Tuesday, 22 February 2011

When did you start watching birds?......................

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.


phylliso said...

As a child I remember sitting on the back steps trying to mimic the sounds that birds make,such as the dove & cardinal.I watched birds life long,but when we moved here to the forest,I noticed them more.A terrible straight line wind storm came through here 18 years ago & took out all of the trees around the house.We were without electric for 4 days.That`s when I really saw different kinds of birds & then is when I began planting native shrubs & trees to replace the pines to try to attract birds.
We still have many mature trees on our property,which I`m thankful for.
I too have alot of bird books.phylliso

shirl said...

Properly? In earnest? Honestly? As a gardener, I hang my head in shame... I only started really watching the birds that visited my garden over 4 years ago during a school project with my daughter. I hope I've made up for that now ;-)

BTW... great footage on your youtube channel :-)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Andrew, I have just been catching up with your last few posts. First of all I wish you a very happy (belated) birthday!

We had a Sparrowhawk fly into our French door some time ago which left a perfect imprint on the glass!! I heard the bang from upstairs! There was no other sign of it though so i think it must have recovered.

My interest in birdwatching was started by being given a copy of the Observer's Book of Birds :) when I was little. I loved that little book and would faithfully underline the name of each of my sightings in the index. I still have it but minus the cover unfortunately. I would sit at my bedroom window overlooking the back garden for hours watching the birds, I remember one of the most common visitors then was the Bullfinch.

Swoop! Yes I remember that, I think it was just about the only type of bird food you could get for a long time, how things have changed.

holdingmoments said...

Oh yea, Swoop! That jogged the old memory cells lol

I think for as long as I can remember, I've had an interest in birds. A fascination with the variety, colours, and their complete freedom.

I've got the very same 'Observers' book, as the one you pictured. My very first bird book.
When I think of some of the birds I ticked off in that book.......(a lot were wrong; and over ambitious lol)
After that one I got 'The Birds of Britain and Europe' (1972)

The AA/Readers Digest book also sits on my shelf.

What a great trip down memory lane this is Andrew.

grammie g said...

Hi Andrew..I have always been a "out in nature girl", my Dad called me his little "Tom Boy".
Could identify birds,butterflies,trees, plants, wild flowers ever since I can remember, and just assumed it was something everybody knew. I Have a series of pocket size field guide books on all of them called "A Golden Guide", to each one of them my parents got for me at a very
early age,but learned alot from my Dad.
My daughter and my grandson now carry on the great interest in birds especially ...plus all I have mentioned!!
Thanks for sharing your story that brought to mind the way this evolved for me!! ♥

Dave said...

Andrew its not that long ago for me, two things happened that qave me the inspiration.
Firstly about 6 years ago while turning the soil in the new garden a Robin followed me around the border feeding on the worms, it became so bold I would have to stop digging so as not to catch it with the spade.... the second was on a trip to Arran for a friends wedding when my Love of Buzzards was born, my first ever encounter of this magnificant bird... at close quarters too

Adam Tilt said...

It all started for me as a young child when my dad was very into his bird photography. My early years were spent visiting such places as Titchwell, Cley and Minsmere as well as our local reserves. My interest waned throughout my university years but has been rekindled as an excellent escape from my day job.

Calling Ravens said...

Just found your blog and it looks wonderful!

Reference shirl's comment: No need to hang your head in shame (don't you dare!) Look at all the poor saps,er, chaps, that will never notice nature in this lifetime. I do feel for them.

Andrew, my grandmother instilled my love of birds when I was quite young (my mother was petrified of birds for some reason). I envy you your collection of books, esp from "way back when" lol!
Lovely post!