BARC et al

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Subject: BARC et al
From: "Julian Bielewicz" <>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 15:26:24 +1000
Greetings Fellow BIrders

For the second time since my tree-change I am tempted to take that step
beyond simple lurking to contributing.  Like Frank, I am somewhat taken
aback at the quantity of responses and depth of feeling regarding BARC ? and
rarity committees in general.

I have no doubts that there must be some ?I can?t say ?many? as paucity of
binoculars out in the field remains a major obstacle to the overall
improvement of birding in this country- who can always come up with
conspiracy theories to clarify personal feelings of rejection; not in the
?Club?; not recognized as one of the top birders around the ridges;
suspected of having slept with the President?s wife; etc.

I?ve gone down that road myself- not the wife bit!

Again, like Frank, I?ve had my victories and my failures.  My photographs of
some early Asian Dowitchers at Cairns were accepted.  And yes, as someone
has already said, there is an elation in having one?s call accepted; a
vindication of the call; a ego massage when the ?experts? agreed with your

My Torbul Redshank call was not accepted.  Note, not rejected but found to
be [as the Scottish legal system would have it] ?not proven?.  To say other
than that the decision ?hurt? would be less than honest.  It was only a
brief glimpse of long red shanks but enough to recall to mind past British
sightings and enough for me to mentally skim through and reject the
immediate obvious alternative candidates.

Sadly, as I raced off to get my camera a local chose that moment to take his
dog for a beach stroll!  My Kiwi companion had slightly better, and longer,
views and when I later turned to the appropriate page in the British field
guide he immediately pointed to the Redshank.

Clearly however, both of us failed to note and/or record vital diagnostic
details.  Having seen the creature in the UK is not of itself sufficient
evidence of the same species miles out of its normal range.  Knowing within
your own heart that your call at the time was correct is again little more
than self-indulgence.

That is not to say that the Queensland Rarities Committee at the time was
without fault.  One reason given for the ?non acceptance? was that there
were no prior records of Redshank in the area.  It was only some time later,
when I was researching my paper on the birds of the Redcliffe Peninsula,
that I came across a reference to six Redshank spotted a little south of
Torbul by a visiting British scientist.  That record went unchallenged at
the time but also had clearly slipped through the net of local recollection.

And yet the blame ultimately lies with me.  Had I conducted my own research
more thoroughly at the time of the Redshank?

No one is forced to submit sightings and if the finder of a rare species is
satisfied that the call is accurate there is no power on Earth that can
gainsay that claim.  Birding in Australia is a minority pastime, ranked
somewhere between professional marbles and conker championships.  Australian
birders are so few and far between that the average non-metropolitan
practitioners need never concern themselves about reputation or ridicule-
unless of course they venture forth into cyberspace with their bid for

Those who can, will; those who can?t, won?t.  As for those who, like myself,
would like to, the opportunity itself is a rarity!




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