Purposeful Birdwatching

Getting to Know Birds Better

  • Sets out how to watch birds with greater purpose, focus and effectiveness.
  • Expert insights into equipment, techniques and how to maximise enjoyment of birding.
  • Richly illustrated with sketches and notes from years of fieldwork.
    We currently have 977 in stock.

    • Warm, meditative, insightful and wise.
      —Conor Mark Jameson, naturalist and author of Finding W.H. Hudson
    • bird behaviour
    • birding
    • birds
    • birdwatcher
    • birdwatching
    • ornithologist
    • ornithology


    ‘I remember well my first Bewick’s swans, which I bumped into one November day not far from home. They looked at me, unsure whether or not to fly into the fog, as I tried to get as close as I dared. … What is it, exactly, that can, many years later, recall such emotionally charged birding moments so vividly to mind? I can’t really remember my birthdays at all, but my first green woodpecker and my first jay are firmly embedded. And with some of these things, the place it happened is equally important.’

    With its mix of memoir, gentle advice and enthusiastic advocacy, this book sets out a case for purposeful birdwatching. Along the way, it explains how to make your birding more enjoyable, fulfilling and worthwhile. Using ideas and techniques from his five decades of experience, Rob Hume reveals how an ever-enquiring approach to observation of the natural world can yield unexpected treasures – whether this be something rare or simply new details concealed in the apparently everyday. From the basics of equipment and methods, through the mysteries of seawatching, to special insights on the likes of honey-buzzards and goshawks, and a focus of some iconic sites, his breadth of knowledge ensures there is something for every curious birder.

    Illuminatingly illustrated throughout with the author’s sketches and fieldnotes, at its heart this is a call to appreciate birds for themselves, as individuals and as species, and not merely as numbers on a list. It will help lead beginners towards a practical and more satisfying hobby, while also being of great interest to experienced birders who will relate to the content through their own experiences.

    DOI: 10.53061/TQVW2957

    Table of Contents

    What is birdwatching, anyway?
    What to do with your interest in birds
    Buy a good book
    Get a notebook and pen
    Distribution, habitats and time of year
    Colour and light
    Early days
    More good days, bad days, ordinary days
    Some dusk encounters
    Soaring birds and birds of prey
    Local patches
    Wonderful Wales – Croeso i Gymru
    Superlative Scotland
    Great shrikes
    If at first…


    • Warm, meditative, insightful and wise – words and art reflecting so charmingly the author himself and an extraordinary life absorbed in wild birds and bird people. A book and a conservationist to cherish.
      —Conor Mark Jameson, naturalist and author of Finding W.H. Hudson and Silent Spring Revisited
    • 20 years ago I wrote a book called How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher. At last Rob – who better? – has written the sequel. Here is a book that tells you, calmly, generously and quite certainly, how to be a good birdwatcher.
      —Simon Barnes, author and journalist
    • This is a lovely book... If all those who look through binoculars were as thoughtful as this author, and wrote as well, the world, and the world of birding, would be a better place. A very good read.
      —Mark Avery, author and environmental campaigner
    • Rob Hume draws on a lifetime of really looking at, and thinking about birds, to distil an inspiring collection of stories and observations which he, with great modesty, proposes might benefit or be of interest to any birdwatcher, from the absolute beginner to the most seasoned old hand. Illustrated throughout with the author’s own sketches and paintings, Purposeful Birdwatching offers a wealth of thoughtful ideas that will enhance your appreciation of birds and at the same time celebrate the unique, almost magical role they play in the natural world.
      —Killian Mullarney, ornithologist and bird artist
    • Engaging and informative in equal parts.
      —Bo Beolens, fatbirder.com
    • Inspirational!
      —John Miles, birdwatching.co.uk

    About the Author

    Having watched birds since childhood, Rob Hume began a career with the RSPB doing fieldwork and finished up as editor of BIRDS magazine from 1989 to 2009. He was a member of the Editorial Board of British Birds and Chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee. He has written best-selling bird guides and led numerous groups on wildlife holidays in Europe and Africa.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 304 pages
    • 100 b/w illustrations
    • BISAC NAT043000, SCI070040