Many will, I’m sure, be quite happy to put 2020 behind us and look forward, perhaps with guarded uncertainty, to 2021. Before we do, however, let’s not forget the good things that we came to notice in the last 12 months.
Lockdown 1.0 in April and May brought almost endless sunshine and, with quieter roads and skies, many people discovered the wildlife on their doorstep. Thousands participated in impromptu activities such as the RSPB’s Breakfast Birdwatch and, while many wildlife surveys were cancelled, people contributed sightings to schemes such as the BTO’s Garden Birdwatch. During the first 100 days of lockdown, nearly half a million records were submitted to the Biological Records Centre’s iRecord, 54% more than in the same period in 2018.
We discovered local footpaths that had always been there, but un-noticed and under-valued. A survey by Natural England found that 87% of adults agreed that “being in nature makes me happy” but research by Friends of the Earth and People’s Postcode Lottery also found that 20% of people do not have a garden, public park or open fields within walking distance of their home.
Nature thrived in some places where footfall was lower, such as in Snowdonia, and rarities came too. The star was a Sooty Tern briefly at Cemlyn in June, but an Isabelline Wheatear at Carmel Head was also unusual and an Eastern Yellow Wagtail was a great find on Bardsey, where Bird Observatory staff had self-isolated through much of the summer.
As we enter 2021 in Lockdown 3.0, sightings over Christmas include a Bittern at NWWT The Spinnies, Great White Egret at Trefriw and Water Pipits near Penrhyn Bay. A Rose-coloured Starling remains at Amlwch Port, two Little Auks flew past the Little Orme on Sunday and a Black Redstart was in a Llandudno Junction garden. A Glaucous Gull was off Uwchmynydd at the weekend and four Snow Buntings at Llanfairfechan.
However you mark the turning of the year, may 2021 bring good birds but also that we hold on to the things we cherished in 2020.