Know your grouse — Our resident grouse species — Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse and Capercaillie — are tied to particular habitats and rarely, if ever, seen away from their normal range. Spring is the best time to see them as they are often visible at their leks. Learn how to tell them apart with our detailed and accessible ID photo guide.
Winds of change — Birders traditionally keep their eyes on weather systems during autumn migration, but watching spring winds can be just as wise and productive. Whether there are easterlies for drift migrants, westerlies for skua passage, southerlies for Mediterranean overshoots or northerlies holding migrants back, David Callahan shows you which conditions will give you which birds this season.
On scimitar wings — Common Swift is one of many summer visitors undergoing a decline. As the birds set up territories in Britain, the RSPB's Rebecca Pitman tells us what the charity's swift studies have shown and also reveals what a groundbreaking migration study of the species in China has uncovered.
Bird therapy — The urge to get out in the field and go birding is not just force of habit — instinctively birders know that watching birds and being outdoors in the countryside makes us feel good. Joe Harkness describes the mental and physical health benefits of this great hobby, the benefits of which are now supported by scientific research.
Plus new where-to-watch itineraries for county Big Days, all the headline news and latest rarity and scarcity sightings from BirdGuides.com, columnists Mark Avery and Bill Oddie, Steve Young's photo challenge, news, views and product reviews, and birding Q&A with the expert Birdwatch team.
There's no place like the Azores for extreme Western Palearctic rarities, and no one has more bird tour experience in these exciting islands than we do. We'll search for the endemic Azores Bullfinch and multiple American vagrants, with our long list of previous rare finds including Tricoloured Heron, Yellow-throated Vireo, Grey Catbird, Northern Parula and Hooded Warbler. Join our October 2017 tour, which includes five nights on the prime rarity island of Corvo – this is a guaranteed departure with limited places remaining. Led by Dominic Mitchell, Managing Editor of BirdGuides and Birdwatch (read his personal overview of 20 years of Azores birding here). more
The Australian avifauna is large, diverse and spectacular, reflecting the continent's impressive habitats and evolutionary history.
Looking at more than 900 species, this brand new title is the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds available, and contains by far the best coverage of southern seabirds. Almost 250 stunning plates are complemented by detailed maps and a rigorous and accurate text, which looks at identification, distribution and status, with greater coverage of subspecies and plumage variation than any other guide.
The Australian Bird Guide sets a new bar for detailing Australia's remarkable avifauna and will prove indispensable to all birders and naturalists visiting the country. more
Although spring migration has started in earnest, there was only one stand-out rarity this week — the Hermit Thrush found by warden Craig Nisbet on the island of Noss, off the east coast of Bressay in Shetland. Craig's finder's account vividly captures his excitement and surprise, which is well justified given that this is only the 14th for Britain and Ireland and the first since 2015. The date is also unusual, though not unprecedented: of the 13 previous records, 10 have arrived in October, with only three spring records, one each in April, May and June.
Hermit Thrush winters in the eastern and southern US, Mexico and Central America and breeds across the northern US and Canada from Newfoundland to Alaska, and as far south as the Mexican border in some western states. Spring migration lasts from late March to mid-May, so we are bang in the middle of the season. more