Birding 101: Grab some binoculars and get outside

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Ease into fall this year by picking up a new hobby (or perhaps, re-introducing yourself to an old hobby you once enjoyed). Look to the sky for inspiration, and birds! The Berkshires and Southern Vermont are full of bird-watching enthusiasts willing to share their knowledge and passion with newbies and veterans alike. Meet some new people and explore the outdoors with one of the many guided groups in the area, or find some spots on your own.

We asked our resident birding expert Thom Smith for a few tips to help beginners take flight:

- Find your peeps: Join othelike-mindeded people on field trips. Look for local clubs, Audubon outings. Join a group, attend programs, meetings, etc.

- Be prepared: Acquire a good pair of light-weight, 8-power binoculars, the best you can afford.

- Keep track of what you see: Begin a journal, a life list.

- Know the land: Familiarize yourself with local hotspots. Each season may be different.

- Just do it!: Most importantly, don't be ashamed to ask questions, make mistakes, have fun.



Start birding

Friday, Sept. 7: Birding at Canoe Meadows, free, 8 to 9:30 a.m., 309 Holmes Road, Pittsfield.

Sunday, Sept. 9: Housatonic Flats walk with Hoffmann Bird Club, 7:30 a.m., meet at the parking lot, 439 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington.

Tuesday, Sept. 11: Birding at the Mount, free, 8 to 10 a.m., 2 Plunkett St., Lenox. Register: edithwharton.org.

Wednesday, Sept. 12: Birding at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, 472 W. Mountain Road, Lenox.


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