Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The one's that got away

I mentioned the following scenario a couple of posts ago. I will now expand...

One clear, calm November morning, sometime in the mid 1980s, Sean McMinn and myself were birding the fields to the east of Boulderwall farm at Dungeness. It was a glorious morning, a real pleasure to be out. We picked up a small, dumpy passerine high above us and it called once. It was a dead ringer for a Trumpeter Finch. Sean was familiar with them from many visits to the Middle East. The bird carried on eastwards and out of view. It did not call again.The air was still, the acoustics were excellent, and we both felt as if a star prize had got away. We didn't release the information and only mentioned it in passing to our close birding chums.

The only other time that I have (knowingly) recorded a rarity but not submitted it was also in the company of Sean. It was late October and we were sitting in the Dungeness Bird Observatory back garden, mugs of tea in hand. We didn't see the bird that called, but it was very close - without doubt a Red-throated Pipit. We had both seen (and heard) hundreds in Israel the previous year. It did not call again. We decided that there would be little point in submitting it, or even mentioning it.

The more time that you spend in the field, the more likely it is that such incidents will occur. Dealing with them can be interesting.

8 comments:

  1. So, if you are literally 100% certain of an identification in such circumstances, why not put the news out and/or send the record in?

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    1. In both cases the records would never have been accepted on what we had, so to submit them would have been pointless. You could argue that the news of a 'possible' Trumpeter Finch/ Red-throated Pipit could have been released, but again the 'evidence' was so lacking that we would have been mocked for doing so. The Finch was possibly a Trumpeter (could we rule out a cage-bird?) and the Pipit almost certainly a Red-throated.

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    2. From what I gather, Red-throated Pipit would be accepted with a good description of the call, along with a visual description which narrows it down to a pipit.

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    3. Mind you, you did say that you didn't see the pipit, so fair enough. If I had that Trumpeter Finch, I would be thinking along the same lines of ruling out an escaped cagebird.

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  2. Your last par sums up birding perfectly. So many fleeting moments that may or may not mean anything. I would have done the same. Clearly this would have sent David into a tailspin!

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    1. David is one major event away from a breakdown... ;-)

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  3. In the late 1990s I had a Red-throated Pipit fly over in Cornwall in the company of two Mipits. It was without doubt a Red-throated Pipit but as to which of the three birds it was? Didn't bother reporting that one either.

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    1. A wise move Lee - no point in prolonging the inevitable

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