Tuesday, 19 July 2016

20 Days Wild day 26- bird identification

One of my aims at the start of this year's 30 Days Wild was to improve my identification skills. After yesterday's 'spot the raptor' I decided that birds of prey would be a good place to start. So, I sat down with my bird book and went over silhouettes. I think it's one of the best ways to identify birds in flight; it doesn't matter if the light means you can't make out colours or patterns, because if a kestrel shaped bird is hovering, you know it's a kestrel.

Kestrels are probably the easy example, all aerodynamic grace as they hover in the wind. Others I find a bit more tricky. But I think it will be worth it. Just flicking through the book confirmed that the fast, short winged, long tailed bird with an indefinable air of not-a-pigeon I saw while walking back from my boyfriend's graduation was almost certainly a sparrowhawk.

For me, that's one of the holy grails of bird identification skills, alongside knowing bird calls. To be able to identify a bird seen in the distance or in a brief darting flash. Not just by the markings or the colour, but because something in the shape of it, in the way it moves, is indefinably it. I don't know if I'll ever get to that stage (and right now, I'm still very much a birder in training). But it's definitely something to aim for!

The bird book I used for this was the Collins Bird Guide (2nd edition) by Lars Svensson. It's a great book, but not the cheapest (I got my copy as a present). However, lots of other bird books also have silhouette guides, so if this is something you're looking for, there should be something available for every budget!

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