Twitchers: A Very British Obsession

Well, last night’s documentary could have been horrendous but I think overall most people came out of it ok. I was very surprised about how well Garry Bagnell came over, I know there’s the whole T Shirt thing but in reality he never tried to pretend he was anything other than an obsessive twitcher. He seems like the kind of bloke you could have a beer with – clearly Harry Hussey felt differently!

Now I know that I’ve knocked Lee Geoffrey Richard Evans in the past and in the programme he did himself no favours in repairing his reputation… after his comments, I would understand if he was off Garry’s Xmas card list. I’d be really interested to hear full disclosure as well about LRGE living his life like George Michael, that could make a programme on its own.

I certainly learned nothing new about LRGE but I did notice that given the state of his optics they must have stopped designing telescopes for people with one eye…


16 responses to “Twitchers: A Very British Obsession

  1. I think he’s quite clearly up for a section John, Paranoid, deluded and defo delusion of grandeur (the George Michael comment!!) 😉

  2. Leigh Adams

    What a tool he is. I have never met Lee Evans and really hope I never do, if anyone in the birding world still gives him any credence they are tools too. I hate that we share a first name too.

  3. Sadly Leigh, there are still people who will defend him, but they are mostly either idiots, or people who have no idea what he is really like. He can come across as very likeable and helpful at twitches etc, but watch out if you dare to see something he doesn’t!

    I’ve witnessed his character assassination at first hand on Scilly when a Wilson’s Phalarope I found disappeared before he got there – it was seen by around 30 people and accepted by the BBRC, but of course Lee doesn’t ‘recognise it’ and insisted that we must have all been watching a Greenshank. Quite why we decided that one out of the 20-odd Greenshanks on the Great Pool at the time was a Wilson’s Phalarope is beyond me, but there you go.

    LGRE has been without doubt the most negative and destructive influence on birding in this country in the last 30 years, and it’s reached the stage now where I don’t even find him amusing any more. He is just totally depressing, and the main reason why I didn’t watch the programme last night.

  4. Harry Hussey

    For the record, I had no real previous dealings with Garry before that time that we met on Inishbofin, so I had no problems with him prior to that day, nor, indeed, have I had any with him since…I am not such a fervent patriot as to have been massively offended by his geographical/political oversight and that T-shirt. Accordingly, I would not have snubbed him intentionally, but, having just finished my lunch and being keen to return to the field, some judicious editing and my innate comic timing combined to make the whole thing look worse than it was (or better, depending on one’s perspective).
    I actually spoke to the girl who did the filming, but none of that was used (nor did I expect it to be), giving an honest but respectful answer to the loaded question of what I thought about British birders coming over here for our birds…

  5. thedrunkbirder

    No worries Harry, I thought Garry came over quite well – and I’m being serious here. Do any Irish birders bother with the UK?

  6. I demand to see the ‘Directors Cut’ version of the programme whereby LGRE and an undisclosed Worcestershire birder were involved in a minor scuffle at the Azorean YL Gull site. Apparently it was like watching a couple of diclofenac infected Vultures squabbling over an Ox carcass.

    As for the ‘I’m the George Michael of birding’ quote I’d say he’s more like a George Formby x George W Bush hybrid… funny to look at, quite harmless in his demeanour but with an underlying streak of pure evilness.

    As for Garry, he’s never really admitted to being anything other than a competitive lister so he came over pretty much as he is, a thoroughly pleasant fellow….. albeit one with a dodgy stairs carpet & a penchant for Bombay Duck & Hula Hoops.


  7. Lee certainly polarises people! I mentioned it on BF that he has never done me any harm and I have known him for 27 years. I can only take as I find and I am puzzled why there is so much hatred towards him. He is not on any records committees (except the BBA of course) and as Chris Galvin put it so well, it is only LGRE we are talking about, not Experian etc. I doubt if Lee’s opinion holds any sway with rarity committee members so why not take some of what Lee says as comedy value? Stay cool and save the venom for folks who really deserve it, like people who take pleasure in killing animals for fun for instance or morons who drive their 4wd SUVs too fast on country roads? The thought of Lee living his life exactly like George Michael was new to me though, I had no idea…;) Br, Mike the idiot from Clitheroe

  8. Harry Hussey

    ‘Do any Irish birders bother with the UK?’
    In terms of listing, certainly not…if we did, we would have to go there far too regularly for stuff that is much rarer/unrecorded in Ireland, and the logistics and cost of this would be prohibitive to say the least. It’s bad enough for British birders to twitch the Northern Isles, say, at short notice, so imagine what it would be like for us!
    That said, from time to time, when a really rare WP bird turns up in Britain and lingers, particularly if it is anywhere near a ferry port or a city with regular flights from Ireland, we can sometimes be persuaded to visit, to get it as a lifer/WP tick. To date, my sole Ireland to Britain twitch was in 2003, for the Black Lark in Anglesey, which some friends and I saw a week after the ‘big boys’ of British birding would have ticked it. My first Pacific Golden Plover was also in Britain, in Cumbria, but, as I was working nearby at the time, that was a different matter entirely…

  9. thedrunkbirder

    If you were there on the following Saturday Harry (at the Black Lark) we were probably there at the same time… I had to sweat it out for the week!

  10. I’d love to know how Lee gets ‘completely exhumed’ by a MEGA. I can only imagine that he sleeps in a coffin and Carmel has to get him out when the pager bleeps….

  11. PS. I vote Brett Richards for president (of something or other – anything that pays a salary) so that this Yorkshire legend can continue to grip others off for as many years to come as possible?

  12. thedrunkbirder

    As I said in the car, now that Brett is required we should all chip in £5 each year and allow Brett to police us… he’ll be able to afford the odd twitch that way and his book-keeping skills should prove invaluable.

  13. Brett was certainly the star of the show. His bit – why do any of us do anything…we’re all here by accident etc – was all that needed to be said by way of explanation. Perhaps he could get his memoires published to keep him in funds – he must have a wealth of fascinating tales to tell.

  14. I just watched the doc in iplayer. Do any of the people featured actually do anything/ any work for conservation? They go on about loving birds but it’s just the list they love. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. It’s a narcissistic thing to be a twitcher.

  15. thedrunkbirder

    I don’t know if any of them do anything formally. Lee runs his UK400 club and he does BTO Atlas work but apart from that, I couldn’t say. I would hope there are a few RSPB/Wildlife Trust/BTO members.

  16. I agree with Leicester Llama and David Grey’s comments. The darker side of Evans is quite frightening e.g. ringing bosses of rival year-listers saying that the rival is birding whilst on sick-leave. One birder even ended up with a nervous breakdown. The spreading of vitriol and character assassination of honest birdwatchers who threaten his records (e.g. Adrian Webb all-time year-list record) based solely on fantasy. Fabricating bird records at all levels (e.g. Western Palearctic, UK, county, year-lists, life-lists).

    Evans accused the Leicester Llama of misidentifying a Greenshank for a Wilson’s Phalarope and yet Evans was not even at the scene and so had no evidence whatsoever it was not a Wilson’s. Rather ironic when you consider Evans misidentified a Greenshank in Northamptonshire for a Greater Yellowlegs.

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