Indoor Meetings about Birds and Wildlife

Adventures of The Biking Green Birder
by Gary Prescott

Date: Thursday 17 January 2019 at 19:30


Thirty-three people attended this meeting, at which Gary Prescott gave an entertaining and interesting illustrated talk about green birdwatching in the UK and Peru. The alternative title of the talk was A Tapir at the Door and the reason for this title was revealed at the end of the presentation.

Gary is a major figure in the eco-birding movement. This encourages birdwatchers to minimise their carbon footprint when travelling to see birds. Gary demonstrated how he manages to do this on his adventures, by walking, cycling and using a self-propelled boat wherever possible. Portable solar panels to recharge batteries for mobile phones and lights, cooking over wood fires and minimising the use of non-reusable containers also featured.

Gary works tirelessly for charities including The RSPB, The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), Asthma UK and the Chaskawasi-Manu Rainforest children project in Peru.

Eco birding appears to be just as competitive as any other form of birding and Gary has attempted to set several eco records. In 2010 and again in 2015 he visited every RSPB and WWT reserve in the UK. In 2010 the number of reserves was 209. By 2015 there were 232 reserves, which added 2,000 miles, and a few hours, to this cycling trip.

Gary also set a European eco record of 319 species of birds seen in one calendar year, beating the record held by a Spanish eco birdwatcher by one. He also set a world eco record of 634 species seen in a calendar year and this was greatly helped by a lengthy stay in Peru.

The birds shown were numerous and very colourful, especially the ones in Peru. Gary’s favourite UK site is Fair Isle and his preferred Peruvian area is around the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu. During his stay in Peru he was greeted at the door of his hut each morning by a female tapir asking for bananas, hence the title of the talk.

Gary’s style of presentation encourages audience participation, amuses the audience, praises the people he has met on his travels and is just sufficiently “zany” to engage his listeners. Our group experienced a “first” when they were encouraged to sing along to the Morecambe and Wise signature tune Bring me Sunshine.

An excellent evening and one the audience will remember with a smile.

What’s About

Ken Cottam gave the report which was provided by Brian Clews.

Little Marlow GP – Mediterranean gull, goosander, pintail, 23 little egrets
Jubilee river/Eton Wick – Cetti’s warblers, stonechat
Windsor fields – 3 White-fronted geese
Maidenhead/Cookham – 3 Blackcaps
Dinton Pastures – Bittern, peregrine, little egret
Theale/Englefield – Cattle egret
Beale Park – Great northern diver, white stork
Theale main pit – Great white egret, cattle egret and little egret
Aylesbury (Morrisons car park) – Waxwing (first this winter)

--- Original Programme Information ---


Gary Prescott, The Biking Birder, will be talking about Green Birding, the growing way in which birders are being more environmentally friendly when birding. You will meet the characters from around the World who participate in Green Birding and find out why they do what they do.

Bluethroat Long-eared owl
Bluethroat Long-eared owl


 Gary will also be talking about his Biking Birder adventures, telling stories from his three years on the road as he cycled around the UK visiting every RSPB and Wildfowl & Wetland Trust nature reserve – twice! The first person ever to do this, Gary also has some Green Birding records to discuss, as well as tales from his Biking Birder adventure in Peru last year.

Siberian stonechat Fox cub
Siberian stonechat Fox cub



Chris Boardman, Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Chris Froome, Laura Trott, Bradley Wiggins …. in 2016 Gary Prescott attempted to add his name to this long line of illustrious British cycling champions.  At 60 years old, asthmatic and (by his own admission) slightly over-weight, Gary – often simply referred to as the Biking Birder – cut a slightly surprising figure as a potential cycling record holder but what he may have lacked in physical prowess he more than compensated for in sheer will and determination and in 2016 he reached for the stars in attempting to set a new European Green Birding record for the most species recorded in one calendar year.

Gary with bikeGary, a retired special needs teacher from Worcestershire, had always been a keen birder, cyclist and promoter of environmental causes so the world of Green Birding, not incurring a carbon footprint in the pursuit of the birds – a growing movement particularly in North America – came naturally to him.  2016 was the culmination of six years of preparation as Gary attempted to set a European Green Birding record, trying to surpass the 304 species seen by Ponc Fileu Latorre of Catalonia in 2014.

All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission from Gary Prescott.