Bird Science as a career

It is about time this blog received some input, the birding element is actually a huge part of my current career activities. In fact, I’ve been a birder and general naturalist for more years than I care to remember. However, in recent times, I have matured into a more inquisitive individual, always on the search for answers to nature’s riddles.

A fascinating article I recently read was in Animal Conservation from The Zoological Society of London entitled “How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork**

*official doi is listed at the bottom of this post, however you can view here for full free access to the above article

Well, I can proudly say I am a keen advocate of both. The recent Bird Atlas is a fine example of data gathering at its very best. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 contained some 19 million observations of 502 bird species recorded as either breeding or wintering within the United Kingdom. As with any Atlas project there were several intriguing accounts, but for me the questions remain, what are the Conservation Professionals to do with all this freshly acquired data? Can you or I, as a result of our data being shared with them, change things for the better for those species already threatened? This clearly is a case of where gathering field observations alongside number-crunching by expert Data Analysts could lead to a better future for our birds and more effective conservation practice. Yes or no!

Bird Atlas courtesy of Phil Slade's

Bird Atlas courtesy of Phil Slade’s

For a great many bird species these declines continue unabated. The reasons contemplated are wide-ranging and have been discussed at length in journal publications and articles on a global-level. So why are we not making the anticipated progress? In a lot of circumstances I guess public misconception of sound conservation practice and a lack of understanding of population dynamics may well play a part. This has to be an opportunity for “old dogs” to teach upcoming youth “new tricks”. Get out there, observe and learn from nature, pick up those books when back from the field and become the nature detectives and ornithology scientists of the future.


and ,

A change of direction – cross posted from naturestimeline

Time for a widespread change of direction with this Blog? Maybe, maybe not. See my posting from the other blog – naturestimeline

Please provide your thoughts as to how UKbirdingtimeline could develop.

Over time, this Blog will pick its feet up once again and the intention is make things more interactive.

I will be back.

UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

Could it be a Waxwing winter?

Anybody with access to the various bird news services will be aware of the increasing numbers of these northern Vikings. As true inhabitants of arctic and subarctic lands, they only descend to our shores, upon failure of their favoured Rowan berry crop. Right now, Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) are thinly spread across the United Kingdom. Should you wish to seek them, one should head to places with a rich abundance of exotic berries, such as Cotoneaster, Pyracanthus and the like. Unsurprisingly then, supermarket car parks are favoured locations, along with your own berry-laden back garden. Waxwings are renowned as voracious eaters and in Birds Britannica, it is quoted that an individual was on record as having eaten approximately 600 to 1000 berries, over the course of one sitting. Consequently, if you wish to see a flock of these delightful birds, you may have to be quick off the blocks.

*As ever, the images represented below, come courtesy of BWPi, published in association with

UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

VisMigging time again

Are you a VisMigger, have you ever participated in VisMigging?

VisMigging, short for Visible Migration is where a person/persons sets out to pan the skies overhead for signs of avian life.

As a citizen scientist, whose claim to fame is in being a top ten BirdTracker in 2011, I view this pastime as an extremely useful scientific tool. Any birder with a keen eye and ear will produce valuable findings. With the fresh Autumnal air reinvigorating you, what could be better? As well as the fact, that hundreds and thousands of other folk participate, you are not alone in this.

Looking back at the records elsewhere in 2010, the highlight proved to be the large numbers of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus)a true passage migrant.

Lapland Bunting, a non breeding Male

Lapland Bunting, a non breeding Male

Come 2011, the more common miniscule lightweight Finch, the Siskin (Carduelis spinus), was to take the honours.

Siskin, a Summer plumaged female

Siskin, a Summer plumaged female

The latter species was to smash several all-time site records with huge numbers seen or heard, most likely due to lessened availability of their favoured tree seed crop over in Scandinavia.

So what of this year? The prevailing weather conditions are important and add to the general air of anticipation. With the United Kingdom expected to be under a general Northwesterly flow over the coming weeks, it should make things move. Although recently however, quite a few of us Brits have basked in warm sunshine, thanks to a nearby High Pressure cell. Under the influence of this particular climate synoptic, locally, Swallows and House Martins have slowly moved through. Rather oddly, though, I witnessed a late Common Swift on the 3rd September.



To assist your own observations, you should gain a good knowledge of the local terrain. Another recommended practice is to follow weather forecasts in the media for opportunities affording weather windows. These are simply gaps between the passing of showery outbreaks or warm or cold fronts. As like us humans, the birds and wildlife in general will react to these everyday nuances. Additionally, Moon Phases play a role and let’s not forget, the diminishing daylight hours as we head towards the Autumn Equinox.

For your information, I have listed below, a select few websites which are dedicated to the science of Visible Migration.

BTO Bird Migration Blog

The Bird Observatories of Britain & Ireland

Trektellen Migration counts in Great Britain

Durlston Country Park Daily Diary


Do let us know of any other websites that you become aware of.

 UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

*As ever, bird images are courtesy of The Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive DVD, produced in association with Birdguides.

not much birding going on

I apologise for this shameless plug to my other blog, but there is a loose connection with birding via the post shown below.

sort your life out

UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

Farming for Birds under Environmental Stewardship Schemes

Further news on the efforts undertaken by some of our wildlife friendly farmers.

Value of CFE options to Farmland Birds

More again soon.

*I have no affiliation with this company, other than having received their informative newsletters.

UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

Farming procedures and UK birdlife


Whilst not the post promised, I thought the following would be of interest to those who follow farmland birds. The link shown below is courtesy of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment*.  As an area of focussed research by the British Trust for Ornithology in the coming years, I hope the video clips contained are enlightening for all.

CFE videos

Best Wishes

Tony Powell

*I have no affiliation with this company, other than receiving their informative newsletters.