The year 1980 is drawing towards a close.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is battling serious economic recession, a pint of bitter can be bought for 32pence and Alexandra Palace has been partly destroyed by fire.

New manager Mike Bailey will be unable to stop Charlton Athletic finishing bottom of Division Two.

In December John Lennon is assassinated in New York and fails to achieve a posthumous Christmas number one when his single “Just Like Starting Over” is toppled by St Winifreds school choir with “There’s no one quite like Grandma.”

Wild Things: Further thoughts on fungi

And a book is launched which will become an annual highlight of wildlife literature.

University librarian John Pemberton had identified a market niche for a compendium of facts and articles along with a diary and checklist aimed mainly at birdwatchers. The Birdwatcher’s Yearbook had instant appeal and has gained popularity as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The formula originally devised by Pemberton proved so popular that little has needed to change despite two further editors injecting their own ideas.

Butterfly and dragonfly checklists were added to the one for birds to further widen the Yearbook’s scope but the most obvious change involved the front cover. Pemberton’s original photographic covers gave way to silhouettes of birds like swallows, terns and falcons against different colour backgrounds. When husband and wife team David and Hilary Cromack took over in 2002 they introduced bird paintings.

Wild Things: A changing season, a change in routine for wildlife

The Cromacks sold out to Dorset-based book dealer Neil Gartshore in 2015. He is at the helm as the book passes an important milestone with photographs restored to the cover. Fixtures like the diary, checklists and tide tables sit alongside directories of wildlife book publishers, book sellers, local and international birdwatching groups, wildlife hospitals, bird books of the year, James Lowen’s Bird News and an updated guide to 300 wildlife reserves. Special articles focus on farm wildlife, nature as a health restorative and roadside nature reserves.

“The Yearbook offers something for everyone” says Neil. “People want the convenience of a book you can shove in a car glovebox rather than faffing around with a mobile phone.”

The Birdwatchers Yearbook 2020, published by Buckingham press price £20, can be ordered by calling 01929 552 560 or emailing