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January 2017 newsletter

Posted: 07.01.17 in Latest bird news category

Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter of 2017 which has the following 5 items.

• Cheviot Day Tour

• Even Sparrows retreat next spring

• Report on November 2016 retreat

• Selection from the website

• Connecting with nature for A Rocha



We are offering one day tour this spring in the Cheviot Hills on the first May Bank Holiday . These have a great range of moorland and woodland birds, as well as some stunning scenery in one of England's least known national parks. May is probably the best month to visit here as many of the summer visitors like the Ring Ouzel, Whinchat, Redstart, Cuckoo, and Tree Pipit have arrived to breed. By this time resident birds are well established in their breeding activities including the spectacular Peregrine Falcon, Dipper and Red Grouse.

The price is £60 per person for a full day’s guided birdwatching or £50 each if you book for 2 or more people.



We currently have a trio of residential retreats on Holy Island this year, beginning with a 3 day retreat in early spring.

Friday 31 March - Monday 3 April 2017. Our biblical theme will be "the birds of the air" and we will also be focusing on the life of our local saint, Cuthbert. Expect to see a wide variety of birds including early spring arrivals and departing winter visitors. Our precise itinerary will depend on the latest bird news, but it will probabaly include a visit to woods on the mainland close by. If you are unsure about coming, why not read the report below by repeat retreatants, Wallace and Liz MacFarlane.

The price for the 3 day retreat is £195 per person + the price of B&B accommodation based at the Open Gate retreat centre.

Two retreats will be running in autumn 2017. We have a 3 day retreat from Friday 15 to Monday 18 September and a weekend retreat 13-15 October. For further details please visit the website, http://www.evensparrows.co.uk/events/



"This was our second retreat with Mark at the Open Gate on Holy Island. Once again it was a physical, mental, but most important of all, spiritual experience. Physical in the sense of walking, being outdoors in the beauty of God's creation, returning tired for wonderful food and hospitality from Kevin, Lesley and Ellie at the Open Gate. Mental and thought provoking as we tried to remember birds of the Bible, birds we had seen, and what we could learn from birds. Spiritual as each of us came from a different tradition, all moved by an interest in birds and united in a faith in Jesus Christ. The spirituality of strangers sharing and becoming friends, through fellowship and worship together was a true blessing. Mark is a very knowledgeable birdwatcher with a passion for 'even sparrows' and a passion for Christ. We will be back as these retreats offer a place of rest and nurturing amidst the busy pace and stresses of daily life. They are a time for reflection and growth"

Wallace & Liz Macfarlane, Pathhead



The Even Sparrows website is updated each month with articles, reports on events and news about the Christian faith and nature. Here's the latest article - my January 2017 piece about starting again:

A fresh start

"I started again on New Year's Day. 1 January seemed an appropriate date for a fresh start, especially this year I thought as I walked home at dusk with a new moon glimmering in the twilight. Like many birdwatchers I keep an annual list of birds I have seen, and by mid December I am already looking forward to beginning a new list in the hope that it might be bigger than before. Yet 2016 proved a pretty good year. I recorded a total of 202 species in the UK including 2 species I had not seen anywhere before - my encounters with White's Thrush and Siberian Accentor in October 2016 will probably live long in my memory.

Many people resolve to make a fresh start on 1 January, sharing in traditions of making new year resolutions which go as far back as the ancient Babylonians. I suspect many of us today still do so despite our personal experiences of previously failing. Perhaps there's a deeper truth at work here about 'fresh starts' and their importance to us. On my Christian journey I frequently realise that I fall short, make mistakes and 'mess up'. Traditional religious talk of 'sin' may be unfashionable, but I sense its reality all too often when I desperately want to make a fresh start. Thankfully, God in His mercy reaches out, picks me up, dusts me down and puts me back on the path like the loving father of the prodigal. And the paradox of it all.... In the words of Lamentations chapter 3 God's steadfast love is new every morning. Great indeed is His faithfulness."



Last year I wrote a short article for A Rocha - the charity helping Christians to care for the natural world. 'Connecting with God through nature' explores what the Bible says about the importance of the natural world and how it reveals aspects of God's character and purposes. As some readers will have seen , it was published in the autumn/winter edition of A Rocha UK magazine, 'Root & Branch'. You can also find it on our website as the December 2016 article.


I hope you find this newsletter interesting. Please let me know as soon as possible which events you wish to join so that I can book you a place. Contact me by email (evensparrows@gmail.com) or by phone.

Mark Winter Mobile: 07594592684

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