As of today, the Bird Ecology Study Group is operating independent of the Nature Society (Singapore). We cannot accept the proposed restrictions that the society is planning to impose on our very successful and internationally respected website. We therefore have no choice but to operate as an independent group.
BESG has been a Special Interest Group affiliated to the society since mid-2005 LINK. It was formed to fill an urgent need. Local birdwatching was then in the doldrums with bird enthusiasts going into the field to mainly increase the number of species sighted and to compile lists. This was considered a waste of resources as they could, at the same time, make observations on bird behaviour.
Our guiding principal, as succinctly defined by the following quotation by Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988), has always been to know more about birds than just their names:
“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
We can claim to have been reasonably successful in our aim, as seen in the total of 2,300 postings since 2005 (left). Although most of these posts were contributed by casual birdwatchers and photo-enthusiasts, some also came from traditional birdwatchers.
Response from the public to the website has been fantastic. We hit the million mark in visitorship in September 2009 after less than five years LINK. Currently the website has received more than 2.5 million visits (below left). This is not too bad for a website dealing with birds. Based on the tracking by Nature Blog Network LINK, we rank reasonably well against similar websites worldwide.
Visitors to our website come from 174 countries, tracked by Cluster Maps LINK. Up to 40% of the visitors come from Singapore. This is understandable, as the website is based here (above right). The next highest group is from the US (22%), followed by Malaysia and India (6% each), then the UK (4%) and Australia (2%). These figures are based on the period February to September 2011.
In the field of ornithological publications, we have broken new grounds, especially in helping casual birdwatchers publish their field observations LINK.
Up to today, the website continues to attract many first time casual birdwatchers, especially those who are not adverse to using a camera, or even a videocam. Significantly, these are the birdwatchers who mostly move alone, seeking out not new species but new behavioural activities. Among the most prolific include KC Tsang, Kwong Wai Chong, Sun Chong Hong and Lena Chow. There are also a handful of once hardcore birdwatchers who have since moved off to indulge in more meaningful activities like Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and Daisy O’Neill. But these last two are Malaysian birders.
With the continued support from all those listed earlier LINK and more, we will strive to be as aggressive and as innovative as during the last six-and-a-half years, if not more so. We aim to continually improve the quality of birdwatching in Singapore.
1st January 2012