Interview with Natursidan in Swedan

Interview with Natursidan in Swedan

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Chew Valley Lake
Photograph taken by Oliver Edwards Photography

I’ve given a few interviews in the last few months, but this one was a little different.  It was for a Swedish website www.Natursidan.se written by a birder Erik Hansson http://bit.ly/1VcXKUW

Often when we travel around the world birding, we meet Swedish birders along the way.  They are normally extremely dedicated to their birding and interesting people to meet.

Last summer we met a Swedish family birding in Uganda, with their eighteen year son.  It’s really rare to meet a British family like that.

After the interview was published, it was shared by BirdLife Sweden, virtually all the Swedish birder’s Facebook groups as well as a Swedish feminist page on Facebook.

It was fantastic that so many people in Sweden read my interview and hopefully were interested in it.

 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Chew Valley Ringing Station
Photograph taken by Oliver Edwards Photography

Below is a google translation of the Swedish text. Some of the meaning can get lost in the translation and can come out a bit strange, but it made me smile, so I left it as it is. My favourite is gulskalliga kråktrastar (Yellow-throated Picathartes from Ghana). I am sure you will get the gist.

Mya-Rose Craig from the UK is perhaps better known by the nickname “Bird Girl” and for her record number of seen birds. Last fall, she became the youngest ever to see 4000 bird species worldwide (read more here). But she is also involved in numerous conservation projects and has probably done more for bird-watching and nature conservation in the world than any other 13-year-old’s.

Mya-Rose Craig was born into a family of birdwatching. Both her parents and her older sister are birdwatchers and “cruisers”. She was “born to bird watching,” as she puts it.

– I went on my first move to see the lesser kestrel in the Scilly Isles when I was nine days old. It was then that many British birders met me for the first time, which they gladly remind me of.

15 months old, she followed with another pull to see a Black Lark. Then the bird came closer to her, she pointed at it and exclaimed, “birdie”. It was her fourth word.

Bird’s interest really took off when she was three years old came with a marine birding trip in Madeira. The following year, she began to identify and remember the birds she saw and on a trip to South Africa, she began to count her bird observations in the world.

– At this time, my sister Ayesha was 16 years and a great role model for me. She was beautiful and cool and I really understand today the importance of children being allowed to have role models and people who inspire them, says Mya-Rose Craig.

In 2009 she made a so-called “Big Year” with her parents to see as many birds as possible in a single year. In connection with that, she participated also in the BBC4 documentary “Twitchers: A Very British Obsession” where she discovered that she also liked to be on TV. Since then she has begun writing a popular blog,Birdgirluk.blogspot.se, regular columns in the local newspaper and interviewed frequently on TV and radio.

When Mya-Rose Craig’s hometown of Bristol last year was awarded the European Green Capital in 2015 with many projects for young people was Mya-Rose Craig involved as one of Bristol’s ambassadors. She has also used her platform to spread information about the birds and the endangered areas to a wider audience. When an oil spill affected the mangrove forest Sundarbans in Bangladesh, she gathered more than 200 000 to clean up the area. In 2015 she organized a bird watching camp for young people and ethnic minorities, called Camp Avalon. It is worth recalling that Mya-Rose Craig is only 13 years old.

What is it you like about bird watching?

– First, I love birds. I mean – they can fly – how cool is that? I also like to study birds. It’s really special to see their delicate wings, beaks and legs. Last but not least, it is fascinating to see new birds. When you see a small migratory birds, it is amazing to think that the wind hit the Atlantic Ocean or all the way from Siberia.

What is your favourite experience in nature?

– It’s really hard to pick one, but I’ll have to say when we went to Ghana in 2012. We were looking for the gulskalliga crow thrush and when we got to the place we saw how fågelekoturismen in the area funded cocoa farms and two schools for the local population. To have the chance to see the bird we had to walk up several steep slopes and then sit quietly and wait for a few caves. I did not expect to see them, but suddenly gulskalliga kråktrastar up and walked around in front of us. They are waxy, big as chickens and amazing to watch.

Another memorable event for Mya-Rose Craig was a trip to the mountain gorillas in the Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Watch a video from the meeting here:

[Youtube_sc url = “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abuqEr6KnnA“]

You had an eventful 2015. Not just because you saw your 4,000th bird species – you were also involved in at least 30 articles and several TV spots. How do you perceive the publicity?

– I think the media attention and publicity is important because it gives me the opportunity to talk about conservation and nature conservation. In January 2015, I was, for example, interviewed by Channel S, Europe’s largest television station in Bangladesh. They were initially interested in me because I was the youngest person to see 3,000 birds in the world and because my mother is from Bangladesh. But after a short discussion about birding in the world, I could talk about the spoon sandpipers in Bangladesh and how important it is to save them. The interview appeared in Europe and even on a news channel in Bangladesh at the time I visited the country to identify these rare waders. When I visited a barbershop near the area where the spoon sandpipers are felt the girl who worked there recognized me from television and knew that I was trying to save a rare bird. It was a very important message that I wanted to get up and I was really proud to reach people like her.

Mya-Rose Craig says she does not mind being an ambassador for bird watching. It gives her a chance to talk about the issues that she feels extra for. As an example, the effects of palm oil plantations, to get children and young people in nature and how we save the world’s endangered shorebirds. These are topics that she has written articles about, talked about in the media and presentations on several different contexts. For example, when his hometown of Bristol as European Green Capital 2015 and the Oriental Bird Club’s annual meeting.

Have you noticed if you have inspired other young birders?

– Lots of young birdwatchers from the UK and around the world, including many from Bangladesh, contact me privately. Sometimes they want to help get into bird watching, sometimes they want to start blogging or start with nature photos. I will help them if I can, but encourages them always and hope that I can inspire other young people to follow their passion and not let people dismiss them.

Regarding that, Mya-Rose Craig, even though she is only 13 years old, has already experienced a lot of sexism. She has also spoken out publicly about it in an eloquent blog post that has been widely spread in the United Kingdom. The text shows Mya-Rose Craig has great insight into the problems and can speak from personal experience. She says, among other things, that when she was only eleven years old created a secret Facebook group, where middle-aged men posted rude comments about her. It was revealed among other things that a university lecturer wrote a comment with sexual allusions about her. Screenshots from the group leaked and the group was closed but seems to have been reopened under a new name.

You have been more or less public in six years already – have you noticed any change in people’s attitude toward you during these years?

– After I participated in the documentary “Twitchers” was the most positive and encouraging, but there were those who were sure that I was not really that interested in birds. Now, since I am still a birdwatcher, they can not say so long. Instead, they attack me by saying that I do not know much about birds and I do not what I have seen but just follow behind my parents. Some bird watchers also froze me and my family. Therefore, I can not really say that things have improved so much for me.

In Sweden, it has taken an embarrassingly long time for women to be relatively accepted as birdwatchers – what is your view of the situation in the UK?

– I think the bird is still heavily dominated by men in the UK. I know lots of older female bird-watchers who have been so discredited and has not been trusted with his observations that they would no longer dare to go out with a rare bird they found. Others seem to have no problems. There are lots of girls that start bird watching now, but they are still in the strong minority. My experience is that some male watchers are pretty macho when they meet in the draft or in social media. Although many bird watchers are not like this, so it is a part that is both racist and sexist. When I’m out in the world and birdwatchers can always be with other birdwatchers who are very supportive and have respect for my experience and passion.

Again, it is worth recalling that the Mya-Rose Craig is 13 years old. What do you think you’re doing in ten years?

– I hope I have a degree in zoology and some form of master’s degree in conservation or media. I would like bird watching in the whole world, to go out on expeditions to remote places and look for new or rare species. If I may, I would also shoot in the meantime, as Steve Backshall made during a trip to a volcanic valley in New Britain, that would be my dream.

Before then, Mya-Rose Craig has several other projects underway. In summer maybe bird watching in Mexico or the United States and her next project is to once again host a bird watching camp to get more young people from ethnic minorities in nature.

– I learned a lot about this last year when I got five boys from ethnic minorities to come to Camp Avalon. I realized then that there are things that conservation organizations can do to improve the situation. This is something that I really want to change because the numbers are shocking. 17% of this group visited not even a park over the past year. I wrote to the major British non-governmental nature of the organizations on this and now they help me to organize a conference on June 3, 2016, on equal treatment in nature regardless of colour. Kerry McCarthy, Secretary of State for the Environment Ministry, will be our keynote speaker. Since I am a teenager from an ethnic minority, I hope to be a role model for others.

It’s probably the least one can say about Mya-Rose Craig.

Camp Avalon June 2015
Photograph taken by Helena 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

Race Equality in Nature Conference

Race Equality in Nature Conference

This conference will take place on 3 June 2016 in Bristol http://bit.ly/1RP2fjP

Nabil at Camp Avalon 2015

In the UK, it is rare to see an ethnic minority person out in a nature reserve, even in the inner city.

People from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities do not have equal access to nature, which has an impact on physical and mental health. We can no longer ignore the statistics, with 17% of BAME children never going to a park or playground.

This conference will bring together those from nature conservation, the environment, universities, schools etc with those who have an understanding of BAME communities, in order to identify the barriers, find practical solutions to overcoming them and creating role models.

This is the first time that this crucial subject is being addressed so please share with relevant organisations and come if you can.

If you are BAME living in the UK and interested in wildlife, nature, conservation or the environment, please can you complete this questionnaire to give us more understanding http://bit.ly/1numtom

If you live in Bangladesh and are interested in wildlife, nature, conservation or the environment, please can you complete this questionnaire to give us more understanding of why Bangladeshis living here don’t get into nature but some of those in Bangladesh do http://bit.ly/1U26tbj

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

Questionnaire for Naturalists living in Bangladesh

Questionnaire for Naturalists living in Bangladesh

If you live in Bangladesh and are interested in wildlife, nature, conservation or the environment or know someone in this group, please read on.

Hamza at Camp Avalon 2015

In the UK, it is rare to see an ethnic minority person out in a nature reserve, even in the inner city.

People from ethnic minority communities (like British Bangladeshi’s)  for some reason rarely connect with nature.I would like anyone living in Bangladesh and with any interest in birds, wildlife, nature, conservation or the environment to complete the following questionnaire so that we can see if there is anything that might help in encouraging Bangladeshis here in the UK.

If you know anyone from this group, of any age, please can you ask them to complete the form and return it to me at birdgirl.uk@gmail.com. All answers will be treated as confidential.

Dear fellow nature lover

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you.

As you will be well aware, there are very few Bangladeshi people showing an interest in birding, nature or conservation. In the UK, the numbers are even lower.

As you are part of that growing number of people living in Bangladesh who are interested, in nature, I wanted to ask you some questions so that we can find out what the barriers are and whether they can be overcome.

Your answers will be treated in complete confidence as I understand these can be sensitive issues.

Please feel free to add anything you like your answers.

Please return the form to birdgirl.uk@gmail.com by 26 May 2016.

Thanks

Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl)

Questionnaire for anyone living in Bangladesh and interested in birding, nature or conservation.

Name

Address

E-mail

Facebook

Ethnicity/Religion (including if you are mixed heritage)

What is the background of your family? For example, do older people in your family have degrees or professional jobs? Are they in an upper, middle or lower socio economic group? Are they well off, middle or lower income?

What sort of place did u grow up (for example city centre, city suburbs, town or village)?

If you did not grow up in the countryside, did you visit the countryside during your childhood?

In your childhood, were you taken into nature (somewhere with grass or trees) such as a park or green area?

If so, how often?

Were you allowed to run around with free play or was your play organised, such as playing cricket or football?

Growing up, did you have lots of contact with ordinary/less educated Bangladeshi family and friends who influenced you?

How did you become interested in nature?

How old were you when you first became interested?

Did you have a role model or someone who got you interested?

What was the response of your family and friends?

Have you managed to get another person interested through your interest?

What do think are the barriers to Bangladeshi people getting into nature or wildlife?

How do you think promotional materials can be targeted to increase people’s interest or involvement or state if you do not think this would help?

Can you give details of anyone else you know in Bangladesh who are interested in nature so that we can contact them?

Is there anything else you want to add?

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

Interview for Indiana Young Birder’s Club

Interview for Indiana Young Birder’s Club

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Queensland, Australia

Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

 

 

At the end of last year I gave an interview to Indiana Young Birders’ Club for their magazine, The Warbler which was published in their Fall Edition, http://bit.ly/23kiPBa

 

It was really interesting talking to young birder, Mathias Benko and hearing about the birding he gets up to.  The young birder scene is so much bigger and more developed in the USA, we have a lot we can learn over here where things are only just taking off.  I suppose the USA is so much bigger, it’s understandable.  Looking at the state of Indiana, it is exactly the same size as the whole of the UK, including all four countries.

 

Maybe, so that our young birders have similar opportunities, we should start looking at young birders groups within Europe rather than just here in the UK.

 

So, Mya-Rose, where are you from and how old are you?

My name is Mya-Rose Craig (a.k.a. Birdgirl), and I’m 13 years old. I live in the countryside near Bath and Bristol, Somerset in the South West of the UK.

 

How did you first become interested in birds?

My Mom and Dad were birders as well as my big sis Ayesha. They carried on birding after I was born, just taking me with them everywhere they went. So, birding was something that I grew up with. When I was four, it was time for me to decide for myself. At that stage, my sister was a really cool sixteen-year-old, and I wanted to do everything she wanted to do. That was when I decided that nature and birds were what I cared about and what I wanted to do. I became obsessed pretty quickly after that.

 

I was four when I went on my first world birding trip, which was to South Africa for four weeks. That was an awesome trip. As well as seeing birds like African Penguin and Ostrich, I was stalked by a lioness and her cubs in Kruger National Park, charged by a hippo when we got between it and water in Ndumo National Park, and almost fell into the high Sani Pass when we skidded towards a precipice on the way to Lesotho.

 

Do you have a favorite bird? Or birds? Why?

My favourite bird in the world is Southern Cassowary, which we saw in Queensland, Australia. They are blue and red on the head, can get to 6 feet tall, and are closely related to dinosaurs. They have a sharp hook on each foot that with one kick could kill you. We saw five in all, including 2 young birds being looked after by their dad.

 

What do your friends and family think about your love of birds and birding?

My immediate family shares my passion for birds, so we can do everything together. We go away for the summer trying to see as many of the birds in that country as possible. It is really hard work, as we often bird 6 AM to 6 PM and also sometimes go night birding in the evening, but I love it.

 

My wider family tries to be a bit supportive especially since I’ve been writings blogs, though not many of them read what I write. In the end though, they don’t like it if we prioritise birding above seeing them.

 

My close friends have been at school with me since I was four years old. I was in a 2010 BBC documentary called Twitchers: A Very British Obsession, which my teacher showed everyone at school. My close friends watched that, so they know I’m a birder, but they don’t show any interest in what I get up to. A couple of months ago, I was interviewed on BBC Springwatch, but even though I told them, none of them watched it. When another friend was on Junior Bake Off, everyone watched it and made a fuss of her. It might just be that because I’ve been on TV and Radio a few times already, so it’s nothing special any more.

 

I don’t really talk about birding to other people at school or my after school clubs like dance and scouts as they would think it’s nerdy. As I appear in the local papers, some people still know I’m into birds. So, sometimes, if I’m being teased, I’ll say “Well, I’ve earnt £250 for writing an article that only took half a day to write. What have you earnt?” That shuts them up!

 

I have heard that your life list is quite impressive. Exactly how many species of birds have you seen?

Some people think that if you keep a bird list, you somehow don’t care about the birds or conservation. I think that when you tell someone your list, what you are really doing is encapsulating in a number how many years of birding you have done and how hard you have birded.

 

So, on that basis, my British List is 450. 400 used to be the number people tried to get to but now it’s 500. I reached 400 when I was 9 years old, beating my sister’s record of 12 years old. I saw my 450th bird recently when I was 13 years old, which was a Black Stork.

 

I got to 3000 when I was 11 years old in Queensland, Australia with Regent Bowerbird a beautiful black and yellow bird. Bowerbirds make bowers or displays to attract the female and are often plain looking. This is one of the exceptions as it is really beautiful and builds a wooden structure out of sticks. The photograph of me feeding Crimson Rosella was taken straight afterwards.

 

Then, I saw my 4000th bird this summer in East Africa. We visited Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. My 4,000th bird was Red-throated Tit, which I saw on my first morning of birding in Kenya. I think I’m the youngest person to see 4,000 birds but if it’s you, let me know.

 

I’d like to see 5,400 birds before I’m 18 years old, just because it would be amazing to see half the birds of the world by then.

 

I also fell in love with hummingbirds on my first trip to South America when we went to Ecuador in 2010. I saw a Sword-billed Hummingbird on my second day there, and I was like “OMG, that is cool, I want to see all of them!” I have now seen exactly half of all the hummingbirds of the world, 170 out of 340. Some are very rare and endangered, so seeing them all will take a lot of dedication and focus and is still likely to be impossible.

 

What is the coolest bird you’ve ever seen?

That is so hard! Probably Sword-billed Hummingbird. Its bill is longer than its body, and when it’s hovering and feeding on nectar, it looks impossible. I have made some hand printed Birdgirl T-shirts that have a Sword-billed Hummingbird on the front. So, it is the bird that represents me.

 

Who is someone in the birding or environmental world you would consider to be your mentor?

Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone who is a mentor to me, apart from my parents and sister who are very supportive and also care a lot about the world. We talk a lot about birds, animals, conservation, environmental issues, and human rights (which are often linked to environmental issues. For example, the rights of indigenous people.) Birding around the world, I have witnessed environmental disasters as well as successful conservation projects. Seeing this kind of thing first-hand has made me want to do and say what I can, and I strive to be a real activist.

 

In terms of being inspired, there are quite a few people who have inspired me: Sir Peter Scott (who set up WWT and WWF and son of the Antarctic explorer Captain Scott), Sir David Attenborough (for bringing wildlife and conservation to the masses), Bill Oddie (a 1970’s comedian and birder who brought birding and live nature programmes to our screens), and Steve Backshall (presenter of CBBC’s Deadly 60, which introduced my generation to special animals). He has also been on expeditions to remote places, looking for new species.

 

I’m lucky because the BBC Natural History Unit, which makes all of these programmes, is based in Bristol where I live. A lot of people who work there live in my area, the Chew Valley.

 

Where is your favorite place to bird?

I actually love birding at my local patch, Chew Valley Lake, where I also go bird banding at a banding station. I like seeing the changes over the year and the excitement of scarce birds, including American shorebirds like Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher.

 

I write a monthly column for my local paper, The Chew Valley Gazette, where I suggest birds for people to look out for at the lake that month. Lots of people at the BBC read my column, which is amazing.

 

The favourite place I’ve birded is Bolivia. The altiplano is on a huge scale, the habitats are varied, the area has been not been as affected by habitat destruction, and the people are genuine and welcoming. Our guide, Sandro, was from an indigenous tribe deep in the Amazon, and only ten years ago used to be a hunter wearing a loincloth.

 

The birds were also brilliant and beautiful, although purely on bird numbers, you can see more in neighbouring Peru.

 

Do you have a bird you would like to see as soon as possible?

The bird I would like to see most in the world is a Harpy Eagle. It’s one of the biggest eagles in the world and lives in South America. I think we’d have to make a special trip in the spring to Venezuela or Brazil whilst a chick is still on the nest to see one, though.

 

What is your favourite field guide?

The best field guide for Britain is the Collins Guide. It’s actually a fantastic field guide with amazing illustrations by Lars Johnson.

 

I also use the Sibley North America field guide, which is useful for the regular North American rarities that we get in the UK.

 

Do you like to take pictures or draw sketches of the birds you see?

I try and take photographs of birds I see. I either use a bridge camera or digiscope using my iPhone. I’d like a better camera to use when I’m world birding, but anything decent is too heavy for me to carry all day everyday. Also, when we are birding abroad, we are usually on a tight schedule, so there isn’t time to spend ages getting good shots.

 

I would like to draw birds better and went to a sketching workshop at Camp Avalon, a young birders’ camp that I arranged in June. Hopefully, this has improved my technique.

 

How many continents and countries have you been to?

I have been to six continents but will be going to Antarctica, my seventh continent, at Christmas.

I have been to 29 countries, but I will have been to 33 by the end of the year.

I would really like to do more birding in North America as I have only spent a day there.

 

Tell us about what you have done to promote conservation efforts.

Talking about conservation projects is really important to me. I try and highlight these projects through my blog, giving talks, and publicising them in the media.

 

One of these projects is protecting shorebirds (especially the Spoon-billed Sandpiper), particularly in Bangladesh where my Mom’s family is from. I travelled there earlier this year to survey them, give a talk, and do interviews on TV, Radio and national papers.

 

I have also promoted shorebird conservation through Wader Quest, and by being Ambassador of the Global Conservation Initiative, World Shorebirds Day.

 

Last year, following an oil spill in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh (the world’s largest mangrove and home of the rare Masked Finfoot and Bengal Tiger), I worked hard to promote the disaster, writing about it in the ABA Blog, and raising approximately $30,000.

 

I write regular blog posts about conservation issues on subjects like palm oil, GMOs, the decline of bees, and fox hunting. I am also addressing a climate change rally on 29th November 2015, which is one of many rallies around the world in the lead up to the UN Climate Change talks in Paris. It would be great if as many people as possible attended a rally.

 

What do you think is the most important thing we can do to protect the environment?

 

There are so many issues going on in the world, but if I had to choose one to stop completely, it would be habitat destruction on land and sea. I have seen the impact of logging, cattle farming, palm oil, and fishing globally.

 

However, in Europe, lots of terrible things are happening that will remove the protection of habitat in place now. Bigger than that is the proposed TTIP trade agreement being negotiated between the European Union and the United States of America. This will allow American companies to sue our governments directly if, for example, they don’t like an environmental law put in place that reduces their profits. This is what companies can do in America already, and the same tactics have been used by chemical companies to stop the States from bringing in legislation for GMO labelling of food.

 

Do you want to make conservation your life?

I would like to carry on birding but as well as that, yes, I would like to concentrate on conservation. At the moment, I hope to study Zoology at University and then go on expeditions to remote countries, looking for rare species and how they are doing, and then working out what conservation plan is needed to save them and how that can be implemented. If this is filmed along the way to raise awareness, that would be great.

 

Is there a certain environmentalist that you look up to?

I think that U.S. Actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Mark Ruffallo are really important for publicising environmental issues. The recent Vivienne Westwood project by actors to save the Arctic was inspiring.

 

In the UK, I respect Tony Juniper (former Executive Director of Friends of the Earth UK) and George Monbiot (a writer and columnist for leftwing Guardian Newspaper).

 

Do you have any advice for the young birders reading this?

I would just say follow your passion. Nothing in birding or conservation is fair, and people will tell you along the way what you should or shouldn’t do. Hear what they say, but do what you want. Being a young birder is the time to enjoy yourself. It’s not a competition; it is meant to be fun.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Just thanks for asking to interview me, and I hope to make it over to your conference next year.

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

American Birding Association Birding Magazine Article Dec 2015

American Birding Association Birding Magazine Article Dec 2015

In the December 2015 American Birding Association magazine “Birding” I was mentioned in an article on page 8 called “ABA’s Young Birders: The Future is now” as I entered the ABA Young Birder of the Year competition 2015.

I was also mentioned in the birding milestones section on page 10 about be seeing my 4000th bird in the world and with a photo of my 4000th bird on the contents page (page 5)  http://bit.ly/1S2W7SC

Red-throated Tit, my 4000th bird in the world.

 

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig taking a photo of a Red-throated Tit, Kenya
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

 

Red-throated Tit, Swaro Plains, Kenya
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Also on the Audubon Magazine website, there is an article about me, which I am very proud of:

https://www.audubon.org/news/the-little-twitcher-who-could

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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Making Nest boxes with Cubs and Scouts

Making Nest boxes with Cubs and Scouts

You might think that making nest boxes in sessions at Cubs and Scouts might not make much difference beyond the actual boxes that get put up. You’d be completely wrong.

Chew Stoke Cubs with Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

We made 15 boxes in Cubs and 10 boxes on Scouts which were spread between the member’s primary schools and our comprehensive, Chew Valley School, who put them up in the wildlife club.

However, the sessions themselves were practical and enjoyable but at the same time, they did a bird quiz naming birds, and listened to a talk about Antarctica where apart from penguins and seals, I talked about my key message, “fight to stop anyone who wants to do anything to damage Antarctica”. Afterwards, lots of them contacted me asking me to post a video I mentioned of a Leopard Seal skinning a penguin.

Both groups were going on to do the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch at the end of January and a nature badge and environmental badge, as well as checking on the nest boxes to see if they are being used and next year whether they need to be cleaned out.

Each of the local primary schools had a nest box and Chew Valley had 16 nest boxes. This is the link to the Chew Valley Gazette article about the project which is on page 46 http://bit.ly/25DqdpY and this was an article on the school website about the boxes http://bit.ly/1W1KSQj

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

Inspiring Seven Year Old Laila to Like Nature

Inspiring Seven Year Old Laila to Like Nature

I have a big sister called Ayesha, who is about to be 26 Years old. When I was little she was my ‘cool’ big sister and as a young female birder and twitcher, she was a fantastic role model. Ayesha’s a strong character and had to deal with young male birders ignoring her because she had seen more birds them. That’s helped me deal with attitudes like that. She lives 15 minutes away, still in the Chew Valley and has Laila who is 7 years old and Lucas who is 2 1/2 years old.

My sister Ayesha Ahmed-Mendoza age 13 (my age now!), me, Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, as a toddler
and my Dad, Chris Craig in DevonPhotograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

When Laila was young, she and Ayesha still came twitching with us.

Laila with her Nanabhai (granddad) on Orkney twitching a Sandhill Crane
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Laila Price looking at the pictures in one of her Nanabhai’s bird books (my Dad, Chris Craig)
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Laila Price looking at the pictures in one of her Nanabhai’s bird books (my Dad, Chris Craig)
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Laila goes to my old primary school, Ubley Primary, where she does forest school with my dad.


Laila Price at Forest School with her Nanabhai and my Dad, Chris CraigPhotograph copyright Chris Craig
Laila also comes to a few family events, where I have helped as a leader.

One of the events was at Avalon Marshes, earlier in the year. This was a brilliant event and it was great to inspire younger children. Under tens tend to think teenagers are cool and want to do what they do, so I know it’s worthwhile trying to inspire them.

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig and Laila Price at Shapwick Heath at an Avalon Marshes Centre Family birding day where I was a leader
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

A few weeks Laila and Lucas watched me and Dad ringing (banding) birds in the garden, which they were both interested and excited by. Lucas doesn’t talk much but kept saying “bird” over and over again, very excitedly.

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig ringing with Laila Price watching
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig ringing with Laila Price watching
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Chris Craig ringing with Laila Price watching
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Chris Craig ringing with Laila and Lucas Price watching
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Chris Craig ringing with Lucas Price watching and enthralled
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig ringing a Marsh Tit
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

This is a drawing Laila recently did showing me and my parents’ bird watching.

Drawing by Laila Price, age 7, of Mya-Rose, Chris and Helena Craig birding

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

More ringing

More ringing

These are some photographs from my recent ringing at Chew Valley Ringing Station. I love ringing and I’m grateful to everyone at the ringing station who helps and supports me. Mike Bailey is my trainer there and he is brilliant, dedicating his retirement to the ringing station.

Special thanks also to Pete Burston, for all his patience as a trainer.

Ringing a Goldcrest on 27 Sept 2015
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

East Harptree School Environmental Club at the ringing station on 8 Oct 2015
I have taken them out birding before but missed them because of school
photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Two scarce Lesser Redpoll at the Ringing Station on 8 Oct 15
New ringing birds for Chris Craig and Pete Burston
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Ringing a Great Tit on 8 Oct 2015 after East Harptree School had gone home
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Ringing with Pete Burston on 8 Oct 2015 after East Harptree School had gone home
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Ringing a Teal at Chew Valley Ringing Station 10 Oct 2015
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Ringing a Teal at Chew Valley Ringing Station Oct 2012
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Ringing a Teal on 10 Oct 2015
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Ringing a Nuthatch on 11 Oct 2015
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Ringing Redpoll sp ringed on 25 Oct 2015
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris 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

Camp Avalon – Articles in SOS and Avalon Marshes Newsletters

Camp Avalon – Articles in SOS and Avalon Marshes Newsletters

Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

In June 2015 I organised and ran a camp for young birders and encouraged five ethnic minority teenage boys to come, which is something, not even the big conservation NGOs have managed. Camp Avalon took place on the Somerset Levels, based at The Avalon Marshes Centre.

As well as everything else, we did some fantastic birding on the Levels. We saw Great White Egret, Bearded Tit, Cuckoo and Bittern.
In September, The Somerset Ornithological Society (SOS) published an article in their Newsletter, The Bittern, about Camp Avalon. Julian Thomas and Brian Gibbs, the Somerset County Recorder, both SOS members helped during the weekend. The link to the newsletter is The Bittern but the article is below.

Hamza Khandker age 16, Bird Sketching Workshop, Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

The Bittern – Welcome

Hello again!

An the eternal question for all county ornithological societies is ‘Where are the next generation of birdwatchers coming from?’ Looking around the table at SOS committee meetings, it’s immediately obvious that the average age is higher than any of us would like (personally, I suspect, as well as looking to the future of the Society). Any initiative which encourages young birders is therefore definitely a good thing. So it is great to carry a report in this issue of the inaugural Camp Avalon, to which several SOS members gave their time, and which appears to have been a great success. It is the brainchild of Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl), who you may know from the BBC4 documentary Twitchers: A Very British Obsession. Now a few years older, though still only 13, Mya has not only built up an impressive world list, but also takes nature conservation (both here and abroad) and getting young people interested in birdwatching and all other aspects of nature very seriously indeed. Sounds good to me.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Camp Avalon 2015

Mya-Rose
Craig reports on a new birding camp for young people In February, I was looking longingly at the details of Camp Colorado and Camp Avocet organised by the American Birding Association (ABA) for teenage birders. The idea is that over a week away on camp, young birders learn from experienced, well-known ones as well as make new friends and most of all enjoy themselves.

Camp Colorado, USA

There was nothing here aimed just at teenagers and so I decided to organise a camp, Camp Avalon. Mum and Dad [Helena and Chris Craig] said they would help and I felt sure that some Somerset birders would help too. However, it would be just for a weekend and cheap, so that it was accessible. The Avalon Marshes Centre agreed that we could use their site for
free, I found a campsite nearby, and lots of birders with a wide range of skills and experience agreed to give their time unpaid. I then read an article by David Lindo in ABA Magazine, where he talked about ‘opening the door’ to nature to inner city or ethnic minority teenagers. Camp Avalon needed to be inclusive. I talked to people in Bristol and tried to overcome the barriers to these young people connecting with nature or coming to a camp like this.

David Lindo, ‘The Urban Birder’

The camp was over the weekend of 19–21 June and we had 14 attend, including keen young birders Ben Bond, Dan Burrows, Tom and Mia Carpendale, Tom Gale, Aiden Gregory, Lewis Mitchell, Thomas Weston and myself. Also, five black or Asian teenage boys from Central Bristol came, none of whom had ever camped.

On Friday evening, we met up at the campsite, helped get all the tents up and cooked dinner. Moni-e (pronounced mon-e-a) was the first person I had met from St Paul’s and was amazing. He luckily took over cooking from Mum and so we got to eat before going out mothing at Shapwick Heath with Bill Urwin. A few people were scared of moths but bravely stuck
around.

Moni-ee Blackwood age 15, Nabil Khandker age 15 and Rashan Salman McCormack age 14
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

On Saturday, we all started early with a walk on Ham Wall RSPB reserve with brilliant Somerset birders Julian Thomas and Chris Griffin. It was fantastic to see so many species including 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Bitterns, Cuckoo heard, and 2 Bearded Tits seen by Thomas. Back at the centre, we had sessions on world birding and conservation from Andy Mears, keeping good records and fieldcraft from Somerset Recorder Brian Gibbs, photography from Chris Griffin, Brian Gibbs and James Packer, sketching birds from artist John Gale, and after dinner Nightjars at Stockhill with Chris Craig, which were only seen by a few because of the breeze.

Julian Thomas, Rashan Salman McCormack age 14, Moni-ee Blackwood age 15 and Chris Griffin
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

On Sunday morning, we started the day with Mike Bailey, Chris Craig and myself giving a ringing demonstration, with Mike then giving a presentation. Everyone was really interested in this session and I hope that those from the city will never forget holding a bird in their hands and letting it go. One of the loudest boys was scared of holding the birds but still had a go. After lunch, I gave a talk on World Shorebirds Day and saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper followed by a really instructive bird ID walk on Shapwick Heath with Keith Vinicombe.

Mia Carpendale age 12, Ringing, Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

I had an amazing weekend along with all the young birders, but I hope everyone got something out of it that they will never forget. Thank you to all who helped.

Next year Camp Avalon will take place on 8–10 July and hopefully we will be able to make it bigger and better with lots more people helping with sessions as well as behind the scenes.

Dan Burrows Age 12, Ringing, Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

The Avalon Marshes Newsletter also published an article about Camp Avalon in their Apr-Jun 15 Newsletter:
We were joined on our biobliz by a group of teenagers organised by Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl on a young people’s birding and wildlife weekend called Camp Avalon. Camping at a local campsite and using the Avalon Marshes Centre as a base, as well as joining us for some of our activities, the children took part in sessions on bird recording and fieldcraft, bird ringing, photography, wildlife sketching and listened to talks on world birding and conservation.

The camp was attended by a wide range of teenagers from some of our Young Wardens who are experienced birders and mothers to teenagers from inner city Bristol who had never visited the countryside before. The event was a great success and we were very proud to support them and welcome new visitors to Shapwick.

Camp Avalon
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena 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