Wednesday 27 November 2013

Birdwatchers Anonymous

Everyone likes birds, but many people are afraid to admit it. Let's face it, whilst not taboo per se, it doesn't exactly mark one out as being down with the kids, the life and soul of the party etc. If you like birds and make that fact know, you're automatically a little bit odd. The over-used term "twitcher" is laid at your feet, and from there on in you are less of a person. I hesitate to say "saddo", but......

This explains why there are not a huge number of active birders, you know, the ones that you sometimes encounter in your local park or in the countryside, dressed in green and looking extremely nerdy. People like me in other words (although at the moment I am mostly wearing black) that inhabit a strange world of keeping lists, latin binomials, feather names, and sub-species (oh the irony). People with sometimes little appreciation for what others think of them. "I like birds, so what? I don't care what anyone thinks of me. Which is also why I don't wash my hair. Or clothes. Fuck off."

But behind closed doors is a vast army of birdwatchers. RSPB calendars and a set of binoculars on the living room windowsill. "Oh, no, I'm not a birdwatcher. I just like looking at them." Quite simply, they are in denial. Closet birdwatchers. And in the modern vernacular, they need to come out. And why not, the Pope is not interested, and the law is on your side. What we need is birdwatchers anonymous meetings, hosted by someone wearing an anorak and saying that everything is going to be alright. For the sake of this post, I will wear the anorak - though naturally I would not be seen dead in one. Who do you think I am, some kind of geek etc etc.....

Cut to a room with a circle of chairs

Me: Welcome everyone, I hope you've all been wearing your bins in public?!
a chorus of silence and looking at the floor
Me: We have a new member today called Emma (not her real name hem hem). Emma would like to tell you about how she came to realise she was a secret birdwatcher.
Emma*: Hello everyone! [Emma is a very outgoing person]. For many years I tried to hide the fact that I am a secret bird-lover, but unfortunately I have a blog that does not lie.
[weak applause]
Me: Emma that's brilliant, so what birdwatching activities have you been doing?
Emma: Well apart from watching internet webcams that intrude into the lives of Owls for 85 hours a day, I did get pair of binoculars for my 68th birthday.
[more weak applause]
BA member: But you do not look a day over 55!
Emma: Fuck off.
Me: OK, moving on, have you taken your new binoculars outside yet so that people can see that you are no longer in denial?
Emma: [shudders] Ugh. Outside? Why would I want to do that? I can see the birds from indoors, which is as close as I want to get to them, and anyway they are not Owls.
BA member: Owls?
Emma: No. They are small and brown and very far away and even though they are not on a screen I am still sufficiently competent to know that they are not Owls. Though beyond that I have no real clue.
BA member: Why do you like Owls so much?
Emma: Have you seen Owl-in-a-box? It is a life-chang.....
Me: Well unfortunately that's all we have time for. Well done Emma for coming out! We're all here to support you on your birding journey.

* any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental etc etc. On a completely unrelated note, I am [not so] secretly very very amused that a certain owl-loving resident of Belgium has finally come clean (sort of) and is well on the way to buying an anorak.


  1. I feel your pain - i am the only birder i know (certainly locally) that is virtually never seen without bins, i am known for it and wear it like a badge! Even mates who are birders will not be wearing them if they go to the library or shopping which is a pity because that could be just the time when you most need them!

    I'm off to Maroc next week where they will be stuck to me like a limpet during the hours of daylight........

    Laurie -

  2. Morocco is bloody brilliant, you will have a brilliant time.