Advice for disabled birdwatchers
Birdwatching is a pastime that can be enjoyed by everyone. These pages give some practical advice to disabled birdwatchers and tell you where to get more information.
Where to seek information
Many organisations, including the RSPB, produce access information. Our accessibility collection page shows some of our better known-sites. You can also look for the 'accessibility' tab on each of our major visitor reserve pages.
We produce an audio version of our members’ magazine. RSPB shops, including our online shop, also sell bird song and call CDs and DVDs.
Birding for All (formerly the Disabled Birders Association) a charity seeking to improve access for people with disabilities to reserves, facilities and services for birding, is another great source of information.
Get the right gear
For disabled birdwatchers, the choice of binocular or telescope is dependent on the nature of the disability and personal preference. Low-magnification binoculars need less refocusing and offer greater steadiness; stabilising binoculars work well but they are heavy and expensive. Specialist optical suppliers can offer personal solutions.
Trying out different models is particularly important. The RSPB runs field days where you can try binoculars under field conditions. This will help you to make sure you are completely happy before purchase.
Many birds can be identified by their songs and calls. You can learn these sounds from the various CDs and DVDs that are available from RSPB shops including our online shop. You can listen to the sound clips on the RSPB website.
Getting out and about
RSPB reserves are all wonderful, but each gives a very different experience in terms of the facilities it offers. We think it should be easy for you to know what to expect at each site. So, we have improved the information on the accessibility pages across the entire UK-wide reserve network.
Not only that, but for each bigger site we have produced an illustrated downloadable access statement describing facilities in more detail (available under 'accessibility' on each reserve page). You might typically find:
- Friendly volunteers and staff on hand to help and inform you seven days a week
- Comfortable visitor centres, with cafés and accessible toilets
- Dedicated Blue Badge parking bays and/or drop-offs
- A good range of shorter and longer routes on wide, level paths with regular resting places
- Hides or other viewing facilities you can use from a seated position
- Mobility scooter and/or manual wheelchair hire schemes.
So why not visit today, secure in the knowledge that we have thought about your access needs?
Birdwatching with a group of like-minded people can be particularly enjoyable and rewarding. The RSPB has a network of local members' and young people’s groups throughout the UK. Joining one of these groups is an enjoyable way of developing your interest in birds as well as supporting the RSPB's conservation work.
Birding for All, formerly the Disabled Birders Association, has information on accessible tour operators, accommodation, reserves and trip reports written by members.
As birds are all around us, you don't need to go far to enjoy them. Watching birds from the window, wherever you are, can provide hours of pleasure and interest. If you have a garden, there are many ways to attract more birds to it and bring them closer to your window. Even a car window can be a very handy hide!
The monthly magazine Bird Watching contains regular features on sites to visit, which usually includes some information on access and facilities for disabled birdwatchers.