Budget Travel

Some tips for spotting animals: helpful tips for watching wildlife around the world

Birdwatchers along with other types of travelers having a desire for watching wildlife are a breed apart. Countless them migrate across the globe every year with the hope of a sighting, spending serious money because they go. The excitement of seeing an animal in its natural habitat, however fleetingly, has turned wildlife tourism into a multi-billion dollar division of the travel industry.

You don't need to pay big bucks for giant Five bingo in Africa to partake, nor set off with an extreme mission to, say, the far-flung frontiers of China looking for a spoon-billed sandpiper or even the misty lowlands of Ecuador on the trail from the stub foot toad.

The natural world is filled with wonders, wherever you travel – you just need to understand what to look for. Listed here are ideas to improve your likelihood of spotting something any time you pause and have a proper look.

1. Don't destroy the one thing you love

This is an essential rule of all. It's not hard to possess a negative impact on animals and also the environment if you approach the job in a thoughtless manner. But you can enjoy an encounter within the wild within an ethical way by following quick and easy rules on every trip, including:

  • Keep your distance.
  • Never feed wild animals.
  • Don't hinder their natural behavior at any time.
  • Adhere towards the principles of 'leave no trace', which seek to protect regions of wilderness for the benefit of all.

2. Do a research session on animals as well as their habitat

A little knowledge goes a long way. It's not just about deepening your appreciation of what you might see (although that is a worthy goal); understanding of the lives of animals provides you with the groundwork to make smart decisions that could prove the difference between a sighting and a no-show.

Before you set foot outside, review your subject – find out about animals' habitats and habits; where they sleep, feed and breed; the way the seasons affect their behavior, and how they interact with other species. This post is enriching in itself, but it's also of practical use when you're searching for an elusive creature.

If you want to go deeper, learn how to recognize the clues animals leave behind. Many large mammals, for example, clear pathways through undergrowth over time, while other animals leave more subtle signs of their presence on the ground, on or near trees, or through the water's edge.

Tracking animals is an arcane branch of data unto itself; you don't need to be able to name a species from the look into its scat (droppings), but a basic grasp of how to interpret marks left in mud, sand or snow can also tell your search.

3. Right time, right place

Bad news, lazybones: many animals observe antisocial hours. Most humans are woefully out of sync using the rhythm from the natural world, where activity levels peak at dawn and dusk. To give yourself the best chance of seeing something, rise prior to the sun and linger because the light leaches in the evening sky.

One creature you may well see abroad at these bleary-eyed, yawn-inducing times during the your day may be the photographer, a species tempted into the open by the soft light from the 'blue' and 'golden' hours on each side of sunrise and sunset. Making this a lot of fun for taking pictures of wildlife as well as spotting it.

Places where one form of habitat or terrain transitions into another are always a great bet for any stakeout – riverbanks, estuaries and shorelines are prime types of this, but there are other borderlands where animals reliably appear: the stage where a meadow meets woodland, for instance, offers food and shelter.

4. Blend to your surroundings

Leave that Hawaiian shirt on the hanger – you will not need it. Even in their most discreet, humans are large, loud, smelly creatures; don't compound the issue having a wardrobe which makes you as conspicuous like a flamingo on a salt flat.

Animals sense your presence well before you've been feeling relaxed for a vigil, but a sober selection of clothing still helps to decrease your impact. Choose muted black, brown, green or grey clothes that blend into the background as appropriate and avoid garments that make a noise – now is not time to unpeel umpteen strips of Velcro.

Choice of position is essential if you are trying to lie low. Look for somewhere downwind of the area you're observing that offers a degree of camouflage – ideally, inside a proper hide, but otherwise concealed by shrubbery, behind a stand of trees or any other obstacle that shields you against the animals' direct type of sight.

5. Be quiet, stay still

Animals possess the sort of superpowers that would make Batman blush. Some species can hear a proverbial pin drop; others can see tiny objects from miles away; still, more can detect the faintest whiff drifting around the breeze.

From high up in a tree, an owl can hear a mouse scurrying through leaf litter; an eagle can spot a hare's ears twitch from the mile away; a bear can sniff out a source of food from even further . All this implies that a clued-up spotter stays as silent but still as a statue – otherwise to evade detection altogether (that's unlikely), then to prevent spooking the object of the attention.

When you need to move, do so slowly, steadily and stealthily. Crouch down to shrink your profile, stay behind cover if possible and pay particular focus on where you're putting the feet – it's not hard to trip if you're moving through tangled undergrowth in murky conditions, but face-planting having a painful crash into the nearest thorn tree isn't good for all concerned.

6. Go ahead and take right gear

A good pair of binoculars is essential for that wildlife watcher. Furthermore they deliver a close-up of the animal that might well be only speck, they also permit the observer to keep a respectful distance in the quarry, leaving it undisturbed. How powerful do they have to be? It depends around the circumstances, but lower magnifications such as 7x or 8x are small and light (and therefore easier to hold), provide a brighter image within the half-light of dawn and dusk and have a wide field of view.

Provided you don't mind lugging it around, a spotting scope is really a step up in performance. These small portable telescopes offer more magnification than binoculars and attach to a camera with an adapter – a method called digiscoping. Wildlife photography is a specialist subject in its own right, however the rules of spotting – winning attitude, proper time, right place – apply equally to the pursuit of an ideal shot.

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