Hi All, I've been twitching since the early nineties, feverishly chasing
after vagrants new and rare to Australia. My Oz total now stands at 753
given my last twitch for the Eyebrowed Thrush near Atherton. I have in the
past spent what must be thousands of dollars on fuel, airfares,
accommodation, site fees, food, etc., and many hundreds of hours going for
the latest vagrant arrivals before they disappear or die or get predated.
However, things seem to be changing. In recent years I've thought about
going for the latest vagrants in Broome and Perth, like the Semi-palmated
Plover in Broome and the Northern Pintail in Perth,, and even the Princess
Parrot in the Centre, but somehow have lost the compulsion to go for them.
Money and time are not the determining factors. I just seem to have lost
The recent Widgeon in WA and the current Wagtail in Alice have of course
caught my attention, but I find I just can't be bothered going for them.
What for? Just another tick in my list? I was hoping to catch up with a
Black-headed Gull in Darwin sometime, but having just been to the UK
(without my bins) I saw hundreds of them. And widgeons. So what?
Surely this sort of thinking is sacrilege to the true twitcher I thought I
was. Now the thinking is "so what if I don't see them?"
I used to think that lifting my total towards 800 was important to me, now
it seems entirely immaterial. So what if other people get a bigger list than
me? It doesn't affect anything does it . I collect beautiful pictures of
rare birds on the internet. Not the same as seeing them in the flesh ? Of
course not. So?
In the past I've had many a heated discussion with some of our more academic
birdos over the value of twitching, which they of course consider
contributes very little to the important issues of habitat and species
conservation. I have to agree with them. What possible useful impact can a
single vagrant achieve before it dies or gets eaten?
Of course a group of vagrants, like the Canada Geese of a few years ago, if
left to establish and form ever growing numbers, can have effects on habitat
usage, nest sites, food supplies etc, which upsets the natural ecological
balance and often affect indigenous species adversely. Moreover, many of
these feral groups are now too well established over time to be eradicated,
and isn't it better to learn to live with them than get all upset about
them. Feral colonies are only good for twitchers but only of nuisance value
I don't understand how my drop off in zeal has come about. Those disdainful
of twitching might suggest that "Aha, at last he's come to his senses", but
I don't accept that. The thought of seeing a new bird is still interesting
, even exciting, but I just can't be bothered going after them anymore. I
Googled the creek where the Widgeon was seen in WA, and I thought about
asking Chris Watson precisely which garden in Alice has the Wagtail. But to
what avail? I know I'm not going.
Is there anybody out there suffering from a similar malaise ?
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