Saved by birds:
Bird watching is not just a hobby for Joe Harkness. It’s a revelation, a cause and a cure, writes Rowan Mantell
Joe Harkness tells his remarkable story
Abuzzard saved Joe Harkness’ life. He was battling obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression when he saw the bird soaring over a Norfolk field and was mesmerised by its beauty. It was a life-changing moment. For the past four years birdwatching has been a vital part of Joe’s recovery. He calls it Bird Therapy and it has led to him meeting David Attenborough, recording three birdsong Tweets
of the Day for Radio 4 and has inspired a blog and a book.
“I came to realise that other people felt the wonder of our wild birds too,” said Joe.
“I’d had problems with alcohol and drug abuse. I was given a lot of treatment, anti-depressant medicine, which I still take now at a reduced dose.
“Counselling was enlightening and mindfulness definitely grounded me, but nothing came close to nature, particularly birds.
It began with a walk with his girlfriend, now his wife.
“I had to get out of the house. All I was doing was jigsaws,” he