One of the more positive things to emerge from the first lockdown earlier this year was an increase in interest in nature. Restrictions on travel and calls to stay close to where we live saw many people discovering, perhaps for the first time, places within walking distance of their homes where they could engage with the natural world. For some, bird song seemed more obvious and wonderous, while others simply spent more time in their gardens or local parks and noticed the beauty of spring as it bloomed before their eyes.
Now we see ourselves in a period of lockdown once more and as autumn tumbles into winter we can experience the joy that nature brings again. Whether we're kicking around in an ochre and orange palette of fallen leaves or watching a high tide roost of wading birds on the coast there is much to lift the spirits during these difficult times.
One of the most rewarding things we can do of course is feed the birds. Whether you have a garden, a backyard or a balcony in a block of flats there's almost always somewhere to hang a feeder or a fat-ball! And if you're spending more time indoors, this at least allows a little bit of nature to come to you. There's nothing better than sitting with a nice hot brew watching the local birds coming and going and taking advantage of an easy food source. Here at Leighton Moss we're blessed with an array of birds that come into our garden area to avail themselves of the buffet on offer! Marsh tits, siskins and bullfinches jostle among the more numerous chaffinches, goldfinches and blue and great tits. Meanwhile blackbirds, fieldfares (photo by Mike Malpass) and song thrushes feast on the fallen apples in the orchard.
For many of us, the list of birds visiting our feeders at home may be a little more modest but it is certainly no less interesting! Even in my relatively small semi-suburban space I can expect to see coal tit, blue tit, great tit, robin, dunnock, wren, blackbird, collared dove and house sparrow on a regular basis while long-tailed tit, goldfinch, chaffinch, song thrush and goldcrest may drop by occasionally. I've even been blessed with waxwings!
One way to share your sightings is by posting them on Twitter of Facebook with the hashtag #BreakfastBirdwatch. This RSPB initiative was initially launched back in March as we went into the first lockdown and it has been revitalised in recent weeks in response to current restrictions. We feel it is vital that nature can still be enjoyed by as many people as possible - it doesn't matter if you're a keen birder, a family or someone self-isolating, we want everyone to join in! #BreakfastBirdwatch take place every weekday between 8am and 9am - it's a great way to start the day and who knows, maybe you'll spot something you've never seen before!