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Infrequently Given Answers - vol 1.

Subject: Elitism - Fight Back!
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 

Students of the groundbreaking work begun by Stephen Potter will, I am
sure, understand the motives behind the following suggestions.

Are you troubled by elitist birdwatchers? Adopt the techniques of
birdmanship and confound your enemies!

Invent a birdwatching site of your own. Under no circumstances should
you tell anyone where it is, but in conversation you should refer to
the number of rarities you have seen there. When challenged that no
reports have been published, you should smile enigmatically and mutter
something about the Official Secrets Act and nuclear reprocessing.

Clothing - wear dayglo orange attire. When challenged by your fellow
birdwatchers, your response is "But surely you know that the Grey
Phalarope is unable to distinguish any colour to the left of yellow in
the spectrum? Tsk, tsk.." and shake your head sadly.

Telescopes - buy an old draw 'scope at a car boot sale. As you set it
up, announce to the gathered fraternity what a pity it is that Leica,
Swarovski et al have still not been allowed access to the patent of the
multicoatings perfected at the turn of the century. Under no
circumstances must you allow anyone else to look through your 'scope,
the reason being that "the PH of your eye might damage the coating."

Binoculars - at the same car boot sale, keep an eye out for old
unbranded nockies. When asked what make they are, you should say "Oh, I
had these hand-built for me some years ago. Can't remember the chap's
name, he was German though." This should ensure that inflated bids will
be made instantly for your nockies, but do ensure that you are never
likely to meet the successful bidder ever again.

Detail, detail, detail - be the centre of attention by concentrating on
minute features. As you look through you car boot nockies, say "By
Jove! Will you look at the melanism on the third outer primary of that
sparrow!" As you look through your scope, you say "I'm damn sure that
feather mite was supposed to be specific to Leach's Petrel. What's it
doing on a Mistle Thrush?" and scribble furiously in your notebook.

Invent a subspecies of your own (e.g. St Kilda Blue Tit). Discuss (in a
loud voice) how your bird differs from the one under observation.
(WARNING - this will probably not work if anyone called Ogilvie is in
the vicinity).

The Art of Zen Birdwatching - when asked what your life list total is,
confuse your inquisitor by asking "Do you mean, this life, or the
previous one?"

The moral of the story is, if you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

From: Steve Foster
Subject: Re: Jogging on the spot!
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2000 

Kym Faulkner wrote: 
> Hi, I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me concerning some strange
> black headed gull behaviour that I saw last week on the Solway Estuary. The
> tide was out and I could hear a strange squidging noise. On further
> investigation, I found that several BHGs were standing in the remaining
> areas of water and jogging on the spot! Can anyone tell me if this is
> standard behaviour and what it is all about? I assume it was to stir up food
> or something similar.

Dark down 'ere innit.  Nothing to do all day but process this mud.  Me, I'm
a connoiseur of muds.  Some of the best I've come across round 'ere is some
of that black, peaty stuff.  Much better than yer average sticky brown muck
down the road.  Mind, that's where my brother lives now, so I mustn't go on.
'ow 'e puts up with that sticky clay I don't know.

D' yer know, last year I took the little 'uns on holiday just this side of
them trees there.  Sandy as anything yer know.  Little Alfie, well 'e 'ad a
whale of a time.  Took 'is bucket and spade 'e did.  Oh we did 'ave some fun
yer know.  I remember teachin' 'im about all the ol' tricks yer know.
Showed 'im some of the ol' trick I used to get up to when I were a littl'un.
Cor those were the days yer know, those were the days.

Then the rains came.  Boy, you could feel it through your skin yer know.
Thud, thud, thud.  That's when I taught young Alfie about swimmin'.  Oh yes,
swimmin'.  'e soon got the 'ang of it fella.  There we were tucked away, one
foot under and...thud, thud, thud.  Down came the rain and up we came.
That's 'ow we lost 'im yer know.  Oh yes.  That's how we lost him.  Came up
one day, swimmin' cozzies on, draggin' our towels with us.  Cause, e' went
and wriggled ahead didn't 'e.  Couldn't wait, could 'e.  Last I saw of our
Alfie was his little towel hanging from the bill of this bleedin great
seagull.  Paddlin' 'is bloomin feet weren't he that seagull.  We bloomin'
fell for it din't we.  I left some casts behind that day I can tell yer.
Cor that gull din't see me for casts.

Well, so much for Alfie.  Tricked by a bleedin tap-dancin' gull.  Thought it
were rainin' see.  Thems were the days, thems were the days.

Oh well, back to me chompin'.  Got a bit 'a peat for tea yer know.  Partial
to it, partial to it.  Mind how yer go.

Grandpa Worm - Stanwick, Northants

Subject: Re: Birder's Agony Column
Date: Sat, 03 Jul 1999 

Malcolm Ogilvie proffered the following wise advice:
> writes
> >Dear Aunt Agatha
> >
> >How do I get the fun OUT of my birdwatching? Or rather, how do I stop
> >someone making fun of me?
> >

> Dear Mark
> There seem to me to be three possible courses of action, none guaranteed
> to be successful :-(
> 1) Buy your wife a bird book, so that she can see that what you say
> about Hoopoe being a real bird name is true, and hope that she becomes
> more interested in your hobby.

Oh, she knows it's true, I showed her my copy of H,F & P. Every time she
remembers the event, she goes around saying "Hoopoe, hoopoe," and bursts
into fits of giggles.

> 2) Find out more about her hobby and try and make fun of it in a
> similar way and, when she protests, as surely she will, agree on a
> truce.

Her hobby is cooking. I have made fun of it in the past and lost 3 stone
in consequence.

> 3) Become a man, be the master in your house and don't tolerate her
> making fun of you and your interests.

Absolutely! I'll just check with her first....

> 4) Yes, I know I said three. Find a cheaper lawyer who gives better
> advice.

The lawyer is her brother :-(

Anyone visiting Majorca this summer - take the main road west of Palma
Nova/Magaluf and then take any minor road to the South. Absolutely
guaranteed Hoopoe plus Marmora Warbler and Audouin's Gull when you get
to the coast.


From: (Dave)
Subject: Birdnet pager message
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 

I saw this message on the pager message site


Then later this message appeared


We all make mistakes !

From: Malcolm <>
Subject: Re: grey heron v Great Blue Heron
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 

Colin Conroy writes
>"Tammy Caunt" <> wrote:
>> Are these the same bird or a diff species?
>> Grey heron      Ardea cinerea
>> Great Blue Heron  (N.America)      Ardea herodias
>> Just wondered for my life list as I noticed from other species (i.e. Bewicks
>> Swan) that different Latin names dosen't necessarily mean different
>> species!!!

>Great Blue Heron and grey heron are separate species. As for the swans
>and other species/subspecies pairs, technically different scientific
>names does mean different species. However, there is often confusion as
>several such pairs/groups are subject to controversy, with some people
>saying that two forms, such as Bewick's Swan and Whistling Swan, are
>separate species, and so would have different scientific names, and
>other people saying that they are races of the same species (e.g.
>Tundra swan) and so would have the same binomial scientific name.
>However, as far as I know there is no such controversy surrounding grey
>and great blue herons.

I agree with Colin and wouldn't have bothered to say so, except that
I've been asked, by e-mail, if I would comment on the current status of
the Bewick's/Whistling Swan pair.

I can't imagine why I was asked, as my lack of interest in matters
taxonomic is, or should be, well known. Still that's never stopped me.

As far as I am aware, there are more than one current stati (and if that
plural doesn't exist, it does now) of the swans. 

Firstly, everyone sensible, by which I mean me, BWP, the Handbook of the
Birds of the World, the Handbook of North American Birds, and even the
BOU (though who knows what they will decide now that Martin C. has been
given his head!) consider them to be subspecies, which they so obviously
are! For convenience, they are called, generically, Tundra Swan, with
vernacular names of Whistling Swan, for C.c.columbianus, and Bewick's
Swan for C.c.bewickii.

Secondly, there are those (and I wouldn't, of course, dare equate
"those" with people who want more ticks of the non-arachnid type) who
recall that the two swans were once considered as two separate species
and who would like to reinstate them as such. Evidence for this has not
come my way, but then I haven't looked for it having, as I do, a closed
mind and a blinkered disposition when it comes to taxonomy (well, I did
warn you).

Thirdly, there are the Dutch who, given half a chance, and they seem
willing to take bigger chances than that with taxonomy, will doubtless
soon be claiming that there are actually three species, for no better
reason than if you are going to have two, why not have three! 

Well, actually, I can think of a reason. Their third species will be
created, I confidently predict, by resurrecting that most poorly defined
of races, C.c.jankowskii of eastern Asia, and calling it a full species,
too. After all, the geographical separation between jankowskii and
columbianus is a fraction of that between columbianus and bewickii, yet
the morphological differences are, if anything, greater!

So there you have it. Just to conclude, remember that, as with every
decision by taxonomists ever yet made, or that will be made in the
future, the chances are high that you are every bit as expert as they
are :-))

And if anyone thinks that I've probably soured British-Dutch relations
for the next decade, then they should consider the proximity of my
tongue to my cheek.


And of course, no trawl through the uk.r.b archive would be complete without a certain thread:

Subject: Let The Countdown Begin...
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 

Ladies and Gentlemen

We interrupt this Usenet Group to bring you the following Important


Thank you for your attention. A further message will be sent tomorrow.
Normal service may now resume.

(Over to you, Ann)

Puzzled? So were most of the uk.r.b readers. But no-one who followed uk.r.b at the time will have forgotten the thread that ensued. Read it all at Google, together with all the posts of the following Saturday. But allow plenty of time.

Back in the dim and distant mists of time, there was the even more notorious Goldfinch thread. No, I'm not going to inflict any quotes from it on you. But it had a sequel:

From: (Stephen Poley)
Subject: Re: 'Ladies in the Field'
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 

On Thu, 12 Nov 1998 00:53:38 -0000, "Michelle L Herbert" wrote:

>After reading the discussions about flock counting and ducks being shot in
>Holland I nearly unsubscribed, as I thought ng's were for likeminded people
>to share experiences, information etc., not to develop some sort of pecking
>order '-).  A wise and gentle posting such as Bob's sums it all up for me -

Welcome! If you just joined us around the beginning of the Dutch Duck
Debate you may have got a misleading impression of the group. For the
most part it's very good humoured around here. Yes we have occasional
derailments (longer-standing contributors still shudder at the memory
of the Great Goldfinch War) but they're pretty infrequent compared to
some Usenet groups I've visited.

Subject: Goldfinch wars - was 'Ladies in the Field'
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 

Stephen Poley wrote:

> (longer-standing contributors still shudder at the memory
> of the Great Goldfinch War)


You have me thoroughly intrigued with the above - is this debate still
available from the Archive, or if not could you provide a brief precis
(naming no names except James Cracknell, of course). I gather no physical
violence was involved, as you describe participants as 'standing', but were
the Goldfinches used as decoys, spies, ammunition, payment or what ?

Yours in breathless anticipation


From: "Elaine Cook" 
Subject: Re: Goldfinch wars - was 'Ladies in the Field'
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 

I'm curious too. I've been thinking that I know Lesser Goldfinch. Maybe
somewhere in the world there's a Great Goldfinch ?

and they had a war?

a small one?

and all had red faces at the end?

From: David Allen 
Subject: Re: Goldfinch wars - was 'Ladies in the Field'
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 

Well, the problem was they didn't have red faces.

Basically AOL seem have some sort of automatic query which will post to
any newsgroup that it thinks is relevant to your question. That is to
say it will post to any newsgroup that has the letters BIRD in that
sequence in it. So some guileless american wonders how to attract
humming birds to their feeder, asks the question, presses the button and
it is posted automatically to uk.rec.birdwatching. There is a regular
crop of these every april/may when migration gets underway and some
feeders don't. If there are too many of these postings people get
understandably cross about downloading something totally irrelevant. I
get cross too, but I feel that it is the fault of AOL. I do not think I
have seen an inappropriate posting (of this nature, rather than
commercial spams) from any other ISP, or any other country. No
australians posting about kookaburras for instance. Which is why I
suspect something in the AOL browser/newsreader.

What happens then is that after one small inappropriate posting, half a
dozen irate subscribers POST to the newsgroup complaining about this
inappropriate posting, so even more bandwidth is wasted. They can also
get quite abusive, which is both rude and silly, and out of place since
we don't need to see their rudeness demonstrated. If they feel the need
to be abusive they could do it by e-mail and not waste our bandwidth. 

The Goldfinch war was over some hapless person in US asking about
goldfinches, Carduelis tristis (tho' they didn't say so), instead of
Carduelis carduelis. The american goldfinch does not have a red face. I
think it was about the best seed for feeders. Robins are another bone of
contention, and humming birds are annual.

< snip >

Compared with many other newsgroups, subscribers to this one are
generous, patient and sensible. There is a wide range of postings,
ranging from the cutesie-pie, through the annual herring gull breeding
saga (one of my favourites) to the academic, and it is the work of a
moment on my software to mark certain threads as "Not interesting" and
set them aside. If the flame level of this NG is upsetting to
subscribers my only advice would be never to subscribe to any others at
all, because this is one of the most civilised.

From: Richard Watkinson 
Subject: Re: Xmas quiz
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 1999 

Here's one I wrote for a pub years ago.                         


                             Watch The Birdie

 1. What is the name of the pub in the rhyme "Pop goes the weasel"?
 2. -
 3. What organisation did the men from U.N.C.L.E. regularly combat?
 4. There were 2 dozen of these birds under a pie crust.
 5. Which architect designed St. Pauls cathedral?
 6. What is the nickname of Norwich City football team?
 7. Which bird came to grief on Coniston Water in 1967?
 8. In which 1975 Milos Forman film did Jack Nicholson win a best actor
    Oscar for his portrayal of McMurphy?
 9. Who reached number 4 with "Rosie" in 1968?
10. What is name of the family in H.E. Bates book The Darling Buds of May.
11. In  the  film To Kill A Mockingbird what is the name  of  the  lawyer
    played by Gregory Peck.
12. Which steam engine set the world speed record of 126MPH in 1938?
14. In the Rolling Stones song who was "Too lazy to crow all day"? 
15. Who in Coronation Street was told not to mention his pigeons
    when his son came round for tea with his new girlfriend?
16. What  is  the name of the popular childrens book by  Arthur  Ransome
    first published in 1930?
17. What  type  of  carrier based aircraft were  used  in  the  Falklands   
18. Which record soared to the top for Fleetwood Mac in 1968?
19. What is the nickname of Norwich City football team?
20. Who is the wizard in The Legend of King Arthur?

 1. Which awful song got to number 11 in 1978 for the Ramblers  from  the   
    Abbey Hey Junior School)
 2. H.G. Wells wrote A History of a dreamer but what was his name?
 3. In Hitchcocks film which bird delivered the first peck?
 4. Which T Rex song reached number 2 in 1970?
 5. What was the name of Beatrix Potters duck?
 6. Which birds impaled themselves at Drogheda?
 7. Who sang a haunting refrain about hippopotami?
 8. This film had Peter Lorre asking Bogie to clasp his hands together    
    behind his neck.
 9. Who is the worlds richest duck?
10. Which cartoon character was characterised by the voice of Clarence Nash?
11. Which dapper villain is an adversary of Robin?
12. Which bird did John Keats write an ode to?

Original Q2 was topical at the time of writing and removed. I can't even
remember what it was - something to do with Maid Marian and the Sherriff of
Nottingham I fancy.

Subject: The Rime of the Ancient Birdwatcher
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 

I'm very, very sorry about this....

I think I saw an Alpine Swift
It flew right past my heid
In Dyce, quite near to Aiberdeen
Yes, that's what I said!
'Twas half-time in the footie
I was feeling rather bored
I went outside for a breath of air
Coz Shearer hadn't scored
I only saw it for a mo'
It whizzed past at head height
At first I thought it was a swift
But it didn't look quite right
Bigger than a common swift
It made a noise like "chup"
It didn't scream like swifties do
(I know, I looked it up)
There's no report on Birdnet
Or even by Mr Doyle
And no-one has told JJ Stroud
There's no-one else at oyl
Who'll back me in this wondrous sight
A proper first for me
The only ones who might believe
Are the folk of the S.B.C.

I may have seen an Alpine Swift
Or then again it weren't
I'll send it in to ukrb
And see if I get burnt.

Will someone *please* pass us me coat...

From: Eric Hocking 
Subject: Re: Proposed welcome message for the group
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 

Jack Harrison wrote:
> Stephen wrote:
> > I particularly like "Uk.rec.birdwatching is one of the more friendly and
> > good tempered groups within Usenet. Please help us keep it that way."
> >
> > In my limited experience, THE most friendly and good-tempered ng.
> At least this people on this group have a sense of humour, unlike another I
> use

Didn't you know?  Malcolm sends a personal email to each and every one of
us, telling us to laugh at your jokes - or else.

... perhaps I was supposed to email this...  what's that noise at the
Eric Hocking
"A closed mouth gathers no feet"

Like most Usenet groups, uk.r.b wanders off-topic from time to time. July 1999 seems to have been a particularly bad month with, among numerous other diversions, a lost American bird-lover bemoaning a Cardinal finch losing its feathers.

From: Janet Galpin and Oliver Patterson 
Subject: UK birdwatching.
Date: 12 Jul 1999 

I sat down to read tonight's postings, looking forward to a lyrical 
piece from Bill on the Arrochar Alps, a dry, irrefutable piece of 
wisdom from Malcolm, a nice, self-deprecating observation from Phil 
or Martin, an interesting bit of research from Elaine, a passionate 
plea from one of the Liz's or an explosion of wrath and statistics 
from James.

Instead we have a thread on bald-headed Cardinals (of which I am 
sure there must have been many), a piece from Barcelona by someone 
who can't even spell the name of that hotbed of Iberian passion, 
something from the Ardenne (pretty sure there's more than one of 
them) and other insights from Oostervaarders Platen, Zante, Pelagic 
Islands (minus a letter or so), Mallorca and Majorca.

I'm beginning to think I don't get out enough. 


From: "Bill Alexander" 
Subject: Re: Falco sparverius versus Felis catus
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 

"Stephen Poley" wrote 
> On Thu, 31 Aug 2000 01:37:38 +0100, "Graham" wrote:
> >Bill, he was not old and in perfect condition (apart from being dead)

> Graham, maybe you didn't even intend that to be particularly humourous, but
> I had just slumped down in my study after a particularly hard week, and
> came across this line and had a *really* good chuckle.
> thanks

And then there was my inadvertant post for Stirling University

"If anyone comes across a dead redshank that is
likely to use a UK estuary either during the winter or summer  "

Maybe a new section for the FAQs....... "Poley's Collection of Bloomers"

Well, you asked for it ....

From: "J Aldred" 
Subject: Re: Birding web sites

>robert.watkinson writes

>>Does anybody know whether or not the sneaky software used at work to alert
>>the systems people that people are looking at naughty web pages could be
>>alerted by web site titles such as Birdguides? Or am I just paranoid?

Just don't do what I did and try to find "bearded tits" using a search
engine, especially if you have the graphics turned on! I was
looking for an answer to an obscure competition question, but
fortunately I was at home and not at work.

Jill Aldred

From: "Bill Alexander" 
Subject: Senior Moment
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 

Before any of that shower let the @#$ out of the bag .

After a wonderful double of Radde's Warbler and Dusky Warbler, within a
couple of hours, I was sitting back in a comfy armchair drinking coffee 
in the "Gold Lounge" after a very satisfying dinner, mentally complimenting 
myself on my new shoes which felt as light as air and as comfortable as my 
old sweater. "Good choice young Bill" I thought.

The charming young waitress said matter of fact "OK who has left their shoes
in the restaurant?"
"Silly sod" I thought, now who would be daft enough to do that?
Very happy birding

Which inspired the responses:
>How 'Senior' can you get?? Still the restaurant could have kept the shoes to
>serve the sole. (Yuk)

That's brill, Gordon. I hope you keep it in a good plaice, and remember
that they could have a use for the eels, too!

Still I'm not going to carp, this is after all, a Kingfisher group....


From: "Bill Alexander" 
Subject: Re: Bird Jokes -err longishy
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 

"D Marven"  wrote: 
> Hi British Birders
>                  Well things are really slow on the Pacific coast right
> now, so i was wondering do any of you have any good birding jokes, whats
> the funnies doing the rounds in the hides these days, i just want to
> liven up the local lads before the Xmas bird counts, you know they get
> in a rut and you have to give them something to laugh at. Come on just a
> couple, Mr.Alexander you must know some good ones. There must be a
> couple about water going around at the moment.  Derrick

I rise to the challenge Sir Derrick  :-)
Just to give you an idea how *my* mind(?) works....reading your post I came
to "There must be a couple about water going around at the moment"
I immediately thought "Phalarope jokes??"  You know I have a theory, still 
to be proven, that phals spin in the opposite direction when visiting the 
Southern Hemisphere,  I am looking for a sponsor.
Doc Ogilvie is the man, he has the greatest collection of after-dinner bird
jokes known to man.

Anyhow enough of the rambling, here goes,
All blatantly gleaned from other sources.....

A duck walks into a convenience store and walks up the counter. The duck
asks, "Got any grapes?" "No," said the puzzled shopkeeper. The duck smiles
and walks out the door. A little while later the duck returns and asks, "Got
any grapes?" The shopkeeper replies, "No! Like I already told you 15 minutes
ago, I don't have any grapes!" The duck smiles and walks out. A little while
later the duck returns and again asks "Got any grapes?" The irate shopkeeper
yells, "No! We didn't have any, we don't have any, and were not going to
have any. If you come back in here again I'll nail your webbed feet to the
floor!" The duck smiles and walks out. Later the duck returns and asks the
shopkeeper "Got any nails?" The clerk says "NO!" The duck replies, "Good!
Got any grapes?"

Magician performing on cruise ship and each night while performing his pet
parrot keeps saying "its up his sleeve", " its in his pocket", "its in his
shoe", "in his pants" etc and the magician was loosing his patience. One
night while performing his tricks the ships boilers blew and the ship sank,
the lucky magician was able to grab onto a ships table and float on the sea
for a few days. The parrot in the mean time seemed non-plussed and was
looking quizically at the magician for a few days whilst drifting. And on
the 4th day the parrot looks at his master and says "I give up... what did
you do with the ship?"

I understand that a crow has one less pinion feather than a raven. Therefore
how do you tell a crow from a raven? It's a matter of opinion.

Two vultures were in the desert eating a dead clown. The first vulture asks
the second vulture: "Does this taste funny to you?"

One fine day a chicken walked into a library and said BUCK (book), so the
librarian gave the chicken a book. The next day the same chicken came back
to the library and said BUCK BUCK, so the librarian gave him two books. The
next day the same chicken came back to the library and said BUCK BUCK BUCK,
so again the librarian gave him three books, but this time the librarian
decided to follow him to see what a chicken wanted with three books. As he
saw the chicken come to a stop at the edge of a pond, he saw the chicken
pass all the books to a frog who while he was looking at them was saying,

A man went swimming at Aberlady Bay, he left his watch with his shoes. A
bird ate his watch and flew away, he chased it into a large flock of birds.
Grabbing a rock, he started towards the flock. When the ranger stopped him,
he stated "One of those birds ate my watch, I'm leaving no tern unstoned
until I find it".

Bill :-))))))))

From: Chris Mead 
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 
Subject: Re: rats and sparrows

The message from  "David Jones" contains these words: 

> Mind you, the way the hedgehogs were dashing around the garden last night I
> am glad that they are nocturnal. I dread to think what damage they might
> inflict on the sparrows!

Trained hedgehogs have long been used by ringers in Tazaquestan to 
trap Pallas's Felt-plumaged Rosefinches.  These birds feed in VERY 
dense flocks and the hedgehogs creep up on the flock and then roll 
through the packed birds.  Any at all late in taking off get stuck to 
the hedgehogs (velcro effect) and the hedgehogs wait patiently for 
the ringers to collect the birds.  Unlike the famous (mythical) 
cormorant fish catching as practiced in China the hedgehogs do not 
receive sparrows to eat but are rewarded with pomegranites.  They 
love the fruit but cannot get into the hard fruit so the ringers cut 
them in half.

From: Andy Mabbett 
Subject: Re: Goldcrests in town
Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2000 

B Kemp writes
>I saw a goldcrest for the first time today, stood at my back door with

Impressive. What was it watching, and how did it manage to focus them?
Andy Mabbett 

                         I'm a perfecttionist

From: Andy Mabbett 
Subject: Bird Hides
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 

Bird Hides are really badly named. I mean, if I'm in one and I look out
at say, a dragonfly or a fox, am I momentarily in a Dragonfly Hide, or a
Fox hide? At what point does the change occur? What if I look at a
Butterfly and a bird at the same time? Am I in a Butterbird Hide?

Anyway, they don't hide birds, they hide people. I suggest that the RSPB
campaign, immediately, for all "bird hides" to be renamed "People

I think this should be in the FAQ.

Well, you got your wish, sort of. Whether as a recommendation or as a warning to others, I'm not quite sure ....

From: Mr S 
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 

JC writes
>Oliver Patterson writes
>>What are "liable laws"?  Are they a branch of probability theory?
>No - just a spell checker that missed one word!

          The Spell Checker.

      Eye halve a spelling chequer;
      It came with my pea sea.
      It plainly marques four my revue
      Miss steaks eye can knot sea.

      Eye strike a key and type a whirred
      And weight four it two say
      Weather eye am wrong or write.
      It shows me strait a weigh.

      As soon as a mist ache is maid,
      It nose bee fore two long;
      An dye can put the era rite.
      Its rare lea ever wrong.

      Eye have run this poem threw it.
      I'm sheer your pleased two no
      Its letter perfect awl the weigh;
      My chequer tolled me sew.

From: Jason Smart
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000

David Hall wrote 
> From my school days (a long time ago!)  I remember that there were some
> specific terms for groups of various birds.  I seem to recall a murmur
> of...was it larks or nightingales? and a twitter of  ???  Is that larks.
> I'm confused.  Can anyone supply a few? 

One autumn on the Scillies many, many years ago there was a competition to
invent new collective nouns for birds/birders. Among the more repeatable

An anger of Crossbills
A bevy of Nightjars
A legitimacy of Bustards
A blizzard of Snow Buntings
A field-field of bulbuls
A dismay of Dippers
A zip of Flycatchers
A Kellogg of Corncrakes
A welly of Booted Eagles

If you knew your birders, you'd also have appreciated:

A Bland of thicknees
A Grant of Baldpates

For those that can face it: Infrequently Given Answers Volume 2