How many is best?

By Ralph Hockens (originally posted to Flickr as bird watchers) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
What is the best number of people to go birdwatching together?  I’ve been pondering this question and discussing it with my birding companions and I have made up my mind – but what do you think?


Now I expect you’ll ask what ‘best’ means and what ‘go birdwatching’ means – because you are that type of readership (bless you all!) – but you can interpret them as you see fit.


Happy birding!

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10 Replies to “How many is best?”

  1. Over the years I have taken out from a maximum of 52 [a record for Bird Watching magazine readers breaks ] to just 1. They all have their benefits. The 52 were broken up into small groups and 2 coaches going to different locations but at night it was a great party with an amazing atmosphere. While working with 1 puts all the pressure on you to find the birds and you may not even get on with the person in question. So is the answer it is up to the individual what number they like going out birding depending on their experience!

  2. For me it's all about mood and occasion. Sometimes walking alone along a beach in North Norfolk is a wonderful experience. Sharing that beach with a group is also good, more eyes and ears and a pool of knowledge, also has rewards.
    I often join an organised tour as it is a great way of learning about an area not visited before. Other times just paying a local expert for a day or two has been really good.
    So my answer is "depends"!

  3. Birdwatching - lying on a heathery hill in warm spring sunshine watching displaying hen harriers with an interesting, experienced, knowledgable and enquiring companion takes some beating. Some of the most memorable birdwatching experiences I have had, have been with just two of us.

    So two is the optimum for me - I do enjoy my own company and many winter dawn has seen me on my lonesome counting geese and enjoying the slow wakening of the day, the croaking of a (pair of) ravens as they pass overhead. But, I always feel that being able to just share my excitement, enthusiasm, delight with someone else makes the occasion more enjoyable. Its the same with views from mountain-tops or a spectacular sunset, expessing my wonder out loud increases it.

  4. I love nothing more than bird watching with my husband ( who photographs the birds) and our daughters ( aged 12 & 10). The downside of this is we are not developing my skills, we really need to join a group, but not too big a one! Sadly pressures of modern life restrict our family birding to holidays and the odd day out. so most of the time it's a solo experience looking out of the window or the car window, prefrable not when I'm driving though!

  5. "Birdwatching" often for me is about photographing birds, and the numbers does effect other "birders" moods. For example often we go in a group of four (fewer cars etc) and when you walk into a hide you can sense the atmosphere change as soon as they see the camera gear. When they hear the click of the shutter it's often followed by a moan/sigh, so if it involves hides and nature reserves the fewer the better just to stop the whinging, however it has to be said some of my friends have stopped "birding" full stop as they can't stand the attitude displayed by elder birders towards people of my age and in one 17 year olds case who used to come with us was constantly told "you're not a birder" and even worse physiacally intimated (until I walked in) at one nature reserve were he was actually threatned!!. And carrying a camera often gets you excluded for not being a "proper birder", So recently I have often set off on my own, which is great but often end up at the end of the day tagging along with a few others.
    So one is ideal and no more than four as anymore you just end up joking/talking etc and birding goes out the window....if that makes sense, BUT consider this given the rubbish I have seen from elder birders will there be a future generation of birders?

  6. Douglas,your comment of your experiences sounds awful,can only think that we are some of the oldies and when birding in Dorset,Somerset and Wiltshire have only found all older people who often have scopes only too pleased to help all the younger ones who are interested and we all seem to get as much pleasure from helping as they get from our input.

    1. Birding by bike best done solely. Twitching, a car load, to minimise the cost and maximise the craic. Sea watching a hide full, more eyes more seen and more banter. BTO bird surveys, also best done on your own to maximise concentration.

    2. Dennis if Mark doesn't mind (if you do Mark don't publish this) check my blog at "WHY "PROPER BIRDERS DO MY HEAD" to read what I have experienced and then read the comments, it's not just me. Mark have a look at one of the blogs I read called 10,000 birds I left a link on one there blog contributors who in the USA are talking about lead shot, you might find it interesting, there is high turnover of posting so the post should be listed on the left (look for the title with the words HUNTERS in it). I'll have to buy you pint or two Mark for hijacking your blog...sorry

      1. Douglas - i see one of the functions of a blog, certainly this one, is to encourage people to talk to new people, and experience new sites and sights!


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