Now that we are confident in where to go and what to look out for in observing wild birds and wildlife, we need to be aware of a few things in order to get the best out of spending our time with our wild friends. The equipment need to watch wildlife ranges from basic to excessive, it all depends on what you want to spend and what you are hoping to see - watching wild birds in your park is considerably less involved than perching on a ledge in the highlands waiting for an Osprey to return to its nest.
There are several considerations when choosing binoculars. Price: Depends on how much you can afford - can you borrow a pair? Weight: Don't go for the largest pair, the small compact ones are very efficient and light. Specification: A general purpose spec is 8x magnification and lens of 32 to 42mm, so you buy 8 x 32, 8 x 40 or 8 x 42, if you think you will be doing a lot of long distance work then a 10x magnification would be better. Optical quality: This is the key factor- the image should be clear and crisp and even in low light it should reproduce colours effectively. Make sure you take them outside of the shop and try them out before buying a pair of binoculars and we do advise you use a specialist shop rather than a general store, they will have expert advice and better prices.
There is lots of equipment you will need, but you build this up over years and develop a feel for what is required for different wildlife. In general terms, you will need to take a magnifying glass for close up viewing of flowers and insects. If you intend to collect samples than you need a selection of storage containers with lids. A small camera with 'point and shoot' technology is good for taking close ups of flowers, a digital model will allow you to take the photo back to your computer and keep a record of your wildlife watching on your Facebook page or other media.
Now, it sounds strange, but there is a dress code in watching wildlife. It is most important that when you approach the local patch you don't disturb the other watchers who have been sat for hours waiting for their moment with nature! so camouflage, or green and brown clothing is best. Wear a hat and avoid bright colours (you loose 20% of body heat through your head. After the colour blending, think about comfort, you may be sitting around for hours so you need to keep warm and dry, make sure in cold weather you have enough layers of clothes on and top it off with a wind proof fleece. You may need wellies or stout boots that can get wet, but if you are going to walk for long distances then you need good walking boots, they are not cheap but the more you pay the better they are and some of the specialist stores will give expert fitting advice and selection of insoles and sock is essential. In wet weather you may need waterproof trousers. With all this equipment around you it is easy to see why most people have rucksacks on their backs, you need to be able to take off layers as well as put them on over the course of the day. A few safety items in your bag too, a whistle, a torch, some chocolate and a bottle of water, a first aid kit is useful but not essential as is a small penknife.
Maps and guides.
Either before you set off, or when you get to your chosen place to watch wildlife find a good ordnance survey map and select your route. A field guide book may help, if you are not weighed down with other stuff, but it is not essential (an i pad is much better) you may want to sketch or describe your observations and look them up at your leisure. A site guide is very useful, it will contain lots of local information about what species are around and where to see them. it should contain a map of the place to see the wildlife and tips on what to look for. Remember the book may have been written a while ago and things do change rapidly, so be aware of the environment around you. With all your equipment on board and a well chosen location to aim for, a flask of coffee and a sandwich in the rucksack and you are all set up for a wonderful day out - enjoy it.
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What would happen to us without bees?
- Study nature and make learning fun[/caption]