Hello world!

First things first, I am forty-something, married, with three kids, two girls and a boy (13, 10, and 4) and in these blogs I hope to give you an insight into my attempts to get our collective family interested in Nature,
along with my thoughts, rants and tales of other aspects of family life.

I have always had three major hobbies in my life, computing,
photography, and bird watching, and in the last few years these have begun to form into one project “SpotterJotter”.

SpotterJotter started life a long time ago, and a few (proper) jobs ago, when I wanted a way of recording my life list of birds, to cut a very long and boring story of design, implementation, bug fixing, re-design, more bug fixing, etc…

Now it is now a fantastically successful web-site, used
internationally, with a huge revenue, which means I can spend my days relaxing and writing blogs now….

…Back in the real world, www.spotterjotter.co.uk does exist, but
despite my efforts over the years, it does not generate any revenue, and has a handful of dedicated users. The big success is the SpotterJotter
Facebook group, from which I have gained many friends, a huge amount of knowledge and a few enemies along the way.

If you are already reading this, I’m probably preaching to the converted, but you will find no more friendlier, knowledgeable group of nature loving people on the Internet!

It feels like a first date as I’m typing this: “What should I
tell them about myself? How much should I give away? Am I rambling?”

But the good thing is, you can’t reply to me, I can’t see if you’re yawning, so I will carry, let’s talk some more about ME.

Every day I read Facebook posts, blogs, Instagram stories, from
people who do what I do (photography, wildlife, web-sites, coding, etc…) all of whom do it soooo much better than I do, and I always fall into the same trap of feelings, that they have more
(a) time
(b) money
(c) talent
and what’s the point of me doing it, when it’s already been
done a million times before, with so much more success.

Well, it’s taken a very long time, but I am finally starting to realise that thinking like this is worthless. All you see on the Internet are the good bits of people’s lives, the edited highlights, and the show-reel. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes?

This blog is about celebrating the up and downs of life, aspiring
to greatness, but accepting that most of the time you are a little bit crap at
things, and having fun along the way. Trying and failing, and sometimes, very rarely, trying and succeeding. Going out and having a go, getting stuck in, being bad at things, and enjoying the here and now, and having fun along the way.

It’s OK to go out to a nature reserve with the kids, all of whom would rather be inside, zoning out to whatever digital media is streaming into
their sub-consciousness, and not see a kingfisher, bittern, or even a grey heron, and come back aching from carrying a bike, your camera, a  rucksack filled with a supply of drinks and snacks to keep an army satisfied, and a four year old on your shoulders because 2 minutes into the expedition he decides he is too tired to ride the bike, or walk.

It’s OK, to come home, download your award winning photographs of
a Swan coming into land on a lake, beautifully lit by the evening sun, to find them all out of focus, over exposed, or all in sepia, because you nose had touched the back of the camera and messed with settings.

It’s OK, because in those seeming failures ,you have gone out and
experienced something, and enriched your life with your family and nature, and I’m sure someone more clever than me, once said it’s better to have tried and failed, than to have stayed at home watching cats on YouTube.

The best example of this is my Life List. Life lists are a very personal thing, and the longer you have one and maintain it, the more precious
it becomes. my life list of birds currently stands at 128 species, which to me is brilliant, other birders can easily see that many in a year, but to me it’s amazing, and to that effect, I’ve created my own category, which I may, or not be top of “Birds seen by a lazy person, not too far from where they live, or go on holiday”

Again, 128 species is not good in terms of “proper” birders, but when I look down my list, I see memories alongside the birds.

Squacco Heron : 5th Nov 2011 : Attenborough Nature Reserve

When I took the girls to see this absolute rarity, and we did a 6
mile walk round the reserve, only to find the bird (and about 50 other birders) about 200 yards from the car park.
And we had cake afterwards to celebrate!

Puffin : 30th Apr 2016 : Bempton Cliffs

I went with Abbie to meet other SpoJos and see Puffins. I remember Abbie getting stressed on the way there, because
2.5 hours into the drive, we still hadn’t passed a McDonalds, and I had promised her a Sausage and Egg McMuffin as the bribe for her coming with me. We did see a Puffin, but for me the real stars of the show were the Gannets, Razorbills and Guillemots. (And Carol’s cupcakes!)

Our first Kingfisher : 4th Sep 2016 : RSPB Old Moor

This is our favourite nature reserve, because whenever we go, we see shed-loads of birds and almost always see a new one to add to our list. It also has a decent Kids
playground, and child friendly hides. (Kids and Bird Hides is a topic for a future blog!)

But this occasion marked a very rare event, we went there to see a Kingfisher. This is the bird we have never ever seen before (Well, I claim to have seen them before, but for a
spot to be accepted within the family, it has to verified by another family member!) and I was starting to believe they had been invented purely as an elaborate prank on me by the birding community.

Jo had done some research beforehand, and as soon we arrived at the visitor centre asked
where the Kingfishers were. We headed off to the hotspot and waited, and waited. I had set a limit of about ½ an hour to see one, after which Joseph (3
at the time) would definitely start to get fidgety and noisy. But after 10 minutes, right in front of the hide, appeared a kingfisher, we all sat quietly
in awe, whilst I triple checked the camera setting, before firing off hundreds of pictures with the big lens that I had borrowed for the day. Then it flew
off, and left all of us with a warm glow that only a kingfisher can give.
We did see other new birds that day, but all I can really remember was the Kingfisher.

If you’ve ever thought about keeping a list, then I urge you to do so, I keep  life, year and month lists, because it makes our birding outings more meaningful, fun, and gives them a competitive edge, which the kids love!

“What’s that?”
“I think it’s a Goldeneye…”
“…Have we seen one before?”
“Yes, but not this year!”

Anyway, even I’m bored listening to me talk about me, I’ll be back with another irrelevant, rambling, but hopefully more entertaining blog very soon.

Keep reading, as things can only get better, but in the meantime check out SpotterJotter on the web.

Cheers
Dan

www.spotterjotter.co.uk
Facebook.com/groups/SpotterJotter
Download the Android app  from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=spotterjotter.spojo.com.spojomobile20

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