I am sure this distinction between us and them crops up everywhere in all walks of life. However, to me the distinction between Birding and Birdwatching is not based on levels of machismo or measured in mls of testosterone. For me it is the difference between a passive and active verb.
Birdwatching is something that happens more or less all day every day like breathing. Birds are everywhere and impact on the daily lives of everyone. From Blackbirds singing in the dead of night; gulls stealing your chips; Robins on Christmas cards; birds are everywhere. The more observant will see the wheel of Rooks above a wood and a Sparrowhawk fly in front of your car whilst you wait at lights, and you will care that they weren’t Crows or a medium sized brown bird, respectfully. But even with this knowledge those are passive acts.
Birding is more deliberate. An act of engaging with the natural world that goes beyond the passive. So with this in mind I claim this NZ26 game as birding. I am not going to wild far flung corners in the anticipation of finding an Eastern vagrant. And it is not a high scoring game. However, it is an active aural and visual challenge.
I am not so confident to be able to walk around all the tetrads with bins round my neck like I may do if this was a nature reserve. It would feel as weird as the looks you get being in a hide a Saltholme without bins. In fact without bins it becomes more of a challenge having to rely upon a knowledge of bird calls to build up a list and this is good practice. However, I must point out if you are in Walker only using your ears there is a factory gate that sounds a lot like a Yellow-browed Warbler.