The Countryside Code is applicable to all of us who use the UK’s luscious countryside. Birdwatchers, dog walkers, astronomers and land managers alike have a shared responsibility to protect, respect and thoroughly enjoy Britain’s greenery. Take a look through this quick guide before your next session with those new bird watching binoculars or nightly astronomical telescope excursion!
The code is set into four public sections:
Be safe, plan ahead and follow signs – Understanding access rights, checking weather conditions, mobile phone reception (and battery!), visitors centre locations, map markers, sign meanings and so on; it’s pretty much all common sense, but sometimes we could all do with a little reminder.
Leave gates and property as you find them – Much of the UK’s public countryside passes through or close to private land and farms. Open gates, closed gates, stiles etc are all in place for a reason. If particularly concerned about an open gate/distressed animal etc, try to contact the farmer or local authority.
Protect plants and animals, and take litter home – Long before we stared shopping for astronomical telescopes and bird watching binoculars, we all went to school and learned not to be litter bugs! Always take items foreign to the countryside home (this includes leftover jam sandwiches!) Public fires are banned for good reason; fragile ecosystems can be detrimentally affected.
Keeps dogs under control – In many parts of the countryside it’s illegal to let your dog off the leash. Farmers are within their legal rights to destroy a dog that harms their livestock. Always pick up your dog’s “business” and avoid the countryside if your dog isn’t wormed, as it could easily pass on the infection.
Catching a glimpse of some of the UK’s rarest birds in the sights of our telescopes or bird watching binoculars is what twitchers live for! Many of our bird watching telescopes offer video recording to preserve even the most fleeting sightings of Britain’s fabulous wildlife.
Avocet – Less than 4,000 wintering birds, with fewer than 900 breeding pairs. Mostly found on the east coast of England in estuaries.
Cirl Bunting – Confined to the south west of England, particularly coastal fields and hedges of south Devon. Currently around 860 breeding pairs.
Common Scoter – Although around 50,000 birds winter in the UK, only about 50 breeding pairs have been recorded. Most commonly spotted in their breeding grounds (northern lochs of Scotland) from October to March.
Osprey – Illegal poaching and low breeding numbers have seen the osprey population plummet in the UK. Arriving back from Africa in late March/early April, most of the 150 or so breeding pairs head to Scotland’s freshwater lochs.
Store Curlew – Arriving in late March to breed, around 350 breeding pairs can be found predominantly in Norfolk (Weeting Heath particularly) and around Salisbury Plain.
Also of concern are once common birds such as the skylark (the population has dropped around 47% since 1970) and corn bunting (down 89%) Neither of these birds is considered to be endangered just yet, but unfortunately it may only be a matter of time.
Set your bird watching binoculars to good use by helping the likes of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (R.S.P.B) with annual surveys.
This time of year can be tough. The cold mornings, icy ground, biting winds and downpours of sleet and snow can dampen your spirits after a while.
However, there are some days when the sun is shining on the frosty landscape that are a pleasure to behold, particularly if you are lucky enough to get out to the countryside.
Britain is in some ways at its best at this time of year. At points, the rolling hills and spiky forests look tranquil under a bed of frozen water droplets, while at other times rural scenes are dramatic and moody.
So, if you have the chance to spend a few hours out and about on a perfect winter’s day, you should seize the opportunity.
And the experience is bound to be made better if you take a pair of binoculars along with you.
Such devices mean you can study the landscapes in much greater detail.
And not only this, but binoculars also mean you stand a better chance of enjoying a glimpse of the country’s wildlife at this time of year.
For example, you might see a robin in all its fiery splendour engaging in its daily tasks.
So, rather than hiding away from the cold completely until the warmth of spring comes along, you should get out and see Britain in all its wintry glory.
You will be missing out if you fail to do this as there may be a whole side to the country that you remain unaware of.
Using binoculars can be a fantastic way of spending a sunny winter’s day. Whether you take out your bird watching binoculars or any other type of such item, you are bound to be treated to sights that simply do not occur during other times of the year.
However, there are some points you should bear in mind before you grab your binoculars and head for the great outdoors.
For example, you need to wrap up warm against the elements, otherwise your enjoyment of the experience is likely to be limited.
Indeed, if you are not wearing the appropriate attire, you may have to return home prematurely because you are not able to withstand the temperature.
Also, you may find that if you are not using effective gloves, your hands are too shaky for you to make the most of your viewing.
And of course you run the risk of making yourself ill if you expose yourself to the conditions with inadequate protection on, which is surely the last thing you want.
As well as making sure you have a number of layers on, thick socks and good quality walking boots, you should also wear a good hat to prevent too much heat loss through your head.
Meanwhile, taking a thermos flask filled with a hot beverage can also help you stay warm while out and about in the great outdoors.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to take food in order to keep your energy levels up.
So, next time you decide to take your bird watching binoculars or any other type of such devices on a winter expedition, make sure you are prepared for the cold.
There are also versions of the items that are adapted to marine environments. Such offerings generally have enlarged porro prisms, which means they are able to provide a wide field of vision, as well as a large depth of focus.
Meanwhile, they are fully waterproof, which is an obvious advantage given that they are used in such close proximity to large quantities of the liquid.
It is also possible to get them with thick rubber armouring as protection in case they are subjected to falls and other such things.
On the other hand, it is possible to buy such viewing devices that have been adapted so they are better suited to viewing the night sky. Such products are popular among those keen on astronomy.
And of course they come in a range of sizes, from large to compact. Indeed, they can be so small that they are able to fit into pockets.
So, whatever type of binoculars you are after, there is bound to be something to suit your requirements.
For products such as bird watching binoculars, Warwickshire-based company Sherwoods have accrued more than 60 years’ worth of knowledge and experience that they employ to provide their customers with support and advice during the selection process, keen to ensure that customers never end up with an optical product which is unsuitable for the customer’s specific needs.
Every staff member is an expert, armed with the appropriate knowledge to guide customers through the tricky selection process, so that whether a product with night vision is needed for nocturnal nature observation or you require something with other specifics, such as for bird watching, making the wrong choice can easily be avoided. Even with a basic understanding of what you are looking for, the decision can still be tricky, especially with so many high quality optical products offered on one site. This potentially daunting catalogue can be made navigable by using the company’s online guide to binocular purchasing, and they encourage any confused consumers to simply call with their queries.
So for specific bird watching binoculars, advanced pairs and beginner pairs – with books to help teach new bird watchers – are available, covering a large range of capabilities, but always enabling watchers to identify species with ease, instead of struggling with unsuitable equipment. For observing wildlife after dark, products with night vision are a great investment.
The staff’s collective understanding and experience are at the disposal of all customers, enabling them to make the optimum choice, and the speedy service means that purchases can be delivered the very next day for free within the UK.
Most of us like to escape the daily grind and head off on the occasional holiday. However, with money tight for many people at the moment, it can be easy to let the months slip by without arranging any trips.
While jetting off on an expensive foreign vacation may stretch your finances a little too much at present, why not explore the best the British Isles have to offer?
And getting a pair of binoculars may be the perfect excuse to pack your suitcase, get out the A to Z and set off in the car.
After all, what better way to get close to some of the most stunning attractions and the best nature has to offer than by engaging in this relaxing pursuit.
There are a whole range of binoculars to choose from, meaning you do not necessarily have to spend much to get started and you will be guaranteed to find something that suits your own particular requirements.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of roaming around while on your sightseeing holiday, a smaller, lightweight pair of binoculars could be ideal as these may get used more than larger ones that you could be tempted to leave in the car.
With so many animals and habitats to view, you’re sure to have an action-packed time and, when it comes to the end of your trip, you can rest safe in the knowledge that the next adventure is just round the corner.
After all, there will be plenty more of the UK to discover!