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Karle Burford: 'Seeing a rare golden oriole gave me more of a kick than winning a BCO award'

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Karle Burford, AHR partner and director, thrills at seeing a black redstart on one of his buildings

I began birding –  not ‘birdwatching’, which is strictly for amateurs – at an early age. I was amazed by the common birds – many of which are now rare – that would visit our Gloucestershire garden.

Later I would discover other things in life, so it wasn’t until I reached my forties, and had a young family, that my interest was reignited.

Combining birding with family and a hectic business is almost impossible, but it somehow works. I usually fit in a morning at the weekend and the odd day off.

Being a birder is the antithesis of being an architect

I can’t say seeing a rare golden oriole (Lundy Island, 2015) gave me more of a kick than winning the BCO award earlier this month for Keynsham Civic Centre in Somerset, but it’s still pretty good. It was also nice to see a black redstart sat proud on top of the civic centre the other week. It’s a pity I didn’t take a photo, because no one else noticed it.

Being a birder is in many ways the antithesis of being an architect: it involves early mornings rather than late nights, and is often a solitary affair rather than being about collaboration and teamwork. It’s this difference that probably appeals.

My role at AHR, as head of the technology sector and the Bristol office, keeps me very busy and active, but birding allows me to get away from it all, into a different environment. This is usually a place that is a long walk from anywhere, and where there is no phone signal and often no buildings – tranquility.

I’m glad to say my seven-year-old son is now starting to be interested in nature. Will he stay keen? I doubt it. But he should come back to it, as I did.

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