Wednesday, January 04, 2023

The Notebook Challenge.

 Happy New Year all. I have been watching with interest that a lot of birders are entering the Patchwork Challenge for 2023 after its revival. Back in November I was going to give it a go too but after more thought I decided against it. I'm not really a competitive person so it seemed a bit too much hassle to keep adding up various points for particular species, self finds, scarce, rare etc, so once again I will be keeping my own 3km local patch list going in a casual manner, just like last year. 

This is my 15th year on this patch, so I have a good idea of what, where and when to expect things now. Lets hope there are some surprises yet to meet me on my travels.

Instead of being wholly list focussed, the good people on Twitter have given me an idea on something I can try to improve on over the year. My Notebooks.

As a keen Notebook user, this is no biggie, but we can all have some self improvement.

Between Christmas and New Year I was tagged in to a tweet from Amy Schwartz that set me thinking. She was going to begin using a Notebook in 2023 after a couple of false starts. In echo to this I tweeted- 

The response to this was excellent. There were over 71k 'impressions', what ever that means and over 700 people 'liked' the post. That in itself isn't important, but I'd like to assume its not the post they like but the sentiment behind it, ie, keeping a Notebook. This started off a thread of comments and posts from others about the topic of Note taking. Some top birders took the time to reply, posting pictures of shelves full of their own written word. 

It is from these I am taking some ideas on how to improve.

Here are a few - 

Look at those fab shelves! I must get mine into some order like this.

Phil is a well known brilliant bird artist. What a resource here.

Paul says his books arent really sketchbooks. Could have fooled me! These are fantastic too.

Great point made by Andy here. No one has a memory so good that they can remember details from a life of Notetaking.

Another very valid point, you cant always get a photo of every bird ( though some do very well). Its worth getting it into the notebook straight away.

James is another author and artist . His Tweet says it in a nutshell.

Well known artist Richard gives great tips here.

Craig is a great birder who is now back on track with his Notes

I'd love to get stuck into these and the others books! Mick has a great method here. 

Amy's tweet that started it off...

But I think it is Jonnie who has given a different outlook on Amy's tweet.

Jonnie's books are full of not just lists of birds but humour, interest, tales and the stuff that makes our birding and wildlife trips so enjoyable. These are done now, in the present, for himself in the future. Is there anything better than that!

Some birders have either given up notetaking or have never started. The alternative seems to be Birdtrack, eBird, Spreadsheets, Databases, Phone notes and Photography. 

My take on it is that we Naturalists are entering a world of different species to ourselves. There is so much beauty and bizarre interest here that one lifetime can't take it all in. In writing and sketching we are reinforcing what we have just seen or done. It is a great learning tool as well as memory storage.

To end, I want to thank all of the inspiring people above whose tweets I've stolen without permission ( I will edit and remove any if I've over stepped the mark!). 

Hopefully you might be as inspired as I am to either improve or to get started in 2023. 

Good Luck! There might be a future post on here with some thoughts and tips for beginners to note taking.

Cheers Stewart  


martinf said...

Love this post and am in awe of everyone's notebooks but especially Jonny F's.
I have numerous partly filled notebooks going back to the early 80s. I usually lack the drive/ability/commitment to finish them before deciding that only a brand spanking new one will make me more rigorous. The cycle then continues!
Do almost no birding these days but have transferred to beetle notebooks... far less shit sketches!!

Stewart said...

Cheers Martin, at least with beetles they can be put under a macro lens! Birds are easier to deal with, relatively speaking... Thanks for commenting...

The Wessex Reiver said...

Such a glorious posting Stewart. I've never kept a nature notebook, but a general journal which includes some (a little) observation. Your post however reveals a host of people out there who keep superb reference material off-line. It's good to see good naturalists still keeping the craft alive. Hudson, Gilbert, Scott and BB to name a few would be so happy to read these.

Stewart said...

Cheers Andrew, maybe 2023 is the year you should give it a go? I dont know how people manage without it :)