Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Old Age

Reading some of the local birding blogs these days I often get sharp reminders of how far I'm getting left behind by modern bird watching methods, i.e a telescope, binoculars and a note-pad are still the extent of my bird watching tools.
I've stood next to people whose pockets bleeped every five minutes as their pagers announced almost every bird rarer than a sparrow as it was seen in Kent - they must live permanently frustrated lives, being told but not being able to get there. So I haven't considered a pager, prefering not to sound like a Dalek as I go about my daily business.

Photography is another branch of bird watching that seems to have developed into a race to outdo each other with better and better and closer and closer photographs. Here, in order to guarantee praise sometimes, the blogger will sometimes post what to the ordinary person is a quite superb photo, but add the comment "its a bit blurred" or "a bit dark", so that we comment "oh no, it looks fantastic".  In their frustrations to get rare bird photos, because they have never seen one, or someone else might photograph it first, they sometimes admit on a blog that they resorted to good old fashioned "bush-bashing". This is the old-fashioned  method of sending someone into the bushes to deliberately scare out a secretive bird that is not playing ball - it might not do the bird much good but it sure helps promote one in the photography stakes. But it now appears that some people have modernized that technique, although even here I might be late on the scene.

I was reading a blog this morning whereby a rarish bird was known to be in some reed beds but had still to be seen by some bird watchers desperate to see it. No probs. there, out with the mobile phone, play the bird's call notes and hey presto, out pops the bird for all to see! Clearly that's where us archaic souls who regularly patrol The Swale NNR are going wrong when we keep recording a lack of birds. I wonder, should we be standing on the reserve playing Wigeon and Teal sounds on our mobiles, will it bring in those birds we aren't seeing.
But if it doesn't, simple, blame it on a poor signal!


  1. The photo thing is very true, I often read reports and someone's attached a photo labelled "record shot" or "poor quality record shot", and when I click on it it's a perfectly decent photo. the pharse "record shot" is annoying, it's simply a photo. I don't think it's always done to get people to say "it's good actually", I think it's more that with more technology around (for those who have the cash, anyway), such decent but ordinary images are up against teh results of amazing high-quality Canon zoom lenses and suchlike. I think it's not good that we have to apologise for all but award-winning photos, though.

    I don't agree with scaring or luring birds out though (except for conservation reasons, e.g. breeding surveys done by responsible ppl), especially if lots of people are doing it e.g. for a rarity. Best to let the bird rest and feed after its journey.

  2. Joe,

    Unfortunately there are a few people in Kent who find "bush bashing" acceptable in their determination to see the bird or photogragh it, and surprisingly by people who tend to be critical of other forms of disturbance in the countryside.

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