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.
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.
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.