In the past few weeks I have found that my motivations towards birding have changed considerably. I have been in a few positions where I could quite easily have moved up the coast from where I was to ‘twitch’ something; or jumped into my car and drove from home or post-work to go and see a bird that I have never seen.
I set myself the realistically achievable goal of seeing 200 species of bird this year, and I have seen 198. This weekend, with a drive up to the Wells/Holkham area I could quite easily have surpassed my target but chose not to. I feel like recently I have lost the magical thing that made me go out birding in the first place.
That magical thing is different for everyone, but for me it’s the peaceful time I spend reflecting whilst watching, observing and finding birds; exploring habitats and behaviours and generally embracing avian wonder. It isn’t the size/length of a list, creating a competitive podium of achievement that drives me. I do not want to drive around mopping up other people’s discoveries… I want to make my own.
A few weekends ago I found my first ‘serious’ bird. A Honey Buzzard gliding over Waxham Sands, where I had just walked many miles in the dunes and coastal copses searching for and observing birds. The whole morning had been fantastic. I found my ‘own’ Yellow-Browed Warbler in a small copse near Waxham beach and spent considerable time just watching it going about it’s business in the dense cover, oblivious to my statue-like presence as I watched it darting through the foliage, it’s long yellow supercilium striking against the dark shades of green
This was great, but the sheer adrenaline rush of seeing my first Honey Buzzard, let alone finding it, was phenomenal. In one brief observation of it’s ‘jizz’ I knew what I was watching. My heart-pumping; I made a quick scribble of what I’d seen, let a few people know via Twitter and then drove home – glowing. The process of writing and submitting my description, though formal, was also a fantastic feeling and an experience that reminded me how happy I am to going out each weekend (when I can) trying to find my own birds, rather than trawl around ‘collecting’ numbers on a list.
The solitude and enjoyment of my last two visits has seemed so much more rewarding, don’t get me wrong… I really enjoy the social aspect of birding and some of my best days out have been shared with others, but having some time to myself allowed me to re-connect with nature and remember the reasons why my affinity with birding has come to be.
I’m not fussed if I ‘stick’ on 198 now, it’s just a number after all.