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Wednesday, 8 February 2017


Following Monday's post about the Loch Ness Monster, I received quite a lot of feedback, most of it polite if, in a couple of cases, a little sceptical: that's fine! However, one or two comments left on here (for the 600+ daily visitors to read) have been of a different category altogether, verging on the libellous. Needless to say, the authors of these elect to remain anonymous: very brave!

Here's a typical one from last night:

Hi David, Please do not censor my comment or delete it. Can you honestly say that this is not another photoshop job? Many of your pictures (usually rare birds) have a distinctly different look to them. I don't understand if you are doing this as a joke or to troll people or are just very bored at home? It's not a nessie is it David? Let's stop the games.
Well of course the first point to be made is that I actually stated in my post that the image was one I had drawn for one of my books. I have never claimed here or anywhere else to have photographed the LNM, but when I wrote my second book, the editor suggested I generate an image with Paint Shop Pro to illustrate a point I was making.

Secondly, I would love to know which photos ('usually of rare birds') I'm supposed to have faked. On 99% of the occasions when my images were taken I was with two, three or more companions. In common with the vast majority of 'fun' photographers, I might occasionally use Irfanview and/or PSP to improve the look (but not the content) of an image. For example, here's a photo of a Blackbird I just took from my window: it's still nearly dark here, but the image can be improved a little by increasing the brightness and contrast, using edge preservation, salt and pepper filter and sharpening:

Of course, you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, so this was never going to be a good photo of a Blackbird. But supposing it had been a Blue Rock Thrush? I would contend it would be entirely legitimate to brighten and sharpen the image to improve its value as an I/d tool.

Thirdly: isn't it a little ingenuous for the anonymous writer of the above to ask that I not delete his/her comment? I can only assume they derive a little frisson of excitement from seeing their abuse on a popular wildlife blog...

You know, almost all the bird better-known bloggers have click-throughs, sponsorship and adverts on their sites: I have none of these. Birds of the Heath is quite simply an account of what I get up to on a daily basis. I try not to fill it with trivia about my family / pets / political beliefs and I can honestly say I never use the blog to make personal attacks on other people or their records. If the writer of the above comment would like to e-mail or phone me (contact details on any of my websites) perhaps we could discuss the matter.
Those that know me know that I have had a colourful and full life: I really was an officer in the Navy, I really have played in a number of successful folk and rock bands, I really am the UK's only full-time meteorite dealer, I really have been lucky enough to have met and spent time with numbers of historical and media personalities, I really have written dozens of magazine articles and books and I really have seen well over 400 species of bird in the UK and photographed 342 of them. I don't need to bolster a tiny ego by attacking people or making spurious claims. (As an example: I've been to Mautby four times without seeing the Iceland Gull: I've only seen the Hooded Crow once. Why would I persevere if I could just generate 'another photoshop job' ?)
OK: sorry about this somewhat lengthy ripost to the handful of insulting and spiteful comments that Monday's post engendered: I hope regular readers will understand why I felt the need to say something...

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