Looking ahead to a new birding year

Black-eared WheatearWell another year, things to organise, things to do and hopefully a host of things to look forward to. Last year’s memories shine brightly and I feel eternally grateful for a passion with all things nature shares with me. Birds provide me with inspiration, hope and also a peace that comes from being able to appreciate a beauty given freely to those of us willing to take time to enjoy them.

Of course birding will always provide special and memorable moments, some are made-up of seeing our regular birds and others an unexpected encounter. I am excited looking ahead at the pages that may unfold for the new year, will the year hold those sightings that eclipse the wonderful days of the previous year?

Bonelli's Warbler
One of our common woodland birds of the summer. Bonelli’s Warbler

Who can help thinking ahead to the warmer temperatures and longer days of the spring? Yes I am enjoying our winter birds and those crisp and sunny mornings, but my advanced years means I love the warmth of spring and summer. I am already wondering how our summer visitors are fairing in their winter quarters and worrying how many will make it through a gruelling journey northwards to join us.

Subalpine Warbler
Another woodland bird and also in scrub during summer. Subalpine Warbler

Having a local patch, where visits are made regularly, show you trends with familiar birds. Over a period of 17 years I have witnessed trends that are encouraging and others that give rise to grave concern. Some once common birds have declined at an alarming rate, species such as Black-eared Wheatear and Woodchat Shrike, the later was formerly abundant but now common, in fact absent from some previously favoured sites. To my eye the habitats here haven’t changed dramatically, so I am leaning towards believing the problems are in their wintering grounds or perhaps difficulties encountered along the way on migration.

Woodchat Shrike
A great cause for concern is the decline of Woodchat Shrike.

And so I look forward to my birding year in the hope it will produce those magic moments, but also in the hope our summer visitors return safely.

Peter Jones

Leave a Reply