Wednesday, October 30

The Cinque Ports A'Birderers Association

Konan, thank you for your note;- I do think we are about to get into a debate most deep upon the continuing over-development of your county. I must assert that the blame for so many a'birderers deserting your land to its fate lies squarely with the Masters Mundbryce, who have duties relating to protection of their local environment, duties they are clearly ignoring. The Mundbryce are indeed those leaders of the Cinque Ports Association you mention (though your continual spelling as 'Sink ports' is but how it is pronounced;- my spelling is correct, however 'froggie' it might look to you, and however stupid you think that pronouncing 'Cinque' as 'Sink' is.)

The Privilege of Mundbryce is written in their charter as the need to punish any breach of duty to guard and protect. They should be punishing themselves for what is happening by way of breach of duty to protect their environment.

The Cinque is a huge organisation, consisting as they do of five "Ports", two "Antient" townes, eight "Limb" townes and twenty-three townes/villages "Connected", throughout your area. They could save the day easily, but I fear they have more self-interests than interests altruistic, as shown by their privileges.

Whilst reaffirming this opinion, it is only right I should point out to you that there are many privileges claimed by these Cinque a'birderers. As part of your own marsh, dear Konan, falls under the jurisdiction of one of those Limbs, they apply to you and as such I think I should advise you of those privileges which could aide you, and those that could cause you hindrance. I assure you, I make not one of these privileges up. (You may check them on the interwebbe.)

They are;-

~ Privilege of exemption from tax and tallage. This means Cinque a'birders may enter fps Dingeyness and the like without charge or without purchase from the shoppe of shiny giftes. Those of the inner circle also receive their fowle updates gratis, unlike the common man.

~ Right of Sac and Soc. This relates to local 'self-government'. It is understood to mean Cinque a'birderers are under no obligation to abide by any rulings national, and is a right they hold dear. I believe this to be what other counties refer to this as the 'Kentish Maffia'? Or something that sounds similar, for certain.

~ Privilege of Toll. They may take their own collection at any twitch and spend such monies raised on tea and cakes of all sorts at Mrs. Miggins', regardless of what they tell visiting a'birderers the funds will be going towards.

~ Privilege of Team. This originally meant the power to make holders of stolen goods divulge their sources. Now, it has come to mean any Cinque a'birderer in receipt of suppressed news is obliged to publish immediate details via the interwebbelogges, or face permanent ex-communication.

~ Privilege of Pillory and Tumbrill. These cover punishments for all minor offences, from wearing a bandana in a built-up area, to 'booming' after darke.

Privilege of Blodwit and Fledwit. The authority to punish shedders of blood and to seize those who flee. This has led to one or two altercations with those fellows who follow country sports. (A third, 'Godwit', the power of Divine rule, was stopped by Garry the Eighth at the time of the Dissolution of the Four Hundred Club.)

Privilege of Infrangenthe. To detain and execute felons inside their jurisdiction;- usually taken to mean instant sentencing upon their own private interwebbeforum.

~ Privilege of Outfrangeneof.  As infragenthe but, carried out publicly, usually on the Almighty Forum of Birds.

~ Privilege of Waifs and Strays. For those held as pending for one year and one day after date of claim, any record so published without finder(s) details attached can be lawfully claimed by any/all Cinque birders as being their own find.

~ Privilege of Flotsam, Jetsam and Legan. Similar to the latter, for dubious sea-borne records, with just a twenty-four hour cooling-off period given before ownership and tickage is undoubted*.
(*Note this law came into being before the discovery of such waterfowle as large orange-billed ternes, which are NOT covered by the Privilege.)

~ The rights of Den and Strond. The right to dry and mend nets on the beach at Great Yaarmouth in Saarfek (I kidde you notte, check the linke). This has now also come to mean a claim to all of the rare birds in that towne's cemetery as belonging solely to the Cinques liste. Saarfek a'birderers take note.
It has also come to have a third meaning, that anyone residing in the Cinques by the name of either Den or Strond can never, ever be challenged on their opinions relating to a'birdering, however fanciful they might be. The Stronds have all died out, but a Den or two remain.

~ Privilege of Assembly. all rules national relating to the behaviour of gatherings of a'birderers for purposes of a'twitchering, may be ignored, without penalty.**
(**There is an interesting legal case at present deciding if this privilege can be extended to Cinque CocKs.)

I do hope this detailed information proves useful to you. I will write again soon.


The original Cinque Ports
Official Bird List pocketbook,
a free gift with
"Cavalier a'birdering" vol XXV issue III

Sunday, October 27

Professor UEAviour's School for gifted a'birderers

An odd day, I think. I had reason to visit the Bishop of Naaarwich, and, as this was an early appointment, was offered prior overnight lodgings at the nearby University of Exotic Avifauna, the prestigious UEA.

Over the decades the UEA has been responsible for a plethora of gifted a'birders. In the recent steampunk era, one group of young students, through the wonders of self-publicity, became the most famous of them all. Billed as "the strangest a'birderers ever known", these marvelous teenagers had to come to terms with their emerging mutant birding powers. What adventures they had along the way(!)

But, that was all some years ago now and The Uncanny UEA-Men have long since disbanded. They scattered  to various corners of the Empire to continue their good deeds, from the forests of Brazil to the Ninja'birding training camps of Asia and even to darkest... Glasgow.

In more recent times a second generation, an "All-new, all-different UEA-Men" came and went, with some now plying a mercenary trade as travelers' guides, some now desk-jockeys for the likes of fps. But they were never as much loved by the die-hard fans of those original steampunks, what with their powers, for the most, seeming just that little more 'ordinary'.

Now, we have a new intake in situ, the New Mutant A'birderers. Affectionately known as the "UEA babies", they seem (mirroring so many aspects of our educational system) to be intent on lowering standards still further. Instead of steampunk-a'birdering, flogging fields skillfully from dawn 'til dusk (or until the inns open), they all just link in to an information system called CEREBRO (Current Enlightened Reporterings on Existing Birds Recorded by Others) and then chase among Broads for sloppy second-hands. Most of the adventures now centre on whether they can arrange suitable transportation in time, pausing only to muse on their teenage angsts for those home county ticks they've left behind.

Having met some of them, I do rather hope they may yet prove their critics wrong. There is still time for one of them to perhaps find a 'mega' this autumn, or, better yet, for one of them to turn up for a lecture on time. Either storyline would make for a great comic plot in the tradition of the old team. But it may well be that golden age of such super heroe a'birderers is gone forever.

Fan-boy favourite Steampunk Summers,
team leader of the Uncanny UEA Men

Thursday, October 24


Thank you for your reassuring note Konan, I so am glad you intend on seeing out the lengthy self-imposed exile on your marshes. It is just that I have heard of so many deserting your county during the past decades. They seem to be heading to all corners of the Kingdom, from Darrrrset to Yarkshire, from joining the Silures to sailing to a Scottish isle of fowle fantastical. And I had just had news of yet another has fleeing to the Narfek Boides this past month.

I cannot subscribe to your theory that, in the main, the only reason any a'birderers are left is that the bad ones are required, by law, to remain there to practice.

To borrow from the Bard's Prince of Denmark, I do think there might still be one or two who "know a hawk from a handsaw" among the ranks remaining. However, I also think it is perhaps down to the deserting of a sinking ship, what with all the continued progressive developments happening around and about all those dark Satanic shopping malls already destroying your garden.

True, the a'birderers remaining understand the Prince's tongue had trouble getting around "harnser". They appreciate they can still know a hawk, high over the chippies handsawing all the new hovels, that they can find a brown harnser or two close by those Muddies digging for their brickmaking masters, and that they might yet even still pick out a foreign beauty amongst the farmworkers seasonal at this time of year.

No, I am sure some dedicated a'birderers will hang on there with you until such time that the notice reading "this nature's home has been closed in perpetuity by your local authority" is hammered up upon your County Hall's doors.

I will have my Parishioners hold thought for their plight this weekend. After all, those that remain deserve such support as they are all Godly men, what with them having to offer up prayers thrice daily just to have any remote hope of even a tenth of the feathery rewards heaped upon their deserters, now suckling on fowle feasts in the Promised Lands of Darrrrset, Yarkshire, Narfek and the like. You are welcome to your promised land.


Four hours, and just six Chaffinch south?
Beggar this, I'm off...

Monday, October 21

Deja Views

Thank you for your prompt reply, dear Konan.

Written as it was in a mix of bodily fluids spread upon shredded pages from an official 'Watchman's notebook', and in rudimentary Queen's English, I had to take the liberty of translating, and wish to confirm I have understood your reply to be as follows;-


Visible Migration
Prose on cons of the activity.
Konan T. Baptist

What is Visible Migration?
'Viz mig' is the observation of various types of fowle migration at low altitudes.

So, what to count?
The flock-witted tend to count everything, including sedentary species. When your daily log includes "two dunnock- an increase of one hundred per cent", you know you are trying too hard. Some intelligent observers set an arbitrary figure; Lack and his viking compatriot Soren Sorenson have set a minima of 100 individuals per species before they would claim visible migration in their studies on the Sourthern Fark coast, as they wish to compare counts to images being captured by a flighty photographer, suspended by balloon just above the clouds. You should decide your own cut-off, based on your counts outside of migration. Seriously, a dunnock flying past you at ear-height is not evidence of migration.

So, when to count?
Although the clock provides a useful data-point, counts should be relative to dawn. And broken into countable periods. Some go by the hour, so dawn plus one hour, dawn plus two hours, which allows you compare days more easily. There is a primitive tribe based around the River Sheaf in Yorkshire, which admits to worshiping the magic of viz-mig, and in their offerings breaks down the counts to 15 minute periods. This is only recommended if you have no life outside of a'birdering. If this is the case, as you draw a line under each section, find a moment to note any sinful thoughts you have had in that time as well, for later repentance.
Counting is said to be best from one hour after dawn, but true miggers start from one half-hour before dawn, or earlier. You may claim many more interesting species in the darkness before dawn.

So, where to count?
Topography is important. You must discover your local flight lines. You are lucky in that churches have often been raised on such important sites. Go to your church, and repent when there whilst you're about it.
If not, the second most favoured viz mig site is the back yard of your own hovel, close to the tea urn. It is amazing how often someone will claim their own garden as a migration hot-spot, in an attempt to avoid repenting, of being cured of their lameness and of their discovering how to walk again. They may be identified by a'tweetings of 'one plus chaffinch over the garden so far'. they should be made to repent.

So, how to count?
Your field glasses are essential. You must be able to espy specks at the greatest distance. As these specks cross your field of view, you must be prepared for split-second decisions on species claimed. This is usually easier than it sounds, as at the distances involved, there is no-one going to argue with your opinion.
Also, you must remember fowle will move over you and behind you. You must be continually prepared to 'lighthouse', spinning upon the spot, for it is statistically proven the best fowle will always pass behind you;- the nagging doubt you are missing something is always with you. You should also record fowle directions based upon the compass. This is for the sole purpose of making your notes look impressive to others.
Some count by tally marks, others use numbers themselves. I prefer the latter. It is then easier to make what had been a count totaling nine (one, two, four, two) into a more impressive count of one thousand two hundred and forty-two, if you forgo a liberal use of commas.

How often should I count?
Every. Single. Day. Of. The. Year.
If you take it up, you must see it through. You must, of course, be able to prove which days are dull. If you miss a day, then you must spend as much of that day in repentance as you possibly can. And sleep on a bed of nails.

So, what else to record?
Weather, both local and not so local. This will help you guess at sources. And during lulls in fowle migration, write down your sins also. This will make your repentance that little bit easier. If still time to kill, then other wind-blown detritus such as butteredflies, dragonflyers and hovery-flies can be claimed as being worthy of some note. You might even start a recording of different makes of passing carts, but that is a little outside the natural history remit. (By the by, postage stamps and steam engines are really off limits.)

So, is vis mig useful?
In some of  the true words of the River Sheaf tribe's interweblogge site, "best of all, what you discover is your own, no need for telegrams to/from your local Avian Sightings Service , no messaging via pages/manservants, nor herds of stampeding a'twitcherers, many of whom do not seem to know their Isabelline-stained wheatear from their elbow nowadays". That I think says it much better than I ever could(!)

So, what should I do with my records?
Keep them in a notebook. Tally the records several days after you make the observations, so you can use rose-coloured spectacles upon any hazy figure and increase the tally towards levels of impressiveness. Then, once complete, keep that notebook upon a shelf, the dustier the better. And never, ever, open it, as you will be opening yourself up to the sin of wasting of time once more. If you feel the urge, simply repent.

And so, finally
Always remember these are visible migrants are naught but transients. They are fly-overs. They have no real worth for protecting the habitat you survey in. You are just using up precious time on a futile activity. But then that is what a'birdering is for many, regardless. A fun pastime to occupy your idle thoughts between cradle and grave. An excuse to forget the sins of the world as oft as possible.

So, never forget you also need to REPEEEEEENT any a'birdering sins regularly!

Some images of the joys of visible migration:

Meadow Pipit, Northern Marshes

Tree Pipit, Northern Marshes

Olive-backed Pipit, Northern Marshes

Red-throated Pipit, Northern Marshes

Pechora Pipit, Northern Marshes

Buff-bellied Pipit, Northern Marshes

Friday, October 18

Vis a Viz

Why my dear Konan, thank you for your news. I really do not know how you persuaded our local Watchman to leave us be for now, and I am not sure I would really want to, but I do appreciate your efforts. To placate him I had been affecting interest in all the many and varied schemes the last few days, and it has made my head hurt so. Now I can go back to the mundane. Wonderful(!)

I think I need your advice, because some are trying to make the mundane more confusing than it needs to be.

I have, the last few morns, taken the air upon the top of the church tower, in a hope to experience that thing known as 'visible migration'. Now that pond hibernation has become an unfashionable theory many, it seems, are trying to prove other theories by way of the scientific (such as a'banding), and unscientific (trying to argue we can experience this for ourselves and draw ready conclusions). But I really wish these finches a'fluttering by me would carry a passport or similar, because I am finding it impossible to fathom.

I had a length note from dear old Bert Hold on the matter. Old Hold professes to be quite the expert on migration (or so he claims). He terms much of that which I can see as being evidence of  'periodic seasonal return migration'.Well, that much was known by the time of the bible, for certain (Jeremiah eight, seven) and that is what many of us instantly apply to all our sightings.

But he adds layers. Upon layers. Next comes 'partial migration', where only some of the population move, whilst others remain on their breeding grounds. This is thought a most popular type of migration. The Chaffinches I am seeing are likely part of this, coming from Europe. I can only say likely, as then what are our TUKOGBANI birds doing at the same time? Well, some will indeed be making a partial migration. Some might still be undertaking a sort of 'dispersal migration', not so much now 'natal dispersal' but more a 'spacing movement' as winter territories are needed, or winter flocks that are congealing.

Throw in 'differential migration', where individuals move varying distances according to age and sex, and it becomes even harder to draw a conclusion.

Movements can also be obligated (pre-destined) or chosen (free will). Some are saying "where are all the tens of thousands of Reddenedwings that were seen arriving this past week?" Well, if they arrived this far west not of their own free will but because of easterly winds why should they be staying if they are obligated for finding somewhere more south on the continent?

So, not all 'my' Chaffinches passing can be readily assigned to one layer. The local birds may be making local flights. Daily local flights. The local youngsters may be making dispersive movements, flocking movements. Other not-so-local locals might be arriving. The foreigners may be in there in some number, for sure;- but I can only guess at that number.

Add in Bert's other madcap ideas, such as the need for 'irruptive movements', 'escape movements' from poor weather and even 'spreading movements' where species are expanding (he claims the rare Collared Dove I espied may well be spreading into Western Europe, pish says I), then it becomes messier to know what to record this visible migration as in my journal.

Oh, and he also comes up with so many forms of migratory locomotion;- broad-front migration, funneled migration, fanned migration, detoured migration, arched migration, migratiory bends and migratory divides. This list goes on. Also for consideration are loop migration, leap-frog migration, intermittent exploratory migration (after post-juvenile fledging movements), reverse migration, weather migration and weather commute movements, nocturnal movements and diurnal movements;- oh he also comes up with so very, very many.

What are my birds doing? Some flock-witted individuals try so hard to draw just one conclusion from what we see here. But are these common birds doing things uncommon to us still? Do our eyes play tricks on us, and we see what we want to believe?

My church tower is a good vantage point, but, oh for a Jacob's ladder(!). Some such as dear Dr Lack theorise that if we could see above the clouds where the angels fly, migratory movements should well often be in totally different directions to those we see below. That we may never know, but it all makes me think I should certainly never draw any quick conclusions myself.

I know of many who simply see what they wish to see;- 'migration'. Yet for them a local raptor repeatedly circling a territory during a'breeding periods becomes a seasonal migratory movement of several. They see migration on the wrong winds. They see birds coming in on the coast cannot have been coasting. They see birds heading north as reverse-migrating and not simply dispersing after arriving by some short water-crossing. They think all that they can espy from the ground is the be-all and end-all, but there is so, so much going on that needs to be considered(!)

What I want to know, dear Konan, is if you really believe watching the skies daily in this way is of any real ornithological value, or do such dark grey specks cloud the true picture we seek? Should I keep returning to my tower?

I do so look forward to your response.


The good book touches upon the matter of star navigation,
as depicted in this contemporary image
(note also an example of one of the many man-made threats
to traditional migratory routes that we see in modern times).

Tuesday, October 15

Konan the Baptist's bird news: Octobre ye fifthteenfth

REPEEEENT(!) Repent my dear Doctor Manhatten(!)

I trust you managed no sleep last night? I make no apologies for the lack of bunking facilities here at my hemitude of solitage on the Northern Marshes, but I, Konan The Baptist, normally find I have no guest last this long. Perhaps your stay will be over soon?

I have let MiniCon know you have extended your work here on the Marshes for at least another week, so you will not be missed, and we will have plenty of time to talk on ornithological matters.

Now, where did we get to last night? Hmmm, yes, once again our chat had centred upon your import stressed on being a good citizen scientist and immersing oneself in all available citizen scientistry, especially when providing fowle records to you for your works.

You see my dear Doctor Manhatten, your faith in the average citizen following such a command does not wash with this devout fanatic. I have looked upon Cart-track, and found it not fit for my purpose. I keep my head down here, working as I do amongst the poor, the criminal, the insane. That is just the birderers, please do not get me started on the land-owners. I have so very many to deal with here, that my reports are ever divided. I count in two hundred and six different enclosures in an area you just call a swamp. Now the road to my own personal hell is paved by the good deeds of providing comfort to the land-owners. You would have me spend time for Cart-track providing one summary, or so many small sites? No sir.

I know that if you do not make daily strolls in your Chosen Land you will never strengthen your understanding of it. You must take knowledge from your counts showing the glory of the firmament. You must see how your sightings will raise the spirits of the local man, be they of fowle mind or not. You must look at all the movements in great detail to achieve this and you must not have your own Good Words lost in any translation by fellow citizen scientists in the County yearbook of Coveted Sightings. 

You must be as one away from all others, to avoid their influences, if you wish to learn for yourself. In science I think you call this a 'double-blind' control? I choose such a life of solitude with the fowle.

ou frown my dear Doctor Manhatten? Two days' sufferance of my full-on preaching and you are yet to be convinced? You are strong. Some may call me a complete cult, but I believe there is still much that can be done by working outside of all the routine daily services. So my missionary work can wait just that little longer because I really must convert you and I think I am close to finishing with you.

 short, Cart-track is not right for all. It is certainly not right for me. I am your standard deviationIn short, the blind worship of County Ornithology adds little to true ornithology. In short, coveted lists, of all shapes and sizes, have no value other than that which the individual places upon them. In short, selfie-promotion through the interweb is a sin

So, by this barnacle-encrusted depth marker I am
 at present measuring upwards from one yard six inches of tidal depth is already upon us, dear Doctor. And we are some way from the shore. By the time the tide reaches the whole six yards of the marker, this conversation will have had to have been at an end for some considerable time because I for one will be back safe upon the saltings. Do please nod to agree to the following conditions should you wish to join me.

By the time of the tide being at one yard and twelve inch of depth, you will have to acknowledge that Cart-track does not fit all.

By one yard and eighteen inches of depth, you will need to acknowledge a County Ornithological Society is never the be all and end all if it one that does not strive to improve.

By one yard and twenty-four inches of depth, you will acknowledge there is no compulsion to make public every fowle sighting within a split of a second of appearance. This is no game we play.

By two yards of depth it is essential (for by then I will have difficulty telling if your head is a'nodding or simply a'bobbing) you will have promised to ensure MinCon provides adequate funding for research of a medical nature into finding a cure for 'selfie' a'twittering and a'blogging, to allow a resurgence of gentleman ornithologists once more.

Do not, for one moment, doubt my resolve on achieving this course of action. 

After all, surely someone has explained to you why they call me 'The Baptist'?

Monday, October 14

Bandwell's Bird news: Octobre ye forteenfth

Doctor Manhatten, for your information;-

My statement for Cart-track;

Much Ticking Churchyard
Observer;- Fumblefinch, Bandwell Ringmore
Yellowshanks;- one.
Sparrer;- one.
Redden-winged Thrush;- fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-six.
Middle-eastern Kingbird;- one
All other species, less than one.

My statement for the Listershire Fowle Forum;

Much Ticking Churchyard (Revd. B R Fumblefinch)
One Yellowshanks. One Sparrer. Fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-six Redden-winged Thrushes. All in all, a nice afternoon in the field. (And a Middle-eastern Kingbird.)

My statement for the Avian Sightings Service;

(Compulsory preamble) Good evening and welcome to the fowle news for the Northern Marshes, Listershire and Sou'Saxon, supplied by the telegraphers you can trust. Remember, you are charged by the word, so we make no apologies for extending this introductory statement:
In Listershire today, at Much Ticking Churchyard, one Middle-eastern Kingbird. From Much Ticking village green village signpost, walk north for twelve yards towards the gate just made out as being marked 'churchyard'. Pass through this gate now clearly confirmed to read 'churchyard'. You are now in the churchyard. The bird was present, in this churchyard, for several seconds this afternoon. Also there, one Yellowshanks, one Sparrer, and fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-six Redden-winged Thrush over during the afternoon.

My statement for a'twitter;-

Almighty news from Much Ticking Churchyard where this morning I had the pleasure of securing a 1st for site, county and country, namely a MI 

My statement for the interweb blogosphere;-

TRULY THE KING OF KINGS(!?) Well I couldn't get to the churchyardo until after lunch, but was pleased that the mystery wader of the past few days was still circling lost overhead- today I ruled out Greatest Yellowshanks and Leastest Yellowshanks, both on the rate of wingbeats per minute, confirming Medium Yellowlegs. Could the day get any better?

I thought not, but then 'BOOMAWESOME(!)' a MIDDLE-EASTERN KINGBIRD dropped from the sky, landing on a most distant headstone and dropping behind it before scuttling over the wall, never to be seen again, despite my searching for five minutes. What a year this is turning out to be(!)
I also had a Sparrer, and fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-six Redden-winged Thrushes over.

The Kingbird, seen clearly behind the stone


Sunday, October 13

And on the tenth day

Ah, good morning my dear Reverend Bandwell, I trust you managed some sleep last night? Again, my apologies for the lack of bunking facilities here, but we do not normally find our guests wish to stay so long. Ha, yes, you nod in agreement? Perhaps your stay will be over soon? Perhaps you will go a'cart-tracking?

I have let the Dean and the Churchwarden know that you have extended your fictional stay upon the Shelterland Silly Isles by a few more days (in the hope of a Gray/grey -cheeked Mavis), so we still have plenty of time to finish our talk.

Now, where did we get to last night? Hmmm, yes, once again our chat had centred upon the importance of being a good citizen scientist and immersing oneself in all available citizen scientistry, especially providing your fowle records to us.

You see my dear Reverend Bandwell, you must have faith in your reports and faith that your reports will do good deeds. You must believe your daily strolls will daily strengthen the work of MiniCon. You must take heart from your counts showing the glory of the firmament. You must see how your sightings will raise the common man. You must hear the Good Word of your fellow citizen scientists. You must feel you always have a chance to find your own Big-beaked Warbler, even in this drecrepit village.

You must be as one with all others.

You frown my dear Reverend Bandwell? Ten days' gentle persuasion and you are yet to be convinced? In Doctor rates, this is costing me plenty, but you are worth it. Other non-believers can wait just that little longer because I think we are close to breaking down and through to you.

I know you find it hard to communicate your misgivings at the moment, but perhaps that is because you know, deep in your heart, you really should be with us, rather than against us. Strength in unity, Reverend Bandwell, you will find strength in unity. Your brain, washed of lazy thoughts about recording, now wants to apply itself.

You cannot be a real a'birderer if you have no loyalty to us. It costs little. Little more than a tithe on your stipend as subcription to our various institutions. Then, little more than you communicating your records to us daily. Little more than you never having an opinion different from ours. Little more than your loyalty at all times.

I see it in your eyes my dear Reverend Bandwell, you are close to the truth. Your eyes are heavy, Reverend Bandwell, very heavy, and getting heavier by the minute. So, close them Reverend Bandwell, close them and imagine yourself in the stovepipe hat of the Watchmen, hear your parishioners address you in awesomeness as Doctor Reverend Bandwell Fumblefinch-Manhatten, and "boom(!)" feel the power of belonging.

When I count down from ten, my dear Reverend Bandwell, you will be filled with a desire to belong, and a longing to go about your Parish and count all the number of all the beasts of the air, and report them all back to Cart-track, with an indication of all absences as well. And you will feel righteous for it.

My dear Reverend Bandwell you will now start to want to open your eyes in ten, nine...

And as you awake my dear Reverend bandwell you will also have an urge to place a summary of your sightings on the Listershire Fowle Sightings Forum, to remove any unease at not being one of the chosen;- eight, seven...

And my dear Reverend Bandwell, you will also have an urge to place another summary of your sightings with your local Avian Sightings Service, as your local ASS really does not make enough money from you yet;- six, five...

And you will a'twitter your a'bestest birds for those not willing to pay an ASS, and my dear Reverend Bandwell you will say it to have been 'awesome';- four, three...

And an a'blog my dear Reverend Bandwell, you will write an a'blog so all will know how good it is to be as diligent and compliant a Watchman as yourself;- tw- wait(!) and you will remember nothing of this, nothing(!);- two... wait, wait, we need a control phrase- "County Ornithological Conference"- whenever you hear this phrase, you will fall back into a deep sleep, that's it, yes?


Ah, good morning my dear Reverend Bandwell, I trust you managed some sleep last night? Again, my apologies for the lack of bunking facilities here, but we do not normally find our guests wish to stay so long. Ha, yes, you nod in agreement? Perhaps my stay will be over soon? Perhaps you will go a'cart-tracking?

"Yes", you nod? Oh that is wonderful. Let me remove your gag, unbind you, and remove those electrodes. Oh, and find your field glasses and a stove-pipe hat.

Thursday, October 3

Them problems with them Pharisees

Ah, yes Dean Cliff, of course your little pony is fine, I assure you.

Now I did say I was not planning on going on holiday for some time, and yes, I have been absent (again) from my Parish for this last week, but do not worry your good self, t'was no holiday;- I had been preparing for the Watchman visit. (I am seeing him this very night, as it is going to rain, and we can both break from his compulsory censusing of night-calling stripey phylloscs.)

The reason I left at short notice was simple;- I had the chance to attend lectures on the skills of argumenting, and have now come back knowing so much more that can assist me with Watchmen, in the Parish, in debating with any in authority, and of course, most importantlywhen debating fowle on forums or in the flesh.

In short, I have learnt how to spot fallacies in arguments. For an example, I will list you a mere handful of the dozens of logical fallacies I now recognise, which I hope will both prove my time away as used well, and perhaps be most helpful to you in your own dealing with other meddlesome priests.

Logical fallacy #1) "Black and/or white"

Two opposing alternative states are presented as the only available options. No other options, especially those which reek of co-operation, are allowed to come into any debate, where in fact many possible outcomes exist. Often seen in forums if someone dares suggest that a titled person of the landed gentry of 'a huntering or a fishering or a rodgering' bent might just be capable of an effort of conservation on their land.
I feel sure you will be able to recognise other examples now this has been revealed to you.

Logical fallacy #2) "A beast of Burden of proof"

The burden of proof scientific always lies with that someone making the claim scientific, and it is not for anyone else to have to disprove it in argument. Evidence may be properly assessed and challenged, but any inability to disprove a claim at face value does not render that claim valid.
However, it is import to note that we are never certain of anything, which means to extend this thought to dismiss something, on the basis it is not proven beyond all doubt, is also fallacious reasoning.
Rares committees are beginning to get this right, but birderers still do not; if the claim needs further support, it can never, ever, be 'rejected'. Only 'not accepted'. Birderers cling to this rejected phrasing in their idle gossip because of the associated negative connotations. Hopefully such use will continue to diminish, especially as many seem to wish their games with lists rare to be seen of high scientific import, alongside astronomy and witchery.
You will of course recognise many more examples, and can now reject them all.

Logical fallacy #3) "This sinful man"

You misrepresent an argument to make it easier to attack. This in turn often makes your own counterpoint seem more reasonable than it actually is. Often appears on forums when someone charges in with a comment such as "you say you are concerned with trespass yet you suppress all your own finds on public lands..." helping to cover your own wished-for trespasses to be forgiven.
You will of course recognise many more examples.

Logical fallacy #4) "Appealing emotions"

An attempt to obtain an emotional response, in place of a valid argument. Now of course we all have emotions;- fear, envy, hatred, pride come quickly to mind, and of course a correctly delivered argument may well instil such an emotional reaction, but emotion alone cannot be an argument.
Oft seen of late regarding multiple coloured leg-irons on a'waderers. But you will of course recognise many other examples.

Logical fallacy #5) "Ad hominen"

An attack on the traits or the character of the debater. You may undermine an argument without engaging it by simply dismissing the debater. On the Almighty Forum of Birds this is seen most often in 'The rule of false names'. Some will not consider an argument by words alone- you must show them your character. It is often started by the question "And you are?" Once known, their ploy will be to say do not look at his argument, however valid, as this man is a drunkard, a blaggard and a suppressor.
You will recognise many more examples. This type should always be dismissed, as sure as my name is Bandwell Ringmore Fumblefinch.

Logical fallacy #6) "Et tu Brute"

Avoiding having to answer a direct argument by turning it back on the debater. You answer criticism with criticism. It is an appeal to hypocrisy. On the Almighty Forum of Birds this often appears as "You say I cannot identify seagulls after wronging the bird in yesterday's postings? That is most rich, were you not able to identify the seagull in the post of March 30th last?" And so the argument is never 'won'.
You will recognise many more examples. Or not.

Logical fallacy #7) "Personal incredulity"

Often seen when someone personally rejects a complicated train of thought. "I cannot believe Common Redpoll and Lesser Redpoll to be the same species, despite what the majority of Europe's scientists assert." I also have to say that anyone who begins an argument with "I have to say" is seen through as being weak in argument from word one.
And I have to say you will of course recognise many more examples.

Logical fallacy #8) "Circling the question"

A circular argument, so ingrained that one party takes it as a given absolute. Like some matters Biblical. This has been seen of late within the forum of the New Generation of Birderers, when religious debate appeared.
Obviously we in the Church of TUKOGBANI can accept that the words written in the Good Book have been amended by the work of man over the years, and we have dropped the old subtitle of "All really, really, really the very actual words of the Good Lord", but not all can manage this.

(If true, we would of course have to stop all a'birdering "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's accentor of the alpine variety").

Some of our young NGB generation have attended this same revelationary course, recognised the problem and amended their group rules to instruct 'No God Botherers'. Hallelujah(!) I am sure you can think of many other examples.

I hope these illuminations are of use to you sir. I can provide more, should you wish, in good time. For now I must go read up on Cart-Track, and feed your pony.

And the First Rule of NGB club is;-