Saturday, 30 June 2012

What is your 'Twitter' rating?

Twitter - the social media tool newly used by birders for keeping up-to-date with the latest birding sightings, equipment, events, etc, etc and obviously a way of connecting to like minded people, or if you're like me, a tool mostly to have a bit of fun with, whilst occasional tweeting in support of a charity or organisation which needs to get an important message out to a wider audience.

But have you thought about how you might 'rate' amongst your fellow Twitterati! Rate - I hear you say, yes rate! I've devised a simple maths sum to allow you to see which category you fall under, based upon 'The Cowboy Birders' 'O' level maths and my amazing super 'Cowboy' scale - this is purely a bit of fun and not be taken too seriously, especially if you score higher than you might think and thus could be a bit sadder and more desperate to be accepted in today's society than you might have otherwise thought!

The chart below shows my rating, note I almost need a stint in rehab! I've listed a few celebrities and birders we all know and love as an example of how the scale works.

Numbers correct at time of writing

The simple formula you need to work out your own 'Twitter Rating' is:  Following/Followers x Tweets = ?

Or for anyone who bunked off Maths for a sneaky cigarette or to twitch a rarity: divide the number of people you are Following, by the number of Followers you have, multiplied by how many Tweets you have written and this gives you your 'Twitter Rating' on the Cowboy scale.

Where do you rate on the 'Cowboys' scale?

Ideally you want to have scored less than 500 but for anybody who has scored over 500 (which includes myself) switch off the phone/tablet, turn off your PC, dust your bins off and get out into the field and go watch some birds, butterflies or something and breath in that fresh air - life is too short to be glued to a screen of any description!

*Anybody who doesn't use the medium of Twitter (you probably have a life) is probably thinking what the f*ck, and I apologise for a very uninspiring post - I promise bird news soon, but it is June!

Copyright @TheCowboyBirder (Just in case anybody wants to cross my palm with golden nuggets)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

'B' celebrity

To my knowledge I have never appeared on television or had my photo in a newspaper or magazine, though I was once 'papped' at Edinburgh airport beside Kate Moss after a big weekend celebrating Hogmanay - to be honest it was just a coincidence as we were on the same flight back to London. Although Kate did give me a little wink as we departed - maybe that night was bigger than I remembered!!

Without reminiscing further or hanging on that point (the Police have only recently lifted my restraining order..). I found out this week that my six year old son has had his photograph published in the July edition of Birdwatch magazine, he hasn't won an award for his birding achievements or even written an article on Siberian Stonechat identification, he simply accompanied me on a recent local twitch to see a Melodious Warbler in Leyton - which you can read about here:

Whilst there I happened to take a photograph of him using my bins as I tried to point him in the general direction of the bird (notice the strap is firmly and safely around his neck - bloody expensive those bins) and after reading a previous edition of Birdwatch, where they were requesting photographs of individuals/groups out in the field birding - I emailed the photo and thought no more about it.

What a joy it was to see the photo when I eventually got my hands on a copy of this excellent, must have birding magazine (I'm easily bought) this week. I, just like any other dad would, beamed with delight at seeing his photograph in full glorious colour and couldn't help thrusting the page under the nose of anybody I knew and several people I didn't!

My new favourite birding magazine!

I've not shown my son the page yet as I would like him to discover it for himself when we flick through the magazine together as we tend to do and then hopefully get to see his surprised reaction as he realises that's him in 'Daddy's' magazine - although knowing kids, you don't always get the reaction you're after!

The July edition of 'Birdwatch' magazine is available from all good newsagents now.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Cockney Gannet

The month of June is usually the quietest month of the year for birders, the spring migration has finished and the return of autumn migration is still some way off. Some birders fill this void in their lives in other ways, turning to moth trapping or hawking dragonflies, or even taking a family holiday (always good to get a few brownie points in the bag) to fill this natural lull in the birding calendar, but on occasion something, somewhere does turn up!

Firstly was the news of a Little Swift seen on the Wirral in Merseyside and then later roosting nearby, this being only the 24th record of this very rare Swift - as many of the previous records of this bird have been difficult to pin down, this one caught the attention of many a birder. Then, less rare but of equal interest locally was the news of a Gannet on the East Warwick reservoir in Walthamstow - what a Gannet should be doing on an east London reservoir in June, when it should be riding the waves of the North Sea who really knows! Typically when sea birds are seen inland and the weather has not been a contributing factor in its arrival, i.e storm force winds, these birds are usually ill in some way or they may have even suffered feather or wing damage. Unfortunately due to this most birds perish as they are unable to feed sufficiently to return to full health, and within a few days a dead carcass is usually discovered.

Is it still alive?
Having seen the Gannet at East Warrick reservoir this morning sitting static on a Tern raft for most of the time I was there, with its head tucked into its wing and only the occasional wing stretch and glance around, I sadly fear this bird will be heading, not for the North sea but most probably an early grave! I would have loved to have seen the bird in flight, banking its long stiff wings over the water of the reservoir. Still, whatever its fortune, it was still a very smart bird to see, this time not on the cliff face of a large rocky outreach but on an inland London reservoir.

Yes, it's alive!

But for how much longer!

Friday, 22 June 2012

The big launch

So...who or what is "The Cowboy Birder". Well, it's a pseudonym, character or personality I assume when I have my other hat on! That of a birder or dare I whisper it a  'filthy twitcher' - and before anyone asks, there are currently no plans to wear a ten gallon hat, chaps and a set of spurs and I won't be arriving at the next big twitch by horse!

As only a recent convert to the art of blogging, my initial aim with the "Conservation with a smile" blog was to inspire or bring the nature conservation/environmental message to a slightly less informed audience, this will not change and I plan to continue to put out this message, but recently I've noticed most of my posts have been regarding birding/twitching trips I've taken and the birds I have seen or dipped. This was never my first intention but since my self enforced exile from birding which lasted over 15 years - I've caught the bug again! I never totally stopped birdwatching during this period, I always looked out for birds when on holiday or in the garden, I just stopped getting up at the crack of dawn to visit a local patch, nature reserve or to chase birds around the country, I basically wanted to try and experience new things in my life and having mostly achieved these things now. I feel a renewed energy and vigour for birding which in part has been influenced by the blogs I've read, the photographs I've viewed and the people I've met, along with the help of the social media I use to keep in touch with a network of like minded people - which wasn't around 15 years ago. I believe these are exciting times to belong or to be part of the birding scene once again.

There you have it in an nutshell, the arrival of the "The Cowboy Birder"! I hope to bring you my birding news and trips with a light hearted touch, never to be taken too seriously and with plenty of bad cowboy puns along the way.

So, saddle up and enjoy the ride...!