Monday, December 31

Viva las resoluciones

My New Year's Resolutions:

1) Make peace with Weasel.
I miss the good doctor's wine cellar.

2). Be nicer about Mrs Miggins' Tea and Sandwiche Shoppe for elderly and befuddled ornithologists. 
For instance, I note Mrs. M. is holding the annual meeting of Bird Observatories, Teahouses, Clubhuts & Hostels (BOTCH) this coming week. An honour for sure, and a clever choice of date, as many of Mrs. M.'s clientele actually do bother to get out of their comfy chairs and make one or two visits out into the wilds during the first week of a New Year. I wish them well in their botchings.

3). Take more interest in expeditionary work.

I note there are plans for an expedition to the frozen wastelands of Narfek this coming year. A claimed sighting of the lost ships H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror just off of Sea A'Palling has led to theories that the fabled North-East Back Passage may well have actually been opened, and that Franklin, Ross, Bonaparte and Barrow could yet be revealed as wintering safely there, attended to and protected by the natives local to the Yuueeaay tribe. I think I really should offer my services as Chaplain to Rear Admiral Evans.

4). Have a kinder word for CocK (Camera obscura club of Kent), and all other such photgraphic groups.
We have to work together. Why, this might well be the only way future generations might ever see an image of a collared dove, a dunnock, or a woodpigeon from our time, and so believe we actually had them in this land rather than simply have fabricated them.
Indeed, such up close and personal lens work as seen this winter is proving individual identification possible from various feather markings and patterns, and from unique bill patternings, among the visiting Waxen Chatterers so they can be tracked from one shoppe cart park to another, so we might yet well discover a truly useful ornithological purpose for all this photography of late.

5). Visit the Isle of Thannit before its scheduled Independence Referendum and subsequent breakaway.
It is good to find that Thannit's First Minister Pikeblogg is now back webpamphleteering, and so it cannot be long before revolutionary fervour starts up again among the masses. Although there appears to be more fishe than fowle on that page at present, the break from their county surely cannot be long in coming. Welcome back sir.

6). Make a donation towards the restoration of 'Dreamland' at Barredgate.
Such a shame that fanciful bird stories no longer emanate from this wondrous place. A lick of paint and some bush tidying will undoubtedly return it to being a premier fantasy theme park fit to challenge this country's finest, the North-east's Rokerland.

7). Entertain the Urbane Birder.
Viscount Lindley-Lindo-Lou has for some time now made a good living from dining out on avian stories in the most fanciful gentlemen's establishments in cities around the Empire, bringing tales of Hovel Sparrows to the well-heeled; I think he would be a most charming talker for the birding plebeians of Listershire, especially in educating those who oppose towns expanding into manure-belt lands. Urban is becoming the new rural. If I can only find some quail eggs for us to dine upon, I shall invite him.

8). View a Conjurer's Pantomime Show.
I see that Lawless the Younger is touring his magic lantern show again this January in the Northern Marshes and Listershire, his act centred upon how to reveal the one true species of seagull as actually being very, very many species. He works under his new stage name of 'Prince Caspian'. I really should reveal his performance to all for that what it is, namely it being all smoke and wing mirrors, and then to declare publicly to all that will listen 'careful now, down with that sort of thing'.

9). Contemplate undertaking my own small 'Grand Tour'.
It has for some time now been pointed out to me that whilst I purport to know just a little on God's feathered creatures of Listershire and surrounds, I actually know even less on their situations in other parts of this land. It has been suggested that I should undertake some of what was once known as 'a'twitchering' and is now repackaged as each's 'Grand Tour'. This could be a sort of coming out for me, to get to know more of the Kingdom, and to know more of the many interesting ornithological subjects found therein, so as to aid my writings.
I now just have to decide what species to tour to first and I do rather fancy a Waxen Chatterer, so I hope all watcherers will continue to report any and every single one of them found well into the coming New Year.

10). Wish a Peaceful New Year to all fowle watchers of the land.
Tis' just a making of a wish, mind you(!) That is the easy part. I know actual miracles to take a little longer and are beyond the remit of this mortal.

So, I start: 
A Happy fowle filled New Year to all my correspondents(!)

Sunday, December 23

Call yourself an Ornithological Society

To: The Secretaries of the Ornithological Societies and Field Clubs of South-east Angleland:

The National Ornithologists' Union, TUKOGBANIOU (not to be confused with TUKOGBANITO), has, in its 41st address to the nation, has passed a decree on the the definitions and usage of the terms  'Ornithological Society' and 'Bird Club'

No 'Bird Club' shall henceforth be allowed to pass itself off as an 'Ornithological Society'. The following criteria should be adhered to:

i) No Ornithological Society shall neglect publishing regular Avifaunas. Sets of breeding maps within an annual spottings report are not in any way an Avifauna. Any Ornithological Society not publishing an Avifauna at a minimum of every third decade shall be demoted to a Bird Club.
i)(a) It was also agreed that no Avifauna published within 18 months of a national TUKOGBANITO avifauna will be allowed to be claimed as authored by that county solely, and will not count towards meeting this requirement.

ii) No Ornithological Society shall claim to be conserving birds through the collation of sightings only.

iii) An Ornithological Society shall support national ornithological efforts, and give them prominence at every opportunity. This includes any and all that require actually going into the countryside and observing fowles.

iv) An Ornithological Society should hold at minimum a bi-annual ornithological conference. (Societies should note that under this definition a Christmas Quiz meeting thrown together by a committee member with access to 'The Bumper Book of Bird Facts'  to save on paying for a speaker is not a Conference.)

v) An Ornithological Society will acknowledge the greater good achieved by Biological Records Centres and deposit all records there, not keep them on cards in the loftspace.

vi) An Ornithological Society will keep the official County List, but will not keep keep the County Listers' tick lists.

vii) An Ornithological Society will have links with local Universities and other halls of learning to encourage the ornithologists of tomorrow to become involved.

viii) An Ornithological Society will take a robust approach to confirming reports of scarce species, and must appreciate they do not accept just because 'that chap is a jolly good birder'.

ix) An Ornithological Society will not give Camera Obscura sections prominence over ornithological studies. An example would be that seventy-two pictures of the same Black-throated Diver by sixty-one different chimpers is not adding ornithological value. Images being not simply just of the fowle side-on filling the frame, instead actually doing something of ornithological interest, would also be quite nice from time to time.

x) An Ornithological Society will appreciate any programme of Outdoor Events has to consist of something more substantial than a mimicry the local Fur and Feather Preservation Group events. A coach and horses outing by steam-packet to Calais is not Ornithological.

xi) An Ornithological Society will encourage open debate and free thinking. A Bird Club will keep their encouragement of listing and sightings discussions in bear-pit forums only.

xii) An Ornithological Society will provide at minimum a quarterly penny newsheet detailing items of interest for those of an ornithological bent. A Bird Club will as a minimum publish stock copy from their book of sightings, a series of 'My Best Ticking Days' articles and appeal every three weeks for club members to put quill to parchment to write something, anything, as the editor really, really cannot do it all.

xiii) An Ornithological Society will publish ornithological 'vanity'documents in timely fashion- for example publishing an annual 'Who's overestimated flock sizes and who claimed what good bird not needing any description' report should occur within 18 months of that year end, or before not more than ten per cent of the contributors die of old age waiting.

xiv) An Ornithological Society shall encourage inclusivity, not exclusivity.

xv) An Ornithological Society shall remain independent of commercial organisations, particularly providing free advertising to old birding school chums who in return expect favours.

xvi) An Ornithological Society will keep news on their records pages as news in the strictest definition  namely any page purporting to have 'latest updates' should include as minimum at least one piece of information published within twelve months of the present calendar date. Please note such articles should be relevant to their county; overseas trip reports from the previous decade are not 'news'.

On this basis of these definitions TUKOGBANIOU has recommended adopting the following names at County levels for the south-east of Angleland:

1) Sou'Saxon to be split (as it takes more than two day's expedition to travel from one end to the other):
- Sou'Saxon (East) Ornithological Society
- Sou'Saxon (West) Ornithological Society

2) East Saxon Ornithological Society*
*subject to the county actually finding a minimum of ten ornithologists or field spotters resident therein.

3) Londinium (incorporating all s-e Angleland Proposed airfields) Ornithological Society

4) Listershire Bird Club and Taxidermy Society

5) Northern Marshes 'I Spy' gang

6) Suthrige Bird Club to be split into two organisations:
- Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymeade, Spelthorne, Surray Heath,   Tandridge, Waverley and Woking Society of Posh Ornithologist Golfers.
- Woking Plebs Bird Club

7) Hamptonshire to be returned to three organisations:
- Meon Ornithological Society
- Sarum Ornithological Society
- Unihabitable Offshore Islet Ornithological Society*
* subject to ownership of the Islet remaining within TUKOGBANI when ownership claims from Japan, Korea and China are resolved.

Alfie Newton,
Henry Hairy-Baker Tristram,
Revd. B Fumblefinch
on behalf of TUKOGBANIOU

Postscript: an announcement of a further review:
This Union will next pass sentence on title-ship of Bird Observatories in conjunction with the Bird Observatory Council. This joint TUKOGBANIOU/BOCOTUKOGBANI review will introduce three levels: (1) Accredited Bird Observatory.
(2) Pretend Bird Observatory.
(3) Residential Care Home.
Applications from any ornithological outside night soil building wishing to be considered for review should be sent to the usual address.

Illustration: Brigadier Brading Marsh (ret'd), 
President of the newly re-titled UOIOS

Monday, December 17

From the Minutes of the Nativity sub-committee meeting, Dec 16th

6) The choice for Adoration:

a) Reverend Fumblefinch put forward the first suggestion, namely an Arctic Common Lesser Redpoll, in recognition of the one adored in Syderstone on a December 25th past. However, this was decided against as the adored one had not seen fit to last that day out, being taken by a Kes.

b) Verger Stringsall made the proposition of the Killdeer adored on a December 25th past in Countee Wicklo'. However, this was decided against as the adored one was, in the first, in an area that only some parishioners would ever consider visiting, being so politically separate from us (despite prolonged protestations from one parishioner, Gagsall, B.) and was also, in the second, thought much too Pagan in name, being more often connected with the outlawed Worship of the Munticorn.

c) Dean Cliff made the advancement of the two female Snowy Owls adored on a December 25th past on Fetlah. However, this was decided against on the grounds that, in the first, two females together in such a scenario might advocate the wholly unacceptable idea of Sapphic wedding ceremonies on Consecrated grounds, and, in the second, that they committed the more heinous sin of Scottishness.

d) Dr. Weasel made the motion of Siberian Thrush, as recorded on a December 25th past in Great Yernemuth. However, this was decided against on the grounds that no-one ever went with Weasel's suggestions.

e) Mrs. Miggins made the choice of a pretty little Robin. The Verger was then reprimanded for letting one of the wimminfolk sneak into the meeting.

f) Councillor Podge made the suggestion of Nutcracker, as recorded on a December 25th past in Ashley. This was decided against on the grounds that, in the first, the Councillor failed to live in the Parish and was advocating support of an adoration from his own area of residence, and, in the second, the record was a mere 54 years old and as such had not yet seen print in any of his Avifaunas.

g) Brother Leghorn made the recommendation of, in consideration of the date in question, a change from tradition and a concentration upon an image the baby Jeebus. [The record of the following minutes was then lost to uproar but, in summary, the recommendation was not carried.]

h) Young Bristow then made the final solicitation of, in consideration of being due to be shot in the churchyard that very December 25th hence and then assigned to be deposited at his Taxidermery, abreeding pair of Pine Grossbeake. This was accepted on a majority vote, on the grounds that every other Parish in the land would want one.

7) The choice for Caganer:

The adoption, for the twelfth year running, of Konan the Baptist, for his continued preachings against a'twitchering and a'listing and for his loathing of all things migratory about the Woodpigeon, the Jay and the Common Lesser Redpoll, was carried unanimously.

Thursday, December 13

The General Synod of TUKOGBANITO

To the most reverend Dean Cliff of Losechelsea;

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Trust for Ornithology held a General Synod recently, and there has been much a'twittering since. Many of the air-parchments circulating have been in celebration of their most amazing ornithological discovery in the past twelve months; TUKOGBANITO members under the age of sixty(!).

In celebration of this moment, the Bishopric of TUKOGBANITO took the revelationary step of living beatification four of the youngsters; Saint Cain of the Dursley duck pond, Saint Gilly of Stirling Uni-tarian movement, Saint CeeJay of the Bridges of Ormskirk and Saint Lexy of Rhodes.

It is hoped the good works carried out by these present-day Saints will herald a new age of TUKOGBANITO and continue their Order for decades to come; many of their Methuselahs of the membership have reached the age where even carrying out a Garden BirdWatch count requires a medicinary support team to hand, and afterwards a special statistical logarithmic programme to adjust their counts for age-related macular degeneration.

As well as his wondrous achievements with nest-finding, the Saint of Dursley has taken of vow of avoidance of facial hair as his mark of Cain from the more usual unkempt supporters. Our Stirling Lady has sworn to always have the purest manicured nails in all bird banding camera obscura images. Saint Ceejay will continue to be known as the lad of the lamp for his role as Patron Saint of travelling Woodcock, and Saint Lexy is to continue his wanderings in the wilderness (the forsaken valley of Chew).

I am not yet sure if this headlong flight towards youthful examples will be all for the best; beatification after death is one thing, for then you cannot swerve from a path. But now they must be virtuous figureheads throughout. (I wish them well of course, but they will need to temper their turning of wine into water, as that is no longer a requirement of TUKOGBANITO membership.)

I also note that the outspoken radical cleric Mark Cajun-Aviary has followed this trend by supposedly unearthing another child-prodigy, one being currently revered as the ten year-old reincarnation of the Listershire Llama. He is said to be marked as the chosen one for his ability to write electronic epistles more coherently than any bird lister or camera obscura carrier. But writing to such a level is not something that should lead to his marking out; why, any of the ten-year olds in my choir can achieve that. I send urchins up my sooty flue who hold more command of matters ornithological than most of those bird list scribers blindly followed nowadays.

However, do not think me as counter the young, think of me as more against the decrepitudes in our ancient ones. Let these youthful ones step forward I say. As the Good Lord spoke in Luke: 

'Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, 
for to such belongs the Nature Reserve of the Lord. 
Oh, and try not to completely mess it up for them while you're about it.'

Wednesday, December 5

A missive to Wally Prentis of Rainham

Dearest Wally,

Thank you very much for the present of the book 'Notes on the Birds of Raynham featuring the District between Chavham and Siddingbourne'. It is a jolly read indeed, and a welcome introduction to a part of the Northern marshes not that well known to me. I hope to visit one day and enjoy sights as described therein such as Sea Eagle and Lesser Kestrel.

It is good to correspondwith a fellow enthusiast who goes a'birding but local, however I am afraid I cannot match your enthusiasm for making such a sport as I come to consider your suggestion for us to contest our patches this coming year.

The idea of a 'parishwork challenge' is indeed a good one, in that it makes us focus on the marvels about us, but my parish is larger than the 741.3 acres you suggest we should limit ourselves to. What if I need to comfort a recently widowed parishioner just outside the imagined line and a Grossbeake passes over? Not on my Parishwork list, but on my Parish list. 'Tis but half a bird(!) That would upset me(!) And once the position of the line was known, that would upset my flock outside. True, for the birds I could be like a Farmhand Francis and specialise in a fly-by list where any speck in sight of the horizon could be claimed gained, but sooner or later an outsider's hovel will turn up a Tengmalm's Owl roosting by the privvy and oh, what to do! They would feel slighted.

Certainly this 'sport' is gaining support, as seen from the worldwideinterweb newspage to which you refer me to, but I would urge all God-fearing folk to resist. Do not read this page, nor follow any suggestion contained therein. I hope none of my flock give this idea consideration.

You offer an alternative suggestion of spending January on foot, but this also displeases me a little. Actually, a lot. Having arranged for idlers assigned to the village stocks to be allowed out to do community service (carrying me around the Parish in my sedan chair as I really do not want to dirty my boots in the mud before entering a hovel) I do not want to get stains on my stockings. I must also admit the sedan also allows me uninterrupted views over hedges, any assembled throng of camera obscuras (obscurae??) on tripods, or even high brick walls in dirty northern settlements. The sedan would be missed.

I think this foot idea has come about simply because the originators appear to be residents of Sheaf'sfield, of where it is common knowledge a common man can neither afford sedan, horse with cart, or shoe leather. They really seek to bring us down to be their equals, these levellers.

Again, you show me this idea is plastered over the worldwideinterweb also, and championed as a worthy pastime but, again I will urge true naturalists to refrain, so they might be free to chase all over; God's choice is free will! Or else, whatever next? Listing for January 1st only (for money as is the quaint charitable custom in South Saxon)? Sitting at one spot only for the whole of the winter and watchering through window only (Mrs Miggins' cosy tables being the choice for many in your county)?

No, there is only one true worthy challenge tied to the calendar, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland year list, now in it's four hundreth year. TUKOGBANI 400 is a real sport, one in which every common man has a more than even chance of finishing second should they afford to put themselves in for it.

I do though still wish you all the very best for your coming year young Prentis; I will, if I may, swap notes with you from time to time during the year. And I quietly hope you and these Parishworkers and Footers find enjoyment in your new games- I will pray for you all.

Your new friend,