Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Why are field guides taboo in the field?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 06:19   #51
logos
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: uk
Posts: 562
Quote:
Ive seen folks sit there watching birds in a hide, get the guide out to identify the species, move to another part of the same hide and get the book out again to identify the same species. It never seems to occur to them to cross reference to birds that theyve actually just seen and which are still in view mainly cos they never really LOOKED at it in the first place!.
I think this hits the nail on the head,

Spud
logos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 06:53   #52
pduxon
Quacked up Member
 
pduxon's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Essex, England
Posts: 5,948
I tend to try and work the bird out and then refer to the guide. I do find I'm using it less than I used to. Of course the days when I don't have it.......

I tend to use the guide as an aide memoire(?!) nowadays.

When I've been birding for 40 years ............as it is after a year and a half alot of birds are still uncommon to me!
__________________
Pete

Dethhhpicable
ithhn't it


http://thequacksoflife.blogspot.com/
pduxon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 07:32   #53
sparrowbirder
Registered User

 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: southport, uk
Posts: 847
Ditto john,I feel I can ID most things in the field and if i cant, I take notes and do it later!
My own bugbear is the lack of people with notebooks,I hardly ever see birders with notebooks these days,writing down whats been seen etc, people seem to just turn up at a twitch,see a bird and go home!!
I dont get all snobbish though if I see someone with a fieldguide,and will always try and help people if possible,must admit though I was caught short once when I found a major rarity and even though the id was correct,needed to get hold of a decent field giude before releasing the news,just to make sure!!
sparrowbirder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 09:05   #54
logos
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: uk
Posts: 562
Perhaps those people who do carry a field guide but who have been birding for a fair while might consider leaving it at home to see what happens - either you'll be presently surprised at how much you remember or alarmed by how much you don't. Either way I suspect you'll learn more while in the field and feel less and less need to carry it in the future.

Also, when it gets dark and you unfortunately have to stop birding you'll have the option of picking up the guide, reliving the days events or anticipating the kinds of identification problems that could be encountered in the future.

The human brain is a rather impressive organ and can understand and retain vast quantities of data. Just think of all the time you could save when not looking at a book and all of the birds you could be seeing and taking in in that time...

Spud
logos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 09:15   #55
Jasonbirder
Jason-occasional-twitcher
 
Jasonbirder's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Nottinghamshire
Posts: 1,194
I agree 100% with your sentiments Spud - and thats exactly what alot of people do...the sales figures for "hard-core" books such as Sylvia Warblers and Pipits and Wagtails illustrate just that!
But and its a big but, there`s lots and lots of people who enjoy birding but have neither the time or inclination to become real ID experts - and fair play to them theres no harm in it.
Let everyone get into it to the depth they`re happy with - whether thats racially assigning Rock Pipits or telling apart Mallard and Wigeon.
__________________
Jason Blackwell
Jasonbirder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 16:14   #56
daverigden
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: cheshire
Posts: 10
collective noun for twitchers

How about a "tic" of twitchers-a nice clean double-entendre
daverigden is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 19:39   #57
Bluetail
Senior Moment

 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Plymouth, Devon
Posts: 6,409
The trouble with leaving your field guide at home is that, if you haven't done your homework, you're very likely to be stumped by very similar species. If you don't know what to look for you may miss essential diagnostic features. Mipits and Tripits come to mind, but there are loads of others. Description first; field guide for confirmation.

Jason
Bluetail is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Friday 28th November 2003, 20:20   #58
logos
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: uk
Posts: 562
Alternatively, do your homework.

Spud
logos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 28th November 2003, 20:23   #59
Bluetail
Senior Moment

 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Plymouth, Devon
Posts: 6,409
My point precisely.

Jason
Bluetail is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Friday 28th November 2003, 20:33   #60
logos
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: uk
Posts: 562
Yes, I suppose it is!

Of course, you need to know what particular features to take notes on - the uninitiated in the joys of pipit ID could waste pages of notes describing generic pipit features I suppose.

Spud

Last edited by logos : Friday 28th November 2003 at 20:35.
logos is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 03:53   #61
Nancy
Registered User

 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 400
Just carry a Field Guide if YOU want to and look at it if YOU want to. Don't worry about what anybody else thinks. Maybe sometimes one can imagine (wrongly) that others are "looking down" on you because one feels inferior in the first place. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being normal and there are only a few people who really know every feather of every bird. and they should be happy to share their knowledge.

Those who put themselves on a very high perch have further to fall.
__________________
Nancy [but my real name is Val]

____________________________________________


The only time the world beats a path to my door is when I am in the bathroom
Nancy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 04:11   #62
Tannin
Common; sedentary.
 
Tannin's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Ballarat, Australia
Posts: 1,559
Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that in the UK, where most of the heat in this debate seems to originate, there are a mere 300-odd species to memorise, a task that any fool ought to be able to manage with only a moderate amount of armchair study. For comparison, Nancy and I have to try to remember 800-odd species (which is why we keep field guides handy), and as for those in South America .....

(Tannin removes boot from mouth, as he's going to need it very soon now - for the traditional ducks, runs and hides bit, of course.)
Tannin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 06:29   #63
Bluetail
Senior Moment

 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Plymouth, Devon
Posts: 6,409
Tannin, it's true that we have only 300-odd regular species to memorise, but the bulk of the problem lies with the rarities, many of which are very similar to other birds on the British List. The British List numbers 565 (give or take a couple), so it does need a little bit more study than you suggest. But, yes, it's still far short of your 800-odd.

Jason

Jason
Bluetail is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 07:55   #64
Tannin
Common; sedentary.
 
Tannin's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Ballarat, Australia
Posts: 1,559
Gahhh .... where is all that vitriol I was courting? That, Jason, was a measured, rational and civilised reply, when all I was doing was stirring the pot.

And in reality there is no way anyone will see more than, oh, perhaps about 300 of those Australian species without some serious travelling. If you restrict yourself to the birds you can reasonably expect to see within, say, weekend-trip distance (by car - not counting the Qantas 767 method), you'd not see more than half of them at the very most.

Essentially we have two wet tropical areas (with substantial species overlap), two cool, temperate areas (also overlapping to some extent), and a vast semi-arid zone in the middle. Plus the seabirds and waders, of course. Wherever you live, you really can't access more than one or at most two of them - let's say about 300, maybe 400 species.

On my trip just completed, I had the theoretical opportunity to see maybe 500 or 600 of the 800-odd species (i.e., much of the continent but no pelagics and no visit to Western Australia), but that involved 13 thousand kilometres worth of driving and if you did the same on the map of Europe I guess you'd start in Glasgow and wind up somewhere in Russia.
Tannin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 09:17   #65
Jasonbirder
Jason-occasional-twitcher
 
Jasonbirder's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Nottinghamshire
Posts: 1,194
Quote:
Alternatively, do your homework
A bit harsh isn`t it? What if you haven`t the time or inclination? What if birding is just one of many activities you enjoy with no particular favorite? What if you`re a newcomer overwhelmed by all the different species and plumages?

As I said earlier - notes first then guide is the best way of doing it if its one or two birds that you can`t put a name to on a trip - but a bit sould destroying doing it that way if its a dozen or more you can`t put a name to....

I started doing a bit of "Mothing" late this summer - and theres no way i`d have tried to ID some of them without having a guidebook to hand!
__________________
Jason Blackwell
Jasonbirder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 09:47   #66
Tannin
Common; sedentary.
 
Tannin's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Ballarat, Australia
Posts: 1,559
I've taken to carrying neither field guide nor notebook, just a camera. Sometimes I'll get one or other field guide out of the car in the middle of the day (perhaps over lunch) and try to pin down the identity of one of the birds I've seen that day, but more often I use it to refresh my memory of what else I might see shortly, and possibly to give me a hint at where to look for it (up high? in the spinifex? coming to water?).

It's only at night, when I upload the pictures, that I get a little bit serious about getting the ID right. As for waders (which are usually in eclipse plumage down here in backwards bathwater land), they can wait for a cold winter's night and an armchair before I look too hard at them!

My advice (for what little it's worth): don't carry a field guide unless you want to. If you can, try to worry less about the identity of the birds and concentrate more on their beauty, their behaviour, and their interactions. What does it matter if you call them "blue ones" and "brown ones" for the moment (you can always look them up when you get home), so long as you enjoy them and learn something about them with your own eyes? That is far more valuable than knowing their name.
Tannin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 09:59   #67
Nancy
Registered User

 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 400
Jason and Tannin, I have seen over 600 species in Australia, my method is to do a bit of homework beforehand, then look and LISTEN first, take notes second and then take out the Field Guide. There is no possible way I could hope to go to a new area and identify all those new species without having my FG handy. I do find knowing the calls is very useful and I would recommend to any new birder to learn the calls of the local birds as soon as possible, that way you know what is there without having to actually see the bird clearly and you can also pick out the call of
something 'different' and concentrate on it.
__________________
Nancy [but my real name is Val]

____________________________________________


The only time the world beats a path to my door is when I am in the bathroom
Nancy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 10:05   #68
Niall
Registered User
 
Niall's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Surrey
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug
I can't get my head round the fact that most birders seem to feel that you shouldn't use a field guide in the field?!!!
If a Field Bguide is not aguide to be used in the field then what is it for?

If others get worked up and excited by someone using one then good. Not only is the sensible person with the field guide making sure they get it right they are also providing free entertainment to others!

Don't see the problem with field guides in the field myself.
Niall is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 13:59   #69
Bluetail
Senior Moment

 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Plymouth, Devon
Posts: 6,409
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonbirder
A bit harsh isn`t it? What if you haven`t the time or inclination?
A bit, but I think you and Spud are both right. It seems to me the optimum approach is firstly to take comprehensive notes and then check those against your field guide (in the field). That will highlight what you've missed and, if the bird hasn't flown, give you a chance of double checking.

On the other hand you will really do yourself a favour if you do as much homework as you can first. It certainly saves time in the field and I'd say it's the only way of getting to grips with some birds e.g. the Herring/LBB Gull complex (for which field guides are not really adequate).

But, like you say, it depends what you want and how far you're prepared to go.

Jason
Bluetail is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 29th November 2003, 15:04   #70
pduxon
Quacked up Member
 
pduxon's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Essex, England
Posts: 5,948
I must admit to liking the Macmillan guide for the field - and why didn't I take it out of my rucksack today!!!!
__________________
Pete

Dethhhpicable
ithhn't it


http://thequacksoflife.blogspot.com/
pduxon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 21st March 2004, 21:00   #71
AlanFrench
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Scotia, NY
Posts: 433
I guess there are some advantages to birding by myself or with my wife - we don't know about such silly things. Bird in a way that you are comfortable with. I like having a guide along, and if I don't have one, it's simply because I forgot it. Actually, it's sad to hear that there may be folks who set the tone for "correct birding." Too darn many people who worry about what other folks do, IMHO.

Clear skies, Alan
AlanFrench is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 22nd March 2004, 00:36   #72
Grousemore
Senior Member
 
Grousemore's Avatar

 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 3,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanFrench
I guess there are some advantages to birding by myself or with my wife - we don't know about such silly things. Bird in a way that you are comfortable with. I like having a guide along, and if I don't have one, it's simply because I forgot it. Actually, it's sad to hear that there may be folks who set the tone for "correct birding." Too darn many people who worry about what other folks do, IMHO.

Clear skies, Alan
Well said,Alan and I agree completely.
If you haven't already been formally welcomed to Birdforum,then let me now do it!
Hope you enjoy exchanging views and information on this site!
Grousemore is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 2007 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Monday 22nd March 2004, 02:24   #73
AlanFrench
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Scotia, NY
Posts: 433
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grousemore
Well said,Alan and I agree completely.
If you haven't already been formally welcomed to Birdforum,then let me now do it!
Hope you enjoy exchanging views and information on this site!
Thanks. I hope so too.

Clear skies, Alan
AlanFrench is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 22nd March 2004, 11:35   #74
Sal
Registered User
 
Sal's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: KZN Midlands, South Africa
Posts: 8,102
Yep - have field guide, will bird. I have yet to meet a snooty birder in this country, although I expect we have the odd one. The ones who are really knowledgable do not carry guides, but certainly I have never heard anyone ridiculed for carrying one and everywhere I go I see people using them. We amateurs have no shame!
__________________
Sal
Sal is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Monday 22nd March 2004, 11:47   #75
alan_rymer
Registered User
 
alan_rymer's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Woodley, Berkshire
Posts: 4,318
I carry a field guide, and use it, and loan it to other birders in the hide. Its very useful to show new birders what they are looking at and how to ID it.
The one I carry is an "AA book of British & European Birds" I think. I like it anyway!.
__________________
Alan

Its not an optical illusion!. It just looks like one!.
Latest Life bird: Yellow Browed Warbler 27/10/18
alan_rymer is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.23043108 seconds with 37 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 17:43.