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Bird Watching

Bird Watching December 2019

Bird Watching is Britain’s best-selling birdwatching magazine. Each issue is packed with expert advice on when, where and how to see more birds, from common garden visitors to the most elusive rarities. There are features from some of British birdwatching’s best-known names, superbly illustrated by the work of the world’s best bird photographers, plus comprehensive coverage of all the latest sightings, guides to the best birdwatching sites, ID masterclasses, news and reviews of all the latest gear.

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13 Números

en este número

1 min.
our contributors

Ian Parsons recalls the morning he came to the rescue of a stricken juvenile Wren, which was stuck behind one of his kitchen units! Page 20 Ed Hutchings marks the Forestry Commission’s centenary by highlighting 10 great UK forests to head for on future birding trips. Page 26 Simone Stanbrook-Byrne reveals how rewilding the countryside provides many benefits for wildlife and birds. Page 33 Renowned bird author Dominic Couzens reveals how the Snow Bunting has adapted to survive in a harsh environment. Page 40 Bird guide Ruth Miller wants the much-maligned Herring Gull to be recognised for its beauty, rather than its fondness for chips. P44 COVER IMAGES: MAIN BIRD: PHOTOTRIP/ALAMY; MAIN BACKGROUND: JACKY PARKER/ALAMY; SNOW BUNTING: NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS LTD/ALAMY; WOODLAND WONDERS: DAVID CHAPMAN/ALAMY…

1 min.

The pleasure of birding, for me, is nearly always about surprise. The surprise of noticing unfamiliar behaviour, or discovering something about a bird that you’d never known before, and occasionally, yes, the surprise of a new species or of picking out a goodie, such as a Brambling from a winter Chaffinch flock. Our cover bird, the Wren, is a truly surprising species. Whether it’s startling you with the volume of its winter song, or by popping up in the unlikeliest of habitats, or if you’re taken aback by learning (once again, but they’re so skulking that it’s easy to forget) that it’s Britain’s commonest bird, or by the wealth of folklore attached to its diminutive frame, it exerts a fascination vastly out of proportion to its size. So remember, even the…

1 min.
tree sparrow

If you travel to much of south-east Asia, including China, Indonesia and Japan, you may be surprised to discover that Tree Sparrows are abundant birds, and there is not a House Sparrow in sight. In the UK, though, Tree Sparrows are very much the cute country cousins of the familiar chirping House Sparrows, with a total UK population of perhaps 200,000 pairs, compared to 5.3 million pairs of their urban congeners. Perhaps owing to their relative lack of abundance, many birdwatchers seem unaware that male and female Tree Sparrows look identical (to the human eye!), so if you see a dull, female-type sparrow, it will be a House Sparrow. Tree Sparrows are neat, crisp, pretty-looking birds, with a chocolate brown cap (lacking grey feathering), truncating against a pure white collar. The…

3 min.
five to find in december

1 SHORT-EARED OWL Our most harrier-like owl, an impression enhanced by its endearing habit of flying around while the sun is still well above the horizon. Shorties are magnificent, buoyant, graceful hunters of rough grassland, floating around on very long wings (for owls). They are similar to (largely nocturnal) Long-eared Owls, but the pale trailing edge to the wings, the better-defined dark wing tips and the contrast between dark breast and whitish belly, plus the different facial pattern, all help to make ID straightforward if the views are good enough… 2 BITTERN All our herons are beautiful birds, but the Bittern takes the trophy. Of course the mystery associated with this shy reedbed dweller gives it an extra degree of desirability. But, like many cryptically patterned birds, they are exceptionally pleasing on the…

1 min.
rarity predictor

NUTCRACKER The last accepted record of this white-spotted northern crow was in 1998 and the last ‘proper irruption’ bringing a decent number into the country was 50 years ago! Signs earlier this year from Fennoscandia looked promising for a movement in our direction, but, so far, this has proved fruitless. So far… HAWK OWL There have only been four accepted records of Hawk Owl in the UK and three of them were in the 19th Century! The only one in living memory was at Frakkafield, Mainland, Shetland in 1983. Still, no time like the present! NAUMANN’S THRUSH The two records of this Asian thrush (closely related to Dusky Thrush) were surprisingly close to each other, at Woodford Green, London in 1990 and South Woodford seven years later.…

1 min.
woodpecker feathers

By far the commonest woodpecker feather remains in the UK are from the two common species: Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker. Most Great Spotted Woodpecker feathers [lower] are strikingly black and white; indeed most of the flight feathers are predominantly black, usually with rounded spots of white along the edge. Green Woodpecker [upper] flight feathers have similar lobes of paler colour, being pale buff to pale green; the yellow-green tones being a dead giveaway.…