Our “common” birds

I met an experienced birder at Ham Wall RSPB reserve in Somerset, recently, and what he said to me has made me think about what birding means to me. An osprey had visited a local reserve and was drawing crowds to the nearby hide. “I won’t chase birds” he said. I thought then about tales of planes chartered to windy Scottish Isles for a glimpse of a wayward passage migrant rare to these shores, and of groups of twitchers jostling for position, long lenses to the fore. But also about the whole conservation movement which aims to protect what remains of natural habitats and the creatures who inhabit them. I remembered the words of Rosamond Richardson in the inspiring “The Albino Dunnock”, in particular her delight in the “common” birds around us. Then Chris Packham’s warning that we should be aware that wildlife must be able to live alongside human habitation and not be seen as something we must visit reserves to experience. Gradually I start to see what it is that inspires me to learn and begin to understand bird life and nature as a whole: I need to be empowered to do something, to take action about the insidious erosion of the natural world. I won’t be chasing birds either. Just patiently trying to learn.