Birding for Beginners

Did you know that Delta is a major stopover for birds on the Pacific Flyway? Located on the Fraser River Estuary and Boundary Bay, Delta has become a must-see location for avid birders across the continent.

Fall is a significant season for migration as birds, and their young begin to fly south for the winter months. We’ve connected with a local photographer and bird enthusiast, Kate Paton of @pacificnorthwestkate, to share with us some tips for beginner birders. We hope this will encourage you to explore birding in Delta this season as the birds are flying through the air.

About Kate:

“I’ve always loved birds and wildlife, enjoyed nature, camping, road trips and being outside. But I only got serious about birding when I came to Canada. The birdlife here is outstanding, and it just takes your breath away. I’ve been lucky enough to live in some lovely countries (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) with fantastic birdlife but the Delta region of Lower Mainland Vancouver must be seriously one of the best birding locations in the world!”

Birding for Beginners:

Our big question for Kate: How can beginners get started in the world of birding? It’s one thing to like birds, but another to take the time to go outside and explore, and to make an intentional effort to see and learn about birds in their natural habitats. One of the first things that Kate told us, “You’ve got to like being outside. If you’re not having fun outside,  this might not be for you!” The birds aren’t just for the avid bird watchers to enjoy. If you love the outdoors, birding can be a perfect activity.

What Do New Bird Watchers Need to Get Started?

1. Interested in birding, but not sure about the necessary tools? Kate suggests keeping it simple “you just need your eyes and maybe a notebook if you want to record details.” Some people, as they get more into birding, will invest in more substantial equipment. And later you may be interested in purchasing a pair of good binoculars, but not much is needed initally.

2. Kate also suggests bringing a map of the local trails and areas that you are planning to visit and look for birds. Knowing where you’re going is sometimes half the battle, which also includes preparing for the weather conditions and wearing proper footwear. Plan for the season and the location. For the fall, you may want to pack a rain jacket and umbrella along with your birding items.

3. Check for local resources. There are many active local birding communities with information and tips online, which can be a great place to learn and ask for information.

Another fantastic resource in Delta that Kate reminded us of is the Bird Watching Backpacks, available for loan to beginners from the Fraser Valley Regional Library. These are great for new bird watchers and also for kids who may be interested in trying out birding for the first time. The backpack has a pair of good quality binoculars, two pocket bird guides and a laminated sheet for tips. You can visit the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries in Tsawwassen, North Delta, and Ladner.

This fall as the birds begin to make their way through the Delta region of the Pacific Flyway, why not try out birding for the first time? You never know what you might see, and the birding in Delta attracts avid bird watchers from around the world.  “Birdlife is constantly changing; every day is different,” Kate says. 

All photography in this blog post, including the main photo, came from @pacificnorthwestkate on Instagram with permission. If you’d like to learn more about Kate and her photography work, or you are interested in reading more about her thoughts on birding, visit her blog here.

Or, follow her social media channels for the latest photos of her birding expeditions: Instagram; Facebook; Twitter; and Youtube.

To share your birding photos with us on social media, don't forget to use #ExploreDelta 

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