Editor’s #My200BirdYear message

by Mark Cureton |

The first few days of 2021 have been dominated by the same subject that dominated the whole of 2020 – the Covid crisis. Listing must, quite rightly, take a back seat to observing the social distancing and travel restrictions.

But, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that birdwatching can play a big part in maintaining our mental and physical health during lockdowns, so the New Year is the perfect time to make it part of your routine, by taking our #My200BirdYear challenge.

By aiming to see 200 species during the course of the year, you’ll sharpen your ID skills, broaden your birding knowledge, experience the joy of discovering birds just outside your back door, and gain a sense of achievement. You’ll probably make yourself fitter, too.

The first thing to remember is that a year is a long time. Although the restrictions may make things difficult to start with, there’ll be another chance to see all those winter birds from November onwards, so be patient, and take the time to look more closely at familiar birds – you never know what might be hidden among them.

The second is that you can shape the challenge to suit your own situation. In past years, that’s often been people who have completed it once putting additional restrictions on themselves – a smaller ‘patch’, for example, or only ticking self-found birds.

But if you feel as though Covid might leave you needing a little help this time around, why not broaden your horizons a bit, or tweak the parameters in another way? One suggestion from a number of readers is that you count subspecies towards your total – it certainly opens up a lot of extra ticks, and it would certainly give you a new insight into ID.

Whatever you do, though, remember that there is one overriding aim of #My200BirdYear – to enjoy watching birds regularly. So go out there and do so, safely, and share it with us and other readers, and keep coming back here for up to date info and tips.

Matt Merritt, Editor, Bird Watching

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