Revisiting the World of Twitching
Posted on October 11, 2021
I Had a funny incident the other day when out walking the
dog. I was about to capture a picture of a bullfinch when I saw a young couple
heading my way. As they approached, I partially hid my camera, said good
morning, and carried on minding my own business.
I wondered why, at the age of 53, I still feel embarrassed about bird watching. How bizarre that I still feel the pain of being caught, by Gary Maude, with a pair of binoculars whilst birdwatching in Wasing Woods some 40 years ago.
The Shame of it
In my schooldays, getting caught bird watching was the
equivalent of admitting to liking a Phil Collins song, or being spotted in
Millwards with your mother, trying on a pair of Clarke’s Commandoes. The shame
could last for weeks, months even.
I only had one birdwatching friend. He was Simon Hutchins, one of those rare schoolkids who possessed an extraordinary blend of intelligence and mischief. Being mischievous generally had you instantly labelled as thick and one false move from Mrs Toma’s class. Hutch, still a friend today, was unique. I can still remember our excitement when we spotted a crossbill in Long Grove.
Quite why spotting birdlife is seen as a tragic hobby, is a mystery to me. Yet I have always found my love of our feathered friends something of an embarrassment. Even now, when out with my camera, I worry that I might inadvertently point it in the wrong direction and get accused of being a sexual deviant.
However, lockdown liberated me somewhat. Sticking to Covid the rules left me not seeing my kids or girlfriend and I was left with the effects of isolation. With money I would have otherwise spent on petrol and socialising, I lashed out £600.00 on a camera. I then duly picked up where I left off in the early eighties.
It was fantastic. I spotted and identified birds I had never noticed before including a great grey shrike, a common redstart, an osprey, a sea eagle, a Cetti’s warbler and a cuckoo. And I have the photos to prove it…some good, some annoyingly vague and a sign I have much to learn regarding camera aperture and shutter speed.
These jaunts in the countryside featuring me, the dog, and my camera, have been an absolute pleasure. The changing of the seasons, the thrill of a rare spot and the mood enhancing exercise has been a much-needed escape from what feels like a parallel universe. It’s great to be distanced from a world of Brexit bullshitters and pandemic parasites.
As a bonus, I haven’t even bought any elasticated nylon slacks featured in The Express Sunday supplement.
Well, not yet anyway.
*Next week: How my elasticated Sunday Express nylon slacks changed my life.