Birding a local patch is rewarding for all sorts of reasons. It provides the means to discover the diversity of birds and other wildlife on your doorstep, including the occasional mega (whether that’s at the site, county or national level!). It creates a sense of ownership and belonging as you build up an intimate, year-round knowledge of the local avifauna and begin to track its ups and downs. And it offers a reference point for ‘off-patch’ observations, whether they’re your own records, friends’ sightings from elsewhere in the county/country or the national patterns of arrivals/departures and good/bad seasons for particular species being detected in any given year.
Local birding also has another oft-overlooked benefit: it’s better for the environment than long distance trips! Rather than just resting on these ‘green’ laurels, however, PWC 2014 has introduced a non-motorised element to the competition to proactively encourage people to leave the car at home when heading to the patch. The idea is VERY simple. On this year’s version of the scoring form on the blog there will be a ‘Non-motorised?’ box. Simply add ‘Yes’ if all your patch visits have been done without the aid of the combustion (or electrical) engine!
For a score to qualify as ‘non-motorised’:
• No form of motorised transport can be used to travel to or from your home to your patch.
• That’s it.
As we were a bit late out of the blocks with introducing this element of the competition, January scores can be counted towards non-motorised totals even if motorised transport was used during the month, providing that the car stays at home from 1 February onwards!
If you still need convincing, here are the thoughts of one dedicated low-carbon patch birder:
“It [being a non-motorised patch birder] ought to be integral[to PWC], what with birders' concern for the environment. We hear a lot about Buzzards being shot and how horrendous it is, but climate change – and our role in it – gets little airtime relative to the scale of the medium and long-term effects it will have on local biodiversity, not to mention the global implications. People talk about the seeming inconsequence of any individual actions we may take but if we don't walk it like we talk it, we can't expect to be taken seriously or expect others to make changes.”