Well, 2003 has dawned, and another year has gone by. It must be about that time again - for another round of Infrequently Given Answers. And this one reveals, if you didn't see it first time around, where that word "twitcher" came from. It also talks about sex. But first it is, as I said, that time again...
From: Mark Etheridge Subject: It's That Time Again Date: 19 Dec 2002 On the first day of Xmas I sent ukrb A Perdix perdix in a Pyrus calleryana (and a latin-english dictionary) On the second day of Xmas I sent ukrb Two Turtle Doves (but one of 'em was too red so it was forwarded to Orkney) On the third day of Xmas I sent ukrb Three French Hens (Mindful of the dangers of the introduction of non-native species they will be served with fava beans and a nice Chianti - slppp slppp slppp) On the fourth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Four Calling Birds (They were originally "colly" or "collie" birds or black birds of some description and that sparked off a discussion in ukrb which only ended after vast tracts of usenet had been laid waste) On the fifth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Five Gold Rings (Actually this was misheard as "five cold rings" which was the number of unsolicited telephone calls from double-glazing salesmen who were referred to my house by the neighbours after the calling birds were collected) On the sixth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Six Geese a-laying (at least one of which was a suspected Lesser Ross's Snow Greylag, thus causing considerable confusion amongst the geese experts in the vicinity of Islay) On the seventh day of Xmas I sent ukrb Seven Swans a-swimming (One Mute, one Whooper, one Bewick, one Trumpeter, one Whistling, one Australian Black and one Coscoroba and what happened? Yes, another furious argument about the pronunciation of "Whooper". I wonder why I bothered) On the eighth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Eight Maids a-milking (and was promptly flamed by alt.vegan to whom I had inadvertently cross-posted. I had to send the cows as well, I am awaiting the bill for dung removal) On the ninth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Nine Ladies dancing (I was beginning to struggle at this point, I actually meant to send 99 ladies, one for each of Pete's aliases over the last year, but there was a distinct shortage of "available ladies" in Basildon) On the tenth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Ten Lords a-leaping (Actually they were bloody furious, having been recently deprived of huntin' shootin' and fishin' rights, they'd heard that someone called Angus had been instrumental in this and he had been spotted hangin' about on the fringes of ukrb. Hangin' was a word they were using a lot as they went out of the door) On the eleventh day of Xmas I sent ukrb Eleven Pipers piping (Plus twenty four tons of sand to keep them happy. I also had to pay return fares from foreign climes, not many sandpipers available in the UK at this time of year) On the twelfth day of Xmas I sent ukrb Twelve Drummers drumming (The snipe for this present were most unco-operative; instead of drumming as advertised, they just sat on fence posts looking miserable. Who can blame them? It is Xmas after all) Season's Greetings Mark
From: Mike Humberston Subject: Re: Spring Sprung Dunnocks Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 Chris Mead wrote: >The message from Mike Humberston contains these words: > >> The pair of Dunnocks in my garden which are usually quiet, unassuming >> birds have gone mad this morning. They're zooming all over the place, >> one after the other, accompanied by a lot of twittering. >Are you certain they are a pair? Dunnock sex life can be very complicated! Perhaps I should have said two Dunnocks as I don't know if they were a pair. Please would you elucidate on the complications of their sex life?
From: Malcolm Subject: Re: Spring Sprung Dunnocks Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 Mike Humberston writes >Perhaps I should have said two Dunnocks as I don't know if they were >a pair. Please would you elucidate on the complications of their sex >life? Read the book!! Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution, by N.B.Davies OUP 1992. ISBN 0 19 854675 0 (pbk) and be prepared to be amazed, or disgusted (!), depending on your point of view. And, like everything Nick writes, it is an eminently readable book despite being a scientific work with a liberal sprinkling of graphs and other diagrams. He begins with a quote from the noted Victorian ornithologist, the Reverend Morris: "Unobtrusive, quiet and retiring, without being shy, humble and homely in its deportment and habits, sober and unpretending in its dress, while still neat and graceful, the dunnock exhibits a pattern which many of a higher grade might imitate, with advantage to themselves and benefit to others through an improved example." and then proceeds, in the book, to show just how wide of the mark this is, as he goes on: "The Reverend Morris's recommendation turns out to be unfortunate: we now know that the dunnock belies its dull appearance, having bizarre sexual behaviour and an extraordinarily variable mating system. Had his congregation followed suit, there would have been chaos in the parish and the Reverend Morris's devotion to ornithology and the writing of his 'A History of British Birds' would have been severely disrupted." Beg, borrow or steal it, and enjoy :-) -- Malcolm
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 From: Chris Mead Subject: Re: Spring Sprung Dunnocks I have little to add to what Malcolm has said. Suffice to say that the well known cloaca pecking behaviour has simply been explained by one male getting rid of the sperm of another from the female (and Nick has found the displaced packets of sperm) and that the male's gonads may make up 8% of his weight. Beg, borrow or steal, read, enjoy and be amazed! -- Chris Mead, Hilborough, Norfolk
From: "Karl Johnson" Subject: Re: Spring Sprung Dunnocks Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 "Chris Mead" wrote ... > and that the male's > gonads may make up 8% of his weight. Hmmm?.. What would be 8% of 11 stone 3lbs then? Just wondered... or wished!!! :-) -- Karl.
A little while ago I pontificated that the origin of the word "twitcher" was unknown. (Well, Bill Oddie said it was, so who was I to argue?) But don't underestimate uk.r.b.
From: "Jason Smart" Subject: Re: what is "twichting" and a "twitcher" Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 Stephen Poley wrote ... > On Wed, 24 Apr 2002 11:41:10 +0200, Markus Jais wrote: > > >I am a german birder and I have seen the word "twitcher" and "to twicht" > >but when I look up the words in my dictionary the translation doesn't seem > >to fit, maybe because this is some birder slang. > > > >could someone please explain me what "twitcher" means? > Yes, it is indeed a bit of birding slang. "Twitching" is making a > special journey to see a rare bird that someone else has found. > "Twitchers" are people who do this, and the term is usually reserved for > people who do it often. No-one is quite sure where it comes from, but > probably from the nervous twitches of people who are frightened that > they will fail to see the bird (or "dip out on it", to use another piece > of slang.) Here is a letter from "British Birds", 76/8 (Aug 1983), p.353: "'Twitcher' is actually a John Izzard-Bob Emmett word which was coined in the middle 1950s to describe our good friend Howard Medhurst, alias 'The Kid'. "Birdwatching transport was very much a two-wheeled affair in those days. John Izzard and his girlfriend, Sheila, rode a Lambretta, whilst Howard rode pillion on my Matchless. The Lambretta had a unique luxury built into it: a back-warming, lap-warming dog, 'Jan', which used to travel jammed between John and Sheila. There was no such creature comfort on the Matchless; on arrival at some distant destination, Howard would totter off the back of my machine and shiveringly light up a cigarette. This performance was repeated so regularly up and down the country that it became synonymous with good birds, and, as we all felt a slight nervous excitement at the uncertainty involved in trying to see a particular bird, it became a standing joke, and John and I would act out a nervous twitch to match Howard's shiverings. This led us to describe a trip to see a rare bird as 'Being on a twitch'. Inevitably, this led to the term 'twitcher'. It was our association with the Portsmouth Group in the New Forest that extended the term into more general use. In the late 1960s, it became a derogatory term to describe unscrupulous tick-hunters (and as far as I am concerned it still is). It is pretty safe to say, however, that Howard Medhurst was - in the nicest possible way - the original twitcher. "R. E. Emmett" -- Jason
From: "Gordon Hamlett" Subject: three new species - well at least they ought to be Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 Editing the UK Bird Sightings for BWM this month brought forth the following typos:- Bared Warbler Snooty Shearwater and Mars Harrier - which surely beats even the Arctic Tern as our longest distance migrant <grin> Gordon
From: email@example.com (Steve McDonald) Subject: Re: three new species - well at least they ought to be Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 On our regional bird list we've had a Hored Grebe, a Shmew (Yiddish name?) and a Marbled Martinet (its mother may have been French). Steve McDonald
From: M.A.McDowall@ed.ac.uk (Mike McDowall) Subject: Re: three new species - well at least they ought to be Date: Tue, 08 Oct 2002 On Tue, 8 Oct 2002 10:50:00 +0000 (UTC), "Gordon Hamlett" wrote: >Mars Harrier - which surely beats even the Arctic Tern as our longest >distance migrant <grin> This causes regular confusion amongst novice space ornithologists. I don't think this was deliberately set up as a hoax to improve marketing, but the Mars Harrier is a chocolate confection, not a migrant bird. The target market for this confection was originally the leisure exercise market, hence the name. VBG
From: "Jason Smart" Subject: Re: three new species - well at least they ought to be Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 And there was me thinking that the species hunts Mars bars and they're what makes the females brown.
From: Stephen Poley Subject: SBC - NL Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 Another one from the Dutch section of the SBC: A White's Thrush was reported from Piaam in Friesland. The bird was skulking among some fallen leaves and twigs, but could be observed at close range, and the description was encouraging: spangled black and gold, with a black bill and a large black eye. Someone else went looking for it, and eventually found it. It was a sick Golden Plover.
From: "Bill Alexander" Subject: Re: SBC - NL Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 01:20:06 -0000 An easy mistake to make :-) -- Bill....
From: Malcolm Subject: Re: SBC - NL Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 There's clearly a need for a new field guide. I think it is pretty certain that none of the existing ones offer Golden Plover as a possible confusion species with White's Thrush, or vice versa. The problem might be getting people to admit their wilder errors......... -- Malcolm
And when the uk.r.b folks can't find anything to talk about, they have a simple solution - they talk about nothing instead.
From: "andrew.howes1" Subject: please ignore this message Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 Just testing out my new set up. AH
From: "Bill Alexander" Subject: Re: please ignore this message Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 "andrew.howes1" skrev i meddelandet news:v8Tl9.firstname.lastname@example.org... > Just testing out my new set up. > > AH If you want anyone to read a message just head it "Please Ignore this message" :-) -- Bill....
From: "Tony & Sally" And unfortunately your not the only sad (*& to reply! :-) Tony
From: "Karl Johnson" LOL! I know what you mean, I couldn't resist it either!! It's like the old 'Wet Paint - Do Not Touch' sign dilemma!! :-)
From: "Tony Parkinson" Personally, I find more temptation to read replies to a message titled "Please Ignore this message"
From: "Martin van der Mijden" Or replies to the replies to a message called "Please ignore this message" Martin(NL)
From: Paul Rooney On Mon, 30 Sep 2002 08:37:40 +0100, "andrew.howes1" wrote: >Just testing out my new set up. > >AH I appear to be the only one in the thread who has managed to ignore your message (-:
From: "Anne Burgess" > I appear to be the only one in the thread who has managed to ignore > your message (-: > Paul I must protest! I have also been busy ignoring it (whatever it said) <g> Anne
From: Mike In article <email@example.com>, Anne Burgess writes >I must protest! I have also been busy ignoring it (whatever it said) <g> > >Anne Ignoring what?
From: "Anne Burgess" > Ignoring what? > Whatever he claims he was ignoring ..... sorry, there's a bird at the window, I have other things to do Anne
From: "Malda" andrew.howes1 wrote... > Just testing out my new set up. > > AH Works then!!!!
From: Mike Colin A Jacobs writes >Why does this rubbish cause more post threads than something to do with >birds? >CJ Because people like you, me and the others reply to it for a bit of light relief :-)) Or do you think the Net Nanny should jump in and stop it? "I think not" ;-) Speak not always of what you think, but think always of what you speak.
From: Richard Candeland Really sad, but...... I found all your replies so amusing that I've put a 'Keep' on the whole thread so that I can come back to it when work either bores or depresses me!
Hmmm ... and now you mention it Richard - so did I!
From: "Gordon Hamlett" Subject: Re: Bill's return to Blighty Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2002 "Michael J Davis" wrote ... > Bill Alexander observed > > > >Bill.... > >available for gigs and bar mitzvahs, now businessless, so seeking job for > >the first time in 30 years.Anything considered! > What actually do you *do* at a bar mitzvah? Bird impressions? Yup. Here are some of them:- 1 A little tern - what the audience asks for. See also little stint. 2 A common tern - what they usually get. 3 A sandwich tern - as performed during the half time interval. 4 swallow - see number 3. 5 swift - the exit when the audience realises it is not going to be number 1. 6 Brambling - as in 'what's the silly B rambling on about this time?' See also who's that Raven idiot. 7 Ptarmigan - as in the Rolf Harris classic Ptarmigan-garoo down sport. Hi Bill - welcome back Gordon
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