Wednesday 18 November 2015

The Phasing Thing

Although my birding 'career' spans well over three decades (over four if you include junior dabblings) it certainly doesn't add up to that figure, because there has been a lot of phasing in that time. What is phasing? I guess it can be loosely defined as the loss of enthusiasm for an activity to the extent that you no longer really participate in it. I would argue that there are degrees of phasing, in that it might be total (ie. 100% inactive) or maybe not quite that bad (ie. would dust off the optics for a patch Great Spotted Cuckoo, say). If I tallied up my phasing time it would come to a lot of years!

Perhaps phasing is a sign of a character flaw? I've always been slightly in awe of people who seem able to maintain a consistently high level of enthusiasm, year in, year out. How do they do it? Is it that I'm just a fickle, restless creature with a short attention span, ready to flit on to something else the moment the going gets tough? Are the steady, tenacious types somehow more virtuous?

Really, such questions are moot I think. We are simply all different. Not more or less admirable for our various approaches. No, just different.

I'm glad I've come to this conclusion, because it puts me in a much better light! Especially when I consider the myriad activities which I have, over the years, pursued with obsessive enthusiasm...only to phase. And phase badly!

Take angling.

This was me around 25 years ago...

An 8lb+ Barbel from the River Kennet in Berkshire
A 27lb+ Wels Catfish from Tiddenfoot Pit near Leighton Buzzard

In 2011 I accompanied my son Rob on a trip to fish the River Kennet. We spent a few days on stretches of the river I'd last fished in the 1990s, and I caught a massive Barbel that was half as big again as the fish in the photo above, a personal best by a long way. While I enjoyed myself, there was simply no 'buzz' to it all; I was just going through the motions. Unless it's to keep Rob company I doubt I'll ever go again. The Catfish pictured above was rumoured to be the biggest in the lake at the time, and was one of many I caught in the summer of 1990. I had loved every minute! The following summer I returned, fished just one night and instantly realised the magic had gone. I've never been back, and never will.

Yep, when it comes to angling I have seriously phased!

Also golf, and squash, and playing guitar, and drawing, and running, and I could go on...

My enthusiasm for birding may have been a bit moribund at times, but it's always registered at least a faint pulse. At the moment it's jogging along quite nicely...


  1. surprised you didn't add blogging to the list

  2. Yes Gav, phasing maybe.
    However, I doubt if many can claim to have reached the levels you have with mere dabbling.
    Btw. That Catfish was the biggest in Tiddenfoot at the time.

    1. Yes, I have been a jack of many trades Ric, but hardly a master in any of them! However, given the conversational opportunity I can talk a good game in the lot!!

      Re Cats: memory tells me that Tiddenfoot didn't hold a confirmed '30' back then. Such monsters were very few in number and available at only a handful of waters. Yep, 27lb 10oz was a big Catfish. I certainly thought so at the time!

  3. Jack of many trades perhaps, as am I. (at a lesser level due to your 'natural superior skill')
    It's all relative in the pantheon of things when the vast majority of the population's interests amount to, er, 'Jack!'

    1. Ha ha! Skills, schmills! Ric, I count myself very fortunate to have had the circumstances and opportunity to indulge virtually any interest that has appealed to me!

      I've just checked out the Leighton Buzzard Angling Club website. Tiddenfoot has produced Catfish to...wait for it...72lb! A 40+ fish is fairly run-of-the-mill there, it seems. The mind boggles. I think I'm beginning to appreciate how the elderly must feel when they talk about 'the old days'...