Unethical?

Yesterday I took a little ride out into birdy country, the pleasantly leafy area in the south of Quebec that has area of great habitat and birds to match. My target was Golden-winged Warbler, a species that is not that common in Quebec although it is likely that it is overlooked. The best and easiest place to see them is a nothing little road west of Huntingdon called Montee Biggar. I got there around nine am, a little late than idea but the best I could do. There were two people there already, photographers judging by the size of the giant lens one had, both were women.

I checked out an area well away from them, presuming that they were waiting for something to pop up. Eventually I got to them and as I approached I could hear the tooting of an Eastern Screech-Owl, I presumed that they had found the day roost of one and that it was calling, then I saw the lead. These photographers had hooked a speaking up in the bush and were playing the owl’s tooting to attract the birds. As I stood there a glowing male Golden-winged Warbler hoped into clear view. The shutters went off but not mine. They spoke no English and I speak not enough French to point out that they shouldn’t be sending the birds crazy that way in the breeding season. I just left them saying “bad birders”.

I walked down the lane and they carried on, even though their target had already performed. They must have played the tape for 40 minutes or so, no wonder some birds are rated ‘Red Data’!

On our local soon to vanish if they build next door bog I found a Purple Finch that was singing in a way I’d not heard before. It was a ‘brown’ one so presumably female and it sang at half pace continuously. After about ten minutes it then switched to the bog standard Purple Finch song, interesting.

Today I spent my time at the pits; it was a nice visit with FOS (there) Common Yellowthroat, Grey Catbird, Short-billed Dowitcher, Cliff Swallow and Red-eyed Vireo. I managed 51 species, which quite pleased me including a very close Osprey that begged to be photographed (no speaker needed!).

Just to go back to the tape-luring issue for a moment.  Many birders use playback for various reasons, some legitimate others not quite so. Judicious use is not a sin but a tool although there have to be limits, such as not stressing rare breeders or even common breeders for that matter. My conscience wouldn’t let me take the photo under the circumstances, even though the result would have been my best ever of the species but perhaps I should have. Perhaps I missed the opportunity as the bird was showing superbly, the transgression already made and my opportune position was guilt free, too late now.

To go back to my last post, thanks for the responses. Just to clarify, I wasn’t actually getting at people for entering sp in eBird, only at eBird for allowing it to be in their province main checklists. I stand by the fact that sp has no value in data and I have the experience to back that statement up. I see thousands of bird sp everyday and so does everyone else. In those circumstances I don’t stick them into eBird and neither does anyone else do they so why put them in just because you have bins in your hands?

Below some photos, the Osprey ones are quite nice. The other ones are Purple Finch, Northern Waterthrush and a typical view of Grey Catbird.

IMG_9811 IMG_9800 IMG_9783 IMG_9703 IMG_9663 IMG_9658

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