“Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything!” – Albert Einstein
The 4th of my “5 ways to well-birding” is to ‘learn’. Birding is a constant learning process and as a teacher myself, I love the full and diverse range of learning opportunities it offers to all involved with it.
The fundamental ‘lessons’ within birding are focussed on honing ID skills to be able to identify birds that you see when you’re out. When I started birding a few years ago, I took a ‘back-to-basics’ approach. This meant starting with the obvious, the everyday species, the garden and woodland regulars.
Soon this developed into learning about different habitats and the avifauna of each one. Then I found out about our common migrants and channelled my efforts into finding them. Whilst each of these angles, these ‘lessons’, was going on, I spent more time in the field with other birders – who have also become my friends. I learnt from them. I heard songs and calls I didn’t know and scoured the internet to put a bird to the sounds I was hearing.
The lesson themes became a bit more complex. A year had passed… I had seen plumages transform and I had had a ‘patch’ to watch grow and develop as I birded there. This then became a platform for understanding and connecting with nature on a deeper level. The most significant things I was learning were about myself… How I felt and thought and how being outside and having a focus and motivation made me feel so uplifted and positive.
Birding has no lesson plan, we all evaluate and perceive each experience differently; but I believe we all learn something new every time we go out birding – it’s the best form of experiential learning I know!