About giving up birding – part 1

Have you ever been under pressure from the loved one to stop birding and dedicate yourself to something more productive?

If so, here are some reflections on the matter…


So the long-suffering wife has apparently reaped her due rewards and converted her one-time birding companion into a fine, upstanding member of society; someone to be the father of her children; someone who, when’s she’s entertaining guests, isn’t afflicted by an overriding urge to sneak away now and then in the hope of adding to the bedroom window list or to puzzle over the “Monthly Marathon” in the British Birds magazine.

But how long can this state of affairs last? One year? Five? Ten? Sadly, statistics show that a converted birder’s return to the bosom of the birding world is a proven fact – there is almost the same possibility of a Willow Warbler not turning up somewhere on the south coast of England during spring migration as there is of a convert not picking up his binoculars ever again. To quote Keith, a fellow birder who I once coincided with at Dungeness, Kent “Birding’s in the blood”.

This, in my view, just about sums it up: birding is not a pleasant Sunday afternoon pursuit, a gentleman’s sport or a passing fad; it’s a totally addictive obsession, which once tried can never be entirely forgotten. You can leave it for a while but never for good. I myself have tried on several occasions, exclaiming things like “I really am giving up birding”, “After all, what’s the point of it?” or “It’s a waste of time”. And with what results? Just a flippin’ huge gap in my Norfolk list where Rhodostethia rosea should be. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! A beautiful summer-plumaged Ross’s Gull at Cley all afternoon! And I refused to go! And to think all I did was gaze out of the library window at panting dogs and student couples (also panting)!

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