Your guide to birdwatching

zebra finch songbird
(© Xavier MARCHANT –

Birdwatching is a fantastic hobby and one that can be done from your own doorstep. Sometimes referred to as birding, birdwatching simply involves looking for, and noting, the birds around you whatever setting you might find yourself in. This could be looking out onto your garden, observing them from the car during a long drive (but only as a passenger!) or even whilst out and about on a hike.

There are no expensive requirements necessary for taking up birdwatching, but if you really enjoy this hobby you may want to invest in things like a good pair of binoculars or a telescope, and a good quality camera for birdwatching photography so that you can capture a record of some of your spots.


No matter what location you do your birdwatching from the one thing that you will definitely need to invest in is a good birdwatching book. This will help you to identify the birds that you spot that you are not familiar with. You may also want a good notebook and pencil so that you can jot down your spots – many birdwatchers like to keep notes of what they have seen and where.

If you want to get a better look at the birds that you have spotted, then a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope on a tripod will allow you to get a better view without scaring the birds away. This equipment can come in very handy when you are in a bird hide or are out in the countryside.

A camera, preferably one with a telephoto or zoom lens is also a great piece of equipment to take with you when you are bird watching. If you spot a bird that you are not able to identify, then taking a picture will potentially allow you to identify it properly when you get home. It is also a great way to keep a record of some of the birds that you have seen in their natural habitat. Because of the speed with which birds move, and the length of lens you will need to take the photographs, it is a good idea to have a tripod for your camera. This will allow you to keep handshake to a minimum and help you to achieve better photos.

Local groups

If you are new to birdwatching, then you may want to see if there are any local groups that you can join. This will not only offer you some company for your outings, but will also help you to get involved. More experienced birdwatchers will know what they are looking for and where, and will be happy to give you some pointers and help you identify your spots. Quite often, the more eyes that are looking out the more likely you are to be able to tick new and interesting birds off on your spotted list.

A word of warning though. If you get a few good spots in one trip it can mean staying out longer than you might have anticipated, so don’t forget to pack a few snacks and a drink to take with you just in case. Remember that birdwatchers are a hardy bunch as well and a little cold or damp weather is not likely to put them off their birdwatching. You won’t want to forget a waterproof and a jumper as well. Once you have seen a few really interesting birds it is quite likely that you will be well and truly hooked on this particular pastime, and who knows, you may even be able to capture some particularly fantastic shots along the way.

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