A picture of a  great spotted woodpecker in a birch. Photographer Kati Manner.

Exercising in nature and birdwatching the spring migration

Nature increases well-being, restores stress, and revitalizes. Exercising in nature both activates and calms you. Especially with the arrival of spring and the increasing light, nature offers lot to observe, such as birds and nature’s awakening. Personal trainer and group training instructor Jenni Haukirauma writes about how to get started with a fun and versatile birdwatching hobby.

Spring is again a welcomed season after a long winter. Increasing light and warmth from the sun invites you to get up and go out. There is space for everybody, so you can exercise outdoors at any time you like safely and at your own pace. Are you going to state now that you hate running and walking is boring? What if you would combine bird and nature watching with outdoor activities?

One sure sign of spring is the returning of migratory birds from their wintering areas back to Finland. The melodious song of a blackbird on top of a tree and the cooing of a wood pigeon on top of a fence are clear signs that days have lengthened, and summer is approaching, even if winter has not yet fully ended. Nature offers experiences for outdoor movers of all ages and levels. The stunning greeneries, forests and parks of the metropolitan area are invaluable places for birds and animals, but also for people to relax in. Working from home may have reduced, for example, the daily time spent outdoors on commutes to work, and after long and dark winter it might be hard to get up and go out. But it is worth it. Studies have shown that moving in nature reduces stress, so both body and mind will refresh.

How to start birdwatching

March-April has launched the return of migrant birds, but it is not yet the main spring migration, so it is easy to start identifying birds from few species. You might recognize overwintering tits: now you can also hear them well when loved up mates sing their mating songs to females. Later in the spring arrives e.g., the main migration of waders and geese, some just passing through and some staying for nesting.

What makes birdwatching especially interesting is that all your senses become more sensitive. You can listen and learn to recognise songs or try to memorize distinguishing features from the colour of the beak to the length of the tail. You should also record sounds if you have your cell phone with you and write down the characteristics. This way you can check later which species it was. You can well enough start without any equipment, but with a decent pair of binoculars you could easily get one step closer to the world of birds. More experienced birdwatchers can challenge themselves, for example, by learning scientific names. Birds can also be identified from a back of a bike or on a trail run, especially when you are identifying different species only based on sounds.

How to dress for the outdoors in springtime

The springtime sun already warms hikers, but it is worth investing in adequate clothing when going out in the nature. Winds in April can easily surprise even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast, and when looking for birds you need to time to time stop in place. When going for a run, the key to finding the right amount of clothing is that at the beginning you should feel a bit cold. For a birdwatching trip you should dress the other way around: When stepping outside you should feel quite hot at the beginning but in cool spring breeze you will find yourself barely coping. You will thank yourself for bringing warm gloves!



Text: Jenni Haukirauma

Jenni is entrepreneur in fitness, physics coach and group training instructor. She has been working fulltime in sports field since 2004. Jenni works at UniSport as a group training instructor and personal trainer.

Translation: Aliisa Lindbohm

Photo: Kati Manner