at Loch Garten.  The Osprey had got there 10 minutes before we did.  Also had Red Squirrel and Great Spot Woodpecker.

After dinner we had the log and general round up of the holiday and agreed that -





This event is not far distant now, and we still need more Tombola prizes for the BBC Stand.  If you have anything suitable, please make sure you let David or Joan Carman know as soon as possible.  Ideally, all prizes need to be ticketed in advance, so don’t delay, act today!





The next newsletter will be published in June 2011.  Have you any snippets of information you would like to share with us.  Please send me anything you think other members would like to read, i.e. birding trip reports, bird identification hints, favourite bird haunts, etc.

In short, anything polite and not too controversial about birds and Burbage Bird Club.


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