Even before Covid took hold in our lives, it’s safe to say that in recent years many of us have felt consumed by all things digital, especially when it comes to the ever-expanding landscape of social media.
As the pandemic hit and countless people around the world transitioned to a work-from-home model, it became even more difficult to take our eyes off our screens, a problem that – personally – has had a major impact on my life.
While I do occasionally take a walk here and there for some much-needed fresh air, I certainly don’t do it as often as I could or should…and I have no excuse given the parks and open green spaces that have always stood by available to me in London.
So when I received an invitation to visit Ireland with an activity I would never have thought of – birdwatching – I thought of a better time to enjoy the outdoors, take a break and experience my surroundings in a whole new way. explore.
The trip came about as a result of a collaboration between Redbreast Irish Whiskey and BirdLife International to mark the second annual Robin Redbreast Day on November 17, an event to raise awareness and protect birds.
After landing in Dublin and being transported to the beautiful Cabu by the Lakes site in Killykeen Forest Park, a large group – including Redbreast Ambassador Chris O’Dowd – made their way to BirdLife International’s Niall Hatch for a truly enlightening exploration.
The first thing I learned about birdwatching was that the name of the activity is a bit misleading. Listening to birds, I’ve found, is just as important as watching them, sometimes even more so.
As we began to walk the path alongside a calm lake, Niall stopped when he heard a bird chirping… which, it turned out, was quite common, even when the creatures were nowhere to be seen.
The expert could tell which bird species was nearby by the sound, and explained that a bird’s melodious chirping could actually be more menacing than a layman would expect, deterring other competitors from entering its territory.
“For birds, singing is something very aggressive. It’s actually the males – because in most species it’s only the males that sing – they actually hit each other,” Niall told us.
Who would have thought that a short trip to Ireland would give me my own David Attenborough-style experience?
One of the most revealing facts came when the subject of the robin, the mascot of the whiskey brand, we had many delicious flavors during our journey (including my very first hot grog on arrival, which did an excellent job). warm up from head to toe before the outdoor activity).
You might think robins are super friendly, often jump out of trees to get close to people, look chubby and cute… but as Niall told us, they actually have pretty petite personalities, he revealed.
If robins approach, it’s not because you’re somehow a Dr. Doolittle-like band – but being so familiar with humans, they hope they can get us some food.
“We can fool ourselves into thinking they’re doing it because they like us, they want to be our friends, but really we’re just a simple meal to them. They realize other birds are too scared to approach humans , so they can take advantage of the food around us that the other birds bigger than them don’t get,” Niall said.
They are also very territorial, so hearing male robins singing is a clear signal that this is their place.
As I absorbed these fascinating tidbits from Niall’s tour of the Cabu grounds, I put his exercises into practice — straining my ears to hear the sounds of birds singing in the distance and searching for the rustling of leaves, which might be on my mind. may indicate that a bird is nearby.
It was a welcome change from my phone… although I did occasionally pull it out to take a few photos.
The fact that Robin Redbreast Day emphasizes the importance of general birding made me think I’ve no doubt seen countless robins in my life, given how common they are in England – but I’ve never had them as much attention as on our walks, like watching them on a BBC animal show, but in person.
It just goes to show how many mundane things we can take for granted as we race through our lives that are actually so versatile and fascinating when you take a little moment out of your day to focus your attention.
I’m not saying I’ll be an avid birdwatcher any time soon, but the new year is just around the corner (perfect time to make New Year’s resolutions if you’re the type of person who likes new challenges at the start of the year), more time spending time in nature and enjoying my surroundings could be something for me, given the peace my journey gave me.