Having a hobby is a well-known way to keep yourself happy and healthy. It’s also a great way to meet people. Bird watching (also known as ‘twitching’) is a fabulous hobby to have if you love nature and being in the great outdoors. It’s also good if you are patient and you love a challenge. A good bird watcher is a bit like a sleuth. Tracking down the rare and shy birds on your list can take some time and effort. Bird watching can even be used as an excuse to travel, as if you needed one.
According to The Lonely Planet Guide website, the some of the best places in the World for spotting these modern day cousins of the dinosaurs include Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Alaska, Africa and, of all places, Romania !!
In fact, anywhere you find birds, you will find people who love them. The premise of the hobby is pretty simple, and the equipment you require is pretty minimal. A good set of binoculars will come in handy, and the ability to take a photo in order to document your find is useful too. Outside of that, a pen, a note book, and a print out of the local wildlife inhabitants and where to find them, and you are off.
Of course there are clubs you can join, where people with vast amounts of knowledge and experience will happily exchange their best tips over a cup of tea or something a little stronger.
Twitchers fall into a number of categories, and like all things, those who take it very seriously indeed will be more extravagantly kitted out than the average walker who happens to like looking out for interesting things with wings. Becoming a very good bird watcher means knowing a bit about the seasons of migration and the mating habits of the animals you want to track down.
Some clubs even arrange tours that focus on a particular type of species.
Birds of Prey, by far the most dramatic and instantly recognisable flyers, have millions of fans all over the planet. Whether you want to witness the majesty of the hawks and eagles of America or India, or you fancy getting closer to falcons and Kites in the Middle East and in Asia, there are literally hundreds of tours available specifically for people for whom the thrill of the chase involves talons.
Israel offers a wide range of hunters to spot, with over 400 species stopping off in the region as part of their annual migration in autumn and spring. The UK also plays host to a number of raptors, which is the official name for birds that eat other animals. Experts agree, however, that if you do happen upon one or more of these predatory creatures, keep your distance. Getting up close and personal with an untamed hawk may make for a great profile pic, but trying to find the tip of your finger on the side of a Scottish hillside is less exciting than it sounds.
If colourful exotics are more your speed, places like Cuba, Brazil and Papua New Guinea will fulfil your wildest David Attenborough fantasies. Imagine being surrounded by flocks of toucans and macaws as you sit under a tree in the Brazilian rainforest of the Panantal region sipping freshly brewed, locally grown, coffee, quietly ticking off the ‘things-to-spot’ on your bird watching bucket list. Or perhaps one of the 350 hummingbird varieties that make Cuba their home is something you want to see for yourself. The very tiny Bee Hummingbird, which as the name suggests is the size of a Bumble bee, makes its home here. In PNG, the famed Lyre Birds and Birds of Paradise as well as 40 other species found only in this area scuttle through the forests and inhabit the trees.
Maybe, though, you don’t want to travel, or you don’t have the time. A quick online search will reveal a staggering number of beautifully detailed winged critters right where you live. You only need to find out what you are looking for to be amazed at the variety in your own backyard.
How do we know this? The Earth is full of birds!!
There are over 10,000 different types of Avians that we know about on this planet and that number is increasing every year. The reason we keep identifying more is because every day, often on weekends, people like you and I head outside and take a look up into the tops of trees or under bushes and pay attention to what we find. It may seem rather sedate, and maybe even a little bit quaint, but being a bird fancier is more than a hobby for old men in funny flat caps. It’s also a way to meet fantastic chicks.