19 Oct 2008

Ho hum, tis the Scilly Season. Seasons to be fearful part one.

One of the great things about modern birding is that modern information technology has made news available almost immediately. Relatively inexperienced birders now have all the latest equipment, pagers and access to the internet and little knowledge in the wrong hands is a dangerous thing. Many birders go to places like the Scilly's expecting to see rare birds and, convinced of what they've found, put the news out. In the last two weeks we've had Ring-necked Duck, Blue-winged Teal and American Golden Plover being re-identified as Tufted Duck, Garganey and Golden Plover respectively! Today Mark tells me he's met a 'birder' on Penninis Head who's claimed a Booted Warbler - 'bigger than a Garden Warbler'. Sure it wasn't a Barred Warbler hints our hero but the birder is adamant.......................Ho hum. The Scilly Season is upon us.

But the marvels of technology have also allowed some previously misidentified birds to be correctly identified. Olive Tree Warbler anyone? A good number of excellent birders saw this bird but it was identified rectrospectively from photo's. What chance then of identifiying a moulting Red-footed Falcon correctly as an Amur Falcon? Certain forums are awash with self proclaimed arm chair experts asking why the bird wasn't identified weeks ago. The bird in question was present at Tophill Low, Yorks, for 32 days before its progressive moult finally allowed its identification to be nailed from photographs. Unfortunately retrospectively as it (seemingly) buggered off last week. Arse. Even my extensive library only mentions Amur Falcon once and Malc had to tell me where to find that. For those wondering its in the SASOL (South African) guide. So what chance has your average birder got whose expecting to go and tick a Red-footed Falcon.

Anyway, back to the birds. My phone went balistic last night on news that a 'probable' N American Snowy Egret had been seen on the Wirral coast with Little Egrets. Oh shit. Another early Sunday morning start then.

Taking Molly with me I searched all the flooded fields between Leasowe Lighthouse and Carr Lane and then walked the seafront from Meols back to New Brighton. No sign. It turns out (from photographic evidence) the bird was a Little Egret with well marked legs. To quote BWP:

Occasional occurrence of Little Egrets with mainly yellowish legs bedevils the separation of this species. Beware also possibility of juvenile Little Blue Heron, also with white plumage.

Double shit - the Little Blues gone from Ireland. That means an Egret is no longer just a Little Egret and I'll have to check every bloody one I see just in case its one of these:

Or a juvenile one of these:I live in hope! Nice to catch up with John Tubb and Jeremy Bradshaw on the Wirral today before I succumbed to the temptation of a bacon butty at the Lighthouse cafe. From there it was downhill and I returned home via the Bunbury Arms before going back out in to the birding fray after Sunday dinner. At least I saw nothing having the satisfaction of a full belly!

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