Just got in from a couple of hours at Orgreave (where it was surprisingly better than I anticipated 7 Redshanks, 6 Common Terns, 7 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin) only to foolishly follow a link to a story in the Torygraph.
Not sure what's going on in birding these days, but like all walks of life the media jump on the negative aspect bandwagon. This is not news, I'm sure that all pastimes attract some form of 'bother' at some stage - christ football fans have been hacking themselves to bits for decades. Is it because people think of birdwatchers as quiet, studious, laid back members of society whose only interest is marvelling over the beauty of birds? Bollocks the 'Birdwatcher', 'Twitcher', 'Birder', 'Dude' call it what you will comes from every walk of life, from the low life drug dealer to members of parliament (one of which is currently at her majesty's pleasure). The image of us all being flower sniffing anorak wearing saddos is and has always been wrong. When we congregate in large groups (flocks) there will be incidents and there always has been.
A scene from Spurn in the 1980's, where the annual end of spring barbecue turned ugly when it was revealed that Tengmalm's Owls really did taste like chicken!
In 25 years of twitching I've witnessed; fighting, verbal and physical threats including one with a knife, abuse at photographers and from photographers, stories of reserve wardens being struck with tripods, abuse hurled at and from dog walkers, situations where normally mild-mannered individuals lose it (a young Richard F' threatening to rip some blokes head off at the Felixstowe White-throated Sparrow, if he didn't shift was hilarious!) even I've been threatened with violence - for an article I once wrote in a local newsletter - I know unbelievable!!
As for hoaxing. That goes back even before the dawn of mainstream birding - who among us isn't aware of that wiley old fox George Bristow and the Hastings Rarities.
The real fact is that someone out there is desperately trying to make this hobby of ours fashionable, to turn it in to the new rock n roll, where aggressive celebrity wannabee birders get their name in the press at every given opportunity fueling their ego and dragging this hobby that we all love into the gutter press.
To quote Bill Oddie in the original Little Black Bird Book printed some thirty years ago; 'Birdwatchers are tense,competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting, boorish, pedantic, unsentimental, arrogant and - above all - envious.'