Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Meet the Clayheads

One of the most frequent questions asked on the 1000's of emails is "Who are the Clayheads?". It's about time I introduced my band of brothers. As a one off, here goes. I must say, you have to be rather special to be consider a Clayhead - the elite birders in North Staffordshire.

First of all meet the Artist, Phil Jones

Phil "Jonesy" Jones - I remember Jonesy on an RSPB trip in the mid 80's and the lucky git managed to continue throughout the 90's so despite me seeing my first rare before him, he didn't get distracted by girls and family (he's not a sausage jockey though, please don't think so) and he's birded ever since. Approaching  mid 490's (BOU), he likes to remind us its a Snickers and not a sprint so he's more into world birding now (he'd rather see a Blue-crested Finch Thrush than a Ring-necked Duck for his Yorkshire list now) but he can still be tempted out for a big twitch. You've seen it, he's drawn it. His work has appeared in county reports and LGRE's books, a very underestimated artist, his best drawings are simply superb. It depends now if he can be arsed or not. You ask him for a drawing though, and he can produce one. 
Phil "Jonesy" Jones
Phil "Red Bull" Locker - Shit at numbers, he can't add up to save his life. Always adds to his life list and has never taken a tick off yet, "Mr I'm having an Oatcake first" has been birding since the early 90's. My first memory of him was at Westport when he turned up with his scope (please, only "The Builder" is allowed that priviledge), and he was mithering our leader and Clayhead founder WJL about a THAYER'S GULL at a tip in Cheshire. I remember asking WJL who the hell was that. And the Locker legend was born. Only birds after 16 cans of Red Bull, 4 bags of haribo and 16 bacon and cheese oatcakes, PLo is approaching the magical 500 (BOU) but needs a trip to Bedfordshire desparately please. 

Chris "The St Helen's Kid" Waring - Been birding since the 1930's when for some reason he was taken the the Scillies for his holidays in October. What's that all about the f**king cheat? Personal friend of every famous 1960's birder, his Aunty was Hilda Quick-Hide, who the Hilda Quick Hide is named after. He's been tiger hunting with David "James" Hunt, he's played cricket and sat on the East Bank Cley with Richie Richardson and he's discussed gull identification with Peter "Gull" Grant. Met him first at Westport in the late 80's when he was repping and he used to pull up on the car park in his black jaguar, Armarny (Armani?) suit and barbour wellies and talk to me and WJL. He later went into pop star management and actually attended Kylie's birthday party (most of the stuff on this blog is utter crap, but some of it is true!). If you want to hear about when Chris's girlfriend fell out with Robbie Williams, then just ask him. We've heard them all before. Had a few years out then we found him wandering around Westport in 2010 and we decided he needed his British list increasing. Been try to do that since then. Co-pilot and occasional driver, also is quite sensible and keeps the group under control.

Ian "The Stalker" Burgess - got the reputation of being a stalker as wherever the Clayheads went, he was there. In the end we just invited him along. Now a regular member of the group and not scary at all. Coming up to 450 (BOU) so he's getting a big one slowly. For the purposes of the blog, he is still a scary man and sneaks his way into the car.]

The Stalker
Pops - One of the original members. Took me to my first YOC group. Constantly alongside me through all my early birding and then when we started again in 2000. Always came along with us on every trip until he stopped coming with us in June 2016. Since then he's looked after us from above. Seat permanently saved and thats why we only have three members in the car. Hated sat navs with a passion. Gutted when sacked as map reader. Couldn't believe the anger directed towards the satnav at times. Still, he was pops and we all miss him dearly.  

Karl "The Builder" Stockton - late developer and has accompanied us on occasional trips. The classic 90's birder. Set off fast,woooompf thru the 90's to get up to the magical 500. Now, only wakes up when there's a tick and in spring when he's year listing, and if there's a tick then he's off. Also if you need any big jobs doing, he's a fantanstic DIY person. I can personally recommend him.

Me - the Captain. Been birding since 1982 and an original teeny ticker - saw my first rare in 1986 at the age of 16.Sat out the 90's cos of girls and family and came back in 2000. A complete tosser who you don't want to cross, but once accepted I will look after you for life. The driver, none better, a complete professional, you are safe in my hands. Also trip organiser and I try to dominate you until Chris steps in.

Substitutes"Grizzly" Adams. Has been on a few trips and now is doing a bit more birding than previously. Has to remember you don't have to see a bird just once, you can see it twice in fact.

Grant "Granty" Grant Price - new boy. Spent a whole journey trying to think of a nick name for him. Shows potential and appetite for the future. Just needs to add another 100 to his list and he might get a seat.