RSPB Children's Guide to Nature Watching

RSPB Children's Guide to Nature Watching

Get top tips for watching wildlife!


nature watching

This RSPB book, especially designed for young nature buffs, is a practical, exciting and comprehensive introduction to nature watching. With full-colour photographs and illustrations throughout, it discusses general practicalities - where to go and when, what equipment to take with you, tips on attracting wildlife to your garden, how to take field notes and much more. In addition, it includes a guide to many common species of British birds, animals and plants, using clear illustrations and describing key identification points, such as behaviour, voice and habitat. It's the must-have guide for all young nature enthusiasts!




About the author:

Mark Boyd grew up in Dorset, where his love of birds, badgers, butterflies and other wildlife flourished. He trained as a bird ringer in his teens, studied Ecology at Loughborough University and wrote his doctorate on primroses at The Open University. Since 1989, he has worked for the RSPB, first as an editor, then web manager, youth manager and, today, as head of youth and education.


Q&A with Mark Boyd, author of RSPB Children's Guide to Nature Watching


When did you first get interested in watching nature?

I have always loved nature and been interested in it all : birds, badgers, wild flowers, moths and butterflies all provided interest for me as a child. My parents used to drag me on long country walks. They weren't really interested in nature as much as the scenery, but for me it was always the close encounters with wildlife that kept me happy on those long slogs!

What types of places are best for seeing nature?

Wet places, especially where there are lots of different habitats together, are best. This often means nature reserves that are set up not just for the wildlife, but also for people to enjoy seeing it. But anywhere at the coast is also good, and even quiet places in towns, such as old unkempt graveyards. The great thing about watching wildlife is that you can do it anywhere, at any time.

What are the best wildlife things you've ever seen - anything gooey, yucky and awesome?!

There is so much to see that I am sure I haven't seen the best yet! Only last year, I was watching a mother moorhen protecting her chicks from a stoat by giving them enough time to get off the mud and into the water where they could swim away faster than the stoat. Other wildlife joined into this mini-drama: a pied wagtail and two swallows buzzed the stoat as it struggled through the mud, and all the fuss made a brown rat panic and run out of its hiding place. That became the stoat's meal instead! It was all brilliant to watch. It was lucky, but the more time you spend out in nature the better your luck.

What made you write the book?

I wanted to give readers a leg up into the natural world!  When you first start getting interested in nature, you don't necessarily know whether you are going to be really into snakes, or birds or fungi or all of it. So I wanted to give people a taster of not just what is outside, but also how to go about studying it. Watching wildlife is such a good thing to do that I wanted to help people start right away.

Any tips to help me see great wildlife?

Never stop! Always be ready to see something new, and always ask yourself why you are seeing something, and what it's doing, not just what it's called. And get up early! A lot of wildlife will hide away as soon as most people are up and about.



 Wildlife Watching Tips


  • The more birds you look at, the better you will get at identifying them - so just do it!
  • Go somewhere where you can see birds easily : like an RSPB reserve. Check here for the nearest one:
  • Be patient, quiet and observant to watch rabbits eating, or a deer strolling through a field. Noise will scare most wildlife away, so shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
  • Don't get too close or move too quickly : wildlife is unlikely to stick around if you're jumping around.
  • Try to get out in the early morning and at dusk when nature is at its most active
  • Don't know what you've seen? Just ask dude! Talk to other birdwatchers or check the RSPB Children's Guide to Watching Nature and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Use the RSPB Bug Hunting Kit for a mini-beast safari in your garden!
  • Birds don't always look like they do in the books! 'Course it helps if you read the book the right way up J Seriously, remember every bird is slightly different : a bit like humans!
  •  Use your ears : listen out for squawks, song or calls that let you know there's wildlife around.
  • Watch out for fugitives on the run : if you spot something exotic-looking, it may not be wild! YIKES!!!
  • If you can't identify a specific bird, don't worry. There are a whopping 166 million nesting birds in the UK, so there are PLENTY to look at! Lol.
  • Become an RSPB Wildlife Explorer : it's only for kids aged 0-19, costs from £20 per year and is a the world's most epic wildlife club. And you get a COOL free gift. Yay!



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