Friday, 6 April 2012
Black tale Godwit
This is a black tale alright - a grim story that exposes the cut and thrust of self-found year listing in Lothian. It shows the lengths that normally mild-mannered birders will go to to add another number on their list - without even a cursory glance at the rules or thought for the moral or ethical niceties of this ungoverned, and some would say ungovernable, sport. It is a story of how one man's lust for listing has resulted in behaviour that others will call cheating, or even, if pushed, (godwit-forbid) stringy duff dude birding. And just who is this stringy cheat, well, I have to name names, it is me.
So what is this horrific behaviour and how did it come about. Well let's rewind to yesterday. I find myself in possession of a new lens and decide to take it to Musselburgh. Pretty much the first birds I see is a group of Bar-tailed Godwits on the breakwater. I point my lens. I press. Godwits shuffle. Godwits flutter. Chimplike I gleefully capture shots of a Bar-tail leaping into the air, and I am joyful that I have resolved feather detail on the camera screen rather than the amorphous blur I have become used to of late. At no point do I knowingly detect the Black-tailed Godwit in amongst the Bar-tails until today when I first looked closely at the shots. It is the bird with the black, rather than barred tail, funnily enough (centre rear above, fourth from left below).
So what's the crime? Well the crime is that I am tempted to add it to my year list, and worse still I am tempted to add it to my self-found year list. In fact I am so tempted that I have done it*. After all, I saw the bird and I identified the bird and I was genuinely surprised to see it there. So, what do you think? Tick and run, or suck it up and keep looking for a real one.
* For now.... I'll probably remove it!...