You've heard of birding, but have you ever heard of wilding?
It is a noun meaning something feral, or wild; and an adjective describing something as feral or wild.
But I'd like to add a new definition to the dictionary: as a verb, meaning to watch and study organisms in the wild for recreation. It's the same as birding, except it applies to all organisms you might see on a hike (or swim) - plants, animals, and more!
You could be a generalist "wilder", observing all kinds of organisms, or a specialist. Birding is just one specialty of wilding. You could specialize in mammals, reptiles, insects, trees, flowering plants, grasses, mushrooms, corals, or any number of organism kinds. You can be as general or as specific as you want.
How do you wild? The same way you bird. There's really no one "right way" to wild, but the following are some good tips for getting started:
Take pictures. High-quality cameras are best for seeing the details and capturing the moment.
Bring a notepad & pen/pencil and take notes. What do you see? What species do you think it is? If you're an artist, try drawing what you see!
If you have a phone, download an app. There are plenty of great apps out there for species identification.
Bring a backpack and stuff it full of water, food, first-aid, and other necessities. You'll probably be doing a lot of hiking, and you might be waiting a long time for more exotic animals to show up.
Not only is wilding a fun hobby, it can also be so much more. For one, you'll learn so much about the beauty and diversity of life wherever you wild. You could take the knowledge you gain and teach it to some friends or school/college students or anyone else so they can learn, too! Or you could sell your art or photos and make a few bucks. The possibilities are endless.
In addition, wilding can be great for your mental and physical health. All that hiking (or swimming) trying to find organisms to observe offers plenty of exercise. And many studies show that time in nature help relieve depression and anxiety and boost brain power.
So what are you waiting for? Let's go wilding!