The history of Bucks Bird Club
For most of the 20th century, recording birds in Bucks was a fragmented affair, carried out by several organisations, such as the Middle Thames Natural History Society and the Milton Keynes Natural History Society.
But there wasn’t a single body dedicated solely to recording all of Buckinghamshire’s birds and providing a social focus for the county’s birders.
All that changed in 1981 when the Buckinghamshire Bird Club was formed, with its first meeting in Wendover in October of that year. At the time that felt like a nice middle spot in the county – Bucks being long, thin, and often awkward to travel around.
The Annual Report
From its inception the club took over the production of an annual report, starting with the report for 1980. The various changes in our birdlife since then are well documented elsewhere, but reading through old records really does feel like a window into a different world.
As a glaring example, those early reports would have contained records of Cirl Buntings – as a breeding bird! Until the mid-1980s the isolated birds at West Wycombe were probably the northerly breeding Cirl Buntings in the world. Now this is a species that’s unlikely to appear in Bucks ever again.
Conversely, our first Little Egret record was still 9 long years away. And now they’re everywhere (and probably taken for granted).
A breeding birds atlas for Bucks
Early in the club’s history, it was decided that there needed to be a detailed survey of our breeding birds, with the objective of producing a detailed breeding atlas – with maps of course.
The results of several seasons of fieldwork and research was the first edition of The Birds of Buckinghamshire, published in 1993 –the very first book on our birds both breeding and wintering. And it was comprehensive, drawing data from atlas surveys, wintering wildfowl counts, garden bird surveys, and annual reports. A second edition was published in 2012, updated to reflect the diverse and often momentous changes in Bucks birdlife in the intervening 20 years.
Looking to the future
In common with the evolution of birding nationally, Bucks birders are better connected now than ever before, with access to instant news, all sorts of friendship groups and interactions via social media platforms, and a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of the county’s birding sites. All of our major sites receive regular coverage, ensuring that the good birds that break into our airspace are reported quickly and efficiently.
The club website was launched in 1999 and for nearly 25 years was an invaluable resource to birders from both inside and outside the county. It’s our hope that this second iteration will be equally valuable, both to experienced birders and a whole new generation that have been inspired to watch birds in our wonderful county.