When I think about the various hobbies I have or have had over the course of my life, birding has been by far the least expensive and required the least organization. No special equipment or planning is required, all I really need is my eyes and ears. I have observed many different species in my backyard, local parks and conservation areas. The need to travel great distances to see a variety of birds simply is not necessary.
If a change of scenery and some exercise is what I am looking for then I have several options close to home. My personal favourite places in the city to bird are the seven publicly owned ESA areas, Fanshawe Conservation Area and any of the city parks along the Thames River. These areas offer diverse habitat and therefore a good variety of bird species. I am not going to break the Ontario Big Year record of 344 species but I have observed over 150 species combined in these areas and the farthest one is only twenty minutes from my house.
Birding for me has been the perfect hobby. It is a great way to be active and I find it incredibly relaxing. By keeping it close to home there are no big costs involved and I can pick up and go at anytime. In my life I find myself playing chauffeur quite a bit and have learned to use that to my advantage. Once I know where I am going, I find somewhere to walk and bird in that area. Instead of just picking up and dropping off, I stay in the area and make the most of it. It is a great way to explore new places, find time for my hobby and squeeze some exercise into my day too. By keeping it simple there are no excuses for me not to get out. I find myself having more time to do something I love and have benefitted greatly from it both physically and mentally.