Beanbag – If you think a good tripod and a gimbal head are all you need for your camera setup… think again. When you’re shooting from inside your car or getting down on the ground to be at eye level to your subject, a tripod is fairly impractical. A useful tool for these type of scenarios is a U-shaped beanbag. Many times, getting out of your car isn’t advisable because getting closer may stress the birds; a beanbag can be used from the window to steady your long lenses. An apex U-shaped beanbag can also be turned over and used on the ground to rest the lens for eye-level shots.
Filters – Because bird photography is getting extremely competitive, creativity is the key to making unique and pleasing images. Although filters have always been key tools in all forms of photography, they are often overlooked in bird photography. The front element of large prime lenses are so big that it seems impractical to attach a filter to them. This is why these prime lenses, such as those made by Canon, have a backend slot for a 52mm drop-in circular polarizer or a ND filter. These filters are extremely useful when shooting during the day and slow shutter speeds are needed for making images that have a creative blur effect.
Sensor Scope – A sensor scope is a handy tool to have, especially when shooting in dusty conditions. This scope has a high magnification power and is fitted with LED lights which allow you to safely examine your DSLR’s sensor for dirt and spots. Some prior knowledge of sensor cleaning is required in order to use this device.
Lens rain cover – Even for beginners, bird photography is an expensive hobby. Needless to say, protecting equipment when shooting in rugged, cold, dusty, or wet conditions is of prime importance. Protecting your lens with a good quality rain cover (such as those made by Optech and LensCoat) provides you with good shooting opportunities in extreme conditions.
Camera Bag – While the market today is flooded with a variety of carrying cases for differing needs, I prefer backpacks that are light, sturdy, and able to hold a range of long lenses, DSLRs, and all of the required accessories. Gura Gear and Think Tank are few of the many brands that produce high quality bags. Remember, the key is to remain light in the field.