There seems to be an awful lot of self promotion going on in the world of birding at the moment. My twitter feed is full of people boasting about their recent finds, pointing me in the direction of their latest blog posts and imploring me to buy their latest book. I suppose I should be applauding them for using social media to alert a potential audience (or customer base) to the existence of their products or the greatness of their birding prowess, especially if this is how they make a living. But I find it all a bit tiresome.
I suppose that the reason why I don't buy into it is because birding to me is a means of escape from that part of the world which is ruled by celebrity and force-fed by a bloated media. To have to wade through exactly that same sort of stuff to find out what's been seen is something that displeases me. But am I guilty of hypocrisy here? After all, didn't I bathe in the small glory of finding the Surrey Hawfinch flock back in March? Am I not keen to announce via the internet my latest moth and plant 'successes'? If I wasn't trying to be a bit of a show-off then would I have the need to blog? And if I had written a book about such things wouldn't I advertise it by tweeting and blogging?
Maybe there lies the problem. Birding in particular has an active fan-base which has embraced social media and uses it to good effect. Why be a shrinking violet in the modern birding world when those who gain attention are the ones who shout "Me, me, me" the loudest? Modesty and humility seem to have gone missing and are being replaced by self-promotion and arrogance. One of the best birders I know, who has found an enviable list of rarities, is one of the most modest men that I have met. He is also a red hot lepidopterist to boot. He's old school - he has obtained peer recognition via his ornithological deeds over many years without the need to bang on about his birding prowess*. There are people not half as good as him (I won't name them, that would be petty), who go to great lengths to advertise their birding successes and force feed us a false glory. It doesn't wash with me. Modern celebrity (in any form), is based on the 'all fur coat and no knickers' model - it may be shiny on the outside but it is largely hollow within. Maybe I'm just showing my age and good manners: "You first, please and thankyou" rather than "out of the way my public need to attend to me".
Please forgive me, I just start typing and all of this bile comes gushing out! But of course, if I ever get around to writing that book, or finding a first for Britain, I might just change my stance...
* You can find this birder hanging around the RSPB reserve at Dungeness, or checking moth traps in the Sissinghurst area.