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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:02   #1
Ken Hall
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Going it alone or in company

Apologies if this has been done before, but I can't find any previous thread on the subject. Do you go birding on your own, or do you prefer to have company? What are the advantages and disadvantages of either? Do you like organised trips with lots of people? Are you happiest on your own?

Personally, I'm a bit divided. Generally, I prefer to go by myself, with no ties, no need to consider anyone else's wishes or needs, and nobody to distract me. On the other hand, I enjoy the banter that you get in a group, and there is no doubt I will see more birds when there are more eyes, and more experienced birders around. And I'm always happy to take a beginner along and share my experience and knowledge.

I'm just wondering what others feel and if they have any preferences.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:14   #2
Keith Dickinson
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I do the vast majority of my birding solo, mainly because I do surveys for the BTO...BBS and also tetrads for the bird atlas. However I do like going out en masse with my BF pals here in Yorkshire. Then it's the chat as well as the birds that is the draw, plus with more eyes you tend to see a lot more.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:32   #3
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Seeing as I'm still relatively new to birdwatching, I prefer seeing people around in hides/at spots and talking to them. If people don't want to talk much back doesn't bother me I'm happy on my own as well :-)
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:40   #4
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I'm almost always on my own but I have enjoyed occasions when I've been out in a group, e.g. land-based safari on Mull where the guide was able to lead us to the best sites.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:45   #5
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I enjoy watching on my own and with a group, although, if the group is too big then it tends to get too noisy and you then wish you were on your own.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 20:48   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Hall View Post
Do you go birding on your own, or do you prefer to have company? What are the advantages and disadvantages of either? Do you like organised trips with lots of people? Are you happiest on your own?

Personally, I'm a bit divided. Generally, I prefer to go by myself, with no ties, no need to consider anyone else's wishes or needs, and nobody to distract me. On the other hand, I enjoy the banter that you get in a group, and there is no doubt I will see more birds when there are more eyes, and more experienced birders around. And I'm always happy to take a beginner along and share my experience and knowledge.

I'm just wondering what others feel and if they have any preferences.
I think the majority of birders (myself included) do their local patch on their own or in a small group. For trips further afield I do like to chat to others where possible. I have had a few beginners under my wing in previous years but none recently.

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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 21:06   #7
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almost all of my birding on my own. ive only been birding once in a group i got to see alot more but local patching its always just myself. i dont know to many birders in my area though i dont get out as often as most people do. being with others is a great way to learn but getting away from it all on your own is nice too.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 21:51   #8
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I would never ever dream of going birding with anyone, I go everywhere on my own. I just prefer it that way.

Occasionally I might take my wife along for a stroll round my local patch, but she doesn't like birding so I'm still on my own so to speak.

Same with organised trips, I just wouldn't go on one. I prefer getting out there and finding my own birds. This includes if I go abroad, I do some research about where to go and what I might see, but wherever I go birding when I'm abroad I never see another birder anyway.
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Old Wednesday 16th September 2009, 22:04   #9
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Like all the other posters so far I also much prefer to go birding on my own. If the Tufted Puffin is there again on Saturday though I suspect I'll have to put up with a bit of company.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 12:39   #10
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I tend to go it alone too, I find birding so theraputic and relaxing on my mind, stark contrast to working environment. Its great to enjot solo birding, but then I do miss a bit of banter.

But I like birding solo for the same reasons as the poster - you can go when you want, where you want as the mood takes etc. Sometimes I do not know how I feel until the morning, and if I have not slept well I would hate to let people down who I promised a lift.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 13:40   #11
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Only birding by yourself can get boring fast IMO. It's much more enjoyable to share with someone the excitement of finding an unusual bird, as well as share tips, knowledge, and experiences. Plus, as others have said, you see more birds. I think if you only bird alone you are missing out on part of what birding has to offer.

That said, I also enjoy birding alone; it let's me concentrate better on what I am seeing and hearing. Also, I think the internet has made even birding alone something of a social experience because you can quickly report what you see, as well as record it on eBird (at least, at this point, in the W. Hemisphere).

My two cents,
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 15:58   #12
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I do a bit of both. Sometimes, even if on a 'solo' trip it ends up sociable, especially if you visit a popular reserve and start to chinwag with other birders.
If I'm on a photography day, I always go on my own, it would be as boring as watching paint dry for any mates that came along.
To me, meeting new people into the same hobby is as much part of birding as all the rest of it.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 17:33   #13
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i myself like to go on my own with only my dog for company,although i do have a friend who introduced me to birds and it is always nice every now and then to meet which also has the advantage of an extra pair of eyes and a second opinion on a bird i am maybe not sure off.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 17:39   #14
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I vary my routine, but usually I go with another person.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 17:59   #15
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Half and half. Never did tours out of the country, except on my own and one local guide, a friend once.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 18:04   #16
Joseph N
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Well Ken, as you know I go out birding with my Dad, so I am always in company, which is good. As for birding in a big group, I must say I enjoy the sense of community when doing group birding and the fact you can share past experiences, and talk about birds, but sometimes peoples' needs can become a bit much during group birding. I think there is definitely a sense of freedom when there's just you or the person you normally go birding with, as you can spend as much time as you feel necessary in a place, rather than having to go along with others. Of course though, the more eyes, the more you are likely to see something.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 18:08   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Hall View Post
Apologies if this has been done before, but I can't find any previous thread on the subject. Do you go birding on your own, or do you prefer to have company? What are the advantages and disadvantages of either? Do you like organised trips with lots of people? Are you happiest on your own?

Personally, I'm a bit divided. Generally, I prefer to go by myself, with no ties, no need to consider anyone else's wishes or needs, and nobody to distract me. On the other hand, I enjoy the banter that you get in a group, and there is no doubt I will see more birds when there are more eyes, and more experienced birders around. And I'm always happy to take a beginner along and share my experience and knowledge.

I'm just wondering what others feel and if they have any preferences.
99.9% of the time I go birding alone but when the opportunity arises I really enjoy going with other people.

Most of my birding is done on the move and I love exporing the more remote areas. I can walk miles and not see another person.............and often not a lot of birds lol. When I'm doing that I think I prefer to be on my own but at other times it would be nice to have company, especially more experienced company.

I think I'm probably a bit odd in that I prefer birding away from the places that you would expect to see birds. Seeing osprey & capercaillie from the hide at loch garten doesn't compare with seeing an osprey locally......... I'm still trying with capercaillie lol.

I think I would fall into your camp of being a bit divided. Take sea watching! I'm useless and then it's so helpful to have people that know what they are seeing. I did make an effort today and eventually sussed out what I'd seen. I must try harder though .

TS
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 19:11   #18
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thanks for all your replies so far. They make very interesting reading. I think I can see a consensus appearing, but do please carry on with your thoughts and experiences.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 19:29   #19
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I too tend to do my birding solo.but having said that I enjoy it when my wife accompanies me and my son has rekindled his interest and I find it apleasure to show him my top spots amd help him add to his list.
I also enjoy it when I can learn from more expert birders in a hide or impart some of my scant knowledge to other less experienced.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 20:13   #20
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Hey up folks, like most of you i do 99% of my birding on me own. But every now and then if there's a good bird in the county or nationally i'll team up with a few mates. Over the years i've found you learn far more workin' on your own without the destractions of a bit of banter etc..

It is good though to meet up with folk you know though and have a natter on all things bird. At the recent Rose-coloured Starling in Staffs we had a right old titter strolling round the estate at nine o'clock on a Sunday morning!

Andy.
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Old Thursday 17th September 2009, 22:38   #21
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I bird with my Aunt mainly, who got me into birding in the first place. Sometimes i go with my dad or mum but there not as serious as me, on my local patches we nearly always bump into birders either in a group or solo and very rarely just for an hour or so we "team up" with them to have a look around ....

I have to say i prefer company but that might just be because im young
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Old Friday 18th September 2009, 10:52   #22
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I do bird alone but most of the time I'm with 2 or 3 friends which to be honest I prefer. More birds are found but the banter between us makes it special and when something good has been seen to relive it after with friends is just great.
Myself and two friends had our first birding trip abroad this year and we can't stop talking about it, infact we've just booked to go again next year, so I'm defintely in the group which prefers company.
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Old Friday 18th September 2009, 11:52   #23
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Always on my own as I only go locally when I find a bit of time. Work/family/other interests mean time is limited and I have not yet got around to visiting Titchwell, Holme etc or chased even Norfolk rarities.

However, if/when time permits I could see the real benefits of being with a group sometimes. I struggle with the ID of Warblers/Gulls etc and birdsong so a group would definitely be of benefit to me.

Probably p..s the rest of the group off though and make them wish they had gone it alone!
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Old Friday 18th September 2009, 14:54   #24
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I like both... when I'm alone I can walk around wherever I want to, choose my own speed and so on. On the other hand I like to be around others, because I like to have people to talk to. I'm always a bit nervous I'd discover something rare when on my own and having no one to confirm it! (I don't have a camera, and I'm not experienced enough that most people here would take my word for it...)
One thing I like about being around others is that I learn a lot, especially stuff that might not be mentioned in the books. Knowledgeable people who encounter me might have to put up with a few questions... (Although I only ask if they seem okay with it.)
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Old Friday 18th September 2009, 16:43   #25
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Good question Ken, well done for raising it.

With groups, the question is, who's in it ?
Once or twice (for reasons I won't go into) I've found myself plodding along with noisy dudes, with no hope of seeing or hearing anything.
And I've been out with a "group" of one or two, much better birders than me (I hope they don't put me in the first category, at least I try not to be noisy unless a Tufted Puffin appears).

Then, what did you have in mind when you went out ? Is it (a) a survey, or a piece of regular patch-working or (b) a hopeful visit to a known hot spot where there might be rare migrants or (c) an exploration of somewhere you've never been before or (d) a shameless twitch ? (or (e-z) ...)

I reckon the consensus is, mostly alone but sometimes glad of company, and maybe that's because people mostly do (a). And good on you if you do; but as many have said above, you do learn a lot from other birders, often more than you can any other way.
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