Flatford is blessed with some amazing wintering bird sites that are only a short distance from the centre. The nearby Stour and Orwell Estuaries hold populations of wintering waders and wildfowl of international importance and Alton Water is a freshwater reservoir that hosts a diversity of ducks and geese. The course provides opportunities to view a range of wintering birds at close quarters, which should improve your identification skills.

This bird ID course is aimed at relative beginners with an expectation that course participants will gain confidence to enhance their birdwatching skills. With the focus on garden and woodland birds along with waterfowl and waders, discover why Suffolk is one of the UK’s best areas for winter birdwatching. Expect a combination of indoor sessions covering the basics of bird identification and outdoor sessions to practice in the field.

Tutor: Steve Piotrowski

Steve Piotrowski lives in Suffolk and has been watching birds since the late 1960's. Over the years he has become one of the most experienced birders in the region and has gone on to write several literary pieces including his acclaimed 'The Birds of Suffolk'. He currently works as an environmental consultant, is an FSC Associate Tutor and also runs courses for the British Trust for Ornithology. He specialises in bird migration, was one of the founders of Landguard Bird Observatory and is a Ringing Trainer. Steve says, 'I like nothing more than to spend a day with fellow enthusiasts sharing with them my experiences of what is a wonderful hobby and hopefully hearing about some of theirs'.

Bring a friend!

If you are attending a course at Flatford Mill at the sole occupancy price, we are offering a special rate for a friend or partner not enrolled on the course to also stay at £50 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

Please contact FSC Flatford Mill on 01206 297110 or [email protected] to book this offer.

Example Timetable

Friday 28th February 2020

  • Introductions
  • An overview of the birds you can expect to see in the UK in winter and the habitats in which to look for them.
    Examine the merits of good field-craft to enhance birdwatching opportunities including preparation, your behavior and the birds’ behavior.

Saturday 29th February 2020

  • Identification pointers for a range of common winter birds, by both sight and sound at nearby woodland and wetland sites.

Sunday 1st March 2020

  • Weather permitting – bird ringing within the centre grounds
  • Specific guidance on how to distinguish between similar-looking winter waders and waterfowl
  • An introduction to bird surveys that course members would be able to participate post course

What's Included

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • As the course involves field visits you will need a Thermos, lunchbox, waterproof clothing and stout shoes or boots.
  • It is important that everyone has their own pair of binoculars.  8x30 or 8x40 are good general purpose ones if you are borrowing a pair - the first figure is the magnification and the second the diameter of the larger lens in mm.  Don’t bring a pair with magnification over 10x - these are not suitable for birdwatching.  Above all, check that you can see clearly and there is no distortion.
  • A field guide will also be useful to help you develop your identification skills.  Two we recommend are:
    Birdwatchers’ Pocket Guide by Peter Hayman, published by Mitchell Beazley (c £10)
    Collins Bird Guide (2nd Edition) by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom (Paperback 17.99 but  less than £10 on Amazon)
  • The course will involve some walking each day but there will be nothing too strenuous. However, it will be along footpaths and tracks on occasions. Strong, comfortable walking boots or wellies are therefore important, as is a good selection of warm and weatherproof clothing in natural colours please: NO BRIGHT REDS AND YELLOWS!  Hats, scarves and gloves may be useful. The Centre also has a stock of waterproof jackets, trousers and wellingtons, which may be borrowed if needed.
  • Bring with you any appropriate membership cards that would allow free entry to local nature reserves. Please note that permit fees, applicable to any nature reserves visited during your stay, will be in addition to accommodation/tuition fees paid to FSC.

Please note: Accommodation for this course will, where possible, be in rooms close to each other in order to minimise any disturbance by any early rising to other guests.

Sorry this course has ended