At first I was like the rest of the folks that I see birding at various locations. What does that mean?
It means I would drive to a location and try to go birding in a hurry. I don't know why I did this. The only reason I can come up with is everyone else was doing it. Tourists and travelers were coming in with a guide and blazing threw the area in a day or two. Funny how you get caught up in the birding race.
After a year of this I stopped one day and re-evaluated my birding habits. I made a 180 degree change at that point. And have stuck with it for a few years now. What does it mean? In short I travel to a destination I want to bird. Rent a room for at least a month. Not once do I think about going into a park and rushing threw. I explore the area. Walk a different trail. Camp in the parks for a few days. Drive to the local park. Basically explore the area before I even think about photographing birds.
Slowing down to get a good look at the habitat, and birding habits. Focusing on watching the birds first. If I see an opportunity where I can get some good photographs. Then I plan a photography strategy.
Personally I think the best approach to photographing birds is the "Birding slowly" approach. If you are on vacation, try just going to one spot. Do not travel around much. Get to know the area for a week at least. If you need to hire a guide, there are always many willing to help you. And many good talented guides are available pretty much any where. Believe me, if it is a birding destination guides will be there also.
Don't get caught up in reading the internet daily and traveling to the birding hot spots. Unless it is a once in a lifetime thing! Which is not a biggie for me this point.
There are many advantages to doing this. When I go to a new area I rent an apartment, or room for at least a month. It saves me a fortune.
Diesel, is a major expense for me. If I am in the area living. It does not cost me a fortune daily to get to the birding sites.
You get to know the people around the sites. A huge advantage when a birder. To be able to talk to people about the birds and when to see them.
Another thing is, you get to experience the culture in the area. See sites that others miss altogether.
For me cramming in three or more parks in a week or two is just not worth it. It becomes a blur to me. A slow approach for me is the only way for me. Instead of planing a quick birding trip I plan in blocks of months. Anywhere from one month to eight months (my last stay in Phechaburi).