Australian Field Ornithology journal

To: michael norris <>
Subject: Australian Field Ornithology journal
From: Ian May <>
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2010 21:17:08 +1030

Yes Michael, I echo your sentiments too but when the name changed from Bird Observers Club and people were employed to run the organisation, I thought then it was only a matter of time before the culture changed away from meeting the needs of field observers and evolving towards something else akin to a quasi land care group. And now it is happening. I'm not in agreement with the planned merger between the BOCA and BA but ironically, I can't wait either because their merger will provide a great opportunity for a new separate club to form; a real bird observers club with objectives like the old BOC and RAOU, meeting the needs of bird observers and producing a journal like the "bird watcher" and the "Emu" of days old.. And if a new club develops, next time we must insist on maintaining a club that directly reflects birdwatching interests such, the production of a journal that appeals to birdwatchers, developing policies to provide for the protection of birds as well as the interests of members such as privileged access to public and private land for birdwatching and constitution protections that will not permit evolution of the club into something else.

In the meantime I have rejoined the South Australian Ornithological Association (SAOA) because it is still an organisation primarily focused on field ornithology. It has not developed into a pseudo research unit or a quasi land care organisation and it does not appear to kowtow to the politics of outside conservation groups. My first newsletters and journal arrived recently and it is an enjoyable and informative read. Great! Just like the old days.

But beware! Even here it appears there may be a push for change with an attempt to name the SAOA "Birds SA". Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Before anyone thinks of calling me a Dinosaur (preferably a Pteranodon), just remember this, you will need to submit a BARC report to have that one accepted


Ian May
currently at Price SA

michael norris wrote:

I agree there are valuable articles - but I know that getting enough
material has been a problem.

So I wish it could revert to something like Australian Bird Watching and
Field Ornithology.

It used to have a lot of fascinating - but disciplined - amateur
observations (especially about behaviour), remembering that amateur means
doing something for love rather than status.

I'm not sure why these disappeared.  Perhaps the bar for authors has been
raised too high in terms of the amount of research into references etc. that are required to prove the material is valuable to academics ("new") rather than to general readers ("interesting"). Perhaps there was an assumption that authors wanted
to add a publication to their c.vs. and so should meet professional

OK I am grumpy about my own experience but it may parallel those of other
amateurs. Many years ago I sent in a draft (with a request for comment) on what I thought
was an interesting observation of nesting by what was probably a
female-female pair of Singing Honeyeaters. The response was that I needed
to look at even more references.

I reckon what was needed was encouragement. And a request to cut the thing down to x words, by omitting some irrelevant discussion and detail, preferably rewriting it in the first person (rather than that pseudo-objective passive tense the dominates AFO "one was observed" rather than "I saw one"), and submit as soon as possible! After all there were (are?) very few records of even probable same-sex nesting amongst passerines.

I haven't given up finishing it - but the todo list has got ever larger
since then!

And I think this is the first time I have got this off my chest publicly.

Michael Norris


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