Greetings everyone. My name is Mark Lawlor. I am primarily a birder, but I'm very interested in all wildlife. I am a Yorkshireman, but I now live on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
This website mainly consists of:
1 - My diary/blog, summarising my recent wildlife sightings, updated more or less weekly;
2 - My photos of the wildlife I have seen, as well as a few sound recordings and sketches;
3 - My collection of songs, videos, cartoons and other nonsense put together by my alter ego - Gyr Crakes.
My first memory of an interest in wildlife was David Attenborough's 'Life on Earth' TV series when I was a very young lad in Leeds, which I found fascinating. During weekend visits to my Grandma's I passed the time reading some old bird books, and so birds became my major focus. Birdwatching when I was a schoolboy was mainly a casual pastime, with a trip every month or so with my dad to a nature reserve, as my main interest at the time was playing football.
When I was about 15, I read the book "Bill Oddie's Gone Birding". It struck a chord with me and I realised that's what I wanted to be doing, and I immediately became a proper birder. I gave up playing regular football and I started to spend more time looking for birds. It was mostly the common birds around my home town of Garforth, but at least once a week I visited Swillington Ings, where I learnt the basics of bird identification helped by the friendly birders there. My dad started taking me further afield and we also started going abroad on holiday, which meant I saw more and more birds.
Always stylish, aged 3 - Seawatching, aged 9
Between the ages of 18 and 20, I studied Chemistry at Bristol University where I met a few other keen young birders and we created the legendary 'BUBO'. With regular bus rides with the lads to Chew Valley Lake, plus the odd longer-distance trip, I saw lots and lots of new birds and improved my birding skills. After graduating, I took a year out carrying out migration surveys in Israel, which was slightly awesome.
birding in Arctic Norway, 1992 - a little bit of bird ringing at Eilat, 1994
Upon returning to Leeds, I trained as a Science teacher and got a job. I did plenty of birding around the country during these few years and saw lots of rare birds. During this time I met my wife, and after getting married we moved to her home-island of Guernsey. Birding in Guernsey is excellent - plenty of migration, great potential for self-finding, proper rare birds turning up regularly and no big crowds to share them with. After a few years here I became the Guernsey Bird Recorder and I am very much a 'local' birder now, with no foreign travel at the moment and only about a week or so per year birding in the UK.
The main reason for this sedentary behaviour has been the appearance of Lesser, Least and Pygmy Lawlors. Looking after young children means less hours out in the field, but it has re-awakened my interest in insects. For over ten years now, I have been irregularly running a moth trap in the garden, and have become very knowledgeable about the island's lepidoptera. I also try and identify any other creatures and plants I come across on the island, and I do a lot of wildlife photography. Most of these pictures can be seen on the website and on my Flickr site (link above R).
I still love my football, and still managing to play open-age until I reached 40 when I (semi-)retired. I still play 5-a-side though to try and keep fit. I support Leeds United and I love reading about and watching football from all over the world.
Birding in Scotland, 2009 - On the football field, 2009
Four-fifths of BUBO at Minsmere, 2011
Finally, my message to all birders is : please don't take yourselves so seriously, and avoid the snobbery that can sometimes pervade birding. If you consider 'self-finding', or intensive local patch watching, or serving an apprenticeship, or breeding bird surveys to be what it should be all about, then fair enough. However, remember that not everybody wants to be an expert or a 'name', and that plenty of people are out birding/birdwatching/twitching simply to enjoy themselves. So long as they are not harming anyone, let them do so.
So this is my website and I hope it interests and amuses. If you have any queries about anything you read, please do not hesitate to contact me.