TV presenter and naturalist, Chris Packham, gives readers his expert advice on getting into birdwatching for the very first time
“Reading books, listening to CD’s and exploring the internet can all help you learn about birds but nothing can compete with first hand engagement – being out there with your binoculars. Teaching yourself ensures that you remember everything far more effectively. Set the alarm clock and get out there!
In birding you will never be an expert – there will always be someone who knows more than you and meeting and learning from them is always a treat. And birders love sharing what they know. That’s why you should never feel intimidated as a ‘beginner’. Go into the hide with your bins held high!
Birdwatching is only the half of it. Birdlistening is equally essential as very often you won’t be ale to ‘see the birds from the trees’, but you will be able to hear them. That’s why concentrating on songs and calls is essential.
Birding is immensely enjoyable and rewarding for many reasons but remember that many of the species you are looking at are in big trouble, in desperate need of conservation. Please don’t think ‘it’s okay, they will be looking after them’. There are not enough ‘theys’ and they never have enough resources. Our birds need us – all of us.
Keep a diary of your ornithological exploits and note as many details as possible. This will be of personal value but also may be a document that holds information that may be of interest to others in the future. The arrival and departure of migrants, nesting seasons, garden and local lists – all are worth keeping.”
See also: Rob Read from Bird Photographer of the Year gives us his top tips for bringing the birds to you
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje