15 February 2011

Taken to task

I wanted to have the title "sent to the naughty step", but I thought that might be considered glib and rather diminish what is basically a serious (to me anyway) matter!

The reader may have come across Nick Tanner's comment regarding my probable/possible Ring Bill of Friday. Firstly I would like to say that I have nothing but admiration (sometimes grudgingly) for virtually every birder who is better than me, but in particular for those who experience, knowledge and field craft far exceeds my own. Not least because on many occasion I have benefited from it, and on occasion learnt from it. Without these dedicated people I would not have a good number of cracking birds on my life list or any hope of finding them on my own. Nothing can beat years of birding.

There lies my problem, I've only been "seriously" birding for just under 2 years now so it comes as no surprise to me that I am absolutely hopeless at many aspects of bird identification, and not just in the larid field either. I would however like to think that I have, in that time, improved in certain areas, but perhaps not moved on as much as I would have liked in others. Books, DVDs, apps are all well and good, nothing comes close to actually seeing, hearing and experiencing things in person, or to have people around you to correct your mistakes and give you some inside gen from their own experiences. So an opportunity to thank Jonathan, Tim, Stuart, Marco Johnston and Adrian Pearson for there guidance over the last year and a bit.

Returning to the main topic: Nick was not convinced by my "description", and in retrospect it wasn't very good, although I obviously thought at the time I had ticked enough boxes for me to report it. If Tim hadn't been rushing round after his first Med Gull for Wanstead, the matter would have probably been resolved in a matter of minutes. But he was, so I had to go on my own feelings, which may or may not have been totally wrong. More worryingly for me is on discussing the bird with Tim on the phone, he asked: "... and the iris colour was it yellow?" I had no idea. Today a RBG was reported from Sands Lane GP, Yorks (http://www.birdguides.com/bne/details.asp?thread=617996). I had a look. How could have I have missed eyes like that? True the image was in sunshine not drizzle, but still I can recall nothing particularly special about the eyes of my bird. I have subsequently realised I rarely if ever notice the eyes of any bird. On many occasions I've walked away from a sighting realising I can't actually remember too much about the individual. This to me seems like a more serious problem and one that needs to be addressed (in light of some descriptions and notes to be written as required by the London recorder), especially as I move out of my comfort zone of the familiar. At the moment this would point to a compromise between rushing round the patch(es) and taking a longer more considered approach to my observations.

A master class in gull ID would help - I wonder what Martin Garner is up to at the weekend? In the end its a matter of learning by your mistakes, weaknesses and through experience. So a thanks to Nick Tanner for the wake up call!

Since Friday I have removed the bird from my count for the flats and only included it in the sightings column in brackets (in good faith), which will have a disclaimer come the day I put my year list on the LB site.

1 comment:

  1. I would forget about the gull and take it off any list as it just looks a bit ropey. Resolve to take a notebook out, and next time you see something that catches your eye, take a basic sketch and description. It will help no end.