Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Only read this if you’re interested in birds

I can’t believe this is my first blog for over a month. It’s true that the months of June and July can be a little barren when it comes to bird watching especially when you are away from the coasts of the UK but the fact is, I have been birding...and thinking.

My first thought was why do I go birding? Clearly I love going out to reserves and digiscoping any species of bird; enjoying the habitats and the people I come across. I have trips and bird images I should have shared but to me, they were uninteresting and routine so didn’t or don’t deserve your valuable time reading them etc... Perhaps I’m being unfair on you. Perhaps I expect you to want to see images of rare or interesting birds with tales of woe or intrigue from me? I don’t know.

So then I thought why do I do this? I don’t do it to get home to write a blog and I don’t do it to get brilliant photos – that will rarely happen trust me. I don’t want to be top of the top 200, let alone 400 bird club lister list. So what the fuck is it?

Originally I did it because it relived stress and it became my 'shed', somewhere to escape to and enjoy in isolation. The web has allowed me to share my bird sightings and bird images for a few years now. This blog has encouraged me to take more photographs because people want to see the 'proof' and I can pretend to be a wildlife expert, an exponent of things others have never seen. But that’s bullshit. I do that for myself, another collection because birders are collectors. They are collecting memories, lists, events and information that makes them, me, more experienced and knowledgeable and ultimately the oracle for all things avian. Again, at least for me, this is not enough.

I’ll explain. We have an incredible variety of bird species in on this island of ours. Some are abundant, some are scarce and some are quite frankly on the verge of never being seen again. The armies of bird watchers in the UK are pivotal to reporting what is and what isn’t 'around' and this information is vital to all of the bird organisations from the RSPB to the BTO. They give us the reserves and they lobby the government for better land management and it then becomes apparent that these organisations are the reason why we have such a diversity of birds and other fauna and flora. Because without them, we would have nothing.

I have visited so many great reserves to see great birds. We all expect to see Marsh Harriers at Minsmere, Bearded Tits at Cley and Bitterns at Lee Valley Park but they wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the hundreds of people who do their bit to support the organisations who bear a responsibility to maintain and improve environments through financial or physical donations to do everything to protect and encourage these and other species and not just for our enjoyment.

So I have decided to give something back. I have enjoyed the facilities and efforts others have put into the habitats that have drawn the birds I have wanted to see and now I want to repay that with my time and in some way, my experience to support my local reserve with voluntary services that they can use to continue the work they do.

So now, rather than getting excited by a day spent on the Norfolk coast or rummaging through the scrub at Dungeness. Now, as a volunteer at the Lee Valley Park, I talk to families, random walkers/cyclists and over-excited children about Coots, Grey Herons and the chicks of Black-headed Gulls. I see a light in their eyes that I have never seen in those of a twitcher who has just seen a lifer. Fact.

Next time, I promise to have a list of great birds and an odd assortment of photos to go with them. I just needed to get things in perspective.