Saturday, March 28, 2020

A challenge to isolation !

Yesterday morning I started what I now intend to be a regular habit in the ensuing weeks, that of covering a given small local area and noting what birds I've seen.  Thankfully, where I live is central to two adjacent kilometre squares , one of which has the River Don running through it and the other comprises an upper part of the rising flank of the eastern Pennines.. As a consequence , and easily within reach , are a variety of habitats that inevitably will provide a good selection of birds. I've identified three routes I can follow on my "permitted exercise walk" each day and am quite looking forward to it all.

Yesterday morning was quite cold and a bit misty when I went out ( I suppose the area averages out at a little over 250/260m. ).  I confess it was after dawn (0530 hours ) and whilst a few cars were on the move I only saw one other person.  Suffice to say I didn't see much,  as the route I'd chosen was closest to the houses and predominantly "urban" in all respects  despite the rural location. I repeated it again this morning, with, much the same return, excepting a singing Mistle Thrush and a very welcome rasping Greenfinch..

The contribution our gardens make nowadays in supporting our birdlife is of paramount importance given many of the rough corners within our landscape have been lost in the quest to bring all available areas into production.  The task of monitoring garden birds has risen in parallel and the results from the surveys organized by the British Trust for Ornithology in this respect have been illuminating ( see ).  The benefits of pursuing an interest in our urban wildlife have been championed by many, including the Urban Birder ( David Lindo ) whose indefatigable efforts have led many into appreciating a hitherto undiscovered world on their very doorsteps. See

Whilst my  " local list"  has not yet reached twenty , the opportunity to follow my passion within the circumstances imposed upon us all has already  improved my own sense of well being and offset a sense of restlessness and frustration. Worth embracing the habit I'd say !  I suspect that we might all discover something within our close neighbourhood that lay ignored previously, driven past as we set off for favoured birding areas a little further afield !  Whilst I doubt I shall see anything exceptional I intend registering the area within the BTO BirdTrack scheme and adding the bird species seen into the population monitoring programme.  I'll keep everyone posted on what is recorded within each month and such might be the interest and benefit I gain from it all I might make an effort to keep it going in a permanent sense.

In passing may I add this as a Postscript. Last evening many in my village, along with countless thousands within the UK, emerged on to their doorsteps at 2000 hours  and clapped their hands as a gesture of thanks and admiration to the staff of the  National Health Service ( NHS )  { and now the 600,000 + volunteers who have come forward to help }  for the magnificent job they're doing in countering the effects of the Conovid 19 epidemic..

It was humbling, and not a little emotional, to witness and be a part of something so simple, but so far reaching in a collective sense, happening as it was throughout the country. When I came back indoors I was much reminded of the epic words of Sir Winston Churchill about the Battle of Britain. Substitute "nursing" for "human conflict" and the tribute is as vibrant today as ever was.

Never, in the field of nursing, has so much been owed by so many to so few.

To all in the NHS, thank you, take care and bless you all.

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