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The Bird Watchers' Ethical Code

Jan 22, 2008
If you're not a professional bird watcher or tour guide then there are a few things that you need to know before venturing out to start your new hobby. Believe it or not, you can't just do what you like, where you like and there is a strict code of ethics, even for amateur bird watchers.

Right to Roam

In Britain nowadays, it would seem that the rights of many landowners have been eroded and that ramblers can go wherever they please. However, this isn't always the case and it is, in any case, a common courtesy to seek the approval of the owner before you go trampling all over this property. If the landowner requests that you do not go through certain areas, then do observe his wishes and likewise if he asks that you keep to the edge of fields, etc. then do so. If, while bird watching on private property, your target bird moves off into forbidden territory, you'll just have to let him go. Don't think that because you've seen a rare bird, the landowners wishes can be ignored.

In addition, just treat the landowner's property as you would wish your own to be treated; don't drop litter, don't be noisy and use your common sense to guide you when bird watching on private property: don't litter, don't make any noise and don't do any damage.

Care for the Environment

When you pack your rucksack to go out bird watching, be sure to include a plastic bag or two so that you can bring your rubbish home with you. Never, never drop litter out in the countryside (or anywhere else for that matter) irrespective of whether others have done so before you; you don't have to follow their bad example.

Care for the Birds

Never do anything which can have an adverse effect on the birds themselves. They didn't ask for you to be watching them and they have the right to carry on their lives undisturbed, so always check with yourself whether anything you're doing could be upsetting the birds.

Photographing Birds

Don't get too close to the birds when you're photographing them, particularly if you're using a flash as this could be very frightening for the birds and may interrupt their normal routines. Use a camera with a zoom lens with a decent magnification and if it's very large, you'll need a tripod too to prevent camera shake.

Parking Your Car

When you go bird watching, remember that you may be gone for some time so be thoughtful about where you park your vehicle. Never block gates or paths or indeed, any form of entrance.

Your Mobile Phone

It's essential to take your mobile with you, in case of accidents or incidents while out bird watching. In addition, the owner of the land you're using may need to get hold of you but do make sure that the 'phone is set to silent mode with the vibrate feature on.

All the above just involve using a bit of common sense and consideration for others as well as for the birds, so remember this ethical code and enjoy your bird watching.
About the Author
For more information on bird watching and species, please visit Worldwide Bird Watching .
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