The Urban Birder One Day Course


Walthamstow Wetlands, London, England

  • February 16, 2019
  • April 20, 2019
  • May 18, 2019

Mouth of the Guadalhorce River Reserve, Málaga, Spain

  • April 6, 2019

Meet at: Parroquia Santa María Estrella de los Mares, Calle Gualalhorce, 1, 29004 Málaga


Norwich – location to be confirmed

  • April 13, 2019

Manchester – location to be confirmed

  • April 14, 2019

Please enquire for more details about these exciting new locations!


Watching birds in urban areas is far easier than what you may have imagined. There is more out there and just pigeons. Over 600 species have been found within the UK since records began and over 90% have been discovered in our urban areas. Birds are everywhere, even in the heart of the concrete jungle. The knack is learning how to notice and eventually recognise the birds that share our urban lives.

The Urban Birder Course will be an introduction to appreciating the abundant birdlife in our urban areas. It will cover the definition of an urban bird, recognition techniques and tips on attracting birds into your garden.

Led by experienced urban birder Gary Elton, the venues for the courses will be:

The internationally renowned, Walthamstow Wetlands in London. Easily accessible by public transport, this superb location is one of the largest urban wetlands in Europe and is home to a large number of species, some of which are scarce elsewhere in London. Birds like Cetti’s Warbler, Common Kingfisher and Great Crested Grebe are all likely on your visit plus many more.

In Scotland the course will be held at Baron’s Haugh RSPB Reserve on the outskirts of Motherwell. This strangely beautiful place is fantastic for waterbirds with Kingfisher and Water Rail being particularly apparent during the winter months.

We also have an exciting course to be held in the fantastic coastal city of Málaga. You will be led by Luis Alberto Rodríguez, the city’s own Urban Birder, around the Mouth of the Guadalhorce River Reserve – an exciting spot right next door to bustling Málaga. Whilst being taught the art of urban birding expect to see Mediterranean Gulls, Black-winged Stilts, Greater Flamingo and the area’s speciality the White-headed Duck.

The courses will be held on Saturdays (and occasionally Sundays) starting at 10am finishing at 4pm. Although there is a lovely café at the Walthamstow Wetlands it is advised that you bring your own lunch on all of our courses because it will save time waiting to be served in long queues!

Above all it will be fun, irreverent, factual and educational.

Most components of this course will be held outdoors in the field so please dress accordingly to the season. Always dress warmer than what the day appears to be because hours in the field can be surprisingly chilly. Also, try to wear adequate footwear as it could get muddy or slippery.

The topics that will be covered include

Bird identification: recognising the usual suspects in urban areas.

Becoming a garden birder: what food to provide and how, what flora to establish and where to place nest boxes.

Optical equipment: how to use binoculars, when to use telescopes and basic wildlife photography tips with a recognised wildlife photographer.

Fieldcraft: how to actually watch birds in the field and what to wear whilst doing it.

Finding a local patch: how to identify good urban habitats and recording the birds you discover.

Urban bird migration: learning about the reasons why birds migrate.

We will also cover twitching, note taking and urban birding abroad.

By the end of this course you will be instinctively find yourself connecting with nature in any urban area.

About your guides

Gary Elton

A keen birder from the tender age of nine, Gary spent the majority of his early years birding near his childhood home, in and around North West London. Local patches in later years included Wormwood Scrubs with David Lindo and Hilfield Park Reservoir where at this latter site he also served as site warden for 12 years on behalf of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Gary also served as a Herts Bird Club committee member and has contributed to several birding publications and made several television appearances.

Gary now lives in Norfolk and plays an active part in birding there working part time at Holme Bird Observatory. He is a qualified ringer involved in running a local constant effort ringing site for the British Trust for Ornithology. Tour leading has become a major part of his working life and recent destinations include Israel, Northern Greece, Iceland, Spain, Bulgaria and The Gambia with other visits to Morocco, Switzerland, Mexico and North and South America. His other work also revolves around birds, primarily working off shore gathering data on seabirds and cetaceans.

You can reach him at: tours[@]

Luis Alberto Rodríguez

Deeply influenced during his childhood by the late and revered Spanish naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Luis’s passion for birds really took off when a teacher gave him an old bird field guide. There commenced a lifetime of searching for birds in his native Málaga.

An old friend of David Lindo, he now runs his own bird tour company, Birdaytrip, and he is actively involved in a project to protect the Montagu’s Harrier in Andalucia.

You can reach him at: tours[@]

TUB Course Co-ordinator

Sacha Wells

Sacha is an organisor extraordinaire. She has organised the lives of several household names and for us she is the engine room behind the successful running of The Urban Birder Courses.

She will be your first port of contact when you are enquiring about our courses.

You can reach her at: sachawells[@]

Book now

  • Price:

    £60 per person – London
    £40 per person – elsewhere in the UK
    £50 per person – Málaga, Spain

  • Group size: up to 15 participants
  • Time: 10am – 4pm
  • Lunch plus coffees and teas available
  • Locations are subject to change if factors like adverse weather conditions or traffic problems dictate
  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Phone: +44 (0) 330 4000 440 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)