Lockdown Birding Part 1
|The view from the balcony to the Sierra of Pedro Gómez (Martin Kelsey)|
|South across the village of Pago de San Clemente (Martin Kelsey)|
To the south-west, below the continuing shoulder of the Sierra are pastures and an arable field. Closer at hand are our own olive grove and garden with its lawn and scattered trees. Half of the overall panorama is the sky.
|South-west over the Sierra de los Lagares (Martin Kelsey)|
I stand on the balcony and this is my view. This will be my birding world for at least the next two weeks, and probably longer, as households across Spain are in lockdown as part of the declared state of emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The instructions are clear: no one can leave their homes unless for essential reasons. This means that birders too across Spain are confined to their homes. All seasons here in Extremadura fascinating, but spring is probably the season that we all look forward to the most. But this year there will be no walks and excursions in the countryside, we will all miss the glory of the plains and their flowers, displaying bustards and the chorus of larks.
So birders in Spain will now experience spring in confinement, but still driven by curiosity to plug into the vibrance of the renewal that spring grants us all. Standing on balconies or looking out of windows in villages, towns and cities, we can still sense the hope of spring.
We will cope in different ways. My plan is to record as systemically as possible the birds I see from the balcony. At a fixed time in the morning, midday and afternoon, I am spending 15 minutes recording everything on a checklist. These get submitted to eBird and across the country a challenge is underway to compare backyard lists sent in by birders. Even though none of us will be out in the field, the springtime migration will still be tracked and monitored. I can also note down anything I see or heard as I wander around the garden, catching up with the tasks at hand there. On the first day of lockdown, an Iberian Chiffchaff was singing: a bird that I would have missed had I been out in the field! Indeed, the next few weeks will be the first opportunity in the 16 years that we have been here, to get a much better idea of what birds pass through our yard on a daily basis.
|Balcony birding during the lockdown (Claudia Kelsey)|
Over the lockdown period you can find out what I have been seeing, by reading these blog posts. I will also be blogging on some wonderful birding encounters from the last few months. At this time of great anxiety, finding time for nature and reflection will help us cope.