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Bird-watching is one of the popular hobbies in Britain. In fact, a magazine dubbed this activity as the unlikeliest craze for 2017. What’s probably even more surprising is that birding, believed to be reserved for middle-aged men, has attracted millennials.
According to a survey of Britain’s hobbies and interests conducted nationwide, 32% of men between the ages of 16 and 25 indicated that they have been bird-watching. Observations also suggest that it’s not just millennial men who are into this activity. Young women are also into birding; some of them are even creating groups online.
How many people in the UK are into bird-watching? In the early 2000s, the estimate was around three million occasional and regular bird-watchers in the country. Since its popularity grew over the years, it’s not surprising if the actual number already tripled. The exact reason behind the growing interest in birding is unknown. Some attribute it to celebrities who are getting into this hobby. Then, there are also those who say that the Internet, specifically social media, has made more people aware of the joys of bird-watching.
So, if you are one of the many new birdwatchers out there, you must understand that just like other activities, birding requires preparation. Below are bird-watching tips for beginners like you.
Things To Do To Prepare For Bird-Watching
Choose A Good Date And Time: If you are organising this activity on your own, one of the most important things you must decide on is the date. In the UK, it is said that bird-watching is an activity that can be done all year round. This is because different species of birds move in and out of the country at different times of the year. While this is true, there are still certain months which are more conducive for this activity. Keep in mind, birds are not very mobile (making them less visible) during severe storms, extreme cold or high winds. Typically, spring and fall are the optimal seasons for birding. Due to the migration that happens during these seasons, you may see a greater number of birds from different species.
Birds are present any time of the day. However, the chances of seeing them are higher during early mornings and late afternoons. This is because these are the times when they forage for food.
Pick An Ideal Location: While it’s possible to spot birds anywhere, even in your garden, there are places in Britain which are highly recommended for birding. For example, the Gilfach Farm, a 400-acre farmland in Wales, is ideal for bird-watching because of the diverse species of birds in the area. Some of the birds you’d see here are the red kite, green woodpeckers, pied flycatcher and wood warblers.
Another good place to go birding is Rutland Water. This county serves as the venue of the British Birdwatching Fair, the largest annual gathering of bird watchers in Britain. This three-day event is staged in August. Rutland Water is home to water birds like ospreys and Egyptian goose.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in doing this activity during winter, head to Exe estuary in Devon. While cruising the English Riviera on a boat, you’ll see thousands of wintering birds including the avocet which is said to be one of the prettiest birds in the country.
Check The Weather: It’s always best to check the weather forecast in your birding venue at least a week before the scheduled date. Given how erratic the weather can be, especially during this time, the forecast you’d get may not be accurate. However, it’s still useful in that it gives you an idea on what to wear and what gears to bring.
Dress Appropriately: You won’t enjoy this activity if you aren’t wearing the proper attire. So, make sure you wear clothes which are suitable for the weather. Also, pick clothes that are comfortable.
Have A Bird List: Some people are hesitant to try this activity thinking that they know nothing about birds. The thing is, you don’t have to be an expert on birds to do this. While having a little knowledge about birds (and how to identify them) can be useful, they aren’t necessary at the onset. So, don’t pressure yourself to memorise the features of different bird species. Just prepare a list and use this as your guide during the activity. Keep in mind, the purpose of this hobby is to enjoy and appreciate birds, not to name as many species as you can (well, not when you’re still a beginner).
Bring The Necessary Gadgets: Some say that it’s not necessary to bring gadgets during birding; all you need are your eyes and ears. Well, if you don’t have any problem with your eyesight and hearing, you may follow this advice. However, it also doesn’t hurt to bring devices which can help make things more enjoyable for you. So, if you have binoculars or telescopes, bring them! They do not have to be state of the art gadgets; what matters is that they’re able to do the job.
Observe Proper Birdwatching Etiquette: Behave appropriately at all times. In this activity, you are not the priority; the birds are! So, ensure that the birds are not disturbed, including their habitats. Only stay in designated areas for bird-watching and make sure you do not trespass on private property. Lastly, respect other birdwatchers, your surroundings and the rules in the area.
Image Attribution: By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABirdwatching.jpg
Image Attribution: David Medcalf [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALooking_towards_Gilfach_farm_-_geograph.org.uk_-_578190.jpg