How not to behave when a vagrant species appears

To: Carl Clifford <>
Subject: How not to behave when a vagrant species appears
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2009 15:12:22 +1000
Yes, you get a different perspective when you look at the Birdforum thread on the subject.

In particular:

"presumably the 'they' you referred to are the newspaper reporters, not the twitchers. The report also reached the local news, where the term 'bird-lovers' was used instead of twitchers and apprently this was the first Rose-coloured Starling ever seen in Britain - later changed to currently in Britain - both of which were, as usual inaccurate. I saw the bird last Sunday and although showing to a few feet (yes I photographed it) it was feeding constantly on insects, catching one about every 30 secs.
By the way does anybody know if it was actually taken by a cat?"

"As one of the people whose gardens it visited during its stay I can confirm it was very tame, and that it was indeed killed by a cat, and a very heavy rainstorm. In fact it would probably have been killed a day or two earlier if it hadn't been for birders scaring off moggies left right and centre. The bird was weak when it arrived - had two huge ticks on it. It was also unconcerned about the presence of humans (possibly because of where it was born - though the Mongolia bit is something of a stretch!) and fed happily around people. Lies, damn lie, and The Sun (and Radio 4, The Times, The Mail, The Telegraph etc etc). "

"There are tw*ts in all walks of life. But as far as I saw, there were no major idiot moments around the starling. The bird was feeding fairly comfortably around people, taking no notice of them and sometimes coming towards them. There were plenty of secluded areas it could have gone if it was worried. Basically, a cat mauled it and after that it was never going to be able to survive the torrential downpour of Monday."

On 19/01/2009, at 2:55 PM, Carl Clifford wrote:


If you Google "rose starling dead twitchers" you will find quite a few links to the story on a variety of sites and not just from the UK, so I think that there is probably a good deal of truth in the story. I personally find it quite plausible, based on my experiences with other birders in several countries. I have even seen what I thought were responsible birders throw rocks into bushes to flush a recalcitrant bird which had the hide to regard its own safety more highly than the birders desire to see it. This sort of behaviour is why I generally prefer to bird on my own.


Carl Clifford

On 19/01/2009, at 3:27 PM, L&L Knight wrote:

Well Carl,

There is limited information in the article. Was the bird only viewed by 80 twitchers over a three-day period [a rather low number for a rarite in the UK] or were there up to 80 twitchers at a time honing in on the bird? How close were the twitchers getting to the bird? Were they entering people's yards to get close to it?

You might certainly get an interesting scenario where a bird with a territorial call turned up in an area of limited visibility and several twitchers independently visiting the site started to play call recordings at the same time.

Regards, Laurie.

On 19/01/2009, at 11:40 AM, Carl Clifford wrote:

Dear all,

There is a down side to all-and-sundry knowing about a vagrant species turning up.

Not that I am saying that any member of the list would behave in this manner, would they?


Carl Clifford

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