Fersiwn Cymraeg ar gael yma

The past few weeks have been testing for all of us. When the lockdown was put in place to avoid the spreading of Covid-19, RSPB Cymru decided to respond to help others as well as help nature.

The current lockdown situation with Covid-19 has meant a great lot of changes to our lives and has restricted us in many ways. But this does not mean that we have to lose touch with nature, and RSPB Cymru is on hand to help everyone engage with the natural world.

The fact that we had to distance ourselves from others does not mean that we have to distance ourselves from nature. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy wildlife, and the timing could not have been better to engage do this.

And so the Breakfast Birdwatch was born! We’re encouraging the public to get in touch with us between 8-9am on weekdays, using the hashtag #BreakfastBirdwatch, to tell us what they see in their gardens or green spaces if going for their daily exercise. The response has been fantastic. It has been a real pleasure to hear from so many people engaging with wildlife on their step, many who don’t usually do so.

With the dawn of spring comes much activity in the world of birds as they take part in what is known as the dawn chorus, singing their hearts out at dawn in search of a mate. For those birds who have already found partners, we also see much busyness as they go back and forth collecting materials for building nests to lay eggs. Many videos were tweeted to us documenting the incredible sounds heard clearly not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas, usually noisy with the sound of vehicles and industry. We also saw the welcome return of the wood warblers, with their unique song a favourite among birders. Ben Porter, naturalist, photographer and friend of RSPB Cymru, created a compilation of birdsong that he could hear from his area on the Llyn Peninsula in spring.

As expected, many of the species spotted, photographed and filmed were typically garden orientated. We had gangs of house sparrows, juvenile robins, busy blue tits and noisy woodpeckers. But on one April morning in Dihewyd, Ceredigion, Megan and Barry Brown were in for something a bit different…a common crane!

A crane in Ceredigion!

Indeed, a common crane – a bird which has only began breeding again in Wales after an absence of hundreds of years – visited their garden and, luckily, Barry Morgan was on hand with his camera to document this fascinating encounter.

The history of common crane is a heart-breaking one. It was once an often-seen species on bogs, moors and lakes in Wales until the Elizabethan era, where the combination of a gradual loss of habitat and being hunted as food in luxurious feasts took its toll. As a result, they’re no longer a familiar sight in Wales’ countryside. A recent project based in southern England has been successful in reintroducing the common crane and its success has spread over the border, where we have seen them begin to breed again in Wales.

The response on social media to the story was one of excitement, fascination and joy, with hundreds of people reacting to it and discussing this wonderful bird. This story encapsulated a lot of what #BreakfastBirdwatch is all about for us – an opportunity to share, enjoy and learn from each other’s experiences with nature, even when isolated. And long may this continue!

For more information about the dawn chorus, go to rspb.org.uk/dawnchorus