Sounds of hope: Winter Wren

By Laura Sebastianelli

Background sounds: distant surf on rocky coast, lobster boat, light irregular wind, other animals: red squirrel, flies, Black Throated Green warbler, Northern Parula warbler, Dark-eye Junco.

Laura Sebastinelli

Marantz PMD561, 2 Sennheiser ME62s


A longtime friend of THE HOBBLEDEHOY, Laura Sebastianelli is a naturalist, ecological educator, sound recordist, citizen scientist, and active community member living near Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve
in Alexandria, VA.
Visit at: wildaroundus.wordpress.com/

Birding in a Dangerous Time

How to mostly stay home, but still partake in a spectacular spring migration.


While the deadly coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, a much different wave is sweeping through our backyards almost unnoticed — one that offers much-needed inspiration and emotional relief during troubled times.

The annual northward spring migration of birds is underway, providing citizens with not just a distraction from the ho-hum of self-isolation, but an opportunity to experience one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth without even leaving the house.

“This migration — birds coming from distant countries — can open your eyes to another world, something entirely foreign,” says Rob Butler, a B.C. bird expert, author and former federal research scientist. “Most people are completely oblivious to it.”

According to the National Audubon Society, at least a billion birds migrate annually along the Pacific Flyway — a route that follows the west side of the Americas and crosses a vast range of habitats from the tropics to the Arctic. Continue reading

My eagle-eyed winter wander around the Isle of Wight

The island isn’t only for summer holidays: the colder months are perfect for birding and walks along trails that will form part of the England Coast Path

The Isle of Wight is having a moment. That’s what conservationist Dave Fairlamb tells me as we eat homemade cake on a silver-grey afternoon, watching meadow pipits above Newtown’s salt marshes.

“From a nature perspective,” he says, “everything’s converging.”

Dave has just launched Natural Links, offering birdwatching breaks and courses on the island, which has been focusing on its natural assets in the past year. Two Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust projects – the Wilder strategy and Secrets of the Solent – launched in 2019; Visit Isle of Wight published a Slow Travel Guide; and the whole island was awarded Unesco Biosphere status. Last summer also saw the start of a white-tailed eagle reintroduction project, with six birds released on the island’s north coast.

We see no eagles but as we stroll along the harbour we spot a swirl of dunlins – “about 600,” Dave estimates in an instant – and thrill to a fly-by of overwintering Brent geese, [ . . . ] Continue reading

10 of UK’s best spring walks

Pubs and restaurants may be closed and dark, but all over the UK wildlife is bursting into the light of longer days and it’s never been more important to get some fresh air. Nature writers select their favourite seasonal destinations

Land of poems and stories: the Cotswolds

“If ever I heard blessing it is there. Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are.” In April and May the Cotswold landscape still speaks in the soft, calm tones of Laurie Lee. For a first-time visitor it can take a while to tune into the hard, spare, wall-bound fields of the Cotswold plateau. Yet in the valleys and on the scarp edges, there are bluebells and wood anemones, clear spring-fed streams and a soundtrack of willow warblers and blackcaps, fresh back from their winter travels.

The deep valleys around Stroud hold hanging woods, filled in April with the scent of wild garlic. At the National Trust-maintained Woodchester Park, where the half-completed Victorian manor stands mysterious in the valley bottom, it feels as though the clock has stopped and no one has yet arrived to restart it.

Further north, in my home patch, the same timeless feel pervades Hailes Abbey, with, above it, a monument marking Thomas Cromwell’s seat, from which it is said he watched the Abbey burn almost 500 years ago. From here you can walk a couple of miles along the Cotswold Way to Winchcombe.

Spring is a wonderful time to explore smaller towns and villages, many of which are the subject of poems and stories. For me, each name conjures a memory: a village cricket match in April snow at Guiting Power; my childhood love of Bibury,

Continue reading

Beauty during pandemic: dueting Barred Owls

By Laura Sebastianelli

Despite rain (light to medium at times) a pair of of dueting Barred Owls was recorded for over an hour (4:20 – 5:25am) this morning at the edges of west Dyke Marsh and River Towers, Alexandria, VA. This clip features roughly 5 minutes that includes 3 sets of caterwauling — calls described well by Birds of North America Online as “a raucous jumble of cackles, hoots, caws and gurgles.

Laura Sebastinelli

Marantz PMD561, Sennheiser ME66
BAOW 032820 450am 1035 Short Final


A longtime friend of THE HOBBLEDEHOY, Laura Sebastianelli is a naturalist, ecological educator, sound recordist, citizen scientist, and active community member living near Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve
in Alexandria, VA.
Visit at: wildaroundus.wordpress.com/