We see birds every day. But there’s something different between seeing birds or actually go on a birdwatching adventure.
Bird watching is not always easy to do. It requires patience, concentration and a good knowledge base. This is not always easy to do with children! It is something that can be really fun though and the development of those skills I mentioned above are excellent for all of us to develop.
Prepare to Spread Your Wings
We prepared the night before.
Noah packed a pair of binoculars, a monocular, a guidebook, a camera, and a sketch pad and pencils.
We packed the snacks and nappies for Finn.
Slow down and embrace wonder
Get excited. Rather than moving quickly from bird to bird, spend time marvelling at each one. Even if all you end up finding are willy wagtails, try to notice something new about them.
Kids will take their cues from you on how to react to what they see. In return, you can experience familiar sights anew through their eyes. It may be your 1000th time watching a magpie, but if it’s their first, it’s still something special.
We talked to Noah about the importance of silent feet when we bushwalk, and the importance of walking with a purpose.
Walking with silent feet in the bush takes practice. We move slowly, we observe birds, lizards and trees. We talk about the different trees, we take notice… we enjoy the moment and do it slowly.
Give your child the camera
Noah has his own camera, an Instax Mini, that he takes everywhere. But, on this occasion, he kept borrowing my canon, and doing pretty well!
Let them take charge of photographing their adventure. Birdwatching is a patience game too so it’s good to keep their attention and enthusiasm by allowing them to take photos, even if it’s with your good camera
Start with big, easy-to-observe birds.
We try and start with going to areas where we are more likely to see large and common birds in our area. Having success early with the Tawny Frogmouth, fast asleep, encouraged Noah to go for a long walk and explore the canopy.
Make sure the kids know how to use binoculars
You may think children will struggle with using binoculars but it is a skill they pick up quite easily and quickly.
The best way to start using binoculars is by asking your child to focus on a top of a tree about 30 metres away. Then get them to raise their binoculars to search for this spot. They will quickly start to get it with this cue. I ask them what they see and then ask if I can have a look, just to check the binoculars are in focus. You can start to teach them how to use the focus knob, but check first they are mastering the positioning to view things. I try to make it into an event to avoid children walking along looking with the binoculars and falling over!
Snacks with a view
Kids = snacks. Don’t go anywhere without snacks, right? While birdwatching, we showed the map of the area to Noah and we marked on the map possible “good’ location to have the snacks. We take always in consideration the view… That’s an essential requisite. Good view for snacks!