Monday, March 23, 2009

Renewal...

Spring is the time when all things begin a re-awakening. For some things, such as Dippers or Crossbills, 'spring' starts as early as December but for most, the lengthening daylight hours and slowly rising temperatures start the ball rolling.

Steve at North Downs has highlighted the human, birding, side of things pretty well over the last few weeks. Take a look at his latest...

He is right in that as we get longer in the tooth, the urgency and pressure to be the best in our hobbies dwindles. I often hear ( and can be heard) complaining about this, that and the other but maybe its just a sign that we need to tweak things a little bit and try and get back to basics, to what started us off in the first place.

It is no coincidence that over the past few years my reading material hasn't consisted of the latest gull i.d papers. I dont look at a Canada Geese and ponder if its a littlun or an even littler'un. It may sound heresy but moult strategies dont get me springing out of bed in the morning.

No. I find that I am re-reading old books and looking for old books I haven't read, written by old naturalists who paint a picture of times gone by. I read the magazines but look for something extra in the articles and stories, things with a feel good factor. I am often taken back 30 or 40 years to times fishing, catching newts or crayfish or bullheads, rockpooling and butterfly netting, bird nesting and looking for prey remains in fox dens. Times when Corn Buntings were singing on the wires, a bird between every pole.

Maybe my house move will be a renewal time too. Birding World subs have already been cancelled, what will be next? My pager has barely been out of the house this year and I live too far from Newcastle to make bird club meetings worthwhile...

It could be time to totally rethink...

13 comments:

Blyth Birder said...

Stay off the Gin BB, its a real downer :)

Steve Gale said...

You will get friends or birding acquaintancies not understanding where you are coming from Stewart. I think you are right in it being an age thing, as we become more reflective on subjects rather than proactive. Like you, I find myself reading the writings of naturalists from the past hundred years and finding it stirring my soul.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Perhaps once we have reached the halfway mark (and I include myself in this) it is easier to look back at what we've enjoyed than to look forward at what we know will arrive all too soon?
That said there's also many examples in nature of the grumpy old solitary male not wanting to socialise, think elephants,lions and Gorillas.

Kingsdowner said...

The enthusiasm of youth gradually gives way to the wisdom of age. Or maybe the cold starts getting to the old bones?

Warren Baker said...

been there and done that Stewart! I just throw myself into the wildlife that's on my doorstep. I just drop out my front door and i'm into it.

I also like reading about all those old naturalists, and all that they have written, in there own styles

Stewart said...

BB - :)
Steve - "birding acquaintancies not understanding where you are coming from"...story of my life there.... ;)
Alan - Aye well they don't get much grumpier than me! Even friends and family call me a miserable B....
K - Still enthusiastic as I ever was ( sometimes obsessional!)...
Warren - Great stuff. Keep at it.

All - Thanks chaps for the comments and wisdom, I like it!

Kingsdowner said...

Good point there, Warren.

Time was that it would take me half an hour of walking to lose the stresses of the world - now I embrace all aspects of the outdoors as soon as I'm in the open air.

Ipin said...

Sounds like another mid-life crisis to me!

There is a lot to be said for enjoying what's on your doorstep.

Newton Stringer said...

Agreed the whole UK birding scene has gone completely bonkers, its pressured, there's too many self proclaimed experts/idiots out there, if you ID something wrong you're cast out for life as a total dude, too many people running round after rares and ignoring the beauty of the robin in their back garden....

It can be really bitchy too….. I read some of the threads on bird forum and despair, these days people seem happy sitting in front of their computers and judging others….. they all need to get out more….

I personally have been guilty of a few of the above... however I cancelled my birding worlds back in 2003, started concentrating on the local patch much more, and have been having discussions with TC about ditching the old pager….. but that is a difficult thing to consider... it’s been my companion for 13 years and I actually panic if I lose it !! I’m also nervous about cutting myself off from information, what happens when the sibe rubythroat turns up on Holy Island and I’m walking round the patch completely oblivious ? As much as I like the patch and dislike twitching, there are some birds I really would not like to miss.

So to summarise, the answer to all of this is..... get a big motorbike !!

Seaside Observers said...

Know what you mean Stewart.
Maybe you've got the 'house moving blues'..if your anything like me i resist change.
Ive laughed at friends when they hit 50 because they seemed to change overnight into grumpy victor meldrews. But ive hit 50 now and im as bad as the hubby, i want to have a lie in instead of getting up at 5am like i used to because i didnt want to waste the day...its too easy to vegitate.
Glad we're out and about again.
Happy birding folks...

abbey meadows said...

Good philosophy Stew. I adopted local(ish) patching a few years ago and Howick is a bit of a blank canvas for you. It will be interesting to see what turns up and you are the only person to find that out. Good luck.

Stewart said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone. Normal service will be resumed asap.

Jon said...

Completely understand where you're coming from, BB. Particularly the terrifying prospect of weaning yourself of the pager.

When I moved to the northern isles I let the pager sub lapse, but couldn't bring myself to chuck it out. Can't tell you how upset I was when the lurcher chewed it up one night, and... I still have the mangled remains in a drawer in the study. Sad.

I've kept BW coming though, in much the same way several people previously have said they enjoy reading old natural history books - I get a vicarious pleasure reading about rare birds outside of Shetland. It's easier as time goes by and you stop caring about whether or not you've seen them yourself. Once you're off the listing pace, you can kick back and enjoy finding your own birds. It works for me!

Jon