Monday 12th July 2010
Today I ventured into Staffs. - more for the exercise than anything else I took the long walk to Drayton Bassett. Just as well cos there wasn't much to see birdwise and it rained. As the yards turned to miles, well nearly a mile, I got to thinking about healthy birding as distinct from unhealthy 'twitching'.
We need some definitions; to me Birding involves a bit of everything involving birds, looking for birds in areas, which involves a bit of walking, checking a local patch often involving a bit of walking on a regular basis, familiarisation with other local wildlife, visiting other areas with interesting birds not found in local area and (this is optional) going to see rare birds. Birding can also involve record keeping rather than just listing.
Twitching on the other hand is travelling, often considerable distances to see rare species to add to a list. Of course twitching can also give the opportunity for general birding but the primary aim is to get a tick, to see a new species in the UK.
Ok, the health bit.
Birding = low itensity regular exercise based on walking. Benefits : some cardio-vascular benefit if pace brisk and sustained, (avoid spending too much time in hides if its not raining), weight control, achieved as fat is preferred energy source during sustained aerobic exercise. Mental agility and relaxation arising from awareness and appreciation of natural surroundings and challenges of identification.
Twitching = inactivity during long car journeys in cramped conditions should be avoided, take regular breaks to stimulate increased circulation.
Running to see bird should not be contemplated after a long period of inactivity unless very fit.
Standing for long periods on a twitch for an elusive bird can result in varicose veins.
Twitchers are mad we know that, but stress and anxiety must be managed to reduce high blood pressure.
And finally diet, luckily megas dont turn up every day so that, feel good 'full English or full Scottish' after a successful twitch following an overnight journey can be enjoyed to the full once in a while. The same goes for a Birder's lunch of Pork pie and crisps, an acceptable alternative could be a Samosa or a Scotch egg.