In recent years bird watching has attracted millions of new followers and is considered to be one of the world's fastest growing hobbies. In 2004 a survey conducted by the RSPB found that 3.1 million people in Britain claimed to bird watch on a regular basis.

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger enjoys watching birds

That figure has almost doubled and the RSPB now say that around 6 million Britons enjoy bird watching. It seems that bird watching, which was once considered the preserve of nerds in anoraks, has become fashionable.

Bird watching has now overtaken angling in terms of the number of devotees. In the RSPB 2008 survey 10% said they were bird watchers while only 4% went fishing.

One reason for this trend could be due to popular TV nature programmes like the BBC's Springwatch and Autumnwatch. People are also becoming more aware of the environment which includes learning about and caring for wildlife.

And there is a growing list of celebrity birders including Cameron Diaz, Vic Reeves, Sean Bean, Joanna Lumley, Mick Jagger, Jarvis Cocker and of course Bill Oddie.

Modern technology is helping bird watchers too. The internet means that rare sightings can be instantly recorded, there are many bird guides online and there can be more communication between bird watchers across the globe. Bird song and apps can be downloaded onto iPhones to help with identification and digital cameras used for taking instant photos of birds from a fair distance are affordable for most.

As well as learning about birds and wildlife, nature and the environment, bird watching is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air and countryside.

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