Bird Reports – Past, Present And Future

Birding is very seasonal in many respects. On New Years Day people spend a lot of time in the field, and then for some the work starts on the annual bird report. I speak as a veteran, I’ve been involved in writing either Birds (And Wildlife) In Cumbria or the Lancashire Bird Report continuously since 1992 so I am pushing 30 years of experience. it is a privilege to be involved in both at the moment.

You can see from the image above that there has been substantial evolution in the way local bird reports look and what’s in them. If you glanced at the 1980 report you would be forgiven for thinking Feral Pigeons and Collared Doves didn’t exist as there is no entry for either of them. There was only one Redshank record reported, and a plea for more flocks to be submitted.

Having declared my interest I must say that the 2020 Birds And Wildlife In Cumbria is a superb publication that anyone with an interest in the nature of the county should own. Almost 40 pages of it are given over to a history of bird ringing on Walney Island. I used to visit Walney regularly and still didn’t know that ringing began there over 100 years ago. The knowledge gleaned from increasingly systematic coverage is well summarised. It is always good to see finders’ reports in a bird report too, in an era where the circumstances can be online within the week I still like to read them in the official record.

A lot of local bird reports have had a chequered history in terms of covering their costs and getting enough people involved in the production to be sustainable. Fortunately the reports in this part of the world appear to be in rude health. You can do your bit by submitting your records, directly or as a result of using Birdtrack should you do so. All records help build up a picture.

The future of bird reports as a physical product is unclear. Some county bird reports have gone online online to cut costs, going forward it may be that environmental concerns also lead to more electronic only reports. The time I have been involved has seen the quality and quantity of information produced increase year on year, that this stems largely from the efforts of amateurs shows ‘citizen science’ isn’t a new phenomenon.

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