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Ecomath- a new word? I have come up with a new word. Why not? Shakespeare did it, a rapper did it (the word "dench"), new words appear all the time. This is a derivative of "Polymath"; nothing to do with maths, but defined as a person who is interested in and has knowledge of a large range of subjects. Obviously an Ecomath would be one who is interested in all things natural.  Many birders are just birders, and remain so, but most, either through boredom or a natural interest, become interested in moths or butterflies. Mothing is an obvious "first step" as it does not entail leaving home, it takes a lot of learning (if you don't rely on AI) and has a far lower cost and carbon footprint than birding. I had a general interest in animals from an early age, I used to watch horse racing on the TV from about the age of four,  just to see the horses. I have only attended one horse race (the 200th Derby, as it happens) and never entered a betting shop, but I k
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 WHERE IS KAZAKHSTAN? Apologies to "House of Games" fans, but every birder should know where Kazakhstan is, because it's a great place to visit.  It is actually a very large country, and there is much to see scenically as well as birds. There is a variety of wildlife in the country, and whilst much of it (such as Snow Leopard) is not on the normal tour routes there are mammals, reptiles and butterflies in some numbers in parts.        It's one of the few countries (except Oz) I've visited twice, and the two trips were completely different. This was primarily because there was a thirty year gap between them, but I still remember the first trip as clearly as the one last year. It was just after the break-up of the former Soviet Union, and was organised by Russian Nature Tours, a fledgling company run by Algirdas Kynstautus, who has written several books and much else about birds in the region. The organisation was superb, but there was little tourism then (stil
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  NAMING OF WILDLIFE COULD BE FUN. There has   always been controversy regarding wildlife names, particularly eponyms. I have no argument with dropping the name of a person because it offends a section of the community, whether politically or racially, or whether justified or not, it is enough that someone is offended. I would be offended if someone were to put forward certain names (albeit very few). However, indiscriminate dropping of eponyms should be stopped for two reasons. Firstly there can be nothing wrong in honouring a research worker, scientist or conservationist. I use the IOC list , and the committee recognises the potential offensiveness of many names in the USA, and tends to concur with the ABA. More interestingly, there have been rational decisions made regarding spellings and actual names which differ between English and American English (but don't use a "spell-checker") .Thus we have Gr e y-headed Lapwing and Gr e y Noddy, but also Clay-col or ed
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 Harriers Harriers are among my favourite raptors, but their fortunes are constantly changing and they are subject to many pressures as most people will know, hopefully. It was a Hen Harrier that re-started me birding. I had done some as a youngster and went on holiday at the age of thirty to Scotland, having always kept an interest but been far too busy with the usual distractions to actually do any birding. However, you can't go to Scotland without looking at the wildlife, and we were lucky enough to see a beautiful male Hen Harrier, a rare sight even then. My then wife, Linda and I made a decision to take up birdwatching on that day.   At around that time you would go to Minsmere and there used to be a chap in the hide who would call up any sighting of a Marsh Harrier, it was the only place in the UK you could see reliably see them and there were about six pairs in the country. Their current status is well-known, and they are a familiar sight at many wetlands throughout England.
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Misidentification. Mistakes are a fact of life, but when it comes to birding they take on a different meaning. When pager services first began people were at great pains to ensure information was correct before "putting it out". Some would say that this was so certain people could get there first, but I honestly think that was never the intention, at least initially. When I found a Caspian Tern on my way home there was a delay of about 20 minutes before the news was put out. I subsequently found that phone calls had been made to ascertain who I was (thankfully I was already "known", it was just a matter of putting a face to a name). I wasn't offended, quite pleased in fact because I have always had a fear of making a mistake which causes others to waste time and petrol. However, I am still very wary of making a mistake which inconveniences others, but it seems I am in a minority. Over the years, as more people take up birding it has not been possible to check on
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 AABirdpix.com In the beginning was film, well when I started birding anyway. I've never considered myself a photographer, but always a birder with a camera. That way I never get the perfect shot, so there's always something to photograph again. As many will know, back in the 80's and 90's, buying and selling rarity photos became popular, and a number of people became well known for providing such photos. Bird photography then was relatively expensive, because not only did you need a "big lens" to get a reasonable size image, but the cost of film and processing meant that every individual photo had a cost to the photographer, including the ones that "didn't come out". It wasn't excessive, but selling rarity photos was a way to recoup some of the costs.  I was twitching a lot then, and saw some major rarities, some of which may never be repeated, but I didn't sell photos at first. Then one day, in 1994, ten years after we started twitching
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  I've been experimenting with my occasional blog for a while, now I want to make it more regular. The main purpose is twofold-firstly to keep in touch with birders all over the world, and secondly to promote my website. Now I've retired I've had to cut back on travelling and also general birding, but I still have a need to do something, and the website has become another one of my hobbies- http://www.aabirdpix.com . It is just for interest, I'm not selling anything. Whilst compiling some new pages I was researching shags, (or cormorants without silly innuendoes),  and realised that like owls and kingfishers, many new species had been described relatively recently as a result of splits. I really love splitting, and keeping my list up to date, not because of "armchair ticks" but I find it interesting. However there is one big drawback, I'm not sure we've got it right. The problem is all the information leading to a world list (I use IOC as a basis) is p