Monday 24 September 2012

A case of mistaken identity

There has been a spate of post hoc re-identification of tricky waders from photos recently, including both of this month's Short-billed Dowitchers in Dorset and Scilly. Photographs of the former revealed the give-away barred tertials at the rear end of the bird which were not so easily seen at distance in the field, and after the event there was some soul searching on a local internet forum about how the more 'obvious' clues to the Dowitcher's identity had not been picked up. This reminded me of an embarrassing incident from many years ago when I was working for a company with a subsidiary north of the border (no, Dorset-listers, I mean Scotland, not Wiltshire) of which I was a director.

No mistaking the identify of this Mute Swan. Taken during one of many hours spent at Lodmoor waiting for a good view of the Short-billed Dowitcher.

Night falls at Lodmoor. Still waiting for a good view of the Short-billed Dowitcher...
The Edinburgh office was very small, so when one of the team resigned, the leaving-do was almost a family affair - just three of us in fact: me, the departing colleague (let's call him 'A') and his workmate (let's call him 'B') who was charged with organising the night out. Despite working at close quarters with A for some time, B had somehow not managed to pick up on some field characteristics which might have led him to conclude that A was gay. His sexuality was definitely no secret, in the other office at least.

Black-tailed Godwit, ruining perfectly good photo of a stick, taken at Lodmoor while waiting for Short-billed Dowitcher to show.

Didn't use Photoshop. Just waited for the stick to move. Plenty of time for it to do so while waiting for the Short-billed Dowitcher to show.
Anyway, not noticing this, B's idea of a good send off involved a night in Edinburgh's 'pubic triangle', so named for the close proximity of three seedy strip pubs. The chosen venue was so classy that we were advised by the bouncers to remove our ties on entry.

Plenty of Med Gulls at Lodmoor recently, with numbers building up as the evenings progress. 

Another Med Gull

Now I may not have been, ahem, quite the clean living family man than I am now, but I still found myself sharing colleague A's visible discomfort with the choice of pub. I didn't feel I could pull the plug on the party, and could only assume he couldn't either, or didn't want to seem ungrateful. Colleague B, confirming his growing reputation for insensitivity, was of course having a ball. Meanwhile, we sat there smiling politely, looking mostly at the floor, and hoping beyond hope not to get beaten up. Or worse, offered a private dance by one of the young ladies in various states of fancy un-dress. I for one have never looked at a nun the same since...

I think this is a Migrant Hawker - photographed on my 4th visit to see the Dowitcher. 

Sandwich Tern at Lodmoor

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