If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I am reading Bill Oddies Little Black Bird Book and wow is it funny! I love it, the way its written is perfect humour for a birder even a beginner. I class myself as a beginner because I am, even though I’ve been on many twitches with my dad for rare birds when I was younger so I’ve seen my share of decent birds I just didn’t know what I was looking at.
This post is more about finding a connection with bird watching, I do love it, I love being outside in nature, in fresh air with the sound of birds singing it’s amazing and I want to share it with everyone. I do like to have the challenge of identifying what I’ve seen, I am very much a beginner so everything is new other than Great Tits and Sparrows which makes it a very interesting challenge. Seeing the bird, making sure you get a good enough and long enough look at it, what are the colours, markings, what kind of call are they singing (if they are). I think reading Little Black Bird Book has helped me to remember what to note down and/or remember what I’ve seen and then refer to my field guide to identify it.
So what is a field guide I hear you ask? It’s your birding bible! It’s got everything you need to know in there, what you’re looking at and being able to identify a species of bird correctly. Binoculars (or bins) you won’t be able to see much without them. Even as a beginner it’s worth investing in a good pair of binoculars you don’t have to spend lots of money but obviously the more you spend the better they will be. Two of the most important things you will need for this hobby, if you’re a beginner your field guide will be your best friend and your binoculars will be another limb!
Now you have the things to get started what do you do next? Being a solo beginner birder can be tricky, I have my dad but I’ve learnt that going to reserves such as RSPB and Wildlife trust is a great starting point. Instead of starting off looking into trees trying to find that little brown bird which looks like every other little brown bird camouflaged in thick trees. Even in the winter when you look up at a tree and all you can see is a silhouette of a bird which lets be honest could be anything you then need to know the call or the distinctive shape. So if you go to a reserve and sit in a hide its a great starting point! You can have your field guide out and at the ready but also the hide will have a board of common birds which are seen there this will narrow down the identification for you and gives you an easy head start. Another thing to remember when visiting reserves is that they will have a board in the visitor centre this will tell you what has already been seen there that day, then you can keep your eyes open for certain species off of that board.
Make sure you dress for the weather! There’s nothing worse than being outside in the cold, wind and rain when you’re not dressed for the conditions. A nice thick jumper, water proof, boots or wellies (must be comfy as you’ll be doing a lot of walking), hats, scarfs, gloves, basically the more layers the better!! One thing I would suggest though is if you’re just starting out then try to avoid going out in bad weather conditions, it’ll more than likely put you off. Unless of course, its a tick or a rare bird then it is worth walking around in the cold for a little bit.
Most importantly have fun with it. You want a hobby to be fun and something which you enjoy! You don’t want it to be a chore or something which isn’t enjoyable. There are lots of local birding clubs, I know Essex has one, so why not sign up to that and meet new people and friends who have the same interests or just stick to it being more of a solitary hobby. Spending time on your own or one on one with nature, outside in the fresh air, listening to the birds and the trees just be happy with your own company.
Much love x