On learning styles – another one chopped from the final book

So, we’ve considered the value of field guides as a supplement to the ‘art’ of birdwatching and right now, you’re reading a book on the benefits of birdwatching for mental health and wellbeing. The wealth of available material means that there are always opportunities to expand your knowledge through reading. Of course, reading reams of research and guidance can help to inform you as a birdwatcher but the best resource that’s available is there all the time and costs nothing. Getting outside and actually  doing some birdwatching.

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This is the kinaesthetic aspect, the actual act of watching birds. Almost every experience I’ve shared has involved me going outside and immersing within nature – not just an act of doing but also an act of being. Being attuned to nature is an act in itself and comes naturally to those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors. I can recall many occasions when I’ve been out at my patch on my own. My purpose usually starts with looking for and observing birds but I often just stop and fill up with joy at the wonder of being outdoors. A few days before writing this I had one such experience at a local site.

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I was in what I call the ‘mindfulness butterfly glade’. It was incredibly sunny and, in its warmth, I stood watching Small Copper butterflies flutter from flower to flower in front of me. To my immediate right, in a pocket of gorse, a Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler scratched and bubbled their familiar melodies. I started to become aware of the fact that I felt very positive, elated by the warmth of the sun, the greenness of the flora, the colours of the butterflies and the sweetness of birdsong. I felt amazing and it was all because of the healing powers of the natural environment. Just being.

2 thoughts on “On learning styles – another one chopped from the final book

  1. Joe I know that feeling very well – the joy of just being – to be at one with nature, especially birds, totally absorbed in the moment; it’s art and beauty  – what would be called mindfulness today or as Rosamond Richardson has called it in her book ‘Waiting for the Albino Dunnock’ – “Ornitheology”. Have you ever read ‘The Story of My Heart’ by Richard Jefferies. His book recounts many of similar feelings ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ he sometimes called it or the ‘Spirit of the Place.‘

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  2. There’s a hillside where very few people ever go, about twenty miles from where I live. I can’t say where it is because it’s like a sanctuary of sorts, to me. I want to keep it pretty much to myself, especially because I also used to go there as a child and play by the river which runs below the hillside. If I tried to describe it all it may not sound particularly astounding: a bracken-covered slope, specked here and there with rowans, hawthorns and the odd holly, growing in hollows or clinging to some weathered little crag. When you stop and sit and wait a while, everything – apart from the birds – seems to have stopped, nothing moves. It can’t be silent, but I always think of it being so. And though not high up it catches the afternoon and evening sun. In the autumn the light on the decaying bracken seems to mix with it and turn the whole slope a glowing orange colour, exhilarating but at the same time serene. You can see a fair number of birds there: Wheatears going from rock to rock, sometimes Robins and quite often the loudest Wrens I’ve ever heard, each guarding their rocky patch. Occasionally Flycatchers appear on the edge of the adjacent wood and maybe a Blackcap or two. And Chiffchaffs. Or are they Willow Warblers? I don’t really mind which they are. I saw a Brimstone butterfly once; didn’t know what it was, had to look it up – and dragonflies too, beside the streams.

    You could drive past this place many times and never notice it. Luckily for me, most do.

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