Sunday, July 29

The Most Silent Order of The Knights Suppressors

My Parishoners,

For today's sermon I would like to hold up the Godly work carried out within a closed order, not far from this very Church, as an example to us all.

This group of noblemen, the Most Silent Order of the Knights Suppressors, withdrew from everyday listing life near three decades hence, to bring themselves closer to God through the quiet study of the miracle of migration. Tired of wordly battles over sightings, and tired of chasing others' false idols, they formed a secret community deep in the hills not far from the sea where, from before dawn, they gather to listen to their choir sing the songs of the birds, and for this they are rewarded, not unlike Saint Francis of Assisi, by swarms of avian immigrants in Biblical proportions. Toiling in their field during all passage hours, they remain dedicated to just their own small patch of God's earth and no other, never bothering the common man by seeking out others' sightings, instead contented on just the fruits of their own labour.

For this Godly work, from within this bounteous crop of common immigrants they are from time to time warmed by the presence of rares. It is a just reward, for they are so devout in their labours.

However, some would question their motives, and challenge whether they have truly withdrawn from the world.

To those I say, do you ever see these Knights afield in the robes they are obliged to wear? Any such member has to carry their mark upon them at all times; The Royal Badge of the Ring and Garter. Well, to be seen amongst ordinary watchers wearing the RBRG is, under their own strict laws, an invitation to public ridicule and excommunication.

I ask you this; has any man here seen a Knight Suppressor twitching within the Parish this Millennium? No. You have not. You might only glimpse one on their ritual WEBB count (Wetland Beating the Boundaries count) and at no other time. And this is how it should be.

Now there are those of you who would seek out rare reward to revel in proclaiming it in public, but only at departure, late to all others. I will warn those of you here and now; you will not have to wait be judged at the last days, for you will judged here and now, and undoubtedly cast from your own flock.

If you wish to be follow in the footsteps of a Knight Suppressor you must act in all ways like a Knight Suppressor; you must keep the vow of silence until your due day of judgement, and only then confess your sightings direct to those who sit in judgement.

It is a hard path to follow. I myself try, but know I might fail from time to time. When I do fail, then I know to expect no mercy. I will be smited. As will you.

Sunday, July 22

An apology for my secrecy- chapter the fourth


I pray thee do not be so common in your despatches. I am afraid I cannot fathom your ire over the outcomes of these recent suppressions. Why do you have such a problem with the treatment of your Mongebourne Hoopoes? As a man of God I kept my word when you decided upon a policy of complete silence, and I told no birdwatcher. I know you intended not to mention in quite the same manner as the now infamous "B-E", but instead you were looking to simply silence the listers several months on by showing your actions as an example of how birds can be left to breed.

But you really cannot be upset if young Bristow accidently acquired them!

When you shared your initial joy with me you said no birdwatcher was to know of the attempt, and that was the case. For the two village gunners, Snaregood and Cagetrapp, to each independently chance upon a single of the pair on the same morn was just pure luck. It does seem far-fetched that Harris the chopper somehow selected the nest-tree for firewood, but you have to admit it all came together rather well for a jolly nice display for my mantelpiece.

For Bristow to be drinking in the snug of 'The Noosed Badger' at the same time all three came to imbibe at lunchtime, simply serendipitous. For my appearing there in Mongebourne at that time, just a small matter of good fate. You cannot hold it against me for seizing the opportunity, for paying a few pennies to each of the gunners and for then directing Bristow to mount my prizes for my parlour?

I had not mentioned the acquisition to you until now as I wanted to keep all news from the spies of this county's Nestfinder General. But I thought you might have noticed the birds' absences yourself, especially as the nesting tree is no more? This lack is a tad obvious, after all! Perhaps your own lack of diligence brought this reward upon you? You cannot blame my acquisition on anyone but yourself.

But no, like some childish schoolgirl you now proceed to withhold news of the actual nest-site of 'your' Gleads from me on the off chance that they might return next year. Well, pish. If you feel you can no longer confide in this man of the Cloth, then I suggest you consider our exchanges on the natural world now completed, and that you begin corresponding with the Presbyterians from this point forward.

I bid you good day.

Your once closest friend,
The Reverend Bandwell Ringmore Fumblefinch

Saturday, July 21

An apology for my secrecy- chapter the third

Chiduel Pickwick wrote...
Very Christian of you Reverend to let your followers know of Parish matters late, yet again(!), and then reproduce your lithographs after the fowle has flown, Listershire pizzle taking of the greatest value, well done Reverend for being a prize codpiece filling

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
'Chiddy' I know full well my actions are no different from any other good ornithologist- indeed you, yourself, kept a new species to the Kingdom quiet this spring- how I would have loved to have seen the 'short-eyed owl' that you publicised on your own interweb blogpost. Let he who is without sin throw the first codpiece...
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Comment Deleted wrote...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
'Comment Deleted', if indeed that is your name, you have done me no favours by writing a comment that says 'This comment has been removed by the author' as, if I now remove it, it will read the same and show me as swift with the editorial quill. Is this because I did not allow you to call me a 'pony-tailed knob-jockey' last winter? As I explained at the time, I am well aware there are several birdwatchers known by this name already, and I could not let them think they were being disparaged here...
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Mr Heathcliff wrote...
Suppression at its finest!.

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
No Mr Heathcliff, that would involve a Tengmalms' Owl at the very least...
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Listershire Stringer wrote...
One word. TOSSER!

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
I forgive you.
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Thannit Stringer wrote...
Found your blog a few months ago and had enjoyed reading your accounts and wondered why they had stopped for the past week. Maybe you were on holiday. Well now we know. Very sad that you never thought to spread the news.

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
I forgive you too.
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Harry Bunting wrote...
Suppression is a very touchy subject and many birds do indeed get suppressed, either for pleasure or the fact they may be breeding birds, etc, but if you choose the path to suppression for pleasure you will get peoples' backs up; note the suppresser here twitched or attempted to twitch the Northup Park Bee-eaters and the Eastern Black Redstart, I can handle suppressed birds easily but these types that keep their sightings quiet or concealed, but gleefully turn up hoping to see their victims' rarities are indeed a very much maligned breed. Very disappointing that this action has been taken.

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
Young Harry, we all choose paths in life, and as we know, we will all be judged on the final day. My behaviours will then, and only then, be deemed good or bad. If my actions cost a ticker one or two ticks, then so be it. As for visiting the finds you mention, it is my Christian duty to try to convert the heathen twitcher, and where they gather in number, so there will I be.
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Konan the Baptist wrote...
See, all you lousy heathen scum, this is truly a Godly man! Hellfire and brimstone on the lenses of all those who would seek profit or self-gratification through the act of coveting a neighbour's sightings. Cast out your sins and repent you unworthy maggots! Or else your miserable life of envy and pettiness will repeat itself, for eternity, stuck forever on UK399! REPENT! REEEEPENT!!!

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
Thank you Konan. I trust I shall see you for tea and cake at your usual time?
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Judge Wrightly-wrongly wrote...
Record not accepted.

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
Your Honour, sometimes I think the members of your judicial review committee have a prejudice towards this particular man of the cloth. But, no matter. I shall not appeal. I shall walk my own road. And see many wonderous things upon it.
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AprilWan#69SPAM wrote...
I find your page. I like very much. You visit mine? Plenty cheap Asian rarities for plenty cheap import. You find at asianrarebirdsDOTcom. You come plenty soon!

Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch replied...
Dear Mistress April, can you arrange delivery of a Peter Pallas's Reeler? In time for late October? In return I shall find some clothing for you.
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Friday, July 20

An apology for my secrecy- chapter the second

My dear Weasel,

As the finder of this magnificent beast has now posted of his triumph elsewhere I am safe to share some of my pictorial illustrations with you. I am very pleased with them, better than many of the Camera Obscura Club of Kent images you see in their publications. Why I may even now apply to become a CocK member (guffaw!).

Here you can clearly see the rarity perched, next to a Great Spotted Cuckoo. This was on day the one.

Here the bird has just flown up from tunneling a nest in a freshly prepared grave. You can see the soil between the toes. This was day the two.

Here the bird is in display flight over the nesting area. It is reacting to the mixed kettle of 437 Red Kite, six Black Kite, a Mississippi Kite and a hot air balloon that you can just make out in the skies above it. This was day the forty-third.

Here the bird is sleeping. R.I.P. indeed (roost in peace, guffaw!) How lucky I was to get so close for these records. This was day the ninety-eighth.

The final record, from day the one hundred and eleventh, when this Amur Falcon was captured in illustration stooping low like a hunting African Goshawke. It plucked the rare from this favoured perch, carrying it in talons, looking not unlike a Fish-hawk, to a nearby bramble where it impaled the rare on a thorn, like some butcher-bird, then to feast on the flesh throughout the day (dipping morsels in royal jelly not unlike the Honeycomb-Buzzard) until, like a crafty Jay, it cached the remains under leaf mould, before, like some Long-tailed Tit-bird, it joined the rest of the Amur flock to roost side-by-side along a branch for the night.

Such delights! Such wonders! Such a victory! I trust your records of the H--p--s are as memorable for you.

Thursday, July 19

An apology for my secrecy

My dear Weasel,

I must apologise for not writing sooner. I have been on a most marvellous adventure, protecting a rare species of bird that was attempting to nest nearby. I say attempting, in the widest meaning that it never actually truly attracted a mate, for another did seemingly fly-by, high, one morn in the midst of the stay, but, no matter- it had an opportunity, whilst we the select keepers of the secret got to enjoy it for a brace of weeks. We kept the camera obscura riff-raff at bay, that is all that matters. We have no doubt they will squawk and feathers will be ruffled, but then these will be allied to the same people who would deny the young finder in question his good migrant records, so they bring it upon themselves. If they so wish to doubt a December flyover Blyth's Reed-Wren, so be it.

How we managed to keep news of this find from the great unwashed observers of the Isle in question is not for quill on parchment; there must be no triumphalism in our writings for that will only provoke the list players furthers. I cannot post you pictures of the site, nor of the bird itself, but I promise I will tell all when we next meet, where also- for now I might just hint that having a man of the cloth as one of the lookout party does make it that little easier to dissuade any due local plebeian burials (for the bird was tunneling in a pre-prepared grave) and in the process gain me a farthing a cadaver sent in the direction of the crematorium to boot.

I hope your own secret watchering has gone well also. Hoopoes are such lovely birds.

Friday, July 6

Let us sing in praise of your great directions..

Guide me, O thou great bird pager,
Dude in this nigh birdless land. 
My skills are weak, but thou art mighty;
Guide me on thy powerful band.

Birds of others, birds of others,
lead me till I want no more;
lead me till I want no more.

Open now your crystal display screen,
whence the banal stream doth flow;
let your bleeps and low vibrations
give directions for me to go.

Dear deliverer, dear deliverer,
tell me it's still in that field;
tell me it's still in that field.

When I risk the judgement of Evans,
bid my anxious fears subside;
confessed dips for list's corruption,
keep me safe on 400's side.

Monthly payments, Monthly payments,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

Monday, July 2

Rogue Traders

My dear Weasel,

I have been following, with some shock and awe, developments in the City. Not with the Old Lady at Threadneedle Street mark you, but just some several hundred yards further east, in Gracechurch Street, at Leademonhall Market.

Fraud has been revealed by the eminent journalist Colin Martinson in the latest instalment of "TUKOGBANI birds". Some rogue Sightings Traders are now known to have been 'fixing' the LIBOR rate. If you have not heard of this, it is the Leademonhall International Bird Origins Register. Leademonhall Market is world famous for being the premier site in the Empire for the trade of birds, both live and mounted.

The Market's bankers, Greedy, Ritche and B'staards, employers of these Sightings Traders, stand accused of most ungentlemanly conduct.

Marcus Offislist, Chairman of 'Greedys', has admitted that there has been a tiny amount of wrongdoing on the part of a very small number of his staff, which, whilst having no effect on real people in the real world, has upset many leading bird listers, and so he will be standing down from his position with immediate effect.

"In an attempt to generate maximum profit for our information share holders, some of our Sightings Traders have overstepped their remits by inflating the value of certain bird specimens on the Market floor. This has involved misleading innocent taxidermists as to the country of origin for certain sales. I acknowledge this action has then caused rises in interest where there should have been none. I apologise to the likes of 'Honest George' Bristow, who have been unfairly accused of fraud, when in fact the misdirection occurred prior, and at much higher levels."

"I acknowledge many birdwatchers may well be making claims based on incorrect LIBOR rates, and I apologise for having them waste their time studying the first winter plumages of resident species unlikely to ever leave their own homes, yet alone make landfall in our country."

"I apologise they have sometimes been fed false sightings reports, such as claims of specimens being taken from long-staying wintering flocks, leading to much time needlessly bailing out to Hastings. I also understand how some will take offence at the bonuses some Traders enjoyed in viewing birds withheld from public viewing."

"Finally, I must also apologise for certain rates of interest being artificially managed through having records sullied, which were in actual fact completely true. This only happened because such sightings were suppressed from the Market floor, and instead passed on by individuals directly to County authorities, thus precluding the Sightings Traders from earning monies from the more gullible of the general public.

"I understand that individual information shareholders must be able to have one hundred per cent faith in all records, and Greedys have failed them. I shall be leaving my post forthwith. I have asked Louis E. Meinertzhagen of Frederick Hoth and Co., Merchant Bankers and International Freight Hauliers, to lead an enquiry into the scale of the misbehaviour, and to establish how many citizens have suffered poor credibility ratings because of this."

Weasel, these Sightings Traders should be driven out of the Ornithological temples as soon as possible. Gone are the days when 'my bird sighting is my bond'. Now one might only claim 'my bird sighting is my sub-prime bond'.