The demise of ABM is certainly regrettable and it's understandable that
there be much wailing and gnashing of teeth among subscribers. However, Tom
Tarrant has made a very good point about taking the journal online - if
indeed it's not already. Consider the following:
If everyone currently subscribing to Birding-Aus had also subscribed to
Australian Birding, the journal may have been able to continue for longer.
Then again, maybe not: obviously it was very expensive to produce and we all
know there aren't that many birders in Australia.
But Birding-Aus also provided enormous competition. Simply put: why was/is
Australian Birding strictly necessary? When David Andrew started the
magazine in 1993, he envisaged it as a successor to Cosmic Flashes - a
magazine for the "serious" birder that delivered up-to-date news, ID tips,
trip reports and so on. It was unashamedly aimed at the twitching
fraternity, though one by no means needed to be a twitcher to enjoy and
benefit from its contents.
As I see it, Margaret Cameron expanded on the original premise, but a
quarterly journal with chronic funding problems, run by people motivated
only by love for their subject matter, and who therefore needed to work
other jobs in order to survive, was always going to struggle to be timely.
Birding-Aus fulfils almost all of Australian Birding's original intentions,
and mostly it does it better. It is an infinitely superior means of keeping
up with new sightings; subscribers submit their trip reports on a regular
basis, and discussion forums are often held regarding identification.
The exception of course is the lack of pictorial content, but of course
there are hundreds of websites, both specialist and general, where we can
see great bird images daily. Of course, being an unmoderated list, the
written standard also varies wildly and we have to step our way around a
great deal of nonsense - not that any of us agree on what constitutes
nonsense and what is an important discussion. And that's fine; it's not
really very different to ignoring an article that you'd rather not read in
your favourite magazine.
I'm sure there are many regular Birding-Aus contributors (besides myself)
who are happy enough to gabble at length online but who couldn't be
persuaded, or who never even thought, to submit their thoughts to ABM. It
may be sad to say this, and I do so with the greatest of respect for all
those who worked so hard to make the magazine work, but I'm not sure if
there was a genuine need for its existence anymore. While ABM was certainly
a beautifully produced product, to a large degree I think Birding-Aus
obviated that need. And let's not forget that the subscription to B-A is
I warmly congratulate David Andrew, Margaret Cameron and, yes, Andrew Isles
for making ABM what it was. I'm sad it doesn't exist anymore, but I'm not
surprised, and the alternative is right before our eyes. Let's make the most
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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