Matthew Oates, who is presenting a week long series on BBC R4, called ‘In Pursuit of the Ridiculous’, gives us a sneak preview into today’s programme:
A leisurely visit to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s reserve at Slimbridge deteriorates into a critical examination of the practice of ‘Twitching’. Has what Slimbridge’s founder, Sir Peter Scott, knew as the peaceful practice of ornithology deteriorated into something manic? Are modern birders squandering the world’s dwindling fossil fuel resources by dashing about the country to tick off vagrant birds that have only arrived here from foreign parts by accident or crass stupidity? Is modern birding a shockingly bad advertisement for natural history, and does it have any relevance to all-important biodiversity conservation? And why on earth should we get worked up about a Long-billed Dowitcher, which arrived at Slimbridge after making a ridiculously bad sat nav error whilst migrating in North America?
Dr Rob Lambert, an environmental historian from the University of Nottingham, puts up a vigorous defence of bird twitching, explains the origin of the term and argues that twitching has scientific and conservation relevance. We look closely at the psychology of bird twitching, as an example of tribal behaviour, and at the importance of depth of experience and the gathering in of memories.
Dr Lambert has seen 450 species of birds in the British Isles.
The programme is presented by National Trust naturalist Matthew Oates and if you miss this episode today you can listen again on the BBC i-player