I’m so pleased to be able to write a regular column in the Yorkshire Reporter and I hope readers find my contribution useful. My aim will be to tell you as much as I can about what’s going on in the world of birds in 250 words and to offer some help and advice to anyone who wants to get in touch. By all means, send me photos or audio files so that I can help you identify birds you’ve seen and heard. 

Summer is the most challenging time for birdwatchers. I get more calls, emails and photos about ‘mystery’ birds and rarities in July and August than at any other time.

There are four reasons for this.

Firstly, after tending their chicks, both male and female birds look pale, worn and tatty. This affects the colour, markings and shape of the adult birds.

Secondly, by the end of June, all birds have started their post-breeding moult. They will change every feather sequentially between now and the autumn and their appearance will alter each week.

Thirdly, there are so many newly fledged youngsters flying around with confusing colours and markings. Even experienced birders have to work harder to correctly identify some families of birds such as waders, gulls and birds of prey.

Lastly, many bird books are lacking in information so choose wisely. Remember that you’re more likely to see something common than something rare.

Linda Jenkinson teaches people about birds in and around Leeds. For details of classes email linda@startbirding.co.uk or call 07778 768719. Visit www.startbirding.co.uk or Start Birding on Facebook and Twitter


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