‘Open Mic Night’

‘Open Mic Night’

SOG Indoor Meeting 24.03.2015

This SOG indoor meeting was one with a bit of a difference, based on an idea by new council member Ed Keeble, who suggested that we try an ‘open mic night’ (albeit without a microphone!) where we could have a number of speakers giving short talks as opposed to a single speaker per event that is usually the norm. Initially four speakers offered a talk with a further one added when the SOG events card was sent out asking for any further contributions.

The evening started with some information from SOG President Steve Piotrowski who, along with local birder John Grant, attended a recent Birders Against Wildlife Crime conference ‘Eyes In The Field’  with a number of speakers including TV presenter Chris Packham giving information for the public to help tackle wildlife crime effectively. More info on this on SOG site – CARP at BAWC and in The Harrier and EADT.

Our first speaker for the evening was Ben Moyes, a young birder from mid-Suffolk who gave an excellent talk on ‘My birding career……so far’. Ben had given a similar talk at the BTO Conference 2014 last year when Ben and a few other young birders were asked to share their thoughts on how they got inspired by birds. Ben’s SOG talk detailed birding his local River Gipping patch and some of his birding holidays with his family, showing a selection of photos and included some humorous comments that got the audience chuckling when he compared his photos (in focus) against his fathers (not in focus – record shots)! Ben has a blog with his birding trips – Moysie’s Birding Blog.

Ben Moyes at SOG indoor talk (Photo:G.Grieco)

Ben Moyes at SOG Open Mic Night (Photo:G.Grieco)

The next speaker was Jonny Rankin, who has made a name in being proactive in raising the plight of the Turtle Dove and fund-raising to help turn the tide in its decline. Jonny talked about Dove Step in 2014 which was a 300 mile walk from Lakenheath Fen RSPB to Saltholme RSPB over 13 days covering the Turtle Dove range in England. Dove Step raised £3000 for Operation Turtle Dove. In 2015 a team including Jonny will participate in Dove Step 2, a 700 mile journey via kayak, cycle and on foot from Suffolk to the French/Spanish border, mirroring part of the Turtle Dove migration route. A media release with details can be found on a post on this site – Dove Step 2.

Dove Step 2

Dove Step 2 (Artwork:Gyr Crakes)

SOG Council had decided that takings on the door for the evening go to Jonny’s fund-raising; the total thus raised was £92 and with £8 from the Dove Step badges a total of £100, a total of £100. Jonny offered a thank you for the evening: –

‘It was a pleasure to speak with Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group (SOG) members on the evening of 24th March. It was clear from the evening that the group members are committed to birds both at a county level and beyond. This commitment is also made abundantly clear by their generous support of the Dove Step 2 fund-raising total. Thank you SOG’.

Jonny Rankin at SOG Open Mic Night (Photo:G.Grieco)

Jonny Rankin at SOG Open Mic Night (Photo:G.Grieco)

Our last speaker before the interval was Adrian Parr, who is the Suffolk county recorder for dragonflies and damselflies. Adrian’s talk was on insect migration, his first slides showed bird ringing as that was his interest years ago and one included a young image of SOG’s own Adam Gretton on an expedition to Kashmir! Adrian remarked how people are more familiar with bird migration but insects have their own migration strategies, the most well-known being the Monarch butterfly. Other notable migrations include European butterflies like Red Admiral and Painted Lady, but with ‘citizen science’ and new research more knowledge is being gained. Adrian then talked about dragonflies including the Green Darner, a North American species that can migrate in huge numbers and that has even turned up in Europe. The Globe Skimmer is an interesting species with observations and stable isotope evidence suggesting that amazingly they migrate from India to Africa.

After the break it was the turn of Adam Gretton, with a talk on the Emerald Starling. Adam visited Sierra Leone in 2013, volunteering as part of a project by RSPB and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) to assess the distribution of Emerald Starling as, according to Birdlife International, the species is Data Deficient with a lack of knowledge of its ecology, movements and population size.

Emerald Starling (Photo:Monticelli)

Emerald Starling (Photo:Monticelli)

Adam detailed his findings along with reports of possible issues in the future due to mining and the wild bird trade and also made a comparison of the number of globally threatened birds in Sierra Leone with the UK and Suffolk, as well as the contrast in the number of people working in conservation and the membership of bird clubs. For example, CSSL has a comparable membership to that of SOG, but the country has 14 globally-threatened birds (compared to 4 in the UK and over a million RSPB members).

Adam with the Director and Biodiversity Officer of CSSL at Bumbuna falls (having just seen Rock Pratincole)

Adam with the Director and Biodiversity Officer of CSSL at Bumbuna falls (having just seen Rock Pratincole)

The final talk of the evening was by Gi Grieco on the birds of Mallorca, detailing how this popular birding destination is a good place to visit if birding time is restricted due to being on a family holiday. Gi visited places such as S’Albufera and the Boquer Valley that are relatively easy to visit being close to a holiday resort like Puerto Pollensa, meaning a holiday, that is not full on birding, can please all the family at such a location.

From feedback, the meeting and format was deemed a success with thanks to all who gave a talk. As mentioned elsewhere in this article about asking for further talks, a couple of other members have volunteered to give a talk. We look forward to these next year and if anyone else would like to offer a long or short talk please contact our indoor events organiser Adam by emailing info@sogonline.org.uk.