Hands up how many Leicestershire birders noticed the new interpretation board at Burrough Hill Country Park whilst twitching the Montagu’s Harrier this week? Just in case you missed it in your haste for a county tick, I took this photo of the ‘points of interest’ section:
This is how I imagine the meeting of the County Council Parks Department went when they discussed this:
“Right, none of us knows anything about birds, so we have two options for this new board. Either we could contact a local bird club, or perhaps the RSPB and see what they suggest we put on it – I’m sure they’d be happy to help out, and they’d probably have some relevant photos we could use, OR we could use this random photo of a bird which I think might be a falcon (or possibly a hawk), crop out the falconer’s gauntlet it’s perching on, and bung that on. No, you’re right, the second option would be much quicker. I’m sure no-one will ever notice.”
And then there are the classic ‘information’ boards at Watermead Country Park South, which look like someone’s traced some of Thomas Bewick’s engravings and coloured them in. They include helpful species such as Eider and Bean Goose (actually there was an Eider there once), but very few of the species people are actually likely to see around the park. And even if the bird you’re looking at is shown on the boards you wouldn’t be able to identify it from the grotesque parodies of living birds they’ve used for illustrations.
I’ve lost the photo I had, but the best example of this sort of thing I ever saw was in Ireland a few years ago. It was advertising boat trips off County Galway, and had photos of Galapagos Cormorant and Sea Otter on it (or it might have been a sea lion, I can’t remember). Impressed, we went on the boat trip, but sadly didn’t manage to add either species to the Western Palearctic list...