Monday, 4 November 2019

Rarity finding

As I haven't actually found a rare bird in ages I was updating my finds list yesterday in order to remember what finding a rare bird is actually like. My definition of a rare bird is any description species (full description or notes) at any scale (county or national or biozone) and even on a uber local level, anything which is statistically rare (like a Woodlark at Beddington- common in Surrey, mega at the farmlands). Personally finding a Puffin at Beddington would be just as rewarding as finding a first for the WP on Corvo and I would value finding a Yellow-browed in Holly's garden as much as e.g. finding a  Brown Shrike at Shellness.

Rarity is a completely relative term. Just pop over to Bulgaria  and you will see nearly every eastern European rarity within a morning and an hour at Point Pelee in Spring and you'll get more yank wood warblers than Corvo in a decade. Paddyfield Pipit is an absolute dirt bird in India and I barely looked at one after the first hour when we visited Sri Lanka.

That's why you don't have to live on Scilly or Fair Isle or Spurn to find rarities. A Pechora on Fair Isle isn't worth anywhere near as much as a Pechora in any other vice counties and a Long-tailed Skua at Beddington is worth more than any national level Pechora.  The skill involved in rarity finding can be honed anywhere, it is a completely relative game and there are rare birds to find everywhere.

Confucius famously said  'A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace'. Personally I would say it should be more like 'A common man marvels at foxes and other common shit, a wise man finds the marvel (the rare) hidden within the commonplace' or even 'A common man watches the internet for a rare to be found by a wiseman and then drives miles to gormlessly gawk at it'

Here's a rough go at my finds list: FINDS LIST

It's still rough and ready and been talking with Jaffa aka Cream Tea Birder about the best way to organise it- nations, county or mega, vagrant, scarce migrant etc??

Here's some rules about self finds from Punkbirder SELF FIND RULES.


Steve Gale said...

Well said Pete. The term ‘rarity’ is a moveable feast and probably used in too narrow a field by many birders. If more took on its wider meaning then many of them would be more content.

Peter Alfrey said...

Thanks again Steve. Certainly moveable in light of what's happened with lockdown (Just picked up this message in June 2020)