15 Feb Video: A beginner’s guide to birdwatching
Last month saw the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch take place, highlighting that birdwatching is an accessible pastime. Whether out at a reserve, by the seaside or even by your bedroom window, it can be possible to catch sight of some rare species. If you’ve recently caught the birdwatching bug or you’re looking to get involved now spring is around the corner, we have a few handy tips for you to make the most of your new hobby.
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Bird Aware Solent to get their take on what the most important points are for beginner birders to remember. Check out their top tips in the video below. We also have the key points listed below to help you before you next head out with your binoculars.
Binoculars. Get yourself a pair of binoculars and use them! There are lots of guides online for choosing the best one to suit your budget. Practice at home to start with to get familiar with how to focus – and then bring them out with you. As soon as you get out birdwatching, put them round your neck on a fairly short strap, and remove the covers for the eyepieces so you’re ready to go. Remember – if you spot a bird you want to see through your binoculars, keep your eyes on the bird while you lift your binoculars up to your eyes: that’s the best way to locate them.
Patience. You’re unlikely to see a puffin, kingfisher or a peregrine falcon on your first outing. Just observe and enjoy the birds you are able to see. Even just watching the pigeons can be a really good start for a beginner birdwatcher: observing their different colour markings and their behaviour and habits, will help you become familiar with them and enable you to identify different species.
Scanning all around. When you’re out and about, make sure you check all the different areas and horizons you can see all around you. Take in the ground immediately in front of you, and then take your gaze further away: the grass, hedges, trees, fields, pebble beaches, waters’ edge, mud, then out at sea, and up in the sky.
Join a guided walk or local group. When you’re starting out, it can be a little bit overwhelming trying to learn all the different species. So find a local group or guided walk where there will be experienced birdwatchers who’ll be keen to share their knowledge with you. Bird Aware Solent runs a number of guided walks and online talks: have a look at our events webpage to find out more.
Get a bird book. We’d recommend getting a bird book of just the UK to start with – rather than one which covers a wider geographical area. It will show you the most regular bird sightings that you will see in this country. You can then upgrade to birds in Europe, Africa and the rest of the world once you’ve got more experienced or when you start wanting to take your new hobby on holiday with you. The Bird Aware Solent website is also a useful resource with an About the Birds section which shows you all the birds you’re likely to see on the Solent coast.
Don’t forget to share and shout about your new-found knowledge and to follow the Bird Aware Coastal Code.