Birdwatching in Britain has grown increasingly dependent on burning fossil fuels. Regularly driving long distances to birding hotspots and frequent flying to see exotic species are seen as perfectly normal. In the face of the climate crisis, however, a growing number of birders are reassessing the way they enjoy and study birds. In this timely book, 30 contributors – from young birdwatchers to professional ornithologists – explain why and how they are shifting to climate-friendlier approaches. Low-carbon birding, they argue, is a legitimate and valuable way of enjoying birds. Furthermore, in itself this can bring many joys, some of them unexpected.
From first encounters with hawfinches to focusing in on birdsong, from the Kalahari to the Hebrides, the stories told here are not about heroic efforts to save the planet. They are simply accounts of everyday humanity in unprecedented times – ordinary people with doubts and concerns about how to live a decent life and act responsibly in a rapidly warming world. The authenticity of their voices is a testament to the moment of awakening to the climate crisis in British ornithology. Above all, Low-Carbon Birding is an urgent call for birders to leave a better legacy in the skies and across the living world.
Foreword / Mike Clarke
Introduction Javier Caletrío
1 Are We Addicted to High-Carbon Ornithology? / Javier Caletrío
2 Questions of Travel, Climate and Responsibility / Javier Caletrío
3 The Seven Cs of Patch Birding / Nick Moran
4 Understanding Our Local Birds / Angela Turner
5 Long-term Local Science / Ben Sheldon
6 The Perpetual Patch / Roger Emmens
7 The Long Rhythms of a Place / José Ignacio Dies Jambrino
8 A Life of Local Birding / Matt Phelps
9 The Joys of Patch Birding / Maria Scullion
10 A Patch Year / David Raffle
11 Hunting Hawfinch / Steve Gale
12 In Praise of ‘Projects’ / Mark Bannister
13 The Backyard Jungle / Finley Hutchinson
14 My Patch and the Plastic Problem / Siân Mercer
15 Eleventh-Hour Birding / Simon Gillings
16 Listening Again to Birdsong / Dave Langlois
17 The Sound of Summer / Arjun Dutta
18 Birding in the Yorkshire Dales / Steve Ward
19 TG42 / Tim Allwood
20 Shrikes from the Bike / Dave Langlois
21 The Best Kind of Golden Oriole / Gavin Haig
22 From Angst to Tranquillity / Jonathan Dean
23 Redrawing My Birding Horizons / Sorrel Lyall
24 Island Holidays by Train / Amy Robjohns
25 Lammergeyers from Leeds / Jonnie Fisk
26 Bringing Birding Home / Nick Acheson
27 Little Steps, Big Difference / Steve Dudley
28 Climate and the Cuckoo Calendar / Lowell Mills-Frater
29 Climate Change in the Kalahari / Amanda Bourne
30 Unsettling Journeys / Kieran Lawrence
31 Witness to Extinction / Alexander Lees
Javier Caletrío is a birdwatcher and researcher on sustainability transitions and public perceptions of environmental change. Other contributors include individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, from seasoned patch birders to novices enjoying the freedom afforded by cycling and the pleasures of train travel.
"Adapting our way of life in response to the climate crisis is now a responsibility, not a choice. This readable and inspirational title shows that, with just a few changes to the way we go birding, from local patching to taking the train for holidays abroad, it's possible to continue enjoying the hobby that we love in a carbon-responsible manner."
– Stephen Menzie, Editor of British Birds
"A wonderfully diverse collection of first-hand views and experiences of low-carbon birding that encourages all of us to rethink how we value and engage with the world around us."
– Professor Juliet Vickery, CEO British Trust for Ornithology
"This is a pioneering collection that asks difficult questions of the contemporary culture of high carbon birding. It presses all birders to reimagine their hobby in an era of climate emergency, travelling less and travelling differently. In doing so, the collection offers the prospect of new ways of enjoying birds and the new pleasures that can come from low-carbon ornithology."
– Professor Sean Nixon, author of Passions for Birds: Science, Sentiment and Sport
"These thought-provoking and fascinating personal stories offer inspiration for how we can all stay local to enjoy birds."
– Ed Drewitt, author of Raptor Prey Remains and Urban Peregrines
"This book will be contentious for some, but future birders may wonder why it took until 2022 for it to be written. Highly recommended."
– Ian Carter, Author of Human, Nature and Rhythms of Nature