Ranger Werner Nel shares his insights on how to get the most out of your birding experience.
- Binoculars: Let a professional help you to pick out the right pair of binoculars. It is not necessary to get the most expensive pair. I personally suggest the Nikon 10×32, ideal all-round binoculars that aren’t too pricey.
- Identification book: Make sure that you get the latest and most up-to-date birding book. Get to know your book, and learn how to use it properly. I like the Sasol 4th edition bird book.
Here’s what you need to pay careful attention to when identifying birds:
- What size is the bird? (small, medium, or large)
- What is the shape of the bird?
- Its beak structure? (long and pointed, curved, etc.)
- Its colouration and plumage (what colours can you see on its body? You can look at the shape of the feathers too.)
- Its habitat and distribution? (what kind of habitat did you find the bird in? Did you see many of them, or just one?)
- What did you hear? (learn to recognise birdcalls, or download an app on your phone which has birdcalls that you can listen to and familiarize yourself with. This is especially useful with smaller birds.)
If you are still struggling to identify a bird, take photos and use an illustrative or photographic bird guide as a frame of comparison.
Remember, birding is not just about finding and identifying birds. Take your time and enjoy the outdoors as well!