All this Tropicbird nonsense has been utterly fantastic for my blog stats. 2500 hits today, nearly 1000 yesterday. That's over a week's worth in a couple of days, and proves what we all knew all along, which is that birders love a tale of a dip, especially a big controversial one, far far more than news of another one bagged. It's a bit like an ID faux-pas, we would all prefer to revel in the discomfort of a crass cock-up than congratulate somebody on a hard call well made. This is easily one of the best bits about birding, the enjoyment that can be gained from the misfortune of others makes it far easier to console oneself in similar moments. I'd hesitate to say I dipped at Pendeen, but I've been involved in perhaps one of the best ever tales of woe. You will note, I hope, that despite a long and arduous return journey from the South-west full of expressions of what-might-have-been accompanied by much sighing, I was still able to have a bit of fun at the end of it. And what would birding be without the fun, really?
Yes it was a UK Tropicbird, and it would have looked pretty good on my list for sure, but it was only a bird, and I'm not defined by my list. And besides, less than a year ago I was on Little Tobago with hundreds of them. And this is of course where I lifted my gag additions to my Cornwall photos from. Now I wasn't expecting a pile of comments, but well done to those who read my post for what it was. Anyone who has lingered on this site will know that I am very rarely serious, and indeed most often completely frivolous, bordering on plain stupid. It amazes me though that occasionally people still fail to judge where it is that I am coming from. All I can say is that when I read it, I know exactly what I mean....
Most of the time all that happens is various people get irate, call me a variety of colourful names, and presumably drift off to other less offensive websites, like the Guardian homepage. But sometimes those that grasp the wrong end of the stick surprise and delight me. And we are talking about a heroic failure here - I cannot think of a single time when I have been more delighted than this morning when picking up the phone to a birder I know. I was in the office, naturally, earning money for optics through which to miss rare seabirds, and on answering a small voice came down the line. Serious. Sincere. Curiously excited, as though she were happy for me and about to let me in on a big secret. She had been at Pendeen too, and the conversation went something like this.
"You do know what you've seen don't you?"
"Have you looked at your photo?"
"Ah....um....err" (I was beginning to possibly understand at this point....)
"The photo on your blog. The Gannet photo. Have you seen it?! On the edge!!!!"
She made my day, plain and simple, and I cannot thank her enough, other than of course to relay this conversation on my blog for everyone else to read. If you know who I am talking about, you will know that this is typically wonderful. Brilliant even, and I could not have hoped for better. I had dared to dream, but assumed that most people would realise I'm an inveterate joker. But there is perhaps something going in Herts, a sarcasm filter of some description, for a little while later I saw a post on BirdForum that read:
"Well it certainly isn't a hoax anyway. Take a look at Jono's website at the photo of a Gannet taken on Sunday at Pendeen - the extreme right hand side of the photo. So there is one thing worse than being there and not seeing it at all!"
followed by another post from somebody else saying:
"My God! Does he know?!!!"
I've refrained from naming the individuals concerned for fear that I might embarrass them - I'm nice like that - but to all of them, I can't thank you enough, it makes missing the bird eminently easier to take, and I'm still giggling.