Virtual Birdsong Identification Workshop with Peter Holden MBE

The annual bird workshop and dawn chorus event with Peter Holden MBE, author of the RSPB Handbook has been one of our favourites dates in the calendar. Due to COVID restrictions, we have been unable to hold the workshop the last two years.

Last year, we ran the Virtual Dawn Chorus event, where members of the public were invited to submit their dawn chorus experience recorded in their gardens, out of their apartment windows or in local parks.

This year, Peter was kind enough to offer an online version of the workshop, free to all previous attendees. This meant a chance to see each other, share stories and of course, brush up on our bird song identification and bird behaviour knowledge.

Tor Purrett’s hand-weaved, hand-dyed bird inspired shawls

During lockdown, a number of our attendees had been moved to create some incredibly beautiful artworks. Tor Purrett shared her amazing hand spun shawls (pictured above). Each one inspired by a different bird, she creates natural dyes from woods and plants to transform the fleece.

Coo Geller presented her beautifully delicate representations of egg shells which were exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy.

Coo Geller’s ‘Eggshell Blends’
Alex Dommett’s ‘Nightjar’

Alex Dommett, shared her powerful drawing of a nightjar that she had managed to spot on holiday.

Lastly, Sarah reminded us all of our most marvellous 2018 workshop in which we spotted a very rare golden oriole on our dawn chorus walk.

Inspired by that story, Sarah’s friend painted her a picture of the beautiful bird which we eventually located with binoculars, singing at the top of a tall tree in the early morning light. If you’d like to read more about that incredible sighting, you can read Hayley Coristine’s beautiful blog post.

Sarah presents her friend’s golden oriole painting

Signed copies of the RSPB handbook are available from Peter for £10 incl. p&p

We hope to resume our much-loved workshop next year! If you’d like to subscribe to events please contact me.

Series Two begins 13th June 2021

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With three weeks to go before the second series of The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast, things are busy at Chez Hickey-Hall.

I’m humbled by the truly wonderful response that series one received. Many listeners wrote to tell me how much it meant to hear others talking of their experiences. Some remarked that it helped to make sense of their own extraordinary encounters and gave them hope and courage that they may be able to discuss their own experiences.

“I do love your podcast, it brings me much joy!

“I just wanted to thank you for all your stories! I have been seeing and interacting with the Faeries since I was very small. Its wonderful to hear all these other experiences. Thank you so much!”

“I love your podcast.”

“Thank you again for such a great podcast. It’s really good to know that there are people out there who are willing to discuss topics such as this one, however strange and bizarre it may seem to others.”  

“So happy to have stumbled across your podcast.”

“Thank you for being brave and sharing your experience with such integrity and honesty. So beautiful and truly curious!” 

It’s been a huge adventure for me too. At all times it’s felt as if I’m simply moving within the flow of this project’s own great momentum. For me personally, being able to chat with people and exchange experiences has been immensely helpful in validating my own curious encounters and providing a little more insight. Most importantly, if people feel more able to talk about their experiences as a result of this project, then it is serving its purpose.

Although we’re only weeks away, the second series is still forming. It’s a leap of trust for me and I feel led by the conversations which arise within interviews and the paths of exploration which they inspire, in this reimagining of the Podcast.

I look forward to joining with you all again on 13th June at 8pm (BST). Please subscribe and rate on Apple, Spotify Google, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

If you’d like to join The Curious Crew on Patreon, supporting the show, taking part in discussions and forming the new content, you can find more info here.

Much love,

Jo x

Main image: I went for a walk today and we happened upon this tranquil field carpeted with clover, buttercups and dandelion clocks. When the heavens opened we headed under the trees and found an ancient trackway which we followed until we got a bit lost! But that's always the fun bit :) before we got rained on, my dear friend managed to paint the scene as part of her daily painting practice: "One Tiny Thing" you can find it here on her Instagram.

Bonus Episode 13: Jo’s Fairy Encounter

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I began the Modern Fairy Sightings project in 2016, along with ‘Black Dog’ folklorist, Mark Norman while researching for Simon Young and Ceri Houlbrook’s book, ‘Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies: 500AD to the Present. Since that time, I have spoken to many others who have shared their encounters, for the purpose of research. In 2020, I created The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast and my guests have shared their stories. I feel it’s now time to share my own encounter.

Experiences shared on the Podcast are usually kept anonymous, so this is a very personal and important decision for me.

I hope it goes some way to break the taboo around speaking about extraordinary encounters of this kind and that it helps others who have had similar experiences and perhaps feel alone with it. I feel it’s important that we acknowledge that there are ‘Otherworlds’ that appear to weave with our own in a way that we don’t currently understand. Even if we cannot find answers, we can find meaning by sharing our experiences and exploring these mysterious universal realities, together.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Podcast intro music: Transmutate by Snowflake (c) copyright 2020 Licensed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.