Birdwatching tips for beginners
Birdwatching is a great hobby and a fun pastime, giving you an excuse to get out and engage with nature and learn more about the wildlife in your area.
You don’t need to be an expert to go birdwatching or invest huge amounts of money to take it up as a hobby; with little more than a pair of binoculars and a view from your back garden you can enjoy following and learning more about birds.
Want to give it a go? Here’s a few birdwatching tips to get you started.
- Start with your eyes and ears – You don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to go birdwatching – your eyes and ears are enough. Take a walk in your local park or sit in the garden and take notice of what you see and hear; learning to recognise different birds and their songs is a good way to get started.
- Keep a log – A logbook of what you see and when will help you keep track of the best times to spot your favourite birds and is a good place for you to note down any exciting discoveries. A hardback notebook works best, and use pencil rather than pen, as pencil won’t run if you get caught in the rain. Taking note of shape, beak, legs, habitat and behaviour are all useful facts to collect.
- Use a field guide – Once you start seeing birds, you may want more information to help identify and learn about them. There are hundreds available, but to begin with stick to a book that contains birds that occur in Britain – or are native to the place you live. The RSPB Handbook of British Birds is a good place to start.
- Set up a bird feeder – You don’t need to travel far from home to enjoy birdwatching. Setting up a bird bath or bird feeder in your back garden will help attract local birds so you can watch them more closely at home. A suet or sunflower feeder are both inexpensive and will work for a range of different birds.
- Get binoculars – A good pair of binoculars can make bird watching immensely more pleasurable. They range in price from a tenner all the way up to over £1000 – but you don’t need to spend beyond your means. Making an upfront investment will prove more cost-effective in the long term as a good quality pair will last you a lifetime. That said, it’s possible to get a decent pair for about a hundred pounds. Look for porro-prisms rather than roof-prisms for better quality.
- Find a birdwatching spot – There are great locations all over the UK where you can see a high concentration of birds in one place. British Bird Watchers has put together a list of 10 spots where you can see birds throughout the year.
- Join an event – Birdwatching doesn’t need to be a solitary pursuit. The RSPB runs great events for adults and children throughout the UK, from guided walks to family fun days where you can learn more about birdlife, conservation and ask questions to the experts. Search for events from the RSPB website.
Have you ever tried birdwatching? What are your tips and tricks?
Silversurfers Features Editor
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