Sunday 28 April 2013


Today I learned that I do not know what a Garden Warbler looks like. Given how much I've been pattering on about a) arrogance and b) having seen nearly 400 birds, this makes me look very foolish indeed. And as such it is well worth blogging about. I mean not extensively or anything, but enough to show at least some contrition. I have a funny feeling I've fallen foul of this particular ID conundrum before, but I cannot recall exactly when that was. I might be wrong, but if I'm right I can add "not learning from my mistakes" to my list of mistakes. And of course it was obvious, and had I got further than the head of the bird, then maybe I might have spotted it. Arguably the head was enough too. Oops. The internet though is pretty sharp, and before too long I had 'correspondence' from two independent sources wondering if I hadn't made a bit of a faux pas. Well, I had. Bugger. On the plus side, and we're clutching at straws here, it shows people read it. And they're actually birders by the looks of things!

Anyhow, just in case you missed it, it was on this post, which I have conviently rewritten with the wonderful benefit of hindsight. The joy of being editor in chief is that I could easily have subbed in a photo of a real Garden Warbler (assuming of course that I have one that isn't a Whitethroat) and looked really clever, but it's not critical that I be seen as absolutely perfect. I'd say that I generally get most things right though, for instance my excellent split second deduction of Stone-Curlew from the other day, and the Brown Thrasher I found on the Playing Fields eating worms this evening, but everybody, no matter how experienced, makes mistakes. The beauty of blogging means that everyone gets to see them almost in real time, and there's no way to sweep it all under the carpet, invoke the two bird theory and so on. That said, here's a tip for avoiding looking like a twerp - don't name your photos. In particular, don't make any reference to the species in question, and instead call them something entirely generic. "Wanstead" for example, or if you don't live here, what about just "bird" (assuming you haven't made a right whopper!). That way if you do get pulled up you can easily say that it was a simple case of uploading the wrong photo, mistakes do of course happen, and then conveniently 'forget' to ever replace it. If you write as much as I do, the offending post will soon drop off the bottom of the page and never see the light of day again. Reputation intact, you can carry on birding as if it never happened. Easy.

Brown Thrasher, Wanstead Flats, April 28th 2013


  1. Show me a birder who hasn't made a mistake and I'll show you a fool or a liar (or both)
    Great blog - Dylan

  2. If I wore a cap Jonno I'd doff it at you. Not many admit to mistakes, but those that do go up in my estimation. By the way, the picture of the Brown Thrasher is, in fact, a Large Wren-Babbler...

  3. Ha ha, a great and funny blog post Jonno! I have to say that I have also made my fair share of mis-IDs- everyone does it!(Coincidently, I identified a female Subalp as a Garden Warbler a couple of years back!- you have to understand that I was only 13...) Like you say, it is different when you keep a blog and post pictures of the birds you record, because when you slip up everyone picks up on it!! Cheers, Ben

  4. Yikes, hope that never happens to me (cough). I particularly enjoyed the re-written post.....