Thursday 20 December 2012

Birders Drinks and the birders who drink them

It was Christmas drinks recently. Well, pre-Christmas drinks really, as Christmas has yet to come, and if the Mayans have anything to say, never will. In the unlikely event we all make it through the night, I felt blog readers might enjoy an exclusive view into the world of birding on the East (and Buff-bellied Pipit not withstanding, best) side of London. Fortunately a camera was on hand to record the event, and especially fortunately for Shaun, it also takes video.

Every month I travel several hundred miles out to Hornchurch for an event known as Birders Drinks. Hornchurch is the chosen location as the pub is about two nanoseconds from Shaun's house, ten from the Mo's, and no more than a minute for practically everyone else apart from myself and Bradders. I am very fortunate that Mrs B enjoys coming out to Hornchurch to drive me back to Wanstead each month, with the happy consequence for Bradders that he also gets a lift home. In December, the usual monthly drinks are replaced with drinks and a Christmas meal. The cuisine at the Railway in Hornchurch is not to be over-estimated, but we keep going back - it's convenient for Shaun and Mo.

So, to the attendees (some of whom are lucky enough to get a blog link over to the right somewhere, though with my various blog width/resolution tribulations, I accept it's entirely possible you have never heard of any of them). Anyhow, in alphabetical order...

Steve B has been twitching for longer than he cares to remember, and his list is about to hit the magic 500. Mind you if you take away dodgy ducks he's only on about 380. He is a chemist, so plastic is indeed fantastic. There is nothing he has not twitched, but he swears he is going to stop twitching very soon. Just as soon as birds he needs stop arriving.
Patch: Fairlop

Seen here (on the right) deep in conversation with a slim and handsome birder who lives miles away from Hornchurch, Bradders likes nothing better than to jump in the car for a brief drive to South Shields. Via Exeter. Known for not yearlisting every year, for being extremely uncompetitive when it comes to lists of things, and for waiting at least three minutes after news breaks before setting off on a twitch.
Patch: The UK.

Another local patchworker of renown, Monkey is seen here departing to another social engagement. To be honest, we're lucky we see him at all such is his popularity. Known principally for preparing for twitches in the minutest detail, and for dipping repeatedly. A staunch teetotaler, Monkey nonetheless would prefer to be driven to rares so he can 'stay up late'. Or something.
Patch: Errr.....

Dave the Beard
Nobody knows how old Dave really is, but he is happy to live it up with all us young people as beer has no effect on him. Dave was the organisational brains behind this year's Christmas Bash, though the Ann Summers Party that he promised would be sharing the dining suite with us never turned up. Dave only goes birding three times a day, as the rest of the time he is abroad.
Patch: The Ingrebourne Valley.

Dick has been birding everyone else's patch in London well before they ever did. Pretends to be Irish. In his mid-seventies now, Dick prides himself on being much fitter than people 1/3rd his age. Like me. Works only one day a week, and so by the time the weekend comes has already seen all the birds the rest of us still need.
Patch: Yours.

Very shy and retiring, Hawky likes a quiet night in, and the thought of an all-night rave makes him physically sick. Magnetically attracted to rare birds, but likes to think of them as common. Has been birding since he was eight months old. It would be fair to say he likes a drink.
Patch: Barking Bay, The Mighty Masey.

 Gay Birders Club Shaun (L), Hawky (R)

A new recruit to the hallowed pumps (and kitchen) of the Railway, Lee has yet to take the dark path known as twitching. So far we have kept him away from Bradders, so he still thinks Rainham is the where all the good birds are. It won't last forever, but for now Lee remains as pure as the driven snow. 
Patch: The Ingrebourne Valley, Rainham.

Semi-retired, the Mo does not need sleep and can most often be found phoning and texting you in the middle of the night. Peregrine fan extraordinaire, there are no lengths to which Mo will not go in order to get as high as he possibly can up London's skyline. A keen photographer, Mo has an unparalled understanding of exposure theory, and of exactly how many pixels a bird must cover in a photo (twelve). Only snores when asleep.
Patch: Barking Bay, The Ingrebourne Valley, any man-made structure >30m above sea level.

Redsy works eight days a week, so doesn't really have much time for birding. That said, he usually only takes jobs that are right next door to rare birds, and so keeps his list ticking along nicely. Updates his blog at least twice a year.
Patch: North Weald.

Like Lee, Rob is a relatively new addition to Birders Drinks, but most welcome as he owns a taxi that can seat all of us. Has been birding a long time, but still needs Robin. Known for staying awake all the time, and definitely not falling asleep at all. Hates football, especially small local teams that he says are a complete waste of time.
Patch: The M25, Gatwick North Terminal.

Quietly-spoken Russ has never been absent from Birders Drinks, and his favourite tipple is whatever bitter is on tap. Most often found in the company of Dave the Beard, Russ's mission in life is to obliterate the shutters of as many DSLRs as possible while he can still move his index finger. So far he is doing very well, and the Nikon Corporation of Japan owes him it's continued existence.
Patch: The Ingrebourne Valley.

Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. No. The most decisive birder I know, Shaun rarely misses an opportunity to go on a twitch as he hates staying at home and being a good boy. Married to the lovely Jo, to whom he has given all his trousers. Known for being extremely messy, taking very good care of his binoculars, and never redecorating his house.
Patch: The Ingrebounre Valley.

Steve S
Another mammoth twitcher, Steve never misses a bird. Steve's body is a temple, and rare is it that any non-organic substance passes his lips. Fags don't count. And neither do kebabs. Best known for needing invasive surgery to remove pencil rubbers from his ear canal.
Patch: The Ingrebourne Valley.

And finally, everyone. Apart from me thankfully, one of the fringe benefits of always being behind the camera.


  1. Was it a prerequisite to have fallen from the ugly tree, hitting every branch on the the way down to have an association with this motley east London crew ;-)

    Merry Christmas to one & all and may your patches be scattered with 'rares' in 2013

  2. Superb Jono! and lets hope we all have many more nights like it!.

  3. Jono,glad that you have at last recognized my qualities with Exposure Theory, as for snoring, thats a bit like the Pot calling the Kettle black isn't it,Norfolk springs to mind.
    Good write up, keep it up.Nikon rules!