Tim Appleton MBE is the co-founder of the UK’s hugely successful annual Birdfair, the largest wildlife event in the world. In early 2016 he helped launch Blue Sky Wildlife as part of the team. Now he is embarking on a new venture, a Global Bird Weekend, and Blue Sky Wildlife talks to him about it.
“While we have all suffered in some way as a result of the horrendous coronavirus pandemic, at least one good story has come out of it,” says Tim Appleton, co-founder of the UK’s Birdfair and globalbirding.org. “People have become more aware and engaged with their local surroundings and nature.”
Global Bird Weekend, on 17 and 18 October 2020, was conceived to encompass this new-found relationship with the environment. Everyone, wherever they live, is welcome to take part, especially those for whom birding is a relatively new hobby or interest.
After 31 years of running Birdfair and raising huge sums of money for conservation projects, Tim Appleton’s next stage in life was to bring all his dreams together to form globalbirding.org.
This is the official website of the Global Bird Weekend, created to encourage people all over the world to spend time watching, recording and photographing their local birdlife.
Partners in Conservation
Tim Appleton is working in association with binocular and telescope manufacturer, Swarovski Optik, and eBird, the bird recording website managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the US. His aim is to continue the work he started with Birdfair and support globally important conservation projects alongside BirdLife International.
“Over Global Bird Weekend,” he says, “I hope Global Birding will set a number of world records – the greatest number of species recorded and the largest number of people bird watching at a single event.
“It is quite possible that as many as 6000 species will be recorded by as many as 20,000 birdwatchers, but the numbers might be even better!”
What will be happening over the Global Bird Weekend?
The primary focus of Saturday 17 October is for birders to record the species they see and submit their lists to ebird.org.
On Sunday 18 October everyone will be encouraged to photograph, video, record or sketch birds in the field which can then be posted on social media. These visuals can also be uploaded to ebird.org. The Macauley Library, part of Cornell University, can process up to 70,000 photographs in a day.
Who will be taking part in this global birding?
Registrations on the globalbirding.org site have been coming in from more than 57 countries (and growing on a daily basis), ranging from New Zealand to Argentina, Japan to Bolivia, and Tanzania to Iceland. The response and support so far had been amazing, according to Tim.
In these uncertain times, local guides have been struggling to earn a living. Hopefully, their skills will be valued by participants in the Global Bird Weekend and future holidays will be planned to meet them in person. Many locally guided wildlife holidays in global birding hotspots can be seen on blueskywildlife.com.
There has also been interest from clubs and societies to form teams for the Weekend. “This is particularly exciting,” says Tim, “As it will hopefully result in many new members joining a club and learning from those experienced local experts and guides.”
Commercial companies such as Swarovski, Zeiss and Rockjumper Birding Tours as well as NGOs such as the BTO and smaller, independent companies are also lending their support by registering global birding teams. More teams are welcome to enter up to the actual weekend.
Global Bird Weekend’s conservation project
In 2020 the Global Bird Weekend conservation cause will be BirdLife International’s Stop the Illegal Bird Trade. It was felt to be a particularly relevant project in this pandemic year as there are many indications that Covid-19 is linked to the unlawful trade in wild animals.
Tim is hoping that those registering to take part will also make a donation – be it large or small – to help stop this horrendous trade. You can do so at globalbirding.org
Tim says: “Let’s reverse alarming statistics such as the one I learnt the other day: that there are more birds in cages in Java than there are in their natural environment.”
How you can join in
From now until the 17th of October, local birders are being asked to send a short two-minute video of themselves to the Global Birding email address. They should say where they will be birdwatching on Global Bird Weekend and name a few special birds they hope to see.
Then, over the actual Weekend, there will be regular updates on ebird.org so people can follow the progress and see the bird lists growing. Birding records will be coming in from across the globe, possibly starting the weekend with Australia and ending it in Chile.
For more information, and to register, visit globalbirding.org – Birding Together For Conservation
Every person who registers on globalbirding.org will be entered into a prize draw. The fabulous prizes include, among others, a pair of the recently launched Swarovski Optik NL Pure binoculars and a Rockjumper Birding Tours holiday.