Reports, with Bird Lists, of our Meetings, Walks and Outings

The Wild Coast
by David Boag

Date: Thursday 21 January 2016 at 19:30


Forty-seven people attended the meeting at which David Boag presented on the wildlife and flora around the UK coast.  We were also treated to a surprise bonus presentation on the lifecycle of the Atlantic Puffin!

David is a very experienced and well-known wildlife photographer and this showed in the high quality of his photographs.

He showed the huge variety of landscapes which make up our coast, many of them occurring within a short distance of each other in Dorset, e.g. Studland Bay, Durdle Door, Old Harry Rocks, Chesil Bank and the area known as the Jurassic coast.

He portrayed the last few feet of land, before the fall to the beach, to be the only really wild places in most of the UK.  This area is packed with many plants that only grow near to the sea e.g. Sea Kale, Thrift, Wild Carrots, Sea Campion and large swaths of Bluebells.  Our coastal birds were present in plenty, dominated by gulls, auks, waders, skuas, cormorants and not forgetting the most widespread bird, occurring in almost every habitat in the UK, the Jackdaw!!

A new word (to me anyway) was introduced COLLECTOPARASITISM.  This describes how, for example, skuas and gulls have a feeding strategy of robbing auks, particularly puffins, of their fish catch as they return to their nest to feed young birds.

No presentation like this would be complete without such mammals as seals, mink and otters.

Part two was a wonderful presentation on the lifecycle of the Atlantic Puffin.  Delightful photographs of puffins at sea, on the coastline, in their burrows and hunting for fish.  Lots of information, much of which I suspect the audience was not aware of!  This bird, which can look so comical in its black and white uniform, with wonderful head colours and characteristic beak was portrayed as a highly efficient hunter, perfectly adapted to a life at sea.  Not a comic after all!!!

The content of both talks was fascinating with excellent photography. David’s presentation style is engaging, entertaining and yet quite challenging in its defence of the sheer wonders of nature.

Peter Gaines reported these birds in our area:

  • Dinton Pastures – Bittern, Great White Egret (visits)
  • Dorney Wetlands - Cetti's Warblers, two Stonechat
  • Bray – Ring-neck Duck. Water Rail
  • Eversley Gravel Pits – 25 Goosander
  • Berkshire Downs ( Bury Down) – Hen Harrier, Short-Eared Owl, Merlin, Ring Ouzel
  • Cores End – Little Egret
  • Cookham Rise – Redpoll, Siskin, Reed Bunting
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A puffinSeals on a shore

There is a great variety of habits around our coast, from miles of sand dunes to massive cliffs – the expanse of the estuaries to the beaches of sand, shingle or boulders. Such variety contains a great diversity of life that creates a stunning lecture subject. The massive sea birds colonies are an indication of the oceans productivity that most of us rarely see. However, peering into a rock pool can give an impression of the life that abounds, whether it be animals or plants. We look at the stunning scenery, the incredible birds, mammals, plants, in fact anything of interest in this truly wild part of the British Isles.

Man with CameraWith over 30 years experience as a professional wildlife photographer, David Boag has written many books and appeared on numerous wildlife television programmes.

But David is not just a talented photographer. He is also an exceptional communicator. Speaking around the world he has time and again been rated the best public speaker among his peers, with his enthusiastic and empowering style. Anybody who has heard David speak knows how his passion is infectious and his clarity of presentation makes photography accessible to anyone.

He lectures throughout the country to a large number of audiences, including National Trust Associations, R.S.P.B. Groups, Camera Clubs and Wildlife Trusts. He is also a regular cruise ship speaker.  His lectures are lavishly illustrated with over 100 stunning photographs. David has an ability to enthuse an audience with his amusing and exciting style of presentation whilst the quality of photographs ensures that no one leaves disappointed.

All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission from David Boag.