It is now well over the ten year anniversary of the death of my very close best friend, Gordon Barnes. The privilege of saying 'friend' will stay with me always.
Sitting here in the Spurn Bird Observatory, having just come across the Fair Isle Bird report for 2006, there is an appreciation of the wonderful man by the respected Nick Riddiford.
Gordon was a wonderful man. A phenomenal birder of amazing knowledge as well as a superb botanist. The stories from his life on Fair Isle are legendary.
There is an autobiography available and if you would like a copy then please email the Fair Isle Bird Observatory for a copy or message/email me. It is well worth the read and at £5 plus postage cheap as chips.
Tonight I am sitting with a brilliant young birder, Dan Branch; a very enthusiastic twenty-one year old and in him I can see reflections of Gordon back when he was that age. I have only faded black and white images of Gordon from then At twenty six Gordon became the assistant warden on Fair Isle. Then a crofter he became with Setter as his home until he, his wife Perry and the two boys John and Alan left to start a new life with a sheep farm in Wales.
I can see Dan having a similar career in birding. He and other 'Next Generation Birders, young RSPB wardens, volunteers and keen unaffiliated youngsters like Jack Bradbury and Mya.Rose Craig, are one of the biggest thrills from a Biking Birding experience.
Dan and I have just come back in from an attempt to see whether two caspian terns, that we've been told left Gibralter Point, Lincolnshire at 19:15 heading north, would come past Spurn. They didn't but we did meet the man top of the BOU Year list on BUBO listing webpage, Gareth Hughes. Top 'Carbon Twitcher' meets The Biking Birder. I'm fourth by the way. Top man, Gareth has seen 295 birds having added the Spurn golden oriole to his year list yesterday.
We met last year when he was seawatching from atop a sand dune in Northumberland. Smashing to talk to, Gareth's enthusiasm for birding and year listing is inspiring.
Now for Spurn Bird Observatory. For the last three nights I have stayed here, spending two nights almost alone in the old Bird Observatory building with its artefacts and original furniture, history and ambience. Last night was spent in the new Bird Obs; a plush modern affair with spacious kitchen, plush lounge with good bird book library and beds, two of which are a little more expensive with linen and all others without so a sleeping bag is required. Wifi is available here hence the updates.
The birding has been generally low key, well it is June and yet I have seen two of the best birds of the year; bee-eater and golden oriole. So with the list now on 254 I head towards a birthday, and it's a big one, rest and the EU referendum.
Thinking about monthly targets, and thinking that I need exactly fifty birds to equal Ponc Feliu's European record of 304, they are as follows:-
June - 5 birds. (already had)
July - 10 birds (Scotland including Mull, Coll & Abernethy/Cairngorms)
August – 10 birds (North Ronaldsay)
September – 15 birds (Fair Isle)
October - 10 birds (South Shetland & Fair Isle)
November and December - 5 birds (Down the East coast and then 'where's the bird.')
Fifty to go. I can almost taste the record. It's the final countdown.