Sunday, 27 November 2016

Take note

Is the field notebook becoming a threatened species? I ask, because I rarely see anybody using one nowadays. It was a staple of the birder's weaponery 'back in the day', as much a part of the ornithological arsenal as your bins, scope and ex-army jacket. Don't get this confused with the posh log book back at home, where the field notes were written up all neat of hand and full of additional flourish - I'm referring to the small, pocket-sized notebook where the day's counts and descriptions would be jotted down whilst in the field. These could get dirty, spattered in mud, wet with rain, crinkled at the edge and have pages torn from its innards - it was a tool of the field and if I ever left home without one I felt bereft. And if I did forget it then I have been known to then use any scrap of paper, inside of a field guide or back of a hand to scribble down all of that important info. Well, I say important meaning that it was to me. I did take it all a little to seriously to be honest.

I look around today and see few taking notes. Very few. Do these people just not bother at all? Do they write it all down when they get home, trusting their memories? I would put money on the former being correct. I have seen (or more accurately heard) birder's dictating their observations into small recorders, but could never bring myself to adopt this method. It had to be an A6 hard backed notebook, with narrow feint ruling, preferably a ribbon for marking the page that was being written upon and for the cover to be either black or dark blue. No fuss there then...

I recently have been using a black hard-backed notebook from Ryman's, spiral-ring bound which even sports an embossed feather on the cover. For the past 5-6 years this 'model' has accompanied me across hill and dale, up mountain and down to the coast. Thoroughly field tested. Totally the dog's do-dahs. They have just discontinued it. The new version is inferior in several ways, so I will be on the look out for the next new favourite.

As for the big, serious, important and grand log book that follows on in the note taking process - that deserves a post all of its own.

9 comments:

  1. This is the best on the market today....

    https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/whsmith-moderno-black-a5-notebook-96-pages/35054948

    Superb. I have some instock just in case...


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    1. Thanks Stewart, will check it out - I thought that you might have a recommendation being a great note taker.

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  2. Difficult to while I'm running or on a bike lolol

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    1. You'll need one of those recorders to talk into Simon.

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  3. Castelli Pocket notebooks work really well for me but they are a bit pricey and I am on my last one. I have some cheaper Tesco versions in stock for when this one gives up it's last page.

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    1. I am surrounded by people with notebook taste!!

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  4. I use the WHSmith A6 ringbound sketch books when out in the field and write up my notes once back home in a looseleaf A4 binder. I've found them to be the best outdoor notebook for me as they fit nicely in a coat pocket (or back pocket of jeans in summer).

    https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/whsmith-a6-sketch-pad/546539

    A couple of years ago I was walking back from Dunstanburgh to Craster and saw a group of 7 dolphin offshore. I stopped people and pointed them out (amazing how many weren't even looking out to sea so would have missed them!) as I always do. I got chatting to a lovely older gentleman and his daughter up here on holiday and in the course of the conversation he got his notebook out to write down a few of the sites where he could see birds/wildlife. His daughter laughed and said ''Oh him and his notebook'' at which I pulled out mine! He's one of the very few people I've seen out and about who do still use notebooks....most nowadays seem to just take photos with their souped-up cameras. Me - I'll stick to the traditional old-fangled ways with notebook, pencil and penknife.

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    1. Thank you for the comment Gill and I'm pleased that you are part of the 'notebook gang' - I will also take a look at your recommendation.

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  5. Hi Gill I live about two miles from Dunstanburgh castle and I too carry my notebook with me...check here for proof...

    http://boulmerbirder.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Sketches.

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