Turtles on Tortuguero Beach

A trip to Tortuguero just wouldn't be complete without a visit to the beach, famous above all for its nesting Green Turtles. The final outing of our stay in the national park was a nocturnal one - a 10pm departure to walk down the beach and catch a glimpse of nesting sea turtles. 

We first visited the beach at Tortuguero during our first day at the lodge to get an idea of the environment. The beach itself is stunning. It stretches unbroken for hundreds of miles along the Caribbean coastline, backed by rainforest, and fronted by the rough, wild Caribbean Sea, that looks as though it could throw you around as if you were nothing more than a rag doll. As you look down the beach towards the horizon, a gentle layer of sea mist covers the sand that is littered with washed-up coconuts, logs and palm leaves that have been thrown up by the waves. And, most importantly, there is not a single piece of litter in sight. The beach is pristine, practically untouched, and protected under law and b…

Costa Rica: Part Two - Tortuguero National Park

Moving on from the capital, San Jose, our next destination was Tortuguero National Park in the north-east of Costa Rica. The national park is made up of a collection of waterways that run inland from the coast, through densely forested wetlands and some of the wettest rainforest in the country. The park also includes a long stretch of tropical beach that is one of the most important nesting sites for Green Turtles in the region - a feature that we were going to see for ourselves.

We were travelling with the knowledge that Tortuguero is one of the wettest regions of the country, so we expected rain. And boy did we get a lot of it - but more on that later. But this was overshadowed by the fact that Tortuguero is one of the best regions in Costa Rica for seeing aquatic and coastal wildlife, from herons and vultures to otters and sea turtles - there was plenty on offer; we just had to find it.

Travelling to Tortuguero
We left our hotel in San Jose at 6am to travel to Tortuguero. Once on a co…

Costa Rica: Part One - San Jose

One country I have wanted to visit for a long, long time is Costa Rica. Known worldwide for its rich wildlife and culture, Costa Rica has an image of purity and happiness that it certainly lives up to. It is also at the forefront of green energy, with practically 100% of the country's electricity coming from renewable sources - predominantly hydroelectric, solar and wind. What's more, Costa Rica has one of the lowest deforestation rates of any country on the planet, with 54% of its surface being forested, and almost a quarter of its land being protected within nature reserves or national parks. All this makes it a very attractive destination for anyone with an interest in the natural world.

And so this summer, on the 22 July, we set off from London to travel to The Republic of Costa Rica, 8,700km away in Central America. 

San Jose
After a ten hour flight across the Atlantic, we arrived at San Jose International Airport at around 1pm. We had been lucky with the weather - the skies…

Record-breaking Reed Warblers

Undoubtedly one of the best things about bird ringing is the learning. The discoveries. I thought I knew a lot about birds before I started to train to bird ring. And I did. But now I realise I was only scratching the surface. There are so many more fascinating facts and statistics that only come to light during the process of ringing and recording birds. From subtle morphological differences that can determine the age and sex of a bird, to details about fat, muscle, brood patches... I could go on and on. Bird ringing is a journey of discovery!

But perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries are those surrounding migration. We often get retrap reports from the BTO giving us information about birds we catch at our site near Woking, and some are very surprising.

One bird we caught recently has a truly astonishing past. On the 9th July, I processed an adult Reed Warbler, who we now know has been alive for more than 11 years. 11 years. This bird was ringed in the nest on the River Wey n…

My piece in The Curlew Magazine

Last month, I was approached by the Editor of 'The Curlew', a periodical dedicated to writing about the natural world, and was asked if I would like to write a piece to feature in the magazine. I happily accepted...

My piece, 'Explorations in Extremadura', is about my experiences in the Sierra de Gredos, searching for Iberian Ibex, a rare species of mammal confined to the Iberian Peninsula. Here is a quick preview:

"We had arrived with one particular species in mind – the Iberian Ibex, one of Europe’s rarest mammals. There are four known subspecies of Iberian Ibex, two of which are extinct. The subspecies of interest to us in Extremadura was capra pyrenaica victoriae ; the Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex, found only in a few  small mountain ranges in Central Spain, one of which being the Sierra de Gredos, the range surrounding Guijo de Santa Barbara. To be quite honest, we didn’t arrive with the expectation of seeing any – Iberian Ibex are renowned for being esp…

Winter Bird Ringing

Now that the winter months have drawn to an end, and all our winter migrants are leaving our shores, I thought I'd take this opportunity to summarise the highlights of last season's bird ringing.

Ringing during winter is often quieter than during the rest of the year, as birds become less active and our large numbers of summer migrants are no longer around. But despite this, we had good numbers of birds, and a few new species for me that were not only fantastic to see so close, but also to learn more about as I processed them.

When looking back over our photographs, despite the noticeably slower sessions, I realise we did catch a very good number and variety of birds.

Early in the season, at the end of November, we caught a particularly special bird that came as a complete surprise to us all. The site we ring at is mostly made up of relatively large patches of reedbeds which snake their way around the ponds. We caught many a reed and sedge warbler here last summer, but this speci…