Ringing a Wood Pigeon – my first adult ringed

Ringing a Wood Pigeon – my first adult ringed

Last Saturday, 10th February 2018, I was busy revising for my GCSE exams. The weather was pretty bad and so Dad and I had not gone to the ringing station.

Dad had put some foods out in a trap, as usual, to see if he could catch something. I hadn’t been hopeful.

At 11 am, Dad ran into the house and straight up the stairs to my room. He was really excited and told me that he had caught a Wood Pigeon.

I had ringed a young bird in the nest before at Chew Valley Lake but never ringed an adult.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig ringing a Wood Pigeon on 10 February 2018
Photograph copyright Mya-Rose Craig

Once I had it in a tight grip, it was really calm and so a lovely bird to ring. It was also actually really beautiful.

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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Arctic Warbler twitch – Kilnsea 14 October 2017

Arctic Warbler twitch – Kilnsea 14 October 2017

Having got back from an after school twitch to see a Rock Thrush the day before at 9 pm, I was straight to bed.  The next day was a Saturday and I had another bird to see!

Arctic Warbler is a non-rarity in the UK but is one of only 3 non-rarity birds that I have not seen. They all tend to occur on the east coast of England, which is across the country to where I live, as we are based on the South West coast.
We were up very early (meaning the middle of the night!) again on Saturday 14th October 2017, the first day of my half-term holiday.    There was an Artic Warbler at Kilnsea in East Yorkshire which is next to Spurn a huge birding hotspot.  I slept whilst Dad drove us to the bird and we arrived at about 8.30am. The Artic Warbler was being seen in the pub car park and so we joined about another 30 birders to look for it. 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Arctic Warbler twitch, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

It wasn’t long before we saw the Arctic Warbler, showing high in the trees about the car park, getting really great views. We watched it off for another couple of hours before we headed off. It was really flighty so, despite my best efforts, I didn’t get a photograph of it. It was really amazing to see this bird. It wasn’t the rarest but it was special. Now only two non-rarities to see in the UK, Little Auk and Icterine Warbler which are both also east coast birds. It was also a new world for me, number 4725, not that I’m counting.

We then drove down the road to Easington, to see a Rose-coloured Starling which was in someone’s front garden and actually managed to get some photographs of it.

Rose-coloured Starling, Easington, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rose-coloured Starling, Easington, East Yorkshire 14 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I had revision to do on the way home and Dad drove me home as quick as he could, as I had a party and sleepover with friends at 3 pm. As usual, I didn’t mention what I had been doing…all my friends had been sleeping in all morning in preparation for the party.

It was my 3rd new bird of the season and I was hopeful that there would be more to come.

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

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch 13 October 2017

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch 13 October 2017

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 30 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

There are some days that stand out in terms of how lucky I am to have the parents I do – obsessed with birds as much as me but still prepared to put their passion alongside rather than ahead of mine.

There had been news of a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush found in the Brecon Beacons on a Thursday, whilst I was at school. I headed to school the next day which was Friday 13th October 2017 with no sitting of the bird before I left home, so I assumed that like many others, it was a one day bird. It was my last day of term before the autumn half term holiday, so I was hoping that the holidays was going to be good for birds. This year I am in Year 11 and taking my GCSE exams in June. I have my mock exams in November so really need to do lots of revision during the holiday too.

Mum was in London and expected back that evening so that Friday was just an average day for me. We are not allowed to look at our phones at school and so I didn’t pick up the texts from my dad.

I boarded my school bus home at 3.25 pm as usual, when I saw my dad making his way from one bus to another. He knocked on our bus window and asked if I was on board? I knew I had to get off the bus, so told my mates that I probably had a dentist appointment. As I got off the bus, he whispered (so as not to embarrass me) that the Rock Thrush was still there and that we had just about enough time to get there.  What a legend my dad is. He had already seen a Rock Thrush before and all this effort was just so that Mum and I could see it.

We drove straight towards Bristol and met up in a car park with Mum and her friend Lorna, who was staying with us. It was to be Lorna’s first twitch! They had been in London for a couple of nights and Mum had rushed back early to meet us.

Dad drove pretty fast to get to the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales, getting us there at 5.30pm.  As we rushed along the path to where the bird was being seen, we bumped into our long time birding friend and big British twitcher Julian Thomas. He told us that the Rock Thrush was still there but was being seen a little way away from the path. It had been raining and was very cloudy, so the light was fading fast.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig digiscoping Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig digiscoping Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig  at Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig  at Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush twitch, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

When we got to the bird, it was perched in view, but some way away.  Once we had seen it, although not fantastically, it was a big relief.  We then watched and waited and eventually were rewarded with slightly better views just as it started to rain. It was my second new bird of the autumn and great to see this European Rock Thrush.

Record shot of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Record shot of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Brecon Beacons 13 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Needless to say, Lorna was not overly impressed with her first (and probably last) twitch!
After some chips in Abergavenny, we made it home by 9 pm. On the way home, I posted my very terrible “record shots” on twitter, much to the hilarity of my birding followers. The Rock Thrush was also a new bird in the world for me (4724), which was fantastic.

Postscript

The Rock Thrush stayed around for a while, which was lucky, as we were able to return on Monday 30th October 2017, which was an inset day before I went back the next day.

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush 23 October 2017
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

This time the weather was clear and sunny and the bird really confiding. We got some brilliant views and had another lovely birding day out with my parents.

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

Cedar Waxwing twitch – St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing twitch – St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

During the week, we heard the news that a Cedar Waxwing had been found on St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly. This is part of a small island chain off the southwest tip of Cornwall, Southern England and my favourite place in the world, so I was really excited that I might be visiting again.

This was a bird that many twitchers had seen in early 1996, but dad missed it as he was busy in his new relationship with mum and then the day he did finally go up to Nottinghamshire, he missed the bird. It was one of those birds that Mum and Dad really wanted to catch up with and so I was really appreciative that they waited for the weekend to take me with them.

We were up in the middle of the night to drive down to Penzance, to get the boat to St Mary’s on the Isle of Scilly. We had a phone call from our great friend Rob Lambert who was staying on St Mary’s as usual to say that his wife was on the train, which had run into trouble on the way to Penzance. She was therefore in a taxi speeding to the quayside and could we look out for her and help her with her suitcase. Dad is great at that kind of thing and made sure Lucy [McRobert] got onto the boat. Mum and I were already asleep on the bottom deck of the boat, trying to avoid seasickness.

As soon as we arrived in Hugh Town on St Mary’s, a whole load of us rushed off the Scillonian to jump on the small boat to St Agnes, which was waiting for us. The boat was packed with people and it was later to be the source of online discussion about how most of the people on the boat were older white men. Some really were pretty old, which I thought was pretty amazing. I hope I’m still twitching when I’m 90 years old!

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Once we arrived in St Agnes, we had quite a walk to where the bird had been seen, on the path down from Coastguards’ Cafe. Once there, we managed to get to the front of the crowd, when we got the news that the bird had been seen but on the other side of a huge hedge. We waited for quite a while whilst others saw the bird, then eventually we cracked and ran around a big wall with Lucy to get to the bird. Somehow we managed to get to the front of the crowd again and see the Cedar Waxwing, as it pops up in the hedge. It was tricky to get onto and get others onto but eventually, I managed to set up my telescope at the front of the crowd, allowing other birders to take turns to see the waxwing.

Cedar Waxwing twitch, Isles of Scilly 7 October 2017
Photograph copyright 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

Cedar Waxwing is the American version of our waxwing and it was fantastic to see. It was also a new bird in the world for me, which is always a bonus and was 4,723 which feels like I’m on the downward roll to 5,000. I want to try and see 5,400 bird species in the world by the time I’m 18 years old, which would be half the world’s birds.

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

Eastern Subalpine Twitch at Portland Bill, Dorset on 1 May 2017

Eastern Subalpine Twitch at Portland Bill, Dorset on 1 May 2017

What I love most in my life is world birding. I love the thrill of hardcore birding every day for 4 to 6 weeks, looking for targeted birds each day or place. Knowing that if you miss any of your endemic targets, that will be it, you may not get another chance on that trip or maybe never again if you never get to return.  That’s a tough feeling, dipping like that. On the plus, seeing a new bird that you have never seen in the world before, is an unbelievable feeling. Taking in its features and colours, so that it sticks in your brain forever.
The second best birding experience is seeing a new bird in the UK that you have not seen anywhere else in the world before. It’s only one bird in the day, not say twenty, but a new world bird (even if not counted yet by the IOC).

On Monday 1st May 2017, we travelled down to Portland Bill on the South coast and finally managed to see a very rare Eastern Subalpine Warbler.

We had tried on Saturday, but I had gone ringing in the morning and so we did not get there until 4 pm.  When we arrived, right on the coast, it was really windy so although we heard the birds singing, we didn’t see it. We waited until 6.30 pm but it was so breezy there was no way any bird was going to pop out from the heather and bracken, so we decided to go home.

On Sunday, it was the Chew Valley Cider and Cheese Fair where I was running the car parking with my friends. That was fun; especially telling complaining people that they had to pay me a whole £1 or go home because there was nowhere else to park! Miles and Luca who organised the event let my friends and me get in for free to see the bands in the evening, which was loads of fun. They had Stone Foundation, Sophie Ellis-Baxter and Jo Whiley who were all amazing.

The next day I was exhausted and Dad was a bit hungover, so we didn’t leave home until 11 am, not getting to Portland Bill until 1 pm. It was a much nicer day and when we got to the bird, we heard that it had been “seen a couple of minutes before”. I think when people tell you that they think they are being kind. If it’s been seen just before then that’s a good sign because it will probably be seen again quite soon. However, for me, that gets me feeling despondent. If it was just seen, it means that it might not be seen again for ages or not at all. That’s how I was feeling until eventually, it started singing and then carried on.

Young Birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Eastern Subalpine Warbler twitch at Portland Bill
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

After a while, a couple saw the bird again ‘briefly”, but did not get anyone else onto it. They then stuck around rather than going home celebrating. That’s when I start having thoughts about whether they were stringing it. I know that’s mean, but I suppose that’s how the stress of twitching gets you thinking. If they are reading this, I apologise profusely for my suspicious and terrible thoughts. I needn’t have worried, as after a while we heard the male singing again. We were then able to get onto the stunning male which showed itself pretty well. I also got a few photos whilst it was perched out in the open. Fantastic!

Eastern Subalpine Warbler at Portland Bill
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Young Birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Eastern Subalpine Warbler twitch at Portland Bill
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Ian Lewington, the famous and brilliant bird artist from Oxford was also there. We had a little chat with him, which was lovely as I hadn’t seen him since 2010 when we were on the Isles of Scilly. He said that he was working on a new North America Field Guide, which will take over from Sibley. I’m looking forward to that come out in a few years. It was my 469th bird in the UK (on my UK400 list). I’m hoping to see my 470th this spring, as then it will be a countdown to 500, which I am sure will still take a few more years. Sylvia  Cantillans is not yet split on the IOC list from Sylvia inormata but is split from Moltoni’s Warbler, Sylvia Subalpina.

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 with University of West of England first year journalism student Tamara Toothill

Interview with University of West of England first year journalism student Tamara Toothill

In March I did an interview for a University of West of England (UWE) first year journalism student, Tamara Toothill, for her end of year project. I always like to give time to students as I hope that when I need help someone will give a little of their time.

Tamara was lovely and this was the article she wrote about me, which she submitted last week.

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

Stejnegar’s Stonechat at Dungeness, Kent

Stejnegar’s Stonechat at Dungeness, Kent

This Stonechat species had been at Dungeness, Kent for over a month and finally we couldn’t ignore it any longer.

DNA results had confirmed that it was in fact a female Stejnegar’s Stonechat from Asia.  As such it would be one of a few records of this species for the UK. However, the bird wasn’t like typical records and so the DNA test is being carried out again, just to be sure.

So far neither the BOU nor UK400 are counting this species as a full species. However, the IOC World List that I follow does include it as a separate species. It’s almost unheard of for this to happen, where a new bird would be counted on my world list but not the UK list.

Taking all of this into account, we decided to go to see the bird on the basis that it made sense for it to eventually be added to the British list and at least hopefully UK400 would add it.

In any case, as it was a new bird for our world list, it was definitely worth going to see just for this.

We made a late start at 7.30 am but still arrived at Dungeness in Kent at 10.45 am. Although it had been raining on and off during the journey, Dungeness was really warm for January at 16 degrees, sunny with lovely winter light.

As we parked up, it was clear that birders were looking at the bird.  We had heard that the bird was mobile and so not necessarily easy to see. So, just to be sure, we grabbed our binoculars, jumped out of the car and stared in the direction that the birders were looking. We immediately saw the Stejnegar’s Stonechat on a nearby post, which was a lovely little pale Siberian Stonechat type species.

Stejnegar’s Stonechat, Dungeness, Kent
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

The pressure being off, we stayed for an hour, getting amazing views of the bird on nearby posts.  As the bird was mobile, we decided to stay where we were and wait for it to come close and be in the best place light wise.

Stejnegar’s Stonechat, Dungeness, Kent
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

From here, we went to the RSPB reserve and caught up with a few birds that were new for the year. We managed to see a great collection of birds including 2 Long-eared Owls, 1 Redhead Smew, 3 Slavonian Grebe, a 1st winter Caspian Gull and a Great White Egret. There were plenty more birds to try and see but unfortunately, I needed to be in Bristol for 6 pm as I was interviewing someone for Black2Nature. So finally at 2.30 pm, we dragged ourselves away from Dungeness.

I loved catching up with so many great birds and it made me contemplate year listing again, for a few moments! I do definitely plan to see lots more birds this year, especially focussing on the ones I haven’t seen for a while.

We also met Jonathan Nasir, The Random Birder, who was from Hackney, London http://therandombirder.blogspot.co.uk.
It was interesting to hear how he got into birding. His Dad had nature books on their bookshelves which Jonathan loved looking at and so he became obsessed with birds by quite a young age.

Postscript – A week later the second DNA test showed that this bird was in a fact a European Stonechat. The previous DNA test had been mixed up with the Spurn bird from later last 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

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

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

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