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|Wednesday 28th March 2007, 00:54||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Blog Entries: 6
Possible new species sighted? Observe it OBJECTIVELY.
I just had the experience of taking several hasty photos of a "new species" this week.
I could not identify it, so I posted it in the ID Q&A forum.
(link to the topic is here)
As the topic evolved, it became apparent that the bird in question was not a new species for me. It was a Pine Warbler.
How did it come to pass that a bird that I had seen and photographed many times before appeared to be a lifer tick?
Simple. I was not objective in my observations. I still do not have a Yellow Warbler ticked. So what did I do when I saw a yellow-colored warbler? I thought "EUREKA! I can finally tick Yellow Warbler!".
And the brief 5 seconds I took observing it with binoculars was wasted. Looking back at it, I remember that all I used my binocular time for was to assure myself that the bird was not just another Yellow-rumped Warbler and to manically search for Yellow Warbler fieldmarks. When I saw that it was not a YRW, I dropped my bins and grabbed my camera. I took about 15 pictures in the 5 - 7 seconds that the bird remained visible and only about 4 of them were anywhere near in focus or usable.
So what did that leave me?
What was I missing?
The results of OBJECTIVE STUDY.
Had I used my binocular time to note:
I would have had my ID. Instead, I was looking for:
What I learned from this - be objective in your observations. Sure, there are birds we all know and can rapidly use comparisons to that species to help us. But for birds that might potentially be new ticks for you, do not search for species-specific fieldmarks from a book at the expense of missing the overall picture.
Imagine that you haven't ticked Ruby-crowned Kinglet and you haven't ticked any flycatchers (Empids, Pee-wees, Phoebes, etc). And imagine that you really love Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For whatever reason, you really want to tick that species.
OK. You see a small, olive-greenish bird high in a tree. What if you only see the bird for 5 seconds? And what if you used those 5 seconds to see if it had a "ruby crown"?
You would end up completely empty-handed. All you would be left with is "I didn't see a ruby crown".
How long was its bill in relation to its head? How long was its tail in relation to its body? Did it have eye-rings? Did it bob its tail? How big was it? etc, etc.
All of that data is missing because you did not observe the bird objectively.
I will try to never let this happen to me again. And I hope my posting this might prevent it from happening to other members of this fine forum.
Another lesson learned: If you have to choose between binocular time and camera time for a potentially new species - pick binocular time. And use it to study the bird in question objectively. I would rather have a lifer tick without photos than 50 blurry photos with no chance of identification.
Last edited by Terry O'Nolley : Wednesday 28th March 2007 at 01:53.
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|Wednesday 28th March 2007, 04:46||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Santa Maria CA USA
Congratulations!!! You had an epiphany. What would birding be if not a constant learning curve? I think it is great that a person can see the obvious- that which helps you grow as a skilled birder. Experience also plays a huge part. I think you will find yourself being more "aware" from this point on.
|Wednesday 28th March 2007, 05:16||#3|
The Big Dipper
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Birchington Kent
I think we've all been there, haven't we? Turning a bird into what we WANT it to be and overlooking that which might be 'inconvenient'.
“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.”
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