Saturday, 16 August 2014

Birding Chanticleers: 'The Fall'

This weekend’s Birdfair at Rutland Water sees the launch of many new products aimed at the keen and credulous birdspotter eager to part with some hard-earned cash in the belief that merely owning the latest HD binoculars, massive white lens, or identification guide will automatically make them a better birder, photographer, or student of the fine art of discerning a ‘northern’ Great Spotted Woodpecker and actually giving a flying fuck about it.

Into none of these camps comes the latest publication from Birding Chanticleers. Simply entitled ‘The Fall’, it aims to empower observers of tricky birds with very latest thinking on how to identify them. For once, the content more than lives up to the hype – using the techniques outlined by the Birding Chanticleers team, a positive identification is practically guaranteed for any bird encountered in the coming weeks.

“It’s amazing!” enthused Charlie Chaucer, company director, birder, and ill-deserved possessor of a ringing licence. “I feel like I’ve been handed the keys to the kingdom! There’s a simple mantra that anyone can remember, and it solves literally any identification conundrum: ‘if in doubt, pull a feather out’. All I need to do is get my hands on the bird in question, tug a feather out of it, pretend it was moulted in the ringing bag, and fire it off to the nice people at Aberdeen University. A little while later you get a definitive identification based on DNA.

“And that’s properly scientific, and helps to dispel any laughable and muddle-headed notion that ringing’s more about the self-aggrandisement of the ringer than actually contributing anything meaningful to our collective knowledge of a species whilst maintaining the welfare of the bird at all times”.

Identification guru and member of the Birding Chanticleers team Paul Heaton is pleased with the public’s reaction to his book. “We’ve brought together all the latest thinking about how to deal with those worrisome warblers and pesky pipits. Gone now are the days when you’re struggling with a bird and end up on the receiving end of a patronising and sanctimonious identification from some distant expert in his ivory tower.

“Now all you need to do is forget that most advances in in-the-field identification are freely available to read about online, fork out some readies for our book, and get plucking! Aberdeen may soon be knee-deep in feathers, but at least your reputation will be iron-clad”.

He added, "Birding Chanticleers - always earning!"

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