Rarities Committees (long)

To: "Keith Weekes" <>
Subject: Rarities Committees (long)
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 23:17:42 +1100
Fortunately Keith, it is easy to defend BARC's non-acceptance of a claimed Franklin's Gull seen by a single observer in a brief fly-by. I quote here just three of many examples of where there has been confusion between Franklin's and the very similar Laughing Gull and all were sustained views backed by photographs. 1. The first Victorian record of a Laughing Gull was at Lakes Entrance of a bird which had joined Silver Gulls scavenging around picnic tables so was easily photographed by the experienced observers. It was submitted as a Franklin's Gull to BOCA (or its predecessor) as an unusual sighting. Scrutineers pointed out that the photographic evidence showed that it was a Laughing not a Franklin's Gull. This suggestion was greeted with total objection and not a little hostility by the observers. 'How could they possibly be wrong'. It matched perfectly the illustration of a Franklin's Gull in their copy of Slater's Fieldguide. The fact that the Fieldguide (at that time) didn't also have an illustration of a Laughing Gull didn't seem to concern them. After much persuasion they came round. They're published account gives no credit to those that provided the ID and reads as though from the very start they never had any doubt that the bird they were watching was a Franklin's Gull! 2. Conversely, the first Victorian record of a Franklin's Gull was claimed as a Laughing Gull, again by experienced observers, that ID being suggested by its laughing call. I was one of many that failed in an attempt to twitch that bird and I partly blame that on the original false ID. You see we concentrated our search along the coast, Laughing Gull habitat, rather than on the lake at the river mouth, potential Franklin's Gull habitat. Some excellent photographs were circulated among a number of the observer's associates and an excellent submission was prepared and passed to a BARC member for distribution to the committee. He passed it back to them requesting that they resubmit it as a Franklin's Gull, the photographs clearly revealing the diagnostic characters of that species. It was an easy job as all they needed to do was change 'Laughing' to 'Franklin's' throughout the document. Mind you there were a few red faces. 3. This bird was found, studied in detail and photographed by a very experienced and respected observer at a famous birding site and reported as a Laughing Gull. Other observers flocked to the site and the ID was corrected to Franklin's Gull. In some photographs the bill of this bird did appear 'drooped' suggesting Laughing but other characters were diagnostically Franklin's.

So Keith, you cannot, well should not, argue that BARC should be more sympathetic to observers claiming Franklin's Gull or any other species, nor that we should be more lenient in our decisions. You see, unlike you, I do give a damn what BARC thinks and want the respect and authority commanded by that body to be maintained.

Whilst I hope I haven't made it too obvious just who was involved in the above incidents (except in case 1 where I have taken this opportunity to vent my spleen), those that were will recognise themselves. I apologise for any embarrassment caused but consider it important to defend the workings of BARC and its decisions.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU