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Re: [CALBIRDS] The Elitist

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  • 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 1 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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      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 2 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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        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 3 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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          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 4 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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            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 5 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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              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 6 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                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 7 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                  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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