I've just discovered that Tuesday's blog was the 1000th blog that we've written about Minsmere. I can't claim responsibility for all of them, but have certainly written a good proportion of them. We've covered many subjects over the years, from recent sightings to habitat management, family events to BBC Springwatch, international stories to a focus on some of Minsmere's star species during our 70 species to spot challenge in 2017-18.

Like Minsmere's visitors, I'm sure that the readers of these blogs cover the full spectrum of nature lovers too, from complete beginners to die-hard birdwatchers, young families to visitors who remember the days when you had to write to RSPB Head Office for a permit several months in advance. But throughout those 1000 blogs there's one theme and audience that we've possibly not catered for as effectively as we could.

With that in mind, I'm planning to write a series of blogs this year on the theme of beginning birdwatching. I hope that you'll find some useful tips here, and perhaps teach me something new because if one thing is certain in birdwatching it's that you are always learning.

Of course, Minsmere is about more than just birdwatching, and many of the tips that I include will apply just as effectively if you are watching insects, mammals, reptiles, or even plants, and are just as applicable for regular birdwatchers as they are for complete beginners.

During the year I'll try to cover several themes in this series. Initially these will include the following, though not necessarily in this order. Please let me know if there are other subjects that you'd like to cover.

  • Equipment: binoculars and telescopes. Choosing the right binoculars and telescopes can make all the difference to your birdwatching
  • Equipment: fieldguides. Do you choose a photoguide or sketches, pocket guide or something bigger, British birds only or European as well?
  • Jargon-busting. Birdwatchers are really bad at using jargon, acronyms and abbreviations, I'll try to give definitions of some of the most frequently used.
  • Using your ears. Listening is at least as important as watching, especially in spring and in dense habitats. I'll give you a few tips on how to hear birds?
  • Making notes. Field notes are useful both for identification and future reference. Photos are even better.
  • Field craft. How close is too close? What direction is the sun or wind? I'll answer these and other questions that will help you to spot birds without disturbing them.

Please remember, too, that the best ways to learn are through repetition (the more you see something, the easier it will be to identify) and shared experience (talking to other people to ask for or give help and advice). Luckily, for the latter you have the benefit of our volunteer guides regularly being in the hides. It's also really useful to join guided walks, where possible. We run at least one guided walk per week at Minsmere, throughout the year. Some of these are beginners walks. For full details and to book your place see https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/find-a-reserve/reserves-a-z/events.aspx?reserve=Minsmere