I’ve taken up bird watching but please don’t tell anyone. It’s so uncool that I still break out in a sweat when getting the binoculars out even if I’m miles from anywhere.

I half expect an old university mate, still wearing an Oxfam overcoat and Echo and the Bunnymen haircut, to leap out of the undergrowth and cut me to pieces with a few brutally caustic putdowns – the like of which we used to spend hours practising while others were going to lectures and the library.

I did it to reduce stress and try to reconnect with nature.

I’ve spent hours wandering the natural harbour near me, notebook in hand, Hamlyn’s Guide to British Birds at the ready.

In truth I do find it incredible that so much life, birth, death, struggle and success is taking place in the natural habitats cheek by jowl with us.

Goes on regardless of us in fact. The trouble is I’m no good at it. I can’t tell a godwit from a sand piper from a curlew.

I spend ages scanning the water looking at one brown bird after another, not sure if they’ve just flown in from Africa or Littlehampton.

And as for stress busting, do me a favour.

The bird watching community is as competitive as the Premiership.

You meet the Mourinhos of the marshes all the time.

They stride up to you before you’ve time to hide your tell-tale paraphernalia demanding to know what you’ve seen.

The other day two of them caught me and demanded that I focus my bins out into the harbour.

“Can you see it?” they demanded. “Look – a rare Barrow’s goldeneye.”

Let’s face it, I wouldn’t know a Barrow’s goldeneye if it landed on my head and introduced itself.

Now I have a choice as I look out over a multitude of indistinguishable feathered friends.

Do I confess my ignorance and ask their help to spot this mysterious bird?

Hell no.

They look too smug. Instead I express wonder at the beauty of the discovery hoping I’m facing in the general direction of the thing.

As they march off a thought occurs to me.

Is there such a thing as the Barrow’s goldeneye or were they simply seeking confirmation that I’m the bird-watching imbecile they suspected?

With my credibility in shreds I’m going dig myself in deeper. Hurrah for the return of BBC Springwatch.

The live time nature show has become one of my favourite programmes on TV.

I never thought I’d care about the nesting habits of the stickleback or a meadow full of cowslip, but I do.

But more importantly the presenters, Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games are a delight to behold.

Their interaction is consummately faultless, their love for the subject infectious and watching them in the undergrowth of their makeshift studio is as interesting as a glimpse of those infra-red badgers ambling around in the dark.

See Packham preening his feathers, the peacock of the piece, lovely Martin like a fluffy bunny gambolling in the sun and Michaela a watchful and occasionally startled owl. I’m not ashamed to say I love em all.

On the train to London last week I was reading a London Review of Books piece on the Gallipoli campaign, Churchill’s disastrous First World War plan to open up a second front in Turkey.

Ignominious defeat and an appalling death toll followed.

It was the original “lions led by donkeys” battle but what was so remarkable was the stoicism of the men trapped in a situation so traumatic that Hell doesn’t seem to do it justice.

“Have you ever walked over dead men, still warm and quivering?” one soldier wrote back home.

But they endured with so little fuss. It is nigh on impossible to understand these days when a personal crisis can sometimes amount to a frozen computer screen.

As I was reading, the train crawling into the capital, a jabbering woman on her phone was describing just such a modern-day trauma which came to an end with: “I was so stressed I had to come off Facebook.”