Veni vidi vici

I bang on about bad form & our veni, vidi, vici wits, the cuckoos of the domestic birding fraternity. Social media adds spice [or salt] to that platform but that’s a laugh for another time. I do, however, want to spend a few words on the field-technicians who consistently root out vagrants; those selfless, tireless men & women who walk the hard-stare & who generously (timeously) share their spoils with the rest of the great unwashed. (ie: us).

Before I do, however, some bits & pieces. Defined by a colouful kaleidoscope of characters, the birding community notes a few pseudo-character sub-categories. These lie somewhere between the sparrows & the eagles & are fun, fun, fun. My favourite is the self-proclaimed, get-along gang. These mystics emerge from their chrysalises of inactivity whenever a rarity is reported. They retire immediately after the feed & aren’t seen again until the next hit. Hooked up to the info-channels like half-life junkies on life-support, they wait, unmoved. They are, on the whole, however, a colourful clique of fieldwork expats & usually worth the price of a pint @ story-time. As a rule, however, leave the party early & avoid the ‘remember when I… ‘ soliloquies. It’s easier on the wallet.

An emerging, more subtle group, is incipient within the frat. It’s stealth-camo for self-interest. Like flight control they exercise exclusive ascendancy over the news; offer group rates on sponsored travel; cherry-pick, … the cherries (what else, duh?) & ‘confirm the ID… ‘, in person, before opening the gates to the rabid rabble, on the outside. It’s no secret. These candidate-agents tap the web for flow & we love them for it.

Less tongue-in-cheek & at it’s heart, however, beats the lifeblood of the community. Unspoiled, unpretentious & modest. Gentle men & women, unheralded, passionate, knowledgeable & honest. Too many to name; inspiring people all & therein lies the colour.

I want to reference a few specific individuals, perhaps more indirectly than I’d like. I’m going to exclude the rarity-stumblers ie: those fortunate enough to chance-upon a mega / giga / (tera) [ie: a hitherto ‘extinct’ sp. rediscovered – not really but it sounds cool anyway]. Those are yarns for another time.

The stars of the region’s compass include some special field-pros. In the east, far east, gulls, stints, pelagics and other passer. goodies. In Namibia’s west, terns, waders, skimmers & gulls. Another field-pro. In that country’s far north, a bare-footed other. Further east, one more sharp-tailed pro. In the south, far south west, a new crop of youngsters – snow-white fresh but fluent in the field. In South Africa’s east an understated few. Up here a handful; consistent, dedicated and hard to beat. There are others scattered around the sub-region equally watchful in weather’s heat & sleet. Thank you. This year’s been a cracker.

A thorn, it’s said, makes the rose or a rose it wouldn’t be; neither does a prick-or-two ruin the garden. Keep the field close & your dearest ones closer still. Be safe; be vigilant – be cool. Wishing you all a peaceful, prosperous & fulfilling New Year. May your lists get fat & your bins grow sharper.

We’re going fishing. (it’s easier)

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