birding-aus Records Appraisal

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: birding-aus Records Appraisal
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 15:37:19 +1000
OK - with Peter Milburn and Martin O'Brien saying how valuable or
acceptable they find undocumented "records" of unusual species, who am
I, as a humble local recorder, to object ?  But I will.

One reason is that the sheer number of species recorded at a site is
used as a criterion in assessing conservation priorities: "duff info" (a
term in Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book, which I recommend) can
reduce the credibility of people trying to conserve our dwindling
envirnomental heritage (half our birds to go in the next century ?)

"Records" in my area over the last few years have included:

"Weebills (we know them well)" - Spotted Pardalotes the only similar
species seen around the site and for years before and after
"Richards Pipit" in the breeding season - after several early morning
hunts, Song Thrush
"Little Ringed Plover" - juvenile Red-kneed Dotterels
"Azure Kingfisher" - but I saw a highly-coloured Sacred Kingfisher the
next day
"Forest Kingfisher - it was very blue" - but no mention of the white
wing spots (and this is Melbourne)

I partly blame myself. I learnt about making field notes on rare species
from a British book and have been meaning, when time allows, to write
something for the Bird Observer on how to do it.  For example, try the
exercise of writing convincing field notes about a female House Sparrow
(could it be a Singing Bushlark?).  And, an ABSOLUTE rule, do not look
at your field guide before you are sure you have to refer to it for
diagnostic details and DO NOT use these UNLESS you see the bird again to

Michael Norris
Hampton, Vic.



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