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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 10:52   #1
ClaireBear82
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Disappointed

I have always done bits of birdwatching but due to time I'm inexperienced in actively birdwatching. I am looking to change that and have just purchased my first scope which I used for the first time at Leighton moss yesterday. I found the reserve to be amazing and really enjoyed the walk round and the staff were absolutely brilliant and really helpful. I was just very disappointed with the majority of other birders on the reserve. I just found them to be really really unfriendly and the more sort of serious birders they seemed to be the more unfriendly they were. It left me feeling really out of place in the hides and like i shouldn't have been there. I just thought that experienced birders would welcome new ones. Apart from that I really enjoyed the day especially watching the marsh harriers.
I just really hope that this is a one off as I would hate to be put off before i've really begun.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 11:17   #2
Vivian Darkbloom
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Sorry to hear about the unfriendly birders you encountered at Leighton Moss.
In my experience some experienced birders are quite reluctant to speak to other people in hides, especially if they perceive them to be people who do not take the hobby seriously, and have just dropped in for a casual look around.
Too often people without a genuine interest in the subject, breeze into hides, and disturb the birders concentration with inappropriate actions and remarks. Nothing annoys the dedicated birder more.
However, if you show the right spirit with a willingness to learn and ask sensible/reasonable questions, most birders will be pleased to give you a friendly answer. Many birders are only too pleased to answer your questions, and demonstrate their knowledge to beginners with a genuine interest in learning birding tips and skills.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 11:58   #3
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Hmm.. Sounds a bit like a trip on the London Underground; crammed in a small space full of strangers.

I'm not a "birder", never been in a hide; but enjoy all of Nature/Wildlife. I mostly go out alone, or with my son. But I think you'll find some people are just the way they are, whatever the hobby/pursuit. Some are helpful and friendly; some are ignorant b******s. I'd better add a smiley

If you want to learn about birds, and a friendly atmosphere is what you'd like, perhaps join a local birding club?
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 12:21   #4
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ClaireBear,

Don't worry about it, it's the same with any hobby. I've been a laid back birdwatcher for some years and you will meet nice helpful Bird Watchers and horrible unhelpful ones. My first day's bird watching was in Mallorca and the very first birder I asked for help in identifying a bird was most sharp and unhelpful. However, the other birder who was with him had a completely different attitude and was full of information and helpful advice.

A good tip to work out which type you have in the hide with you is to listen to what they say to each other. You will soon work out who the miseries are.

Lucky you to be able to watch Marsh Harriers. I have to go many, many miles before I see them.

Persevere, it's a great hobby, enjoy it.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 13:01   #5
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Leighton Moss although a wonderful reserve which we try to get over to twice a year, I find has some older men that are quite ignorant, they seem to only be there for spotting the odd bird and then start talking loudly about how they are or where they are going or been , and they seem rooted to the bench not wanting anyone to get it.

When we go we always try and help anyone that is having trouble identifying a bird or pointing out anything that may be of interest.

May i say though when we go at the end of the year to see the Bearded Tits there is one of the ringers [Ken I think they call him] who is very willing to talk about the BT and share his birding experieinces.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 13:18   #6
Mari E
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I'm sorry about your experience, don't let those people put you off.

In my experience, some birders hardly speak to begginers but they'll speak to other experienced people. However, many birders are very friendly, and ask them a question and they're only too happy to show off their knowledge! There are lots of different birders, some annoying some friendly and witty. Just stick to the nicer people and you'll be fine :)

Yesterday I went to a bird walk on my own(I'm only 13) but many people there accepted me as a keen birder and I had some lovely chats. Just stick to some nice people :)
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 15:07   #7
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Originally Posted by ClaireBear82 View Post
I just found them to be really really unfriendly and the more sort of serious birders they seemed to be the more unfriendly they were. It left me feeling really out of place in the hides and like i shouldn't have been there. I just thought that experienced birders would welcome new ones. Apart from that I really enjoyed the day especially watching the marsh harriers.
I just really hope that this is a one off as I would hate to be put off before i've really begun.
I hate to generalise but... I don't think it is a one-off as far as LM is concerned. Not one of my favourite reserves. No excuse for not helping new birders and I am very sorry to hear that you found the more experienced birders snooty. However, if they did not want to talk to you then maybe they had nothing worth hearing anyway? Another thing that gets on my nerves at LM is the amount of noise made by birders in the hides.

Keep going out and you will meet plenty of friendly and helpful birders in the NW. Why not try Sandgrounders Hide at Marshside? There is always something to see and you will get a warm welcome at this reserve from the Scousers!

Please don't give up!

Good luck, Mike
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 15:38   #8
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Believe me, Claire, it has nothing to do with you personally and it's happened to us all.

Some of the most unhelpful of all birders are those counting raptors in southern europe and the middle east. I've approached many counters and been treated and spoken to as though I had just landed from Mars! Little did they know that I too have been on many a count through Israel, Egypt, and Kenya, and probably seen many more species than them.

If approached I always took time out to answer all the questions put forward. Some of these people were local families and they were just interested in the birds that flew over their houses and villages every spring and autumn, in fact many of them ended up sharing our food They knew little about the birds but once informed they were delighted; imagine if I had treated these people like I and many other have been treated...put off for life.

Don't worry about it....it's their loss.

John.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 18:11   #9
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I'm sorry about your experience, don't let those people put you off.

In my experience, some birders hardly speak to begginers but they'll speak to other experienced people. However, many birders are very friendly, and ask them a question and they're only too happy to show off their knowledge! There are lots of different birders, some annoying some friendly and witty. Just stick to the nicer people and you'll be fine :)

Yesterday I went to a bird walk on my own(I'm only 13) but many people there accepted me as a keen birder and I had some lovely chats. Just stick to some nice people :)
I just love to read this coming from the newer generations!
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 18:52   #10
Gill Osborne
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As the others have said, don't let it put you off Claire Most birders are really helpful - just ask if you aren't sure about anything

I've been to LM quite a few times over the years and whilst most birders are nice and helpful you DO get the odd one who's a right misery I once had one guy completely blank me and insist on talking about birds to my husband and even when Neil said ''It's Gill who's the birder, not me!'' the guy continued to ignore me And when I saw a Marsh Harrier briefly fly up before dropping back into the reeds and I pointed it out the guy was adamant that it couldn't possibly be a harrier I just ignored him and thought to myself ''Just cos I'm a girl doesn't mean I diven't know what I'm looking at!!!'' I've had it a lot over the years I'm certainly not an expert but if there's something I'm not sure about I'll ask others and usually find most birders are more than happy to help you. It's just the miseries who seem to have forgotten that we all started out as beginners
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 19:21   #11
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I think we've all met these kinds of "birders" who wouldn't dream of talking to anyone who's not in their "inner circle". I just ignore them and talk to the friendly ones instead. Birding is too much fun for some grumpy guys to ruin it.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 20:29   #12
ClaireBear82
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Smile

Thank you everyone, i'm glad it's not just me and now I certainly won't let it put me off. I do agree with Gill that people do seem to stereotype and i'm sure they think that a young woman cannot be interested in birds or take the hobby seriously! Anyway I shall get out there and prove them wrong!
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 20:35   #13
ColinD
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The fact is, birders are just ordinary people with binoculars. Some are decent people, some aren't. Some are extrovert, some are introvert. Some you get on with, others you don't. Some go birding to socialise, some go birding for peace and quiet and to be on their own. Sometimes I'll have a chat to whoever is in the hide, other times I've had a bad day and all I want is to be left alone. Isn't that what we're all like at some time or other? When you meet a stranger, you've no idea what is happening in that persons life at that moment. Best to avoid hides anyway, horrible places......
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 21:52   #14
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I find this too- I am a relatively young woman its not just you. Everyone expects my OH to be the bird watcher, he just comes for the walk. Some people are just delighted to share their knowledge and others resent you being there. I was watching a reed bunting (a bird i am not familiar with) and my other half was rummaging in the bag to get the book to check what it was. A more experienced birder passing said "oh for god's sake its just a reed bunting" and stomped off. I felt about an inch high and my oh was surprised how rude that man was. I was really upset but I leant how to identify a reed bunting. It has put me off the reserve as its not the first time i experienced rudeness there.

Often the smaller reserves I find are friendlier. Had a lovely experience at Sculthorpe Moor this weekend, chatting to the warden he put us on to some other interesting spots which we will check out next time.

Last edited by Lavenderblue : Monday 25th April 2011 at 21:52. Reason: spelling shame
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2011, 05:35   #15
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Thank you everyone, i'm glad it's not just me and now I certainly won't let it put me off. I do agree with Gill that people do seem to stereotype and i'm sure they think that a young woman cannot be interested in birds or take the hobby seriously! Anyway I shall get out there and prove them wrong!


I've met a few miseries and people who only talk to people who have all the gear and 'seem' expert, but the vast majority of people seem really nice and helpful to newbies. Depends where you go I guess as has been said, if you go where some miseries hang out then it will give a bad impression but in general birdwatchers seem very amiable people.

...you get to see some right characters too, which can be entertaining!
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2011, 07:11   #16
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I guess first impressions can mean a lot as well. I consider myself quite reserved, and if sitting in a hide will tend to keep myself to myself. This is usually down to not wanting to intrude in the newcomers space, however, I'm more than happy to help when asked, plus if I see something really interesting then 9 times out of 10 I'll point it out, but it depends on the other people too.

I much prefer being in a hide on own, but that's simply because I like to use that time to write up notes and with other people around I feel self-conscious doing this.

I would also say - not all birding happens inside hides - there's so much to see and hear elsewhere, and sometimes I think visitors to reserves don't quite realise this. I think there's an assumption that you go to the hide and all of a sudden the birds will materialise in front of you. Of course the hide has been put in a place to give a good view of the reserve, but there's so much to be gained from taking your time around other parts of the reserve.
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2011, 07:18   #17
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I guess first impressions can mean a lot as well. I consider myself quite reserved, and if sitting in a hide will tend to keep myself to myself. This is usually down to not wanting to intrude in the newcomers space, however, I'm more than happy to help when asked, plus if I see something really interesting then 9 times out of 10 I'll point it out, but it depends on the other people too.

I much prefer being in a hide on own, but that's simply because I like to use that time to write up notes and with other people around I feel self-conscious doing this.

I would also say - not all birding happens inside hides - there's so much to see and hear elsewhere, and sometimes I think visitors to reserves don't quite realise this. I think there's an assumption that you go to the hide and all of a sudden the birds will materialise in front of you. Of course the hide has been put in a place to give a good view of the reserve, but there's so much to be gained from taking your time around other parts of the reserve.
Thank you JTweedie you have said (probably better than I could) exactly what I was going to say.
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Old Wednesday 27th April 2011, 22:32   #18
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Hahaha this post made me laugh.. I had been quite a loner birdwatcher when I was a kid 15 years ago, but now that I restarted my hobby, thanks to the Internet, I am kind of getting to know the local community. And well, some people are kind, but some others are stiff and unwelcoming to the new guy or maybe just there is some distrust of the "newbie".

I was to a local nature reserve which is managed by the italian equivalent to the RSPB.... there is a veterinary centre for raptors and a breeding site for storks and rare ducks, but also a small man made swamp. Actually I was looking for waders and since the woman who manages the place was speaking with a "knowledgeable birder" kind and told there is an impressive wader pass, when my turn to get a ticket came I asked where I could watch waders. She told me a place I could have gone to, and there I went (it was a hide). But the hide was just in front of reeds and.. no wader to be seen. I was going away 1 hour later but I picked the wrong road which coasted the swamp and at the end of the swamp, which is circled by a nice deep hedgerow, I could see an opening in the hedgerow and a couple of cars parked there... I stopped my car too out of curiosity and... discovered by chance the best place to see waders in the swamp (hundreds of ruffs and wood sandpipers). There was this woman there also, with some local ornithologists. I said hello and kept watching birds, while she was telling the funny story of how, when she was a beginner birdwatcher, some birding acquaintances would drive her to hot spots by long backroads so she would not be able to find the places on herself. I was going to drop in and say "You may complain of that now, yet you just sent me to a place where you know I would not see anything..." but resisted...
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Old Thursday 28th April 2011, 21:39   #19
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ClaireBear82

Go for it girl!
You are very welcome here.
Don't worry about a couple of Muppets, as a Birder for many years I find the enthusiasm from "new" birders refreshing and I never forget my early days of birding.

best regards to you

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Old Thursday 28th April 2011, 21:47   #20
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JTweedie

You said just about everything I was thinking, well said!

best regards

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Old Thursday 28th April 2011, 23:06   #21
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I find hides a little claustrophobic and generally as a rule avoid them, unless it's the only way I'm going to see the 'target' bird. That said... I suspect that a percentage of hide-bound birders might want to distance themselves from any 'provocative' questioning be it from a newbie or an oldbie, on the grounds that an answer one way or the other might expose their lack of knowledge and damage their self perceived 'hide-cred.'
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Old Friday 29th April 2011, 00:58   #22
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I find the best way to improve my hide-cred is to look out over a massed rank of Arctic Terns and exclaim loudly "huh... nothing but bloomin' seagulls!".
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Old Saturday 30th April 2011, 06:53   #23
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Hi Claire, sorry you had a bad start...a year ago I started volunteering as a reserve guide at RSPB Old Moor & didn't know very much! I've learnt so much during this past year and a lot of it has come from the very helpful & willing to help others learn birders in and out of our hides...keep talking to people, a lot of them do want to help and are only too happy to show you their photos or let you look in their scopes...
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