Friday, July 25, 2008

Modern Birding Terms Explained

Despite being (quite rightly) rebuked for previous posts on this and related subjects (see here), like a hungry Turnstone returning to a bloated tideline corpse, I just can't help having another go at it...

Do you find yourself baffled by some of the more obscure 'hip' birding slang being bandied about by the 'in-crowd' at twitches these days? Are you tired of being sniggered at as you gamely try to join in their conversations by talking about dudes, cripplers and cosmic mind-fuckers? In short, are you past it? Then fear not, my fellow old-timers; the Leicester Llama has helpfully scoured the Internet on your behalf to bring you the very latest, coolest and hippest slang terms around:

Common: 99.9% of the birds that you see on your annual birding holiday to Shetland/Scilly/wherever. Or at any other time of the year. Also known as trash, dross, jack shit etc. If you can't handle the fact that most birds are common, look at it this way: if we keep on screwing the planet, today's common is going to be tomorrow's rare (or worse). Keep twitching long enough, and one day you'll be able to impress kid-listers by telling them you've got House Sparrow on your list!

Credit crunch: the sound made by your old scope as it 'accidentally' hits the rocks below Sumburgh/Flamborough/Beachy Head, as claiming on the insurance is the only way you can afford the deposit on a new one.

Digi-waste: to fill up Surfbirds Stop Press Rarity Photos pages with images of common and/or obviously escaped birds, e.g. Rose-coloured Starling, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Merganser. Alternatively to post yet another shot of a long-staying rarity that has already been posted a million times (with a comment apologising for doing so, of course).

Digi-whinge: accompanying comment to piss-poor photo on Surfbirds, making excuses about poor light, distance from bird, or jokey self-deprecating references to the incompetence of the photographer.

Fuel poverty: the state of most twitchers' finances these days. Ironically, this may ultimately be the saving of many of the species twitchers would most like to see. Let's hear it for market forces!

Pager: expensive electronic device alerting you to rare birds that you can no longer afford to go and see (see previous entry). Inexplicably kept by many ex twitchers, possibly for sentimental reasons.

Rare: the sole reason for going birding. Best found by going to Shetland, waiting for a good day, and then putting on a hat. Or maybe two hats (fucking hell, don't start that again).

Recession: regularly recurring period during which local patch birding undergoes a massive increase in popularity. Also responsible for huge decline in profits of the various information services.

Sack off (alternatively sack it off): to stop birding when it becomes obvious that there's nothing other than common around, and go and drink tea/watch TV/have a wank instead. Possibly all at the same time, if it's an interesting enough programme and there's no-one else around.

Scarce: species such as Richard's Pipit, Pallas's Warbler or Rose-coloured Starling, that we quaintly used to call 'beebeerarities' when I was a lad. Due to rampant 'rarity inflation' these are now barely worth a look, unless there really is fuck-all else around.

Scopac: a (usually middle-aged) birdwatcher who carries their spotting scope/tripod in a 'Scopac', the reason being that they never use it and don't know what they're looking at anyway, so don't mind that it takes ten minutes to set it up from this position. The use of the Scopac also keeps the hands free for important things such as using mobile phones, consulting field guides, eating sandwiches, taking binoculars out of their case and gesticulating wildly at Marsh Harriers thus scaring off the rarity in the reedbed that others are trying to watch. (and don't whinge at me if you use one - it's a joke, OK?)

Self-found (often abbreviated to sf): a bird which you, or one of your friends, or someone you've never met but happened to be on the same island as, has seen and identified before anyone else. Or after someone else. A bird that you've seen, anyway. (See here for some proper, if a little complicated, self-found list rules).

Skor: actually I genuinely have no idea what this means. Is it somewhere on Unst? Perhaps someone will enlighten me.

Vizmig: hip modern spelling of the old bird observatory abbreviation vis. mig. - stuff flying over that you can call whatever you like as no-one else is going to see it. Another useful way of inflating your self-found list (q.v.).

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