Indoor Meetings about Birds and Wildlife

Around the Bottom of the Earth
by Colin Humphrey

Date: Thursday 17 October 2019 at 19:30


This meeting began with the RSPB birdsong compilation Let Nature Sing playing as the audience arrived.  The availability of the download was promoted with the theme of "do not let this wonderful sound die, protect nature".

Forty-five people attended the meeting to hear Colin Humphrey give an illustrated talk about a cruise trip around the coast of South America and the Falkland Islands. 

The cruise started off on a high note; a visit to an Andes ski resort saw dozens of Andean condors perched on the ski-lift building roof.  Another surprise was being welcomed to the docks by UK style house sparrows, the descendants of stowaways on boats of long ago. Also present were the relatively small red-backed hawks, which are found in numbers at high altitude in the mountains.

Inca terns were plentiful in the harbour as the cruise got underway.  The harbour and inshore sea surfaces were covered in oil slicks but this did not appear to damage the sea birds.  Six different cormorants were seen on the trip including the all-black rock cormorant, red-legged cormorant, blue-eyed cormorant and king cormorant.  The grey gull was an interesting gull because it nests in the mountains about 40 miles inland and feeds its young by carrying fish from the sea.   Other gulls included the Franklin gull, band-tailed gull and the kelp gull.

Albatrosses included wandering and black-browed, petrels included giant and Cape.  Geese included kelp with pure white males and black and white females, upland, ashy-headed and ruddy-headed species.  Terns seen were elegant tern, the cayenne tern and the South American tern which is present on both east and west coasts.

A visit near the Antarctic region has to have penguins and we saw four varieties – Gentoo, King, Humboldt and Magellanic who dig and nest in burrows.  Other birds of note included osprey, crested caracara, blackish oystercatcher, snowy egret, dark-bellied cinclodes, steamer ducks both the ones that can fly and the flightless variety, crested ducks, mocking birds, American kestrel, blue and white swallows and rufous crested dotterels.

Non-avian animals were southern right whale, sea lions and guanaco.

This was a species fest but the background mountainous scenery was also spectacular.  Much to cruise participants surprise, and possibly disappointment, the seas surrounding Cape Horn were similar to a mill pond, rather than the mountainous waves expected!

Colin tells a very entertaining tale about the cruise and delivers some amusing anecdotes with dry wit, a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

What’s About

The report was prepared and given by Brian Clews:

Queen Mother Reservoir – peregrine and a few hirundines
Frogmore – rough-legged buzzard
Cookham – circa 100 Egyptian geese
Dinton Pastures – Jack snipe
Green Park – Cetti’s
Fobney Meadow – 2 great white egrets, pintail
Lower Farm, Newbury – 3 great white egrets
Moor Green – brambling, black-winged stilt up to 12th October
Maidenhead Riverside – Alexandrian parakeet
Maidenhead Pinkneys Green – wryneck

NOTICES – Volunteers required (Indoor Meetings Organiser and Group Leader)

Group Leader, Kate Titford, asked for volunteers to step into the role of Indoor Meetings Organiser in May 2020 when Ken and Sheila retire. 

Kate is also resigning as Group Leader in May 2020.

--- Original Programme Information ---


Colin’s trip starts in Chile in the Andes, then by ship from Santiago south to Cape Horn and Ushuaia, the most southerly town in the world. Onward to the Falkland Islands, then up to Argentina and Uruguay. Five species of penguin feature in the presentation as well as condors, albatrosses, whales, gulls, skuas and land birds. Seals and sea lions with young also feature. This is just a flavour of the birds and wildlife photographed on the trip!

Martial Mountain Beagle Channel
Martial Mountain       Beagle Channel



Ushuaia Penguins Andean Condor
Ushuaia Penguins       Andean Condor



I spent my early life in the Chiltern Hills and the Thames Valley.  Always fascinated by the natural world in particular the avian fauna, I qualified as an A ringer with the BTO and became a member of the Middle Thames Natural History Society.  Following some years in the Metropolitan Police I moved to Maidenhead and began looking at birds again seriously.  I met Brian Clews and soon found myself on the committee of the East Berks Group when Brian was leader.  Retirement came at last and Tricia and I could concentrate on our photographic interest.  World travel followed and we spent much time in Africa and Central America.  In 2011 we moved to North Devon but still continue to enjoy travel and photography.


Sea Lions Red-Legged Cormorants
Sea Lions                     . Red-Legged Cormorants



All pictures are © Copyright Colin and Patricia Humphrey. Do not reproduce without permission.

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