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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The undermining of a wonderful hobby

I have made no secret of my dislike of the "establishment" and their "official lists" in whatever arena of natural history they operate. I have no problem with any individual who wishes to push the boundaries of their personal knowledge, I wish that more would do so instead of playing follow the leader, but if it floats your boat - so be it! I am on the outside, an onlooker, who is rather glad that none of this stuff matters?
It has now been decreed, by the high and mighty, that a grey-looking Stonechat present at the Kerton Road Triangle, Dungeness, Kent, between 8th November & 5th December is an example of Stejneger's Stonechat based on DNA analysis, obtained from a dropping! Strange thing is that at no time did any field observer offer this as a potential id - it didn't look like one? More precisely; it didn't look like any of the previously accepted UK records. So it comes to pass that this id was clinched in a test tube, not via a set of binoculars or a digitally captured image.
Sadly, this is another demonstration of how birding has got so far up its' own arse that it can no longer see the light. Birdwatching is a hobby (obsession?) and a bloody good one at that. Ornithology, however, is a science and therein lies the problem. 
When I go fishing I am an angler, not an Ichthyologist, I turn on my 125w MV - I don't morph into a Lepidopterist, I am a moth-er! The natural world exists to enthrall and entertain, it is a playground of massive diversity which has the ability to astound and amaze. Reducing it to this pitiful level is why I jumped ship - surely it's not essential to put a label on it to enjoy the encounter? Leave science to those who care, they'd do well to concentrate their efforts on discovering a cure for Aids and Cancer rather than analysing bird shit! The natural world deserves more respect.

Glory be! I've just been on Birdguides and what would you know? That bloody Stejneger's Stonechat has been relocated, on the Dunge NNR, what a stroke of luck? The masses will now be able to pay homage, gaining the insurance of an "armchair tick" without any requirement to sift through a subtle suite of clues in order to clinch an id - it's in the bag!
Has there ever been a more telling pun? If DNA analysis is to become the way forward with rarity id - then we are headed in a backwards direction. We are now reverting to Victorian methodology, once again adopting the collector's mentality. "Unproven" unless a sample is provided - sure sounds like a fun way of getting kids involved with natural history. "Got your bins? Telescope? Pooper scooper? GUN!"



3 comments:

  1. My thoughts exactly Dyl. Once upon a time field notes were all that were necessary for recording a rare bird, now we've escalated to a specimen of it's shit. Perhaps as you suggested at the end, we'll end up going back to the way the Victorians used to record a rare bird - they used to shoot it and stuff it. I wonder where this obsession with inventing new sub-species of birds is going to end.

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    1. Derek, this level of knowledge is a symptom of the rapid advance in technology that mankind has at its' disposal. As a species, we have an unquenchable thirst for discovery and reducing the identification of a bird to a laboratory exercise is a sad reflection of this. It invalidates all previous records, because none of that data was proven beyond doubt? It is time that UK birders sought to distance themselves from ornithologists. The county organisations should rebrand themselves and concentrate on developing individuals who are competent field birders, not twitchers and certainly not scientists. The pompous and presumptuous label of "Ornithological Society" should be changed to Birdwatchers Club - a true reflection of what the hobby is all about. Field notes, cameras (?) and optics being all the kit required to function in this domain. - Dyl

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  2. Very valid points Dyl. but somehow I don't see it happening, the KOS these days struggles to just exist, let alone re-brand.

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