As I wrote the above title, I suddenly thought that I had it wrong. My budget gear consists of a Nikon V1 system. Actually this is not a cheap system, something like a Nikon D3100 and a 70-300mm lens would actually work out cheaper and better, but there are some amazing deals at the moment, and the discontinued V1 is now quite a bargain, unlike when it was first released.
The advantage of the Nikon 1 is its size and as I had commuted into Lincoln on my Motorcycle, the full Nikon 1 kit easily fits in my tank bag together with a change of clothes.
So Wildlife Photography on the Cheap, what do you need, well basically I have already said above, a camera has a bit of reach. The Nikon 1 system is a very fast focusing mirror-less camera and while not as good as an SLR is an option for this type of thing if you can put up with its issues.
The other thing to consider is what you are photographing. I know of a photographer that instead of a long lens uses bait to bring the wildlife to him.
Today instead of using bait, we had the benefit of ice. I was photographing in the middle of Lincoln, by the Brayford Pool where I went Kayaking a few months ago.
With the cold weather a lot of the Brayford Pool is now iced over, this has forced the wildlife a lot closer to the bank enabling you to get some good shots with easy.