Picture of How to Seawatch
There are many levels of birdwatching, from the dedicated, high-mileage twitcher to the casual glance at the visitors to your bird table.

Seawatchers are somewhere in between.

(Note - many of the links given in this Instructable are commercial in nature. I am not promoting any specific companies, they are merely examples. Two exceptions are the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and British Trust for Ornithology, two organisations that do huge amounts for the benefit of birds in particular and wildlife in general.)

Step 1: Location, location...

Picture of Location, location...

Seawatching is all about spotting birds at sea. Not just coastal birds, but pelagics and passing migrants.

You need to be somewhere that concentrates passing birds into a narrower band of sea than usual, or that sticks out close to the routes used by migrants.

  • Headlands, peninsulas and piers are all good for birds passing along the coast.
  • The inland end of estuaries are good for birds passing over the land, but that try and spend as little time over land as possible.
  • Ships.  You can take specialist seawatching trips, but commercial ferries are good as well - they combine a bit of height with a position right out at sea.  Try and sit near the funnel, on the top deck to get an all-round view, but a stern position can be useful, especially if birds have chosen to follow the wake.  If you are on a big ferry, check your routes from port to starboard, and consider spreading groups out to get all possible sightings.

UK locations that are good are;

  • most of the Devonian and Cornish coasts (especially West or South facing, and as far west as possible),
  • the North Norfolk Coast and along the Wash,
  • The West Cumbrian Coast, especially near St Bees Head
  • The Solway Firth, especially the east end (the birds get funnelled by the geography).

If you can manage it, you should make time to visit one of the BTO Observatories around the UK coast.

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Bartboy5 years ago
All I can see are seagulls...
Kiteman (author)  Bartboy5 years ago

There are no such birds as sea gulls!

Are they Blackheaded gulls?  Herring gulls? Mediterranean gulls? American Herring? Greater black-backed?  Lesser black-backed?  Glaucus?  Glaucus winged?

Or maybe they're actually fulmars?  Or a kind of tern?

There are at least 24 species of gull in the Northern Hemisphere, plus hybrids, at least 16 species of tern, or maybe they're albatross!

Wikipedia species list.

And many gulls never even see the sea!

Seagulls?  Spit!
Kiteman (author)  Lithium Rain5 years ago
Bartboy Kiteman5 years ago

"Informally called Seagulls"

Good enough for me.
Oh, and I live on an island... They ALL see the sea.
Seagull(s) is like an informal family name, rather then a Species.  We get 3 main species (of gull) in our area, only 2 most frequently however. :-P
Jayefuu5 years ago
This is a good example of how to use other people's pictures WELL. :D All referenced and full credit given. Will bookmark for the next time I come across someone ripping off other people's work :D
Jayefuu Jayefuu5 years ago
Oh..... it's also an interesting read :)
Kiteman (author)  Jayefuu5 years ago
Thank you.

(Fast work on the avatar, BTW.)
I considered joining in but decided it wasn't polite. :P
Haha, you are so British! :D Cool ible.

>Giggles at step 6 before the other 9k commenters do...separated by a common tongue...<
he-heeheehe jizz.. 
Kiteman (author)  fwjs285 years ago
>Rolls eyes, sighs at the immaturity of the youngling nations<

fwjs28 Kiteman5 years ago
>Rolls eyes at old-fart nations< :D
Kiteman (author)  fwjs285 years ago
Hah, I used to live in a house 121 years older than the USA.

My next door neighbour is older than your national anthem!
he also does not know what a lightbulb is
Kiteman (author)  Zaphod Beeblebrox5 years ago
She has a house covered in them every Christmas.
YOU don't have proof!
pic or it didnt happen 
Older =/= better :P
"=/="???? Never seen it written that way. I thought all geeks used != for not equals. What language uses "=/="?
Jayefuu Jayefuu5 years ago
And if you reply with www.jsfi.com/=/= I'll..... grrrr
=SMART= Jayefuu5 years ago
why do you and kiteman have barcodes as your avatars ?
Jayefuu =SMART=5 years ago
Maybe you'd find out if you decoded a few :)
=SMART= Jayefuu5 years ago
how ?

fwjs28 =SMART=5 years ago
he-heehehe...heheheh :) 
No language - it's a crude version of the mathematical sign. :P
fwjs28 Kiteman5 years ago
Fantastic comeback, Kiteman.
Hmmm. Bird spotters are as funny as ale lovers. The british real ale association named themselves CAMRA.... CAMpain for Real Ale. Good acronym there guys.....
Kiteman (author)  Jayefuu5 years ago
I'm assuming you saw my last Instructable?
Jayefuu Kiteman5 years ago
Uhhhh..... Oh yeh. That one. :D I like brewery tours.

giggles :D
Goodhart5 years ago
Very nice.  We get seagulls inland at least as far as I live (about a 4 + hour drive from the beach, minimum.

Your pic and where you got it from, has a nice audio there too:  he sounds a bit like a sea gull with asthma :-)   (callllll,   rasssssp,  callll,  rasssp)
Kiteman (author)  Goodhart5 years ago
(See my response to Bartboy about "seagulls")

From Dawkins (in our "favourite book"):
One of the cleverer and more mature of my undergraduate contemporaries, who was deeply religious, went camping in the Scottish isles. In the middle of the night he and his girlfriend were woken in their tent by the voice of the devil, Satan himself; there could be no possible doubt: the voice was in every sense diabolical. My friend would never forget this horrifying experience, and it was one of the factors that later drove him to be ordained. My youthful self was impressed by this story, and recounted it to a gathering of zoologists relaxing in the Rose and Crown Inn, Oxford. Two of them happened to be experienced ornithologists, and they roared with laughter. 'Manx Shearwater!' they shouted in delighted chorus. One of them added that the diabolical shrieks and cackles of this species have earned it, in various parts of the world and various languages, the local nickname 'Devil Bird'.

Of course, I would have never even considered that it was the voice of an non-existent demi-god;  it just sounded like the poor thing couldn't breath back on properly :-)   
AndyGadget5 years ago
We went to Skomer island (off the coast of Pembrokeshire) last August to see the puffins.  The last ones had left the week before :¬( 
Great day out though.  We saw Manx shearwaters, kittiwakes, fulmars and guillemots, choughs and also a raven who landed around 50 feet from us.
We're going again in April this year and hopefully the puffins will have arrived by then.
March of the Puffins
Kiteman (author)  AndyGadget5 years ago
LOL, I took a trip out to "Puffin Island" off the Northumberland coast.  We saw two.
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