This beginner course will guide you in getting to grips with practical bird watching field skills. Including how to choose and use binoculars, how to start learning bird songs and calls, and how to give yourself the best chance of spotting the birds in the first place!

There will be some classroom based sessions covering the basics of bird anatomy, classification, ethics and observational skills before heading out into the field to practice spotting and identifying some of the varied birdlife found in the wonderful landscapes around Flatford Mill.

What will be covered during this course?

    • Introduction to the basic craft and techniques of bird watching
    • How to use a field guide
    • How to use binoculars
    • Introduction to common bird families
    • Field practice

Tutor: Chris Ford

Chris Ford has worked in environmental education for 15 years, working at in the London Region at Juniper Hall and Bushy Park and at the Blencathra Centre in the Lake District National Park. He is now working for the RSPB on the Suffolk Coast at RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve and continuing to share his love for the natural world from wildflowers to wading birds and invertebrates to interesting fungus. When he isn’t working Chris is often out on his bike or out in the garden but always with an eye out for anything interesting that might be spotted nearby.

Example Timetable


This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect.
  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am.
  • The course will end at 5:00 pm.

10:00am - Introductions and classroom session covering:

  • Basic bird anatomy
  • Introduction to bird groups
  • Ethics of bird watching
  • Binocular basics

11:00am - Break and prepare for field session – refreshments not provided 
11:30am - Bird watching walk along the Stour valley through varied habitats spotting and practicing identification by sight and sound
1:00pm - Lunch – not provided
1:30pm - Continued field time
3:30pm - Return to centre
4:00pm - More bird groups, where else to go, next steps
4:45pm - Classroom plenary – summary and final questions
5:00pm - End of course

Please note - accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included.

What's Included

The course includes:

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.

Before You Attend

What to Bring:

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Small bag to carry personal items

If you have them:

  • Binoculars
  • Your own reference book(s)

The FSC offers a range of bird based publications that you may wish to purchase to enhance your learning.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

Sorry this course booking is closed