I went into the BBC Bristol studios to talk about seeing a Nuthatch at school when I was 4 years old, when the producer Maggie Ayre asked me if I had seen any rare birds in Britain. Have I seen any rare birds in Britain? Seriously? Which one should I choose, off the cuff, with no time to think? The story of seeing a Black-Browed Albatross immediately came into my head and I recorded it without any time for rehearsals or thought. Hope you like it?
I talked about seeing a Black-browed Albatross at Porthgwarra, Cornwall in July 2009 when I was only 7 years old. I was one of only 14 people who were there sea watching and saw this astonishing bird. It as not a new bird for the UK for either of my parents, but it was the circumstances that made it unforgettable.
We had gone there because my Dad, Chris Craig, thought that the weather looked good for Cory's Shearwater which my Mum and I still needed for a UK life lists and we all needed for our year list. In 2009 we were trying to see as many birds as possible in a year and so getting up at 2.30 am for my Dad to drive us to Porthgwarra in Southern Cornwall so that we were there by 6 am seemed wholly sane. By "looked good" Dad meant that the weather was predicted to be terrible but that the wind would be in the right direction, blowing birds inland.
As we walked up the slope to our vantage point, Dad and a couple of the Cornish birders joked, wouldn't it be fantastic to see a Black-browed Albatross? During the week a fisherman had seen one off the coast of Devon, so it was on everyone's minds.
As we sat trying to sea-watch, I remembered why it was so horrible. It was pouring with rain and it was hard to see anything through our telescopes, let alone tiny specks of birds that hugged the sea line. Every now and then, some one would shout out a bird name and give directions by the 24 hour clock and we all tried to find it. I was freezing cold and not very happy.
I talk about the experience on my "Tweet of the Day" with everyone getting absolutely stonking views of the huge Black-browed Albatross. As soon as it flew on around the headland, everyone jumped up, and we were all dancing around. There was a momentary discussion about whether it was a Yellow-nosed Albatross (that was what the one that Secret World in Somerset suppressed and released from Brean Down without telling anyone).
|Black-browed Albatross in the Drake Passage December 2015|
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Afterwards, Surfbirds removed my year list from their website without checking it out because someone thought I couldn't have seen a Black-browed Albatross. It would have been easy to verify and was really upsetting for me. Why would you do that? Hopefully, young birders are no longer treated like that. Only this week, a twelve year old boy sighted a Black-browed Albatross off Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire. I do wonder if he had been a girl, whether he would have had the same positive response. Probably not.
This is still my best UK birding experience.
Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. She is an Ambassador for World Shorebirds Day, See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans to run her third Camp Avalon camp in 2017. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Black Asian Minority Ethnic people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017. Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.