<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Newsletter
Newsletter of the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society
My Kind of Birding - Mike Robinson
Spring 2001
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Why is it that any birder you meet says 'I'm not a twitcher'? Why not admit it? We all like seeing new birds. It is just that some will put up with more pain than others in the quest to do so. Most will nip out to Leighton if something good turns up but only a few will do Cornwall and back in a day.

I am somewhere in the middle. If I can 'get' a new bird without too much pain I will do so but in reality straight twitching must form less than 20% of my birding. I am though a collector by nature. I was introduced to birding by egg collecting as a child along with shooting. Indeed I saw my first Snowy Owl by accident many years ago when in Scotland shooting. The 'collecting' in me means I do like a target in anything I do. So I like to keep the list moving.

So what is my type of birding? I see myself as a birder with targets prepared to travel. For me the much maligned year list gives the incentive to get around the country each year to see all the non rarities every year. I am not so much interested in the length of the year list as making sure there are no obvious gaps. I did some birding of some sort on 182 days in 2000 but only in one year have I made the magic 300 species. The number is less important than the 'completeness' of the list. To see some of the 'awkward' non rarities provide the incentive for a trip. To make sure you don't miss Capercaillie, Crested Tit,Scottish Crossbill gives a reason for a Scottish trip. To do the same for Golden Oriole,Montagu's Harrier,Stone Curlew and Woodlark is the incentive for a Norfolk trip in May- if one is needed! I like a specific trip for the likes of Goshawk, Little Auk. To make sure you don't miss even birds like Wood Warbler you have to plan. What I do not like, I am afraid, is too much checking and rechecking the same site day after day or indeed just going for a targetless walk with binoculars with no objective. I get almost as much satisfaction from locating these type of scarce birds as I do seeing a new rarity but there it does not bother me whether I find it or not. With scarce birds I like to go looking. With rarities it is just lists and it doesn't matter how they get there.

This leads us to the next aspect of birding- the indoor part of the hobby. Books,Lists,The Computer,Periodicals. Identification forums. The internet.

Yes I like lists. All my records go on Bird Recorder and this means they are all 'searchable' on the Computer. The programme produces any list you define and I have many. However the only ones that matter are UK, Year List & North West(Cheshire northwards). I go by BOU rather than UK400 club but I do add michahellis Yellow legged Gull. When abroad I am not the slightest bit interested in lists and although the Computer has it automatically I could not tell you the length of my World list.

I have any amount of other information on the Computer. In particular I have a UK list set out in reverse rarity order by numbers of sightings in UK. Thus I can see at a glance the 'commonest' bird not seen. I have seen all birds seen more than 100 times in UK bar one. I am just as interested in good subspecies and frankly whether they are lumped or split is not important. I have also 'done' the Land Mammals,Butterflies,Reptiles,Amphibians with just 2 of the Mammals and 1 of the Butterflies to go. Next the Bats and Dragonflies! I subscribe to various discussion groups on birding on the internet and get much useful information on identification and sites from this source. The news section on the society's web site is brilliant - means you can benefit from Pete's successes the previous day! I get just about all the Bird Magazines and have indexed all the id & site articles on a database so searching is easy(30years BB,13 years Birdwatching,Birding World,Birdwatch etc). If anyone would like a copy of the disk let me know. I have all the magazines stored and my birding library is second only to Prestwood's.

The problem then is that this whole aspect then grows like topsy and can become a kind of hobby in itself. It can be hard to keep up at times. I must get 5 monthly magazines and probably 15-25 emails a day. When you then include entering records you can end up with the indoor part of the hobby taking more time than the outdoor!

So what are the likes and dislikes?


All good 'scarce' birds that take some tracking down.

Something a bit unnatural about the latter.

Indeed I think there is a book waiting to be written on this subject. The Butterfly people use bar charts to show flight periods and exactly at what stage each species is at each week of the year. It could be the same for birds viz Arrival,Nest Building,1st Brood laid, Hatching,Fledging....Departure.


In almost all circumstances suppression is the greatest sin a birder can commit. There must be a very good reason before this can be justified and in most instances where it has happened there has not been. However I do accept that a finder has a right not to put out news but if he does he then loses the right to go for other people's birds.

Birding is a pastime/hobby. Not a climb up the league tables of skill.

Bird would most like to see well

Thinking point

However you play it just enjoy your birding in your own way. See you out there.

Mike Robinson Feb 2001

See www.nwbirds.co.uk

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