Wednesday 31 December 2008

It's Official - Bird Forum Admin Read Loxia Fantastica !

Well, well. I have just been emailed by a regular LF fan (there is at least one) that those lurvely chaps and chappess's at Bird Forum Admin have deleted the link to this blog from all of my posts on their site. Nice touch - keep all my posts ( and pictures, which I will be contacting you about in the New Year as you do not have my permission to display them) but delete the link to my blog cause you're scared someone might read something negative about you ! Owww dibins.

I can only take it then that Bird Forum Admin actually do read this fantastic blog before you. Good ! I hope some of the reality of your actions and your blatant bias hits home, though I sincerely doubt it will though. Just a thought - in my opinion Bird Forum seems to be dying of death these days - there are fewer posts by the 'old school' that were very prolific on there a few years ago. Maybe more people are writing blogs which I think on the whole is much healthier - there is no agenda or biased moderation that is rife on Bird Forum. What you see is what you get, and if you don't like it you don't have to read it.

Strength is the ablity to be capable of listening to criticism, and when necessary, take it on the chin. It appears Bird Forum isn't strong and can't take any criticism. It panders to the whimsical rantings of certain members that they are 'chummy' with to the detriment of others.

No more BF criticism from now on I promise - lets just let it (BF) die of death in peace.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE ! 2009 is going to be a mega crossbill year and er...if its not then it will be 2010 !

The Dangers of Bird Forum

Here is a priceless gem of a piece of journalism, and I use that term loosely, by reporter Vicky Collins and many reasons why you should watch what you say on that orcale of birding knowledge that is Beginner Forum, and I suppose on blogs too ! She was such a good journalist that when she was given the task of writing a piece on Britain's only endemic the Scottish Crossbill she apparently only used Bird Forum as her primary source ! If you haven't read this please do and have a good laugh. At the time I had to delete all my posts so she didn't use them in her article. She was also emailing me asking if "I was affiliated with the RSPB" so she could get some dirt. As you all know I am not. I did warn the RSPB and being such nice guys they probably didn't tell her to just go and forth and fornicate as I would have - jeez it's great not to be moderated !

Here it is, enjoy !

"Feathers Flying Over Scottish Crossbill: is It a Unique Species? Ornithologists' Dispute Rages on the Net"

Posted on: Friday, 4 November 2005, 09:00 CST


ITis a pastime usually associated with quiet hours spent observing nature, but now a bitter row over Scotland's only unique species is dividing the world of bird-watching.
Ornithologists are questioning the very existence of the Scottish crossbill, which was officially identified as a separate and endemic species only four years ago.
Arguments about the status of the bird, which is virtually identical to the common crossbill except for a slightly higher and less staccato call, have been raging on one of the biggest internet birdwatching sites. Birdforum. net, which has more than 33,000 members, features heated discussions about the Scottish crossbill, with many claiming it is not a separate species and has been designated as such only because of its usefulness to conservation bodies.
There are three crossbill species in the UK: common, which is widespread, the slightly larger and far rarer parrot, and Scottish, whose size is midway between the other two.
They all rely on pine trees for their food, with the Scottish crossbill said to live exclusively in Scots pine forests.

It was declared a separate species four years ago after research by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) found it did not breed with the other two species.
So far, DNA tests have shown no differences between the three.
However, many Birdforum members are highly sceptical about its existence. Michael Frankis, from Newcastle, argues the Scottish crossbill's status has less to do with scientific evidence than it does with the need for a flagship species that can be used to attract funding for the preservation of Caledonian pine forests.
"The more interesting the species, the more likely it is to get funding (politicians being what they are! ), " he writes.
"Which one? Capercailzie - what, a re-introduced species that is also common in two other EU countries? - No, sorry. Red Grouse? - Endemic, yes, but not a pine forest species. No, won't work. Aha - invent a crossbill! That does the job just nicely.
"Of course the official UK ornithological bodies will strenuously deny all of the above because, if they don't, the funding might get stopped."
Everyone contributing to the online argument admits the near impossibility of identifying a Scottish crossbill, and two members of the forum claim the call associated with the species has been heard at least twice in Kielder Forest, in Northumberland.
Another contributor, jpoyner, lives in Strathspey, the heartland for Scottish crossbills. He reports several sightings of mixed pairs of crossbills in the forests there and questions whether the Scottish species may in reality be a cross between them.
An RSPB spokesman said:
"RSPB Scotland has carried out a detailed research project.
The results have yet to be published, but at this stage the indications are that the Scottish crossbill should still be regarded as a separate species."
Description: chunky finch with large head and bill
Length: 16.5 cm
Wingspan: 27 to 30.5cm
Plummage: mainly red with dark wings and tail
Description: large, powerful finch with deep parrot-like bill and sharply forked tail
Length: 17.5 cm
Wingspan: 30.5 to 33 cm
Plummage: orange to red with dusky wings and tail with dark wings and tail
Description: chunky, thick-set finch with large head and substantial bill
Length: 16.5 cm
Wingspan: 27.5 to 31.5cm
Plummage: mainly red with dark wings and tail
Source: Herald, The; Glasgow (UK)

Rather than highlight the list of absolute howlers and gross inaccuracies that Miss Collins has written regarding the species let's just look at what the BF's said. Michael Frankis used to be on BF and appeared to be a very knowledgeable guy. But, maybe it is just me, he really comes out of this sounding, well, quite silly ? Yeah, I can just see the RSPB having a Black Op's unit to invent a species for funding the preservation of the Caledonian Pine Forests ! Believe me the RSPB can do this themselves. The argument also falls flat when we take into consideration that scotica also thrives in non-native and mixed plantations of the type that Forestry Enterprise own !

As to JPoyner's "mixed pairs" how does he know they are mixed pairs ? Based on calls, which as far as I know none of the Speyside guides know anything about (even though, and I quote, "they are working with scientists to obtain the technology" to do this ! )? Based on apparent bill sizes, when in reality there is overlap and variation within species ? Nope, thought not.

Two things come out of this:

1) Bird Forum (and the web at large) is full of misinformation and faulty information and opinions that have no basis or peer validation. There is some really good stuff, but......

2) Most journalists are idiots who don't know the meaning of 'research', or certainly doing their own !

Be careful out there people !

Thursday 25 December 2008

The Danger Of Sonograms ?

Cracking day up here in NE Scotland today. Prime site visit today so hopes were high.

Arrived at around 11.30am a bit later than hoped but just as the remaining fog had been burned off by the sun. The woods (native pine) were pretty quiet save for a few coalies and the odd Siskin and a parties of Redpoll sp. over.

I picked up (by ear) a small group of crossbills flying down the valley from me, distance around 200 to 250m hence faint sonograms:

These reminded me of sonograms of a suspected Parrot at Potarch posted on Bird Forum (arggh) last year, or earlier this year, I forget which. Are these Parrot Fc2's and if so why ? Discuss. Come, on the blog is getting more interactive and lets get it onto Crossbills ! The black 'noise' BTW is not because my DAT mic has packed in but is in fact white noise from a stream that was behind where the birds were flying. Like all parabolas this high frequency stuff is really pronounced.

Here is another one from the same recording at around 17 secs:

Same birds ? Different type ? Tune in later for my synopsis and thoughts, which might just hopefully make you all stop trusting sonograms at face value. It's all in the evidence I supplied above.

And that was it for the day. I got excited later when I saw pine seeds floating down from a Scots Pine ( ladden with perfect cones for crossbills BTW) but no falling cones made me suspcious - these should be affling every 1 to 2 minutes per bird. And there he was, a Red Squirrel munching away of Pinus sylvestris.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Scottish Crossbills R Eeezeee !

"Are you looking at me Jimmy ?"

Rightee o all ranting regarding Burd Forum now almost officially over and blog back to normal. However, was informed that KCFoggin is in fact a woman. So ? Still a twat. Apparently, Andy Bright is a woman too. Or a Pink Fairy, I forget. And Sandy, it wisnae just ower a jaicket - the guy was a turd and being insulting to the 99% of normal people who are happy with their gear ! Just like the gimp who thought that because you me and Uncle Tom Cobbly are happy with our 'leaky' Swarovski's or Leica's where the knob has gone stiff then we must be mentally deranged or 'dudes'. I think we all know who the mentally deranged ones are. Will keep checking out BF sporadically for crossbill stuff in Lurkerland but will not be contributing - I am no doubt banned( again) anyway ! I am especially interested in the post today of Common Crossbills feeding on Western Hemlock. in Ingerland. I am not surprised by this, more at a later date. Anyway, I digress.....

A short trip out today to a site near a village called Finzean. It's pronounced Fing' in BTW kinda like the whole John Menzies thing. On the way there a Jay was a welcome sight - quite a few around most of Deeside this year. I like Jay's, the best crows there are. Next to Choughs that is.

Very quiet in the woods save some sma' shite ( coati's, crests and creepers) moving through in feeding flocks. Did some scanning with the parabola and picked up something faint - finch type chatter but not crossbill, that I know, and not redpoll, siskin. FTW ? Oh well. Quite a lot of old foraging evidence by Scottish Crossbills on the floor so kept optimistic.

About ten minutes later I was on to something. Not a breath of wind today so a falling cone 100m away was easily heard and a dead giveaway along with chipping calls birds given when feeding. On goes recorder up goes Telinga. Recognized through the 'phones Scottish Fc's, or chip calls, and then two 'toop' ( excitement calls). Then they scarppered. Didn't even see them, such is often the case with Crossbills in plantations but there were 4 ( from the calls on the sonogram).

That was it. Another hour of gubbing about produced nothing and by 2.00pm it was technically dusk - light until 3.30pm but everything was away to roost. Not desparately exciting but a good result all the same - evidence of (a few) Scotbills in the plantations and feeding on Scot's Pine (which they were). Will they breed here in the Spring ?

More action this week given the high pressure over next few days at least. Key site tommorrow so hopefully more to report. Bonus point to anyone who can tell me what calls the bird in the pic above gave, or what the species is: hint it's not a Common Crossbill.

And a seasonal message folks - "Remember, A Paramo Jacket Is Not Just For Xmas, It's For Life " !

Sunday 21 December 2008

Letter To KCFoggin Bird Forum Moderator

Some readers may also follow my exploits on Bird Forum. Well, not any longer I am afraid. I have just had that oh so predicatble "you're being a naughty boy and if you don't buck up we are going to remove you from our hallowed, beloved forum" from Bird Forum 'Admin' ! Not Andy Bright this time which makes a change. Well go fornicate yourselves Bird Forum Admin. I'll say that again cos I can on here, it's MY show after all. Why don't you all go f**k yourselves Bird Forum Admin.

For anyone that hasn't got a clue what I am talking about you will need to read the thread HERE. However, its Bird Forum, it's not cool and using it will totally mess you up. Just say "no". I would probably advise that you just watch the shopping channel or organize your CD collection instead.

Basically, I had two posts removed where I defended myself against this complete sphincter called "Joespy" who seems to have taken totally disproportionate offence to my balanced view of problems he has had with his Paramo jacket. Because he has a faulty jacket he thinks anyone who is happy with theirs must be an idiot. I should add I don't own a Paramo jacket but I hate these self righteous pricks - remember all the "my Leica's have a stiff focus knob" and "my EL's have a hole in them so they are not waterproof ( though I haven't actually tested that )" threads on the binocular Forums two years ago by Godawfulun ? These people should not be on Bird Forum they are clearly care in the community. I think they should change the name to BB Forum - "Bunny Boiler Forum".

I then get this gem of a PM from Uber Mod KCFoggin ( should that be Fogey ? ). Zeig Heil, Zeig Heil !! :

[KCFoggin]Sorry, but you need to settle yourself down a bit or admin is going to do it for you via removing you from membership. Surely you can get your point across in a less antagonistic way. Either conduct yourself in a manner suitable for forum activities or you are going to be removed. KCStaff[QUOTE]

Weeeell, maybe he just caught me at a bad time - earlier this evening I had been very disappointed to see Tom win the "Strictly Come Dancing Final". It is clear that Lisa should have won or at least made the last two as she had a perfect score from the judges. It shattered me. At least he opened with "sorry" before the "Vee vill take you out a szshoot zu iv you do not comply"

Anyway, I replied to KCDontLogginAgain with this :

"Dear KC,

You have removed two of my posts in reply to a very derogatory post by a BF member clearly insinuating that I am a w4anker yet his offensive post remains there in all it's un-modded glory. Clearly you must agree with him ? So, someone can basically call me a w4anker in pseudo language, but for me to say " go fornicate yourself " (verbatim) in reply is offensive ? Get real. Or at least be consistent. Clearly too difficult a task for BF 'Admin'.

All of my posts on this particular thread have been objective and I have only retorted 'in kind' when I have been provoked by this particular individual. My opinions have been balanced and well argued throughout, though he has ignored this and so do you now.

I am finished with Bird Forum so don't bother going to the trouble of removing me or don't bother replying to this as I will not get your response - it will be blocked as SPAM.
Clearly you intend Bird Forum to be a place for people like Joespy: I notice most of the decent, knowledgeable and serious birders from a few years ago have all left Bird Forum, or more likey have been removed by 'Admin'. Mmmm, wonder why.......

Out of interest did you also send Joespy a message like the one below you sent me ? No, thought not. Your loss. You can stick your Forum. There will be a detailed account of this, and your particular actions and comments going on my blog in an effort to discourage decent people from endorsing this sham of a site and the apparently biased actions of it's moderators. I know this as I am not the only one.

I can say what I like on my blog tough guy...."do it for you" indeed !

Goodbye. "

However, it gets more sinister. If you read the quote by BitternTwisted in post #34 by Markulous the orginal post from where the quote is taken has mysteriously disappeared ! Now, BitternTwisted I think might just have been sticking up for me by correcting Joespy's use of language and making him look a bit stupid. So, it's not just my posts being deleted, other people's innocent ones are too. However, Joesspy's snidy and derogatory post has been left. Clearly he is a friend of KKKFoggin. People, this is what you are accepting by contributing to Turd Forum.

I recall recently a Moderator being really nasty with a BF member on a photography thread. He was clearly using his position of authority to bully this poster. If anyone else had taken a similar tone they would have been 'terminated'. What an absolute prick.

So, do you want the good news or the good news ? Well, the good news is that I won't be contributing anymore to Turd Forum. The other good news ? Well, I thought that would be obvious - I've got to have somewhere to rant so that will continue to be on here. Loxia Fantastica will continue to inform the world of all things other assorted shite.

Bird Forum, well they can just go forth and fornicate. Oh, but KfCFriedChickenAgain if you are reading this, and I do hope you are, you and BF do now not herewith have permission to hold and display my images of crossbills. You can start by taking off the one of the Scottish in Opus. I did not give permission to use that picture there. As I recall, a moderator put it there. Says it all really. You do not now have my permission to display these images that are my copyright. They were submitted in good faith. You have eroded that faith and any permissions are herewith formally retracted. They are my copyright and I resign my membership of your crappy birding community. And don't get that fat fairy Andy Bright to write and tell me that because they have been put on bird Forum that you are not in the wrong. Remove them now or "we'll do it for you". My agent will be in touch. Not nice is it you tosser.


Monday 15 December 2008

"Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now ? "

I hate to follow the trend of quitting blogging and following messrs. Allwood and McKinney (and possibly Menzie ?) in finally putting fingertip to keypad but I really am wondering who is reading this high quality crossbill copy that I write and wondering if it is worth continuing. Averaging around 4-5 hits per day it hardly seems anyone gives a monkey about crossbills in stark contrast to the two aforementioned blogs that were far more popular and who still decided to quit. Go work that out !

So, I am going to take a short sabbatical to review things ( actually, to write up some more stuff and to finally finish y CD of Crossbill recordings which should be available next year). My gosh, I have turned into a 'desk ornithologist' - shoot me. No, don't worry the fieldwork will continue, especially ringing crossbills ( on my own !!). I will also be starting a new blog linked through my professional website which will be updated in the New Year.

Keep tuned in all 5 of you as there may be sporadic updates.

All the best, your friendly neighbourhood Loxiafan.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

10,000 Light Years........

On the "One Show" BBC1 tonight Tuesday 2nd December there was a short piece on.....wait for it......Britain's only endemic the Scottish Crossbill or, as it is known in some parts, Loxia doiexistorno. Reporter Mike Dilger was with Ron Summers in Abernethy hot on the trails of the Scottish Crossbill. Dilger stated that as a result of the 2008 RSPB Survey "10,000 Scottish Crossbills were discovered, 10 times more than were previously thought to have exist". Well FMSWABP (it's a McKinney-ism so go work it out -RIP Tommo btw), but this is a family blog ! 10, 000 Scottish Crossbills ! I'll say it again...10,000 Scottish Crossbills ! Whoah..what methodolgy produced a figure like that and what is the bias or error involved ?

I missed the actual show due to work committments but my missus told me about it. She even made notes ( I can now call her my secretary). I saw the 10,000 bit she wrote down and peed myself. Luckily I was wearing my incontinence pants at the time. I managed to watch the show on the BBC site on her computer (mine doesn't like the BBC) and it is on at about 20 odd minutes. Strangely, it now appears to have disappeared or been removed from the BBC "One Show" site. RSPB PR department intervention conspiracy theory anyone ? Surely Not.

Highlights for me were that after twenty minutes of lure playing none of these 10,000 Scottish Crossbills were apparently tempted in. It's true what they say in film making.....never work with small children or animals. Now add to that men holding Telingas. A pair finally were spotted ( after stopping the lure). These looked like common types to me on bill morphology - they didn't call ! Also, I have never thought of Scottish excitement calls as sounding 'flutey', but maybe that is just me. Reeks of typical BBC journo agenda editing to me. Never trust journalists as they can never be relied on to get the facts right. Oh, well I'm off to count the Scotties in Deeside. By my reckoning there should be at least 1/5 to 1/3 of the Scottish population present. If I count 300 I reckon I'll be doing very well............

A Scottish Crossbill. There are 9,999 others.....apparently.

New Toyz ( and it's not even Christmas !)

Took the plunge and got a Nikon D300 Camera and a Nikon 300mm AFS ED f4 prime lens for my hide photography.

It's early days and just getting used to the camera but seems a big improvement on the D70s I have been using over the last 3 years.
All pics were taken at Allenvale Cemetery last week, unfortunately I missed the Waxies with the new rig - too busy catching (or trying to catch) them. All images shot in the open from tripod as fine jpegs and adjusted only for levels and slight unsharp mask to add a bit of 'punch'. Best viewed full size by clicking on them. Not bad for my first attempts with the new combo. I also forgot just how relaxing bird photography is - it's like fishing ! Guess I have been sound recording for too long.
My old Tamron 'BigRon' 200-500 is pretty good but the 300mm is making me try to get closer and giving me better speeds and improved sharpness. I am sure I can get even better results if I stick at it. Combined with the better quality higher ISO of the D300 it really is quite impressive for a sub £2000 rig. It's still a lotta dosh though.
Next on the agenda is some small finches and garden birds to see how the rig will cope with crossbills later next year ! Gonna have to dust off the hides and get some sites baited up (not for crossbills !). Problem is I have a conflict of interests: I am a ringer and also want to catch them !