This course is designed to help you to find out more about bird identification and bird migration and the species likely to be encountered during migration periods. It is aimed equally at anyone who is a newcomer to birdwatching and those who wish to improve their skills in wild bird identification. It will also emphasise the adaptations of birds to their preferred habitats and lifestyles. We will explore migration marking techniques including: ringing, colour marking, and radio and satellite tracking. Weather permitting, we will organise bird ringing demonstrations at the Flatford ringing site.

Locations for our field excursions are to some extent weather and bird activity dependent but will include some of the following sites:

  • The Flatford area:  woodland, farmland and freshwater marsh
  • Minsmere RSPB Reserve:  several woodland and wetland habitats including reedbeds
  • Landguard Bird Observatory (if ringing is taking place)
  • Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve
  • Boyton and Hollesley RSPB Reserve
  • The Stour and Orwell estuaries
  • Hazlewood Marshes

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
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • The minimum requirement is to bring a pair of binoculars, 8x40 or 10x40 are recommended specifications - 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.  If you have a telescope and tripod there will be plenty of opportunity to use these too, but the tutor will encourage those without to use his.
  • A notebook and pencil will be needed, and a field guide. It is useful if we can all go straight to a bird in a book via the page number, so please try to bring with you (see Recommended Reading below):
  • The course will involve some walking each day, but there will be nothing too strenuous. Strong, comfortable walking boots or shoes are therefore important, as is a good selection of warm and weatherproof clothing, including hats, scarves and gloves in natural colours please - greens and browns are preferable, no reds or yellows! Wellingtons may be needed at some sites. The Centre has a selection of waterproof tops, trousers and wellingtons, which may be hired if needed.
  • Please bring a medium-sized torch for going out in the evenings. A small rucksack will also be useful for carrying your equipment.  If you are a member of the RSPB and/or Essex Wildlife Trust. 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

  • Pocket Guide to the Birds of Britain and North West Europe by Chris Kightley, Steve Madge and Dave Nurney, (published by Pica Press/BTO, 1998)

Also recommended are:

  • The Birdwatchers’ Pocket Guide (new edition) by Peter Hayman and Rob Hume, (published by Mitchell Beazley).  The illustrations are good and it really is pocket-sized!
  • Collins Bird Guide (2nd Edition) by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom (Paperback £17.99 but may be less online)
  • RSPB Handbook of British Birds by P Holden and T Cleeves, published by Christopher Helm, 2002

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.

Pay a deposit of £100.00 per item