Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: afo

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: Why Publish bird observations? Re: afo
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 16:22:21 +1000
In response to Stephen Debus's posting on this topic, Ross Macfarlane wrote:

"I can't let this go unchallenged. Wingspan does publish articles on research
and conservation projects. Maybe not as scholarly as Stephen would expect,
but for example September 2009 (the most recent I could put to hand) had
articles on Swift Parrots (by Chris Tzaros, Dean Ingwersen etc.), Sooty Owls
(Rohan Bilney), Tasmanian Masked Owl, Grasswrens, Carnabys Black-cockatoos.
There's even one on Eagles, by a certain Stephen Debus..."

Ross, if you are thinking that Stephen expects Wingspan and Bird Observer articles to be 'scholarly' (other than being reasonably well written and coherent) I think you have missed his point. I didn't read anywhere in what Stephen wrote anything which attempted to put a relative value on the worthiness or otherwise of the articles in the publications being discussed in this thread.
He seemed to me to be simply trying to explain the difference between a 
'magazine' and a 'scientific' publication.
The fact that Stephen agreed to having that particular article (Eagle Studies) published in Wingspan should indicate that he does not, as an academic, dismiss such magazines as a waste of time but considers that there is a place for such magazines in providing a certain form of information to a certain birdwatching audience.
I for one am thankful for that.

Stephen's article seems to me to be a prime example of what he described as being the 'style' (my word) of article to be found in a 'magazine' as opposed to a scientific publication.
It is "largely chatty and newsy and full of 'twitcher' stuff" along with containing some 
"ephemera" and, perhaps, a little "trivia".
And, to my way of thinking, it is none the worst for that. In fact, it appears 
to me to be perfect for a magazine such as Wingspan.
The 'further reading' reference list at the end of the article does not strike me as being an attempt to make the article appear more 'scientific' but is simply an indicator of where birdwatchers with a more 'scientific' bent can find some more detailed info on the birds mentioned in the article. Incidentally, Australian Field Ornithology is mentioned three times in those 'further reading' references. From that it seems to me that Stephen Debus is an advocate for both types of publications.

I, personally, would like to see Wingspan maintain its present 'style' as far as articles are concerned even if I don't read them all but, I fear, if the proposed amalgamation with BOCA goes ahead I will no longer receive that publication as I am likely to resign the last of my birdwatching organisation memberships, that being with BA.

Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point


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