I watch birds. They often convey info that is beneficial to my fishing, and add pleasure to my time on the water to boot.
After all, many eat the insects, that the fish eat as well.
Birds often help me determine what's hatching, or what stage of insects the fish might be eating.
Since the different varieties of birds feed in different ways, once you learn what their normal style is, you can spot changes in feeding behavior.
Much like fish, birds will adopt the easiest feeding style, for the most food possible.
When a ground feeder like a Stellar Jay, is acting like a Gnat catcher, (Perching on a strategic limb, flying up, nabbing a bug, then returning to the limb.) I can safely bet that there is a large emergence of a flying insect like Termites, or Carpenter Ants.
I've seen ground feeding Brewers Blackbirds crash the surface of a stream to catch a green Drake. A risky business, since they aren't water birds.
I've seen Gulls, and Geese swimming together in aimless circles, sipping Callibaetis Spinners on the surface of a lake.
American Dippers, are my local favorite. I've heard that they mate for life, and since they stay here year-round, I see them most often.
They mostly feed subsurface, walking on the bottom of a stream.
One day this winter I was standing in the water, wondering what fly to fish.
I absently watched a Dipper.
It took a moment for me to realize, both Male and Female birds were feeding on freshly hatched midges dotting the snow bank like pepper.
Tree Swallows will chase emerging Mayflies near the water, or forty feet up during the bugs mating swarm. Once female Mayflies return to the waters surface to ova-posit, the Swallows will disturb the surface tension, leaving rings when they make a grab.
The up and back feeding style of a Gnat catcher, will change to a hover style, with the May's return to the water as well.
A birds, feeding frequency, will closely indicate the numbers of insects available to them.
An infrequent feeder reflects a sparse hatch, where as, busy birds indicate a feed is on!
As a fly fisherman, I need insights into insects of the watery realm.
Birds can give me an edge.
Spend some time watching our feathered friends, and you might catch more fish.