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Our English garden classic a – Robin – Erithicas rubecula
If you are a walker or just enjoy being outside you will inevitably encounter birds, and depending on your location many different species and varieties. Slowly like myself you may develop a keen interest in birds. I cannot say I am a bird spotter (Twitcher) or an expert in birds but my knowledge is growing. I have bought identifaction aids (books and online apps) and I have a scope in addition to my cameras and long lens.
As a generalisation you need a good camera and lens to get sucessful images of birds I have a Nikon D7200 and a 150mm -500mm Sigma lens. However I have seen very good shots taken with a phone attached to a scope!
Light is your friend, photographing dark birds in shadow or on a dark grey day is always going to be a challenge. Photographers will understand that for situations such as bird photography you will rarely use Auto and mostly use a manual set up. Most times, but not always, I use Aperture priority and +0.7 compensation on the exposure ( this punches the exposure .7 above what the camera detects as a good exposure. )
Sometimes you might be lucky and the bird comes very close to you, most times they are a distance away and they rarely stay still for very long, they will be in cover probably. Most times you only know a bird is near to you because you hear it rather than see it. Patience is the key, you need lots of it. be prepared to sit or stand still for long periods waiting for the bird(s) to reveal themselves! If you wish to photograph them you do not have long to frame your shot, focus and shoot. Good luck.
Some are easy (Robin) others are very difficult, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler for example. Some Gulls are extremely difficult especially if its not yet fully adult. However you can delve as deep as you wish into identification. there are some great Facebook groups that will help you, you post the image or recorded video and the real experts will usually identfy your bird. Sometimes though they struggle especially if your picture is poor quality.
As you get more intrested there are many books (I have 4) pitched at different levels to aid you and even apps that (if you have a connection) will help you out in the field! I sometimes use Merlin. As you become more interested it is a good idea to keep a log of your sighting and even field notes as you move about noting location, weather, time/date etc.
If you are looking for specific birds then location becomes very important and even the time of year. As the seasons change birds move around some great distances, even across continents. The Cuckoo comes up from Africa each year in March and returns in July !!. So, take trip to the coast and you may see very particular birds that do not come inland. To spot that bird you need to go to where it may be found. For example I spend a lot of time walking around Summer Leys Nature Reserve in Northamptonshire I can be fairly confident of seeing certain bird species and maybe a few surprises. Knowing the location may help you with identification.
This website has regular features about birds and birdwatching in Northamptonshire, especially rarities and scarce birds. I can highly recommend it, I have learnt a great deal about birds and identifying them from this site.
Regular posts about birds and birdwatching in Northamptonshire including information about ringing activities.
Lots of information about all things to do with birds and bird watching
British Trust for Ornithology
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
If you enjoy nature and birdwatching you should be aware of and respect these guidelines from the RSPB
Wildlife and the Law
The birds we see in the UK can be listed in a few gross catagories. Within each catagories are other sub catagories Bird of Prey – Eagle, for example.
On this site I will follow the catagories below to organise my images. Click the images to see images of that bird group.
Below are some of my more recent images taken whilst out walking.
Skylark – Taken at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve July 2019
Curlew Taken at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve