Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blast from the Past: Beidaihe 1985!

I have recently been sent a few photos from 25 years ago by Martin Williams, and he's given me permission to post them here.

In the days before boy bands and fantasy football, what did a bunch of guys get up to in their formative years? Well, in this case, we went to China and 'rediscovered' Beidaihe - one of the great migration spectacles in Asia!

Here we were on the Lotus Hills - our migration watchpoint - where we sat virtually every day for three months (well - not all of us at once - we took it in turns!). Ahh - those were the days before carbon fibre tripods, goretex and telescopes you can see through! Note the preponderance of Barbour coats and draw-tube scopes, and not a pair of roof prisms in sight! Actually, I still have that Velbon aluminium tripod - and it still works!

What looks like a plastic bag of rubbish in the foreground is actually our collective lunch - a large quantity of local biscuits we called 'rusks'. They were tasteless, furred up the tongue and gummed our mouths shut for minutes on end, but they filled us up and they were cheap!

The intrepid team was (left to right): Martin Williams, Ron Appleby, Steve Holloway, Geoff Carey, yours truly, Simon Stirrup and Roger Beecroft.

Where are they now?

Martin: An author, video producer, tour guide, Outstanding Earth Champion and all-round eco-hero based in Hong Kong. Check out his websites at,,

Ron: No news

Steve: Last heard of as the Non-Estuarine Coastal Waterfowl Survey (NEWS) Project Officer at the British Trust for Ornithology (trying saying that with a mouthful of rusks!) and co-author of several stellar publications such as The Wetland Bird Survey 2001-03 Wildfowl and Wader Counts. Good on you Steve!

Geoff: Chairman of the Hong Kong Bird Records Committee and co-author of some books like this and this.

Simon: Owner of some seriously expensive camera gear and a stunning collection of wildlife pics, showcased on his website:

Roger: Runs an environmental consultancy and has been involved in wetland recreation schemes such as this one (Scroll down to Kingfishers Bridge).

So all-in-all - a great bunch of guys that I am proud to have crossed chopsticks with.

Daily Log time at the hotel. I notice that everyone seems happy except me. Perhaps I am thinking "Why is always ME that has to write up the log?" Or maybe the rusks are taking their toll?

Hope to post more pics soon.

For more info on Beidaihe, take a look at some of the articles here.


Jason Bugay Reyes said...

What a nice memory you had Dave hehehe and do you still have your porro bino now ?

digdeep said...

Haha! Yes, My old Optolyth 10 x 50s are still in operation. Should start a museum eh?!