Carrying field guides into the field

To: "" <>,
Subject: Carrying field guides into the field
From: REID Colin <>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 11:54:28 +1000
        I 'learnt' my birding in Ireland and have been quite surprised to
find Australian birders carrying ID books in the field. 
        I guess it's personal choice at the end of the day, however, one
argument for NOT carrying is that it teaches one to observe rather than just
compare. I must admit carrying a guide in the field MAY lead to more
definite identifications and less "......... sp", but, I think, the birder
then learns what is relevant for identification and, subsequently, becomes a
better observer. Reading books at home and researching leads, too, to a
better understanding generally. 
        One area I believe where a field guide is very handy to have is on a
pelagic. The variety and possible opportunities presented on a pelagic which
are almost impossible to predict and, therefore, extremely difficult to
research make it very handy to have a quick reference while the details are
        One final point - SOMETIMES I think the availability of a field
guide pointing out what the ID features are of a species, can encourage one
to see what may not be really there? If one has to rely on notes, memory and
general overall behaviour etc I think one has a more accurate image of what
WAS really there! Delicate point this, I know!!  

Colin Reid

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Wednesday, 31 July 2002 11:07 AM
Subject: Carrying field guides into the field

I have nearly finished reading Mark Cockers' book 'Birders: Tales of a
Tribe' about the twitching phenomenon in the UK. It has been a very
enjoyable read but a comment in this book which was similar to a statement
made in Bill Oddie's autobiography had let me to believe that I continue to
make an enormous faux pas everytime I go birding. Both books allude to the
fact that it is poor form to take a field guide out in the field and one
must make notes and diagrams of what one sees. In taking my copy of Slater
with me into the filed, have I committed a cardinal sin of birding, or is
this a particularly English peculiarity?

PS Presumably those that take chairs into the field do so, so they can
accommodate the larger field guides or even HANZAB on their lap.

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