The Northumbria Bird Atlas is a 512 page, profusely illustrated document which gives the current status of the birds of the area. Between the rivers Tyne and Tweed there are 200 species of birds which commonly breed or spend the winter. The Atlas foreword is by Anne Cleeves, an award-winning crime writer whose novels set in Northumberland about DI Vera Stanhope were transformed into the hugely popular ITV drama series, Vera; she is married to one of the survey team.
Over 10,000 hours of volunteer, unpaid, work were needed for surveys alone. The countryside was divided into over 1400 plots called tetrads and 165 observers walked the land in winter and summer for four years recording every rustle of feather and checking every chirp in the bramble patches to provide the base data. These systematic, scientifically valid surveys were carried out throughout the county from coastal marsh, to the heights of Cheviot, to the allotments of Tyneside between 2007 and 2011 in conjunction with the British Trust for Ornithology national scheme. This field-work was followed by extensive analysis by experts over several years in order to produce this impressive document.
Heritage Lottery funding was obtained to allow high quality colour printing of this magnificent book. Sponsorship for the individual species pages was also generously given from individuals and organisations, large and small.
The Atlas sets a new standard for community records. The superb images of the birds were all taken in Northumberland (with the exception of one species) and provided free of charge by local photographers. Sadly, no one has managed to take an image of the secretive Quail. Every species has an abundance map and a location map giving accurate information.
174 species were recorded as regular winter species and 157 were similarly regular breeding birds. If you want to know if Yellowhammers breed in Netherwitton or Nuthatches are found in Newbiggin this is the reference book for you. Current abundance and location of species is shown on detailed maps, all indicated by easily read symbols. Changes in species abundance and range are detailed since the last Northumbrian Bird was Atlas published some 25 years ago. For example, the once common Grey Partridge has become hard to find and the Corn Bunting is now all but extinct in our county, however other species have become frequent visitors to our gardens. For instance the Goldfinch can be seen in many a suburban garden and on the river Tyne that elegant sea-bird the Kittiwake has expanded its breeding range inland to the iconic Tyne Bridge.
Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club will be donating a copy of the Atlas to every school and library in the area. Hopefully this will encourage conservation in the region and inspire the David Attenboroughs of the future.
The Northumbria Bird Atlas is available to order now at the bargain price of £25 + P&P.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy please contact any committee member or email