Over the years, you will accumulate great memories of days in the field, so to whet your appetite, here are my top 10 birding moments.
1 Wembley Staring out of my bedroom window one afternoon in the early 1980s, I noticed an unfamiliar bird hopping up the garden path. It was a male redstart – my first.
2 Alderney One morning during a week in Alderney, I lay down and looked skywards. First a sparrowhawk, then another, then a buzzard, and finally a honey buzzard appeared (resulting in a dogfight between the latter two).
3 Mexico Visiting Lake Coba in the Yucatán in 2004, I had an absurdly close encounter with a spotted rail, a shy bird that looks like a huge water rail with a gaudy, lime-green beak.
4 South Africa About eight years ago, I was working in a small town in the middle of the Karoo on a shoot for the band Travis. Each morning, I’d go birding and, one day, a group of 10 lesser kestrels appeared, hawking for insects just a few metres above my head.
5 Norfolk At Blakeney Point, waiting for a wryneck to show, I’d given up hope when I nudged the telescope with my knee. I don’t know why, but I looked through it one last time – and there was the wryneck.
6 Cape Clear, Ireland Though I’ve yet to find a ‘mega-rarity’ at Cape Clear, I love it because it’s beautiful and peaceful.
7 Wormwood Scrubs I’ve seen some fantastic rarities at ‘The Scrubs’, but nothing compares with the skylark I saw singing overhead in 2009. I zealously guarded the nest site from dog-walkers and, though the pair were ultimately unable to raise any chicks, it was remarkable that they even tried.
8 Los Angeles On the Los Angeles Audobon Bird Race in 2003, I was thrilled to find the day’s rarest species, a white-winged dove.
9 The Isles of Scilly As a teenager, I was mentored by the late Peter Grant. Out with a group of birders one morning, I spotted an Iceland gull among the common species. I looked up and Peter gave me a knowing smile. He had seen it, too.
10 London With other birders, I study migrating birds from Tower 42, one of London’s tallest buildings. My most satisfying moment so far was the day that a couple of honey buzzards passed overhead.
DAVID LINDO’S TOP TIP
You don’t have to be in Outer Mongolia looking for slender-billed curlews to have a magical birding moment. It could happen just outside your front door.