This three-day bird identification course is held in late spring to ensure that there will be plenty of birds whilst the comparative lack of leaves will, hopefully, mean that those which are heard can also be seen. The course is aimed at anyone who watches birds, but would like to improve their identification skills by sight and sound, using field notes and sketches as an important aid to observation.

Each day we will visit a different area, taking a closer look at a range of habitats such as farmland, wetland and woodland, and their characteristic birds. We will also encounter a range of other animals and plants, and we might get temporarily distracted by these, albeit not to the detriment of birding! There will be at least one early start – so come prepared for a long fieldwork day.

The course is geared to those wishing to improve their identification skills and those who have little or no experience of bird song.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Kevin Clements

Kevin Clements is a County Bird Recorder and Deputy Chairman of the West Midlands Bird Club. An experienced field ornithologist and naturalist, he has worked for many organisations in conservation and biological recording.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Preston Montford, please call 01743 852040.

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the Centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

19:30 – 21:00 Introduction to the group and course

06:00 – 08:00 Bird ringing at FSC Preston Montford
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
10:00 – 12:30 Birding at Earl’s Hill nature reserve
13:00 – 16:00 Visit to Venus Pool nature reserve
17:30 – 18:30 Dinner
19:30 – 21:00 Introduction to bird song

05:30 – 07:30 Dawn chorus at FSC Preston Montford
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
10:00 – 16:00 Recording techniques, field recording and bird song
17:30 – 18:30 Dinner
19:30 – 21:00 Records and recording schemes

08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
10:00 – 12:00 Benthall Edge Wood – a simple bird survey
13.00 – 13.30 Analysis of data
14.15 – 15.45 Assignment 1 – Class test
15.45 – 16.00 Review and finish

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Binoculars are essential, preferably between 8x30 and 10x50 – 8x40 are ideal, but miniature binoculars are not suitable.
  • You may wish to bring a telescope if you have one, but this is not essential.
  • Field Guide – you will need one for the Class Test.
  • Notebook and pen/pencil.
  • Warm waterproof clothing and footwear, but not too brightly coloured or rustly.
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun cream for sunny days
  • A sandwich box, flask and/or water bottle and a rucksack or similar to carry your kit.

Recommended Reading
Any background reading is useful and most birding magazines have good identification articles. The following books are recommended:

  • Svensson, Mullarney and Zetterstrom (2010) “Collins Bird Guide” 2nd edition. Collins. The first edition is perfectly useable but has an older taxonomic organisation.
  • Beaman and Madge, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd (1998) ‘The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic’.
  • Any of the editions of ‘Birds of the Western Paleactic’. Snow and Perrins. The CD ROM version is particularly good as it has film clips and songs. Oxford University Press.
  • The book ‘Bird Songs and call of Britain and Northern Europe’ Geoff Sample Collins, with 2 CDs.