Milton Keynes rarities and ridiculous birders

There have been a few rare bird news circulating in town in the last few weeks. Among those there was Bearded Reedling, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe and Rough-legged Buzzard. These reports appeared on Twitter and Birdguides, but have never been through the local SMS alert system.

Most of the records were posted by an unknown birder and as usual local birders (twitchers) became suspicious immediately. That didn’t really surprised me as I’ve been going through this process since I moved to England. Despite the Bearded Reedling was relocated by a local birder and the record became kinda ‘accepted’, the community remained suspicious when the Great Northern Diver was reported. Nobody managed to see that.

Then a few days ago a Slavonian Grebe was reported from the Willen Lake and yet again a series of cynical posts appeared in the local mailing list. One of the biggest twitchers in England had to say this: “I have been in the game of news dissemination long enough to smell a rat and this one leaves a long trail of doubt.” He said this without going to Willen Lake and tried to find the grebe.

Then all the cynical twitchers has been put to shame, when one of the locals finally got out to Willen and re-found the Slavonian Grebe. I also have seen it a few hours ago.

When I moved to England I had a few cases, when I had to think, I was a bad birdwatcher and it’s better to sell my binoculars. It started with the observation of a family of Common Cranes in Tyringham about two years ago. Nobody believed me. Then I saw a Redpoll and I got a feedback, that it was quite uncommon (in fact it wasn’t). I got another one, after I reported a Common Crossbill. None of them are mega species. Probably I can say, I am from a Common Crane kingdom, where I’ve seen tens of thousands of them in Hungary.

All these happenings are forcing me into giving up reporting and just focusing my own birding. I don’t even give a damn who trusts me or not, whether my records will be included in the annual reports or not. I’ve been birding long enough not to play with rarities just to make my whatever lists more impressive. I’m happy that other Buckinghamshire birders share my thoughts about those self-conceited birders. Luckily there are many kind and approachable ones.


Bearded Reedling. © Gyorgy Szimuly


2 thoughts on “Milton Keynes rarities and ridiculous birders

  1. im sure we all get thought of as suspicious when we have single observer species, but when someone who no locals have ever heard of report 4 rare local birds they are always going to be heavily doubted especially with them not being seen subsequently and the two species that didn’t hang about for others to see (great grey shrike is a very rare local bird and the last diver at Caldecotte stayed for a long time). I think it is natural to question the sightings the uk is often graced with people who lie about birds either through some weird malice or through lack of id skills.

    But in fairness who really cares if we are believed or not? All that matters to me is that I know what I have seen 🙂

  2. The British twitching culture is sick. Everyone, who has has seen the BBC document “Twitchers – A Very British Obsession” knows it. The twitching police Lee Evans is the culmination of the whole absurd culture. I’m lucky to be a Finnish twitcher, here the twitching culture is based on trust, we don’t need nor want nobody to control us.

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