25 January 2024
Big Garden Birdwatch 2024 – Beginner birdwatching basics
The much-anticipated Big Garden Birdwatch by the RSPB is just around the corner, calling on bird enthusiasts and beginners alike to participate in this annual event. Set to take place from the 26th to the 28th of January, the Birdwatch encourages participants to observe and record the feathered visitors in their chosen location, be it a backyard, a local park, or even the balcony outside their window. In this blog we'll equip you with essential tips to make your birdwatching experience not only enjoyable but also meaningful for the RSPB's important efforts.
Never birdwatched before? Check out our handy tips!
- Acquiring a pair of binoculars is your first step into the fascinating world of birdwatching. You don't need to break the bank; even an affordable pair can provide you with a closer and more detailed view of birds in their natural habitat.
- For unfamiliar birds, snap a quick photo to consult later or share with bird experts. This way, you can identify the species accurately through research or seek guidance from experienced birdwatchers.
- Identifying birds: notice the size and shape of the bird, including its beak and tail. Observe the bird's colours, patterns, and markings. Pay attention to how the bird moves and behaves, as it can provide clues to its species.
- Carry a region-specific field guide to aid in identifying different bird species. Familiarise yourself with common local birds for easier recognition. Practice stillness to avoid startling the birds, using slow, deliberate motions.
- Observation techniques: be patient: birds may take some time to reveal themselves. Sit quietly and let them come to you. Listen: birds often announce their presence through distinctive calls and songs.
- Download the Merlin Bird ID app by Cornell Lab on your mobile device. This handy tool identifies bird species by listening to their calls, making it an excellent companion for new birdwatchers. You can also upload a picture and it will help you identify which bird it is.
- Connect with a birdwatching community to share experiences and learn valuable tips about your local area.
- Choosing a location: start in easily accessible areas with diverse bird populations such as: local parks and nature reserves. Seasonal considerations: different birds are prevalent during different seasons, so choose your locations accordingly. Water sources: lakes, rivers, and ponds attract a variety of bird species, making them ideal for observation.
- Make notes! Carry with you a notebook and pen to record your observations, noting bird species, behaviours, and any distinct markings you notice. If you keep a list, you can work on your 'life-list', you'll be surprised just how many different birds there are around, that you've never really noticed before!
Embark on your bird-watching adventure with a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the avian wonders around you. As you hone your skills, you'll discover the joy of observing the intricate world of birds and contribute to the vital conservation efforts of organisations like the RSPB. Happy bird watching!