Sunday, April 20

Five loaves, two fishes, four singing Scrub-warblers.

My dear parishioners,

Today's reading was brought to mind following intercourse most rough and most recent with a local a'birderer on the matter of numbers, in particular those of Cetti's Warblers. I was somewhat taken aback to be lectured on our local reedy duck pond being home to a 'multitude' of this delightfully skulky bird. When I suggested that my own daily observations were much, much lower in number I was told I knew not of what I spake. Unchastened, I then continued to explain how the watery level of the pond was holding two feet higher than last year, thanks to all the rains, so this species really did not like the pond as much as previous. However, I was told firmly, in colourfully rustic Anglo-Saxon phrases, to only to lecture on matters for which I was qualified.

So while of course it is important we concentrate on the Easter rising I really neeeeeed to be putting this individual straight. To this end my reading to you today is penned by the very discoverer of this species in question;- I read to you from St Francesco's letter to the Marshians.

   ~ 73:1 This is the story of Cettia and his family.

   ~ 73:2 In the beginning was Animalia, who begat Chordata, who begat Aves, who begat Passeriformes, who begat Passeri, who begat Passerida, who Sylvioidea, who begat Cettidae.

   ~ 73:3 And Cettidae begat many sons and daughters;- Pholidornis, Hylia, Abroscopus, Urosphena, Tesia, Horornis, Tickellia, Phyllergates, Scotocerca and Cettia.

 ~ 73:4 And it came to pass that Cettia alone settled in the land of Tukogbani, so those many brothers and sisters were not really that familiar to the native a'birderers of the land.

   ~ 73:5 His closest relation dwelling there was Aegithalidae, but the natives did not take kindly when the Watchmen of Science moved Cettia next to Aegithalidae in their Order Most Scientific. Many simply refused to believe Cettia was not of the tribe of old world warblers, and that Cettia behaved the same as one.

   ~ 73:6 But he behaved as a Scrub-warbler. And so when Cettia settled into the first county he came upon in number, his chosen Scrub-warbler land was sought- wet, damp thickets. Now this oft included wet reedbeds, but by co-incidence, for Cettia was seeking out his dense thicketry, with beautiful bare soil beneath, upon which to scrub about.

   ~ 73:7 And it was there he was first watched in great detail by a holier man than I, John the Artist, who didst a jolly good job writing up all observations chapter and verse in that county's annual reporte.

~ 73:8 And for you remaining doubting Thomases, the number of that reporte was twenty-two, and the page numbers four and eighty to five and ninety.

~ 73:9 And there the Artist wrote that the territories of Cettia were found to be much longer than wide, so as to only encompass those raised embankments crossing wet reedbed. Such dominions were said to have been approximately 250 to 300 mitres* in length but a mere 30 to 60 mitres in width. And Cettia thought it good, for he did not wish to cleanse his feet.
*An ancient Jesuit measurement. There are 39.37 inches in a mitre.

~ 73:10 And it was also wrote that every domain held cover both of trees and of bushes, through which Cettia could move, or double back, unobserved by friend or foe. And Cettia thought it good, for he was a hermit at heart, more like a Luscinia in habits than any old warbler.

   ~ 73:11 And it was also noted that Cettia flew most frequently after utterance, and that that he didst sing once again straight after any such unobserved flight. And such hidden flights were oft the length of the domain to be as much as 250 mitres away. And Cettia thought it good to beat his bounds.

   ~ 73:12 And so it was, to the unobservant, that the call of Cettia could be oft claimed as two instead of one, giving rise to numbers most tricksy in the records. Indeed Cettia thought it good to be counted more than once, for a ghost bird in the bush is worth more in the logge.

   ~ 73:13 So, if any one of you whomsoe'er still believeth in such high countery then, truly, thou art a wad of dip.



Here endeth the reading. My parishioners, when you are asked today if you know of the good news, you may now reply "Why yes, I most certainly do;- the good news is that the territories of the local Scrub-warblers have been flooded up closer to cart-tracks and footpaths around our ponds, so we all stand a goodly chance of glimpsing him now, and have three times as many good chances of hearing his sweet, sweet song(!)."

That completes this preachy sermon. If no-one else wishes to query any of my other counts... no(?)... then I will send you all on your ways into the field wishing you happy a'birdering upon this day, the appropriated Pagan festival of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring and Spring fowle migration.

Makke waay thy skulky Cetti's,
who hath helde your territorie sinfth Octobre laft,
for them Spring a'ticks are now back
 and wifh to shaare your beddes,
tra la la la, tra la la laaaa(!)
 















Thursday, April 17

The Divine Comedy of a'birdering

Having stayed up late dining on milk and cheese, while at the same time reading the classic 'Inferno', (the first and most famous book of Dante's trilogy) I found myself falling into fitful sleep whilst still half-musing upon the role of the character Thanatos therein. (In particular I wondered how some Ancient Tukogbanis had known of this Greek daemon of death, for they had clearly named one nearby Isle after him (I presume because decent fowle only ever turn up in the fields of their dead).

This proved my undoing for the whole long dark night that followed for as I slumbered I somehow found myself acting out the story of the Inferno, even in the company of the Poet Virgil, Dante's guide for that tome. It seems that Virgil plays an important role in all Inferno-natural rescues, as he was soon explaining he had been chosen to lead me down to first view and then contemplate upon a circle of Hell especially reserved for a'birderers.

I mused upon Dante's nine circles;- limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud or treachery? Which one? A'birderers, along with many, if not all, of their claims, could sit nicely in any circle stall.

"We are here;- level three hundred."

I was mute. Sensing my shock Virgil continued "Like many mortals you think there are only nine circles of Hell(?) No sir(!) Why, there are a further 291 levels reserved for a'birders alone. Welcome to the 300th, a'tweetery. Before you Fumblefinch stretches the murky delta of the six great rivers of the Underworld; the Styx, the Phelegthon, the Acheron, the Cocytus, and the lesser-known Tems and Mudway. Together these form the fearful Stygian Marsh."

I remained mute at the sight (which I know is most unlike me) so the great poet continued "There is, within that marsh, a fabulous owl, the Stygian Marsh Owl."

"Ah" (for I can always find voice for opinions ornithological) "Asio stygius, of the southern and central latitudes of the Americas (and twice claimed at least by the Yankee-doodlers). Yes, yes, I am familiar with this fowle."

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That is a mortal owl, that is the Stygian Owl, so named by humans after this beast. The true Stygian Marsh Owl is a huge snarly, bitey, clawey, snowy-coloured fowle said to be, like Cerebus, a guard, to the gates out of this particular a'birdering Hell."

"A'birderers who find themselves stuckfast here must tick the Owl on their lists to escape their sufferings. But this snowy fowle only reveals itself rarely, and then usually only to a single observer. And when knowledge of their claim becomes public the foul waters of the marsh boil with rage as all those trapped within seek out the name of the one who claims it. For if the single observer claimant is revealed, then their sighting can be made unsubstantiated. What you see before you are all the unhappy souls a'tu-whittering, and that is their sufferance everlasting; an unhappy gnawing and gnashing, forever and a day, until a written description is dealt with. When it starts over again."

I looked upon those seething masses, and could hear their cacophonous cries;- "Who, who-hoo-hoo?"

Virgil chanted "If they gain the name, then they can pour shame, to disallow all claim." (I was beginning to think Virgil was not that great a poet by this point.) "For to stop getting through, gives another the view, and so carries on the game."

At this point I awoke, mortified. Such horrific rhyme(!).

But in the light of day I am more relaxed now, especially as putting the story down on paper here has helped distance me from such suffering.

I do now wonder if I should still risk continuing this night with Dante's second part, Purgatorio? No, perhaps not just yet. After all, I already have a full day's a'birdering planned. I am certain such a day will provide me with enough fanciful visions upon which to dream most vividly. A'birdering Hell can wait.

No, forget details of the fowle, describe to me the a'birderer(!)
The a'birderer(!!)

Monday, March 31

The legend of Thicke-Foote

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow morning, April 1st, I attend an auction sale at Bristows, in the hope of procuring a mounted specimen I had long thought just a dream; the nigh-mythical Thicke-Foote.

The original Thicke-Foote is still also known in these parts as the Sussedsquash (from the olde English 'squash', to suppress and 'suss', a realisation the ornithological rozzers are onto any false claim).

Like oh so many, I have only seen illustrations before. The Thick-Foote is said to be a moderate sized, feathery, corlee-like fowle with cankles as thick as a mid-finger. Long thought both nocturnal and invisible (to all but Madame Curie's glow-in-the-dark sticks) young George has advertised he has come into the possession of a full set most complete, namely one of each of the various claimed sightings of Thicke-Foote species from around the world, said to have been taken as a flock at Lanceolating, Sou'Saxon.

Genuine provenance? Well, some might wait for the Watchmen to decide. At this very moment I know I just neeeeeed one, oh so badly, so I am heartily influenced by the reports from Bristow of his enquiries made by telephonic communication to a 'shady dealer' in such matters named only as "Fowle 'Arry", who has indicated none to be known in any zoological gardens or collections in our realm. That is good enough for me(!)

I quote the choices available to me from the catalogue, together with comments;-


Lot no. 04590
Eurasian Thicke-Foote
Burhindus oebinfrontofus
The original Thicke-Foote. Not to be confused with the Stoney-Corlee. Once supposedly as widespread in TUKOGBANI as that more familiar Stoney-Corlee, but now thought extinct for many years.
(Fowle 'Arry says this is the type most often claimed by observers hearing common corlee, and he could probably secure a crate if needs be. So save your money for a bigger prize.)


Lot no. 04600
Seenbygulible Thicke-Foote
Burhindus senegalensisnt
Almost a doppleganger of the Eurasian, but instead leaves a tell-tale size seven print, not a size six. One once thought to have been housed in the now disbanded collection at Leeds Follycastle, any/all present owners are unknown.
(Whomever they might be, Fowle 'Arry says they "ain't never letting such a prize out to roam, f'sure.")


Lot no. 04600.5
Indienda Thicke-Foote
Burhindus onmelistis
Again, supposedly not dissimilar to Eurasian in appearance, best separated by an association with crocs. Once suggested to have been in a collection in some Prussian zoo some decades past, but as we do not really get on with them nowadays, who really cares.
(Certainly according to Fowle 'Arry there are none in captivity here in God's chosen land.)


Lot no. 04600.6
Water-retaining Thicke-Foote
Burhindus lymphaticus
It was written one once shared a pool with a creature called a 'Shamu', in some far-off colony of the Empire, but apparently protesting natives spirited that specimen away many years ago.
(Again, Fowle 'Arry knows of none in the country, but might be able to find one for a small fee.)


Lot no. 04610
Spotted Thicke-Foote
Burhindus capetownensis
Thousands were once claimed to have been in a private collection in their native lands at Isandlwana Bird Park, but were handed over to Rourke's Drift-migrant Theme park and then mysteriously mislaid.
("Definitely a real 'un", according to Fowle 'Arry.)


Lot no. 04610.1
Double-observer-spotted Thicke-Foote
Burhindus bistringus
Last claimed by the lead pair of the ill-fated Meinertzhagen-Munchausen expedition to Colombia (pictures never put out on general release).
(Fowle 'Arry says "that stuffed'un's a banker.")


Lot no. 04610.2
Perusean Thicke-Foote
Burhindus pichumachus
Once claimed as collected in great number by the famous explorer Walter Snetterton whilst high in the Andes during his attempt to prove the altitudinal migration of frogs. Recent accounts in the possession of his living relations suggest Snetterton fed them to the frogs when they became confused and befuddled at 13,000 feet. (The expeditionary party were befuddled, not the frogs;- they were all fine.).
(Fowle 'Arry says he put a posting on a world-wide inter-webbe grouppe for herpetological dietary requirements and no-one has said they keep any, so that is proof enough of wildness.)


Lot no. 04610.3
Bush Thicke-Foote
Burhindus armidreamus
There are said to be sound recordings existing from many decades ago, and a rumour abounds of a circus tour featuring an original specimen coming to our shores later this very year.
(Other than this, Fowle 'Arry knows "nuffink".)


Lot no. 04620
Great Thicke-Foote
Esawus recurviriverbankus
There have only been rumours of rumours of these magnificent beasts since routine dredging of the Empire's waterways ceased.
(Fowle 'Arry has a sniff of a new sighting this very day from some newly dredged muddied parts down upon the Levels, but he thinks just wishful thinking on the part of the locals. His judgement? "That stuffed 'uns deffo worth a punt.")

that's yer lot no. 04620.1
Beach Thicke-Foote
Esawus magnusopus
Rumours of rumours of rumours from the Indian Ocean persist. Many spend fortunes searching.
(Fowle 'Arry says this is the one if the price is right;- he could afford it, he'd "av it" on his mantlepiece.)


Diary, I am sure there will still be some doubters who would suggest these may not be Thicke-Footes at all, but some sort of taxidermified chimera. For my part, I am ready;- I am aware that the tarsus width to bill width ratio should be no more than 3.14159 to 1.00000. Any greater and a claimant risks confusion with the much more common and plausible Slender-billed Corlee, of which I already own one. I shall not fall for that.

Oh diary, I shall not sleep much tonight- I cannot wait for the morrow when I shall certainly be parted, most easily, from all my monies(!)


A Thicke-Foote. Probably.







Tuesday, March 25

String Theory

My dear Dean Cliff,

For many years I had been content being simply called 'Doctor Div' by my parishioners. However, holding just a Doctorate of Divinity had not given me the standing I sought in the ornithological community, so for some time I have secretly been undertaking a second academic course, through the medium of correspondence, via the prestigious Pendleton State University. I am pleased to reveal I have now passed said course and gained what they term a 'High School Diploma'. For your records my full title becomes Rev'd Doctor Div (Dip).

I also thought you might like an abridged copy of my paper, which strings together most neatly all the odd threads within a'birdering. If you enjoy it, do plase let me know if you would like a signed copy of the full 14 volume work for your shelves.

Bandwell

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The True Mechanicks of Quantum a'birdering
The Rev'd Dr. Div. (Dip) Bandwell Ringmore Fumblefinch 


It is accepted that Heinrich Klaus Fritz Von Gatke had already done much great work to establish the many-birds theory whilst stranded upon The British Overseas Territory of German Bight (also known by the Hun as Heligoland).

However, when the brilliant physicist young Werner Sheldon Heisenberg sojourned there, recuperating from a bout of severe hay-fever one May, he claimed that there were 'no distractions whatsoever' on that rocky island, which allowed him time enough to get to grips with all the elements of quantum behaviour. Many birds/No birds, both observed and not observed by two observers present. How can this be explained?

I present the nine elements of the Fumblefinch theory of the True Mechanicks of Quantum a'birdering.

1) The Copenhagen Interpretation
To begin, young Neils Bohr stated "quantum mechanicks does not yield a description of an objective reality but deals only with probabilities of observing, or measuring, various aspects of energy quanta, entities that fit neither the classical idea of particles nor the classical idea of waves"
Applied to lone quantum a'birdering, this means no descriptions are ever required. Ever.
We must now persuade those in power that this is so.

2) Wave/Particle Duality
Young Louis de Broglie first suggested what was to become a basic of all quantum work; at the teeny-tiniest level, all things exist as both a wave and a particle. In quantum a'birdering, this translates as existing as both a rare and common, a.k.a. duality, a.k.a. two bird theory.

3) The Double Slit experiment 
Young Thomas Young helped prove quantum a'birdering duality with this neatly packaged experiment. At quantum level, light passing through two viewslits must pass as electromagnetic waves but then this wave-field must collapse in upon itself on impact with a viewing object whereupon a photon particle appears in place of the wave. Our eyes view photons, not electromagnetic waves. When one fowle is observed by our own eyes through bino-optics it can and will for one quantum-instant appear as both common and rare.



4) Schrodinger's Catbird
During the time the bird is not observed nothing is real and all probables exist. Only when properly observed does either the rare or the common exist. This is why one observer correctly sees a rare and another correctly sees a common.
In quantum a'birdering, until now any birder may have legitimately claimed any species for their personal quantum list (say an Eye-browed Thrush) providing no-one else had also seen and claimed it as common (say a Fieldfare). Thanks to wave/particle duality any multiple of multi-observers might now legitimately claim either species as their own observation, with no danger of ever being challenged to remove the tick from their own personal lists.

5) Einstein's Quantum Theory of Radiation
However, to this day one 'real' problem with (4) appears if two or more of these observers sight the fowle in the very same itsy-bitsy nano-quantum-instance. They may still correctly each register each species, but on a classical human level they will never be able to accept both exist, and so will openly query each's identification. Young Einstein's theory is that if any identification mistake in a'birdering is observed in this way, then no matter how small (the quantum), it will radiate out to proportions most large (the tedium). The experiment for this theory is conducted on the Almighty Forum of Birds most regularly.

6) Bosun-Higgs Pratincole
Thankfully, the echo from the existence of both forms at once has now been found and proven most conclusively via work done in the Higgs Field. This has made the need to read rarity threads on the Almighty Forum of Birds completely redundant, providing time for a'birders to leave their darkened rooms and go out and get a lifer.

7) Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle 
Young Heisenberg also theorised that the paradoxes of the dualism between wave and particle were never actually solved by quantum a'birdering mechanicks, rather that they were somehow 'hidden in the mathematical scheme'.
This still allows some Ornithological Watchmen to try to pronounce classical acceptability/rejectability on the grounds of mathematical statistics. Wrong. They do not search at a quantum level, ignoring what happens inthe tiniest amounts of quantum time necessary but instead look to the whole sum of lifetimes of observers (most usually concentrating on just after the end of such lifetimes when the deceased then has all queried records removed without room for reply). Such poor judgements should never concern a quantum a'birderer.

8) The Multiverse
Finally, we reach the concept of the 'many worlds', where every outcome of every duality is played out in an alternate universe. Different, parallel strings of universes. Every sighting is a string. Which brings us back, rather neatly, to tie all string into the 'classic' birding theory through...

9) Planck's Constant
In all these many-world realities, no matter what species is claimed as observed by a quantum a'birderer, in the judgemental eyes of every Planck of a classical a'birderer any and every bird claimed can and will, in all realities, be a Great Tit.

Q.E.D.

References:
Byrd, Lady 1853: British Birds and their nests, Vol I. (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough) 
Byrd, Lady 1854: British Birds and their nests, Vol I. (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough) 
Byrd, Lady 1863: British Birds and their nests, Vol I. (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1867: The Lady Byrd Book of Sea and Estuary Birds (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1868(i): The Lady Byrd Book of Heath and Woodland Birds (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1868(ii): The Lady Byrd Book of Garden Birds (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1869: The Lady Byrd Book of Pond and River Birds (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1870: The Lady Byrd Book of Birds of Religious Prayer (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1871: The Lady Byrd Book of Birds of Narfen Britain and Narfen Europe (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1872: The Lady Byrd Book of Birds and how they live (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1873: The Lady Byrd Book of Cheating Listers (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1874: The Lady Byrd Book of Dodgy Records (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)
Byrd, Lady 1875: The Lady Byrd Book of Quantum Mechanicks (Hills & Wepworth Ltd, Loughborough)

Sunday, March 2

Dumbing Downs

Oh dear, moanin' Konan has been sounding off again. He tells me he has complained to the Tradery Description Board about about a book he had recently purchased on being described in advertisements as an Avifauna. His complaint is built around the fact that all true Avifaunas are written as if nigh-scientific, full of proven pseudo-fact and long-windedness, whereas this latest effort appears a little more Lutheran, albeit smattered with wishful platitudes more at home on a'Birdering a'Forum. He thinks it might be a deliberate attempt to engage the hard of thinking.

I offered to take a look at this 'Birds of Sou'Saxon', and I must admit it was easy to pick most quick some example statements (most genuine) from within the text to support his protest;-

~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the Black Grouse
  ~ it seems unlikely that we will ever see another Black Grouse in the county ~
If working on the basis of including unlikelies then the Locksacre Pterosaurs should really be included there as they have just as much (snowball's) chance.

On the Grey Heron
 ~ tree felling can also disturb heronries ~
As I commented to my great friend Mr Holmes of 221B Baker Street, London, "No nightsoil, Sherlock"

On the Red-necked Grebe
 ~ numbers seen in Sou'Saxon seem to be buoyant ~
Ah, jokes of the 'end of the burnt down/fallen down Pier' variety that the county is most famous for. That confirms their target audience.

On the Little Crake
~ how many go unseen, one can only guess ~
Konan guessed at four hundred and six. I guessed seventy-two. Unfortunately the tome does did not say what the prize is for anyone guessing correctly. Bristow says this gives authority to reach for the collecting musket once more, being as the statement surely applies to any species and surely needs answering.

On the Herring Seagull
~ Beach-going Herring Gulls help clear up the mess we leave ~
No sir, I think you may have misidentified a womble.

On the Bearded Tit
~ The male Bearded Tit's eye catching facial plumage suggests this should rightfully be called the Moustached Tit(!) ~
Not content with TUKOGBANIOU name changes, the Sou'Saxons now make their own. And whatever is it with this trend for exclamities in authoritative texts(?) Most Avifaunas manage perfectly well without. You would never catch me making such excessive use here(!!!!!!!)

On the Dark-eyed Junco
~ should another turn up in Sou'Saxon, it would be worth putting down seed to encourage it to stay ~
This is so out of date. Everyone knows the coconut to be the food of choice for our American cousins. Especially as prolonged exposure can lead to death from nutty allergies and a nice addition to any taxidermist's shoppe front.

On the Little Bunting
~ looks rather like a female Reed Bunting but is only about the size of a Goldfinch and has a chestnut face with strong black crown stripes like thick eyebrows ~
If they are to promote eyebrows as scientifically supported identification features in this fashion then I do wish they would mention the different races involved, as for example I have a fine mounted specimen of the Little Monobrowed Bunting, known to me from my time in Latveria and collected trying to sneak past the 'Arbourmaster at 'Astings.

On the Black and White Warbler
~ It could be many more years before another is found in the county, but it just proves that just about anything is possible ~
Well I can see that particularly impressive argument swaying all those men with ARSOLS (Albion Rare Sightings Official Logistical Survey) in the future, should something as surreal as, say, a Trampolining Puddle Heron ever reach our shores. (That and a couple of guineas each at least.) Still, it does give room for all future claims of very first listed examples being accepted on the 'anything is possible' wild card.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

These few genuine examples were easy to find on a quick flickage and I know there to be many more therein, but even so I think the TDB will not support Konan in his claim for refund.

The liberal use of oversized pictures to cut down on printed verbalisation, especially the collection of very many luvverly Waxen Chatterers portraits, points conclusively towards this being meant to be more of an ephemeral glossy periodical designed for a table of coffee parlours than it being an Avifauna as we have known. I fear I must tell Konan that when purchasing such books in future he should always check to see if they include reference to the Butcher-shoppe Bird, Caveat emptor.

No, it is fit for purpose. We should be grateful that such a progressive county has led the way in dumbing down for the levels of our next generations, whilst (on first skim at least) avoiding any reference to such modern youthful decrapitude as the fast-spreading Boom-Awesome Bird Tickus novaseelocalli.

I think this style of book will catch on. And that, like it or not, is progress for you(!)

I understand another local county has just now decided, after only some several short decades of deliberation, to drop all pretense of publishing an avifauna and to go for just a short a'breedering picture-book atlas instead, on the grounds that;-
 ~~ the common bird maps will appeal to the youth on 'colour in the circles' grounds,
 ~~ and the rares will excite the excitable on a 'join the dots to see what it is' basis.
For these reasons I rather look forward to receiving my copy of a modern take on 'Where's Wallacea?' for review in due course.

Even so, yes, I understand rumblings upon this new trend. I for one am certainly most old and set in my ways and whilst this new 'avifauna' now sits shelved and readily available to me I am certain I will still continue to refer to my well-fingered copy of the writings of young Willum Markwick F.L.S. and his 'Aves Sou'Saxonienfif', a work fo much leff contentiouf and controverfial.



(Clockwise from top left)
Juvenile Common Stormy-Womble,
Immature Brightun-Laynes' Hipster-Womble,
Adult Admiral Woss's Gull-Womble,
Pre-a'breedering Cory's Shear-Womble

Saturday, February 22

The correct Missionary Position

To The Rev'd Charles Fortescue.

Dear Chaz,

I hope you are settling back into British life after your ten years of missionary work in Africa? I cannot begin to think what it must be like. If you need help adjusting, might I suggest contacting the Reverend Harold Davidson of Stiffkey, Naaarfek? I think he is going through a similar situation and might be able to steer you on a good path.

Now, pleasantries aside and on to matters ornithological, namely your question regarding that dreadfully suggestible rude new name for Haematopus ostralegus occidentalis which has come into common usage while you have been away.

I agree young Catesby has sold us all out since idling off to the colonies. There he had indeed found lesser fame as a lesser naturalist through discovering a lesser version of our wonderful bird which he termined to be called 'Oystercatcher' to celebrate the difference from our superior version. He knew full well that name sounds exact the same as one of the most rudest of English phrases, 'Oyster-Catcher'. (I tremble to even write that down here. Forgive me. Do not read it aloud and do not vicar-pedia it either or you will find fifty shades of Victorian steaminess.)

It might well be the new word gained some acceptance for jokey attachment to our bird as it appeared in the Oxfud TUKOGBANI Dictionary just one year after Catesby's initial shout, but I know very well the editors used it only to relieve themselves of any previous meaning therein, now deemed suitable only for publication in Doctor Samuel Melly-Johnston's Profanisaurus.

'Sea-Pye' it was, 'Sea-Pye' it must remain. We must remove all Yankee-doodle terminology from our shores. There is nothing bawdy about that.

And yes, I agree, the actual description itself is so very wrong; I know full well our beloved native Sea-Pye never catches oysters. Any fool with half-decent optics will have noted this for themselves and laughs at the thought of it. Perhaps the fishermen of Hangmonkey-by-the-Sea use the best name of 'Mussel Cracker'. That has no chance of ever being confused as any euphemism past, present or future, for certain.

If the worst comes to worst, and Yarrell, Witherby or Garnier adopt it then I may very well be forced to register my protest by going back to using the oldest English moniker 'Olive', the Sar'fek 17th century name for any good-looking plump beach bird with no hallux and blessed with just a slight webbing between the toes.

Plucky Brit names for our plucky Brit birds should remain steadfast and strong, for ever and ever. There is still time TUKOGBANIOU will see sense.


Your old dorm chum,
Bandwell
Dates for your diary:
The TUKOGBANI Ornithologists' Union
meeting this April is on 'upland habitats'



Saturday, February 15

Recollections of a wet dream

[God] Bandwell, Bandwell(!) Awake, it is I, your Lord. I come to you with news. 
Bandwell, I come to you in this dream to command thee to make an ark of gopher wood.

[Bandwell] Um, Lord, might I ask most humbly, what exactly is 'gopher wood'(?) No scholar has yet deciphered the meaning of that to the satisfaction of all.


[G] Simply say it aloud. It is wood you gopher, so gopher oak if you must.

[B] Ah, um, Lord, Listershire has a rather nasty outbreak of 'Acute Oak Disease' at the moment...


[G] So, gopher ash(?)

[B] Um, 'Ash Dieback Disease'..


[G] Horse Chestnut(?)

[B] Um, 'Bleeding Canker'..

[G] O.k. o.k. you're not making this easy. Look, just go down to the House of Wiccccckes. They will sort you.
The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, the height of it thirty cubits.


[B] Um, Lord, is that all(?) It's a bit small. I think both Healthe and Safety and Beastly Welfare might have something to say on inadequate spacing.


[G] Bandwell, do not test me;- you should know that I am not flooding the whole world this time, just Listershire and a few other naughty ornithological county societies nearby. You are only being tasked to take care of all of your own fowle of the air, not the beastes of the earth.
Also, if can find that many, you should gather twelve good men to form your new a'rares committee.


[B] Lord, about the exact number of the fowle needed;- might I enquire, is this as before, do I need to take two of every kind(?)


[G] Yes. Why(?)

[B] Do you then have a definitive fowle liste I can work to for that? One you have faith in? I mean, what with all the arguments over the number of the Redpolls, the Crossedbills, the seagulls, the Godwittes..


[G] Godwittes(?) I take my eye off you lot here for one minute and some heathen is sub-dividing Godwittes? I thought I had sorted out all the Babel-bashers first time around...

[B] Um, yes, sorry to let you know about that Lord. It is why I ask, if you did just have a liste I could use this one time(?)


[G] NO(!) Do I have to do everything around here(??) I will simply give you the number of the Liste.
It is 666.


[B] 666? Is that why you punish us?


[G] What(?) Ho ho ho(!) No(!) Do not read into it, the correct number of Listershire fowle species is 333. But you have to gather two of everything, so 666 are required.
Besides, where that figure appears elsewhere in my book I tell you it has been misquoted and misinterpreted over the millenia. The number you really need to worry about is actually 25 species less. Do read up on my original texts some time.


[B] Sorry Lord. I still then have to decide the 333 species myself(?) Oh dear. Does this include all migratory and resident species(?)


[G] What?

[B] Well, if you are only flooding small areas, and only for 40 days and nights, then the summ'ry migratory do not really need to come aboard. And the wint'ry migratory do wander around of their own accord intra-season when the weather is inclement.

[G] Oh alright, just resident then.

[B] Thank you Lord. But what if we could also just acknowledge that with those same resident species being found in our adjacent lands, should our own be bird-brained enough to drown, would they then not simply be repopulated through local resident dispersal(?) That would then cut out all of the work as we have no endemics here. You could simply concentrate all your smiting on punishing more of the other counties.

[G] You've really thought this through, haven't you(?)

[B] I really am just trying not to cause you too much bother Lord. If you simply provide the flood, then thanks to this visitation I can just move off and stay on the Northern marshes for a few weeks.

[G] No, not the Northern Marshes. Definitely not the Northern Marshes. I have plans.


[B] So if I just move my worldly possessions upstairs, invest in a shiny pair of galoshes and set off in a row boat with provisions(?)

[G] Yes, alright. But instead ponder more upon the punishing winds Bandwell.
Fallen a'birderers have mostly forgotten the problems of winds on fowle, and do not spot when some birds, for a time temporary, flee the flats for more sheltered waters, and they that count then claim wrong numbers in long-term a'winter residency.
They forget body warmth issues, they forget the problems for foraging by sight, for foraging with sophisticate spatulate bills of my own design in troubled waters and they forget prey is already much diminished by the second half of winter. They forget that any large displacement may only last for as long as the winds. Try to explain to those who will listen the concepts of temporary displacement, inadequate food levels, overcrowding and carrying capacities.


[B] Very well, I will do as you desire. Your nature moves in such mysterious ways, try to forgive them, for they know not how to interpret.

[G] Goodnight Bandwell.

[B] Nighty-night Lord.


And they sent out a Shag,
which proved them to be in the business sector
of the dockes of Chatum...


Saturday, February 8

Multiverse a'listering

Dear Doctor E,
(May I call you by your initial? I think best, in case our correspondence is intercepted by Watchmen at any time.)

You ask about the Church and predetermination, and how this might fit with the new Multiverse hypotheses which now abound in the field of physicks. Specifically in relation to your own theory of "Many-worlds interpretation of Quantum mechanicks". I will see what I can do.

Your directing of this question towards me is indeed a good thing, dabbling from time to time as I have been in the world of quantum a'birding and also dabbling a little in religion.

First, let me see if I understand correctly your rolling dice analogy;- if an action, like a die, has only six possible outcomes and a decision is taken (the die is rolled), then only one face comes up and, like the opening of the box for Shrodinger's catbird, the decision is made by this being a 'quantum observable';- the catbird is now dead, or is now alive- the die is cast.

But according to your theory every face of the die (every possible outcome) happens at a Many-worlds level. In one world, a 'one' is rolled, at the same time another parallel world comes into existence where a 'two' is rolled, and so on. The multiverse forks into six different outcomes. If then within this forked up multiverse there is a situation with a thousand choices, a further nine-hundred and ninety nine parallel worlds come to be.

If I have this right (and I do not ask you to explain the mathematics that show this to be a possibility, I will be utterly lost) then (1) where is God in this and (2) does quantum bird a'listering have to be approached from another angle?

In matter the one, God can still be in all multiverses as first I repeat Bertie Einstein's statement that "God does not play dice" and second remind you that God is beyond time and space;- he is to be found in each parallel world. "God moves in mysterious ways".

In matter the two, the matter much more important than religion affecting as it does so many more people than come to worship each Sunday, 'Quantum bird a'listering' brings its own problems.

In this multiverse every rare fowle
~ I have both twitched and not twitched.
~ If I twitched, I both 'dipped' and 'boomed'.
~ If I 'boomed', I both single-observer 'boomed' and multi-observer 'boomed'.
~ If I single-observer 'boomed' I both had the sighting accepted and had the sighting not accepted.
~ If I had the sighting not accepted I both unticked the bird from my list and kept ticked on my list regardless.
Ad infinitum.

Well Doctor E, I for one think this to be most splendid(!) I can rejoice that somewhere I (well my doppelganger, but it is still I as this version of me here is his doppelganger)
~ head the a'birdering premiership
~ top the list for county self-finderings
~ have seen every species of fowle in the world
~ have every species of fowle named after me
~ am judge, jury and executioner over every fowle decision

The Good Lord would have no problem fitting in with this, being as he is everywhere at once; further, everyone is still predestined in life;- despite us thinking we have free will, we are predestined to do everything, everywhere- no, I cannot see any heresy in your theory. It is as good as religion, seeing how they fit so well together.

And it finally neatly explains the thinking already held by many a'birder that the whole universe really does revolve around them.

I pause though. Splits and lumps. Lumps and splits. You give us every Hell for our sins. I cannot bring myself to contemplate some parallel worlds. As I write this I am presently most especially fearful of one outcome where I am forever stuck on a shingled beach surrounded by an assemblage of CoCKs staring at seagull coverts in howling winds... How I shudder at such a world(!)

So it makes me appreciate this parallel world all the more. No, God moves in mysterious ways, and so does all of his creation. I think you should continue your research further, it is by a long chalk not the most fanciful claim I (or any Rarities Committee) will ever hear.

"Rev F"









Saturday, February 1

My short notes upon the birds of Leviticus 11:13-19


King James' Version
;-

11:13~ And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage*, and the ospray.
11:14~ And the vulture, and the kite after his kind**;
11:15~ Every raven after his kind**;
11:16~ And the owl, and the night hawk***, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
11:17~ And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl****,
11:18~ And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle*****,
11:19~ And the stork, the heron after her kind**, and the lapwing, and the bat******.

   *ossifrage;- ossi, bone; frage, fracture. This means the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture.

   **'after his/her kind';- all the species in that particular family.


   ***this was put in by the Lord for the Mormons. Because the Mormons are right.


   ****Short-eared Owl, or Long-eared Owl. Not Great Gray Owl. Because the Mormons are 
wrong.

   *****Gier- 'vulture'. The vulture eagle is the Egyptian Vulture.


   ******Bat. This means 'bat'.

                   According to the Holy Scriptures, the bat is a bird.
                     Thus the Listershire county total rises by some eighteen new birds.
                       
QED God is a lumper, and we should never seek to split.


From Meinertzhagen's 'Birds of the Bible':
Top- Birdbat (male)
Bottom- Batbird (male)