With the RMCO, new hobbies are no longer limited to sourdough and jigsaws
As the MCO gradually lifts across Malaysia, there are slightly more options for addressing the stay-home blues. If activities like baking, crafting or putting together a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle are overdone, here’s one that’s easy, fun and most importantly out of doors. Bird-watching not only lets you get up close with nature and Malaysia’s amazing winged fauna, it’s also a great group activity for family members. Best part: it’s social distancing-friendly and doesn’t involve venturing out of the neighbourhood. Get started with these simple tips.
1. Putting together a starter kit
Whether bird-watching will become a long-term hobby or not, it helps to have a couple of basic, affordable tools handy. You’ll require a pair of binoculars, a field guide that lists birds native to your area and a notepad for jotting down descriptions or sketching your observations. Need help putting together that field guide? You can check out galleries by the Wild Bird Club Malaysia, Birds Malaysia or the Malaysian Nature Society. Some common birds to start with include the oriental-pied hornbill, black-naped oriole and olive-backed sunbird.
2. Increasing the odds of a spotting
It’s common sense, but the first rule for every bird-watching rookie is to be quiet. Birds can detect even the slightest of sounds – so avoid making sudden exclamations and startling movements. Different bird species are adapted to a specific habitat, and it helps to know where they nest and feed to increase your chances are spotting them. Lastly, bird-watchers should always keep an eye out for other nearby habitats – you don’t want to be missing out on other birds around you by focusing only on a particular one.
Read more: 7 places to go bird watching in Malaysia
3. Identifying your discoveries
Raise your bird-watching game with apps that identify birds through their physical traits. First up: Merlin, an app for both Apple and Android users, is a guide for beginner and advanced bird-watchers. Developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it helps you identify a species through three simple questions or a photo ID function, and features an impressive range of matches for regions such as Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia – all based on more than 800 million sightings from across the world.
4. Connect with fellow bird–watchers
You may have to be quiet in the field, but bird-watching can be a social hobby, too. Join a community of fellow enthusiasts on the Wild Bird Club Malaysia Facebook group. It’s a helpful resource for questions on identification, bird-related news and information on welfare and conservation. If you plan on turning bird-watching into a more serious pursuit, ap1ply to become a member of Wild Bird Club through a one-year (RM50) or lifetime membership (RM500). Perks include connecting with other bird-watching clubs across the region, as well as photographers and bird-watchers via this platform.