Beginner’s Guide to an Enjoyable Bird Watching Activity
Bird watching in the Philippines is not an activity for everyone. It takes up a long time; requires long periods of silence; and often involves walking through uncomfortable terrain. However, if you are set on making the most of your experience with this particular activity, here are some tips that might just help.
Know your Birds
When you go bird watching, do not expect to see ostriches, or swans, or eagles every single time. In fact, don’t expect to see ostriches at all here in the Philippines. Different locations are home to different sets of birds. This means you will be limited to a certain number of species every time you visit a location, so pick a location where a lot of species are found.
However, before you start listing down the birds that you want to spot, it would be wise to conduct some light research on all the different avifauna that are found in the Philippines first. You can visit various online resources to get a glimpse of which birds to expect, and at which time of the year they would most likely be found in the location you have in mind. Printed materials like Kennedy’s A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines can also give you tips on how to identify birds through their distinctive markings and calls.
Bottom line is the more you know about the birds you are observing, the easier it is to spot them, identify them, and appreciate them.
Gear up with the right equipment
You will not really need plenty of gears or accessories for bird watching. However, the few that you will be requiring can be quite expensive such as binoculars and/or high-speed, powerful cameras.
Because most birds take flight at the smallest signs of human activity, you need some powerful magnifying instruments in order to observe them from a comfortable distance. For this, a good pair of binoculars or a DSLR with powerful lenses will be essential in identifying the birds you spot.
If you are a beginner with binoculars, you need to pay close attention to the numbers that come with each pair. These values are meant to give you an idea of how much magnification and light your binoculars can provide so be sure to familiarize yourself with them before buying your own.
For beginners, the first number corresponds to the magnifying power of the instrument. An 8x value means that the image you will see through the binoculars has been magnified 8 times from what you can observe with the naked eye. Therefore, the larger the number is, the greater the magnification. So does this mean larger is better?
Not necessarily. Despite the availability of scopes with higher magnifications, most birding enthusiasts would not recommend anything beyond 7x or 8x pair since these still retain a relatively wider field of vision. (Smaller field of vision is the price for higher magnification.)
The second number, on the other hand, is a measure of how big the objective lenses are. Basically, the larger these lenses are, the more light enters the binoculars. However, you still need to be careful about going for the larger ones. Usually the larger the objectives are, the heavier the instrument gets, so this makes the binoculars pretty inconvenient to hold for long periods of time.
Since bird watching requires prolonged use of binoculars, it can put quite a strain on your neck (because of the neck straps) and on your arms. With all these considerations, birding experts recommend 7 x 32 mm or 8 x 45 mm binoculars for beginners.
If you are opting for a DSLR instead, the general advice for beginners is high pixel number, quick shutter speed, and a 300 mm – 500 mm lens kit, none of which are close to making your camera cheap.
Looking for a Guide
Looking for the best bird watching spot in the Philippines is often a hit-or-miss thing. If you do not want to waste time trying random locations, then you need expert knowledge of the local terrain, favorite roosting grounds, and foraging areas to get the best spots for bird watching. Unfortunately, this specific kind of information cannot be retrieved from books or online resources. Only an experienced guide can give you these morsels of information, so you might want to invest on an experienced guide. Wild Bird Club of the Philippines has members that are willing to help you with such concerns. They should be able to make your bird watching activity several times more convenient and enjoyable.
Bird experts all over the world can attest to how much patience you would need for bird watching. Since it is basically a waiting game, you have to psyche yourself for a long uneventful wait before you even start. Confirmed sightings, expert guides, and even all the literature in the world cannot guarantee you will successfully spot what you are looking for. Remember, birds, like most animals, have a mind of their own. Even if you are well versed in their general behavior, all you can really do in the end is keep a cool head, pray for a bit of luck, and keep your cameras or binoculars ready.
Nuvali has set aside a 17-kilometer long buffer green and forest zone which will serve as a sanctuary for wildlife and birds in the area. Thousands of trees are to be planted in this sanctuary, providing shelter to various bird species and making it the perfect bird watching spot. If you are a beginner, Nuvali is the perfect place for you to enjoy bird watching.