Has the Bird Ecology Study Group emerged as the top dog?

on 18th September 2011

Formed in 2005, the Bird Ecology Study Group, popularly known as BESG, has a large international following. Mike Bergin, creator of the Nature Blog Network and founder of 10,000 Birds, the top bird blog in the world, wrote in November 2008 that our group has “produced the finest group birding blog on the planet, bar none,” and “has forged a truly remarkable website from the raw material every bird club has in abundance yet takes for granted” LINK.

Three years on, the BESG received further compliments, this time from an unexpected local source – the Nature Society (Singapore)’s Bird Group (BG). It has always been said that the biggest compliment one can get is from a major rival.

Yes, the BG has been our fiercest rival since day one. We had to fight tooth and nail to get acceptance as a special interest group by the parent society way back in 2005. The BG was then the main and dominant activity group and naturally objected fiercely against the acceptance of another competing bird group. This was despite our trying to encourage scientific birding, to complement the BG’s stress on recreational birding. Details of how the BESG finally came to be accepted can be read at this LINK. Incidentally, the link also gives a brief history of birdwatching in Singapore and how the BESG eventually made a significant impact on the local scene.

In August this year, we were pleasantly surprised when Dr Ho Hua Chew, a longstanding member of the BG’s inner circle leadership, publicly complimented the BESG. A few days later we received a further compliment.

Those who are on the wildbirdsSingapore loop may have read it in a 4th August 2011 posting by Dr Ho. He declared publicly that the BESG’s website is “an internationally popular wildlife group”. His embarrassment in not referring to us as “an internationally popular bird group” is understandable, considering that the BG dominated the birdwatching scene for at least two decades – of course until the BESG entered the fray.

The second compliment was posted in a close-loop message to the NSS council dated 8th August 2011: “Here I must emphasize that I like the work of & respect what has been achieved by BESG but nevertheless…”

I am not providing the circumstances under which the above compliments were made – not in this posting anyway. Yes, I can be accused of quoting out of context, but even in its present form, the messages they convey cannot be denied. However, I am sure those who are on the [email protected] loop already know the story behind the quotations if they have followed the discussions on 4th and 5th August 2011. But how many are aware how the events finally unfolded?

But we need not bother about the background at this moment. Right now we need to put differences aside and simply bask in the glory of the praises we received from the BG. Anyway, under whatever circumstances the above compliments were made, who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth?

The BESG has surely arrived – if not internationally, at least locally. And thanks to Dr Ho Hua Chew.

So which group is top dog now?

YC Wee
September 2011

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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