Where almost at the end of this magnificent guest post series and today we return to Cheshire for a guest post by one for Cheshire’s most inspirational, dedicated, passionate and formidable birders, Bill Morton aka Frodsham Birder. When it comes to patch dedication only a handful can match that of Bills, he’s been watching over Frodsham Marsh since he was teenager seeing and finding birds such as Collard Pratincole, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Common Crane, Red-necked Grebe, Stilt Sandpiper and Lesser Scaup all on the one of the greatest marshes in the British Isles. In the short period of time I’ve known Bill he’s been great in his supportiveness of not just me, but all new up and coming birders giving tips on and advice on birding based on his own personal experiences. It was when Bill wanted local young birders to do a guest post for the Frodsham Marsh Bird Blog to see there perspective of the marsh that he invited me for a days walk round the marsh to see what I thought of the place. Bill is one of the most knowledge and light-hearted birders I’ve ever come across and I hope that you had as much joy reading his post than I did.
When – did you start birding?
I can single out a point in time when birds became something more than a bird. It would be in junior school and looking at the bird illustrations in the Readers Digest of British Birds, I was captivated by them. There was never a defining moment in my youth that I can say was the time I decided I was calling myself a birder. I always thought being called a birdwatcher meant you have too much time on your hands, but a birder sounded ‘cool’. I suppose, I eventually singled out birding from a whole raft of other hobbies that a teenager have in their interest arsenal and, for me it was a distraction from the dreary economic recession of the 1970’s and also being part of the environment where I lived.
Who – Got you into birding?
I’m basically a loner by nature and a lot of my friends are happy for that to continue ;0). There was never anyone who actually got me into birding but there were a few friends that I valued for their company and in turn we benefited in learning from each other. If I could single out three people who were there when it mattered, I would say Martin Garner, Doug Percival and Don Weedon. Martin for his comradeship and generosity of mind and pocket, occasionally subbing me when I was in financially embarrassed. Doug and Don for their lifts, company and humour of which I owe a lot of gratitude.
Why – Do you go birding? What drives you?
I don’t need any incentive or determination to go birding without sounding all Zen-like it’s an extension of how I see life and how I appreciate the time doing it. It’s the pleasure I get from being away from the confines of work and the more mundane things. The biggest drive is lifting those binoculars to my eyes and seeing what feathered images pass through the lens en route to my retina.
What – Is your best birding moment?
That is the hardest question to ask any birder! I’m in my 57th year I can name just as many moments and each would be a worthy contender but I hope my ‘best birding moment’ is still to come? Counting a flock of 300 (mighty midget) Little Stint on Frodsham Marsh was awesome by the marsh’s high standards. Realising that a tree branch that I had just walked past in a Pacific Northwest coast forest winked at me and then suddenly watching has it morphed into a Common Nighthawk was pretty bizarre. But, if I was forced too, I would have to say it was on a pelagic off Kaikoura, New Zealand in 2005. We were stood at the stern of a whale watching boat at dawn as the rising sun illuminated a velvety crimson sea and we dropped over (metaphorically speaking) a canyon shelf in to a gentle swell. The boat rolled out of a downward trough and there emerged above our heads a modern day Pterodactyl. I swear, I could see my reflection in its iris as it glided slowly over my head. For several seconds I was staring ahead trying to comprehend what I had just seen when I turned it was just in time to watch its huge wingspan tilt to avoid the blow spray of a surfacing Sperm Whale while all around the sea bubbled with dancing Dusky Dolphins. That was my first Wandering Albatross (tongue firmly pressed in cheek)!
The Future – What do you think the World of birding holds for the future?
I’m fairly certain that technology will have a big say in the development of optics and there may come a time when a kind of contact lens with the ability to magnify birds making binoculars redundant, introducing ‘George Jetson binovision’? Another issue that needs to be addressed is our collective greed for profit at any costs. There is a ceiling to where we can grow as a planet with competing interests plundering our natural resources (which have a finite amount of usage). The golden age of birds and birding seem to be coming to a crossroads. We need more and more young people to engage with nature and to lobby adults to do something to hang on to what resources we have left…Team Montieth and Wilde style!
Bill Morton (gibbering old gen birder – For the love of birding).