This is part two of a three part series on how to win to Georgia Youth Birding Competition. Elements of this series can be applied to having a successful big day anywhere, but it has been tailored for the state of Georgia.
Buy the book on competitive birding.
Read Part 1.
Ornithologists and You
Imagine you are standing on the beach, there is a light breeze, the sun is setting, and a small group of Sanderlings are running away from the water like they’ll melt. You are scanning the horizon for anything interesting. It is relatively quiet, but then you see it in all of its glory. A Razorbill, out in open and just sitting there.
You call over your teammates and they confirm. You enthusiastically cross it off the list, laughing manically. Time passes, it is finally time to sleep. You are just about to close your eyes, then hits it you sharply in the gut like the bill of a… Razor. No one took any photos and you’re so tired you can’t remember which beach you saw it at. ‘Don’t worry’, you tell yourself, everything will be okay. You arrive at the banquet, with your checklist. You heard rumors about your nemesis team’s list. It looks like you have beaten them by one,as it should be. You’re sitting down on at your table talking with your team about that “Northern Flicker” your dad got for cutting that guy off in traffic on the way over here, when a bearded man calls you over. He must the ornithologist counting up the list.
You and your team walk over to the table. He explains that he has one problem with your list, as he strokes his beard, the symbol of his authority. The ornithologist asks if you have any proof of your Razorbill sighting. A single drop of sweat rolls down your back. You knew it would come to this. “No sir, but it was out in the ocean. It-it-it was black and white and had a thick bill.” You notice your team left while you weren’t looking. Birds of a feather, huh? The ornithologist shows you a picture a Black Skimmer. “Are you sure you didn’t see one of these jobs?”, he asks calmly with a Subaru like hum in his voice. “No it was a Razorbill.” “I’m sorry I can’t count it without a photograph.” And that was that. Your team lost only by one. How could this be avoided?
Bring a camera along! If you can’t see a rare bird it does not exist. Biologists are learned men (and women) of science. If they don’t believe in Dendroica, they won’t believe in your Emperor Penguin.
Of course, you don’t need to have amazing photographs of your birds to qualify. They simply need to contain all of the major field marks of the bird.