From then on I was an all-encompassing birder. A couple of days a week I was a patcher, a couple of times a month I was a birder, and here and there I was a twitcher. It was a happy and prosperous time. But then, (If you had deduced the coming of a 'but', please allow yourself a pat on the back, be it from yourself or a third party) I ran out of that all important thing - Luck. There came a time when I would have loved to take the title of twitcher. If only! I became a, oh my this is difficult to say. I became a... a... a dipper. And a good one at that. Now, if you're thinking, oh, that's not so bad, a small black and white bird that lives along streams, then you have lost all pat-on-the-back privileges which may previously have been earned. Alas, no, I mean dipper in the sense of a birder (okay, twitcher) who, having travelled to look for a bird, has failed in their quest. Long journey no birdie. It was a difficult time. There is a frequently used expression, rock-bottom, which depicts the furthest someone can fall. In the February of 2015 I went at rock-bottom with a pneumatic drill, when in the space of about a week, I dipped two mega's and 3 rarities. At the ripe old age of fifteen I was a washed up birder, it was just about time to retire.
I settled down soon after, to become more of a patch-birder and occasional local twitcher, and things were good you know, every once in a while I even got to see a Meadow Pipit (insert sarcastic 'wow'). And thus, really, it has remained since. But now, now I face a new conundrum. Can I even call myself a patch-birder? Sure, I visit my local patch usually 3-4 times a week, and when something unusual turns up, I notice it. But do I ever go over there with a pair of binos? Do I ever keep a list of what I see in a day, a month, or even a year? To both those birder-ly things, the answer is no. Not anymore.
Now, when I head to the patch it is to take photos of the birds... and... increasingly, the mammals. Hey, don't judge, mammals are about as good as avians... I mean come on, foxes are too awesome not to photograph.
Throughout my whole birding 'career' wildlife photography has always played a big part, a part which ran alongside and worked in conjunction with the birding. But now it is starting to take the reins for itself (figuratively, I'm too scared of horses for it to be literal). I'm not saying this is a bad thing, far from it, there's very, very little I enjoy more than wildlife photography. Yet still... after all this time, all the places I've gone, all the things I've seen... have I lost the title of 'birder'?
Must I change the name of this blog to read 'The Early Worm Wildlife Photographer' and suffer the wrath of misled non-arthropod-invertebrate fanatics? I'm not sure anyone would deserve to be placed in such a situation as that. Although I doubt it would be too hard to worm one's way out of...
Birder, Patcher or Photographer... what do you think?