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No. 44 Watch a bird

Visitors in the wetland bird hide at The Vyne, Hampshire
Visitors in the wetland bird hide at The Vyne, Hampshire | © National Trust/Arnhel de Serra

How many birds will you see while completing no. 44 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’? Our feathered friends can be found anywhere and everywhere, but to see something really special, there are a few tips and tricks you should know. These include any kit you’ll need for birdwatching and where to find different types of bird.

Where will you go?

You don't need to go anywhere special to start birdwatching as there are birds everywhere. You can find them in cities, gardens, parks, rivers, farms, towns, lakes, mountains and near the coast.

You could try looking somewhere easy and close to your home first, so maybe your back garden or local park, and then move on to other places if you want to see different birds.

Birdwatching tips and tricks

Be as quiet as you can

Birds can be shy or timid, so you'll need to be as quiet as a mouse while you keep a look out for them, wherever you are. Try not make any loud noises or sudden movements to stand the best chance of spotting lots of birds.

Sit tight and wait

If you've found somewhere you can sit and hide while you wait for birds, then you'll probably be even more successful at spotting them. A lot of birds can be quite shy, but you can help encourage them to visit by leaving out food like nuts and seeds.

Record what you spot

If the birds are a long way from you, then a pair of binoculars will help you to see them close-up without getting too close. You could also take photos of the birds you see or draw a picture to help you remember.

Find special birds at special places

If you really want to see lots of interesting or unusual birds when you go out birdwatching, there are places such as Wildfowl and Wetland Trust sites around the UK that you can visit. There are also places to meet birds of prey too.

Take a book

With so many different birds, you'll probably need a book or website to help you work out what you're seeing.

Two children looking at some ducks on the lawn at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
Two children looking at some ducks on the lawn at Colby Woodland Garden | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

What might you spot?

Nearly 600 different types of birds have been seen in the UK, so you're pretty much guaranteed to spot something, from a robin to a magpie, a long-tailed tit to a jackdaw or a duck, pheasant or swan.


Will you spot seabirds, such as seagulls, puffins, terns and cormorants?

Garden and hedgerow birds

Look out for garden and hedgerow birds such as robins, blue tits, magpies, sparrows and pigeons. You might also spot goldfinches, long-tailed tits or shy little wrens.

Birds of prey

You might be able to pick out buzzards, red kites and kestrels hovering overhead while they look for prey.

Game and field birds

Male pheasants with their colourful heads are usually easy to spot in fields or country lanes, especially around dusk. You might also see grouse, which are smaller and have brown feathers.

River, canal and lake birds

Ducks, swans, dippers, kingfishers, herons – the list goes on. There are lots of birds that make their home near the water. Seeing a brightly coloured kingfisher is a real treat.

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