Clubs, societies and a mountain of paper
RSPB, BTO, London Natural History Society, Surrey Bird Club, Kent Ornithological Society, Sussex Ornithological Society, Friend of Dungeness Bird Observatory, Beddington Farm Bird Group, British Birds, Birding World, Plantlife, Botanical Society of the British Isles, Wild Flower Society, Surrey Botanical Society, Atropos, British Wildlife
Over the years, this little lot has seen me become the owner of a mountain of literature in the form of bird reports, bulletins, newsletters and the like. In fact so much so that, had I kept it all, I would most probably have needed to build an extension to my house. That admission, that I haven't kept it all, begs the question - what have I kept and what have I ditched?
My membership of the BTO lapsed soon after I gave up my 'A' class ringing permit in 1983. Although I have purchased such magnificent publications such as the BTO Migration Atlas (and have ordered the new atlas), all my other bumph, including many copies of the BTO News, have been dumped. The Surrey Bird Club has seen me join and leave on too many times to keep a count of. I live in Surrey, love the countryside within it but cannot take seriously it being an ornithological unit worthy of such effort. My loss, I know.
I used to bird a lot in Kent and Sussex but when such activity lessened I did not feel compelled to carry on patronising the county bird societies. I have dumped my annual reports from both. Friends of Dungeness holds a special place in my heart. I was a founder member when it was launched (in 1979 if memory serves me correct) and I have an almost unbroken run of annual reports from 1957, although I am missing 1967 and 1968. (If you have spare copies let me know! Top dollar prices negotiable!) I have kept these and dumped the newsletters. I am still a member.
British Birds and Birding World were must have reads. Were. I gave up British Birds when I could no longer be arsed to pretend that I was interested in most of the articles that appeared in its pages. I used to turn straight to the 'Recent reports' column that was, by the time of reading, at least a couple of months out of date. Papers on the breeding behaviour of Dunnocks was always then a second-best. My divorce from Birding World happened when I was sick and tired with reading papers on the identification of small geese, redpolls and gulls. Once or twice a year I could put up with such stuff, but when it became a monthy staple diet I had had enough. ALL of my BBs were binned (apart from issues in which I had contributed notes) and I gave ALL of my Birding Worlds away for free. I know that the owner of these has since dumped them as well.
All of my botanical memberships have lapsed apart from The Wild Flower Society and I don't really know why I carry on with that. ALL of my collected literature has been parted with.
So, what's left?
I still belong to the RSPB and think it important to do so. I normally throw the magazine away without looking at it. The LNHS still has my membership, but again I do not hang onto the bulletins or copies of The London Naturalist. I do, however, keep the London Bird Reports and I have an unbroken run of them going back to 1974. My subscriptions to Atropos and British Wildlife are still active. I look forward to both publications with the sort of excitement that I used to greet BB and Birding World with. I have been with Atropos since issue one and have kept them all. I read British Wildlife from cover to cover but then release them. If you know a good home that they could go to, let me know.
Have I ever regretted dumping any of this lot? No, never. My only emotional attachment is to a single item - the 1957 DBO report, the first one published. I once dropped it in the bath, but it survived. I used to imagine, back when I was a young keen birder, that I would own a glass-fronted bookcase in my middle-to-late age, stuffed with all of my collected bird reports and BBs. I would be sitting in front of a fire on winter evenings and spend hours reading through them.
The past rarely predicts the future correctly.