Showing posts from November, 2023

Birding. Why and what does it mean?

It might seem a simple question to answer. We tend to start off with a desire to identify what birds are in our presence and to record what we find by making a list. As time goes on we begin to make several lists, that of species seen within differing borders, at varying times of year and of many parameters. We identify and we collect. But, with advancing age - and experience - this does not cut the mustard. Our outlooks mellow, out age bestows upon us a certain sagacity (whether that is earned or not). We want more from what we have done, unquestioned as it might have been for many years. To 'just do' can become nothing more than a means to an end, something to fill in the time, to keep us amused, to act as a deterrent to stop us from wasting time that might otherwise be spent doing less meaningful things. Too much over thinking? Maybe, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a worthwhile exercise. I'm just about to hit 65 and have recently lost a few birding role mode

Mike Netherwood

I first met Mike Netherwood at Beddington Sewage Farm in early 1975, me being an ultra-keen and ultra-green 16-year old birder, he some 20 years my senior. Mike, together with Ken Parsley, were the remnants of a once much larger ringing group which carried out the trapping and ringing of birds across the open expanse of the sewage farm. Whenever I bumped into them, which I often did, they would both tolerate my many questions about what they had seen and trapped and listen to me waxing lyrical about my own observations. Over the coming months they showed me how they caught the birds, allowed me to witness the ringing and measuring of them and, if I were very lucky, allow me to help them out by holding mist-net poles, carrying bird bags or writing down (scribing) the data that they were collecting into notebooks. By the summer of 1976 I had joined them, proudly in possession of my trainee ringer's permit. For the next three years (until I 'defected' to Dungeness) I spent man

The dying of the year

By the time that the calendar creeps towards mid-November, there is a part of me that accepts that the year is on the way out. Even though there are still at least six weeks to go until that becomes a reality, something buried deep within me has always felt that way. From a schoolboy kicking through deep drifts of leaves to an adult scanning the skies for some late migrant thrush action, mid-November says decay, whispers 'end', suggests a last act before it creeps off 'stage right'. As morose and macabre as that sounds, these feelings are not those of death but more like a readying for a coming birth - that of a new year and a not-to-distant spring  - the pagan in me is alive and kicking! I've spent a lot of time skywatching from Epsom Downs over the past few weeks. And Colley Hill. And Box Hill. Even the back garden has had a look-in (although has not lived up to its previous successes). It has all been a little bit... meh (as the kids say). Apart from a couple of