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When did you start watching birds? (1 Viewer)


Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
My Dad was at a loss with what to do with me when he had me at weekends as I couldn't stand (still can't!) football. He'd always had an interest in wildlife and took me out birding for the first time on 21st March 1981.....so it's all his fault!!! ;) Now, nearly 30yrs later I'm still at it - in fact, we're both still at it, so for our 30th anniversary this year we're gonna be in Israel. Birding's made me money, taken me around the world to some very obscure places, has given me a greater appreciation for the natural world, has introduced me to a wide variety of characters (both good and bad!) and I'll be doing it until the day they nail my coffin shut...:-O


Well-known member
United States
I started watching birds the summer of 2004, although only seriously started around December of that year. Birding helped pulled me out of a bad mental place and stay sane. I consider my three years in San Diego to be my formative years (2005-2007 approximately)

Always was into wildlife though, since I got my first field guide (herps!) in 1st grade.

Mike Jarvis

Well-known member
My mum tells the story that when I was about 2 or 3 I said 'Look Mum, the birds walk like this..' and did the forward back head movement of a pigeon. I can never remember not being interested in all wildlife, but it wasn't until the last 6 years that have seriously birded with binoculars, camera and notebook.

On a recent visit to my son's place his little boy pointed to a Kookaburra on the powerline and said 'bir..' - his first word! He and Papa are going to get along just fine.


Well-known member
I've always been interested in wildlife, including birds, but in terms of going out to specifically look for birds and record things etc. It partially started during Uni, when we had to do bird surveys, and I knew all the common species so it was a heaps nice treat when we went on camps in more regional locations with different species.

But I think what made it stick with me was my first trip to the U.S.A in late 2006, the different birds had me always looking them up and it was really interesting trying to figure them out and going for walks and seeing what I would see next. That's what did it for me, the completely different environment, hearing tens of birds around me calling and not knowing what a single one was, it was like a challenge, daring me to try and figure them all out :p I accepted ;)


Ich bin ein Vogelbeobachter
It's all my brother's fault. ;) I'd always had an armchair interest in wildlife, watching Attenborough and Survival and other wildlife programmes and looking at nature books but never took that further into watching the wildlife around me than occasionally looking at the sparrows in the garden and was blind to the wildlife around me. My brother was more aware though and in recent years began wanting to go on holiday to places like north Devon, Pembrokeshire and north Norfolk and being close brothers I went along with him.

Although we watched and photographed the birds and wildlife in Devon (seeing Dippers, which I'd always really loved) and Pembrokeshire (watching loads of bats in the village and travelling to Skomer to see Puffins and Choughs) it took a trip to Blakeney in 2008 to finally push me over the edge into fully-fledged birdwatching. We went mainly to see the seals, not realising the birding Mecca that the region is, but we saw so many birds and animals that we were totally overwhelmed by it and found ourselves walking around with astounded grins. By the time I came home I was hooked and started going on walks to watch birds in my local area.


I started when I was 5, trying to find kingfishers with my parents. Ever since ten I have been hooked. At 7 I was told by a falconer that I was the 1st person to id his falcon correctly (It was a lanner) and all thorough out my young life I went birding with experts and friends. A highlight was going to Portugal and seeing spotless starling and my first hoopoe.
And even now in my teenage years I still birdwatch every weekend and carry out bird surveys for the BTO an also do a tiny bit of twitching like seeing purple heron at dungeness.
My aim as I get older is too see as many species as I can and to become a full time ornithologist, wildlife photographer and guide.


Uncomfortably Numb.
My Uncle took me on a RSPB coach outing to Gibraltar Point in April 1973. I ended up falling over in the mud & was covered in mud head to foot but I still enjoyed it & never looked back. I can't imagine life without birds & birding, it's become a big part of who I am.


Well-known member
I think my interest really started when as a kid my grandad painted a watercolour of a Jay and later a Bullfinch. I was then bought a RSPB field guide, but didn't really understand what it was for, other than looking at and hoping! I used to watch the birds in my garden, but wasn't really encouraged to put food out.

Now, 30 years on and I have my own garden and have attracted Bullfinches into my own garden and seen Jays on my local patch. I never thought it would happen.


I started serious birding when I was 15. A friend of mine took me out and explained the different birds that we saw. My first lifer was the common chiffchaff, of whom I did not know it existed until that particular day. That was back in 1967. Have been birding ever since and will continue to do so until my very last day on this planet.


Will Jones
I guess it must have started with feeding the ducks at Ellesmere as a toddler, but I honestly can't remember not enjoying birds.

Vectis Birder

Itchy feet
I was 7 and we started feeding the birds in Nan's garden where I started seeing different species and recognising the differences between them. I watched birds locally (garden, out of walks) until I got into my teens when I lost interest. I got back into birding when I was in my early 20s.


Well-known member
My interest awoke when I was eight ( 1964) and was holding a dead Fieldfare, car victim, picked up on my way to school.

My initial interest became a full-fledged passion on my 13th birthday, 1969, when I got the desired binoculars I had been asking my parents for for several months.
A school excursion in october 1968 had a Glossy Ibis as a tick, and for some reason I couldn't attend it, and that's when the whinging started for a pair of binoculars...

Best regards,



I was in 6th grade and remember this moment well. I loved science since kindergarten, so I always looked at books of that theme. Well, among the school library's books was the Golden Guide to Eastern Birds. I was fascinated by this book so much, wanting to see all the birds illustrated. This grew to me memorizing the bird book, then having my grandma and a school teacher give me a bird book. Also, I did school projects about birds, I had feeders put up in my backyard, got a pair of binoculars for one of my birthdays (I still have them, but they got dropped in saltwater and no long work) etc...

I got a Zoology degree and started to seriously study birds. I also had several jobs teaching about birds and also outdoor research.

Unfortunately, some problems of mine are currently holding me back from working, but I still enjoy doing stuff like listening to bird CD's to improve my ID skills, reading the latest books, trying to keep up with the latest taxonomy (I love taxonomy) etc...

J Moss

Well-known member
Well, my bird logs begin on 2nd January 2006, with my first ever visits to Salthouse (Brent Goose 2, Golden Plover Many on fields opp. car park, Skylark 4, Snow Bunting 13 on seeded are west of car park. V. Tame. Lifer!) and Titchwell (Common Scoter lge numbers offshore. Lifer! Goldeneye 3 offshore, Bar Tailed Godwit several, Kestrel 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Little Gull 1+ on scrape amongst gull roost. Lifer!, Kittiwake sev. offshore. Lifer!) These trips coincided with my discovering Birdforum and the wealth on information that it provides. I didn't know that Snedge Buntings or Little Gulls were so easy to see within 15 miles of my house, as was the case of many other species. And so I went on.
I was always interested, in a similar way to many others on here, owning a few bird ID guides as a kid and visiting places like Pensthorpe with the parents, confidently IDing Willow Tit from the woodland hide with my little bins and bird book (would struggle with that level of confidence now!). Remember my first rarity coming from there too, in the form of a Squacco Heron at the back of the reserve when I was 15 (only one subsequent Norfolk record). Nothing afterwards until I regained my interest 5 years ago, visiting Farlington Marshes and the New Forest whilst at university in Portsmouth, and seeing some fab birds along the way. I've since been paid to enjoy my hobby, for the past 3 years :) Long may it continue!


Well-known member
Started when I was 8 back in '69. I well remember a treecreeper shinning its way up a giant broom shrub we had in our garden when I lived in Sussex, a tawny owl hooting away in a tree in the garden at night and being mesmerised by large flocks of swifts scything their way around local houses.[My older brother tried to put me off by telling me swifts were highly dangerous]! That's it I was hooked from then on. Off I went down to the local bookshop where my dad purchased a copy of the Observers Book of Birds for me. Ahh! those were the days.


John Cantelo

Well-known member
The really depressing thing is that I think the answer is "Before most of you lot were born" and worse, "Before some of your parents were born!" I recall crawling across the spartina at Christchurch harbour to claim Dunlin in my I-Spy book sometime before going to school. I also remember visiting Lundy Island (not been back since) and claiming Storm Petrel when I was small. Triangulating things with my Mum she reckoned that was 1955/56. I was SO disappointed when I realised, aged about 10, that they were House Martins. My excuse being that, he Observers book aside, the volume of Fisher's 'Bird Recognition' on seabirds was the only other bird book in the house. Never did discover why my Dad had a copy - I guess it was because his job sometimes took him out on 'sea trials' with the Royal Navy' - since, although very encouraging, he would never a birdwatcher.

At primary school I persuaded my 'best friend' to become a birder (he still is) and at secondary school we met up with other like minded types (most of whom are still birding, one as a professional tour guide). This was this was the winter of '62/63 and about that time we started going to Titchfield Haven (Hants) and I started getting 'British Birds'. However, I suspect what really made the difference was being able to explore Southampton Common at lunchtimes - breeding Cirl Buntings, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker & Hawfinch. I suspect that few 12/13 year olds would now be allowed to roam the byways of Hampshire by bus, train and bike like we did in the 1960s,
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