Author Archives: Martin Garner

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit

Like a Butterfly – a film by Frank Neveu

review by Keith Clarkson

DVD Salamandre Films


like a Butterfly

Shrouded in mystery, it’s exotic appearance and association with some of the most spectacular and inaccessible mountain landscapes in the world has enshrined the Wallcreeper in birding folklore.

Now, this extraordinary DVD provides a window into the otherwise hidden world of this remarkable bird.

Filmed over a three and half year period, in a variety of exotic locations, focussed on the French Alps, the 150 hours of film rushes have been sweetly edited to produce a 20 minute feature film that follows a year in the life of the Wallcreeper.

Evocative winter scenes including striking images of Ibex and a feeding Goshawk set the scene for the returning male Wallcreeper. We are then taken through breeding season, territorial male aggression and song, nest selection by the female, incubation, hatching, feeding, dust bathing, fledging before the altitudinal migration to the wintering grounds in the gorges near Marseilles.

Throughout we are treated to an array of evocative sounds and beautiful images of the Wallcreeper and their neighbours – Lammergeier, Eagle Owl, Ptarmigan and Rock Thrush, in their natural environment.  Magical – it just made me want to go there and find them for myself.

And yet, however, dramatic these images are it was the accompanying extra -  ‘Like a butterfly – the making of the film’  that completely grabbed my imagination.  The short, subtitled, film captures the remarkable dedication, passion for nature, skill and endurance of the French filmmaking team, Frank Neveu, Christophe Sidamon Pesson and their associates. In the word’s of Sidamon-Pesson ‘‘you push the limits to enter the Wallcreeper’s world’  and that’s exactly what they did.

It was exhausting just watching the pre-dawn start, the ascents and abseil into the most flimsy like a Butterflyand precarious hide, bolted onto a vertical cliff face, oh yes, and, the hour-long roped climb back to the clifftop at the end of the12 hour hide session. I’d loved to have seen the risk assessment.

At the end of the ‘making of the film’  Frank Neveu nonchantly comments about the three and a half years –  ‘It has been a little harder than I thought’.  You are left in doubt that it was but having said that it, it was worth every moment – thank you for the insight into the wonderful world of the Wallcreeper.

From Flamborough Bird Obs: Welcome!

If you are visiting…


Flamborough. A very warm welcome from the Flamborough Bird Observatory if you have or are planning to visit this weekend or soon! We are keen to hear about your sightings too. If you see anything of interest please let us know. Twitter is a good way send a message to @YCNalerts or to @birdingfrontier or  text me, Martin Garner on 077899 82226

Yesterday (Saturday 12th April) besides Crag Martin and Tawny Pipit, there were Black Redstart, Mealy Redpoll, Ring Ouzel, Yellow and White Wagtails. Never mind the spectacle of thousands of breeding seabirds!

Lots more info on recent sighting >>> HERE<<<

Crag Martin, Thornwick Bay, Richard Willison

Crag Martin, Thornwick Bay, Richard Willison

Tawny Pipit, Gorse Field. Andy Hood.

Tawny Pipit, Gorse Field. Andy Hood.


Good Birding!



Crag Martin: more photos

More Action

Crag Martin 12.4. Thornwick 8

Well it surprised everyone. An uncertain report was passed around locals and before long its presence was confirmed. Crga Martin, this time on the other side of the Great White Cape at Thornwick Bay and North Landing- and a little more photogenic than yesterday.

Crag Martin 12.4. Thornwick6

Crag Martin 12.4. Thornwick 3Crag Martin 12.4. Thornwick5Crag Martin 12.4. Thornwick4


From Yesterday:

A couple of shots from the bird’s finder, Andrew Allport. See more of Andrew’s stunning photos and v. nice web pages go >>> HERE <<<

CM-5898 ama


Crag Martin at Flamborough

Big WOW!

It was to be my first attempt at a seawatch since recovering from the ol’ spell in hospital. Brett Richards had very graciously agreed to join my ‘higher up’ than usual as attempting the walk down to the official seawatch spot is still a little beyond me as yet. It wasn’t quite the morning I envisaged! Just before 7 am, slowly trundling along I clocked a bird briefly in a gap of the cliffs and thought- hmm looks like a Crag Martin. Which of course was a ludicrous thought. I stood a waited a moment for it to reappear and only saw Starlings coming put of a cliff roost. I guessed that I mis-saw one of those- and carried on… (don’t ignore gut reactions!)

One and half hours  later and not much to report from the seawatch, Phil C. radioed through that he had a large pipit briefly on the golf course. We upped sticks and headed to join him. Several Wheatears were new in, a White Wagtail or two but no sign of pipit which had the smell of Tawny Pipit about it from Phil’s description of brief views and call.


Then Andrew Allport came running up breathless as we were scanning the golf course from the pillbox. There’s a Crag Martin…   Well the rest is history. We hightailed over to an area just south of the foghorn station known as High Stacks and almost immediately there was a Crag Martin with a couple of Sand Martin. Flying at almost point black range below us and calling loudly! MAD! NO I won’t be claiming it- just learning from not sticking with gut reaction. Well done Andrew Allport and hoping all who come get to see it.


Crag Martin 2Crag Martin, Flamborough Head, 11 April 2014, Martin Garner

CragMartin004 ah

Crag Martin, Flamborough Head, 11 April 2014, fine shot (above) by Andy Hood

Crag Martin 3Crag Martin 1Crag Martin, Flamborough Head, 11 April 2014, Martin Garner

Crag Martin crowd

First crowd gathers and is delighted with close views of calling Crag Martin 

Night Flight Calls at Flamborough


by Martin Garner

It is. What birds call at night? Which ones migrate at night undetected- through the middle of the land, over your houses, along the coastline… Close your eyes and LISTEN!


I am trying to do a little more night time recording. maybe once a week or so. Last Friday- Saturday I recorded overnight from my house in Flamborough village. It looked a good evening as the wind swung SW from blocking easterlies and several days foggy conditions. Saturday was a good day. REALLY good As I found a Red-rumped Swallow from our upstairs window with Ray Scally. Also 3 Barn Swallows, 4 Common Buzzards, Fieldfare and Redwing all on view as migrants.


What about the previous night? Well I can identify some but not everything. Indeed I have always struggled with disembodied sounds. Some of you are much better. So here are 12 sounds from that night. I really could do with a little help.  Some are not too tricky. Others fascinating and I really don’t know… Please let me know easy or hard, some or all- what do you think… ?


Each sound recording is followed by its sonagram. Best listened to with headphones plugged in.

1-1.30 Bird two.

1-1.30 Bird two


2.30-3.png Bird three


2.30-3.png Bird four.

2.30-3.png Bird five.

2-2.30.png Bird six.

2-2.30.png Bird seven.

3-3.30.png Bird eight.

4-4.30.png Bird nine.

3-3.30.png Bird ten



11 - 11.30. Bird eleven



12.30-1.png Bird twelve





Amir Balaban

Wild Artist, April 2014

It’s all about a passion for birds and wildlife. It started while trying to describe warblers into my childhood notebook. Words seemed inadequate. How does one describe the jizz of a juvenile autumn Ruppell’s warbler? Trying to visually describe birds led to a growing number of sketches  and confidence with a pencil. During the late 1970′s photography was not an option. The quick field sketch was a pretty good way to observe and learn the birding trade

It was not till my early 20′s when I stumbled by coincidence on Keith Brockie’s, inspiring book, one man’s Island. This was a pure example of how far and further field work can go

I spent most of my artistic education in Jerusalem’s Bezalel’s Photography department spending time in the field working on large and medium format stills and sketching birds

And to date this is what I do; I use art to promote wildlife and bird conservation in Israel

For the last 20 years work for the Society for the protection of nature in Israel (SPNI). Together with one of my best birding mates Gidon Perlman and a dedicated group of birders we established Israel’s first community urban wildlife site. The Jerusalem Bird observatory (JBO) with its ringing station, hide and gallery is a dream come true. A place to study birds, enjoy good company and wildlife art

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

The JBO ringing and training programme

The JBO ringing and training programme


The Beracha Foundation bird hide

The Beracha Foundation bird hide


The Gail Rubin wildlife art gallery

The Gail Rubin wildlife art gallery.

Looking back, it becomes clear that I have become addicted to observing nature and birds in particular. It’s becoming clear to me the sketching started as a tool of understanding and today has become a mean of sharing an experience. When I published my first book; The Golan Sketchbook most of the work was an accurate description of birds, mammals and plants I encountered in a 6 month Journey from the Alpine peaks of Mount Hermon to the steamy Jordan River

Pallid Harrier Golan Heights

Pallid Harrier Golan Heights


Today, my camera and especially video are used to document wildlife and birds with relative ease. The material is edited and loaded with much ease to the web and is ready for mass consumption on national TV or any conservation issue

Stork Migration

Although my most of my videos have a specific conservation purpose, many are experimental and view wildlife in a different perspective. The ability to mix visual and audio tracks enables to recreate magical and complex moment and birdscapes

Mating Ostrich

Daddy long legs

My Pencil and aquarelle are now used for capturing those moments where the camera no longer matters. This has led me down a very interesting new trail. I think it has unchained me from the consuming need for detail.  This spring, visitors to the JBO can view my work in our gallery

Hoopoe Lark southern Arava Valley

Hoopoe Lark southern Arava Valley

Houbara Bustard display, Nizzana

Houbara Bustard display, Nizzana

Black-shouldered Kite, first recorded fledging, Hula Valley

Black-shouldered Kite, first recorded fledging, Hula Valley


White Pelicans resting on migration Hula Valley

White Pelicans resting on migration Hula Valley

Working on the field

Working on the field


art gallery


One of the most rewarding activities is the wildlife sketching workshops that are held regularly. Everyone can sketch! It’s true. Not always easy, but it’s very rewarding indeed

Wildlife sketching workshop

Wildlife sketching workshop

The JBO Facebook:

The Gail Rubin wildlife art Gallery:

Amir Balaban artist page:

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel!:

Chinstrap Penguin, The Antarctic Peninsula

Chinstrap Penguin, The Antarctic Peninsula





Juvenile Heuglin’s Gull

To Compare…

 Oscar Campbell

juvenile Heuglin's Gull, Oman, mid October 2013, Oscar Campbell

juvenile Heuglin’s Gull, Oman, mid October 2013, Oscar Campbell

Whilst I am no expert on fuscus, heuglini arrive in the UAE in fair numbers from mid-late October each year and plumage-wise young (1cy) birds look pretty much NOTHING like this Spanish bird. They are invariably in full juvenile plumage with a full set of juvenile scapulars and neat, intricate spotting and marbling over much of the underparts, on the crown and around the eye – they don’t exhibit a striking white-headed appearance and this is one of the quickest ways to pull them out from the mob of other large 1cy gulls (mainly barabensis with an unknown proportion of cachinnans) that they flock with. I have attached a couple of shots from southern Oman of heuglini, taken mid October 2013 but most still look like this well into Nov and even Dec – see, for example, this shot from the UAE in early Dec.

Whilst I guess what I am saying here does not preclude the chance that some (the odd maverick) heuglini may moult its body feathers and scaps prior to arriving in the UAE and so resemble the Spanish bird, but, from what I have observed over 8 years now, this is very rare (if it happens at all).

juvenile Heuglin's Gull, Oman, mid October 2013, Oscar Campbell

juvenile Heuglin’s Gull, Oman, mid October 2013, Oscar Campbell

Apparent juvenile Baltic Gull, Ciudad Real, Spain, 27th October 2012 by Gabriel Martin

Apparent juvenile Baltic Gull, Ciudad Real, Spain, 27th October 2012 by Gabriel Martin