With the number of introspective posts flying around recently I have become, well, a bit more introspective. There are people out there (yes, you dear reader) who may quite rightly ask why anybody who can see such negativity in the simple pleasure of 'bird watching’ bothers to carry on. I haven’t been out birding for over a month. It’s been cold and grey, the Six Nations Rugby has been a distraction at the weekends and I’ve nursed a troublesome head cold – all good enough reasons not to be going out into the field. But these are not the reasons why I’ve not gone out - I just haven’t had the inclination to do so. And I’ve not missed it. Maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that birding just doesn’t tick all the boxes any more, and most probably hasn’t for a while. This realisation has been masked by my interests in other wildlife. There were signs – my not rushing off for local goodies (such as Great White Egret and Bittern at Beddington); my perusal of natural history publications at bookshops that never starts in the ornithological section; the giving up of Birding World and most other county bird society memberships; not getting excited about ‘birdy’ documentaries on the TV but being gripped by the trailer for the BBC4 insect programme ‘Alien Nation’.
If I were honest enough I suppose it’s time to stop pretending to being a ‘birder who is interested in other avenues of natural history’. These other avenues are those that I would sooner be wandering in at the moment. I’m currently looking forward to using my clearwing pheromones, hunting down longhorn beetles and trawling the north downs for plants – with not a bird in sight.
No doubt, like a first love, birding will always be there. I still dream of living by the coast and, as an old man, sitting in my garden recording all of the visible migrants as they fly past, keeping counts of the hirundines, finches, pipits and raptors. But, for the time being, birding will be in the background. So, if you want birding thrills you need to go elsewhere (although you most probably knew that already). I cannot promise to not take the mickey out of the world of birding, but can assure you that when I do I’m having a pop at myself.
By the way, if you do have a blog, you might want to think twice about posting a picture of a Wheatear in the next few weeks – everybody else does and has done so for several years, from all angles and in all lights. Looking at birding blogs in March and April can be a bit like watching the film ‘Groundhog Day’. We’ve already done a bit of that so far this year with Waxwings... (that's the devil sitting on my right hand shoulder speaking there; the angel on the left suggests that if people want to celebrate the arrival of one of our most characteristic migrants by the taking of and sharing of pictures then all is alright in the world). You decide.