We have such a close involvement with the recording process that we can get mired in the technicalities of it all. Our overwhelming concerns become the scientific integrity of the records and the value of each sighting. This concern is then communicated to observers through the notes and newsletters published on the county’s various fora. It is no wonder, then, that we sometimes forget about the objects of our interest (and desires and obsessions!). We forget about the birds! The old mantra “the welfare of the bird comes first” is as relevant now as it ever was, perhaps even more so. Birds as species and populations are under tremendous pressure. Loss of habitat, persecution and the unknowns of climate change are just a few of the dangers they face every day. It is up to us, then, to consider our impact on birds as individuals. They suffer enough stress in their lives without us adding more.
Our behaviour in the field must be impeccable – please follow the birdwatchers’ code:
- don’t risk flushing the bird by getting closer to get that “crippling” view or that ultimate camera shot;
- whilst you are looking for a specific bird, consider the impact that you are having on both the immediate habitat and other species that may be present;
- keep well clear of nesting birds and potential breeding sites;
- don’t distract birds during the breeding season by playing recordings of songs or calls;
- don’t disturb roosting birds, especially in the winter when energy conservation is critical;
- please comply with site access restrictions.
The intent of publishing this note is not to spoil everyone’s birding days by applying rules and regulations but it is to remind us that we derive a great deal of pleasure from birds and that we have responsibilities towards them that we should not forget. We can’t do much about large scale threats (except campaign and lobby) but we can exercise control over our own behaviour towards individual birds which will lessen their stress.
Derek Barker, Richard Burness