Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Rejected records

Blue-footed Booby chick - the only booby shot I have! (Michelle Thomas)
I learnt this evening from Kimball Garrett (Ornithology Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles) that a Brown Booby I found at Salton Sea had been rejected by the rarities committee.

On May 28th 2006 I was birding at Salton Sea in the Colorado Desert, US having spent the previous week hanging in LA, checking out some of my urban patches there. The Salton Sea was one of those places I'd always fancied going so I drove the 180 miles or so southeast out of LA to arrive at that amazing place at dawn.

The 'sea' is actually a giant lake occupying a massive basin in the Colorado Desert covering a surface area of 376 square miles and over 35 miles long. And it was bloody hot!

I was having a great morning watching a party of White-faced Ibis, both Clark's and Western Grebes, Gambel's Quail, Western Kingbirds plus Yellow-headed Blackbirds. I was also ticking such beauties as several Yellow-footed Gulls, Burrowing Owl, Lesser Nighthawk (my favourite), Verdin, Cactus Wren and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. My head was positively spinning.

As the morning progressed so did the heat and by 10am it had tipped 100 degrees farenheit. I was walking back to my car that was parked near to the water's edge. It was from there that fairly close in I noticed a strange bird that I soon realised was a 1st winter Brown Booby. It was sitting on the water about 100 yards from me preening. It's big blueish bill, chocolate brown plumage relieved by whitish underparts and underwing coverts to me were fairly diagnostic.

Had I had known just how rare this bird was locally I would have made far more comprehensive notes. Apparently, they are extremely rare at the Salton Sea with the last report being in 1996. My brief notes that I submitted were subsequently rejected. I know how people must feel when they see a bird that is obviously what it is only to have it rejected.

Well, it's on my list even if it's not on their county list. It's just a shame that my encounter with that booby will not be recorded for all to see for prosperity. But I guess we all have a bird or two that never made the grade with the birding establishment.

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