"What kind of bird is that?", asks someone. The very knowledgeable leader identifies species, sub-species and even sex, although not 100% sure about the last as he only had about two seconds to do the identification. I would have settled for "a feathered one", about all I could identify anyway.
We did a bird walk in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve on Saturday morning. I've done a few before and this was my wife's second, both of our children have done one each before handing in assessments of "boring" and for "old" people. Teenagers! So we now do the walks as a couple. This last one was undoubtedly the best, much longer than the others and went son some paths in the reserve I've never been on (and I hike there regularly).
The reserve is a fantastic natural spot, quite big and inhabited by hordes of birds and even some largish game (wildebeest, zebra etc.), surprising for a place well within city limits. I've always loved the outdoors and have been camping and hiking since I was little. Birdwatching is a fairly new activity for me, I thought with the amount of time I spend outdoors it would be nice way to gain some new experiences and knowledge.
I am of course still a complete amateur and amazed at the knowledge of some of the others and how easily they can identify a bird. When I started I couldn't tell a common starling from a classy one or an ashy tit from a useless one, now I can name ten of fifteen birds with reasonable accuracy.
It is a great experience, sociable and educational at the same time. For me the key word in that sentence is experience. Life is about collecting experiences not possessions and any chance to learn something new and have a fun at the same time gets my vote. Far from being boring I'm finding the process of learning fascinating and enjoyable.
So get out there and do something new, spread your wings and leave the safety of you comfort-zone nest. We may even spot you in the reserve and if we do, I'll do my best to identify you :)