Sunday, 4 December 2011

Un-American Activities

In case anyone was wondering what was behind the statement on the LROS Bird News page yesterday regarding a reported American Golden Plover at Cossington Meadows, here is a short version of the story.

Basically, the ‘observer’ who reported the plover is known to have claimed a lot of highly unlikely birds in the county recently. I thought Birdguides at least were aware of him, but this one slipped through the net somehow. Unfortunately I didn’t find out who it was until after dark, by which time a lot of people had wasted an afternoon looking for a non-existent bird.

Although I’ve never met him, he has been described to me as a ‘very keen but over-enthusiastic young lad’. I’m not sure how young, but certainly old enough to be able to use a computer and report sightings to Birdguides and LROS. I would also suggest, particularly in view of the fact that he has been warned about reporting fictitious rare birds before, not least by his parents, that he ought to be old enough to realise the possible consequences of his actions.

Before anyone asks, given his previous claims I don't think there is any possibility that he simply ‘made a mistake’ with this bird. It’s not certain that he was even at Cossington Meadows yesterday as about ten later ‘updates’ on the bird in the afternoon all appeared to have been sent from a home computer, along with a later report of a White-billed Diver at the site and a Red-flanked Bluetail & 2 Black-necked Grebes at Priory Water around the same time. And that wasn’t his first Red-flanked Bluetail in the county this autumn.

Over-enthusiasm is one thing, but this seems to be crossing the line into out and out fabrication. All very unfortunate, and sadly symptomatic of our modern rarity-obsessed birding culture. As John Hague pointed out, when we were that age (whatever age he is) we wouldn’t have even heard of birds like Red-flanked Bluetail, let alone thought that we might see one. We can only hope that he will grow out of this and go on to become a proper birder, although I’m afraid it will be a long time before anyone believes anything he reports!

12 comments:

Skev said...

Glad I was constrained and unable to get over there. American Goldie was believable, a Bluetail would be amazing (and very late), but a White-billed diver (on a pissy little indland lake with no major river running out to an estuary) - what fucking planet is this twat on!?

beast said...

I think he originates from the planet 'Pell'....home of sniggering planks with fuck all else to do..

We could always name and shame...but i believe in second chances...

Fortunately i had a great time watching the SEO's yesterday afternoon...but i heard some poor guys had travelled from Derbyshire..not good...!

The Leicester Llama said...

We do need to bear in mind that he's very young - possibly only early teens, but even so he does need to understand the inconvenience he's caused a lot of people. As I said, hopefully it won't happen again now that the information services are aware of him.

Interestingly there was an independent report of the AGP on Hobley Lake early afternoon - I missed this as my new phone wasn't properly set up to notify me of Twitter replies. However, it doesn't sound terribly convincing, and given that the original report definitely originated from the 'observer' in question, I suspect this was a case of some people 'seeing' what they thought was there...

I hope that's the case anyway, otherwise this could all be rather embarrassing if it reappears!

Hooded Birder said...

I would just like to point out that this wasn't me. The bluetail I saw on saturday was at jubilee park....and the diver was clearly pacific, not white-billed

Skev said...

Bear it in mind? You can bear it up your arse!

John Hague said...

I think the young lad in question is not even in his teens. I do hope he will start and see sense and maybe remember that not every bird you see is rare and that it pays to learn to identify your common birds first.

To be fair to the lad, when we started bird spotting or whatever it was called then we had very little in the way of ID guides and at my young age the Ladybird series was pretty useful... the much remembered Observers was shite... I didn't get a Peterson for many years and then it would be very Britain and Ireland focussed with the word RARE used a lot.

Today, everyone seems to start with a Collins Bird Guide and easy access to rare bird news and I think it distorts a new birders view of how likely it is to find a rarity or even a scarcity... in the UK I have still ever only seen four Hoopoe (one of which I found).

It would be good if maybe we as a society could take younger birders like this kid under our wing so to speak. Sadly the collective birding experiences that many of us enjoyed just aren't there and the YOC has no morphed into the some non-specific group more likely to be found pond-dipping than learning about birds.

The Leicester Llama said...

I'm not sure what the society can do really - we don't even have a reduced subscription for junior members any more (as far as I know?) and we can't force anyone to join anyway.

In an ideal world (say 40 or 50 years ago before the tabloid press corrupted the world) some local birder could have taken him out birding, but that simply isn't going to happen these days.

I don't know if the local RSPB group does anything for kids, but if not, even whatever the YOC calls itself these days has got to be better for him than solo stringing!

John Hague said...

We do have the membership as a family membership so if his parents wanted to join up the whole family could benefit.

I do think it sad that society is so paranoid now that adult birders are afraid to mentor young birders... it's wrong but I guess it's the way of the world now and that depresses me as not all parents are as interested as their children.

beast said...

I agree John...it is very sad about adults accompanying children being open to paranoid accusations of being members of the KFC...

ps...KFC is nothing to do with chicken...more to do with perverted violinists...

I blame the fuckin Pope...[and global warming]...

The Leicester Llama said...

I blame the tabloids 100%. The UK gutter press has so much to answer for - come the revolution we'll need a fucking big wall to fit them all up against, alongside the politicians of course....

Skev said...

Aside from Murdoch and the Pope, I'd like to request that Ronald McDonald is also lined up. That fucking clown has a lot to answer for.

John Hague said...

Indeed Mark... for my expanding waistline!