Bird Watching Tips For Your Next Hiking Trip

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So you’ve taken on a new passion: bird watching. 

Well, kudos!

You’ve just joined a vast group of birding aficionados who wander the wilderness and urban birding spots to catch a glimpse of their favorite species. And trust me, it will be worth your time.

Putting aside all the health benefits of connecting with nature and the excitement associated with the journey, birding is worth your time because it lets you indulge yourself in the sight of Mother Nature and its feathered bounties.

Best of all…

You don’t even have to spend lots of money on your journeys, just revamp current travel plans to include bird watching sites in it and you’re done.

But for the perfect close-up, it’s going to take much more than wandering through a bird sanctuary, you’ll have to be prepared and properly equipped.

In this article, I will share, from my personal experience, some tips that will be immensely helpful for making your bird watching trip fruitful.

Tips Before You Plan Your Bird Watching Trip

I cannot stress enough about the importance of your preparations and getting to know birdwatching a bit before you start. I know it sounds simple at first, I mean what can there be to “birdwatching”? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

So here are my golden rules:

Know Where You’re Headed

No idea where you can steal the sight of some iconic bird species? No problem, you shouldn’t let that get in the way of your passion. With the internet and everything, it won’t be hard to find some birding spots near you.

Several parks have dedicated birding areas that you can check out for a start but if you want to travel far and wide for the sight of a rare species, you will have to do some research. This part is not fun, I agree, but it is the most important.

Try to find as many birding sites within an area as you can, and then select the most promising ones from those (let’s say top two or three), this way, you will increase your likelihood of spotting elusive varieties of these feathered mirages.

Just make it manageable.

Get Your Hands On A Field Guide For Your Destination

Field guides are your greatest asset when it comes to birding. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, keep one at hand when traveling. This way, not only will you be able to identify unfamiliar species with ease but also be aware of your prospects in a particular area.

List The Birds You Can Expect To See Where You’re Headed

This is a no-brainer but I’ll still say it: “make a list, fellas.” What I like to do is to fold pages from the field guide and have that list at hand, this way, if I ever see an unfamiliar bird, I check for it in the field guide and then cross off the corresponding entry on my list.

Nothing is more elating than crossing off the name of a bird that you’ve been dying to see from time immemorable!

Use Both Local & Online Resources

You can find a swarm of websites swimming around in the realm of Google, dedicated to link bird watchers and to create a direct channel for sharing information in this regard. For instance, eBird is a reputable online database that serves as a quintessential resource for all birders.

If you wish to maximize your input though, hook up with local bird-watching clubs or bird conservation agencies (just drop in a nicely phrased email) from where you’re headed. These groups are not only empowered by years of experience but also possess vast practical knowledge for their region.

Best of all: they’d be glad to help!

Plan & Schedule Your Travel

You know what sucks the most? When you take one wrong turn and the roads become an endless maze. It can be avoided. All it takes is a little route plotting, and that last-minute decision of taking your GPS device with you (if you have one personally or borrowed it).

This way, you won’t have any trouble with the road.

But what about the timing? If you wish to see birds at their best, you’ll have to avoid the mid-day hours. Meaning that if you’ve planned to visit two or three sites in one go, make sure that you can reach them at times other than noon.

For instance, you can travel to Site-A first, feast your eyes with the sights for hours, and then plan your travel to Site-B so that you reach there by later that day, skipping the mid-day hours in the travel.

Use The Trails & Infrastructure – If Any

If you’re headed to a birding site frequented by visitors, odds are that you may find a trail to follow or perhaps some other form of infrastructure like an elevated observation point for your us.

It is best to consult the locals first to maximize your journey, and use these infrastructures to their fullest – they are there for a reason.

Be Properly Equipped

This much is pretty much a given in any case.

Make sure that you’ve packed up all the necessary items for your trip. This includes appropriate clothing, comfortable yet outdoorsy footwear, a first aid kit, map (or better: GPS), high focus binoculars, polarizable sunglasses, and so on.

Another factor to weigh in when packing is if you’re going to stay someplace during your travel, or if you’re just going to make it a one-day rush, and whether you’re flying or driving. Pack accordingly.

Factor-In The Weather Forecast

Nothing can stand before the might of nature, let alone an amateur bird watcher like yourself. Always brush through the weather forecast for the area you’re planning on visiting. This way, you will avoid wasting your time if the weather won’t permit you to see anything.

PS, don’t reference the climatic conditions of an area based on what you see in Hollywood, I learned that the hard way! 😉

Bottom Line

That’s pretty much it.

Oh one more thing: you’d want to leave all details about your plan with your family so that they can reach out to you and see if you’re doing okay.

And also, don’t make these trips entirely about the birds either, you can find a ton of worthwhile places like museums or cultural heritage sites to check out during your travels.

My final and the most important tip for you is to stay safe and have lots of fun!

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