So to close this little series, a few final thoughts:
- You may see people in hides with massive cameras, telescopes, tripods, and binoculars that look like they could be mounted on a tank. Do not feel inadequate. You are not losing out by not having this equipment, and you’ll see most of what they say, and retain the image in your memory.
- A camera is a good thing to have at some point, but you can get compact ‘bridge’ cameras for under £200 that will give you a decent bit of zoom. Ideal to get started, and to help on tricky identifications back home. You may even discover you spotted something you didn’t realise at the time!
- The telescopes are referred to as ‘spotting scopes’. They can be handy, but unless you are paying quite a bit of money the quality isn’t great, it’s not like binoculars where good cheap options abound. Unless you are looking for passing migrants out to sea, you are not missing much being without one.
- Modern technology offers many shortcuts, not least of which are mobile phone apps that can identify birdsongs. Putting aside questions over reliability, I personally don’t recommend this route. It stops you paying attention, stops you learning, makes you lazy, and ultimately diminishes the richness and variety of bird calls and songs. Make the effort to learn them for yourself.
- That being said, listening to an album of birdsong back home to help learn cues for the field can be useful. But no playing recordings in the field, it is misleading for everybody!
- Finally, at some point you need to learn about ‘fieldcraft’. These are the more subtle arts of spotting and getting close to birds. It’s about knowing what you’ll see when and where, and how to do it. But it’s a long way off.
I’ve one final tip, and that’s ‘enjoy it’. This should never feel like hard work, it’s a hobby and as such should give pleasure. Sometimes it may be frustrating, but that only makes the rewards infinitely more satisfying.
If this has interested you, the following older posts may also be helpful: