I've become a shameless bird nerd since I moved to Uganda and if any place could convert you to be a bird lover, this is it. There are 1,061 species of birds recorded in Uganda (a country the size of Oregon state), compared to 914 found in all of North America.
When I take out my camera to look for birds, I find myself entirely drawn into the present moment, all my senses alert and at the mercy of whatever decides to come into my life. Bird watching has a profoundly spiritual nature to it, forcing me to be with what is rather than clinging or resisting what I do or do not want. A beautiful and rare bird may flit on a branch for only a second without allowing me to capture it, but I must accept the moment has passed, let it go, and see what else Is Now.
The other special thing about birds is they may show up and grace your life in any unexpected moment. As I type this, a red-breasted sunbird flits around outside my window, drinking with its mate from the flowers in my yard. Birds have often been my saving-grace for living in the city. Even among the concrete chaos and the car fumes, they surprise me with their presence. I've spotted several beauties along the telephone lines in Kampala as I drive through the horrendous traffic.
Last year, I took a couple of trips to Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda. Armed with a new 400mm lens, I loved capturing the great variety of birds the park offers. One morning, Eric let me take a boat ride to the delta while he stayed at the lodge with our grumpy toddler. These hours alone with wildlife and my camera were exactly how I wished to recover from a long, sleepless night. Somehow, these birds heal me.