Sunday, January 19, 2014

Damp eyes and an end to an era

I suppose some things, some decisions, are personal, intimate even. My decision to end over 40 years involvement in bird ringing (banding if you live on the wrong side of the pond), came hard and was choking emotionally. You can’t have been involved in this side of bird science and not become engrossed, honoured and feel so privileged to be hands on with advancing our knowledge of birds. The experiences I had over the years made me feel good, part of a team, in a circle of friends with a common interest and purpose.

After ringing 600 Greater Flamingo Chicks! Malaga Ringing Group

In the past I enjoyed ringing and the contribution I had been able to make. At least that is how I felt prior to living in Spain, where my own limitations in learning a new language and partly by just being viewed with a certain amount of suspicion, led to a disenchantment of the scheme here for ringing and birding. It appears to me to be about personalities, highly political and not at all as I have known ringing or birding to be in my previous existence. So I end my long association with one of my passions and feel intolerably sad arriving at this decision.

The old duffer passes on experience in the Alpine Swift study

Some clouds have silver linings and this decision allows me more time to indulge in other aspects of my passion for wildlife. I can dedicate time to myself, not think in terms of the broader picture, but become a little selfish. Leaving the ringing scheme in Spain is a continuum of a deliberate detachment from the politics and closed circles of birding here and an effort to concentrate on my own enjoyment of nature. There are loose ends that I had wanted to finalise, like the further study of biometrics with Iberian Chiffchaff, cataloguing geographical races of Chiffchaff and also to investigate plumage details in juvenile Sylvia warblers in the complex of Spectacled, Dartford, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers. These things may still be possible if I accompany a friendly ringer/bander or 2!

Children getting up close and feeling a juvenile Robin - Educational

I will continue to be involved with projects outside of Spain and in contact with birders from other countries, whilst continuing with developing sustainable tourism both here and elsewhere. My work leading tours and also guiding tours means I can share my experience and passion, not just for birds, but wildlife in general; I can even further my involvement in this side of my work now I have more time! It’s like a clean sweep, brushing aside involvement with disingenuous people and focusing on more pleasant contacts with people I like and enjoy a change which feels like fresh air, I feel good!

Extracting (very carefully) small passerines from a mist net

So it’s goodbye yesterday and hello to today and my tomorrows!

Small Gallery.

Short-toed Treecreeper
Long-tailed Tit
Reed Warbler
Willow Warbler
Sub Alpine Warbler
Maybe the last lecture by me on ringing/banding birds!
Sparrowhawk - 1st winter female. 

Wild Bird Wednesday


Carole M. said...

a very interesting post Peter, and you can look forward to new opportunitites with more flexibility while working with nature and especially our beloved feathered friends. You can reflect for the moment that you put in a good innings within the circles you worked within for so long. A wonderful dedication, and certainly a feather in your cap!

Peter Jones said...

Very kind and thank you Carole. Might even have more time for photography! Thanks again, Peter

DaveG said...

I can feel that sadness. I myself left it because it was too time consuming but it is a great activity and a real privilege tohandle such creatures. Coincidentally a paper on my Indian activities is out in Indian Birds today. That was 1981:-)
It was always something I thought I could start up again after retirement, but I think that is less feasible now..

Peter Jones said...

Certainly time consuming Dave, but a huge source of regret to finally give it up. That said, I made the choice and for honest reasons. I am looking forward to other projects and not a small amount of self indulgence!! Thanks Peter

HansHB said...

Lovely close-up photos!

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful birds and a great post! I wish you all the best as you move on to other projects or maybe just birding for fun?

Dave said...

Certainly a post straight from the heart Pater. Congratulations on your past contributions to your subject, congratulations on your decision as I am sure more than a little self indulgence in the future is more than warranted.

Peter Jones said...

Thanks Hans, Eileen and Dave. I must admit it feels good to have finally made the decision after thinking about it for 3 years! Peter

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The sweet face of the Long-tailed looks a wee bit sad, and yet so are a bit sad and yet you have beautiful memories that you have made along those 40 years, of fulfilling one of your passions. The decision cannot have been easy, but as you indicate, you will have other opportunities that you may not have had time for othewise. Just keep enjoying life and nature and sharing with those of us who share your passions~

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Peter. a wonderful post and I feel your sadness through it and yet, I believe you have made the right decision even through it was a very difficult one. You have to be greatly congratulated on 40 years hard work and research and it is now time you did birding, travel and projects that YOU wish to do. I still remember my day out with you from Rhonda and if you even want to come to Northern Ireland to do some bird watching, I would be pleased to have you. for the present, I wish you all the best in all that is ahead of you in the boarding world.

Wally Jones said...

The birds and Nature will prevail and as you so eloquently point out, your association with them will simply be from a different perspective.

Your efforts to further the study of avian life have no doubt touched many lives, not the least of which is your own.

All the best to you as you go forward. We look forward to following your progress!

-Wally - from the wrong side of the pond.

Peter Jones said...

Thank you so much Mary, Margaret and Wally for such kind words and I very much appreciate it. Peter