LifeMental Health

The Benefits of Birdwatching

Birdwatching. Do you do it? This blog details just a few reasons why birdwatching can benefit everyone. From physical exercise to mental health, getting outdoors is the best. Photo taken in Thailand © Laura J P Richardson

My first attempt at writing this blog post went rather badly. I was in a terrible mood! I was tired, anxious and I completely doubted the draft I’d written 2 days before. "It’s boring, no one will like it. This is awful" I said this out load to myself more than once. 

I had written about a photoshoot I did last week along the coast. I’d had a great time watching different species of birds come and go, but I just couldn’t find the point of it. What was the point in telling others about how much fun I had birdwatching? Who would want to read that? I couldn’t get these thoughts to shift.

That’s when I got up in a huff and did what I knew would help everything. I went birdwatching.

The benefits of birdwatching, and wildlife watching in general, are huge. Walking alone is fantastic for you physically and mentally, but getting the motivation to do it may not be so easy. It’s hard to do things regularly when they are given labels like “Exercise”. Scary.

Birdwatching. Do you do it? This blog details just a few reasons why birdwatching can benefit everyone. From physical exercise to mental health, getting outdoors is the best. Photo taken in Thailand © Laura J P Richardson
I'd never seen this type of bird before. It turned out to be a Bridled Tern, but for a little while there was a chance it was a Grey-backed Tern. That would have been a first for Thailand!
Birdwatching is great because:

1. Birds are everywhere. You could live on a tropical island or in the middle of a city and I guarantee if you look, you will see them.

2. It’s a fantastic distraction from pretty much everything.

Relationships, bills, work or school on your mind? On the bus, walking home, daydreaming out your kitchen window as you wash up?

Imagine this: you spot a movement out of the corner of your eye. You see something flit from right to left. Suddenly there’s a burst of feathers as something larger shoots in from no-where and grabs the thing that first caught your eye. What you have just witnessed is the private, day-to-day lives of a completely different species. It’s not always this violent and fast paced of course, but there is always beauty in seeing a bird washing in a puddle or watching a pigeon awkwardly move along a branch to try and woo a potential mate (who usually flies away). When you really look at birds, and watch what they’re doing, it takes you away from your own world and lets you see into another. You may even see some parallels.

Birdwatching. Do you do it? This blog details just a few reasons why birdwatching can benefit everyone. From physical exercise to mental health, getting outdoors is the best. Photo taken in Thailand © Laura J P Richardson
A stunning Pacific Reef Egret. I hid amongst the rocks to get this photo and none of the birds seem to notice or care that I was there. It was an awesome experience.
It can add positivity to your life. 

If I just see just one cool bird or bird behaviour in a day, then I feel privileged to know that I've witnessed something truly special. Even when everything else is going wrong, at least I can come back to that moment. It's often the last thing I think of before going to sleep.

It can help you live in the moment.

Everyday we stress about different problems. We talk about them, moan about them, devise plans and schemes to resolve them. Meanwhile, birds are just living in the moment so that they can continue to live! Their tasks constantly include finding enough food to stay alive, conserving energy when the weather is extreme, avoiding their predators for obvious reasons, all while protecting and feeding their helpless offspring.

Birdwatching. Do you do it? This blog details just a few reasons why birdwatching can benefit everyone. From physical exercise to mental health, getting outdoors is the best. Photo taken in Thailand © Laura J P Richardson
The Tern really wasn't in great shape. It's wings were tattered, and it was gasping for breath whenever it landed. Who knows how far it had travelled for to get here. Who knows the things its seen.
It's like your own reality TV show (but really real).

I remember the joy I felt when I heard baby blue tits cheeping from the inside of a bird box we put up in our tiny garden one year. I remember the pain of looking outside after a big storm had hit, and seeing a horrible space where the box should have been. Drama is everywhere in the natural world, but there are few drama queens (male birds in breeding season is another story). Those blue tits would not have mourned like we would have. For them, there is no time to waste, and they would have gotten on with finding and building a new nest for their next attempt. Resilience us humans can only dream of. 

Nature is always fighting for survival and it never gives up. The odds these animals face make our lives so easy in comparison, and that's a nice reality check to have on a daily or weekly basis. 

Birdwatching has taken me to so many new places. It repeatedly gets me out the house, which in turn gets me out of that silly place in the brain that we all go to when we can’t stop fixating on that one difficult thing. It really is the most fantastic hobby I’ve ever tried and I hope next time you are out or you look out your window, you take some extra time to look for our feathered friends, and appreciate everything they are doing, without hesitation, just to stay alive.

Birdwatching. Do you do it? This blog details just a few reasons why birdwatching can benefit everyone. From physical exercise to mental health, getting outdoors is the best. Photo taken in Thailand © Laura J P Richardson

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