I picked up E. in the morning in front of her hotel. To avoid the traffic lights and rush hour, I drove through some forgotten, derelict industrial zone at the outskirts of the city (which is my usual shortcut). I was describing the area we were going to and the target birds (European Rollers – cover digiscoped in the rain in the same area, Ortolan Buntings, etc.). E. was mostly silent.

Joining the main road… and off the main road into the woods. I was trying to run a conversation, but she was unusually quiet. Afraid that I may look pushy, I gave up and drove in silence. Not much traffic, mostly just us.

Rollers were cooperative, several birds including a pair in an old oak tree. The bunting I almost dipped, only on our way out I heard its song, stopped and reversed the car to spot a bush-top Ortolan Bunting.

And a few years later, I read of her experience birding with me at one of the larger birding web sites and learned that E. was almost scared of me!

“I was nervous. It was just the two of us in the car, going to a deserted area,” E. says. Gosh! I though her to be a silent type, perhaps tired of flying and jet lag, but it never ever occurred to me that my female guest may be worried when passing closed and abandoned communist era factories. That would have been the last thing to come to my mind.

“But after 10 or 15 minutes, I was totally comfortable,” E. continued. Huh, good, that would have been before we entered the woods.

While I was flabbergasted, at the same time E. had every right to feel worried, with or without a reason. It was a lesson in sensitivity for me.

E. later confirmed in an email: “Like I said in the article, I felt comfortable after about 10 minutes. … Anyway it was a great experience with you and I am glad that I took the chance.”

What were your experiences with bird guides?

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Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Central America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66