Welcome to my website

My Name is Garry Bagnell. I am 47 years old and I absolutely love watching Birds.

My main birding achievement was being featured in the hit BBC-4 documentary "Twitchers-A very British Obsession". It was broadcast TEN times and I loved the whole experience.

I do keep THREE Bird lists. The list I am most passionate about is my COMBINED BRITISH & IRISH LIST. My combined WEST & EAST SUSSEX LIST brings gives me a similar pleasure and can be found on the BUBO website. European family holidays have led me to keeping my third list, which is my WESTERN PALEARCTIC LIST. This list is kept on the NETFUGL website.

My website also contains a Blog, Twitching write ups, British & Irish Rare Birds Stats,Tweets on  my TITBITS page and Jokes

Also if you need to contact me my phone number is 07789 765163 or alternatively email me on [email protected] 

NOTE:- You will only see comments from me on Facebook, Twitter, Birdforum and.here (www.britishislestwitching.com Any rude remarks  or negative comments on other websites WILL NOT BE ME.  

 

Garry Bagnell Twitter

 

 

Summary of my Birding Life

1977 - Age 10 - Started watching birds in my parents garden, then went to local parks/ woodland. Become a YOC member. Went to the Crawley & Horsham RSPB group indoor meetings. They organised monthly outings, went on a few car & coach trips in the local area.

1981 - During my many bird watching trips I went to Arundel W.W.T. for a day’s bird watching with Mushaq Ahmed. He pointed out Peter Scott to me. I went over to chat to him and he kindly singed my bird book I had on me. On the 26th July I went to Gatwick Airport with a school friend called Martin Arter. I bought a Civil Aircraft Marking Book (CAM) and I spent the rest of the day ticking off planes in my CAM. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to give up Bird watching as Plane Spotting was going to occupy a lot of my spare time.

1989 - I remember watching the news and seeing lots of birdwatchers descending on Maidstone, Kent for a Golden-winged Warbler. I was thinking about going for it, but sadly never did. So I suppose this is now, my most sought after bird for my British Isles List. Will we ever get another chance?!

1990 - Bought a house with a girlfriend.

1992 - Discovered Birdline, and had another attempt at Birdwatching/Twitching. Restricted my Birding watching/Twitching to the Southeast of Britain. I also joined the local Crawley & Horsham R.S.P.B. group as treasurer. (Shame nobody mentioned the long staying '93 Blackpoll Warbler at Bewl to me, but the R.S.P.B. members I use to chat with weren't major twitchers).

1997 - Got married for the first time.

1998 - I resigned from the post of Crawley & Horsham R.S.P.B Group Treasurer after a 6 year period. I decided to Join two chess clubs:- Crawley & Coulsdon.

1999 - Whilst working at National Grid on a year’s contract, I met Neil Howes and he showed me his Nationwide Birding Notebook. I was amazed at how many birds Neil had seen and how far he travels to see them. It made me think if I should get back into Birding/Twitching and give up the Plane Spotting. For the time being I decided to juggle both hobbies. I went to Scillies for the first time (absolutely loved it) and during my 3 day stay I found a Richard's Pipit, Ortolan Bunting (very brief view) .My Dad died of cancer during the year, so my wife and I decided to move in with mum and and help her out financially.

2000 - Big changes were made to to my life this year. Gave up Plane Spotting (a hobby I had for 19 years), smoking (17 year addiction),left my first wife and gave her the house.

2002 - I met Kim in June and decided to give up playing competitive Chess as it was not fair to Birdwatch and spend weekends playing in Chess Tournaments. During my 4 year Chess career, I achieved a chess grade of 87 (BCF) and it was still rising. I also played Chess for Sussex in the U125(BCF) division. I also got 2nd and 3rd position in some Chess tournaments.

2003 - Got married for the 2nd time to Kim. Started to twitch Ireland...please don't mention the 2000 Blue-winged Warbler that now really hurts.

2004 - My daughter "Georgie" was born. New British Birds were becoming less and less frequent, so I turned my attention to local birdwatching, which started by listing the bird species I see at Weir Wood Reservoir.

2005 - This year on 3rd March a very good friend of mine died, his name was James Havers. He died at the age of 39, whilst eating a meal at Gatwick Airport with Birding friend Andrew Bashford. James was an exceptional good birdwatcher who spent much of his short life doing bird survey work in the Crawley and Horsham area. He took me to see many scarce breeding birds he had found in the region, and he also showed me a wintering Little Bunting found in Ifield Church, Crawley '94.

2008 - Started playing darts at the Fountain Pub in Roffey.

2009 - I formed a Darts Team at the White Knight in Crawley and I decided to stop playing at the Fountain. On the 2nd August my Mother sadly died from Cancer at St. Catherines Hospice. The 6th September my family & I left Rusper and moved into my Mum's house. Since then we have spent £40k on house improvements. During the year I was selected to be filmed for a BBC4 documentary called Twitchers- A very British tradition. (Should be televised on 3rd November 2010).

2010 - Twitchers: A very British Obsession was broadcast on the 1st November on BBC-4. The programme was about twitching birds in Britain and featured Brett Richards, Craig Family, Lee Evans and myself.

2011 - Seeing Sabine's Gull at Brighton Marina on the 15th September is my 300th BOU species for the combined West & East Sussx County List.

2013 - Seeing Wilson's Warbler on 21st September on Dursey Island, County Cork might turn out to be my 500th British & Irish Lifer (BOU/ IRBC basis).  This is dependant on Elegant Tern, Slaty-back-Gull, Alder Fly & Long-toed Stint getting accepted. I met up with a Washington Post journalist & photographer who met me and John Lees in Norfolk. He took photograhs of John and I enjoying my 300th British year tick (BOU), which happened to be a Shore Lark. The article was published in Denver Post, Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday 15th December. The article was portrayed how competitve birdwatchers are in the UK compared to the US.

 

Latest Updates

Jokes - Five Minute Management Course added 13th January 2012

http://garrybagnell.webs.com/jokes.htm

 

Long-toed Stint photo added 23rd January 2012 with a few words

http://garrybagnell.webs.com/11ltstinttwitch.htm

 

Newest Members

Website that reciprocate my website link

Sussex Ornithological society Best website in Sussex

Penny Clarke Penny's hot birding and life

Paul Herrieven Brough Birder

Ross Newham Bald Birder

Steve Nuttal Belvide Birding

MQ Spurn blog

Barry Hunt Barry Birder

Rob Stokes Kent birding adventures

Widerscope Nick, Seth, Danny & Sam

Michael Booker  Sussex Birders

Other good places to check out

Weir Wood  Friends of Weir Wood Official Site

Mark Reeder of birds & pies

John Hague Drunkenbirder

Pete Antrobus Pods World

Gunnar Engblom Birding Blogs

Mr Black Reservoircatz

Serious stuff

British Birds Official magazine of the BBRC

BBRC Official website

BUBO Popular listing website

Netfugl Western Palearctic listing

Surfbirds Great photos and forum

Birdforum Main discussion forum

Rare Bird Alert Best pager in Britain

 

free counters

Since 11th Feb 2012

 

Pacific Swift Twitch (Saturday 15th June 2013)

Pacific Swift @ Trimley Marshes 15th June 2013 (All photo's by Jason Ward)


Today was the day my good friends Usain & Fatima and their beautiful daughter  Lambchop were due to visit for dinner. They travel from Hampshire to visit us in Sussex, and this visit was planned a couple of months ago and at a supposedly quiet time in the birding calendar. They were due to arrive at midday.


So when Jonny Rankin found a Pacific Swift at 10:45am at Trimley Marshes the first thing I did was announce it‘s presence to my good wife Kim. She replied “Don’t even think about going for it!” At 11:00am the Swift was still present and I decided to ring Usain and Fatima. Their mobile phones didn’t get answered, so I left a garbled message on their answer phones.

 Anyway to cut a long story short, after dodging a few flying saucepans and allowing my ears hear the loving words of ” Go on and f**k off then”, I didn’t hang around for a peck on the cheek, I thought it was best to get in my car and put Trimley into the Sat nav. I left home at 11:15am.


15 minutes later, Kim rang me via my hands free car kit and said “You better get back as soon as you’ve seen the bird”. At midday, Kim was due to drop off Georgie with her Maths teacher, but she decided to cancel the lesson and stay at home til Usain and Fatima arrived.


At midday, I got a phone call from a very pi**ed off Usain. He was thinking about going back home when Kim told him that I’ve buggered off Bird Watching.


Usain or Fatima neither understands the hobby of running around looking at birds. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone. But what sort of company would I have been, stuck at home with a bleeping pager saying “Pacific Swift showing well” every 5 minutes. I do feel sorry for the non-birding friends I’ve got. A rare bird always seems to turn up when I arrange something.


My logic is warped, but I would never put Birds before the family or close friends if it involved an important occasion like a wedding, funeral, illness or holiday. I wouldn’t put a bird before an important work deadline either. But let’s be honest, how often is it convenient to go when a rare bird turns up? Hardly ever in my opinion. There always seems to be a pressing household chore that you are in the middle of when a lifer turns up in Britain & Ireland.


Anyway I don’t want to get anyone depressed but there’s a FORK-TAILED SWIFT consuming lots of airborne inspects as I drive the car towards its Suffolk pit stop. Will I see it? Who knows? Who cares?


During the 2 hour journey, I received a call from LGRE who wanted to meet up with me on the A12. "No problem", I said. As soon as I reached the A12, I rang him and he was only 30 miles from of Trimley. I made a phone call to Lee Woods who informed me that the Swift is still showing well and you may be lucky enough to get a lift from the gate. The walk from the gate to the third hide is a 2.5 miles long (e.g.40 minutes on foot or 60 minutes if you say "Hello" to every smiling birder returning to their car). I parked the car at 13:15 at Station Road and quickly extracted the scope and bins from the car and avoid taking off my leather work shoes and replacing them with my leather walking boots. Vital seconds have cost me birds in the past.


The walk to the hides was tiring… I wanted to run….I wanted to skate….I wanted to cycle…I wanted to get a lift from Paul Holmes but he wouldn’t stop…Ever since I heard the story about a birder who died on route to the Staffordshire Belted Kingfisher, I always try to calm myself down...take deep breaths...try to keep my heart beat less than 237 b.p.m.... and try to stay calm and focused. Ooops.... it didn’t work this time. I was covered in sweat and extremely worried that I was going to be the first person to dip the Swift.


The only person who overtook me during the walk was Lincolnshire low listing Johnny Pegleg. I say low listing as he’s got a couple of birds less than me at the moment. But my lead is very surprising has he hasn’t got a proper job like me. He's been living the high life  for years and with the bundles of cash, time and motivation. All he needs now are few more mega's to turn up and and he will be above me on the list of lists. Good luck to him.

I arrived at about 1:50am and watched the Pacific Swift (217th) performing well, flying low over the pool between the third and fourth hide. The fourth hide was full and the seawall had many familiar faces admiring this Asiatic beauty.

Amongst the crowd was LGRE, John Archer, Stuart Elsom and many others turning up all the time. I only watched the Swift for a good 5 minutes of the total 10 minutes I sat on the sea wall. The Swift was always flying down low and its circuit of flight didn’t change whilst I was there. The rump, white throat patch could be seen easily. However I couldn’t get onto the pale scaling on the breast. Maybe I need to buy a £2,500 new Kowa scope to enjoy such detail? My Kowa TSN 823 lets in lots of light into the scope and gives a sharp image but the contrasting detail you can get on the new Kowa at 60x is simply breath-taking.

This bird was also seen by my good friend Chris Heard, it puts him onto 586 species in Britain and Ireland.  Which put him in joint top sport on the list of lists with Steve Gantlett and Mel Billington. This is the first time he’s ever been on top and knowing him as well as I do, he totally deserves it. I’ve helped him get many birds over the last 10 years. So I’m really pleased for him.

Certain British & Irish listers are very privileged individuals. They could be out of the country / middle of a non-birding function etc and soon as a rare bird turns up they have guaranteed plane/boat or car seats at any day or night waiting for them. Chris and I don’t have such luxury. Lets say a Brown-headed Cowbird is found on a remote Scottish island, all charter planes that regular take twitchers will immediately be booked before the pager mega's. If the bird stays two days the privileged few will get and if it stays for 3 days then people like Chris or me may get a nibble. If less than 3 days it’s usually good night Vienna.

For me, the situation doesn’t bother me. I’m just happy to get whatever birds I can afford in terms of time and money. I’m currently in position 148 (with 522 species).

Top 10 (571 species)

Top 50 (546 species)

Top 100 (533 species)

Top 200 (511 species)

Top 279 (500 species)

According to trend line I should get 4 lifers a year from 2014 to 1lifer in 2021.So let’s say 4 in 2014, 4 in 2015, 3 in 2016, 3 in 2017, 2 in 2018, 2 in 2019, 2 in 2020 then down to 1 every year. So by my 70th Birthday I could be on 559. To be honest, I would happy if I can break the 550 barrier. I can’t really see me ever getting in the Top 50. I starting twitching far too late, but any new comers have a real possibility to break the 600 barrier.

On the way back to the car, I saw some very excited birders arriving including:- Neil Howes, The Chidwicks, Matt Eades, Adam Archer, Pete Hutchins, The Kings, Geoff Clewes etc etc I guess they all got the Swift as it showed up to 9:30pm that night and finally departed the next day at 4:05pm.(Sunday 16th June 2013).

There has only been 6 accepted records of Pacific Swift in Britain and Ireland. This is only the 2nd twitchable one. The other twitchable Pacific Swift was at Cley in 1993. It was available for one day only seen up to 4:15pm.

I got home at 5pm. The locks hadn't been changed. Kim, Georgie, Usain, Fatima and Lambchop were still present and all the adults got merry on many bottles of wine and beer.

Bonne nuit.