When I travel for birding (my catch all phrase for anything to do with wildlife related travel), I generally look forward to good company during these trips. I realized that I meet a lot of people but most of these end up belonging to a certain type. I decided to take it a notch up, and stereotype. Following are the types of people I end up meeting during most of my trips:
- The Commando: This one is the most common specimen you will come across. This individual will be clad in complete camouflage. Head to toe. And he will be sticking out like a sore thumb.A common trait is that this one will think that wearing camouflage clothing will make him invisible to birds and he can move close to them without ever being seen, “no sudden move” advice be damned. Thanks Decathlon.
- The Networker: This one will ask for your social media coordinates, before he even asks for your name. Each sighting/photograph will reach social media before he is even out of birding zone. His level of satisfaction will depend greatly on the number of likes/comments on his updates on his social media page.
- The Enquirer: This one will ask you uncomfortable questions, in a rapid fire manner, with confidence that will make your better half look like an angel. Typical opening will be “So, did you see something interesting today?” and if you don’t plan your escape in a timely manner it might end up with “Why do you prefer boxers over briefs?”. Remember, you have been warned.
- The Comparer: This one will compare everything. Sightings, camera settings, camera, lens, tripod, vehicle, guide and a few other things I would not like to mention here. The thing is, this comparison is often aimed to making the comparer triumph over others. You will not come out of a discussion with The Comparer, unless your sighting has been a snow leopard mating with a grey francolin.
- The Storyteller: To be honest, this is not a completely different type. The storyteller will make up a story about his sighting. Often these stories are romanticized to the point of being ridiculous. An example will be: “Deep in Westernghats, we were hard at birding and suddenly we saw this fairy bluebird fly down and take seat on the spot lit perch that was available with the perfect BG”. An attached picture will show a fairy bluebird on a perch at OMH. Yes I know that perch, the moss, the sticks etc. Deep in the ghats, indeed. Other variations are: Bangalore outskirts, Bikaner outskirts, Pune outskirts etc.
- The Instant Expert: Now this is not the most common specimen, but you will encounter some at some point if you travel enough. This one will be a weekend warrior and after a couple of photo sessions with a species, he will announce his thesis on the said species. Watch out for a tour being announced by the Instant Expert. Run if you see this one floating a NGO to collect funds.
- The Sociable Birder: This one thinks that birding is a group activity. He specially thinks that talking excitedly during a bird sighting is healthy for group dynamics. His sociable behavior will intensify in direct proportion of the shyness of the bird.
- The Gyaani: My pet peeve. There are two types, equally irritating but indistinguishable to untrained eye. There is one variation where each bird picture will be associated trivia copy pasted from Wiki. I am not sure what is the fascination with giving away gyaan, without attribution to the original source. Like, add a wiki link already and be done. Other variation will take it one step forward and add a philosophical/motivational quote of the day with each picture. Generally there will be no connect between the picture and the quote. Eg “we must cherish every relationship in our life, blah blah blah” as a quote to Honey Buzzard. Go figure. Did I mention these are my pet-peeves?
- The Pixel Peeper: This dude will always have a dilemma if a picture is sharp enough. Can you count each strand of each feather? if not, the picture is not good enough. He can tell you the whole exif of an image from the top of his head without having to refer to the exif reading tools that mere mortals like us need. Most discussions with him will revolve around the eternal questions such as: Is 500mm sharper than 400mm? Does D800 take better picture than 5d3?
- The Checklister: He is armed with a checklist and have no time for your small talk. He has specific species on his mind, and nothing can distract him from that target. He will, however, dive into an engaging discussion about different morphs of a species. A great helping hand when you need to ID something.
- The Zenmaster: Extremely rare one. He is content with what he sees or photographs. A missed bird or photo-op upsets him not, for it is what it is. Very often found near the beverage section of the lodge post sunset.
- The Chifchaf: Your’s truly. Observing and judging people with abandon. There for lolz and lolz must be had. I am gonna leave it as an exercise for the readers (yes, I am presumptuous and think I have readers) to give observations of this type.
What kinds have you seen?
Following is what Sangeeta (http://www.myworldfoodandtravel.com/) has suggested (and I have added my 2 bits):
- The Skulker: This specimen is so shy that you will probably not notice him/her until they break cover and let you see them. Skulker is most likely going to be armed with a good pair of bins rather than a super tele and will put bird’s welfare above everything else. Skulkers will generally avoid type 1-9 like plague. Now that I think of it, Skulkers do have their own non-vocal language, that involves a lot of rolling eyes & disdainful looks when they come across anyone they are mortally scared of (type 1-9 again). If you have spotted a skulker, do not approach. I repeat, do not approach. Instead let him/her approach you (won’t happen anyways).