Bird Watching (UK) - - Challenge -

Keep an eye on news ser­vices, such as lo­cal mail­ing groups, Twit­ter or bird news info ser­vices.

Keep half an eye on weather pat­terns. The tim­ing of the ap­pear­ances of mi­grant birds is a bal­ance be­tween time of year and the weather.

Keep in con­tact with other bird­ers in your area. You can’t find ev­ery­thing on your own. Help each other, don’t ‘com­pete’.

Birds of­ten come in ‘waves’ across the coun­try. Keep an eye on trends of birds turn­ing up around the UK and act ac­cord­ingly. For ex­am­ple, if there are lots of Com­mon Scot­ers drop­ping down, check your lo­cal lakes. If there are Honey Buz­zards on the move, check the skies!

Keep a list to track your progress and make sure noth­ing goes miss­ing. Keep one each year and you can start to work out pat­terns, trends and timings, as well as set­ting a tar­get to aim for.

‘Twitch’ rare and scarce lo­cal birds as soon as you can; there is never a guar­an­tee a bird will linger. Year list­ing, like any bird­watch­ing, does not have to be a soli­tary pur­suit. It can just as well be a fam­ily and friends ac­tiv­ity

Au­gust is a pro­gres­sion of the turn­ing tide of July, with the added twist that this is a time when wader move­ment in­creases, and many small birds are start­ing their re­turn pas­sage. Pied Fly­catch­ers and Wry­necks are tar­gets ev­ery year around Peter­bor­ough and war­blers and chats are com­ing back through in slightly drab­ber, fresh plumage. And so into Septem­ber, which sees a build-up of war­blers and chats on the move, and we yearn for scarce waders and per­haps a mi­grat­ing Honey Buz­zard over­head. High winds can bring seabirds in­land and per­haps a scarcity such as a shrike. Oc­to­ber is usu­ally the last chance for many pas­sage waders, such as Lit­tle Stints, but it also sees the herald­ing of win­ter with the first re­turn­ing win­ter­ing wild­fowl etc. And as Oc­to­ber turns into Novem­ber it re­ally feels like the sec­ond win­ter pe­riod is com­ing in earnest. Now is the time to mop up all the stuff missed ear­lier in the year and hope for in­va­sions of scarce geese, Waxwings, Mealy Red­polls and Bram­blings. And De­cem­ber’s short days of­fer the last chance to mop up birds for the list, although some­how there will al­ways some­thing left field and un­ex­pected. Bird­ing slightly ob­ses­sively ev­ery year has un­doubt­edly made me a bet­ter bird­watcher. It also keeps me vis­it­ing some of the su­perb ar­eas we are blessed with around my home city. And ev­ery time I visit, I see some­thing in­ter­est­ing, some­thing new, some­thing sen­sa­tional, some­thing ex­cit­ing! I do it be­cause I love it and, per­haps, you will, too.

Scarce waders, like this Lit­tle Stint, can be cru­cial for build­ing a great lo­cal year list


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