COUNTING BIRDS TO SAVE NATURE
Gold-whiskered barbet (Photo by Andy Lee/WBCM)
FOR most of my life, I hardly paid attention to birds. It was only as I grew older and more introspective did I become a person whose heart lifts whenever she hears an Asian koel singing, or the distinctive Helmeted hornbill calling, and who hurries out into the garden to spot the skittish Olive-backed sunbird flitting amongst my hibiscus. I watched them, drew them and soon stumbled into a hobby that seemed like a veritable rabbit hole into a world of natural wonders. I became a birdwatcher and I was never the same again.
Birdwatching is an adventure that begs to be embarked. A treasure hunt of sorts that leave you skulking through forest trails and the great wilderness beyond to look at beautiful flighty creatures that refuses to adhere to your well laid-out plans. They hide between branches, take flight before you can raise your trusted binoculars to your eyes and sometimes coyly make calls loud enough for you to twitch around excitedly but remain covertly hidden, much to your frustration.
You stalk wild creatures, not looking at pictures of them. You’re dependent on weather, geography and time of day. If you miss the Helmeted hornbill, there isn’t another showing for hours on end. It’s at heart, voyeuristic and you can’t do it without technology. To bring these creatures closer, you must interpose binoculars between yourself and the wild world. But the beauty about birds is that you can really find them anywhere. Out in your garden, in parks, in the cities, in our forests — the skies are literally the limit.