There is, I my opinion, a feel good factor that comes from gardening, allotmentering, (new word) and birdwatching. It is our link to the Earth and literally the soil. Is this in everyone's psyche ? mmm wii playing young things, maybe not cultivated yet, time enough. I grew up in the country and I only remember the countryside as a part of my education by one teacher in primary school, I hope things have changed given our environmental situation. Holidays never meant that much to me, well what I mean is the concept of " I am dying to go on holiday to chill out and recharge my batteries" my batteries were always full. But there comes a time and this is the point of this post, I do need to recharge now, and if I don't get out birding enough I recognise the internal angst and just get out there, anywhere. A local patch is good as you can observe the seasonal changes,  even if you go once a month, those twelve observations can quickly make you a local expert. The words local expert transport me back to Dubai, 1981, where a few of us birders got together and our local patch was Saffa park. I had been training as a bird ringer before I went to Dubai and met George who was a qualified ringer. Anyway to cut a long story short we obtained permission to erect nets and ring birds, this was not easy and was as ever done through influence. Not what you know but who. One of our birding group was an Indian and must have been well connected because, and we were given warning, the great Salim Ali visited Dubai and our ringing spot. As well as signing one of his books for me he declared we were "local experts" we were  pioneering and he knew it.  We had some birds in the hand but Salim was really an old man by then and was persuaded by our Indian Birder not to handle them, he was a bit shaky, bless him. The idea of being expert never occurred to any of us, on our one day a week off work (Friday) we got up at sunrise netted for two hours and were long gone before the public arrived, getting close to the earth by picnicking? The point of declaring us local experts was not he being a huge figure in birding (which he was) but by listening to us, we complained that we had properly identified a juvenile spectacled warbler, through Williamson's books and had raised this with the author of a newly published book on the birds of Oman. The author of this book was a military man and did not take kindly to spectacled warblers that were not in his book. His closing remarks were Williamson was never in the middle east!! Birds have boundaries? We were pioneering, were experts as there was no one else, except the so called expert who could get into print. So locally you can be experts, just get out there and connect to planet earth.

One Response to “Birding and Local Experts”

  1. Ian December 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    this poem puts the need we should all have to the earth much better than I can.

    The Peace of Wild things

    When despair grows in me
    and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax there lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting for the light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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