SAFE BIRDING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you are still being encouraged to go outside to take exercise, here are some tips for birding safely. Please note that I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical qualifications. I have simply taken the advice given out by the UK government and applied it to birding. Many of the points below may seem obvious, but one or two might help you to keep even safer and, just as importantly, keep those around you safe.
- Before you leave your house to go birding WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Make sure your hands start off clean and then keep them clean. Why? Because when we use binoculars, we are constantly raising our hands to our face. My view is that it is better to know that your hands are clean, rather than wear gloves, which might become contaminated.
- Obviously, it goes without saying really .. don’t share binoculars or telescopes!
- If possible, go birding alone, and engage in social distancing while you are out. If birding with someone who is not a member of your household, travel separately to the birding site and bird ‘side-by-side’ at least a metre, preferably two metres apart. The same applies if you meet another birder while out. When discussing a sighting, talk to the bird, not to each other. Avoid large groups and sitting in hides.
- Use a spare hat or scarf to open and close gates, then keep those items away from your face and hands. If possible, carry some sanitising liquid with you. Being antibacterial, the liquid won’t kill a virus, but it will help you to cleanse your hands if you inadvertently touch something that might be contaminated. Use the liquid to cleanse your hands before making the return journey home.
- If you find an unusual bird, think twice before reporting it in the usual way. Am I likely to be the cause of a major twitch? Is there enough open space and a wide enough viewpoint for local birders to share this bird in a safe way?
- Finally, think twice before travelling to see a reported unusual bird. If there are mass gatherings of birders, governments will move to suppress them. These are difficult and unusual times. Your annual or lifetime birdlist is not the most important thing to be worried about right now.
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