Ravens, M.Saunt – Ravens are a notoriously ill-described species which has a high Not Proven rate – Mick has recognised this and provided a thorough account covering all bases. The description doesn’t just tell us it was a big black corvid and the observer has seen ‘loads of them before so it was one!’ – Mick actually takes us through the ID step by step and leaves the committee in no doubt of what he has seen, backed up by record shots.
Hoopoe, A.Culshaw – Sometimes a bird is only seen briefly, but it was distinctive and easy to identify. These species are still often found Not Proven because the account is too thin or the few details noted are not well described. Here we are given a great example of how some background info to the find helps give context and the details given while fairly brief, are concise and clear.
Bluethroat, M.A. Golley – Here Mark gives a masterclass in how to work your way through bird ID and not let opinions of others cloud your judgement when trying to follow up on what you think you have seen. The identification of this as a Bluethroat was straightforward, but assigning it to race not so. Mark didn’t give up though and kept going back until he’s cracked it!
‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat T.Allwood & R.Ivine – this is a prime example of a species which requires a description which takes into account the effect of different light conditions on plumage tones. Not only did the observers stick with their initial hunch and spend a good deal of time trying to relocate and photograph the bird, but they studied it carefully over a period of time and compiled a concise and instructive write up.
Olive-backed Pipit, A.Stoddart – Here we have an account not supported by photos or field sketches, but which captivates the ID process perfectly in words. Not only has the observer taken the opportunity to learn something themselves from the sighting, but gives the reader the opportunity to do so too! Questioning your own processes is a really important trait in describing rarities, something Andy has done here with the tricky business of separating Tree and Olive-backed Pipits on call.
Little Bunting, A.Saunders & S.Cale – It’s not always possible to get a photograph of a rare bird, and then the quality of the description becomes even more important. Field notes and sketches, completed as soon after the sighting as possible, are invaluable to help illustrate your key points, however rubbish you think they are
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Sabine’s Gull, P.Wilson – seabirds are notoriously difficult both to write up, and to assess. They are rarely photographed, and views tend to be brief and often under difficult field conditions. Here Peter captures the essence of a juvenile Sabine’s perfectly with an honest and concise description
Greenland WFG – J.R.McCallum & K.Forbes – rare birds aren’t only to be found in the migration periods! The best observers are out searching in all weather conditions at all times of year, digging out rarities! Here Kayn unearths a lovely young Greenland White-front, and we are talked through the process with a series of instructive video grabs from James to highlight the concise key points
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Blyth’s Reed Warbler, A.Saunders – This is a good example of a difficult to identify species which has required careful observation over several days, and a piecing together of the identification aided by instructive images and video clips despite the tentative ID being reached quite quickly. Jizz, vocalisations and precise detail of wing formula, as well as accurate assessment of plumage tones and head pattern details, are the key to a successful Blyth’s ID