Not all of us were born into doing so, unthinkingly, responding to some primordial urge. There came a point in our lives when we decided to take notice of those flappy things that flew, to be able to name them, to watch them, to let them into our lives and, in many cases, take them over.
My own journey has been touched on ad infinitum on this blog - infant school wonder at the flocks of birds passing silently overhead in v-formation; a Jay that appeared before me when I was 15, that I could name because a schoolmate had just depicted one in an art class; borrowing my dad’s cheap binoculars to walk around the local parks and golf courses full of wonder at the birds I found, including Nuthatch and Redwing.
But why did I carry on? It wasn’t some sort of appreciation of birds in an aesthetic way. It was more to do with fulfilling a hard-wired hunter-gatherer urge. What could I find? What was out there? Could I name them? It was later that I could take in the more artistic and spiritual merits of birds, and indeed this aspect of birding has become my overriding reason for still being active some 40+ years along the line.
The stages of birding - from grabbing at anything on offer, moving on to rarity and volume, and then finally settling down to fine hone the manner in which you bird, is a simplistic but common thread of an evolution. But when you get to that ‘end point’, what then? Is it just a case of taking on a Zen-like approach to being out in the field? Do we stand and stroke our chins, nodding knowingly as we survey the habitat ahead of us? Do we become the bird, think like the bird and so second-guess the bird? Or do we just do it and not ask the questions, let the mystery and magic behind it all remain just that?