Walking before I can crawl

January 2nd 2012

My first day of January was a write off, unfortunately not due to a mega new year hangover, but due to a severe case of Man Flu. This resulted in me not getting out of the house and meaning my list consisted of:

  1. Magpie
  2. Feral Pigeon (Pigeons to “normal” people)
  3. Blackbird

These were all viewed from Josie’s car, i should also add here that i think its going to be a very dangerous year for driving with either Jo or myself, any time something flutters we both look up and try to identify the ball of fluff that has flown past the window. It is also here that i need to point out that unless we are 100% sure that the bird is what we have said it is, we cannot count it towards the total. Therefore i missed out on some sort of gull (yes there is more than one type apparently all different in the minutest of ways) and due to my aforementioned identification problems it flew off before i could say anything apart from GULL! I feel that this will be a common problem over the coming months and i apologise now to any passengers that happen to be in the car at the time.

As my start to the year wasn’t the best, i decided i needed to seek some help and advice from other sources (thank you Mr Google) and found a website http://www.birdforum.net and was told about http://www.goingbirding.co.uk (thank you Jo) these websites flag up all recent sightings in the country and how rare they are. This is when i saw the perfect start to the year in front of me…The Dark-Eyed Junco… it would blow my Feral Pigeon out of the water! I told Jo (working together at the start to get some confidence), and together with her Mum set off for the New Forest in search of the little grey bird.

Upon arrival we got to see the perfect example of what 99% of the population think a “twitcher” is, a man pulled up, muttering to himself in his car, literally jumped out and did the best dad run you’ll ever see, talking to himself the entire way to where the rest of the birders were waiting, lenses out. We walked up and joined them, scanning the three trees in front of me so i looked like i should be there. I should point out here that i immediately felt out of my depth, i had stumbled upon a rare bird and these people seemed to know their stuff. I had no binoculars and more importantly had no idea.

To cut a long story short, the bird wasn’t seen in the hour that we were there, i borrowed josie’s “binos” and saw some birds, but the problem with experienced birders is that they don’t take interest in them and it felt out of place to ask what they were, so no more for the list, im 70% sure that i saw a reed bunting, but not the required 100%, so another wasted journey. In fact the most “bird” action that i got was a woman in her 50s at a Garden Centre in Beaulieu grabbing my bum as she thought i was her husband, sums up the day!

So, two days down and all i have is the three mentioned at the start with the added bonus of a Buzzard spotted in the car. (so far the best hide)

A change of tact is needed and starting from basics, better learn to crawl before i even contemplate walking!

Chris

Not Your Average Birders?

Why, you might be thinking are we not your average birders?

A birding outing today has confirmed what we were already pretty sure of- neither of us fit the typical demographic of a birdwatcher. Chris fits in immediately more than I do in that at least he’s the same gender as the other people twitching whichever elusive bird we are trying to track down. Your average birder is at youngest middle aged, predominantly male and 9 times out of 10 equipped with a tripod and ‘scope, khaki coloured mac and some sort of camo gear. I have nothing against any of these traits, it just means that I stand out- being female, under 30 and not wearing anything that would look at home in an army surplus store I stick out a mile. It doesn’t help that while Chris may rate my birding skills and that I may know more than the average 25 year old, compared to these experts, I feel a complete newbie.

Whilst we won’t be changing the face of birdwatching, between the two of use we’re attempting to see as much as we can when only equipped with some second rate binoculars, always carting round a bird guide and in our walking gear rather than anything that was chosen with birding in mind.

Here’s to the journey ahead!

Jo

New Year. New start. New Hobby.

Its a new year, which means new resolutions and challenges for 2012. Therefore 2012 shall be the year of the bird. It should probably be noted that before this i have been a reluctant birder, well a semi-reluctant one at least. Jo has had a love of birds for many years, i on the other hand have only ever had a passing interest in them, sitting dutifully in hides dotted around Hampshire with Jo trying to get my head around what has just flown past me and wondering how the people (nearly all middle aged men in camo gear) can identify them from 500 yards simply by how a bird flies or a brief glimpse of a wing, and more specifically how they had any other time for a social life inbetween all this birding activity.

We work pretty well in tandem, I spot them and describe the blur of feathers that flew past and Jo takes my inane chatter and translates them to the bird that i saw. This will all change in 2012.

I’ll get to the point now, 2012 is Chris and Jo’s big year, however, unlike other friends year ahead, it is not big because of weddings, it is THE big year. We shall be competing against each other to see who can see the most species of birds in a single year. This is what has propelled me to get started with birdwatching, the the competitive element, it is also, the main point that scares me about the year ahead. As i have previously mentioned i can only spot them, i can’t identify them, so i won’t be getting any help from Jo; i’m on my own and i will need to learn quickly so i don’t fall behind…