You can’t beat hitting the great outdoors, with a pair of binoculars, and getting close to nature. Hike.Mountain.Trail caught up with Matt Merritt, editor of Bird Watching Magazine, and put some twitcher-related questions his way.
Interview: Matt Merritt, Editor - Bird Watching Magazine
Matt Merritt is the editor of the hugely popular, best-selling Bird Watching magazine. Here he answers Hike.Mountain.Trail's questions.
Many thanks for taking the time out to answer our questions today, Matt.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: For those who are new to the hobby, can you tell us a little about Bird Watching magazine?
Matt: We’re Britain’s best-selling bird watching magazine, and very much focus on enjoying the hobby for its own sake – we cover everything from garden birds to extreme UK rarities, as well as some of the world’s most exotic birding locations. We want to inspire people to get out and see more birds, and in doing so to learn more about the natural world generally, and what needs to be done to conserve it.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: What is your favourite place for bird watching, and why?
Matt: In the UK, I’d have to say Titchwell RSPB reserve on the north Norfolk coast. The whole area is superb for birds, because Norfolk gets a lot of migrants passing through as well as stray birds dropping in from the Continent, but it also has great resident birds. I’ve never been there and been disappointed. You see loads of waders, wildfowl, raptors such as Marsh Harrier, Spoonbills, Bearded Tits and many more.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: Do you prefer using binoculars or a spotting scope?
Matt: Binoculars, and I wouldn’t advise anyone to use a scope without also having bins. Even a decent compact pair can give you great results, and you really need them to start learning bird ID properly.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: What would be your one piece of advice for those starting out in the subject?
Matt: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because everybody does. You’ll always get things wrong now and then, but sometimes the most unlikely sighting will come along, and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t point it out to others just for fear of looking silly.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: If you could go anywhere in the world to bird watch, where would you go?
Matt: I’d love to go to Costa Rica – I’ve been very lucky to go to some great birding destinations through working for the magazine, but that one has so far eluded me, and it’s one of the very best, because it has a huge amount of biodiversity concentrated into a small, and relatively easily accessible, area.
Hike.Mountain.Trail: What’s the best thing about getting involved in bird watching as a hobby?
Matt: For me, it’s the chance to get out and about, to spend a bit of time thinking about things, and the constant surprise. There’s always something new to see, whether that’s a species you haven’t seen before, or just some aspect of behaviour, and you gradually realise that field guides are just that – guides. In the UK, because we’re on a major migration flyway, all sorts of unexpected things can turn up at just about any time.
If you want to know more about bird watching, fly on over to Bird Watching Magazine‘s home on the web, where you’ll find loads of useful information…and become a subscriber.
Thanks again to Matt Merritt for talking to us today.