I have been birding since the early eighties with my early visits being around the Two Tree Island and Benfleet Creek areas before branching out to other nearby locations within the Southend area. I have been a member of the Southend Ornithological Group since about 1985/1986 and made some good birding friends.
I have always had the Southend area as my birding region though have made many visits to many places around the UK though non are more special than the Isles of Scilly. My first visit to those islands was made in October 1987 and I have back every year bar one ever since.
I have found numerous local and national rarities over the years, none though as rare as the Thayer's Gull and the Slaty-backed Gull, both firsts for the UK, at Pitsea Landfill site in South Essex but given the limited possibilities of rarity finding in Southend I have recently increased my birding areas to include Fair Isle with regular future trips to that superb island planned.
I took up overseas birding trips in 1996 with a visit to Eilat in Israel in spring and that triggered a whole new world and I have subsequently visited destinations on nearly every continent since, special places like Kenya, Andean Peru and Nepal feature high on the great place visited.
I have served on the county rarities committee and currently write many of the species accounts for the Isles of Scilly bird report which I find a very interesting and satisfying way of feeling I am still on the islands.
From the early 2000 I got into digiscoping and serious gull watching and both have expanded to the point that I now have top end camera kit and spend much of my birding time watching local tips and areas where gulls gather in large numbers. I use Canon equipment (Canon 1D MIII body with a 500mm L series prime lens with extenders and a Sigma 300mm F2.4 prime lens and use a Canon 7D as a back up camera body should the need arise). Optics wise I use the superb Swarovski 8.5x42ELs and Swarovski Scope as to make the up most of my birding experience.
I have had numerous pictures published in magazines and books and continue to get a kick out of getting a great shot of a difficult or great bird.
So from my beginnings in the early eighties plodding the Leigh marshes to global traveller, photographer, gull watcher and rarity finder it seems a great journey which I hope to continue for a long time to come.