Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Rickie, Go Home!" Great Blue Heron Battle


"Go home, Rickie!"
"I'm tellin' Mom you were hangin' out on the railroad tracks!"
     Birders use lots of abbreviations for bird names, especially when posting lists of birds to the Internet. It's just too much typing to spell them all out completely. Somewhere, there is a list of 'approved,' or acceptable abbreviations. Medicine has this, too. That way, even when those in the know are using slang, everyone will know what is being referred to. After all, when your state of affairs is being documented in a hospital record, you may one day want your lawyer to be able to interpret the content. And, if your nurse or physician came from some other state besides delirium,  apathy or the one you live in, it's good that all your health care providers are on the same page. Your life could depend on it.
     Some birders use obscure abbreviations when flaunting their egos. They like to use abbreviations and slang because it sets them apart from other, less experienced birders. It's a way of establishing and maintaining a pecking order, if you will. There can be quite a bit of snobbery and competitiveness in birding. Birding brings even some of the weakest egos bubbling to the surface of the identification soup. One would think in a scientific hobby as organic as watching birds that everybody would be nice and want to bring the new kids, the "Rickies," up and along. Sadly, not so. There are plenty of birders out there who seem to live to prove someone else wrong or even out to be a liar! Many of them would not be seen on a mudflat with the likes of me. I'm a real "Rickie."
     If you think you've seen something rare, you had better be prepared to back up your sighting with a few hundred photos and it wouldn't hurt to throw in some DNA evidence, either. Your integrity as a birder could depend on it. I know a birder who was basically called a liar for saying he saw a rare bird here. He's an extremely knowledgeable birder and very decent guy. I have no reason to question his integrity, either. Sadly, he no longer participates in Maine's list serve because of this event. It's pretty tawdry when a gang of tweed and bow tie wearing pedants with binoculars can't all get along. Thank you, Rodney King.
     In fairness though, more often than not birders use abbreviations and slang simply because it's easier. After all, most of us are old enough - geezers in fact, that we've got some palsy setting in. Our typing just ain't what it used to be. So, a Black-capped chickadee would be a BCchick, a Common golden-eye, a ComGoldey, an American robin, an Amrob, etc. Great Blue herons are GBHs. In the case of these photos though, that could mean "Go back home, Rickie!"
     I stopped by the Magnificent Acre at Winnegance. These GBHs were on the mud flats at low tide. I don't know enough to say whether they were juveniles or adults. I can say they were Great Blue herons, but that's about it. To me, they looked like squabbling brothers beginning a long migration to Florida. Several times while they were feeding, one would get too close to the other, then these semi-aerial battles broke out. The wing spans were magnificent, but there was a lot of gracelss floundering of those long legs. Sometimes they actually kicked up mud slop.  I could just imagine two boys, an older and younger brother, "Go home Rickie! I'm telling mom you've been hanging out on the railroad tracks again!" The big brother and the little brother are stuck with each other, each begrudging the company of the other. But survival of the species depends on them being together. They learn effective predation defences and better fishing techinques from one another's examples. If only they would learn to play nice, like the humans who are infatuated with watching them.
"Get outta here, Rickie! I'm gonna knock your block off!"

17 comments:

  1. Hey Robin...Hot enough for you!! Are you prepared to button down the hatches...big one coming you know.!! :OOOOH No!! ; }
    About your post "YOU GO GIRL" !!!

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  2. I always enjoy seeing Great Blue Herons. About the only time I see them around my house is when one shows up to clean the tadpoles out of the water garden.
    I used to participate in local bird count activities until I found out that the compiler was only using numbers for the common species on my lists. He assumed that anyone not in his circle of experts wouldn't be able to identify anything more challenging than a Robin or Mallard.

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  3. I really enjoyed the photos, and the captions! It makes me think of fighting with my younger siblings back in the day...I'm gonna tell Mom...etc.,etc.

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  4. Steve, Thanks for that. In Maine, the person who compiles or 'oversees' the list has been referred to as The List Owner. Now, we have a really great person taking care of that business, but in the past, that title has made me laugh. All I could envision was the Wizard Of Oz, "Pay on attention to that man behind the curtain!"

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  5. Cheryl, I'm pleased I could conjure that image for you as it was in fact my intent. Thanks for saying so.

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  6. As a child I would sometimes wish that I had wings...to make my great escape! Enjoyed the terrific photos...the ORIGINAL FAN DANCE!
    HG

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  7. Gee, I had no idea there was an evil side to birding!

    Great capture of the GBH's ;)

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  8. Wonderful photos!! Very much like the three GBHs we've seen in our "front yard" on the Penobscot, squabbling and chasing each other. And the comments are right on, too. We, too, have been challenged with our sightings and its frustrating/ humbling/ annoying even when we are sure of what we saw. Maybe we need a Rickies club!

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  9. Love your photos, what a great way to start the day! I love seeing and learning about all these wonderful birds and other creatures. I'm not even are the "Rickie" stage !! You are a contender - You have some fabulous pics for this year's entries !! Thank you Robin, you go girl, keep those photos coming !!

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  10. Okay, I'll be the self appointed Imperial Leader of the "New Rickies" Club. Since birding does have an evil side, I feel ripe to represent it. I will only serve one term, though. So you all had better be working on who to enlist for the next term. Now, I'm off to come up with an awesome campaign slogan..........hhhhhmmmmm. Thanks all of you, you're great and I adore all the thoughtful feedback.

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  11. Fascinating pictures Robin ... both Jim & I are new to the birding fraternity and do not associate with any clubs (as yet). We are 'soloists' if you like. I've always loved birds, and recall as a child, seeing the beautiful Crested Cranes and elegant Stanley Cranes at the Austen Roberts bird sanctuary in Pretoria, South Africa, many years ago. Our bird sanctuaries here in Kent are thankfully not fenced, so we are able to wander around to our hearts content. Love you photos Robin - keep it up!

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  12. Thanks, Kathy. I find it a little harder to learn on my own after a point. My husband isn't a birder, so I don't have him to bounce an idea around with when it comes to IDs. He's pretty sure he knows what chicken is if it's in the fridge, but that's it for his birding knowledge. I envy you that!

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  13. Great beach shot cover photo! Where is that sandy beach...somewhere in Maine? Hope to see you at the camera club meetings soon.

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  14. Thanks, Tom. The beach is Seawall, looking from Small Point east toward Popham. I shot the photo in late May, so no one there. See you later in September!

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  15. Those heron pictures are amazing. A person who draws would want to make some of those wonderful Japaneesy style paintings with the various angles of the wings and feathers,,,at least that is what I would want to do if I could draw.

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  16. Just in case you happen upon a dodo bird, the abbreviation is DODO. Just in case, cause you never know.

    I love it when they post stuff like WBBSSP. What the heck is that? I don't think ANYONE else on the list knows, they just say they saw it too so they can look super cool and diss the "Rickies".

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  17. Terrific heron photos! I've never seen them acting this way before...great captures.

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