I always wonder what people who don’t bird must think; like how can the word bird be used as a verb? And what on earth does birding actually mean? And ok, you’re a birder? Huh??
My parents tell me that birding has been part of me all my life, I learned most of what I know about birds from my dad (I’m still learning). He once told me that when I was just a few years old, I got him into being interested in birds because I found a Scops Owl (now called Owlett) in one of the Kruger Park campsites where we were staying and insisted he look at it. A side note being that 20 years later, searching for Scops Owls in the Kruger Park campsites is still one of my favourite activities. My dad is an amazing human; his brain retains information in a way I just will never understand. Having him to learn from him over the years has been a real blessing.
It’s all good and well going to big five game reserves and looking at animals the whole time you’re there because you see them, often. But if you’re anything like my family, South African game reserves are sometimes just not ‘wild’ enough. I love going on trips that allow me to explore the depths of other countries and places I may never get a chance to see again. But it’s far, and I don’t mean a ten hour drive to Kruger kind of far. The last trip we did was over two weeks and we spent well over 50 hours total in the car. The trip I did before that in 2014 we covered roughly 4000kms. The next trip we’re planning for 2017 is even further, so I’m talking real distance. Now how does this random information relate to birding? When you’re covering that kind of distance the animals are not nearly as concentrated so you’re just not going to get great sightings around every corner, sometimes it’s hours or even days before you see a single animal. Birding is the only way not to get bored (well for me anyway), I do think it can be super interesting to look at and identify plants and trees as well but birding is more my passion and frankly I’m pretty useless on the tree front (but I am learning slowly).
I’m definitely not a twitcher, like I’m not going to spend my millions (not that I have millions!) on flying around the world to try and find a funny little bird that was sited the day before so that I can tick it off a list. But having said that, there are some birds that I would do close to anything to see like the African Pitta, or a Shoebill. But I’m hopeful that I get the chance to travel Africa enough in my lifetime(I will spend my millions on this), that I may just get that lucky.
It’s more then a hobby to me, I have a pretty impressive list but that’s really not what it’s about. Birding makes me feel more in touch with my happy place. I don’t just love it, it’s a part of me.