birding-aus Reporting birds

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus Reporting birds
From: "Glenn Holmes" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 20:10:36 +1000
I'm pleased to find that it is tubenoses arousing me to the point of finally contributing to this polite exchange of opinions.
Since moving to the Wet Tropics in 1994 I may have enjoyed local delights like recording up to 251 birds in 24 hours, 199 in seven hours and 140 from my backyard, but the diabolical accessibility to petrels up here is a constant disappointment. 
During cyclones in NENSW or SEQ I used to cling to headlands alone or with others such as John Izzard to marvel at the passing parade.  Here I'm more concerned that my investment in housing will suffer.  Roads to the coast from Atherton quickly become impassable anyway.  The last cyclone at least produced Sooty Tern for my garden list.  Many other notables round Lake Tinaroo were seen, including Bridled and Roseate Terns. 
Except to local friends, I reported none of them. 
Partly this is because I go birding every day and my notes are full of notifiable events.  My environmental consulting business of 20 years generates enough paperwork to induce loathing when confronted by more.  This probably explains why I have turned increasingly to bird guiding to provide the guise of gainful employment.
But like Milburn I also shun reporting because of cynicism resulting from experience of the process.  In the past I submitted reports of the easily identifiable White-rumped Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint, to have both rejected ('not accepted' in polite terminology).  The first was accepted by 3 members and an American expert was 'inclined to accept'... the second was accepted by 4 members (half of BARC).  Are the rest idiots, overcautious or have personal points to settle ??  Such intemperate thoughts come easily, so you tend to drop out of the process.  Subsequently I submitted a Little Ringed Plover only because Tony pleaded so plaintively (oh, the photographs helped too).
It must be my alter ego that is a foundation member of the QOSI Records Appraisal Committee.  Despite what I say above, I enjoy the appraisal process and have gained some insights about how decisions eventuate.  I suspect that many of the varying opinions among the members of any committee result from the way they interpret descriptions.  Incorrect inferences may be inadvertent.  Let's hope they are not wilful.
Correspondingly, I have the strong opinion that a forum such as birding-aus should be totally unconstrained by any responsibility to verify reports.  Surely we can all make our own assessments, even about records that have been accepted. 
Let's remember that record appraisal is not science, otherwise there would not be a voting process to determine acceptance or rejection.  In the spirit of 'Yes Minister' perhaps all records could be accepted according to the vote.  You could have 100 or 75 or 50 % acceptance.  Rejection would be 0 % acceptance !
Which reminds me of two scientists setting upon a hapless birder.  "But I'm an anti-twitcher !"  Comes the retort.."We don't care what sort of twitcher you are !"
Glenn Holmes
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