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,
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 

   *****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)