Scuse me mate, don't think I recognise you. What's your name?
No, your proper name.
That is my proper name. It's John.
No, your birding handle. You know, the one you use on Twitter, like SuckMyList1976 or BillyBigTicks88.
I don't use Twitter.
Don't use Twitter?!! How do you find out what's around then?
Well, I go outside with my binoculars and telescope and look.
With your possee?
You know, with your team, your gang, your crew. Burn up a Cornish valley together or thrash a Scottish Island?
Er, no. I just look in the local parks, woods and farms. On my own.
Blimey, that's a bit odd. When did you last BOOM!
Sorry, you'll have to run that past me again.
When did you last find a rare and tweet it?
I don't use Twitter, I told you. And what does BOOM mean?
You've got to say BOOM! whenever you find a good bird.
Dunno? (scratches head). Everybody else does it. (Phone makes silly noise) Scuse me... Ah, it's BigBoyPipitShagger72. He's just driven 500 miles to year tick a Lancey. I must text him..."That's brilliant mate. Congratulations. Top birding"
Why are you congratulating him? His only driven a car to see a bird somebody else found.
Dunno (scratches head). Everybody else does it. Anyway, where's your big lens?
I haven't got a camera.
Well, how do you record your BOOM! rares?
I've got a field notebook and a pen. I observe the bird and write a description.
You'll never get that accepted. Lone birder, no photograph. That equals no record pal.
Whatever happened to field descriptions?
That's so 1990s. You need photographs from every angle and preferably a feather or shit sample. Let the lab boys look at it. Forensic birding we call it. The only way a single observer record will get through is if you're one of the birding elite.
Who are they?
Someone like you wouldn't know them, but you can spot them a mile off. The rest of us are dressed like Ray Mears, but they look subtly different.
Wearing a bandana. Maybe an Australian bush-hat. One of them wears a white disco suit like John Travolta. There's an unwritten rule that says 'All birders are equal, but some birders are more equal than others'. A dissenter said that it was all getting a bit Orwellian, whatever that means, but he was taken away and sent on a crash course in 'intermediate gulls'. That wiped the smile off his face...
It sounds to me that we've regressed.
You'll have to explain that to me.
Well, in Victorian times a rare bird would only be accepted if it was shot and the skin presented to the recorders. Then we discovered field-craft and could identify birds by describing what we saw by the writing of field notes. Now, it seems, field notes are no good and we need pictures to prove it. We've come full circle.
S'pose so. I've never found anything though because I spend all of my time chasing BOOMS! and rares. Hold on... (phone makes silly noise)... Right, I'm off. There's a flava wagtail showing characteristics of friedegg at Portland. I'd better go before the crew beat me to it. That would make 345 for the year if I'm following UK400, 342 on the Bandana list or 299 with BOU. Are you coming?
Believe it or not, I'm quite happy here.