Ornithology is the study of birds; I’ve taken an interest in it all my life.  I suppose we just used to notice garden birds, but if we went for walks, or had seaside holidays, my parents would name birds without it being anything ‘special’.  They became life members of the RSPB, though, and in due course I did too.  If you have a long-term interest, I recommend investing in life membership as soon as you can afford it, since you keep getting the benefits even when you get to the ‘trimming your outgoings’ stage!

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

A couple of years before I came to Norfolk I started doing the BTO’s weekly Garden BirdWatch Survey.   I mentioned citizen science projects somewhere recently, and this is one of the longest standing ones.  Every week, thousands of people note what birds they see in their gardens, and record them online.  It used to be done on paper forms – a huge job for the organisers!  These scientific records create a pattern of bird movements, population change over time, and nesting season success.  It all helps to inform environmental policy, as in the ‘State of UK’s Birds’ publication.

My favourite bit is knowing what birds like using my garden, and how that changes over the years.

Anyone in the UK can take part; you don’t even need a garden as long as you can record something regularly from outside your window.  There’s an annual fee (c£18) to cover costs, and there’s a quarterly magazine with news of sightings around the country.

Other countries are also adopting this idea of using local observations to build up a picture of wildlife distribution – check your country’s wildlife or ornithological organisations or see international links on the BTO pages.

I am NOT a twitcher!

It seems the word twitcher is now applied generally to anyone who watches or even just loves birds.  It is really a derogatory term for a birder who will go anywhere to find a rarity, and who twitches at an unusual song or call!

If you want to define my birding type, I’m a patcher – I have one or more patches or areas that I use regularly to enjoy the bird life, and may keep detailed records of my sightings.  There are many online tools to help people who like to keep records; I got fed up with counting soon after the Bird Atlas surveys finished in 2011, although I enjoyed doing those surveys – real ornithology at work.  I do make notes of my first migrant species – like the oystercatchers, common terns, warblers and swifts that turn up here in spring.  Well, the oystercatchers often come in January, but don’t get vocal until March.   I also record dragonflies, mammals, butterflies and some moths and bumblebees and other insects I see.

I do write about birds sometimes – you may have seen the illustration of the oystercatcher I needed for Willoughby the Narrator that comes out next week.  Here’s a haiku about them.


Flashing black and white

Seeking mate and nesting site

‘Peep-ing’ all the way!

illustrations diamond souls story
7.5 Willoughby’s Story “Diamond Souls”

Ornithology and Tuesday #haiku #AtoZChallenge
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14 thoughts on “Ornithology and Tuesday #haiku #AtoZChallenge

  • 18 April, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    That an interesting hobby you pursue! Good read. Loved the Haiku!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks, Anagha. I replied yesterday but my site completely lost it. Strange it was ignoring me but still accepting your posts – but I’m glad it did!

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Badges? Must be a misunderstanding. I birdwatch on my patch to enjoy it more fully. For example, the common terns arrived today. I was expecting them this week… over ten years they’ve rarely shifted their arrival by more than about four days!

  • 18 April, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Love this post. I have just filled up the bird feeders in our front and back garden. I have been recording birds in and around our property on a daily basis for nearly 15 years and take part in the Great Garden Birdwatch each year but in January it’s often a waste of time.

    Victoria and Alberts Osborne House http://bit.ly/2pO70kP

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      If you’ve been recording your garden birds daily for fifteen years you are a natural Garden BirdWatcher (not the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, which is big in numbers but small in scope). Check out the link to the BTO 🙂

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Oooh, I’d love to see a merlin. I was with someone who said “look there’s a merlin,” but I didn’t see it!

  • 18 April, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I’m not much of a bird-watcher, though I like them and enjoy watching the hawks in our area, or the hummingbirds in my yard (I’m less fond of the vultures that circle when I’m cycling). And while I can’t ID most of them, there is nothing I love so much as the dawn chorus when we are camped near a desert oasis.

    Maybe my favorite, by call only (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more than a distant glimpse) is the canyon wren. It has an iconic falling call that to me is the voice of the canyon country.

    The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Iconic birds… fantastic. I’m irritated at not having put any birds in the Viridian System planets 🙂

  • 19 April, 2017 at 3:33 am

    My little sister for a while was really into birds and loved to watch documentaries about it and see what new birds she had never seen before.

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      I think the fascination of birds is that they are so accessible – bouncing around in trees above our heads as if we aren’t there, sometimes.

  • 19 April, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I am also a ‘patcher’. I enjoy watching birds in my own garden, my sister’s smallholding and the small wildlife area near where I live. Lovely post.

    • 19 April, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      That’s great! I bet there are some fantastic birds where you live.

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