For anybody out there who has only come across me via this blog, I must come over as a miserable luddite, always at the ready to have a pop at the modern birder and the way that they conduct themselves. It's fair to say that even those people that do actually know me might agree with some of those statements.
I'd better come clean and put the record straight.
Subject: Steven William Gale
Age: 54 (almost 55)
First started birding: 1974, aged 15.
British BOU list: 376 (not many is it)
Birding history: Began by birding local parks, golf courses and Beddington SF. Regular trips to Staines Reservoir and Pagham Harbour. Started a life-long love affair with Dungeness in 1976. Twitcher phase lasted between 1977 (Hastings Wallcreeper) until 1982 (Nanquidno Varied Thrush), although a few other twitches were undertaken afterwards. Last twitch was the Dungeness Canvasback in 2000. All other lifers since have been incidental.
Birding admin: South Kent recorder 1982-84, Dungeness Bird Observatory committee member 1979 - 1984.
Foreign trips: France, Spain, Greece, Austria, Israel, Malaysia.
Current birding: mainly local patches with the odd trip to the coast. Time shared between other wildlife orders.
Tools: Swarovski bins and scope, Panasonic compact camera, twitter account, blog site
As you can see, I do have, and use, a Twitter account. I use it to gather birding information and, in the rare event that I find something of interest, disseminate it. I also text (or phone) such information to my closer friends. I keep field notes throughout the year and send observations to the relevant recorders (mainly birds, plants, moths and butterflies). I maintain a blog and read many others for a mixture of entertainement and interest.
So, where does my ranting and mickey-taking come from? You can clearly see that I am no luddite as I have adopted 'new media'as it comes along. A big fat dollop of this bile can be referred to as 'tongue-in-cheek'. I might not BOOM! and 'rares' myself, but I'm guilty of sending out just as much waffle as the next person. Age has a part to play. As each generation comes along they bring with them new ways of doing things, new jargon and it is the way of life that the 'oldies' get left behind - even if it is just a little bit. Some can call it sarcasm, others satire, or it could be just having a bit of a laugh with a subject that I've been involved in for almost forty years.When I describe birders as looking like a load of 'overweight middle-aged men dressed like Ray Mears', what do you think I look like when I'm out in the field? You've guessed it - an overweight middle-aged man dressed like Ray Mears. When I take the p*ss, I'm taking it out of myself and the world I losely inhabit. In conversation with birding friends it is clear that many of us 'older' birders see the humour of what is going on. And it is humourous - who cannot see the harmless absurdity in Twitter handles such as 'BigBoyPipitShagger77', the congratulating of birders for travelling to see a bird somebody else found, or the fact that a 54 year-old overweight birder spends some of his spare time sitting in front of a computer blogging about it?
Such things enrich our lives. I want more of these quirks to be present. I like BOOMS! as much as I find them absurd. If they didn't exist then someone would need to come up with something else. And remember - the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about at all.