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.