I started to reminisce the other day about when I began to be aware of wildlife and especially wild birds. My first bird memory is of my best friends back garden in 1963 when I was seven years old. He had been given a box of Swoop birdseed and with it came the offer of a garden feeder which he had also received.
His feeder was very busy and he had lots of lovely little green birds I hadn't seen before which I later discovered were Greenfinches. I needed to have one of these feeders and luckily my parents obliged.
The bird table as I recall was a green plastic dish with a rain cover and the feeder fitted on top of a broom handle that was stuck into our lawn just outside the lounge window.
The Greenfinch has remained one of the highlights in my gardens over the years although not in the numbers I recall in my youth.
In the summer of that year while holidaying in Scotland a local boy a bit older than my brother and I showed us how to blow a wild birds egg. He pricked a hole in both ends then blew out the yolk so he then had a clean egg shell to collect. I didn't get it then and thankfully egg collecting has all but disappeared in the UK.
I still own all the books I got as Birthday/Christmas gifts from around that time including the Observers Book of Birds and the Observers Book of Birds Eggs. I recall how they helped me to identify a lovely turquoise egg that I saw in a nest in a hedge as a Hedge Sparrow. A lovely little bird now known as the Dunnock and the first bird I handled as I often had to release them from the nets covering my Dads strawberries. Another bird I loved to watch that has also had it's name changed since those days is the Dabchick now known as the Little Grebe.
Another favourite book from around 30 years ago was the collaboration between Readers Digest and the AA (Automobile Association).
A hefty tome but a beautifully illustrated and informative book.
So a bird feeder, an inquisitive mind, a couple of reference books and of course all the beautiful birds and mammals I saw in my garden and local countryside got me hooked.
I really can't think of a better pastime I could have discovered as a child.
Digital photography has really enhanced my hobby as it is now so easy to share what you see with others.
Please feel free to post your comments about what inspired you to start to photograph wildlife and share your pastimes with others via the internet.