At school, I was always the only “bird nerd” and I had to endure my fair quota of mockery. I did manage to share the wondrous world of birds with one or two friends, but most of my fellow scholars were far more interested in making the team, acquiring the latest pair of Stüssy jeans or gossiping about who had snogged whom.
Things took a surprising but gratifying turn at my 10-year matric reunion. (Oh man, the 20th reunion is this year!) Suddenly, people were queuing up to talk to me about birds – asking ID advice, telling me about special sightings, or showing me photos on their phones.
I allowed myself a brief vindictive smile, but overall I was elated that so many of my classmates had discovered the joys of birding. A particular moment stands out: Two of the popular girls approached me, and with uncharacteristic coyness asked whether they could get my opinion on something: “We want to buy a bird book, but we aren’t sure which one…”
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