'Lockdown birding' yields highest haul of Herts records

An entire night huddled in the garden listening for over-flying ducks, leaning from a bedroom window to hear Whimbrel and an extravagant cry of 'YES!' on sighting a Starling were among the more eccentric moments of 'lockdown birding' recalled at the 2021 Herts Bird Conference on Saturday 20 March.

Yet despite outdoor movement restrictions in response to the Covid pandemic, the number of species seen in Hertfordshire in 2020 is expected to equal the 198 recorded the previous year and may – once rarity verfication is complete – pass the 200 mark.

The conference, jointly organised by the Herts Bird Club and British Trust for Ornithology – drew an online audience of over a hundred who heard how the lockdown had stimulated bird watching and recording, even though travel was largely banned. No fewer than 23,000 records were submitted – an increase of 6,000 on the previous highest total.

Online Herts Bird Club / BTO Conference – March 20 2021

We are delighted to announce that the annual Herts Bird Club / British Trust for Ornithology will go ahead this year – as an online event on the morning of Saturday March 20.

The programme, which runs from 10.30am to 12.40pm, combines speaker presentations with popular perennials such as Graham Knight's 'What did you miss?' review of county birding highlights for 2020 and the bird photograph of the year.

New book celebrates 'backyard' wildlife

Congratulations to Joe Gray, the Herts recorder for terrestrial bugs, whose first-published natural history book takes the overlooked wealth of 'backyard' wildlife as its theme. Titled Thirteen Paces by Four – the size of Joe's urban garden – it draws on encounters during the Coronavirus pandemic from invertebrates to mid-sized mammals.

Not only does Joe provide practical pointers on how gardens can be made more wildlife-friendly but he also explores topical issues with a broader environmental scope, such as sustainable agriculture and wiser use of water.