Sunday, September 25

More on the subject of CocK

My dear Weasel,

My friends from the northern marshes have alerted me to the more delights from their Camera Obscura Club of Kent ('CocK'). They seem to be involved in establishing an intriguing new sport.

They have come to my attention again due to complaints from Slaughterham and Killet, the gamekeepers on the nearby Duke of Belcham's Estate, who had to remove a carriage worth's of CocKs from the grounds, who were intent on photographing vermin (Marsh Vermin, Hen Vermin, Montagu's Vermin and something charmngly spelt in their records as 'Palid' Vermin.)

What I have discovered removes all science from our studies, and replaces it with a sport. It appears that you must post as many lithographic plates as one can fit upon your worldwideweblog page of creatures great and small (mainly from the Dour Valley I note, but I do not believe this to be compulsory). You must then avoid any written discursive niceties referring to the species illustrated thereon, but instead in as many words as possible berate the venerable organ that is your county ornithological society. Abusing individual gentlemen of their society scores highly, and any attack upon a national body represented in that county is also received with thunderous (self)-applause.

Another rule some adhere to is to deny the right to reply to all on individual members' worldwideweblogs, which seems contrary to the original purpose of such organs, as defined in Samuel Johnson's excellent 'A Googlesaurus of the English Language'. I fear to be recognised as a CocK you must have to be obstinately and intolerantly devoted to your own opinion, and at all times show intolerance bordering on animosity towards those that hold a differing view.

To this end I can see no difference between a CocK and a BigoT (Bird Illustrations and Graphics by Observers on Thannit).

Perhaps one day their Society will regain the high ground, but there have been some highly damaging incidents in the past decades that make the actions of our own Mr. Bristow seem like St. Francis, and cannot be repeated here (certainly at least not before partaking of a sherry). I think their Society's Council need to take a good hard look at their own organ and then get to grips with their CocK before they make themselves blind to the wonders of nature.

A dilemma

My dearest Weasel,

You may recall you introduced me some time back to Messrs Middendorff and Stupendorff,who had collected those most wonderful insects in Siberia? If so, you might also recall the former admitted he had also done a great deal of work in classifying many avian creatures. I mention this because today I have heard of one of these most wonderful birds is sojurning upon Wood Wier waterworks, the private site owned by the Listershire Sanitary Water Purification and Bottled Cure-all Company.

I understand it has been most difficult to see, remaining at some distance at all times, but I now have a quandry.

Jeremiah Worm, collator of the Avian Sightings Service for the East and South, has, it is alleged, managed to somehow get within 40 yards' distance to confirm the identity of the bird when the world has had to stay a furlong away. Apparently someone had supposedly 'stumbled upon' a newly cut hole in the chestnut paling, and entered therein. Whether this be Worm or not, he has now sent telegraphic messages, to those willing to subscribe one shilling for such privileges, pronouncing upon the identity and urging others to travel to view for themselves- but from public areas only, which at such a distance makes it looks possible the bird could indeed pass through the eye of a needle.

If true, what a lack of morals! I feel I must denounce these double standards from the pulpit, but then Worm will surely no longer contact me directly with any interesting avian tidbits. So, a dilemma! Now Weasel, if I were to do God's work, could I count upon your good self to continue to pass on any interesting ornithological observations from within the parish that Worm might still sell on to you? Purely for the sake of complete historical accuracy you understand- I promise to not go and collect any as specimens.

I will of course also pray for Worm. (Spoken renditions of the prayer may be purchased for one farthing per minute. Other prayer services are available.)

Sunday, September 11

Tryngites subruficollis and the Camera Obscura Club of Kent

My Dearest Weasel,

Upon my soul, what a day yesterday wass, one of high hopes and dashed dreams. The young watcher from the harbour, Walpole 'Wally' Bond, burst into the garden to alert me to a most exciting find from yesterday. Thanking Wally I immediately put down my sermon notes and headed for the harbour road to try to glimpse this splendid American waif. I did not have to try hard to find the exact position, as there was already a gathering on the seawall, which I discovered later to be of the Camera Obscura Club of Kent.

Now some CocK had wandered from the seawall right down to the fenceline, which under normal circumstances would have me bellowing for the constabulary, but what was unfurling before my eyes was enough to render me catatonic; a wandering CocK member was stalking towards the fence, but with his eyes fixated upon the viewing lens of his equipment. And his equipment was so large it arrived at the fence some time before he, leading to a most unharmonious and loud metallic noise eminating and all the birds departing skywards! No prayer could bring the small flock back in the time I was there. These small migrants had only been some twenty feet away, but for some unfathomable reason it seems every CocK is fixated on size, and this one member wanted to be bigger than all the others.

I was left to admire the fieldsketch young Jeff Harrison put together instead, and indeed paid him a farthing for it. I have now studied the salient features, and I am certain if I find this particular vagrant in the coming week I shall bag him for the Booth collection, rather than let him suffer the indignity of further CocK fiddling.

Friday, September 9

Dumpton does it again

My Dearest Weasel,

Having had something of a quiet summer, my gravedigger, Dumpton, has now caused a kerfuffle at the municipal cemetery by digging holes in the work of Tom Stepsinsom, the young contemporary of the banker Daniel Meinertzhagen the sixth, who is often to be found in the shrubbery in the company of his benefactor's young son Richard.

There they have espied many wondrous birds. Tom, I think, is even better at describing these rares than young Richard, whom already has quite some reputation. In fact I understand Tom built this opinion for such finds when working previously as a servant at 'Mrs Miggins' Tea and Sandwich Shoppe for elderly and befuddled ornithologists'. There Tom was always to be found in the garden of Mistress Mary Bax, and would often return to the shoppe to boast of what he had glimpsed in her bush, much to the incredulity of the tea-drinkers therein. But I digress.

Tom has of late glimpsed a head-striped acrocephalus within the grounds of the cemetary, yet doubting Dumpton cannot accept this without proof incontrovertible. And has even had the temerity to say so in the village newsletter. This has led to a great wailing.

Now we are both acquainted with young Mr Nicholl, who has 'fallen in' with Aquatica at Losechelsea, yet could not 'bring to bag' with his camera obscura.  A perfect record, nonethless, and accepted. However, the eminent Mr Ford-Transit-Lindsay had his nest with five young of '09 disqualified as his photographic images of the adults were disallowed as being 'failures'. It is one rule for one, one for another. I have to agree with Walpole-Bond's published query "Sight-records of this species by other observers have been accepted, so why not his?'

Mrs Miggins has it seems been to see Tom, on the premise offering him a slice of her crusty pie. He is so put out by the incident he did not recognise her, apparently mistaking Mrs Miggins for the cemetery's first black grouse (!!)

He is obviously troubled. Dumpton should leave well alone and let young Tom's words speak for themselves. The truth will out.

Will you be calling at the vicarage after Sunday's service? Perhaps we could have crumpets and then go bag some warblers ourselves? With camera obscura or shotgun, I am happy with either!