Author Archives: Martin Garner

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit

Spurge Hawk-moth


An old write-up, reposted  just in case I ever find one ;)

Oh wow oh wow oh wow

I know these were also reported as Steve Job’s dying words. I also use these kind of words with some unexpected encounters with nature. I did with these as correctly identified by some blog followers. Caterpillars of the Spurge Hawk-moth just look amazing. It’s very a rare as a flying moth in Britain and only one record of the caterpillar. For more see here.

I saw some on Linosa, thanks to Andrea Corso who was ‘grazing them’.



Migration Festival: Chairman and MG answer questions

Who, What, Where, When, Why.

With grateful thanks to Dave Tucker who asked Rob Adams (#Migfest Chairman) and I a few question about the forthcoming Migration Festival at Spurn on 5th-7th September 2014.

Have you booked in yet?  More info click on how to book your ticket

Be great to see you there!



Spurn Migration Festival one



Bird Watching Magazine is coming to the Migration Festival

Editor Matt Merritt tells us why…

Migration, I think, inspires more people to become birdwatchers Matthew-Merritt-e1363270663376(and hopefully readers of Bird Watching), than any other single aspect of our pastime. In part it’s because of the spectacular scenes that it can involve, from Waxwings stripping berry trees in a city centre car-park to falls of rare migrants at places like Spurn, but there’s something deeper to it, too. The arrival of familiar visitors such as Swifts is a reassurance that the world is still (just about) working as it should, but the most potent magic of migration is the way in which it reminds you that anything can turn up anywhere, at any time. That, for us, is what makes birdwatching so special – no matter where you are in Britain, you’re constantly on the edge of surprise.
With that in mind, Bird Watching will be at the Spurn Migration Festival with subscription offers, readers’ holidays and more, but most of all to hear the stories of migration that the birdwatchers of Britain have to tell. Spurn’s a legendary migration-watching spot at which birds cross paths from all directions, and the Festival has the potential to bring birders together in a similar way, from all around these shores and beyond.
Best wishes,

Don’t miss out:

To Book :

Please call 01904 659570 or emailSpurn Migration Festival one Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

The Spurn Migration Festival runs from the 5th – 7th September 2014 and the prices are as follows: £14 for a day ticket, £21 for the weekend ticket and £8 for the evening lecture with delicious hog roast.


and this guys says he is hoping to be at the Spurn Migration Festival as well:

wryneck 2
Wryneck- potential visitor to the Migration Festival.. :)
augustonsale mag


Blue Fulmars with dark tail bands in the North Atlantic

What’s going on?

Bob Flood

‘A key criteria for separation of Pacific Fulmar from Atlantic Fulmar is that in Pacific Fulmar the tail typically is much darker than the uppertail-coverts and contrasts strongly with them (i.e. visible tail either wholly dark or mainly dark forming a contrasting thick band); but not so in Atlantic Fulmar. This is a striking feature of Pacific Fulmar in all but dark morphs.

So, when I saw this intermediate-morph bird in Spitsbergen (North Atlantic) with an obvious dark tail band, I immediately thought it could be a Pacific Fulmar. It would be a first for the Western Palearctic! The video was taken during an Oceanwide expedition cruise in Spitsbergen and I hoped a photographer on board might have photographed the bird so I could check details. No such luck. However, I alerted one of the expedition team Christophe Gouraud (top guy) and, to cut a long story short, we now have good SLR photos of two other fulmars in Spitsbergen with dark tail bands.

It appears that there is a population of fulmars in western Spitsbergen (at least) with dark tail bands. How many is unknown. We have not heard of anything like this before and we find it an astonishing discovery, given that the area is well researched and well-travelled; but it begs the question, ‘What is going on?’

We will give a full expose in the forthcoming multimedia ID guide ‘Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels’ (Bob Flood & Ashley Fisher), and Hein van Grouw (Natural History Museum, Tring) and I will discuss the birds in a forthcoming article. We are still working through the possibilities with a few strong candidates on the table. One thing I am fairly confident of is that the birds are Atlantic and not Pacific Fulmars based on structure and other features of plumage aspect (though Pacific genes are not eliminated). So, the ID criteria for separating Pacific from Atlantic Fulmars perhaps will have to be rewritten?

Note that recent DNA research recommends elevation of the two forms to species level:

Kerr, K. C. R., & Dove, C. J. 2013. Delimiting shades of gray: phylogeography of the Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis. Ecology & Evolution 3: 1915–1930.’


Wacky Weekend Warbler

and Nearby Mammal. Two Mystery Photos.

Just for fun on a hot weekend. Hopefully not too tricky. I was working on something else and these tickled me - both photos taken in same area. One a warbler munching at a spider’s web, one a (dang ugly) mammal.

Do you know what they are?

birdy1 mammal one

What do Birdfair, Ospreys, West African children and

Football Kits have in Common?

Neil Glenn

The Rutland Birdfair 2013 raised £270,000 for BirdLife International’s conservation projects, which is a phenomenal amount. It is worth repeating that astonishing figure: £270,000!

This year, as well as all the usual mouth-watering attractions and events, something different is taking place. In conjunction with kits4causes (formerly Afrikit) and The Rutland

Gambian schoolchildren wearing kit donated by Rutland schools last year (taken by Tim Mackrill)

Gambian schoolchildren wearing kit donated by Rutland schools last year (photo taken by Tim Mackrill)

Osprey Project, visitors – exhibitors and the general public – are being asked to bring along any unwanted (CLEAN!) football kit. This will be collected by the kits4causes team on Sunday evening and then transported to schools and villages in Senegal and The Gambia. If you are unable to contribute kit, then please consider donating money to help towards the cost of shipping it to Africa.

As you may already be aware, the Rutland Water Ospreys spend the winter in Senegal and The Gambia. There is already a scheme, set up by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust in 2011, linking Rutland schools with pupils and families in these West African countries by way of the Osprey Flyways Project. The project has taken Gambian pupils out of their local villages and into the field to see the Ospreys to help foster an appreciation of the wildlife around them. Schools all along Osprey migration routes – North and South America, Europe and Africa and in the Far East and Australasia – are also being linked via the internet, Skype, Twitter, etc. This really is a case of birds bringing nations and continents closer together!

More details can be found on the relevant websites (see below) but in the meantime, start delving in the recesses of your wardrobes and drawers in readiness to release your old football kit back into the wild.  Some Rutland schoolchildren have already trawled through their bedrooms and sent out to The Gambia, though it doesn’t have to be children’s sizes: adults need kit too!

It would be extremely helpful if you could tell us if you intend bringing some kit to BirdFair this August so we know how much to expect. Pledge your support on by clicking on Facebook



Further Reading


Ospreys UK

Osprey Flyway Project



Turtle Dove – remarkable record of an apparent albino

Can it be anything else?

Received these photos and comment from Willem-Jan of a remarkable looking white dove. I concur, it looks like a Turtle Dove in bill structure, overall weight, primary projection and according to his field impression. Any comments? Has anyone come across similar in the past? Thee Turtle Dove has undergone dramatic decline in the UK and also in the Netherlands and sparked some inspiring conservation and fund-raising projects, such as here and here.

Read on. Cheers Martin

Willem-Jan Hooijmans

“Hi Martin,

Hope all is well.

I would like to share the following pictures and thoughts with you.

Albinistic Turtle Dove (1) , Lisse, The Netherlands, 11 July 2014 (W J Hooijmans)

On Friday 11 July I digiscoped, which I believe to be, an albinistic Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) in my area. As you can imagine, initially I was  flabbergasted and in disbelief, dismissing the bird as a feral dove, as I had never seen an albinistic Turtle Dove  before. Furthermore, up until then I had been completely unaware of the existence of albinistic Turtle Doves, having never come across any pictures, documented sightings or references in the available literature. However, I quickly regained my senses and decided to try to digiscope the bird because I was convinced that the bird must indeed be a Turtle Dove and I wanted to have proof of my sighting. The bird in the pictures flew like a Turtle Dove (rocky and pitching flight), acted like a Turtle Dove (kept well hidden in a high poplar, where,  perhaps quite surprisingly, it could be hard to spot, and was alert), had the posture and size of a Turtle Dove, showed structural features of a Turtle Dove (e.g. the bare skin surrounding the eye) and showed up in an area (overgrown orchard) where I annually see “normal” Turtle Doves and hardly, if ever, Collared Doves. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the bird call, which would have clinched the ID beyond any reasonable doubt, but, still, on the basis of what I had seen I could not but conclude that the bird was indeed a Turtle Dove.

I have the following questions for you:

- do you agree with my identification of the bird in the pictures as a Turtle Dove? YES!

- if so, do you know of the existence of documented sightings of albinistic Turtle Doves in the UK or anywhere else in the world? NO- but will ask our readers…

Look very much forward to hearing from you, when you have a chance.

Please feel free to put my pictures with your own comments on your excellent Birding Frontiers website for a lively discussion.

Cheers, Willem-Jan Hooijmans”

Sassenheim, The Netherlands

Albinistic Turtle Dove (2) , Lisse, The Netherlands, 11 July 2014 (W J Hooijmans)