Pine Bunting in Shropshire

Pine Bunting in Shropshire

Today was a fantastic start to the birding year. I saw a Pine Bunting from Eastern Europe near Shrewsbury, Shropshire. It was freezing cold and I had to wait 3 hours before I eventually saw the bird well but only for a few minutes. We waited another hour in the hope of a digiscoped photo with no luck and then gave up before hypothermia set in. It was a lovely bird that looks like a washed-out female Yellowhammer which was clearly giving some twitchers difficulty with its ID and both Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings were being called out. Dad was great as he let a few birders look down his telescope to get onto the bird, giving up the opportunity for us to take some digiscoped photos. We waited another hour but didn’t manage to get a photo. Hopefully, they appreciated it!

Pine Bunting was a new bird for my British list and my world list, which is always a bonus.

Whilst we were there, Mum chatted to a local birder who was warding and told him that it would be a new bird for her daughter. Then he said “oh, is she the girl who did the year list?” which was funny because I did that in 2009 when I was 7 years old, half my age now!

On the 1st day of the year, birders start a new list of birds they have seen in that year. Mine tends to start slowly in the garden. Yesterday morning, my Dad went out birding in our village in the pouring rain. It’s a small village where most people know him as he’s Vice-Chair of the Parish Council. Late morning the Parish Council Clerk sent an e-mail to everyone in the village headed “Suspicious Stranger seen in the village” and also notified the police. You can guess who had been seen acting suspiciously with binoculars. Made me laugh…

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

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Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

Yesterday, as we were visiting a relative, news came over of a Blue Rock Thrush which is widespread in Europe and Asia. As soon as we were in the car, I got as much information as possible. As sometimes can happen, twitchers can turn against a bird. First, it had a droopy wing, then the wing was OK but a foot was deformed.

My parents and older sister Ayesha had seen the one on the Isles of Scilly in 1999, a twitch which I had heard about many times! The last twitchable bird was in 2000, which was before I was born.

Looking at the images en-route, the bird looked fine and so we decided to twitch it the next day. We arrived home at 1 am and so were not up at dawn. It was in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, which was only 1 1/2 hours from home. A very short journey compared to some others we’d made in the past.

Blue Rock Thrush Stow-in-the-Wold
Taken by young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

It was a cold but sunny morning and we watched the first-year male Blue Rock Thrush for a couple of hours and it was a lovely bird and looked in good condition. There was nothing at all wrong with the wing and certainly, I couldn’t see anything wrong with the foot. They occur in Asia and as it had arrived with other Asian birds and was fly-catching both added to its credentials.

It was really nice to see another new bird in Britain and my British list is now at 466.

Blue Rock Thrush Stow-in-the-Wold
Taken by young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Forster’s Tern, Essex

Forster’s Tern, Essex

On Sunday 20 November 2016 we travelled to Mistley Quay in Essex to see a Forster’s Tern. The bird had been seen the afternoon before, but we were due to see Mike Dilger speak at the Somerset Wildlife Trust AGM and so had to wait.

We turned up to the site to hear that the bird had been seen further along the river. We then drove past Mistley Quay, to where the bird had been seen. Unfortunately, it had flown off 10 minutes before and so we headed back. This was what happened for the first few hours, chasing the bird up and down the river.

Finally, we decided to stay put at Mistley Quay itself and hope the bird flies past us.  It was now afternoon and it was cold standing there by the riverside.

Eventually, the first winter Forster’s Tern flew upriver from the right, coming in pretty close and giving us a good scope view. After a few minutes, the tern carried on flying and so I didn’t get a photograph because of the fence between me and the bird.

This was another good bird for the autumn, which was a new bird for me. Apparently, this was my sister Ayesha’s 400th bird on her British list.

Forster’s Tern twitch

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Siberian Accentor Influx

Siberian Accentor Influx

Siberian Accentor Easington
Copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Sometimes strange things happen with birds.

On Sunday 9 October 2016 a Siberian Accentor turned up in a quarry on Shetland, a “First” for Britain. They are extremely rare in Western Europe and had come all the way from Northern Siberia and the Urals or its wintering grounds in South East Asia.

Every single twitcher around the country was in what was practically physical pain. This was as a result of a combination of it being a “First” for Britain, hard to see even in its native habitat and they were not able to get to Shetland to see it. I was included in they. I had various commitments; such as school that I wasn’t able to miss and it was a long way from Somerset to Shetland. In the end, we braced ourselves for the situation and decided we’d just have to learn to live with it. However, it stayed for only two days and was gone before many twitchers could get up there.

However, there was a tiny bit of hope, a mini influx of Siberian Accentor had turned into a mass influx with around 80 arriving into Western Europe during the next few days.

Then as we had been praying for, another one turned up on Thursday 13th October 2016 in Easington near Spurn, East Yorkshire. A Second for Britain.

People couldn’t believe their ears, but the disbelief didn’t last long and almost everyone made their way as soon as they could. Unfortunately for me, I still had the pesky obligation of school. I was sitting at home that evening seeing everyone’s photos on social media. Eventually, it got too much for dad, and mum and I sent him up on Friday before he actually imploded. One parent had to stay home with me, though, as they couldn’t just leave me for a cross country road trip (as much as they probably wanted to), and so Mum decided to be the bigger person and stayed behind. Dad came home that evening on cloud nine but wisely didn’t gloat.

The next day, Saturday, I had AONB Mendip Hills Young Rangers, which I can’t miss. I get a John Muir Gold Conservation Award at the end, but only if I don’t miss sessions. Dad didn’t mind too much, but mum certainly wasn’t happy. I had a great time finding out about ancient lead mines but I had an underlying sense of stress. Was the bird going to stay for just one more day?

Then came news of another Siberian Accentor near Teeside, a third for Britain. This one was being hard to see and not our first choice to try for.

Finally, Sunday morning, we left the house at 5.30 am. The entire drive up, the stress was almost palpable. During a trip to the Amazon in Peru, one evening Mum missed a bird that was new for us that Dad and I saw. She was not happy and it was somehow Dad’s fault (for not giving better directions). The next day, we went back to the same spot and Mum this time managed to see the bird well. Our bird guide, Gunnar Engblom exclaimed with relief that the “Craig Family Harmony Index” had been restored! So the phrase was coined. Right now, there was a high risk of the Craig Family Harmony Index remaining fairly un-harmonious. Dad wasn’t stupid and so wanted us to see the bird just as much as Mum and I. Otherwise a few years down the line Mum would have no recollection of agreeing to him going without her.

When I woke up a few hours later we had arrived, and it was raining. It was fine until we were out of the car and it was like a switch had been flicked and suddenly it went from drizzle to torrential rain. That would have been fine as well, except when we got to where the bird had been seen that morning and discovered that we had missed the Siberian Accentor by 5 minutes. For over an hour we waited in this pouring rain when finally someone started yelling for their mate to come over. There was a lot of confusion; did he just want to have a chat with his friend, or had he seen the bird and forgotten to tell everyone else? Everyone started frantically looking around and then we saw it!

It was a terrible view, my bins were foggy from the rain, the rain was making everything harder and there was a large fence in my way. Besides all this, I was ecstatic. But, 10 minutes later, I managed to see it again! This time it was a bit better. Siberian Accentor basically looks like a Dunnock with a stripey head and is not hard to identify.

After twenty minutes the bird disappeared again and so after a while, we decided we should probably get back in the car before the rain completely soaked through our coats.

Shorelark, Spurn
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We then went to Spurn to see a Shorelark and bumped into our good friend Ruth Peacey. She had been thinking of going to Cornwall for a Red-eyed Vireo but my message last night telling her she was insane had swayed her to make the sensible decision. There is only one rule of twitching, always go to see the rarest bird that is least likely to turn up again, asap! We then all got soaked looking for the Shorelark on the beach. At this point, we had enough and we retreated to the car. Eventually, the rain stopped and we jumped out of the car to join people watching the Shorelark just a few metres away. I took loads of photos of it and enjoyed the close views.

Shorelark, Spurn
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Shorelark, Spurn
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig  – birding with my Mum and Dad
Photograph taken by Heather Wilde

We birded around in that area for a while but then decided to try our luck with the Accentor again to see if we could get better views.

When we got back to the site, it was sunny. The bird, again, had been seen just a few minutes before we arrived. But after a few more minutes of patient waiting, it flew out into the open a couple of metres away. We got amazing views in brilliant weather conditions and we all took lots and lots of photos.

Siberian Accentor Easington
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

So far, in the last few weeks just under 150 Siberian Accentors have turned up in Western Europe including a total of eight in Britain, 53 in Sweden, 44 in Finland and 9 in Denmark but nobody knows what has caused the influx. In the space of a week, they had gone from “OMG, a First for Britain” to “Just another” Siberian Accentor.  Some really good friends Rob Lambert and Lucy McRoberts were on the Isles of Scilly and so missed the birds. Just hoping for another one for them!

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Great Knot in RSPB Titchwell Reserve

Great Knot in RSPB Titchwell Reserve

On Sunday 19 June 2016 we travelled to RSPB Titchwell reserve to see a Great Knot.  It was a fairly straightforward twitch, as the bird was on one of the pools most of the time we were there.

It is always nice to get across to Norfolk and do a bit of birding before we came back.

This was my fourth new bird of the year and a great one to see. Great Knot is from Asia and also a bird you see in Australia, so a bird I could identify without any problem as I have seen it few times abroad including in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

Great Knot twitch Titchwell, Norfolk
Taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Great Knot twitch Titchwell, Norfolk
Taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Great Knot twitch Titchwell, Norfolk
Taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Great Knot twitch Titchwell, Norfolk
Taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Great Knot twitch Titchwell, Norfolk
Taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Lammergier Dip – Dartmoor NP

Lammergier Dip – Dartmoor NP

On Sunday 15 May 2016 in the morning, we heard about a Lammergeier seen in Devon not that far from where we live that had been videoed by a non-birdwatcher on Thursday but identified from the video. However, there had been no more sign. It is the first time one has been seen in Britain, a first.

This morning, Monday 16 May 2016, my Dad left to visit his mum a long distance away. At 11.30 am Mum heard the Lammergeier was seen briefly on Dartmoor 1 1/2 hours south from our house. Mum doesn’t like driving on the motorway, so she persuaded my sister Ayesha (who used to twitch before she had kids) to drive us after my school had finished, plus my niece Laila and nephew Lucas.

We did think about whether it was right to go without Dad but decided that he would ‘want us’ to see a Lammergeier even if it’s without him.
As we started our journey we heard that the bird had been seen again at 3.30 pm. Little did we know that whilst one Devon birder friend had seen the bird another Somerset birder friend had been standing on the other side of the hillside and missed it.

When we got to the site, we couldn’t find anyone else so were probably in the wrong place. We tried to find somewhere with phone reception, to get news, but that was hard. The bird wasn’t seen again, which was really disappointing. This is called dipping.

We still had time to play outside with the kids and go up close to the wild Dartmoor Ponies. We stopped for dinner at a motorway service station but Lucas just wanted “dudu” (milk) but they didn’t sell any at the service station. So I had to “collect” loads of milk sachets for tea/coffee and use them to fill up his milk bottle, just to keep him happy.

I was gutted to miss such an amazing first for Britain but at least I was in good company.

Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lammergeier twitch, Dartmoor NP
Copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Lady Amhurst’s Pheasant – 5th time lucky

Lady Amhurst’s Pheasant – 5th time lucky

Today I saw a Lady Amhurst’s Pheasant in Bedfordshire. They are originally from China and were released here some time ago like our other pheasants. They bred and had a self sustaining population (meaning they survived here) but recently went into decline. There is now just one male left that we know about, 3 hours from our house, and really hard to see.

Today was the fifth time I had tried to see it. Twice last May and the third time this year. It’s a stunning bird with an amazing long tail. Today I watched it for 20 minutes but it was deep in the woods and impossible to photograph.

That is 3 new birds for me in Britain in 4 days – an unbelievable run of good luck. The photo is of me as soon as we were back in the car. I had to get up at 3.00 am and so I’m tired but happy.

Young Birder bird girl Mya-Rose Craig at Lady Amhurst’s Pheasant Twitch

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Black Stork – Getting to 450 in UK!

Black Stork – Getting to 450 in UK!

On Saturday 5th September 2015, I gave a talk at the Oriental Bird Club AGM in Cambridge about my trip to Bangladesh earlier in the year, when I surveyed and highlighted the plight of the rare Spoon-billed Sandpiper which stays over winter there. It was mind-blowing to speak at the AGM of this high profile organisation, along with some of Britain’s most eminent conservationists.

Oriental Bird Club AGM, Cambridge

Afterwards, my mind quickly turned to another bird. There was a rare Black Stork in East Yorkshire which, if I saw it, would be the 450th species that I have seen in the UK.

After dinner with amongst others Dave Buckingham from The RSPB Headquarters, Dad drove us north. We stopped at lots of places, but everywhere was full. I thought we might end up sleeping in the car again, which is whole another story… Eventually, we drove out of our way and stayed in Derbyshire. We were up before dawn the next morning; Dad then drove us to Sunk Island, near Spurn, a thin piece of land jutting out east from the Hull coast. We were there for the first light, spending the day looking for the elusive Black Stork. I spent the day staring into the flat fields and channels with no sign. Eventually, after a day with no sightings, we had to accept that the bird was gone. So then we headed off to count waders at a nearby wetland at Spurn, for World Shorebird Day, for which I am Ambassador. It was a brilliant count, with 9 wader species including 890 Redshank, 200 Dunlin, Greenshank,
Green Sandpiper and Ruff.

Over the following week, there were irregular sightings of the Black Stork, tantalising me. However, it was going to be difficult to try to see it as we were due to be spending the weekend with my Gran in North Yorkshire. After a lovely weekend trying not to think about the Black Stork, we left early afternoon on Sunday to try to get to the Black Stork site before
dark. As we approached, news came over that it had just been seen but was now out of sight. These sightings were an emotional rollercoaster! It was after 4 pm on 13th September 2015 when we arrived at Sunk Island, I knew that there was virtually no chance of me still seeing the bird now before dark.

After a few minutes, a local birder arrived and, taking pity on me, said he would go and speak to the farmer whose land the Black Stork was on. He re-appeared to say that we had permission to walk into the field. Within a few minutes, we had seen the Black Stork standing in the field, only 20 metres away. It was huge, standing there majestically, absolutely still. I was ecstatic – it was a stunning bird standing tall with a massive great long big, but also my 450th British bird, making me the youngest person in the country to see that many birds in Britain (13 years and 4 months). It is always great to hit a milestone.

You can see my list on BUBO Listing http://www.bubo.org/Listing/view-all-lists.html?showlists=1,UK400,0,,0

Black Stork, Sunk Island, East Yorkshire at nearly dusk
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig

Black Stork, Sunk Island, East Yorkshire at dusk
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book