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Time to get into bird watching?

PUBLISHED: 11:29 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 February 2015

Mother and daughter using binoculars by Andy Hay rspb-images

Mother and daughter using binoculars by Andy Hay rspb-images


Find out more about the county's bird life from the RSPB each month

February is the time when many new year’s resolutions have already been long forgotten and we are all back into the swing of the daily routine. All the festivities are over and it isn’t long until the first signs of spring start to appear and we can all get excited about warmer weather. In fact, now is the perfect time to escape from our lovely, cosy warm front rooms, embrace the cold air and discover something new. Now is the perfect time to discover the secret life of birds. Some will be busy finding a mate, others will be thinking about the long journey back to their summer grounds and before you know it, those that choose to holiday in the British Isles will be back with their cheerful songs announcing that spring has finally arrived.

Bird watching is such an easy hobby to pick up and one that can quickly become an addiction (you have been warned!). Inevitably, other nature will creep in and before you know it you won’t just be spotting birds, you will be seeing hares, badgers, water voles and maybe even hedgehogs, as well as learning what plants are what and which ones will give you the best chance of seeing certain birds. So where should you start? Well, you’re back garden or local neighbourhood is perfect and with the help of a pocket guide to birds or one of the latest bird ID apps and a set of binoculars, you will soon be recognising all your local loiterers — from starlings to house sparrows and from black headed gulls to crows. If you are already well versed in garden birds and local favourites, then try venturing further afield.

The marshes in Essex will allow you to learn and discover a whole new set of birds including waders such as the lapwing and birds of prey such as the marsh harrier. Head on down to the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes, Vange Marsh or Bowers Marsh and you will see birds galore at this time of the year. If you start to visit on a regular basis, not only will you benefit from the local bird watchers expertise, but you will start to see the amazing changes that happen as the frost starts to thaw, making way for spring flowers and new growth. As the weather warms it won’t just be birds worth spotting, as dragonflies and butterflies will start to emerge and can be seen flitting along ditch edges and across wild flower meadows and hedgerows.

Another benefit of visiting the same places on a regular basis is that you will get to learn about the behaviour of birds, what displays they put on during mating season, where they find food at certain times of the year and how they like to build their nests. Keeping an eye on birds on your local patch can be like watching a soap opera with the drama of those two robins tousling over breeding ground, the starlings bickering over whose turn it is on the feeder or the avocets over on one of the scrapes desperately trying to fend off those greedy gulls.

If you want to get closer to nature this year, then try a spot of bird watching. It is an incredibly rewarding way to spend your time and who knows where it might lead you.

To find out more call 01268 498620 or visit

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