Despite its relatively small size, Britain – or the United Kingdom – has an impressive bird list: 600 species. For the purpose of this feature, the UK includes Scotland, England and Wales only; the Irish maintain their own National List, so birds that occur there "do not count" on the Official British List.
Britain is host to a fantastic range of habitats from the Scottish mountains, to acid heaths, extensive moorland, rocky coastlines, Ancient woodlands, myriad small islands, internationally important marshes and much more. During passage times, in favorable weather conditions, vagrants make landfall in Britain from all points of the compass and species from Southern Europe, Siberia and The Americas regularly drop in, sometimes together in one hedgerow or field on the same day!
British birders benefit from a quirk of geography that steers Arctic breeders such as geese, ducks and shorebirds to overwinter in Britain's relatively mild winter climate – the Gulf Stream warms the coasts to manageable temperatures compared to other countries on a similar latitude – and species that winter further south in Southern Europe and Africa either head north to breed in the UK or pass through to replenish fat levels on their way to breeding grounds further north.
Britain is home to some of the keenest birdwatchers on the planet, and the site of the British Birdwatching Fair, the largest gathering of birders in the world. Every August, twenty or thirty thousand birders make a pilgrimage to the Bird Fair to meet friends and evaluate new products and tours while a portion of their entrance fees go toward conservation.
In short, if you are a birdwatcher in Britain there is always something to see and with a bit of planning a day-list of around 100 species should be doable at all times of year. What the UK lacks in size, it makes up for it with an ever-changing aviflora! Contributor: Neil Glenn, Avian Adventures.