With the spring migration picking up, we are lucky enough to start seeing some amazing species of bird that grace our countryside with their striking colours and beautiful melodies. The migration period also marks the perfect time to discover birdwatching and put your skills to the test!
If you’re a beginner and want to know how to get the most of your new hobby, we’ve devised our top tips to help you get started:
For any rookie birdwatcher, making sure you are properly equipped is the first point of call and a reliable pair of binoculars is a must! That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break the bank for a quality pair; rather keep an eye out for key features including image stabilisation and low light view. With a trusty pair of binoculars in hand, you’ll learn how to identify species a lot faster and get to grips with spotting birds at a distance.
Having a field guide
To brush up on your identification skills, a field guide with illustrations and a brief description of behavioural and physical characteristics of different bird species is also an essential. There are a number of excellent field guides you can pick up, including the Collins bird guide, but if you’re looking to do a spot of birdwatching in Malta, make sure to buy a guide of European birds.
Location is key! Finding the perfect place to perch yourself can make all the difference. Despite being a small country, Malta still has a variety of different habitats and unique sites for birdwatching. Nature reserves such as Simar, Għadira, Salina, and Foresta 2000 are a great place to start!
Although not a necessity, having a camera can be very useful to capture your sightings and record shots of birds! For a beginner, it’s also a great way for more experienced birdwatchers to help you identify the species you have seen. Do your research and find a camera that suits you and your budget. Whether you’re looking for something with a superzoom or a more high-end DSLR, there are tons of options to choose from!
Of course, alongside the essential equipment, every birdwatcher needs bags of enthusiasm to kick start their journey to becoming a birding pro! Staying motivated, patient and constantly inspired by birds and the natural world around us are the key ingredients to make any birdwatching trip a success.
For more information or advice on birdwatching in Malta, please visit our webpage where you can find more information on great sites and species to look out for. You can also stay up to date with the latest sightings by liking our Facebook page…and don’t forget to share yours with us! Good luck and have fun!
By Sean Bonello, BirdLife Malta volunteer and bird ringer
Photos by Aron Tanti (Green Sandpiper) and Iryna Lukashuk (Birdwatching at Salina Salt Pans)