Australian Field Ornithology journal

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Australian Field Ornithology journal
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2010 14:21:16 +1100
Hi Michael,

I agree totally with what you say and I too remember the old ABW & FO.

There have been many changes since those days but I think that they are the
kind of changes that would make going back to that style of journal easy and
well worthwhile. Computers now provide the perfect means for creating the
written content and digital cameras provide the ability for anyone with some
patience to take an image suitable for publication within their article.

The quality/trustworthy “bar” of the current AFO should not be lowered, but
the writing “style” required should be changed, as you suggest. Some form of
peer review at skilled amateur level or higher should be retained so that we
can all trust the material published and that it is recognised as reliable
enough to be referred to in academic journals and publications such as
HANZAB, if needed.

On the matter of enough new material for a new (old)-style field ornithology
magazine this should not be a problem, as can be seen in your example
Michael, or as a quick browse through HANZAB will show. Even under the
“Social Organisation” heading for the ubiquitous Yellow-rumped Thornbill the
first line states: “Not well known and no detailed studies”. Yes, that was
in 2002 but if this has changed there are plenty more examples where
non-professional observers can add to our knowledge of Australian birds.
There must also be vast hoards of fascinating original material stored in
notebooks all over Australia.

I think we should have EMU for the academics, ABW & FO for field
ornithologist, including academic writers if they want to write in the style
required and then Wingspan and or TBO for the regular news, information,
letters, relevant advertisements (self interest again, I like the ads) and
conservation content.

I also think we owe a great vote of thanks to those academics, especially
the editors, who have kept AFO going over recent years, despite the lack of
funds and contributions, so that we can still have this discussion. I
strongly believe that if we lose a hard-copy AFO / ABW & FO now, we will be
unlikely to ever convince the bean-counters to re-start one in the future.

Basically, I too want what you are wishing for Michael, “something like
Australian Bird Watching and Field Ornithology” with material that can be
both “… valuable to academics ("new") [and valuable] to general readers
("interesting")”. Oh, and I would love to read your article on the
“observation of nesting by what was probably a female-female pair of Singing
Honeyeaters”; please do get it published somewhere I can read it.



On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 6:14 PM, 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
> standards.
> 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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