We live in an age of hyperbole and exaggerated responses to everything. A culture where a sandwich can be ‘awesome’ and where people exclaim ‘OMG’ at the most mundane of revelations. And birding is not immune to this kind of nonsense. Only the other day on Birdforum I saw at least two posts saying ‘well done!’ and ‘congratulations!’ to someone on ‘connecting’ with the Thick-billed Warbler on Shetland.
Yes, I’m sure he was delighted and relieved to have seen the bird, but ‘congratulations’? Really? I’d be embarrassed if someone said that to me if I’d found it, let alone just twitched it. ‘Nice find’ or a jokey ‘good skills’ perhaps, but even finding a rare bird is largely a matter of luck combined with being able to remember the relevant field characters correctly and comparing them with what you can see. A trained Chimpanzee could probably do it with a bit of practice.
Twitching requires even less skill than that, simply the ability to be able to read and follow directions on a pager, phone or website, sufficient money and time to get to the site before the bird buggers off, and then (in the case of the Thick-billed Warbler) the good fortune to be standing in the right place and looking in the right direction when it flies past on the 27th organised flush. All good fun, and I’ve done my fair share of it, but not in any way an ‘achievement’ of any kind, or worthy of congratulations. Unless you’re a Chimpanzee, of course.
If we’re going to start congratulating people on a successful twitch, the next logical step is sending cards. Maybe someone like funkymoonpigeon.com might be interested in a few ideas (thanks to Mark Reeder for the Lancey photo)...