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Having recently rediscovered the joys of birding for the first time since I was a wee lad, this is my record of getting to grips with re-familiarising myself with the world of birds.
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My 2009 Year - Some Thoughts

Posted Tuesday 12th January 2010 at 11:47 by Stoggler
So 2009 drew to a close with me still enjoying my birding after nine months. In that time, I've visited a number of places I'd never been to before, joined the WWT (in addition to the RSPB and the Woodland Trust which I was already a member of), discovered Bird Forum and a wealth of other knowledge online, read up a lot on birding, learnt to appreciate the natural world per se a whole lot better, and to feel that I'm more intune with nature than I used to be.

The year's tallies
At the end of the year I had seen 105 species in total, which is a total that I am more than happy with when you consider the limited amount of time I can get to actually go birdwatching. I work nine-to-five during the working week, and family and friend commitments mean that weekend time is rather limited too. Not to mention that I also got engaged in the middle of the year so there's another activity calling for my attention.

However, as a rule I try and get out for at least a few hours a week where I target a well-known birding locale, Climping Gap and Pulborough mostly when I'm in Sussex, and the Barnes WWT centre when I'm in London. However, having recently discovered the wealth of delights at Pagham, that will appear very much as a destination in 2010.

Sussex, being the county of my birth and upbringing holds a special place in my heart and I was pleased to have seen 94 species in the county in the same period. My London list meanwhile got to 81. I think I visit more variety of habitats and locations in Sussex, hence the difference.

A leaner fitter Stoggler
Thinking back over the last few months, I've noticed that birding has had some positive effects on me. Firstly, I am certainly fitter than I was at the beginning of the year. I'm a stone lighter than I was from all that walking (and also a change in diet), and I can walk considerably further than I previously could.

No longer ga-ga!
And it's not just my physical state that's improved but also my mental wellbeing: getting out and about into the countryside and getting fresh air and exercise clears the cobwebs away and makes the stress and anger from accumulated London rush-hours just fade away. I am happier, more positive, and generally healthier than I was a year ago. I had got into a bit of a rut 18 months ago with work having a somewhat deleterious effect on my health, but that has long gone now.

Bins are a great ice breaker
Birding has also changed my view of other people. On a number of occasions now I've been out with my bins round my neck, and for that reason alone people have stopped and chatted to me. Some have been fellow birders and we've chatted about what's about, while other people have not been birders and have just wanted to chat. And people can be so nice! Living in London it's easy to forget that not everyone is rude and in a hurry, so it’s been a lovely eye-opener for me.

Birders are nice people too!
Yes, it's true! In addition to discovering that people in general can be nice, I've also found out that fellow birders are mostly all very friendly, accomodating, and willing to share their knowledge and their optics. I've had some lovely chats with people which has left me with a warm fuzzy glow afterwards! I've seen some idiotic behaviour too from birders, but on the whole I have had my eyes opened by the genuineness of a lot of birders.

  • --a dozen swifts flying around me in the middle of the road near where I live
  • --100s of Sand Martins doing the same on West Beach near Littlehampton. A truly astounding sight.
  • --Seeing a Sedge Warbler just a few feet from me on a shrub just jumping about for well over a minute and giving me a fantastic view of him
  • --the day in June walking along West Beach/Climping Gap when the weather was perfect, no one was about, I IDed my first tern and waders, and saw Alan Titchmarsh!
  • --Getting a 20-minute show by a hobby flying about in front of a hide at Pulborough Brooks, catching insects on the wing.
  • --Getting new binoculars.

Something that I have noticed is that I get the biggest thrill from when I see birds close up. Even seeing something fairly common close up seems to out-do seeing a rarity from afar. Looking at my hightlights above, the top three were all events where I was just feet from the birds and being that close to them made the occasion all the more special.

A new year, but it's business as usual really with me pretty much carry on with what I've been doing: trying to increase my knowledge and expertise by getting out into the field, reading books and watching DVDs, and generally increasing my indentification skills. I'm looking forward to visiting some new places this year - perhaps get to Norfolk at some point, but also more Pagham, Rye, and perhaps Rutland for the Bird Fair.

So let's see what 2010 brings us!
Posted in 2010
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Monahawk's Avatar
Nice one Stoggler. You've certainly packed in alot and learnt an awful lot in just a few months. It must have come naturally to you. Nature has probably been in your blood for ages.
I've been interested in birds since 1969 and I am still learning lots. Some pleasant enough thoughts there. Happy birding for 2010.
Posted Tuesday 12th January 2010 at 17:02 by Monahawk Monahawk is offline
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