There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Being lonely implies an emptiness and longing – something missing and perhaps hoped for. Being alone means having to rely on yourself and having no one nearby to either help or hinder. I see “alone-ness” as a neutral position, whereas “loneliness” is normally something to avoid altogether.
So why “Lonely Birder”? For a couple of reasons. One, “Alone Birder” sounds a bit odd. Secondly, I’ve learned a lot about myself in my birding excursions. I’ve learned that I am an introvert. That means interacting with people for any extended period of time uses up mental and physical energy for me. It’s not that I dislike people (well, we can get into that, regarding notions of conservation and environmental impacts, later), but I use my “alone” time to recharge and reset, particularly after interacting with people. But I also love to share my love of birds and the natural world, and the excitement I feel. This creates a conflict and a slight sadness: I am unable to fully share my experiences with others because I need that time to myself, in a sense.
I can best express this feeling as a loneliness. I do bird with others from time to time – close friends, festival trips, etc., but my default is always to come back to nature by myself, happy to recharge and refresh, but wistfully wishing I could share it all.
Perhaps this blog bridges the gap, and I hope you find it fun, helpful and above all, honest.
Christopher, Lonely Birder
You may notice that since 2015 I’ve been birding a bit more with companions, and that role as a birding mentor is important to me. This is a direct result of this blog, and I am managing well with them singly or in small groups. But inevitably, I have to have that recharge time by myself to keep going.