Interview in BBC Wildlife Magazine

Interview in BBC Wildlife Magazine

The BBC Wildlife Magazine October 2016 Edition had an article about Minority Ethnic people and about the fact that they were not going out into nature. Parts of an interview by me were included on page 32, “Diverse Nature” with a photo. The article is an interesting one and raises awareness of this topic to a wider audience who will know nothing about it. Well done to Ben Hoare and BBC Wildlife Magazine for highlighting the issue and getting the debate started.

In March, following announcing my Race Equality in Nature Conference to take place in June (aiming to overcome the barriers to ethnic minority [non-white] people getting out into nature in the UK) I was approached by Ben Hoare, Features Editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine, as he wanted to highlight the issue and write an article on the subject. I was interviewed by Ben just before the conference, gave him background reports & info and details of others he could contact.

The article was written by asking BAME naturalists for their views on the topic. This was interesting to read and illuminating for most people interviewed. However, this approach assumed that just because someone was Minority Ethnic and an expert in nature, that they were an also an expert in race, which was not correct. All they could do was give their individual view, which sometimes was a odds with the research and experts in race equality, diversity and inclusion but left unchallenged. For example, the issue of whether BAME should be used was I think a diversion from the actual issue, also giving the impression to the white readership that Minority Ethnic people were divided when this is not true for the majority. Also, the experts didn’t have the chance to give their views in response though I understand that this was probably

I think discussions like this should include at least sections that are “Black-led” race experts.





The Conference was a great success and the Conference Report is at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lFciU1tQX0r56Nmn with additional documents in Appendix 1.1 https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lFUbVyvJ1OfT1c5r and Appendix 1.2 https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lHO2pVQbVZxh3mn3

If you are interested in trying to make those out in nature from more diverse backgrounds, then please connect with me on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig https://www.linkedin.com/in/mya-rose-birdgirl-craig-350b598b) and ask to join the Race Equality in Nature Group. Please can you also share this information, so that we can get as many people as possible from all backgrounds involved (nature organisations and people working in ethnic minority communities, health & education).

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What are we going to do about the State of Nature?

What are we going to do about the State of Nature?

Last Wednesday, 14th September 2016, it was the launch of the State of Nature Report 2016 (http://bit.ly/2cSjVNR) at The Royal Society in London (the first report came out in 2013 and revealed a severe loss of nature occurring in the UK since the 1960s). It is a report assessing the situation of 4000 species in the UK over the last 50 years and into the future with input from 53 diverse conservation organisations. Based on the assessment of 8000 species, the report scientifically proves that 15% of our native species are extinct or threatened with extinction and 53% are in decline. The evidence also suggests that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average and that we are among the most nature depleted countries in the world. I find this the most shocking statement in the report. I would be interested to know who else we are grouped with, China perhaps?

I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch by Gill Perkins, the CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The highlight was listening to Sir David Attenborough speak and also meeting him, which was a dream come true. It was somehow appropriate for the youngest person there to be meeting the oldest person.

Sir David Attenborough at the State of Nature Report Launch
Sir David Attenborough at the State of Nature Report Launch

Sir David Attenborough wrote the forward to the report and also the one in 2013.  In 2013 he reminded us about the wonder of the nature around us in Britain and our territories and how all was not well with our nature but that:

“This important document provides a stark warning: far more species are declining than increasing in the UK, including many of our most treasured species. Alarmingly, a large number of them are threatened with extinction. The causes are varied, but most are ultimately due to the way we are using our land and seas and their natural resources, often with little regard for the wildlife with which we share them. The impact on plants and animals has been profound.”
Now in 2016, he wrote:

“The news, however, is mixed. Escalating pressures, such as climate change and modern land management, mean that we continue to lose the precious wildlife that enriches our lives and is essential to the health and well-being of those who live in the UK, and also in its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Our wonderful nature is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before.

But the State of Nature 2016 report gives us cause for hope too. The rallying call issued in 2013 has been met with a myriad of exciting and innovative conservation projects. Landscapes are being restored, special places defended, and struggling species are being saved and brought back.

Such successes demonstrate that if conservationists, governments, businesses and individuals all pull together, we can provide a brighter future for nature and for people.”

We were welcomed by Dr Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSPB on behalf of the State of Nature Partnership before Sir David Attenborough spoke and reminded us that the most valuable thing we have in the UK is our natural environment, which was in serious trouble and needed our help as never before. He hoped that post Brexit would lead to an opportunity for legislation tailored to the needs of British wildlife. After reminding us of the dire state of the UK’s wildlife, he inspiring us with what could be done, with determination from all sides including the government and the farming industry.

Young birder Mya-Rose Craig meeting Sir David Attenborough at
the State of Nature Report Launch, London
Young birder Mya-Rose Craig sharing a joke with Sir David Attenborough
at the State of Nature Report Launch, London

Next, we heard from Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist, Plantlife, who was hugely inspiring. He reminded us of Matt Damon in the film “The Martian” with his #Iamabotanist and how we can all use this hashtag. Dr Dines told us about how bluebell, buttercup and conker had all been removed from the Junior Oxford English Dictionary and how we need to teach our children about nature. He urged us to take children within our families and friends outside into nature.

As I looked around the room, almost everyone in it was a white top conservationist (apart from me on both counts!) and reminded me how important it was that we engage all of society in nature. If we fail to do this, then we just have the same people talking to each other about what we need to do to save our nature. If we are to succeed in saving our wildlife, we must have the whole country behind us, including ethnic minorities and young people, as we can not save our wildlife alone.

The report does have a section on connecting children with nature but disappointingly didn’t mention the February Natural England Commissioned Report  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/monitor-of-engagement-with-the-natural-environment-pilot-study-visits-to-the-natural-environment-by-children and its findings on the disparity between white and ethnic minority children in how often they are taken into a green space (Our report summary is at https://1drv.ms/w/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lQr03gg7aWi4x_7n). Once again, the image in the report was of a white child in the countryside. Maybe an image of a mixed group of children playing in a city reserve would have been more representative. I know that many organisations like Avon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB have been doing some great work in Bristol in engaging children of all ethnicity.

In terms of engaging children, this is something that I have tried to tackle through blogging, workshops and when I spoke at the Science Teachers’ and Geography Teachers’ Conferences earlier in the year. However, ironically, it’s Pokemon Go that seems to have had the biggest impact on otherwise indoor dwelling teenagers.

In June, I organised the Race Equality in Nature Conference trying to establish why we weren’t getting ethnic minority people out into nature and what we should be doing to make change (Conference Report and documentation links –https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lFciU1tQX0r56Nmn, https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lFUbVyvJ1OfT1c5r, https://1drv.ms/f/s!AlHI1zymOkP6lHO2pVQbVZxh3mn3.
Otherwise, we just have the same people talking to each other and trying to make a change alone. We need the people of our country on the streets protesting about the reduction of conservation funding and loss of our Bumblebees because of pesticides.

The State of Nature Report produced quantitative data for 3,816 species, of which, over the long term 56% have declined and 44% have declined strongly or moderately. Over the short term, 53% have declined and 41% have declined strongly or moderately. A lot of work is still needed to increase our knowledge. The report states that the biggest threat to our wildlife species is from the intensification of agriculture and climate change. I would add that the 32% reduction in government conservation funding since 2008 is having a dire impact. With our exit from the EU, the funding situation may well get worse as well as the impact from farming, unless nature is not prioritised.

Andrea Leadsom MP, the Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spoke next. I thought she was not being honest about her plans and was wholly unimpressive. I felt that she talked a lot about what the government was already doing but then giving us a huge amount of spin with no actual commitments for the future. How are you going to do achieve any of these things? Why didn’t you think of some commitments and promises before you came to speak? Maybe she would have had more to say on extending the badger cull and repealing the Hunting with Dogs Act (without scientific basis). Here are some of her bland statements:

“It is my ambition and it’s my department’s vision to be the first generation to leave our environment better than we found it since the industrial revolution.

But with three quarters of our landmass farmed, how we manage our farmland is key to tackling the challenges we see in this report. We must now continue to work with farmers and environmental organisations, learning from their experience and their expertise, to secure further improvements to our habitats and wildlife.

And as many of you know, we want to develop an ambitious 25 year plan for the environment – far longer than most of the political timescales that we see. We want a truly long term vision that builds on some of these successes and sets the direction for future policy. To help build our 25 year plan, we will soon publish a framework setting out a new game-changing approach to managing the environment into the future.

Following our decision to leave the EU, we now have a unique opportunity to develop a set of policies tailored to the needs of the UK, our species and our habitats. We have the opportunity to look again at the ways we work with farmers and landowners to improve our environment. Natural capital will lie at the heart of this and I was pleased to see it was given such prominence in your report. We have truly ambitious plans to transform our approach to the environment and we now have a new opportunity to do just that. But it is only through working together that we can make sure our environment is protected and improved for generations to come.”

Keith Taylor, Green MEP, highlighted the issues with Andrea Leadsom’s speech extremely well:

“I’m pleased to hear that Defra has a plan for the future of Britain’s wildlife. I’m just disappointed that Andrea Leadsom didn’t think that we should be a party to exactly what that plan entails. Unfortunately, rather than being a well-developed, but unfathomably secret, proposal to safeguard the UK’s precious wildlife, I rather fear that like ‘Brexit means Brexit’, an ambitious plan means an ambitious plan. The ‘new opportunity’ the former Leave campaigner is, no doubt, referring to is Britain’s upcoming divorce from the EU. With that in mind, I would like to take the opportunity to remind Andrea Leadsom why, without EU nature laws, the scale of wildlife decline uncovered in the State of Nature report would have been far greater.

British conservation efforts have benefited from the largest single body of environmental legislation in the world. In fact, the EU is responsible for about 80% of all environmental laws in the UK. These laws are driving positive conservation action. Protected wildlife sites were being lost at a rate of 15% a year before EU action; now that rate has fallen to just 1% a year. Wildlife and environmental issues were sidelined during the referendum campaign, but we cannot allow leaving the EU to be an excuse to erode the vital safeguards Leave campaigners like Andrea, maligned as ‘red tape’. As Greens, we are calling on the Government to commit to maintaining and strengthening current EU environmental protections.”

Funnily enough, Andrea Leadsom had a change of plans and was not able to answer any questions. Whilst natural capital has its limited place, it does not replace the government’s huge funding cut in conservation spending.

We then had a second panel discussion, answering questions. The panel was chaired by Sue Armstrong Brown, Policy Director, Green Alliance and made up of Tim Breitmeyer, Country, Land and Business Association (CLA); Dame Helen Ghosh, National Trust; Nick Laken, Kingfisher Plc (B & Q), Orlagh McLaughlin, Northern Island Young Campaigners and Lolo Williams, Conservationist from Springwatch.

Lolo Williams started by calling the government the worst for wildlife and nature in his lifetime and pointed to no promises made by Andrea Leadsom at all in her speech.

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig with Lolo Willams

We also heard from Tim Breitmeyer (CLA), representing farmers who said that farmers wanted to work with conservationists in partnership. The panel discussion was extremely positive in this area. However, an area that I disagreed with was the idea that intensive farming was over. This fails to acknowledge the use of extremely poisonous insecticides and herbicides, wiping out our pollinators.

On the other hand, the NFU responded to the BBC in a typically unhelpful way, refusing to accept the findings of the report (making statements that were not based on facts and unsupported by scientific), enlisting the help of their friends at The Daily Mail and deliberating launching their “Back to British” campaign on the same day. If you care about wildlife, why would you launch your own campaign on the same day? There were some on social media who seemed to be saying that criticising the NFU was not acceptable, but I don’t agree. It is for us as conservationists to explain the impact of agricultural methods on our wildlife using science based evidence and then to reach out to farmers to continue working in partnership with us to make changes for the future. However, if those representing farmers say “no, what your saying is a load of rubbish and really wildlife is doing better, not worse and so we don’t need to make changes or work with you” then we need to highlight this and try to persuade farmers that those representing them are not being helpful to them and are showing a real disregard for our wildlife.

I am surrounded by dairy farmers where I live and I know that most do care about wildlife. One local dairy farmer (and my neighbour) is already working with Avon Wildlife Trust to create wildflower corridors for pollinators. Many farmers have been working hard to help nature, this kind of action needs to be publicised, thanked, supported and financially rewarded to encourage more projects working in partnership. Are the government going to increase their funding of conservation, to financially reward farmers?

Climate change is having an increasing impact on nature in the UK, driving range expansion in some species. We should act to save nature both for its intrinsic value and for the benefits it brings to us that are essential to our well-being and prosperity (such as pollinators).

The report confirmed that we have had significant losses of habitat over the last 100 years leading to the loss of species that need specialist habitat:

  • Of farmland species, 52% have declined and 12% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of grassland and heathland species, 60% have declined and 13% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of  upland species, 55% have declined and 15% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of woodland species, 53% have decreased and 15% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of coastal species, 58% have declined and 15% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of freshwater and wetland species, 53% have declined and 13% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of urban species, 47% have declined and 7% are threatened with extinction;
  • Of the 8,500 marine species, 38% have declined.

The positive message from the report is that the success stories show that with shared determination we are able to save our natural world.
I would urge the 53 conservation organisations who contributed to this report to focus on engaging the whole of our society in nature. If our voting population care about saving our wildlife, it follows that our politicians will start taking action rather than just talking, as will our farmers through financial pressure from the supermarkets and ultimately the consumer.  I am completely in awe of 14 year old Lucy Gavaghan, who has managed to persuade British supermarkets to abandon eggs from caged hens.  Maybe we can do the same with bee-killing pesticides?

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig with members of young conservation group, A Focus on Nature
(AFON) Megan Shersby, Matt Collis and Tiffany Francis

The report was produced by a new partnership of 53 organisations involved in the recording, researching and conservation of nature in the UK and its Overseas Territories. These include a wide spectrum of conservation charities:

A Focus On Nature
afocusonnature.org
A Rocha
arocha.org.uk
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC)
arc-trust.org
Association of Local Environmental Records
Centres (ALERC)
alerc.org.uk
Bat Conservation Trust (BCT)
bats.org.uk
Biological Records Centre (BRC)
brc.ac.uk
Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
bsbi.org
British Bryological Society (BBS) britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk
British Dragonfly Society (BDS)
british-dragonflies.org.uk
British Lichen Society
britishlichensociety.org.uk
British Pteridological Society (BPS)
ebps.org.uk
British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
bto.org
Buglife
buglife.org.uk
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
bumblebeeconservation.org
Butterfly Conservation
butterfly-conservation.org

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
ceh.ac.uk
Chartered Institute of Ecology and
Environmental Management (CIEEM)
cieem.net
Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
conchsoc.org
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Durrell)
durrell.org
Earthwatch
eu.earthwatch.org
Freshwater Habitats Trust
freshwaterhabitats.org.uk
Friends of the Earth
foe.co.uk
Froglife
froglife.org
Fungus Conservation Trust
abfg.org
iSpot
ispotnature.org
Jersey Government
Department of the Environment
gov.je/Government/Departments/PlanningEnvironment
Mammal Society
mammal.org.uk
Manx BirdLife
manxbirdlife.im
Marine Biological Association (MBA)
mba.ac.uk
MARINELife
marine-life.org.uk
Marine Conservation Society
mcsuk.org
Marine Ecosystems Research Programme
marine-ecosystems.org.uk
National Biodiversity Network (NBN)
data.nbn.org.uk
National Forum for Biological Recording
nfbr.org.uk
National Trust
nationaltrust.org.uk
Natural History Museum
nhm.ac.uk
ORCA
orcaweb.org.uk
People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)
ptes.org
Plantlife
plantlife.org.uk
PREDICTS
predicts.org.uk
Rothamsted Research
rothamsted.ac.uk
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
rspb.org.uk
Shark Trust
sharktrust.org
States of Guernsey
gov.gg
Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science
(SAHFOS)
sahfos.ac.uk
University of Sheffield
sheffield.ac.uk
Vincent Wildlife Trust
vwt.org.uk
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)
uk.whales.org
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) www.wwt.org.uk
Wildlife Trusts www.wildlifetrusts.org
Woodland Trust
woodlandtrust.org.uk
WWF
wwf.org.uk
Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
zsl.org

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California, USA – Week 2 (1 August – 8 August 2016)

California, USA – Week 2 (1 August – 8 August 2016)

Before we arrived in California, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After spending two weeks here, so far, it had been amazing for birds though a little bit tough to find them in this quiet period after breeding when many birds stop singing and disburse from their breeding sites. The views have also been really amazing especially in Yosemite NP.

On Tuesday 2 August 2016 we spent our second day at the stunning Yosemite NP. The park was the first one set up in the USA 150 years ago. This time we took the higher road stopping at Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows, which were stunning. We had the added bonus that there were a lot fewer people in this area and loads more birds. The best bird of the day was Mountain Bluebird, which was scarce after they had finished breeding and feeding young.


Chris Craig at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Mountain Bluebird at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Mountain Bluebird at Yosemite NP, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Although there were very few African American people at this park (maybe because it was midweek and it has a relatively high entrance fee of $30) we met a lovely young African American Ranger, who was really inspiring.

That day, in the late afternoon, we left Yosemite NP on the northeastern road and dropped into Lee Vining in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, with its surrounding canyons and the huge Lake Mono. We had very little knowledge about the birds in this area but went into a tourist information shop where we met staff who were very knowledgeable on local birds and so left with a plan for the following day.

On Wednesday 3 August 2016 we set out early. Our first stop was Bodie, now a ghost town, but in the time of the gold rush a huge town. On the way, we saw a stunning Pinyon Jay.  We saw our target birds, 5 Sage Grouse which were hiding under a building, as well as having a look around this interesting place.


Greater Sage Grouse at Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Pinyon Jay on dirt road to Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Chris Craig at Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Clark’s Nutcracker at Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Sage Thrasher at  Bodie, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Next was Mono Lake where we finally caught up with American Avocet but several hundred of them. It was another hot day but we still spent the afternoons at some small pools, which were like a little oasis with lots of fabulous birds including Yellow-headed Blackbird and Virginia Rail.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Mono Lake, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Mono Lake, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


American Avocet at Mono Lake, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Bewick’s Wren at Mono Lake, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Northern ‘Red-shafted’ Flicker at Mono Lake, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Thursday 4 August 2016 in the morning we visited Lundy Lake and Canyon which were stunning. We were still in the eastern Sierra Nevada and it was great to see the Beaver dams along the river. There was still no sign of American Dipper but we saw lots of fantastic birds including Townsend’s Solitare.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lundy Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lundy Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lundy Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Then in the afternoon, we birded at Lee Vining Canyon where we did see a gorgeous Red-breasted Sapsucker.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lee Vining Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lee Vining Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Red-breasted sapsucker at Lee Vining Canyon, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Red-breasted sapsucker at Lee Vining Canyon, California
Photography copyright Mya-Rose Craig

From here we drove south to stay the night in Lone Vining, famous for the concentration camp that Japanese Americans were kept during WW2 and for Hollywood westerns being filmed nearby.

On Friday 5 August 2016 in the morning, we woke up in the little town of Lone Pine in the Southern Sierra Nevada. We visited a local overgrown field as we had heard of a couple of birds seen from there. There, we bumped into a local birder, Russell Kokx, who was a biologist. He was really kind and friendly, showing us the birds on his local patch, around town and two new hummingbirds for us on his feeders at home. It was an amazing morning to have seen these birds and met Russell and so a big thank you.


Russell Kokx, Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Helena Craig at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Anna’s Hummingbird  at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Anna’s Hummingbird at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Black-chinned Hummingbird at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

From Lone Pine, you could see the view to Mount Whitney, which is around 4,300 meters and is the highest peak in the lower 48 (states).


Mount Whitney from Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Lone Vining, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

We then spent the afternoon birding en-route south, in the heat. One stop was at Cactus Flats with lots of Joshua Trees, where we saw Cactus Wren

We also stopped at Diaz Lake and then Isabella Lake where we saw Tri-coloured Blackbird.


Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet at Diaz Lake, California
Photography copyright Mya-Rose Craig

The last stop was Sequoia National Forest South of Lone Pine, which was absolutely beautiful and this was where we finally saw an American Dipper. It was another hot day and so it was great to celebrate our newest bird by hanging our legs in the cool water.


Sequoia National Forest , California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Sequoia National Forest, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Sequoia National Forest, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Friday night we stayed in the town of Bakersville. After 10 days in California, we had seen 178 birds and 103 of them have been new for me, taking my world list to 4,342.

On Saturday 6 August 2016 in the morning, we left Bakersville and stopped west of Mount Piños. Here we saw a Horned Lark as well as lots of oil derricks. It was really hot, so there was virtually no bird activity.


Derricks. West of Mount Pinos, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Derricks. West of Mount Pinos, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Horned Lark West of Mount Pinos, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

We then headed up to the top of Mount Piños, seeing 7 Californian Condor on the way. The best bird of the day was definitely White-headed Woodpecker.

On Sunday 7 August 2016, we spend our second day at Mount Piños, which was an excellent day of birding. The best bird of the day was Mountain Quail.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Mount Pinos, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Next, we drove to Ventura on the coast, West of LA, where we stayed the night. We were in planning to get a boat the next morning from Ventura to the tiny island of Santa Cruz for a very special bird.

We started the day on Monday 8 August 2016 by birding on the beach at Ventura before visiting the Settling Pools. These were great and we saw birds like Wood Duck there.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Ventura Saline Pools, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Wood Duck at Ventura Saline Pools, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Ventura Saline Pools, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

We then got a boat to Santa Cruz Island where we saw the best bird of the day, the endemic Island Scrub-jay.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Santa Cruz Island, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Santa Cruz Island, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Island Scrub-jay at Santa Cruz Island, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

That evening we walked along the beach at Ventura and caught this stunning sunset. We also saw and photographed Snowy Plover, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs and Elegant Tern. It would be amazing if one of these turned up on my local patch at home.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Snowy Plover at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Willet and Marbled Godwit at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Lesser Yellowlegs at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig


Elegant Tern at Ventura Beach, California
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

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Nature Connections Festival and meeting Chris Packham

Nature Connections Festival and meeting Chris Packham

On Saturday 10 September 2016, I had a brilliant time at the Nature Connections Festival organised by Derby University. I gave a talk “Born to Bird” about being born into a birding family, finding my own love for birds and nature, my journey to becoming the youngest person to see 4000 birds in the world and 450 birds in Britain, the importance to me of promoting conservation projects and getting young people and ethnic minorities interested in nature.

BBC’s Chris Packham with Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Copyright Mya-Rose Craig

It was also fantastic to meet Chris Packham from BBC Springwatch, who remembered me from meeting me last year which was amazing. It was also good to catch up with Jini Reddy was talking about her new book.

It can be a real frustration arranging to do something at the weekend like this day, as that day it meant that I was not able to go to see a Cragmartin on the Isles of Scilly, which would have been a new bird for me.

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Cory’s Shearwater at Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Cory’s Shearwater at Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Thursday 1 September was a long day. Mum and I still needed to see Cory’s Shearwater. They are annual from Cornwall but during late July and August when we are away birding abroad. This year, we were home a week earlier than usual, with a week left in August. This was the week we had to try for one.

We got up at 3 am, travelled down to Porthgwarra, Cornwall to Seawatch. We were hoping to see Cory’s Shearwater, one of 4 birds that occur in Britain, that are non-rarities and which I haven’t seen. However, no luck and after a bit of birding in the area, we headed home only to be stuck in post-holiday traffic on the motorway. We arrived home 14 hours after leaving, exhausted. We’re decided to try again the next day as the winds are looking good if Dad could face the traffic again.

It was lovely to be back at Porthgwarra, where in 2009 we saw a very rare Black-browed Albatross come in from the sea and fly around in a circle and then on past us.

Chris Craig and Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We were back down to Porthgwarra in Cornwall this morning, leaving at 3 am. We arrived at the same time as our good friends John Pegdon and Dan Pointon. By the time we got to the sea watching spot, they had already seen a Cory’s Shearwater! Luckily Dan called another one and got us into it, so big thanks to him. That was the first of 12 Cory’s Shearwater that I saw as well as a couple of Great Shearwater, Manx, Balearic and Sooty Shearwater. Cory’s Shearwater was Mum’s last British non-rarity, so we’ll be done. Thanks, Dad for driving us down there, especially with all the post-school holiday traffic.

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