A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO BIRDWATCHING

Posted by NH Admin on Thursday, 21st October 2010, 18:01

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO BIRDWATCHING

WHY BIRDWATCHING?

Before knowledge comes enthusiasm’. So said one of my birdwatching acquaintances recently, and he is right. If you have ever looked at a bird and wondered what it is called, or just marveled at its colour, patterns or behaviour, you are already on the path to appreciating birds and knowing more about them.

THE ESSENTIALS

It is possible to enjoy birds with no special equipment at all, but you will find that a fieldguide and a pair of binoculars can help you both to see so much more, and identify what you see.

1 FIELDGUIDE

Books which describe birds and include drawings or photographs of them are called fieldguides. There are many titles available, aimed at the spectrum from beginners to specialists. You need one which covers the British Isles. There are some excellent fieldguides available e.g. Collins Bird Guide by Svensson et al; RSPB Handbook of British Birds. Most good bookshops will stock these. If you want to try one without committing to the purchase, borrow one from a library. Section 598 of the library shelves are where the fieldguides and other books on birds are kept.

A recommendation for beginners who are buying their first book on birds is:

Green Guide: Birds of Britain and Europe, by Jim Flegg. 2001. New Holland. ISBN: 1859749232. £2.50. This is a small paperback fieldguide which won’t weigh you down when you are out looking for birds. (Remember that buying from Amazon using the link on the website will raise funds for Northwood Primary School).

2 BINOCULARS

A walk along the footpaths and across the fields of Northwood should bring you into contact with several different species of birds. But how do you follow them when they fly away and land in a tree? A pair of binoculars will bring you so much closer to the birds by bringing them closer to you. There is no need to spend a lot of money on binoculars. Decide what you can afford and find a pair that feel comfortable. Buy a neckstrap as this is the best way of carrying them. Consider a secondhand pair as this can make your money go further. For more detailed advice on what to buy visit the RSPB website:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/birdwatching/selectbinocular/index.asp

It is unlikely that you will regret buying a pair of binoculars as they will only add to the pleasure that birdwatching brings.

FURTHER USEFUL TIPS

1 JOINING A GROUP

The best-known national group is the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).

http://www.rspb.org.uk

Membership gets you a quarterly magazine, free entry to over 150 reserves across Britain, and the knowledge that you are contributing towards the understanding and conservation of birds. You may get a free gift of either bird seed or a book when joining. Individual and joint subscriptions are available, and children can join the Wildlife Explorers which will get them their own special magazine.

Another national group is the WWT (Wildfowl and Wetland Trust) which is focused on conserving wetlands in the UK and abroad.

http://www.wwt.org.uk

The benefits of membership are similar to the RSPB.

A local group which has been going for a number of years is the IWOG (Isle of Wight Ornithological Group). A year’s subscription costs £10 and you will receive three newsletters. This group organises monthly field trips (usually at the weekend) to good birdwatching locations across the Island. (In June 2006 there is a walk in Parkhurst Forest).

There is an excellent website produced by an IWOG member called Derek Hale.

http://dbhale.members.beeb.net/IOW.htm

This is updated most days with news of the latest sightings and photos. Derek occasionally visits Medham and lists the birds he sees there.

2 CDs AND DVDs

A wide selection of CDs and DVDs are available. An increasing number of CD-ROMS and PDA guides are also coming onto the market. A great thing about birds is that as well as learning what they look like, you can learn their songs. Learning one helps with the other, especially as most small birds make their presence known through their songs and calls. Often it is the song which alerts you to the fact that a bird is around to be looked at.

The Wildsounds website is a good place to start. http://www.wildsounds.com

Two good introductory CDs are:

Songs of Garden Birds. Recordings of 52 birds. Playing time 68’29”.
2004. British Library. NSA CD15. ISBN: 071230519X.

Dawn Chorus. 5 recordings of the British countryside. Playing time 73’00”.
2004. British Library. NSA CD16. ISBN: 0712305203.

Both cost £10. (Remember that buying from Amazon using the link on the website will raise funds for Northwood Primary School).

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