My life being involved with the natural world really started with birds. I was lucky with the fact that near to where I grew up there was a very active Y.O.C. club, that’s Young Ornithologists Club to those old enough to remember and was the junior section of the R.S.P.B. now called the Wildlife Explorers. I had been taken on many a walk in the local park as a young child and from eight years old was going on field trips to different places where I learnt more and was lucky in the fact that I picked up on calls and songs of birds quickly. This is still one of my main bird watching tools and during my lifetime of studying birds it never leads me occasionally to comical results.
I was fortunate to witness ‘ vis mig ‘ at several English east coast locations during times of migration, that’s visible migration by the way. I have seen small sparrow sized species arrive on our shores in varying styles and numbers. I’ve seen flocks of Linnet flying at speed along beaches and on the same day seen single birds flying high
Many of these small birds were often seen from quite a distance and even with good optics it was difficult to identify them unless they called. Many birds will call whilst migrating and this will give the observer a chance to identify them.
Only this morning whilst out in my reserve/garden I heard a call above me and looked up to see four small birds flying high in a south easterly direction. I was taken back to the vis mig days and inspired to write this piece. The birds flying over were Skylarks that were moving/migrating to new feeding areas. In this day and age this is a notable record as Skylark have massively declined in recent years due changes in agriculture.
Over the years of studying birds I have observed many species by knowing their calls and although sometimes you may not get the best views in the world, you will know that that species is actually present. By knowing bird calls and songs you will observe more and often in places you may not expect. In recent years I have spent more time in town and have recorded a number of species that I was alerted to by calls that could even be heard in the hustle and bustle of a busy town. I regularly hear and see Grey Wagtails, Peregrines, Goldfinch and Swifts. Occasionally I have heard & observed Common Terns and even in the dark I have heard migrating Redwing.
My advice to see more birds would be learn their sounds and although it can be difficult it is well worth the effort and you will never be bored. At this time of year there are not many birds singing apart from Robins, Wrens and Song Thrush but you can still hear all the calls of the other species. So, get out there and see what you can hear! Good luck with it and I hope your ears help solve some secrets