It cropped up a couple of times yesterday. The Great Divide. Firstly, whilst I was out watching owls, discussing the various reasons that people enjoy watching birds with some others These reasons generally fall into two categories. The first is what we may term “romantic”. In this case people simply love birds. They love them for what they are. They do not feel a need to know every detail about a species or individual bird. They are not overly concerned with photographing, cataloguing or tick listing them. To look is sufficient. To share a magic moment with a wild creature, whilst admiring its grace, power and beauty is the holy grail.The birds themselves will always be distant, magical and mystical creatures.
The other category is what we can call “scientific”. Here people follow birds because they are interested in their behaviour. They count them, ring them, put trackers on them, photograph them, identify, classify and study them. They want to know as much as they can about the birds, through direct observation and record.
Of course this is a gross simplification, and there’s probably a bit of both categories in all of us, but it’s an interesting question as to which side of the divide you edge more towards. Instinctively I’m a “romantic” through and through. What about you?
Later on in the evening we were being interviewed/filmed for a promotional film in aid of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team. We fell into another debate about birds, on similar lines. This time the discussion centred on the reasons why people stuff birds. It’s a bizarre thing to do, if you ask me, but the argument was put forward that people can learn a lot from studying stuffed birds. I can remember my parents/grandparents taking me to Whitaker Park Museum in Rawtenstall on many occasions and as a child being freaked out and intrigued by the many stuffed animals/birds on display there. Can’t say I learnt much about them at all.
So this old debate continues. (Here’s an interesting take on CP Snow’s classic tale of two cultures). As a leaning romantic I have to respect the scientists, and encourage them to see that science has to work within a framework of morals.
Meanwhile – here’s a romantic view of the Solway taken originally with my Canon A1, and then snapped with a digi whats its name……………