Identifying Birds by Sight and Sound
Tuesday 24 April 2018 09:30 - Wednesday 25 April 2018 16:00
Image: Steve Davis
Whether you're new to birding or have some previous experience, join DWT’s Hamish Murray on a birding exploration around Powerstock Common and Kingcombe Meadows nature reserves.
Late April is a really good time in the birding calendar, as most of our summer visitors will have arrived from the south and resident birds will be in full song as they proclaim their breeding territories. This two-day course is for anyone who is keen to improve their skills in bird identification. It will help you identify common and scarcer species by sight and sound. It is suitable for anyone with an interest in birds whether they're a beginner, improver or more experienced birder.
With the exact balance depending on the weather, there will be a mix of field excursions on Powerstock Common and Kingcombe Meadows, plus some indoor sessions. As we find each bird we’ll discuss how to use all the clues that help us identify it, including:
• Where and when did we see it?
• What’s characteristic about its movement / size and shape?
• What are its distinctive colours and markings?
• Is it on its own – are there lots of them?
• How is it behaving?
• Is it making any sounds?
• How can we remember the clues so we’ll recognise it next time?
We will take some time each day to review the birds we've seen and heard, and learn how to distinguish them from their 'lookalikes' and ‘soundalikes’. We’ll also take a few minutes at the end of each day to record our sightings online on the BirdTrack website, so that there’s a permanent record of the species we find.
We’ll explore a variety of techniques and technology to help consolidate your learning. We'll look at what equipment to use, how to make simple field sketches and notes, how to use smartphone apps, cameras and other technology.
Although birds will be our main focus, we'll also try and look at look at any other interesting wildlife we encounter on our walks.
Note: There will be some walking on both days on footpaths and up and down slopes. This won’t amount to more than three or so miles spread through each day, but a reasonable level of fitness is required.
About the leader: Hamish Murray has 40 years of experience in watching, recording, sketching and photographing Dorset's birds. For many years he was manager of Dorset County Council's Countryside Services before taking up the post of Conservation Officer for DWT. Hamish has written and illustrated many articles and books on wildlife including his monthly 'Nature Note' for Dorset Life magazine. As an artist, Hamish has held several successful one-man exhibitions. He still tries to get out on his Purbeck 'patch' each morning and has a particular interest in bird migration and bird identification.
Prices: Residential: £219 pp includes 1 night sole occupancy accommodation, full board including a home-cooked breakfast, tea/cake, lunch and a 3 course dinner, plus all tuition/activities Non-Residential: £179 pp includes all of the above except accommodation and breakfast.
Times: Please arrive for 9.30am on Tuesday. The course will start at 10am. The course will finish at 4pm on Wednesday with afternoon tea.
What to bring: You will be outside so will need: walking boots, outdoor clothing, binoculars, notepad and pen, rucksack to carry lunch and drinks.
Please make sure the binoculars you have (or borrow) are between 8x and 10x magnification and have a large lens diameter of between 40mm and 50mm: e.g. ‘8 x 40’ or ‘10 x 50’. Anything outside these limits is much less suitable for birdwatching. Above all, check to make sure that they give you a clear view and that there is no distortion or cloudiness on the internal prisms. Help can be given as we set off on the first excursion to ensure that you can focus them for your own eyes.
If you have a telescope with tripod feel free to bring them, but there will be a scope available for all to use.
Bring a bird identification field guide too if you wish. However, we will be using a guide and smartphone app in the field and a range of ID books will also be available for you to look at.