I always enjoy getting out and about with my Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E zoom lens. To me it is the perfect lens for photographing birds and nature subjects. I nearly always use a monopod to help take some of the weight when I am using it for long periods.
Both images below were taken at 500mm and I am finding that this is the most used focal length with the 200-500mm. The combination of 200-500mm, my 300mm f/4 and 200mm f/4 micro lenses are my mainstay lenses for distant and close up telephoto work such as birds, animals, insects and most other nature work etc.
The above image of the Masked lapwing and the below image of the White Cheeked Honeyeater have been easily captured with the 200-55m lens.
I live in an area where there is generally plenty of sunshine and thus ample light for f/5.6 photography.
It does take some time to get used to the additional weight of the 200-500mm lens compared to my previous birding lens which was the 300mm f/4 Nikkor. People ask if I miss the f/4 aperture but I am finding that f/5.6 is generally very good unless close to early morning or late evening.
I generally live on a fairly tight budget and the 200-500mm lens is really quite cheap for a 500mm lens, so if you love birding like myself, go to your local camera shop and get one right away.
The (VR) vibration reduction on the 200-500mm lens is very effective and my findings are such that I do not require the monopod for stopping camera movement as the VR does this, the main reason I do use a monopod is because of the weight of the lens, when holding it for long periods waiting for birds it does become a bit of a chore.
In photographing birds you need to keep very still and the use of the monopod enables me to keep my posture in the shooting position to avoid any sudden movement and the monopod helps very much here.
If you want to buy this lens see the link below which I recommend.