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Monday, November 19, 2007

Humble Pie?

I stopped by Peace Valley this afternoon to take another look at the loons. As reported earlier on PABirds, in the same general area where I reported a Pacific Loon there was an obvious adult Red-throated Loon. After taking a good look at this bird, I really don't think its the same bird I saw this morning. The bird I saw this morning looked darker on the neck including at least a partial necklace below the throat, and this morning I didn't see white above the eye on the face or white on the sides of the body. I didn't think the bird this morning held its bill at as elevated an angle as the bird this morning, and (this is pretty subjective and subject to change based on a bird's mood) seemed to have a differently proportioned and rounder head with a steeper angle between the bill and forehead.

However, as a member of the "reality-based community", I'm really uncomfortable with the "two bird theory" that the Pacific Loon flew off after I left to be replaced within the hour by a Red-throated Loon. Is it possible that earlier this morning in the snow and poor light that I didn't get as good of a look as I thought? While I don't think so, I would be an idiot not to at least consider it a possibility. Viewing conditions were admittedly not 100% ideal, so I have to at least accept the possibility that my eyes, brain, and/or optics could have failed me.

Since I have to acknowledge even the slightest possibility of observer error, I can't be 100% certain about my sighting this morning, and humbly accept that the ID failure theory probably seems more plausible to most folks. Without a photo or multiple observer confirmation, I'm left without satisfaction and only an increased desire to get my hands on a workable digiscope setup--and the hope to redeem myself with a truly verifiable rarity sighting next time!

2 comments:

Falco columbarius said...

You're never going to make an Ivory-billed searcher with that kind of attitude!

Congratulations on having the maturity and judgment skills to say that while you don't think you were mistaken, you can acknowledge the possibility. That attitude marks you as a reliable observer. There are a number of people in the southern swamps who could learn an important lesson here.

PA-Birder said...

Rob,
I feel your pain. And yes, I have made the same pledge about digiscoping over similar circumstances but have yet to do so, but your experience is nudging me closer.
Vern

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