Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: [Birding-Aus] afo

To: brian fleming <>
Subject: Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: [Birding-Aus] afo
From: Dave Torr <>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 15:25:34 +1100
I agree Anthea - there is a real problem with old computer records that
print does not suffer from. None of the forms of computer backup that I used
even 15-20 years ago is available now, and none of the software either. Many
forms of backup media (such as CDs or DVDs) do not last for a very long time
and unless someone takes the backup media and rewrites it onto fresh media
every few years data can be lost.

But on the other hand many records are unlikely to appear in print (and if
they do are not easily accessed and may not be published in a reasonable
timetable). There is room for both "instant" online reporting (which serves
the purpose of many people, is easily found using search engines but is
rarely peer-reviewed and may disappear one day - who knows how long
BirdingAus will last for?) and paper reports, which are likely to last a lot
longer, are often peer-reviewed but can take a long time to appear in print
and can be hard for people to find out about.

On 2 March 2010 15:03, brian fleming <> wrote:

>  Why isn't a note on Birding-aus sufficient?  Birding-aus is a splendid way
> of letting people know that interesting birds are to be seen some where. And
> it's a splendid way to find information on what can be found where.  So why
> go to the trouble of getting observations into print?
>  One must remember that electronic media are not permanent. Will all those
> photos and notes (even if transferred to archival quality disks) be legible
> in 20 or 50 years time? How many early computer records are now inaccessible
> because advancing technology has left them behind? (Plenty!)
>  But if your records are on printed paper in a journal with some
> circulation, there is some hope that some copies will be kept dry and secure
> in libraries and book-shelves for the next century or so.
>  Back in 1970 I discovered my local park, Wilson Reserve in Ivanhoe, was a
> good birding location.  I kept regular notes for the next five years and
> eventually bravely decided to write up my observations for the 'Australian
> Bird Watcher', as it then was.  My paper appeared in March 1976, as "Birds
> of the Yarra Valley, Ivanhoe" and to my surprise was regularly cited and
> quoted by other bird authors for some years. (Even in HANZAB!)
>   I found it very useful when engaged in local conservation struggles to
> have a real printed paper to produce at Council meetings, VCAT hearings and
> the like.  The paper is now of course hopelessly out of date; conditions at
> the Reserve have changed a lot and so has the bird-life.  But it remains
> available for historical comparison of then and now. I am grateful to my
> mentors who encouraged me to write it and change a few points at referees'
> suggestion.
>  In recent years, Peter Shute has interested us all with his regular
> reports and photos of crakes and rails at Mount St.Josephs Pond in Altona.
>  It would be really valuable if Peter could summarize these reports into a
> paper or article, illustrated with his photos, and submit it to 'Wingspan',
> the 'Bird Observer', AFO, or the 'Melbirdian'. It could make a lot of
> difference if some authority wants to widen the railway or otherwise disturb
> the pond, or 'tidy up' the reedbeds. Not very much seems to be known about
> small crakes and rails, so all records are valuable. It is still claimed
> that their distribution is mainly known from dead specimens brought in by
> cats!
>  Writing is not easy, but a straightforward factual account of what you
> have seen and why your local area is valuable is well worth doing. Write a
> draft, and then e-mail editors to see if it's the sort of thing they need.
> Anthea Fleming
> Peter Shute wrote:
>> From:  [mailto:
>>>  On Behalf Of peter crow
>>> Sent: Tuesday, 2 March 2010 11:39 AM
>>> To: 
>>> Subject: [Birding-Aus] afo
>>  I know what its like to have ago and be rejected. I have written a number
>>> of short reports suitable researched and reviewed but have always got a
>>> reply along the lines of "Its not of  great deal of interest --- Its
>>> probably something that is common -- We usually don't publish short
>>> articles."
>> I'm new to all this stuff.  Can you explain why these things need to
>> actually be published in a magazine?
>  Lots of observations, although obviously not as well researched as you
> indicate yours were, and rarely referenced at all,
>  get "published" just by being mentioned in places like birding-aus.  I can
> see that they might not be regarded as being
> as trustworthy and quotable as an article in a magazine, but at least
> they're out there to be read.
>> And won't Wingspan and TBO accept them?
>> Peter Shute
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