Sunday, 26 September 2010

Like it or lump it!

So the second big talking point of the autumn is another flycatcher. Ho hum. No doubt reams of crap will be written about the Empidonax currently residing on Blakeney Point, so here's my two penn'orth. Not that I shall be going to see it of course!

I've already heard several people say that they don't want to see it as it will never be identified. Although I have no interest in seeing it anyway, I have to say I don't understand this attitude at all. Most twitchers are more than happy to split species to suit their lists (and let's be honest, it isn't for any other reason) without any official endorsement from 'the authorities', so why not lump for the same reason? If it comes down, as now seems likely, to one of either Alder or Willow, just call it a Traill's Flycatcher for listing purposes. No more debate and everyone's happy.

If you don't like that idea, just stop for a minute and consider the parallel example of Grey-cheeked & Bicknell's Thrush. To the best of my knowledge no-one has Bicknell's Thrush on their British list, but everyone's quite happy to tick Grey-cheeked. Nor have I heard of anyone taking it off their list when the two were split. This is exactly the same situation as Alder/Willow Flycatcher - they are not separable in the field. The only difference is that 'Grey-cheeked Thrush' had already occurred in Britain before it was split, whereas 'Traill's Flycatcher' hadn't. If it had, I'm damn sure everyone who had it on their list would have kept it right there. I know I would!

10 comments:

beast said...

I guess it all depends on how important 'the list' is to various folks Andy..and how 'pure' they want it to be....! You raise some interesting points and in the main i agree with you..

Of course, it is in the nature of birders to want to know 'exactly' what the species is that they are looking at..but for years now it has been a complete feckin joke with all the splitting n lumpin type stuff. I understand why 'they' fuck about with splits etc...but this is of little use to a birder when he can't id the bird in the field. Biometrics?..sonograms?..blah de effing blah...they can stick em up their arseoles...who gives a flying fuck...?...[tho it is, i will admit, interesting to a taxonomic boffin]..etc

End o the day it is just a bit of fun...or should be....

ps...i do wish that folk would move away from the list according to authorities and replace it with a list of just identifiable birds...[including subs]...'IN THE FIELD'....would seem more natural and simpler to me....but wot the fuck do i know?....[not a lot..obviously]...chuckle..!

The Leicester Llama said...

I don't think most twitchers do care that much about their lists being 'pure' - as I said, you find me one person who took Grey-cheeked Thrush off their list because they couldn't rule out Bicknell's after the two were split!

The Leicester Llama said...

A few more scenarios for the 'I don't want to see it because it's not identifiable' brigade to consider (if they want to, of course - they're equally free to ignore them!)

1. A new field character for separating Alder and Willow is discovered in the future and it becomes retrospectively identifiable from photos (unlikely perhaps, but you never know).

2. The bird falls off its perch and gets picked up and sent off to a lab for a definitive species ID.

3. (perhaps the most likely) In a few years' time taxonomic fashion (because that's all it is) swings back towards lumping rather than splitting and the two species get re-lumped. It's happened before, and it will happen again!

4. Beast's very sensible suggestion becomes widely accepted amongst listers, and the UK400 Club, Birding World or whoever adopt a list of 'birds which are identifiable in the field' and leave the professional taxonomists to their annoying games.

All I'm saying (just for the sake of starting a completely pointless debate really!) is if you're into British listing and you didn't see the Cornish bird, you might as well go and see the fucker. Wittering about the identification of the bird just sounds like 'I don't want to walk three miles down Blakeney Point because I'm a lazy fat bastard'.

thedrunkbirder said...

I'm a fat lazy bastard...

The Leicester Llama said...

I thought as much...

Mark said...

Just arrived home after a super morning with the flycatcher and surprisingly few birders. Absolutely knackered after the 6 miles (it felt like 12) crippling walk.

Spot on Andy re the ticking of it. It will be on my list as Trails.

I'm a little surprised at Gray and Hague, particularly as they left Shetland for the Cornwall bird ;-)

thedrunkbirder said...

Mark, I really, really couldn't be arsed with any of it. The walk out to Blakeney Point really is something I have no desire to do ever again.

I'm never going to be and really don't want to be Britain's biggest lister and the crowds on Bird Forum now are driving me well away from the world of twitching.
Mind you, I'm dreading finding something on Shetland and either not getting news out in 0.3 nanoseconds or worse still making an arse of the ID so that bunch of cyber cunts can bitch and fucking moan. The twats on Bird Forum in general are just like every fucking fan of football that got interested in the game since the Premier League who support Arsenal United or Chelsea City... infuckingsuferable!

Pete Marsh said...

Hello
The only Grey-cheeked Thrush I have seen in Britain & Ireland was the putative Bicknell's on Tresco -I never had chance to see any of the others in that influx, nor any subsequently. So GCT is now removed from my list

Going back to the blog criticisms, I agree that many are tedious personal listfests. However, some of us, perhaps wrongly, use blogs as on-line logs, replacing the old A4 diary lying around the office. My local patch at Heysham Obs is one along with e.g. other local sites like Walney & Hilbre. Its just a really convenient way of getting all the day's sightings sorted with, in the case of Heysham, several locals having access and being able to update. Easy through 'search' to get the stuff ready for the county/local reports at the end of the year

Regards

Pete Marsh

The Leicester Llama said...

Well there you go, one person at least has taken Grey-cheeked Thrush off their list. But I still bet most haven't.

Oh, and the 'blog criticisms' wasn't meant to be taken seriously - it was a half-arsed parody of one of Evans's rants. I don't really have anything against people's online birding diaries!

thedrunkbirder said...

Daily Express/BBC Breakfast are still calling it a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher so it must be true... Princess Di would have loved to have twitched it had MI6 and Prince Philip not had her murdered...