ID se­crets

Learn how to sep­a­rate con­fu­sion species and boost your birding year

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: MATT MER­RITT & MIKE WEE­DON

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!

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