Observations from a bird watching experience to Sattal, Uttaranchal, India
1. To get lost, one needs to be present
To get lost in the birding experience without a care for the world around, you must become fully aware and be present in the moment. This feeling of being ‘absently present’ is not equalled by any other nature/ wildlife experience. To see a bird, you must train their senses to be fully present in the moment and be fully aware of the surroundings. Eyes and ears need to look for motion and sound of the birds. A bird doesn’t give warning of its arrival or its departure. Hence what is required is an always-on attentiveness and alertness, since a beautiful bird can appear at any moment. Only in this full involvement in the present can you be absent from the world around.
2. Patience is a highly rewarding virtue
It takes inconsiderable amount of patience to spot birds. Most bird spotters are trained to look out for sounds of the birds and then they try to find the source of the sound to locate the bird. Even so, it is difficult to spot the birds amongst the dense foliage of the jungle and the bushes. Sometimes you just need to go to known inhabited location of the birds and try your luck in spotting them. You need to rove your eye branch by branch and pick out the birds. Sometimes it may take hours depending on the time of the day to see them. And if you do see a bird, there are just a few precious seconds available to click them before the flighty birds go off the frame. It is a testing activity no doubt, but highly rewarding when you get to see a rare bird and clicking it is just an icing on the cake!
3. It is like watching a multi-starrer Bollywood entertainer
There is drama, action, the main plot, subplots, many heroes, many heroines, many side kicks. As you engage with one bird with your camera, there are so many more around that will compete for your attention. The female may arrive on the frame to chatter with the male. You could sight many number of different birds on a branch and you may become a pawn in the tug of war between the birds, not knowing where to pay attention. Keep sitting in a spot and you could feel you are in a theater with the characters who keep coming in an out of the scenes. You will never know what comes next and from where it will come. Will it disappear or reappear a few moments later? There in lies the thrill of unpredictability. An equally thrilling tiger spotting adventure differs with the whole drama and signals that play out before and on the arrival of the tiger at the scene and the single-minded focus one has on the tiger. Birding, in contrast, offers a multi-starrer unpredictable thriller.
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