Great Backyard Bird Count 2014 is under way

Common Starling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Common Starling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A few years back, I was whining about the Great Backyard Bird Count focused only on North America. From last year it was not anymore a North American birding event, but a global one. I joined as well and already submitted one checklist for 2014, despite the torrential rain we are having. I submitted all the three species and 7 individuals. Hahaaa

I encourage you to do the same until Sunday 17 February! It is a fun and after all, it is birding.

The statistics of last year result are just mind-blowing.

39% of the world’s bird species was seen and counted!
111 counties involved on 7 continents
4,258 bird species of 108 bird families reported (5,162 species needed to be recorded during this weekend to reach 50%)
137,998 total checklists were submitted worldwide!
The most bird species, 645 was recorded in Mexico in four days!
More than 33 million individual birds were counted!

Do nothing else, just spend a minimum of 15 minutes in any location (your backyard) and identify and count birds. After that upload your data to the website of GBBC.

Have fun!

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Urban Birding in Bletchley

No, I don’t want to copy David Lindo. I have been birding in an urban environment for a while and it can be as interesting as David states. Around our home there are several parks of different sizes. One of them is the Leon Recreation Ground which is one of the oldest parks in Milton Keynes.

I occasionally visit this park and the adjacent cemetery to enjoy the relative silence and the bird songs. Species wise it is not exceptional, but for me that doesn’t really important as long as I can see a single bird.

Male Common Chaffinch. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Male Common Chaffinch. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By this morning Common Chaffinches appeared suddenly and were singing full throat across the park. A few weeks back, I saw none. Did the migration start already? There was another sign of spring. A pair of Eurasian Magpie were busy in building their a nest on a tree. They were active and seemed they needed to finish the nest by a certain deadline. Just to get an idea what bird species were seen in this early phase of spring, I enclose the eBird list. Species composition in the adjacent cemetery was quite the same with additional singing European Starlings.

The Bletchley cemetery with a little chapel is one of the peaceful places in the busy and noisy Milton Keynes. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The Bletchley cemetery with a little chapel is one of the peaceful places in the busy and noisy Milton Keynes. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Leon Park bird list:

Common Buzzard 2
Common Wood Pigeon 8
Eurasian Collared Dove 1
Eurasian Magpie 4
Carrion Crow 6
Great Tit 3
Eurasian Blue Tit 5
Eurasian Wren 1
European Robin 5
Eurasian Blackbird 11
Redwing 4
Song 1
Dunnock 1
Common Chaffinch 6
European Goldfinch 1

Cemetery bird list:

Common Wood-Pigeon 8
Eurasian Magpie 2
Carrion Crow 10
Great Tit 3
Eurasian Blue Tit 11
European Robin 9
Eurasian Blackbird 12
Redwing 1
European Starling 3
Dunnock 1
White Wagtail (British) 1
Common Chaffinch 3
European Goldfinch 7
House Sparrow 1

Beautiful Spring Crocus (Crocus vernus) blooming in the park. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Beautiful Spring Crocus (Crocus vernus) blooming in the park. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The ‘Like’ collectors who never like

It would have been better to attach one of my favourite bird photographer's image, but I wasn't sure if he/she would loved to see his/her image in this post. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It would have been better to attach one of my favourite bird photographer’s image, but I wasn’t sure if he/she would loved to see his/her image in this post. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Despite knowing that my post was provocative and only a part of my social connections will appreciate it, I wanted to hear others opinion about the above described ‘issue’. I joined Facebook a couple of years ago and apart of being addicted to it, I have been using it as it should be used. I am social… in two ways. I share, I chat and I like and I like being liked. I’ve followed many friends, cyber-friends, renowned bird and nature photographers showing my admiration for their work. I probably call myself a bird photographer as well so I started to share my images just like many other colleagues. Surprisingly, my shared images were liked by many, and I felt it a privilege being liked. Suddenly I was known by more and more people and they started to admire (I was told… haha) my work. I am still grateful for this as that is a real inspiration!

Big players in bird photography behave a bit differently. Apparently they spend time with social media as for most of them these sites are a free advertising platform to promote their workshops, websites, etc. They even share images what are fantastic. Without names I have to say, they are unique and eye-catching. We all love and like them. However, those photographers never take time to look their admirer’s shared photos and very rarely one can see a like of them. Not because the admirer’s photos are rubbish, but simply because they don’t care about others (if they are not their customers). They are so called celebrities (I hate this category) and to be honest, some of them are rather selfish. It is a personal experience, not a fiction. I know only one photographer (EJP) who I believe is different and I like it a lot. He is communicating and see his likes regularly.

I know that I am not alone with this opinion. In the long term this kind of attitude doesn’t pay off. Here is some of the many opinions from my thread.

– Facebook is most enjoyable and rewarding when there is a give and take with mutual likes, comments and respect. That is the way to develop an online community. I have recently started going through my “friends” “likes” and “follows” and am removing many of those who do not reciprocate, whether they are excellent photographers or not.

– I think it is an issue that resonates with many of us on Facebook. Some of the top photographers DO manage to be good Facebook friends, so where do some get off thinking that they never need to reciprocate? We all have the power to unfriend, unfollow or otherwise ignore anything or anyone we choose. It actually means quite a bit to me when a really excellent photographer that I admire likes or comments on my posts.

– I usually unfriend at some point…

– It is ignorance and high self esteem taken to extremes with many of these photographers… sad people really if you think about it.

– Good piont Gyorgy Szimuly, I thought the same about some photographer’s think I might just go and kick some off my friends list!!

– Take a look through various groups, the same photographers post consistently without bothering to ‘like’ other’s postings. Same with blog postings. I have already kicked a few off of my friend’s list. I think the point about liking others photos, blogs or posts is just an acknowledgement you appreciate and encourage their efforts…

– Great point Gyorgy. I know a few of those people. They suck. Fun for me is seeing everyone’s passion for birds and birds we don’t have in FL. Those people must think they are above the rest of us. I remove them from friends list.

I am sure if I would post this comment to other groups, the result would be quite the same. I would like to believe that this blog post reaches some of the famous bird photographers to give them a chance to react. In-blog comments are much appreciated. It is probably a topic they will hate me for, but I know many of them will understand what is behind of this frustration. Definitely not jealousy!