Some good news for Eastern Curlews?

To: 'David Rees' <>
Subject: Some good news for Eastern Curlews?
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2019 22:10:45 +0000

Fine, I have no problem with accepting value of the work of Gilbert White or King Solomon or whoever.  That is not the point. I in no way denied the value of the work, only that it is not citizen science because it was not the work of many volunteers. Fine that it has survived. Simply talking about nature as reported for King Solomon is maybe useful communication but it is not of itself science. Citizen science in the context of that wader survey and the history quoted in that article, is when many volunteers work on a coordinated project when the project has some basic system of investigation based on at least rudimentary scientific principles. Although typically they are observational, rather than experimental. They still begin with something like null hypothesis is X, an alternate hypothesis is Z and we can demonstrate a result by doing whatever. Our GBS has a null hypothesis that there is no change in bird populations over time in Canberra. There are hundreds of alternate hypotheses to that, many of which have been supported. It is citizen science only because many volunteers have contributed in a coordinated way, in which data are compiled, to that outcome. The emphasis is that many people with guidance doing volunteer work can contribute a large talent pool that would not be practical or economical to do with paid staffers. Good digital cameras and Canberra nature map, although useful tools, are also not relevant either way to this discussion.




From: David Rees [
Sent: Tuesday, 26 February, 2019 8:50 AM
To: Philip Veerman
Cc: COG List
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Some good news for Eastern Curlews?


Sorry Phillip but the value of Gilbert White's work is that it has survived.    I know the place well where he worked and his observations can be compared with now, down to the behaviour of individual species.  Fortunately the area remains pretty similar to what it was in his day. Ordinary people had a struggle to simply survive back then, literacy levels were low,  country clerics etc. on the other hand were literate and on a good wicket.  These folk have given us some of the oldest well-recorded 'citizen science', at least in the English speaking world, and also, I understand, elsewhere in Europe. All this happened well before good digital cameras and Canberra nature map etc.......




On Mon, Feb 25, 2019 at 5:23 AM Philip Veerman <> wrote:

Martin it seems appears to wish to dispute whether citizen science is older in Britain or USA. Wow is that distinction worth fussing over? It is a hard one to define a start point. Even if the RSPB was founded in 1889, if the Christmas Bird Count (I assume the American one), started in 1900, then I wonder if the RSPB had organised any citizen science within 11 years of starting. Existence of RSPB is not of itself citizen science. So which was the first to reach any kind of data-useful standing? Who cares?

The article makes the point that citizen science refers to in this case: “the dozens of volunteers who took part each year”. Thus Selborne, John James Audubon and Gilbert White are hardly relevant, when they were working mostly on their own and not part of large scale organised activities (citizen science). The term also carries the general idea that the people involved are not professionals (i.e. paid) but volunteers. “Erin Rogers, the chair of the Australian Citizen Science Association, said it could provide meaningful data to help form decision-making, while also engaging the general public in science.”



From: Martin Butterfield [
Sent: Sunday, 24 February, 2019 2:49 PM
To: Sue Beatty
Cc: ; Geoffrey Dabb; COG List
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Some good news for Eastern Curlews?


I hope the rest of the article is more correct than this "Professor Justin Marshall, the chief investigator at Coral Watch, said birdwatching was the oldest form of citizen science, originating in the United States."  


By way of example 

  • The Natural History of Selborne is a book by English naturalist and ornithologist Gilbert White. It was first published in 1789.
  • John James Audubon (born Jean Rabin; April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851). so unless Audubon was shotting at the age of 4 he was well behind Gilbert White

Perhaps he is on about the Christmas Bird  Count which started in 1900?  Nice try no cigar: the RSPB was founded in 1889!  


Googling the Professor's name he seems to be, surprisingly in view of that statement, of British birth arther than from the US.




On Sun, 24 Feb 2019 at 14:31, Sue Beatty <> wrote:

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