Pub birding is the combination of the observation and recording of bird species with the consumption of beverages. Pub birding gives a relaxed and sociable approach to birding, and is seen as the perfect antidote to waiting hours to see a rare bird that probably left under clear skies the night before. It also allows birders to socialise with non-birders, whilst sneakily still looking for Pallas Sandgrouse.
Some arbitrary rules
1) ''A beverage must be purchased for birds to count from the establishment.'' Note that the beverage does not have to be alcoholic, pub birding is a responsible hobby and encourages sensible drinking. That said, Real Ale is a particular recommendation, particularly if brewed locally. This puts money back into the local economy on several levels, plus sometimes they have funny names.
2) ''The establishment must be primarily a drinking venue.'' Pubs and bars are fine, but hotel bars where drinking is secondary to accommodation are not. Bars on boats such as the Scillonian III and ferries do not count. The logic behind this is that in order to drink there you have to buy a ticket, they are not "public." Similarly cafes that happen to sell bottles of Smirnofff Ice cannot by any stretch of the imagination be classed as pubs.
3) ''Birds can be seen from the pub itself, the pub garden or the pub carpark''
4) ''Admissable Species.'' In order to facilitate easy comparison of lists, it is suggested that all UK "Pub Birders" should use the BOU-maintained Official British List when deciding what species to count. This list can be found at the BOU website http://www.bou.org.uk/recbrlst.html
5) ''Accurate identification is important.'' At the moment there is no body set up to examine records of rare species seen from pubs, so in the majority of cases the word of the drinker will be accepted. Please be aware that the ID must be as close to certain as possible, "it looked quite like one" or "one was on the pager heading this way...yesterday" are not good enough. It is suggested [citation needed!] identification tends to peak after around 2 pints, and deteriorates slowly after that.
6) ''Be polite at all times'' Be aware that non-birding members of the public are also likely to be drinking at pubs. They may view your birding with suspicion, or may have lots of questions. Please be polite and courteous to all. Also, don't take unecessary risks, such as carrying telescopes through housing estates where gangs are fighting.
Where to pub birdwatch
Part of the idea of pub birdwatching was to incorporate more birding into everyday life, so the short answer is that you can pub birdwatch from anywhere! Flyover birds are key, and the same pub through the seasons will give you a nice return. Pubs overlooking large bodies of water are at a premium (recommendations welcome), but there are several coastal hotspots with pubs. Why not try out your local and let me know how you get on?
The record holding pub
At the moment it has to be the Dun Cow, with over 70 species seen over a number of visits. These include Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Barn Owl, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Whinchat. Around Norwich a number of riverside pubs are promising, particularly the Gibralter Gardens.
What you could have won
in 2009 an avid pub birder could have got Collared Pratincole (Dun Cow, Salthouse) and Glossy Ibis (various) on their pub list. In 2010 we set some proper pub-blockers, with Pallid & Alpine Swifts from the Sailor's Home, Kessingland, whilst Gary White & Adam Pointer took great delight in seeing a Melodious Warbler from a pub garden in the Scillies. In 2012 Gary also managed to add a very distant Bee-eater to his pub list, from the Wiveton Bell, whilst someone spending the day at the Beauchamp Arms could have added Caspian Tern.
Norwich pub-tickers should now have no problem in seeing Peregrine from a pub, whilst Grey Wagtails are also common near several Wensum area pubs.