David Lindo’s top 10 birding experiences

Over the years, you will accumulate great memories of days in the field, so to whet your appetite, here are my top 10 birding moments.

David-Lindo-and-the-team-at-the-conclusion-of-the-Autumn-migration-watch-atop-Tower-42_article-4bdaa9c

Over the years, you will accumulate great memories of days in the field, so to whet your appetite, here are my top 10 birding moments.

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1 Wembley Staring out of my bedroom window one afternoon in the early 1980s, I noticed an unfamiliar bird hopping up the garden path. It was a male redstart – my first.
2 Alderney One morning during a week in Alderney, I lay down and looked skywards. First a sparrowhawk, then another, then a buzzard, and finally a honey buzzard appeared (resulting in a dogfight between the latter two).
3 Mexico Visiting Lake Coba in the Yucatán in 2004, I had an absurdly close encounter with a spotted rail, a shy bird that looks like a huge water rail with a gaudy, lime-green beak.
4 South Africa About eight years ago, I was working in a small town in the middle of the Karoo on a shoot for the band Travis. Each morning, I’d go birding and, one day, a group of 10 lesser kestrels appeared, hawking for insects just a few metres above my head.
5 Norfolk At Blakeney Point, waiting for a wryneck to show, I’d given up hope when I nudged the telescope with my knee. I don’t know why, but I looked through it one last time – and there was the wryneck.
6 Cape Clear, Ireland Though I’ve yet to find a ‘mega-rarity’ at Cape Clear, I love it because it’s beautiful and peaceful.
7 Wormwood Scrubs I’ve seen some fantastic rarities at ‘The Scrubs’, but nothing compares with the skylark I saw singing overhead in 2009. I zealously guarded the nest site from dog-walkers and, though the pair were ultimately unable to raise any chicks, it was remarkable that they even tried.
8 Los Angeles On the Los Angeles Audobon Bird Race in 2003, I was thrilled to find the day’s rarest species, a white-winged dove.
9 The Isles of Scilly As a teenager, I was mentored by the late Peter Grant. Out with a group of birders one morning, I spotted an Iceland gull among the common species. I looked up and Peter gave me a knowing smile. He had seen it, too.
10 London With other birders, I study migrating birds from Tower 42, one of London’s tallest buildings. My most satisfying moment so far was the day that a couple of honey buzzards passed overhead.
DAVID LINDO’S TOP TIP
You don’t have to be in Outer Mongolia looking for slender-billed curlews to have a magical birding moment. It could happen just outside your front door.