Birdwatching in three steps

There are two “culprits” for my love for birds: Biom and – tinnitus. It was like in the Metamorphosis: one day, I woke up with horrible buzzing in my head; at first I thought it was a sound attack but soon I realised that the source was within me and my heart sank in despair.

  • 29.10.2019.

The insect inside my head was buzzing in high pitched tones and I frantically looked for ways to escape the sound. As it turned out, the escape route was opened by – birds. On a specialised website, I found a list of things that alleviate tinnitus-induced stress, and birdwatching was among them. I liked it instantly: I’ve always loved to read poetry with birds as motives and birdwatching sounded like a poetic hobby, created for watchful observers and patient readers. I knew there was an association in Zagreb dealing with birds and thanks to a lucky set of circumstances, I found out they organise birdwatching events for citizens.

The first step took place in Maksimir Park, at one of such birdwatching events that my wife and I attended. On that October morning, it was for the first time that I held two indispensable tools for birdwatching in my hands: binoculars and the black Collins guide. At first, I did not know what to expect, but all my doubts quickly dissipated when I, using my binoculars, caught a sight of a robin, hopping around in a bush. That was the deciding moment – everything around me just disappeared; I forgot about the persistent buzzing in my head and the bird and I were the only two creatures in the world. I was instantly aware that I had found a new passion – I had discovered a new dimension of existence, created by the miraculous interaction of light and lenses. And dark red feathers on the robin’s chest. A whole world opened up before my eyes and I was given the key to unlock it – I just needed to learn how to use it (the beginnings seem funny now, but every journey starts with the first step: the hooded crow, the rook and the western jackdaw are not the same bird, and the Eurasian tree sparrow is different from the house sparrow.

The second step was Biom’s training for identification of common bird species – featuring four amazing trainers, a group of enthusiastic students, Croatia from the Lonja Field to the Neretva River as the birdwatching site, and all the birds that revealed their faces and voices to us in the spring of 2017. I learned that birds were keepers of a code that would help me understand and further experience any landscape: we explored Pag and waders (glossy ibis!), the Neretva River mouth and the black-headed bunting (rattle in olive groves), Mount Risnjak and crested tits (punk’s not dead!), Siščani and the white-tailed eagle (silhouette: wide, long wings and short tail), Mount Petrova Gora and the wren (song: machine gun rattle).

The third step was – everyday life. Even though I got a driving licence because of the birds, as I wanted to be nearer to them in any way possible, in the beginnings I realised that for the basic joys of birdwatching, it was enough to just leave the apartment and venture into one’s neighbourhood. I realised that I live in the birds’ world and it’s not the other way around. Consequently, my infatuation with birds moved my attention from the disruptive tinnitus. The insect still buzzes in the background daily, but my focus is on the outside. There is always a chance to spot a bird, be it on a perch or in the sky. And that opportunity should really not be missed.

Biom members will get to read the entire text at the end of the year in the “Wildlife Watch” (“Pogled u divljinu”) magazine! Follow the link to learn how to become a member.