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Birdie, where are thou??

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Old Tuesday 21st December 2010, 14:29   #1
Cocorico
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Birdie, where are thou??

Hello all,
I am fairly new on the forum. As I mentioned before, I have liked watching birds for a few years now, but really got into what you would call birdwatching (i.e. trying to ID, having a field book, etc...) only recently. Now I know I have to probably do more birding trips than I am currently, but whenever I am out and about, or even when I go to the meadow or along the river, I always keep my eyes and ears open...BUT... it seems that I am never on the right spot at the right time :( I mean I see some birds, but most common ones. I have small bins and just ordered a scope for Xmas so hopefully this will help but I know that equipment is important but not sufficient if you don't have a good technique like in any other field.

I check local blogs to learn what I should be seeing (maybe it's a question of IDying birds...) but still no luck. Am I going out birding at the wrong time of the day? Is it really a must to go far to see new species? I don't think so but I'd really like your experts' advice on how to improve my birding!
I am enjoying it though, but I'd be enjoying it even more if I saw new species!! :)

Thanks!
Marianne
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Old Tuesday 21st December 2010, 14:48   #2
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What you're doing sounds good for now. Personally I would say that a better pair of binoculars would be more use to you than a scope at the moment, but I'm sure others will disagree. Getting into the habit of identifying day-to-day birds as you go around will be a huge help later on, and reading id books, blogs etc will give you an idea of what to expect. You will probably see a whole load of new species if you go to a hide on a nature reserve though - you'll pick up species there that you won't see on your daily walks.
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Old Tuesday 21st December 2010, 15:18   #3
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Originally Posted by Cocorico View Post
Am I going out birding at the wrong time of the day?
You didn't say when you went birding, so it's hard to say. For most land birds, morning is the best (sunrise through 10:30 AM or so). Also, in areas with a true winter, winter is often when you'll see the fewest species of birds. But there are still winter specialties and a number of interesting birds to look for. Most birders adjust the way they bird with the seasons. In winter, ducks, raptors, and finches, for example, are good things to look for.

Hope this helps,
Jim
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Old Tuesday 21st December 2010, 15:37   #4
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Hi cocorico,
Birds are usually more easily found in the fields and suburbs, where food and shelter is more plentiful. As J Moore notes, birds are most active early, so morning excursions are good.
Given the current UK weather, you would probably find birds wherever there was open water, both water birds and garden birds looking for a drink and an opportunity to bathe.
Apart from that, birding is just like hunting,, patience is a critical ingredient. They are there and you will find them eventually.
Scope is a great idea. It may not help much until you locate some reliable viewing spots, but once you do, the extra reach allows views superior to what a binocular can give. Plus you add the potential to take photos, a fun way to document what you see.
Of course, that kind of thing can eventually lead to poring over the various binocular, scope and digiscoping threads on this forum, so be prepared. It can be habit forming.
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Old Tuesday 21st December 2010, 20:42   #5
Cocorico
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Hi Apodemus, you are very reassuring :) I will pursue reading and looking at other posts with pictures and so on to learn about species.
Thank you Jim, sorry of course I forgot to say when I went birding: usually in the afternoon as, sometimes in the morning, but I must admit that I have never been out very early due to baby duties!! I have the chance of living very close to a birdwatching area and close to rivers too which should make it easier to have good spots.
My bins are 8x22 but really compact ones that I first bought for a trip to Trinidad that actually started the whole thing!! So I know these are not ideal but the thing is, as Etudiant said, photography is another of my hobbies and combining both is great. SO having to carry a DSLR with zoom, and big binos, and a scope.... that was not an option. So I opted for a scope that allows me to save some money on expensive photo lenses and get both visual and photo magnification at once! I am looking forward to going out in the field with them (being a xmas gift, it'll have to wait a few more days....!!)
Etudiant, I have already browsed so many of the forums here first to chose the scope, then to read and understand binos and more bird IDs.

Anyway, thanks a lot for the tips!
M
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Old Saturday 8th January 2011, 12:41   #6
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Hi Cocorico,
I am also a beginning birder, only having one year's experience. One piece of advice I can think of is to find a spot where there are lots of trees around and there is the sound of running water. Lots of birds are attracted to the sound of running water. I found such a spot in a local park and I've found more new birds there than anywhere else.
Another suggestion would be to learn to "bird by ear". Learn to identify your common yardbirds by their songs and calls. That way you will know when there is a new bird in your vicinity as soon as you hear it. If you are not birding by ear, I can guarantee you are missing birds that are right under your nose. This is especially true in the summer months when visibility is limited by leaf cover.
Probably the best advice is to join a birding group or at least find an experienced birder who can show you the ropes.
Also, keep looking out the window! I know it can get boring seeing the same old "yardbirds" all the time, but you never know who will stop by when you least expect it!
Good Luck and Happy Birding,
Brian
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Old Saturday 8th January 2011, 12:48   #7
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Also, keep looking out the window! I know it can get boring seeing the same old "yardbirds" all the time, but you never know who will stop by when you least expect it!
Hi Brian,
Thanks for the tip. I definitely have tonstart learning to listen to the birds so I will follow your advice. Unfortunately, no time to join a birding group I'm afraid...
Right you are, I was looking out of the window while on the phone yesterday when six beautiful waxwings stopped by!! Lifers for me :)
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Old Sunday 9th January 2011, 20:03   #8
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I live on the outskirts of a semi-rural town and the route I take when walking into town very much effects the quantity and number of species I see in a walk of the same distance. If I walk the straight fastest route it's down a mainroad and I see starlings, house sparrows, some gulls, crows and magpies. (That's the way I go to work so I'm normally going fairly quickly and not looking around), if I go go through the housing estate and along the river bank I see all of the above, ducks, swans, coal,blue, long tailed and great tits, chaffinches, jackdaws, wood pigeons, collared doves, moorhens and all kinds of things, but it takes me 3 times as long as I stop and look, lol. There's probably more around you than you know, take a few different toutes and a bit more time and see.
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Old Friday 21st January 2011, 14:52   #9
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Study, persistence, experience, and luck are the keys. Spend as much time outside as you possibly can and you will start seeing new things soon enough. Good Birding!
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Old Friday 21st January 2011, 16:37   #10
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Just start a list, if you haven't already.
If you are not sure of the birds you see, start taking photos and ID them at home.
Slowly you will get surer of YOUR local birds and start finding the odd and new ones.
Be patient :)
Try new areas, try new times.
Check out what birds are regulars for your region and which ones will be visiting what areas (lakes and such) during migration :)

Best of luck and happy birding :)
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Old Friday 21st January 2011, 19:42   #11
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Thank you all for the tips! I am trying to be out more often and could already ID more birds. I have also started my lifelist and a yearlist this time.
Nicole, beautiful pictures on your blog by the way! I have started initially my birding by taking photos and IDying at home. But I have just purchased a scope that gives me evn more pleasure to observe the birds. My camera lenses would never have allowed me to do so and i am not ready to invest into big telephoto lenses for now! Maybe one day...
Happy birding to you too!
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Old Saturday 22nd January 2011, 01:19   #12
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Thanks, Marianne.
Sadly I lost all my data a short while ago, so what you see now is very old stuff and the newest.... oh well, over time, I'll have it back :-)

I 'only' have an 18-200mm lens myself. Works quite well. But I understand the Digiscoping part.
Btw. a friend of mine is taking gorgeous photos via his digiscope.
The guys here (mainly Kuwaitis) keep telling me that I need a bigger lens. Right, If I had the Amir grant me money almost every year, I would have the newest, biggest stuff too :-D
The main part of it all is: Having fun with what you are doing, the Rest comes by itself over time :)
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Old Saturday 22nd January 2011, 01:22   #13
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I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but somehow the javascript (or my computer) won't let me :-(
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Old Saturday 22nd January 2011, 11:54   #14
Cocorico
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I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but somehow the javascript (or my computer) won't let me :-(
Hi Nicole,
Srange that it won't work... I'll make a test mysel and see.
Cming back to the lenses, I have a 75-300 lens but this is definitely not enough for bird photography to get nice shots of smaller birds. As you said, the important thing is to enjoy, and i love watching the birdies and taking pics, the equipment is secondary, and i can improve it later!

Ciao for now and good luck recovering all your data!!
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Old Saturday 22nd January 2011, 12:05   #15
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Maybe, since it says Mac blog my windows system has issues,....?

75-300 is defo better than mine for birding.
I'll get to test the 80-400mm next week by an awesome trusty friend here
And like you love the watching, I just love the watching and shooting (and have the guys & girls here puzzle many shots out for me *cough* )

No data recovery possible. I had a multi blog and I didn't make the correct paths for the backup to run it's course properly.
Oh well :)
At least I still have the shots - all else is available on the net (except my experiences, they are toast).

Good day to you! :)
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Old Sunday 20th February 2011, 15:49   #16
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I am totally new to birding too (not so much to photography though) and one thing has been pretty obvious from the experienced birders I've seen over the last month - they find a great spot for birds and then have the patience to sit there and wait.

Invariably this has meant next to water (a pond or a stream) with smaller trees and bushes around it. Today was a perfect example - I went to the Shanghai Botanical Garden and there were all these guys in one spot with their 500/4 and 600/4 - massive lenses, stuck on their high end Canons & Nikons !

Talking to them (the many birds were quite used to people, sounds and movement) they told me this was the best spot in the whole garden) of course I had to wander around and find that out for myself though - glad I did as I found a little pond, nobody else around and a pair of kingfishers fishing) ! However for pure variety and how close the birds would come - within 10 yds (10m) they were right of course.
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