This is an article published in the Spring 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...
We've started the group by arranging visits to places on the island and further afield. Instead of picking a fixed day in each month, the dates and times of each visit are determined by availability of people with relevant expertise, and the tides. Over the next few months we’ll be: bird spotting, looking for wildflowers, exploring seashore plants and animals, and finding fungi.
We’ll set up more visits when we have a better idea of what group members want to do.
The group is open to all members. The nature of the group means that we might have to postpone or cancel some events because of bad weather, so we encourage anyone interested to add their name to our email list. You can do that by contacting Andy Henderson
If you have any expertise to contribute, please let us know. Even if you are 'only' an enthusiastic amateur we’d all value assistance in making more of our birds and wildlife.
Here are some suggestions for what to bring with you on a bird-spotting visit...
Aids to spotting and identification
A 'spotter scope' is a telescope designed to help you spot and then zoom into birds. It requires a tripod to steady it so the equipment can be heavy and it takes time to set up. Good scopes are also expensive. They do, however, provide the best views.
A pair of binoculars, on the other hand, allows you to pick out birds quickly and are considerably cheaper. Even a small, cheap pair can be a considerable improvement over the naked eye, those offering 8x or 10x magnification are best.
Ideally, you should bring both a spotter scope and a pair of binoculars!
There are a lot of books available to help you identify the birds you see. One I've found useful - and which is widely recommended - is the Collins 'Complete Guide to British Birds' available from Amazon here.
You might also want to bring a notebook and pen to record the birds you see.
Members attending a visit will come with a range of different aids and equipment. You will therefore have a chance explore the benefits and disadvantages of different tools.
You should use the weather forecast to dress appropriately. Given the vaguaries of british weather, multiple layers is often appropriate so you can add or remove as conditions dictate.
Most visits will benefit from a decent pair of walking boots.
We may well be stationery at some sites for a couple of hours at a time. You might therefore want to bring something to sit on.
You should bring something to drink - hot or cold - and perhaps something to snack on.