Outside interest: birding

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 18 May 2016

Alban CassidyAlban Cassidy is a 'birder', which the director of multidisciplinary practice Cassidy + Ashton defines as a more "knowledgeable, dedicated and keener" version of a bird watcher.

How did you get into birding?

I've been birding since I was aged eight, for 39 years. A friend of mine had shown an interest and when I read more about the subject and did some research, felt I could not only do this, but really wanted to take it up.

What does it involve?

The great thing about this outside interest is you can do it virtually anywhere: you have to switch off from your everyday life and keep your eyes open. After a while birding qualities almost become a natural instinct. This weekend I was up at 6am creeping through Welsh moorland carrying a telescope, binoculars and camera to watch black grouse 

Why do you do it?

Apart from seeing birds I enjoy what birding involves; it's hunting without hurting and testing yourself against the natural world. You have to do the research, put in the hours and make the physical effort to get to places, all of which offer a degree of escapism.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

It can be difficult getting up at 4am on a freezing-cold morning, and lots of birding is squeezed into unsocial hours.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

Best thing about birding is when you've put in all that effort and are rewarded with a glimpse of a bird. I was recently up at 5am driving halfway up a mountain in Majorca, then trekking for four miles to catch a glimpse of a Mallorcan, or Balearic, warbler.

Are there any similarities between your day job and birding? 

Both involve looking at a site and understanding what's important about it, it's key characteristics, its constraints and opportunities – similar questions but with the different parameters.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com