So you’ve just come back from the Birdfair with bags full of new optics and cutting edge bird books, you’ve built up a big list and you’ve got a few foreign trips planned. But are you really a birder? Answer the following questions as honestly as you can, then total up your answers and check the results at the end.
1. It’s September and surface pressure charts show perfect conditions for a massive fall of migrants on the east coast. You’re packing the boot of the car when you receive a phone call telling you that your elderly mother has had a fall, and doctors suspect that she is now too frail to look after herself. Do you:
a) unpack the car and prepare the spare bedroom, your mother is welcome to live with you in the twilight years of her life. Indeed, it’s the very least you can do for the woman who raised you.
b) investigate local nursing homes and reluctantly acknowledge that your birding time will be greatly curtailed in future.
c) get on the phone to Dignitas and book her an Easyjet flight to Lucerne for the next morning.
2. In an attempt to improve your appearance, your partner suggests that you should invest in a fresh and fashionable new wardrobe. Do you:
a) go to a trendy artisan district within your city centre and create an original and stylish look for yourself.
b) go to a shopping centre and kit yourself out in the latest high street fashion, as well as a number of practical items of clothing for your outdoor pursuits.
c) buy a dark blue cagoule from Tony down at the indoor market for twelve quid, rip a hole in the right pocket, drag it through the oily puddle in your street and then pour Bovril all over it.
3. What is your favourite music?
a) pretty much anything from classical and jazz, right up to indie, hip hop and even some commercial pop.
b) you are passionate about live music and have amassed an enormous list of bands that you have seen over the years. You are renowned for bringing along a fantastic selection of music when you jump in with a crew on the way to a twitch.
c) the call of a single invisible Lapland Bunting flying over a hill in the East Midlands at 5am in the piss pouring rain, that actually might have been one of the Starlings you later see sitting on the wires when the fog clears.
4. A relative has died and you have inherited a moderate sum of money. With incredible timing, you and your family all have two weeks off together. Do you:
a) book a safari to Kenya. You’ve always wanted to see the African giants and the kids will love it as well.
b) book a birds and culture tour with a reputable birding holiday company. You’ll get to see some great birds as well as there being plenty for your family to do.
c) fly out to Lima and join a tick-and-run mission for Long-whiskered Owlet, leaving behind a twenty quid note on the kitchen table for your family to put towards a takeaway from Canton King.
5. Your much maligned partner has finally left you, and hearing that the place is full of hot singles looking for love, you decide to join a local book club. You are asked to bring along your favourite book and read a chapter to the group. What do you choose?
a) Atticus Finch’s speech to the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, for its discussion of racial harmony, morality and a commentary upon the human condition.
b) Jake Cardigan trapped in a room full of murderous robotic bulls in TekWar by William Shatner, because that was the last book you read when you went on a coach trip to buy a load of cheap fags and booze from Bruges in 1993.
c) ‘Steppe Buzzard’ in Duivendijk.
6. How do you conduct yourself in an online birding debate?
a) you choose not to get involved, though you occasionally read debates on various forums for both education and entertainment.
b) you are polite to those whose opinions you respect but nonetheless disagree with, though occasionally you find yourself embroiled in vigorous but always courteous debates.
c) you register on a discussion forum under a pseudonym, glue down the caps lock key, swap full stops for exclamation marks, spell definitely as ‘definately’ and proceed to make a total dick of yourself slagging off anyone and everyone, using bullshit facts and stats that you read in the Ladybird Book of Birds, whilst desperately hoping that you never have to meet any of these people in the flesh as they might kick your bastard teeth out.
7. You are in a hide and overhear a conversation between two people who are clearly new to the hobby. They are discussing whether a wader is a Black- or Bar-tailed Godwit. They decide to take a photograph of the bird and consult their books when they get home. After looking at the bird you immediately identify it as a Black-tailed, but what do you do next?
a) you smile to yourself, recalling how similar identification problems also once troubled you. We all have to start somewhere.
b) you lean over and explain that the bird is a Black-tailed Godwit, and then give them a number of useful tips on how to separate the two European godwits in future.
c) you tut loudly and mutter that there was a time when hides used to be quiet places for birdwatching, not idle chit-chat. And besides, instead of taking blurred over-exposed digi-scoped photos, they should be taking notes. Birding is going to hell in a handcart, and these new birders haven’t got a fucking clue. It’s probably the fault of the internet. Or that bitch Thatcher.
8. It’s the summer holidays and your ex-partner has dumped the kids on you for a few days, so you take them to the seaside. One of your children swallows a coin it has dug up in the sand and begins to choke and gasp for air. Do you:
a) frantically grab the child and perform a successful Heimlich manoeuvre.
b) immediately stop scanning for Roseate Terns and yell for assistance.
c) have no idea that it’s even happened because you just ditched the kids and then pissed off out to the headland for eight hours of seawatching.
9. Chatting to other birders down at the gravel pits, you explain that local patching is much more rewarding than chasing up and down the country looking for birds which are ten-a-penny abroad. Twitching is vacuous and irrelevant. Suddenly the pager kicks in about a White-throated Robin in Hartlepool. Do you:
a) wish them well and hope they have a great time, then head off to check on how the local breeding birds are doing and continue your BTO survey work.
b) admit that this bird is getting your old twitching juices flowing again, and agree to jump in a car with them and head to Hartlepool.
c) tell them that they’re absolute pricks for going, it’ll be full of idiots, twitching’s nothing like it used to be before the internet and Thatcher ruined everything. Then three hours later you’re caught out having been seen at the twitch desperately trying to scramble up an eight foot wall to get a glimpse of it for your British list, which you repeatedly claim to have absolutely no interest in whatsoever.
So how did you do? Check the results below to see if you are a real birder.
Mostly As – you really think you’re a birder? I don’t think so, mate. Take your bins and shove them up your arse, because that’s about as useful as they are to you. Stick to enjoying Kingfishers sitting on your rod when you’re out fishing and delighting over birds feeding in your garden. Or better still just kill yourself.
Mostly Bs – good try, but you’re not quite there yet. Whilst showing some interest in birding, you clearly value hygiene, diet, personal appearance, a social life and sanity far too highly. Try distancing yourself from all sense of proportion and reality. Oh, and make sure you say “stonking” and “cracking” when you’re watching some knackered, dehydrated vagrant that’s shivering and coughing in its death throes.
Mostly Cs – bravo! You have literally no life whatsoever. You are the archetypal birder. From jacking off to a sermon on Cley East Bank in 1973 to suppressing all the dross you find on your wanky local patch today, you’ve certainly been there and done it all. And by Christ do you make sure we all know about it, especially all those Octobers on Scilly back before the internet and Thatcher ruined everything.
With apologies to Viz for stealing their joke questionaire format. Though there’s no such thing as an original idea, so shame on them for probably stealing it from someone else.
Rich Hoyer: Christmas Bird Count Fun: Five Christmas Bird Counts this season wasn’t quite enough. I’m sad to see the Christmas Bird Count
Category:Birding North America
GregLaden: Darwin’s Sexy Sons: Darwin saw the same thing others had seen … an enigma of nature … and took equal note of it. But
Gunnar: African vultures also in Danger: Kenya Vultures declining! Most birders have heard of the critical state of the vultures of the Indea
- None Found