Twitching is synonymous to birdwatching. It can often involve long trips in search of rare species. A new breed is trying to convince other birders to keep it local.
A group of young birders created a challenge for spotters to find birds closer to home, rather than regularly travelling long distances to spot them. This is known as twitching.
Joe Parham, a 22 year-old birder from Midlands, created the Green Patch Challenge. It invites anyone under 25 to try to travel by foot or bike to see birds.
Parham stated that everyone must make changes in their lives to address the climate crisis. He also said that the challenge is to capture the essence of this while encouraging young birders and other wildlife lovers to discover and enjoy the natural world around them.
It is not about stopping everything. It is about making positive changes and traveling less.
Birdwatching is gaining popularity in the UK. Last year, there was a lockdown boom when people took part in the RSPBs annual survey of their gardens. This survey asks people to report the birds they see in their garden. The numbers jumped by 85%. Every year, around three million people birdwatch.
The Green Patch Challenge was followed up by BirdwatchMagazine set a challenge for its readers to find species within 10 km of their homes in 2022. These challenges tap into the passion of most birders, whether they are twitchers and patchers, for putting together lists of birds they have seen. Many birders have multiple lists that include birds they have seen in their own backyards, in their locality, in the UK, and elsewhere.
New Years Day lists can be very competitive. Many birders began their year by trying their best to see as many birds as they could on their patch.
Some twitchers travel to rare birds almost every week during peak migration, which is a practice that is increasingly being criticized by some in the birding community.
Around 100 birders traveled to Papa Westray in November to see a varied Thrush. This bird is usually only seen in North America and was last seen in the UK in 1982. Some chartered boats and planes were used to reach the island.
Javier Caletro is a researcher based north-west England. He started the Low Carbon Birding blog to encourage birdwatchers to travel less.
He said that birders should set an example. People will be more likely to demand that politicians take urgent and radical action if they see us acting as if there was a crisis.
He said that stories about birding were often dominated by stories about the thrill of visiting exotic and rare places and seeing birds. These young people are telling others that they can be great birders and have fun without having to travel to faraway places using fossil fuels. Low-carbon birding does not mean that travel is over. It is about planning your holidays differently, and making the most out of public transport.
Matthew Broadbent (20), who runs the Green Patch Challenge, said that he knows the feeling of seeing a rare bird in flight. It gives you a buzz and makes you want more. We need to be able to travel less to see birds and we must do our best to preserve our planet.
Keir Chauhan, 19 years old, began birding seriously in 2020. He said that he had been able to change his life by joining the Green Patch Challenge in north London during the lockdowns.
He said that it provided him with an outlet. I would look for a new bird in Ally Pally if I was having a bad day. Alexandra Palace is home to a pair peregrine falcons. He said it was amazing to watch them chase the crows and hunt in the mornings.
There is a reservoir nearby, but there aren’t many birds. One time, however, I was able to see kestrels nesting in the reservoir. Even though the area is birdless, you can still see interesting birds.
Stephen Moss, a lifelong birder, and author, wrote his book. Skylarks with Rosie, which charts the lockdown birdwatching he performed in the patch near his Somerset house, stated that making local observations served an ecological purpose because it allowed for research into the abundance of bird species.
Moss stated that low-carbon birding is a good idea. However, some people argue that long-distance trips should be avoided. Chris Packham said that he will never do it again.
There are places like Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago where a large part of their economy is derived from wildlife tourism. The balance must be struck between the global and the local.