I spent a bit of time watching the TV coverage of the Masters golf over the weekend. It got me thinking...
There was a gallery that followed the golfers around the course (invariably the largest crowds gravitated towards that serial grouch Tiger Woods). They shared with them every swing that was taken, jointly pontificated over every shot choice and analised the surface of the green before every putt. Vicarious golfing if ever there was. Now, what if birding became a spectator sport?
Imagine the gallery following a top lister, all being asked for hush as he (it will invariably be a he), approaches the coastal headland and turns to his caddy for a choice of binocualr or telescope. The caddy polishes the lenses and hands him a Swarovski 10x42 EL - the top lister obviously feels that he doesn't need the power of a big hitter, like a telescope. He surveys the growth ahead of him and crouches down alongside a hedgerow. The crowd keep quiet, watching his facial expression for a clue as to what might happen next. After a couple of suspense-filled minutes his eyes dart left and right, there's a murmur in the crowd, he's onto something! In one swift action the binoculars come up to his eyes, he springs up, the crowd rise with him at the same time as a smart Orphean Warbler sits on top of a nearby bush. The crowd erupts, the lister punches the air along to calls from the throng such as 'On the list!', 'You the man!' and 'Hot Optics!' As he walks to the next habitat, the gallery trailing in his wake, he surveys the water ahead of him, turns to his caddy and selects a telescope. This will need some serious power.
At the end of his round he will hand in his list for scrutiny - a panel of recorders will be sitting in a hut to verify his claims. As far fetched as this might be, I reckon that there might be a market for this kind of entertainment... you heard it here first.