There is an extraordinary thread at the moment in the Cambridge Bird Club yahoo group. It's about whether records of bird sightings published by various bodies should be accompanied by the name of the observer submitting the record. Harmless enough, you would think, uncontroversial even. But no, this is the stuff of passion and high drama.
Forget birds, this is about human nature.
The core of the problem, it seems, is that some people submit dodgy records, in some cases maybe even fictitious records in order to bring glory upon themselves. One notorious such was a guy who stuck a cardboard cutout of a rare wading bird in the mud of his local estuary and then photographed it as evidence. He was already under suspicion because nobody else EVER saw the rarities he reported.
Why did he do it? Why do people do such things? Well - and it may be a male thing - it all starts with what in Turkish is called the SIDIK YARISI, the "pissing game", ie, the competition to see who can piss farthest up the wall. Little boys (my female readers will have to take my word for this) can so control their weewee pipes that they can make their peepee go higher and higher, and the one who hits the highest point on the wall is the hero of the moment. This is a game that most males never stop playing, metaphorically speaking at least.
So, you want to be a hero among birders? Find rarities! Get your name in print against the names of exotic birds in your local Bird Report! Make your mark high up the wall!
As to the title of this little piece, I am sure you all know the story of a man called Rougemont who wrote about his adventures among the aborigines of Australia. He was a very successful author until he made reference in one his stories to being startled by "a flight of wombats". His cover was blown, and he probably took up birdwatching after that.......
Here, in case you have never seen one, is a wombat: