Learn how to separate confusion species and boost your birding year
SO, YOU’VE SET out on our #My200birdyear challenge, and made a great start by seeing the wintering wildfowl we highlighted in the January issue, plus all your regular garden and park birds. Your list is already looking impressive, but you’re also beginning to wonder just how you’ll reach the magic 200 without heading off into the back of beyond. By brushing up your ID skills, though, you can turn some of those regular ticks into two, three or four, as well as ensuring that more unfamiliar passage birds and visitors don’t go by unnoticed, and before you know it, your list will be well over the 100 mark and ready to be boosted further by the arrival of summer visitors. We’ve looked at some of the most common ‘confusion’ species, and provided easy-to-remember ID pointers for each. Remember, even the most experienced birders can sometimes be flummoxed by relatively common species, so always take your time, and methodically work your way through the appearance and characteristics of the mystery bird in front of you. There’ll still be times when you need to painstakingly analyse every part of a plumage, but much of the time, learning key ID points like these will lead you quickly to the correct answer. Happy birdwatching!