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Newbie-friendly birdwatching resources? (1 Viewer)

Well, I'm not technically a "new birder" - birdwatching has been something that was a huge interest of mine when I was younger but disappeared off my radar due to some hustle and bustle (amongst other hobbies I am now slowly getting "back into!"!). However, I found myself forgetting everything apart from some most common bird species!

I am looking for resources that could get me back into the swing of things and make my return to birdwatching less overwhelming, such as books, apps, and websites, ideally focusing on UK-based birds.

Thank you in advance!
 

MiddleRiver

Well-known member
United States
Well, I'm not technically a "new birder" - birdwatching has been something that was a huge interest of mine when I was younger but disappeared off my radar due to some hustle and bustle (amongst other hobbies I am now slowly getting "back into!"!). However, I found myself forgetting everything apart from some most common bird species!

I am looking for resources that could get me back into the swing of things and make my return to birdwatching less overwhelming, such as books, apps, and websites, ideally focusing on UK-based birds.

Thank you in advance!
LOL... hello again :)

I have found this forum to be very useful/fun. Watch the daily postings of images for ID and test your own ability to figure them out as well as reading how 'more expert birders' quickly focus in on details leading to ID.

If you don't have a guide(s), get one. I find the ones with drawings much better than photos. Not sure what's best for EU/GB, but in US, Sibley, Nat Geo, Petersons are all superb and compliment each other. Tip: you can save $$ by buying them used - a little wear doesn't make them any less useful, but I do think current editions are usually best.

Create a link to AllAboutBirds and eBird (Cornell Ornithology lab), also Audobon has a lovely site, and poke around while drinking your morning coffee (or perhaps porridge or tea in GB?).

If you are a smartphone user, get those apps as well. Sibley has a good one at modest $, Audobon, and Merlin Bird ID are great (again, apologies for speaking to NAmerica...) - you may have to find other locally relevant apps?

Wear your binos - yes you might feel like a bit of a dork - everywhere. I just stepped out to get something out of the car and had a Kestrel (I think) fly over. Missed having binos! Even in urban areas, you'd be amazed at what you can find. And of course watching bugs, butterflies, mammals,... is great fun too.

Cheers!
a
 
BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) has great resources for recording what you have seen and also ID and information pages. For books you can't go wrong with the Collins Bird Guide. A bit more expensive than some books perhaps but as an ID guide it's first rate.
 

Greybags

Member
Supporter
Scotland
Like you I too am returning to bird watching. When we joined the RSPB last year we also purchased their book on British Birds which we like. Last Christmas the kids bought me the WildGuides 'Britain's Birds' book by Rob Hume et al which I am loving. As for apps I have the Collins Bird Guide on my phone which is good iff I have my reading glasses with me!

GB
 

R T

Member
Hi,
The RSPB's handbook of British birds
is ideal.
The "Collins". Birds of Europe by lars Jonsson. Europe's birds An identification guide by Rob Hume et Al, uses photos. These 3 are excellent, but have a lot of species that would be rare in the UK though, so check the distribution maps.
Bird song & call CDs can help. There are real bargains in the second market. Ebay. Gumtree, shpock and the like, plus this is a "Green" option.
You will notice the changes since you last birded. Where are the song thrush, kestrel, Willow tit and sand martin? Not all bad news though you can see little egrets at your local parks, Red kites and Peregrines have also increased.
You have the interest and enjoy birding that's all that matters.If there are other birders around don't be afraid to ask their opinion.They are a friendly lot. When it come s to ID, if you have narrowed it down to 2 species its best just to assume its the commoner of the two.
Welcome back and good birding!
PS if you are near Stourbridge, West Mids. I have a spare "Collins" which you can have for free.
R.T.
 
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LittleBitOfBreadNoCheese

Well-known member
Scotland
Well, I'm not technically a "new birder" - birdwatching has been something that was a huge interest of mine when I was younger but disappeared off my radar due to some hustle and bustle (amongst other hobbies I am now slowly getting "back into!"!). However, I found myself forgetting everything apart from some most common bird species!

I am looking for resources that could get me back into the swing of things and make my return to birdwatching less overwhelming, such as books, apps, and websites, ideally focusing on UK-based birds.

Thank you in advance!
As already mentioned the BTO identification videos are excellent for refreshing skills or learning them for the first time. Song and Mistle Thrush, Cormorant and Shag, Common v Herring Gull and so on.

 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Already mentioned above, but as you want to focus on British birds I'd strongly recommend both the RSPB guide (illustrations) and the Wild Guide's 'Britain's Birds' (photographs). Both focus on British birds, although the latter has a pretty broad definition of 'British', with a lot of rarities; the RSPB guide is a slim volume so good to carry round with you, with good illustrations but maybe less focus on key id points. I bought both for my partner, as she develops her ID skills she doesn't want to be confused by a load of species she's unlikely to see.
Collins guide, while widely regarded as the standard field ID book, covers the whole of Europe - I would make this your third purchase (or buy the app).
And a third vote for the BTO online video guides, which should be used as suggested to learn the difference between pairs of species.
As a 'returning' birder myself, I realised I had some embedded knowledge I thought I'd forgotten, so you'll find your previous skills will come back once you get back into it - what you may find, depending on how long ago you last went birding, is that there is much more knowledge available on critical differences between species, and the techniques you used to (e.g.) distinguish marsh and willow tits / common and Arctic terns have moved on a lot.
 

bobf711

Well-known member
One app I have found very useful is the free Merlin Bird ID by The Cornell Lab. See here.

In particular, the Sound ID function has been very impressive in my experience. It has been able to identify the calls of a great many birds often despite considerable other background noise and has helped me narrow down what to look for and/or confirm the identity of a particular calling bird.
 

01101001

Well-known member
Opus Editor
Poland
From a beginning birder:
BTO's videos
Merlin and BirdNET (correctly identifies some recordings Merlin can't ID but also makes strange mistakes sometimes: a bird for a human-made sound, Tawny Owl for distant Common Crane, Eurasian Nightjar for a frog and the like; website: BirdNET, app: BirdNET - Apps on Google Play); I use the apps to learn new calls and songs when I hear them in the field and check if there are any potential confusion species with that call/song.

Now from other countries (there is much overlap with the UK):
Norway (bird guide): https://www.birdid.no/bird/eBook.php
Spain (ringing guide): Species Files – Guia Blasco Zumeta de Aves
Armenia (field guide): English Common Names - A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia - Prologue ::Acopian Center for the Environment
 

Femtiofyra

Registered User
This webpage is great for learning species:


On the quiz page, you can select your country and difficulty level. There are both pictures and sounds to practice with. If you are logged in, the results of each quiz are saved to your account and you can see which species you fail to identify most frequently. There is also a bird guide where you can see/read about the species identifying features.
 

Robert Wallace

Well-known member
Already mentioned above, but as you want to focus on British birds I'd strongly recommend both the RSPB guide (illustrations) and the Wild Guide's 'Britain's Birds' (photographs). Both focus on British birds, although the latter has a pretty broad definition of 'British', with a lot of rarities; the RSPB guide is a slim volume so good to carry round with you, with good illustrations but maybe less focus on key id points. I bought both for my partner, as she develops her ID skills she doesn't want to be confused by a load of species she's unlikely to see.
Collins guide, while widely regarded as the standard field ID book, covers the whole of Europe - I would make this your third purchase (or buy the app).
And a third vote for the BTO online video guides, which should be used as suggested to learn the difference between pairs of species.
As a 'returning' birder myself, I realised I had some embedded knowledge I thought I'd forgotten, so you'll find your previous skills will come back once you get back into it - what you may find, depending on how long ago you last went birding, is that there is much more knowledge available on critical differences between species, and the techniques you used to (e.g.) distinguish marsh and willow tits / common and Arctic terns have moved on a lot.
:)
 

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