View Full Version : An open letter to the members and commenters on Birdforum, China

Tuesday 16th September 2014, 00:54

I have been reading the China threads on Birdforum for only a short while now, but already I have gleaned much that is helpful to me. Not only have the China threads provided me with information that will make my upcoming visit to Shanghai much more productive and enjoyable bird wise, they have also opened my eyes to the many serious threats facing the birdlife in China and, as well, introduced me to the people and groups working to overcome them. In addition, the China Birdforum is providing me with an ornithological education, causing me to ask important questions and then do the research to answer them. So, what is about the China Birdforum in particular that allows one to gain so much?

I believe it is due primarily to the unselfish and generous nature of the forum veterans, and I include every one of you that have paid your dues in China, no matter your age. There is something that each of you seem to share, and that is the realization that what you write in the forum becomes part of the ornithological record. You understand that a simple question may require an answer that not only satisfies the asker of the question but also adds to the knowledge of the larger group who visit here. You understand that your daily bird list becomes so much more when you add illustrative photographs and a bit of commentary regarding the circumstances of the day. You each, perhaps subconsciously for some, realize that you are creating a living record of the life histories of the birds you observe and record.

As I began to understand this, I realized that you all are not just a group of twitchers as I have seen on some other forums, but each of you are (if not already a professional ornithologist) citizen scientists, or, as Harold F. Mayfield coined in his 1979 commentary, “amateur ornithologist[s]”. He plainly said what I believe can be said for all the forum veterans; that “the amateur brings to ornithology additional richness through diversity”. He goes on to say in the June 1991 issue of “Nebraska Bird Review” that it is the folks like you who are “the foot soldiers of ornithology.”

So, why this open letter? Well, first off, to thank you all. However, perhaps more importantly, I think it is just to remind us all, veteran or casual poster, that what we write here may have impacts far beyond the perspective of the moment, and to further remind us that the China forum is, in so many ways, a unique journal of China birding. At least, that’s the way I see it.


Tuesday 16th September 2014, 04:59
a big conference is on today in Beijing esp. focusing on the conservation of Yellow Sea,and I'll attend soon the Australasian Shorebird Conference in which a lot will be discussed on the birds and conservation in Yellow Sea area.

Yes,things are indeed changing.

Dong Bei
Tuesday 16th September 2014, 07:12
Cheers Bruce, and thanks for your input. Birdforum has become a place to record what is here now. With so few eyes on the ground in this area, it's a great place to meet up with other, compare sightings and trends, etc...This area of the world is very under-watched but like ZL says, "it's changing". I have seen small encouraging things beginning to start here.


Tuesday 16th September 2014, 11:26
Much appreciated Bruce

Being one of a few in a huge country BF provides a good opportunity to share and enjoy with others in similar circumstances. As China is, for the moment at least, relatively under-watched there is a sense of excitement and new discovery which is perhaps lacking in the UK, Europe and N America, and that makes it all the more fun to post up the discoveries as they emerge.

Best wishes for your trip to Shanghai.


Wednesday 17th September 2014, 07:39
Hey Bruce, I'm glad you've used and appreciated this forum. China is under-birded, but the very lack of knowledge is attractive. I just finished an 11-day trip to Yangkou, Rudong, Jiangsu. Ten years ago, few or no birders understood the importance of that area; now, it's a well-known place. Imagine if a place like a Cape May (New Jersey) had been discovered only a decade ago! Good luck on your trip here; I hope you find a great many new birds.