I can proudly say that one of the best things that has happened to me is becoming a birder. Yes, it could have come sooner in my life but I believe 100% that I became a birder at the most perfect moment. I have just finished reading two novels about bird watching: The Big Year and Life List. The former is being made into a movie and is based on the experiences of three Americans doing a big year. The latter is a biography of Phoebe Snetsinger, an American birder who, upon being diagnosed with cancer, took every opportunity to see as many birds around the world with her “remaining time” left. After reading both books, the first thoughts I had were about my own life list and began listing my target birds for the year. I got called a twitcher* for that!
But seriously, the more amazing thing that I’ve realized after reading the experiences of these other birders is not the competitiveness of the race nor the importance of the numbers on your list. It’s the fact that there is a unique connectedness among birders. There is a connection between our experiences as bird watchers whether you started birding this year or during the 60’s, whether you’re from this continent or that.
It’s the same! The sudden stutters and gagging we develop when we see a rare or unexpected lifer… the silent (or loud) profanities that come out of our mouths when a bird makes a fleeting, split-second appearance then disappears into the bushes… the disappointment when we fail to see a target bird in a specific place but mixed with excitement and anticipation for the future return trip to try again… the offering of one's blood to swarms of thirsty mosquitoes while walking through trails... and of course, the simple satisfaction and pure JOY of seeing a bird in the wild. I guess it does vary from one birder to another (there ARE hard core twitchers out there). But the connection and understanding is definitely there.
|Going deep into uncharted mosquito land|
I just read friend and fellow birder Bob’s blog this morning and I felt that wonderful birder connection again. I invite you to read his blog and tell me if you don’t understand his reaction upon seeing the Watercock. But if you do understand, and you feel his excitement and share in his happiness upon seeing the bird, and you find yourself smiling upon reading his experience… then you’ve just experienced the birder connection. What a wonderful world to belong to!
1. A person or thing that twitches.
2. A birdwatcher whose main aim is to collect sightings of rare birds.