(Not quite) flaming June but it’s certainly busting out all over!

After a slow start to June, a few days of sun and moderate rain really helped the UK’s flora and fauna catch up and, as I write, most birds are either feeding chicks or have fledged their little charges and are thinking about their post breeding moult. Of course some will have a second brood so let’s hope the weather holds out to give our birds a chance to raise their young, and the overall dwindling populations. Learn about the current State of Nature by downloading a copy of this startling report.

Many of our ducks are now in eclipse so, if you really struggle with identifying moulting ducks, now is your chance to get some tuition – I’ve just published my latest newsletter with details of my classes over July and August. The emphasis will be on the outward migration (which has already started for non-breeding birds) and I’ll focus specifically on wader, gull and eclipsed duck identification.

The month of June began with my annual trip to Northumberland. This year we took a boat from Amble and visited Coquet Island to see the elegant roseate tern. Puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags could also be seen from the boat as well as common, Sandwich and Arctic terns. During our 3 day tour, we visited reserves around Druridge Bay, Lindisfarne, St Abb’s and Low Newton where we finished our day by watching a lone otter fishing in the lake at the reserve.

Yellowhammer at St Abb’s
Blackcap at Hauxley

Grey heron at East Chevington
Oystercatcher at Hauxley

The Northumberland tour was definitely my highlight for June but, in terms of individual events, I think the most memorable have been a hobby taking a sand martin in mid flight right in front of us at Bolton Abbey; a pied flycatcher feeding a chick at Bolton Abbey; bitterns flying around at St Aidan’s; black-necked grebe chicks sitting on the back of their parents at St Aidan’s

Black-necked grebes and chick (photo Kevin Tappenden)

Bittern at St Aidan’s (photo Kevin Tappenden)

I’ve just heard the sad news that Gerry Thrussell died last week. Many of you may have attended his birdwatching classes when you began birdwatching and I often hear stories from my customers about how he got them started on their birdwatching journey. He helped get me started too.

What a fantastic contribution Gerry made to birdwatching in Leeds. In addition to his birdwatching classes, and his well attended coach trips, he was instrumental in the creation of the Leeds RSPB Group which officially began in 1974. At that time, Gerry was the RSPB Leeds Local Representative and, once more than 1,000 RSPB members had been recruited in the Leeds area, he wrote and invited them to a Member’s evening at the Parkway Hotel on Otley Road. The evening included a presentation to the 1,000th member who received a photograph of a short-eared owl taken by the well known Leeds photographer and birder, Arthur Gilpin. It was such a success that a further meeting was arranged, in conjunction with Trevor Gunton, who was then the RSPB’s Development Officer, to launch the RSPB Leeds Local Group in February 1974. Gerry continued as Chair of the Group until he was appointed magistrate to the West Yorkshire Bench in 1977. He then gave up the position of Chair but still remained with the Group for a while as the Leeds RSPB representative, Conservation Officer, Chair of Knostrop Reserve and leader of the Leeds Group coach outings. RSPB Leeds Local Group is still running today and enjoying success. Gerry began running his own very successful independent birdwatching classes and his Sunday coach trips have been supported by many faithful followers for many years. When Gerry became unwell, Sunday coach trips continued to be run by regular Sunday birdwatchers.

Gerry’s funeral is on Wednesday 26th June at Lawnswood. Many thanks Gerry, on behalf of all your fledgling birdwatchers.  

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