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Self-found - Stonking or Subtle? (1 Viewer)

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
Apologies if this has been done before but for those who like to find their own birds do you prefer the stunning and unmistakable or the subtle?

It feels a bit counter-intuitive to me. The best self-finds ought to be the birds that are difficult IDs that reflect on the skills and experience of the observer. In practice the kudos seems to attract most to stonking birds which aren't difficult to ID. Yes the Varied Thrush is a good recent example but it generally feels that way. And personally I would rather find a bird that gives that instant rush of adrenaline rather than be depending on sonograms or even faecal samples. So I am as guilty as anyone.

What do others think?
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
It seems to me you are conflating two issues.

Kudos comes from others, who of course are going to want to look at something spectacular.

The inner satisfaction that comes from working out an identification puzzle is another matter. However, to take an extreme example, the Blyth's Reed Warbler is an ideal self-find for self-congratulation, with a look at feather detail essential for identification - but a bird that makes a female House Sparrow look like a stonker isn't going to excite anyone but the finder....

Personally (and though my experience of finding rarities is limited) I got a buzz from finding Lancey on Sumburgh Head but the Spring male Citrine Wagtail I found at Fleet Pond nearly made my head explode.

So give me me the stonker every time.

Cheers

John
 

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
It seems to me you are conflating two issues.

Kudos comes from others, who of course are going to want to look at something spectacular.

The inner satisfaction that comes from working out an identification puzzle is another matter. However, to take an extreme example, the Blyth's Reed Warbler is an ideal self-find for self-congratulation, with a look at feather detail essential for identification - but a bird that makes a female House Sparrow look like a stonker isn't going to excite anyone but the finder....

Personally (and though my experience of finding rarities is limited) I got a buzz from finding Lancey on Sumburgh Head but the Spring male Citrine Wagtail I found at Fleet Pond nearly made my head explode.

So give me me the stonker every time.

Cheers

John
Ok but I guess they both remain relevant. And I think most people would prefer a stunning bird over a stunning piece of detective work.
 

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
the Blyth's Reed Warbler is an ideal self-find for self-congratulation, with a look at feather detail essential for identification
Several of the county first BRWs of late have been identified because they were singing as their range expands. I've found two BRWs, ironically in the same garden, one of which was skulking about and the other was singing from the top of a rhubarb plant. I think they were similarly satisfying to be honest in different ways, though the first shades it only because it was a BB just before they came off and the singing one was this year where it feels like it might even come off the Shetland description list soon...
 

Welsh Peregrine

Well-known member
It seems to me you are conflating two issues.

Kudos comes from others, who of course are going to want to look at something spectacular.

The inner satisfaction that comes from working out an identification puzzle is another matter. However, to take an extreme example, the Blyth's Reed Warbler is an ideal self-find for self-congratulation, with a look at feather detail essential for identification - but a bird that makes a female House Sparrow look like a stonker isn't going to excite anyone but the finder....

Personally (and though my experience of finding rarities is limited) I got a buzz from finding Lancey on Sumburgh Head but the Spring male Citrine Wagtail I found at Fleet Pond nearly made my head explode.

So give me me the stonker every time.

Cheers

John
It was a long drive from Merseyside for that Citrine, but so worthwhile; thanks John!
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
The best birds I've found had a challenging identification (for me anyway). Although these were panic-inducing, I tend to believe that I am looking at something common. You cannot immediately enjoy a challenging bird as you need to get pictures, recordings etc...
So I actually enjoy finding an uncommon bird that I can identify immediately more, even if it isn't that rare!
 

DMW

Well-known member
Imagine being the lucky finder of this scabby thing o_O. I've found a few local firsts, and this one gave me perhaps the least amount of enjoyment, even though it is probably the rarest in a British Isles context.
 

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KenM

Well-known member
For me, each rare find will invariably have a different set of circumstances.
It might be the location, the lighting, proximity, duration and whatever is occupying your mind at the time that contributes to the subject “find”
The least exciting bird by far for me was the Naumann’s Thrush simply because It didn’t ring any bells with my only source of reference material available (HFP) at the time.
Thus there was no immediate adrenalin rush….although it did kick in later!

To this day the bird that gave me the biggest endorphins rush (went to bed with it and woke up with it…for at least two months!) was the 1992 October 23rd-26th Olive-Backed Pipit.
A sunny morning and circa a mile down the ride walking “Barney” my boxer dog, we rounded the bend, when he flushed a small bird from the ride edge grasses, sporting white outer-tail margins.
Whereby it promptly crossed the ride dropping into a small Crab Apple tree (totally obscured), until I raised the bins to see the back of a “tail-pumping Pipit!”
Until it turned it’s head 90 degrees to it’s body
I was at a total loss.
Upon turning and seeing the “Redwing patterned” face, snow white chest with coal black spots, olive green head/mantle enhanced by a dappled shaft of sunlight…the expletives poured forth and I was left totally jaw-dropped…fit for a straight jacket!

“Beauty being in the eye of the beholder”….the first was a challenge and the second a total and utter spectacle!

Cheers
 

Pariah

Stealth Birder
As an avid Self Found Lister I'm not fussy. And the higher your list gets the less fussy you become, instead it becomes about the gaps. Those rare birds which are the "commonest" and most likely ticks (examples for me: Spotted Sandpiper and Wilson's Phalarope would be the two most likely yank waders for my finds list).

Sometimes stonking and subtle overlap. I would describe my Madeiran Storm Petrel as an example (with the extra smarm factor of being an untwitchable seawatching species 😉).

Owen
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I don't find all that many uncommon birds where I am - I'm normally happy to see whatever's around.

But a few weeks ago I was first to see and report on a Ruddy Shelduck at Lochwinnoch. Whether it was a genuine wild bird or an escape from a collection I don't know. But it was a bit of a buzz hearing people in the visitor centre talking about it. One guy even walked in and saw it straight away through the window and said "there it is".

It was quite satisfying to think that there were people who saw my report (possibly via a third party who retweeted it) that day and got in their cars/jumped on the train to come and see it.
 

KenM

Well-known member
For me the ultimate self-found birding challenge is to get a single observer record of a hard-to-identify first record via nothing more than a written description.


….something I’ve yet to achieve, even with a sustained close at hand easy to identify species without an image supplied and or a third party involved.
Cheers
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
For me there would be quite a few factors at play. Maybe most important would be the view. A stonker might be so easy to identify that you saw it distantly or briefly or somehow otherwise had a rubbish view, but a more subtle bird might have given you an eye-poppingly amazing view in good light etc when it's normally a bit of a skulker. Location important too. An examplemight be something like: adult Red-billed Tropicbird seen distantly in crap conditions off a Cornish headland vs Radde's Warbler seen incredibly well on an inland local patch. Give me the latter. But same Red-billed Topicbird storm blown onto my park lake vs finding a Radde's on the coast in Norfolk ..I'll have the Tropicbird thanks 😊. Another factor for me would also be whether or not a world tick, eg for me finding an imm Yellow-breasted Bunting would trump finding a Yellow-throated Vireo....Well . maybe🤔
 
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amythebirder

Active member
Don't really have a preference - almost all my birding is on patch, and being in Hampshire, any rarity/scarcity will do! Blyth's Reed and Greenish Warblers (both would be 1st for Hants) are two I've been searching & hoping for as patch feels like a suitable location if/when they do appear. That said for the few which require sonograms for proof, as well as the initial excitement of finding it, there is the "hope that recording is ok" etc worry for getting it accepted which does take away some of the joy until it's sorted. I suppose one which doesn't require that is simpler (but not necessarily 'stunning' or unmistakable).

Finding a lifer is the best, and patch tick a close second!
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Don't really have a preference - almost all my birding is on patch, and being in Hampshire, any rarity/scarcity will do! Blyth's Reed and Greenish Warblers (both would be 1st for Hants) are two I've been searching & hoping for as patch feels like a suitable location if/when they do appear. That said for the few which require sonograms for proof, as well as the initial excitement of finding it, there is the "hope that recording is ok" etc worry for getting it accepted which does take away some of the joy until it's sorted. I suppose one which doesn't require that is simpler (but not necessarily 'stunning' or unmistakable).

Finding a lifer is the best, and patch tick a close second!
Try not caring what committees think (or most other people): you'll enjoy your birding more by the sound of it. It's about the bird in the moment, not the next year's report.

John
 

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
Try not caring what committees think (or most other people): you'll enjoy your birding more by the sound of it. It's about the bird in the moment, not the next year's report.

John
But Amy might not. She may be happier having her records accepted. It's like the argument that twitchers would be happier if they didn't emotionally invest in seeing birds on far flung islands. They might be in some cases, but we are all individuals.

As someone who does a lot of birding on my own on an island that gets good birds it matters to me that the sightings stand up to scrutiny. Sometimes that's frustrating, particularly when I had a Thrush Nightingale and it was impossible to photograph, but overall I'm more satisfied by the ones I can 'prove'. Each to their own.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
But Amy might not. She may be happier having her records accepted. It's like the argument that twitchers would be happier if they didn't emotionally invest in seeing birds on far flung islands. They might be in some cases, but we are all individuals.

As someone who does a lot of birding on my own on an island that gets good birds it matters to me that the sightings stand up to scrutiny. Sometimes that's frustrating, particularly when I had a Thrush Nightingale and it was impossible to photograph, but overall I'm more satisfied by the ones I can 'prove'. Each to their own.
That said for the few which require sonograms for proof, as well as the initial excitement of finding it, there is the "hope that recording is ok" etc worry for getting it accepted which does take away some of the joy until it's sorted.

I'm not suggesting anyone, including me, wouldn't be happier with records accepted. But see bold: it's taking the joy out of the hobby for Amy and I'm suggesting there's a way - and I certainly believe there's a need - to put it back. After all, hobbies are where you recharge from working life.

Cheers

John
 

Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
That said for the few which require sonograms for proof, as well as the initial excitement of finding it, there is the "hope that recording is ok" etc worry for getting it accepted which does take away some of the joy until it's sorted.

I'm not suggesting anyone, including me, wouldn't be happier with records accepted. But see bold: it's taking the joy out of the hobby for Amy and I'm suggesting there's a way - and I certainly believe there's a need - to put it back. After all, hobbies are where you recharge from working life.

Cheers

John
Speaking personally and not for Amy it can be a bit stressful getting proof, but when it's sorted there's more joy/satisfaction because any doubt is removed (both from your peers and in some cases from yourself) and you have a record of an 'important' event.

I know Amy was talking about getting sonograms, but I will always stress a bit about getting record shots; when I have them it's much more satisfying than other finds where I don't.

Hobbies are about recharging from working life for some people, they aren't for others. Or at least they aren't always about that. If it was all about recharging why would anyone make convoluted journeys to remote islands to only stay there for a few hours? And why would they feel the need to make the same journey days later if another mega turned up in the same place?
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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