The Sport of Birdwatching
Whilst I have been rather denigrating the pursuit of listing birds as the be-all and end-all of birdwatching, it would be wrong never to relax and spend a day just seeing how many birds you can locate. This can be done, limiting yourself to an area, or perhaps a time limit, for example, twenty-four hours, or even a target figure. You must always keep to the birdwatcher’s code and the country code remembering particularly that the welfare of the birds and the life of the country must come first.
In one of the commonest of the birdwatching sports, a team, usually of four people, sets out to list as many species as possible within twenty-four hours. In the Britsh Isles, to see over one hundred different species within the day is good going. The participants have to travel in the same car. At one point the rules vary: some people say that all members of the team must see each bird recorded and others say that only one of the team needs to see the bird. The necessity to travel in the same car does exert some control over the team’s manoeuvrability.
The keenest people usually make a reconnaissance a day or so beforehand so that they can locate the areas where some of the less common birds are likely to be on the ‘big day’. An early start is made so that any night birds still calling or being noisy can be located. The whole day is spent on the chase. There is a difficult problem to resolve: how much do you rush round from one habitat to another with the hope of picking species typical of the area? It is important to remember the old fisherman’s adage: you cannot catch fish if your hook is out of the water, which could be translated as: do not spend too long in the car. In some competitions you are restricted to birdwatching within the circle with a diameter of some twenty-four kilometres.