Monday, July 23, 2007

SUMMER BRIDWATCHING

This is a fairly quiet time of year for birdwatching. The breeding season is more or less complete for many species – although certain residents will have several broods over a good summer – and many birds are concentrating on feeding up before their return migration - often in places where they are less easily seen. The deciduous trees are fully clothed with leaf-cover and much of the feeding goes on high up in the canopy. The countryside is loaded with bounty so many town birds have escaped to feed in quieter areas.
Birdwatchers have to rely on their summer vacations to bring interest to their activity. Its well worth finding out what species you can expect to see when you go abroad in advance as English Language field-guides are often hard to find when you’re actually there. If you can’t find what you need in the library or local bookshop, then go on the Net to get a good choice of material. It’s also useful to look with titles such as ‘Where to Watch Birds in Rubovia’ As these will point you to the best locations near your holiday destination. A day or two’s birding can make a foreign visit that much more interesting once you’ve exhausted the beach, the shops and the local tourist haunts.
Much the same applies if you’re holidaying in the UK. Different parts of the country can offer quite differing types of birding. Mountain and Moorland, Marsh and Fen, North and West, Coast and Country all present varied habitats and a whole new list of possibilities. What’s common here may be a rarity there and vice versa. Again, find out before you go and plan a birding excursion into your trip. Of course, RSPB reserves are always a good bet for seeing something unusual but be aware that summer is also quieter there in many cases.

When you come home again, perhaps you could be thinking about making or updating your provision for birds in your garden. Do your feeders need cleaning or replacing? The sooner you start providing food, the bigger your contingent of garden regulars will be by the time autumn and winter start diminishing the natural food sources. But you must keep the feeders replenished once you start feeding or else the birds that come to rely on you will go hungry. You may care to obtain a book like Robert Burton’s ‘Birdfeeder Garden’. This is an excellent guide to things you can do to attract and nurture birdlife in your own habitat. Besides notes on feeders, bird-tables and so forth, it has plenty of ideas about planting to attract birds – shrubs with suitable berries, plants to encourage insects which birds feed on. There’s advice on ponds and other habitat ideas, plans for a variety of standard and specialist nesting boxes, which you might like to construct on otherwise dull and dingy autumn weekends.
We have heard a lot, in recent years, about the decline in the numbers of common bird species such as the House Sparrow. By making quite simple provision in your garden you can contribute to the task of supporting declining birdlife, which has to be a positive outcome of what often starts out as the quite innocent pastime of birdwatching. With many of us doing this, there is a cumulative effect and in no time a species can recover from virtual extinction. Not only that, for quite a modest investment, you can gain hours of enjoyment and entertainment from the amusement generated by a handful of little brown jobs squabbling over food in your garden!

Ian Lawes
ianhowardlawes@lineone.net
http://abi-rhodes.typepad.com

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