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RE: [CALBIRDS] The Elitist

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  • Kimball Garrett
    Dear All, I hadn t planned to get sucked into this morass, but there is one important point to be made that I don t believe has been aired. If anything like
    Message 1 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
      Dear All,

      I hadn't planned to get sucked into this morass, but there is one
      important point to be made that I don't believe has been aired. If
      anything like an elite "Inner Birding Circle" of birders exists, it
      consists almost entirely of birders with a strong track record of
      documenting rarities through photographs and thorough written
      descriptions. If I were lucky enough to find a very unusual bird in a
      sensitive area, I would make every effort to contact friends and fellow
      birders who I know will work hard to critically examine and document
      that bird (and submit documentation to the CBRC). Frankly, I'm not that
      concerned about getting additional birders out there who merely want to
      put something on their (state, county, or fill in the blank) lists and
      have no history of documenting birds or cooperating with the CBRC. Of
      course I (and all birders I know) have no objection to encouraging wide
      enjoyment of rarities that are in accessible, public localities that
      have no issues relating to birder impacts.

      This suggests that one way to "graduate" to this mythical "elite circle"
      would be to work at developing a strong track record of careful and
      critical birding, extensive useful documentation, and cooperation with
      the CBRC, NAB, etc.

      Kimball

      Kimball L. Garrett
      Ornithology Collections Manager
      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
      900 Exposition Blvd.
      Los Angeles CA 90007
      (213) 763-3368
      (213) 746-2999 FAX
      kgarrett@...
    • Steve Hampton
      I think the way to get into any so-called inner circle in any region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most importantly, explore new areas
      Message 2 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
        I think the way to get into any so-called "inner circle" in any region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most importantly, explore new areas and find your own rarities.

        Not everyone shares birds in a timely fashion, and not every bird is found in a publically-accessible place. That's just the way it is. Let it go and find your own-- it's MUCH more satisfying.








        Steve Hampton
        ________________
        Resource Economist
        Office of Spill Prevention and Response
        California Dept of Fish and Game
        PO Box 944209
        Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
        -----------------------------------
        (916) 323-4724 phone
        (916) 324-8829 fax
      • Ryan Terrill
        Hi Everyone- I first want to say that this is a fun discussion. Birding really is a community and a culture, more than many of us would like to admit. As for
        Message 3 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
          Hi Everyone-

          I first want to say that this is a fun discussion. Birding really is a community and a culture, more than many of us would like to admit. As for the elite group of birders, I have recently had a bit of light shed on the activity of birding, and how I got to where I am. I moved to Argentina in June, and things are a lot different down here. Sure, there is an active birding community, but noone really birds regularly together, and If I want to know how to tell Shiny from Screaming Cowbird, or The high-altitide miners, or The Canasteros, I just have to go look and listen to them a whole hell of a lot, because there is no Rich Stallcup or Guy McCaskie just up the road whom I can ask about the differences in flight calls between Andean and Rothschild´s Swift. It is really showing me what incredible amounts of work a lot of people went through to get birding to where it is today, and how ignorant I, at least, would be without these people. These are the shoulders we are
          standing on.

          -Ryan Terrill
          Buenos Aires, Argentina


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        • Lidia Seebeck
          For background-I m not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder. With a life list around 230, I d say intermediate is about right. Sure there are some
          Message 4 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
            For background-I'm not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder. With
            a life list around 230, I'd say "intermediate" is about right.



            Sure there are some pretty expert birders in this state. Kimball Garrett,
            Steve Sosensky, Guy McCaskie, Roger Higson, and many others come to mind.
            Sure there are some less-than-nice birders in this state. I know that's the
            case in many places. But, on average, California's birders are actually
            really nice and that even seems to go double for the experts. I know there
            have been situations when I've failed to get a report in on time, usually
            for a balky email connection. I really do try to get my reports in the same
            day and my hubby is nice enough (and now addicted enough to birding!) to
            help me once we get back to the house so I have the time to type something
            up. But I can well imagine the situation for those whose spouses aren't
            birders-especially on a weekend. I haven't yet encountered a situation
            where I have failed to send a report because of a delicate location, but I
            can imagine that if a bird were in my neighbors' yards I might not be able
            to report. One of my neighbors loves birds and knows about my hobby so they
            might well consent, others might not. So far all my reports have either
            been in my own yard or else viewable in a more public locale.



            I do think, however, that birders really should be careful to take into
            account the fact that our reports, properly checked and documented as
            necessary, help increase the knowledge base of ALL California birders. I
            remember a report of an Osprey that I made here in the Inland Empire last
            fall and I got some reports back thanking me for the observation as there
            was some sort of survey going on and the Osprey observation was helpful
            somehow. I think that even an amateur birder with a good observation can
            make a difference. Of course, accurate reports are the most helpful, and it
            is important to verify your observation.



            I don't know the situation that led to the creation of this thread
            (something about a Woodcock?) but I really can't say that I know of too
            many birders that would deliberately hold back on reporting something
            exciting unless there was some odd circumstance that might require
            discretion.



            In short-California's top birders are mostly experts, not elitists.



            Lidia Seebeck

            Pachappa Hill, Riverside



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Morgan Churchill
            As someone with birding experience within and outside of California, I will throw in a few cents. First off, I rather agree with Doug on most of his points.
            Message 5 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
              As someone with birding experience within and outside of California, I will
              throw in a few cents.

              First off, I rather agree with Doug on most of his points. It strikes me as
              rather hypocritical to use the list, but at the same time not to report
              things when a rarity in your neck shows up. However I can see the point of
              people not posting about birds on military or otherwise difficult to access
              places. I recently had a dilemna like this...On a field trip in Western
              Wyoming this past September, I happened upon a Blackburnian Warbler.
              However...I had literally no idea where it was, as the locality was off
              several dirt roads smack dab in the middle of nowhere. I didn't want to
              lead birders on a wild goose hunt for what was likely a unchaseable bird.
              As for birds where the identity is far from confirmed, I would rather have
              it posted so others could hear about it and maybe throw in their two cents,
              then for no one to say anything.

              Also, I envy the birding situation in San Diego and California (and not
              being around for birds like Yellow-green Vireo or Bar-tailed Godwit is
              killing me). The local statewide listserve is nearly dead here, very few
              birders seem to be active much, and many that I have encountered are not
              even half the skill of birders I would meet in the field in California.
              Overall, if you have to put up with a few elitist birders, it seems like a
              very small price to pay for birding in such a great state.

              Morgan Churchill
              Laramie, Wyoming

              On 10/4/07, Lidia Seebeck <lidia@...> wrote:
              >
              > For background-I'm not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder.
              > With
              > a life list around 230, I'd say "intermediate" is about right.
              >
              > Sure there are some pretty expert birders in this state. Kimball Garrett,
              > Steve Sosensky, Guy McCaskie, Roger Higson, and many others come to mind.
              > Sure there are some less-than-nice birders in this state. I know that's
              > the
              > case in many places. But, on average, California's birders are actually
              > really nice and that even seems to go double for the experts. I know there
              > have been situations when I've failed to get a report in on time, usually
              > for a balky email connection. I really do try to get my reports in the
              > same
              > day and my hubby is nice enough (and now addicted enough to birding!) to
              > help me once we get back to the house so I have the time to type something
              > up. But I can well imagine the situation for those whose spouses aren't
              > birders-especially on a weekend. I haven't yet encountered a situation
              > where I have failed to send a report because of a delicate location, but I
              > can imagine that if a bird were in my neighbors' yards I might not be able
              > to report. One of my neighbors loves birds and knows about my hobby so
              > they
              > might well consent, others might not. So far all my reports have either
              > been in my own yard or else viewable in a more public locale.
              >
              > I do think, however, that birders really should be careful to take into
              > account the fact that our reports, properly checked and documented as
              > necessary, help increase the knowledge base of ALL California birders. I
              > remember a report of an Osprey that I made here in the Inland Empire last
              > fall and I got some reports back thanking me for the observation as there
              > was some sort of survey going on and the Osprey observation was helpful
              > somehow. I think that even an amateur birder with a good observation can
              > make a difference. Of course, accurate reports are the most helpful, and
              > it
              > is important to verify your observation.
              >
              > I don't know the situation that led to the creation of this thread
              > (something about a Woodcock?) but I really can't say that I know of too
              > many birders that would deliberately hold back on reporting something
              > exciting unless there was some odd circumstance that might require
              > discretion.
              >
              > In short-California's top birders are mostly experts, not elitists.
              >
              > Lidia Seebeck
              >
              > Pachappa Hill, Riverside
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >



              --
              Morgan Churchill
              San Diego (SDSU area)


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Lilith Mageborn
              Well. This thread has reinforced my belief that every group is a microcosm of society at large, much as all members would like our group to be perfect and
              Message 6 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
                Well. This thread has reinforced my belief that every group is a
                microcosm of society at large, much as all members would like "our group"
                to be perfect and free of perceived societal flaws. If any group could be
                flawless, we'd see a miraculous walking on water, en masse, picking up
                Bar-Tailed Godwits and oystercatchers, or a parting of the Pacific Ocean
                in search of certain terns, gulls and albatrosses. ;-)

                For my part, my irregular hours as a 1099 contract worker working several
                jobs and raising a teenager single-handedly enforces time and financial
                constraints (not to mention being perpetually exhausted) precludes me
                from chasing after confirmed or unconfirmed rarities unless they're local
                (as was the case with that Red-Faced Warbler in 9/05), but I thoroughly
                enjoy reading such posts and the discussions in trying to pin down this
                or that bird's ID because I learn from such discussions and because I'm
                equally analytical. Well, I'm a proofreader and an editor: I have to be
                nit-picky!

                Elitism? I see where Doug Aguillard is coming from, but I also get the
                impression that the people who post possible or confirmed rarities are
                the truly hard-core birders. Maybe I'm wrong about that (Lord knows I've
                been wrong plenty of times before), but you know, if a possibility is
                posted in Area XYZ, whether that area is accessible or not, then I'd
                think it would alert us to the **possibility** of a Rara Avis lurking in
                the general locality; it would then encourage us to keep our eyes open
                for said possibility.

                So -- post away, I say!

                Just my scraped-together two cents' worth.

                Sue Jorgenson
                260 life birds +/-
                Anaheim, CA



                On Thu, 04 Oct 2007 10:46:20 -0700 "Steve Hampton"
                <shampton@...> writes:
                > I think the way to get into any so-called "inner circle" in any
                > region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most
                > importantly, explore new areas and find your own rarities.
                >
                > Not everyone shares birds in a timely fashion, and not every bird is
                > found in a publically-accessible place. That's just the way it is.
                > Let it go and find your own-- it's MUCH more satisfying.
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Steve Hampton
                > ________________
                > Resource Economist
                > Office of Spill Prevention and Response
                > California Dept of Fish and Game
                > PO Box 944209
                > Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
                > -----------------------------------
                > (916) 323-4724 phone
                > (916) 324-8829 fax
                >
                >
                >
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              • surteesdn@aol.com
                In a message dated 10/4/07 10:12:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... And that s the most cogent reason for posting all suspected rarities -- if the area the bird
                Message 7 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
                  In a message dated 10/4/07 10:12:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
                  lilithm3@... writes:

                  > if a possibility is
                  > posted in Area XYZ, whether that area is accessible or not, then I'd
                  > think it would alert us to the **possibility** of a Rara Avis lurking in
                  > the general locality; it would then encourage us to keep our eyes open
                  > for said possibility.
                  >
                  > So -- post away, I say!
                  >
                  And that's the most cogent reason for posting all suspected rarities
                  -- if the area the bird was in is sensitive, say so and caution birders of any
                  restrictions. Don't just keep it for your 'birding buddies'. That's rude!

                  Dave Surtees
                  Hollywood
                  <BR><BR>**************************************<BR> See what's new at http://www.aol.com</HTML>


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                • Floyd Hayes
                  I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so many rarities that we often see with relative
                  Message 8 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
                    I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists
                    for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so
                    many rarities that we often see with relative ease,
                    and teaching us about the finer points of
                    distribution, seasonality and identification of birds
                    in California.

                    Floyd Hayes
                    Hidden Valley Lake, CA


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                  • Lilith Mageborn
                    This is why I see both sides of the issue. We DO owe that debt of gratitude to the truly dedicated birders. If not for them, I wouldn t have Lentz s Birds of
                    Message 9 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
                      This is why I see both sides of the issue. We DO owe that debt of
                      gratitude to the truly dedicated birders.

                      If not for them, I wouldn't have Lentz's Birds of the Southern California
                      Coast or Schram's A Birder's Guide to Southern California, or Kempton's
                      Birding Northern California (or Anza-Borrego, Salton Sea, OC Breeding
                      Atlas, Ocean Birds of the Nearshore Pacific, and the list goes on and on
                      and on).

                      Well, however the issue resolves itself, I will continue to read and
                      learn from the posts and keep my eyes open when I travel on business
                      throughout California, knowing that a suspected or confirmed rarity has
                      been seen here, or there. For isn't it said that "fortune favors the
                      prepared"? :-)

                      Sue Jorgenson
                      Anaheim, CA

                      On Fri, 5 Oct 2007 09:42:45 -0700 (PDT) Floyd Hayes
                      <floyd_hayes@...> writes:
                      > I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists
                      > for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so
                      > many rarities that we often see with relative ease,
                      > and teaching us about the finer points of
                      > distribution, seasonality and identification of birds
                      > in California.
                      >
                      > Floyd Hayes
                      > Hidden Valley Lake, CA
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
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                    • John Puschock
                      There s been a couple things stated in this thread that have bothered me, so here are my thoughts: 1) A lifelist is a poor measure of birding skill. Don t
                      Message 10 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
                        There's been a couple things stated in this thread that have bothered me, so here are my thoughts:

                        1) A lifelist is a poor measure of birding skill. Don't label yourself based on that number. I've found that the larger geographic area a list covers, the more it is a measure of financial resources and time rather than birding skill. I'm usually immediately impressed by someone with a large county or state list, but I reserve judgment for someone with a large ABA Area or world list until I see them in action.

                        2) An elite birder is not the same thing as an elitist. Just because you're one of those doesn't automatically make you the other.

                        For the record, I'm in favor of "Elite Inner Circles" when I'm on the inside but against them when I'm not. :) Unfortunately, I'm generally not.

                        Anyway, I agree with one of Doug's basic points: if you take from the list, you should also give back when appropriate. Also, I think it's better to report a potential rarity rather than wait for confirmation, but chaser beware. If you can't do the time (i.e., miss a bird or find out the ID was incorrect), don't do the crime (i.e., chase).

                        John Puschock
                        San Diego, CA
                        g_g_allin@...

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                      • scre@aol.com
                        I didn t want to get sucked into this but there are a few points that I wanted to make. I don t feel that there is elitism among California s birders. What I
                        Message 11 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
                          I didn't want to get sucked into this but there are a few points that I
                          wanted
                          to make. I don't feel that there is elitism among California's birders.
                          What
                          I do find is, a point already made by several others, that people who
                          actively
                          bird and document their sightings tend to bump into each other and become
                          friends. As time passes you come to know and trust these people and report
                          birds to them. You're not keeping others out because you are an elitist but
                          because you don't know everyone on these listserves and don't know what they
                          might do when you report a bird. As much as we might like to think that
                          birders represent an atypical slice of the general population, not all
                          birders
                          act according to what the majority of us think of as common and decent
                          behavior. Plenty of people have reported birds on private property only to
                          have hordes of birders come out and act in a disrespectful manner to the
                          landowners resulting in that spot being closed for everyone. This has
                          happened many times at several different places throughout the state. I
                          have
                          even heard stories of birders trespassing where people had permission to do
                          bird surveys, even onto military land (quite the federal offense!).

                          This type of behavior jeopardizes birding these spots in the future for those
                          who have worked hard at getting access and keeping it, just because a few
                          people who read it on a listerve decide to ruin it for everyone. By telling
                          a
                          few friends, you are allowing a few people who have proven to be trustworthy
                          to
                          see a bird and to help in documenting it. Is this really elitism? I just
                          can't see being upset about a bird that is found on private property or a
                          military base and not getting a chance to see it. It seems even more
                          ridiculous to call it elitism when someone does get to see it because either
                          a) they have worked to get access or b) they have proven to a friend with
                          access that they will enter in a responsible manner.

                          As much as we'd like to say that we don't judge if someone makes a mistake,
                          there are plenty who do and end up harassing an individual because of a
                          mistake. This happens even to birders of Mike San Miguel's caliber, so it
                          ends up becoming a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. People
                          will be pissed that they chased a bird that might have been misided or, as in
                          this case, they will be pissed that it wasn't reported.

                          Another reason not to post is because of sensitive habitat. As much as
                          we'd like to think that we are all conservationists and won't destroy the
                          habitat when chasing birds, it does happen. When a mega is found in a small
                          area that suddenly gets 50 people, they are going to have an impact.
                          Sometimes the bird and the habitat are more important than a few people
                          getting to tick it off.

                          As for those on this listserve it seems that all those who actively
                          bird do report birds here when it is appropriate to do so. I have read plenty
                          of reports from Mike San Miguel and others on the birds they have found, who
                          may not report birds at times because of the above reasons. No one is
                          obligated to post something here just because they read the messages
                          (otherwise the majority of this listserve would have to be kicked off). People
                          are gracious in their willingness to share information when appropriate,
                          however, sometimes a person has to choose to not share that information with
                          everyone. Good birding everyone.

                          David Vander Pluym
                          Ventura, Ca



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