It’s taken me a bit longer than expected, what with all the to-do we’ve had recently, but my latest e-effort ‘My Patch’ is now available at the stunningly low price of $1.99US.
My Patch is all about the joys of local patch birding, with a fair sprinkling of insults for various sections of society including HR ‘professionals’. At 53,450 words it is not quite War and Peas, (not to be confused with a more serious book, basically about the Mushy Pea franchise dispute and the pitch battles it produced in Mablethorpe in 1972) but it is a reasonable length and should keep the reader occupied for minutes. As a treat, here is an extract from the book about birding types. It is only the first couple of definitions, you’ll need to read the book to see the rest.
As birders we are extremely judgmental. We decide whether ‘so and so’ saw something they claimed. We do this all of the time, perhaps not (always) publically, but we do it. We also categorize birders, we pigeonhole them based on our impression of their capabilities. Is this wrong? No! What we have to accept is that there are varying levels of birder and varying types of birder competency; to explain.
The level of a birder’s capability is very straightforward to assess, and almost entirely linked to experience. I say ‘almost’, because there are some stellar individuals out there who hit the ground running and have not slowed down since, but they are the absolute exception.
If someone has claimed a Connecticut Warbler on your patch and neither you nor anyone else saw it, then you dismiss it straight away and look for similar species to satisfy your disappointment at missing ‘whatever’ it was. You later find out that the finder spent three seasons in Alberta mapping the things for their breeding bird atlas and suddenly your sympathy species, Nashville Warbler perhaps, looks a little silly. You now place the finder in a higher bracket of birder because of their experience; then you find out that they have only had five entries in eBird all year, so back to the dummies they go!
Cruel, yes, but fair, I think you’ll find.
The rating of other birders is inevitable, it always has been, so now I’m putting in print what everyone thinks, because on your patch, this stuff matters. Here they are then, set out in no particular order as, in the real world, it doesn’t actually matter either.
People that feed the birds, but who only have a casual interest in what species are visiting their feeders. They like to look out of their windows at the birds but most don’t own bins or, if they do, they are the ones with things like ‘zoom’ in the title, or blessed with color-coated lenses, often puce. From time to time they will claim something; if your patch has homes with feeders included, be prepared for that. Here is a helpful tip for resolving those sticky situations. Feeder owner: “I had what I think was a Dickcissel at the feeders this morning”, patch watcher thinks “goldfinch”, but doesn’t want to put the feeder folk off so you talk around the bushes a bit, asking leading questions just to make sure that it wasn’t, indeed, a Dickcissel. Satisfied that you are right, you make sure you plant enough doubt in the ‘finder’s’ mind about the rarity of the claim as to prevent the claim going any further.
These people probably make up the vast majority of birders but, in our world, are not actually birders in the real sense. But if we are categorizing birders they have to be included, even if only to have someone at the bottom of the avian tree, you could even call them the roots!
Ornithologists – people whose ID skills tend to be improved by their subject lying prone on a bench top (and lacking a pulse, the bird that is). We (all birders) get called ornithologists by the ignorantii, also known as the Press; clearly, we are not. Many ornithologists are quite affable people but, as much of their adult lives have been spent in close proximity to preserving chemicals, they can be a bit vague at times. I’ve met a few Ornithologists in my time and I’d say some were not true field birders at all. Obviously, ornithologists must rank higher than feeder watchers, if only because they keep us entertained with their fantasy taxonomic orders and splits and lumps that we all so enjoy.
Here is a link that goes straight to Smashwords, I’ll add a link to the sidebar when I get a minute.