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 nonsense put together by my alter ego - Gyr Crakes.
When I was about 15, I was playing a lot less football, and I read the book "Bill Oddie's Gone Birding". It struck quite a chord with me, and I realised that I wanted to be a proper birder. I started spending more and more time looking for my own birds, firstly around the tracks and fields around my hometown of Garforth, then weekly visits to my first local patch of Swillington Ings, where I learnt the basics of bird identification from the regulars. I started going further afield with my dad and our holidays abroad cemented my interest.
Between the ages of 18 and 21 I studied at Bristol University, where I finally met a groups of lads my own age who were also birders, and we created the legendary 'BUBO'. With bus rides to Chew Valley Lake, and scrounging lifts further afield for twitches and ticks, my skills improved and I saw lots of great birds. After graduating, my year out was mostly spent in Israel working at the observatory and carrying out migration surveys, which was obviously amazing.
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. During weekend visits to my Grandma's house I passed the time reading some old bird books, and so birds became the major focus.
Birdwatching when I was a schoolboy was very much a casual pastime since my main interest was playing football. However, my dad took me to local nature reserves such as Fairburn Ings a couple of times a month and the odd walk with a local birdwatching group.
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 little 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 regularly 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.
I still love my football, and still managed to play until I reached 43 when I retired for the sake of my legs. I support Leeds United and I love reading about and watching football from all over the world.
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 or birdwatching or 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.