Welcome to my Bird Blog: Stories from a Lifelong Birder
My Bird Blog is a series of “then and now” stories that combine my experiences as a juvenile birdwatcher in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s with my knowledge of the same species in California today. Each month I publish the details of a bird that I encountered historically, along with an update on the same species in its present day environment. As a result of climate change, the use of pesticides, urbanization, the affect of invasive species, new farming methods, competition with humans for the same food, regulations controlling wildlife, and the waste that humans produce, there are winners and losers among my community of birds. Please select the bird species that interest you.
I began my bird watching and egg collecting at the start of the 1950s when I was seven years old, and remember egg collecting coming to an abrupt halt in 1954 when the British government made the practice illegal. I adjusted my birding, although I must confess to taking lapwing and moorhen eggs after the law was passed to eat for breakfast. I joined the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other ornithological organizations to gain more knowledge of birding, and kept notes that I still have today.
A regular haunt in my early years was Spurn Point on the east coast of Yorkshire, where I was taught by the warden and helped by more experienced birdwatchers. My novel, She Wore a Yellow Dress, captures some of the details of my activities back then, and describes how birding influenced my life before becoming entangled in my career and family life. Each chapter of She Wore a Yellow Dress ends with a bird that influenced me at the time.
The novel Unplanned goes “behind the scenes” of my birding background and deals with my upbringing and how I came into this world. It sheds light on why bird watching became so important to me as a child. Abandoned in Berlin has nothing to do with birding, and everything to do with the Second World War
During the 1970s, as my career interfered with my passion for birding, and after I moved to California in 1979, the hobby was sacrificed. The birds in North America were frequently different from the species I was used to seeing in Britain, and I often found that there were different names for the same bird, or the same name for different birds! It was thanks to writing She Wore a Yellow Dress, my retirement from the University of California, and the arrival of COVID, that being a birdwatcher has returned to be my primary hobby.
Hopefully you will find my Blogs educational and entertaining, and that they provide insights on how situations have changed in the avian world during recent history. There have been winners and losers, and some species are classed as “endangered” in one country and of “least concern” in another. Thanks to the many organizations that now provide advocacy and protection for our avian friends, we surely will enjoy their feathered presence for millenniums to come.