The second of my 5 ways to well-birding is to ‘take notice’. This is obviously a fundamental part of birding in that the ‘art’ of birding is taking notice of the birds around us, their behaviours, their plumages, migration, breeding, songs… The list goes on…There is so much to actually take notice of when it comes to birding.
It begins with noticing the common. For example, the more time I spent noticing the humble and understated Dunnock in my back garden, the more I realised how subtly beautiful they are with their smoky chests and mottled backs. It transcends into movement. Even though the layers of undergrowth appear so intertwined that they seem to be impenetrable, you are still able to pinpoint the movement of a bird from deep within; because you took notice.
Stop on a warm spring day, shut your eyes and listen to the layers of birdsong around you – each one a passing moment. After time you have learnt the most common songs and as they pass you know that you’ve been graced with the presence of a myriad of life around you. You’ve taken notice.
You begin to develop an affinity to the places you visit when birding. You notice the changes as the seasons roll by. You notice what should be there on a warm April day; you know that in the depths of winter the Goosander will visit the lake again on the coldest morning, when your breath stretches inches away from your mouth with the outbreath.
You reach a state when you are at one with the places you go birding; you become part of them. You live them breathe them feel them. You begin to develop an additional sense geared towards birds and being outside. The more time spent in the field, observing and being with birds; the more you are able to take notice of the spectacle and wonder of the simplistic experiences that you have. All because you took notice in the first place.