This course is for anyone who feels fairly confident that they know their garden and woodland birds, and would like more experience of less frequently encountered species. You will improve your fieldcraft and spend time listening to, and learning, bird sounds in the field to help you memorise their elusive sound patterns!

We will visit different habitats including Breckland, Heathland and Reedbeds to try to track down species such as Woodlark, Stone Curlew, Dartford Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Bearded Tit. Weather permitting, part of the course will be based at the Flatford bird ringing site, so that we can discuss identification issues in some detail by seeing birds in close-up.

The course will involve a series of complementary activities to ensure you become familiar with the identification and behaviour of birds which are seen. These will include:

  • Watching birds from a distance in the various habitats
  • Viewing birds in close-up at the Flatford bird ringing site
  • Learning the art of fieldcraft
  • Learning key visual clues to help you identify species by sight
  • Learning key calls to help you identify species by sound

There will be an evening session on the first night. The content is also appropriate for anyone wishing to contribute to their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.

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.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport

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.  Wellington boots may be required during wet weather periods.
  • 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.
  • FSC has published a fold-out chart - The Top 50 Garden Birds - which is available at the Centre for reference (and for sale at £3.50!).
  • 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 or 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.

Recommended Reading

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)

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.

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