Songbird ID (3 sessions, Wednesdays 10am)

Nick Moran & Jen Donelan
Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - 10:00 to Wednesday, April 24, 2024 - 10:00
Fully booked

Develop your songbird identification by sight and sound, and learn how to use technology to help you!

This course involves three weekly online sessions of 100 minutes, with a trainer:participant ratio of about 1:30. Participants' microphones are muted during the sessions but there is a large interactive component, using chat messaging, polls and non-verbal signals to your webcam. The live sessions are complemented by supported self-study exercises, and we place a strong emphasis on providing tools and techniques that will help you to continue your learning after the course.

Compared to ‘Bird ID’, our Songbird ID course includes:

  • greater coverage of some more challenging groups (e.g. warblers, pipits, chats)
  • an introduction to bird topography as a tool for helping you to understand descriptions in bird books and better describe the birds you see
  • specific guidance on using a smartphone to photograph and sound-record the birds you encounter
  • advice on how to create your own sonograms.

With the above in mind, we feel this course is best suited to ‘improvers’, rather than beginners.

The training will be run by BTO staff Nick Moran and Jenny Donelan, both experienced birdwatchers, surveyors and trainers.

In order to participate you will need broadband of sufficient speed to view live video, and a computer with sound and ideally a webcam, or a tablet. We will show you how to use a smartphone to take photographs through binoculars or a telescope, and to record bird sounds. If you don't have one, a small digital camera (with video) can be used instead.

The three sessions will cover the following:

SESSION 1: Songbird calls and bird topography
Wednesday 10th April , 10:00–11:45am

An introduction to the types of calls given by songbirds, followed by an interactive workshop to help you recognise the calls of some UK garden and woodland birds. This will include Robin, Wren, Dunnock, tits, thrushes and sparrows. We’ll also give an overview of bird topography and how this can be useful in describing birds, and we’ll give guidance on taking 'record shots' with your smartphone.

SESSION 2: Chats, pipits and the power of technology
Wednesday 17th April, 10:00–11:45am

We’ll start by recapping your homework, including a closer look at some of the chat family. We will then look at and listen to Meadow, Tree and Rock Pipits, building both your visual and auditory ID skills for identifying this tricky group. We'll explore the value of sonograms in more detail, using examples of where this can help with species ID, and we'll show you how to make your own sonograms so that you can visualise sounds that you have recorded.

SESSION 3: Worrisome warblers
Wednesday 24th April, 10:00–11:45am

Following a recap of the homework tasks, we'll focus on warbler identification by sight and song. To begin, we will work through some commoner species: Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers. We’ll then look at a few examples of rarer warblers, with an emphasis on the transferable skills that you can use when trying to identify this tricky group.

COST: The programme of three weekly sessions and supported self-study exercises costs £36. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all three sessions to get the maximum benefit. We are unable to offer single sessions at a reduced price. If the cost is a barrier to you, please contact us by email.

This course is designed for amateur birdwatchers and bird survey volunteers – professionals seeking training should contact us by email.

After booking you should receive an automatic confirmation email. If this doesn’t arrive, please check your spam/junk email folder and if it is not there, or you have any other questions or booking issues, please contact the Training team.