getting started


Content of this section:

Where to go

What you will need: field guide - binoculars - clothing - accessories

Keeping records

How to recognise birds 

Elsewhere on this site:



Site map

We all start as ‘bad birdwatchers’ - the only way to become a ‘birder’ is by making mistakes and learning from them. Don’t worry about getting it wrong – even the most experienced birders make mistakes. You'll soon discover that there are species of birds out there ready and willing to trip you up every time you see them. The wood pigeon is a classic example: it can look like a peregrine, a cuckoo, an owl.. you name it a wood pigeon will impersonate it.

In this section we'll tackle the kit you will need, how to use a field guide, what skills you will need to learn and where and how to go birding. 

You will hear three different terms to describe people who follow this hobby - So are you a birdwatcher, birder or a twitcher? A birdwatcher includes birders and twitchers, but is used to describe the vast majority of people who feed the birds in their garden and occasionally visit a reserve or local park.

Birder is an American word for people who consider birdwatching a hobby, a passion even, but want to distinguish themselves from twitchers.

Twitchers are a group of people, mostly men, who collect bird species. They aim to see the most number of species in a month, year and a life and they will drive to the four corners of the country to see a rare bird. Birdwatchers do sometimes twitch – and many people keep lists of the birds they have seen. But the majority of us are not twitchers – regardless of what the media thinks!