Monday 6 September 2010

Am I getting better?

So, to the key question. The goal that actually matters, employment issues aside. Am I getting better? Well, this can either be judged by an increasing number of successes, or by a decreasing number of dismal failures.

The failures are funnier, so let's start with them. On Porthgwarra recently, I spotted an auk flying by. It was pretty distant, as everything is, and squinting down my eyepiece, I called it a Guillemot. It didn't look totally black and white, I thought. Brett Richards had a quick look through his bins, or he may not even have been using them, and pointed out that it was a Razorbill. Not five minutes later, another auk came past, also spotted by yours truly. I felt it looked basically the same as the last one, so called it a Razorbill.

It was a Guillemot.

Based on this one incident alone, I am if anything getting worse. But sea-watching is hardly a fair test. I go sea-watching for perhaps three days a year, things are miles away, and I just don't see enough of them on a regular basis to make informed judgements. So what about normal birding? Have I made any monumental foul-ups recently of the Kingfisher/Robin variety? By the way, Curlew/Whimbrel doesn't count....

My friends and associates will perhaps be queuing up to provide examples, but I can't actually think of any off the top of my head. In the context of local patch birding, where you get most stuff on call, I'm doing OK. I had a slight Wood Warbler/Chaffinch issue in the spring, but made the correct call after persevering. I have not excitedly called out all the local birders to view a Common Sandpiper when in fact it was a funny Starling or anything, and so remain in relatively good standing.

But what about becoming sharper? Well, on my own I'm brilliant. Amazing. Good, ev-en. I am my harshest critic....With other birders - and generally I go birding with people with years of experience - I'm always the last to hear something, always last to pick up on something. I suppose this is to be expected, but it can be a bit annoying. They're just quicker. Better. I could, I suppose, find some beginner birders to go out with, and then I'd look really good, but what's the point in that? Happily, I have almost no birding ego to lug around. I'd far rather go out with people who know what they're talking about, and learn from them. If I lag constantly, so be it. One day I'm going to surprise them all.

By getting something right before they do!

Could you get this right?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. you only have Brett Richards' word for it. you may have been right.

  3. and its a Kittiwake. Identified from the tell-tale "Kittiwake" in the photo title, revealed when you click on the photo

  4. It could be worse mate, you could have called Little Grebe when you really meant Slav Grebe! Oh dear.