Monday, 14 September 2009

The Missing List.

I've wrote about the listing compulsion before, I know there's more than a few regular readers of this blog who have many of the same lists. What I would like to share with you today though is some of the birds that aren't on my list but could have been or would have been had circumstances and my mindset been different over the years. assuming I have another 40-50 years left in me and keep in reasonable health if I'm very lucky I might get two of these back which means three of them are lost forever, the Missing.

1. Red-necked Stint - Perhaps the worst one of them all. Found by three quarters of the Bird Race team that I was the remaining 25% and driver of. Two miles as the Stint flies from my house. On my patch. I hadn't long split from my then partner. I had a seven year old living with me five days from seven and a full time job. I was out of sorts with birding. Frankly I didn't care, till later, much later by then all too late. With only six recorded in Britain I may never get this one back.

2. Wilson's Petrel - When you find the first Wilson's Petrel in the North Sea (UK side) what's the first thing you do after you have clinched the ID? That's right you ring your mate who is not on the boat and tell him your still watching it. What's your first thought when a phone call like that comes through? "Who do I know with a boat"? For four and a half panic filled miserable minutes I seriously considered the option of finding a way to get out to that boat, they were only a few miles out and I was only a few minutes drive from the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, it had to be worth a punt, right? In dismay the news reached me that Wilson had fled the scene and I was left with another serious addition to the 'Missing List'.

3. White-tailed Sea Eagle - I think I am right in stating only one man alive has seen White-tailed Sea Eagle in Northumberland. Not that he doesn't deserve it given the hours he puts in. Rayburn Lake, a chance encounter, right place right time. With the reintroduction programmes in Scotland this has to be the best chance of pulling one of the infamous five back?

4. Slender-billed Curlew - 1998, I moved house. I started a new job as a bigwig in a company five times the size of the one I moved from in a business sector I hadn't worked in before and as the senior operational person responsible for 70 people it was all consuming. So much so that when a call came that bird thought to be a Slender-billed Curlew had been found at Druridge Pool, ten miles up the coast from where I was living I just couldn't fit it in and didn't have the energy. Little did I know that 11 years later it would still be the last documented sighting anywhere.

5. Swinhoe's Storm Petrel - I hadn't been birding long when a knock came at the door one dark night and this tall bloke says " Hallo, I'm Mark Cubitt, can I see your Leach's Petrel." After checking that Jeremy Beadle wasn't lurking in the shadows I let him in. Earlier that year I had picked up a dead bird on an industrial estate road about 1m inland. I stopped the car thinking it was a House Martin only to find a petrel, later identified as Leach's, the victim of the fierce storm the night before. I had it stuffed. MC explained that he and one or two other ringers had caught a 'dark rumped' petrel species at Tynemouth and wanted to use measurements of my Leach's to help with the identification process. Not really grasping the importance and rarity of said dark rumped petrel I merrily agreed and sent him on his way, without ensuring that I had an invite to future ringing sessions that would have added one of the rarest British seabirds to my county list and British List when they re-trapped it in following years. The contract for any future event of this nature lies unsigned in my bedside drawer, safe in the knowledge it may never get used but in the words of Roger Daltry I wont get fooled again.


Steve Gale said...

A great post Alan, full of the angst, the chance and the frustration that most non-birders just do not know exist in our 'gentle' past time. One that I may nick in the future!

Skev said...

Blimey - reading that makes me glad to be a Leicestershire birder. Missing out on a county Whiskered Tern seems laughable compared to your lot!
Sadly your two biggest misses are (probably) eternal gaps in my British List aswell.

The Watcher said...

Well I was one of the two people who saw the Golden Eagle in Cornwall this year. The first recorded sighting for two hundred years in the county.I had only been birding aprox eighteen months and did not realize how important the sighting really was....I left my name of the record sheet although I was surprised no one asked for my account of what happened. The other person who saw it was my partner who submitted the photographs for verification. So..I know what you mean although I did see mine.

Stewart said...

For the record -

Red necked Stint - a sum plum adult and it was great :)

White tailed Eagle - no there are two Northumbrians with recent WTE records, ADMc AND our very own Blyth Birder Alan Giloney, and he photographed his!

Wilsons Petrel - from a boat is abroad so it doesnt count.

Swinhoes - only id'd two years later by the time DNA methods had been developed so that doesnt count either ( yes I didnt see them either)

Slender billed Curlew - I lived 3 miles or 7 minutes away and it took me two days to believe it wasn't a wind up! I saw it twice though...I still cant believe it.

So, I hope that has given you some solace :)

Blyth Birder said...

Only 3 people alive have seen WT Eagle in Northumberland Alan, and I'm one of them :)

Joint finder owith Keith Reeder over Simonside 3-4-05.

Only the second sighting since modern county records began, or something like that?

Prior to that it was ADMc but not sure when that was.

Alan Tilmouth said...

I thought this post might generate some comments. The fact that there has been another WTE that I wasn't even aware of just rubs salt but well done Alan, would love to see the images some time if you feel I can survive the subsequent depression.

Andrew Kinghorn said...

For me personnaly I would pick Slender-billed Curlew as my greatest missed bird. What brings me comfort is the fact:
1. I couldn't drive
2. I was young
3. I sadly wasn't a birdwatcher

I am not sure if you know this Alan but there has been 1 confirmed sighting since the Drurdige Bird: - Really great news at the very bottom of that page in red.

Andrew K