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Herts Life list string (15/2/19)

January 14, 2019

We intend to keep new posts to a bare minimum. However we do update existing posts when new information comes in. In these cases the title of the post will include the date of when it was updated.

Whilst checking George’s 2018 year list we came across his claim of a 2018 Hertfordshire lifer. George is claiming the Penduline Tit at Tyttenhanger GP on the 16th April 2018. On the 16th George was on his way back from his Scottish tour and was on Holy Island for Black Scoter and then near Amble for Puffins. He managed to get to Tyttenhanger within the last hour of light. Before he arrived the Penduline had not been seen for sometime. George claimed that he saw it hop up and then hop down. None of the locals believe he saw this bird.

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We looked at George’s 2005, 2011, 2018 lists and input from emails, reports, etc including talking to locals. All three lists have porkies in them and also conflict with each other. George has strung at least 24 species and probably more on his herts list. His strung list is lower down.

George has form on his Herts list as can be seen from a 2011 Herts post which also includes his 2005 list and the Great Skua saga post. Clearly George had gone through bird reports and claimed various birds he did not see. Unknown to George for some of these birds it was not possible to twitch for various reasons. Often he will claim a bird species giving dates with supporting information and later give conflicting information for the same species. 

George did not have Great Skua on his 2005 list, but it was on his 3/12/11 list claiming he saw one on 3/9/83. However on 3/9/83 he was spotted in Cornwall. When confronted with this fact that he was in Cornwall on the 3/9/83 and other cheating he stated on 7/12/11 “I know that I have seen Great Skua, Purple Sandpiper and Twite for example but without tracing the records, have no idea when”. Great Skua then remained on his list but without a date for ages. You can download his fabricated 2018-list and note that Great Skua, Purple Sand and Twite are not on it!!

Great Skua Wilstone Reservoir An adult killing Coots on 3 September 1983

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In the 2005 list George stated “I have also NOT SEEN the following species recorded in the county : … Rough-legged Buzzard”. However it was on his 2011 list stating “My first ever Rough-legged Buzzards were seen during the huge influx of this species in early 1975; excellent views were obtained of a long-staying bird close to Kimpton Mill on several occasions in January 1975.” This was air-brushed out of his 2018 list where he just claimed the 2008 Reed, Royston record!!

On his 2005 list George stated Barry has Fulmar, Gannet … on me” so Fulmar and Gannet are OFF the listHowever on his 4th Dec 2011 list George stated “Some dates are provisional and a few species are still to be added once dates are found (eg Serin, Fulmar, Gannet)” so Fulmar and Gannet are ON. On the 7th Dec, 2011 George sent an email to a number of Herts birders which he then stated “I have not seen a Fulmar or Gannet in Herts to the best of my knowledge but I know that I have seen Great Skua, Purple Sandpiper and Twite for example but without tracing the records, have no idea when” so Fulmar and Gannet are OFF. On his 2018 list it still says “Some dates are provisional and a few species are still to be added once dates are found (eg Serin, Fulmar, Gannet)so Fulmar and Gannet are ONGeorge saw his first Herts Fulmar on 5 Apr 2012 and his first Herts Gannet on 26 Sep 2014. These birds are mentioned on his 2018 list but no mention of any other Fulmar and Gannet records!!

Four other good examples of string can be found here. Just because there is a witness name against a record do not think its a definite genuine record. This applies to Herts and UK claimed birds. Many times George has used this witness ploy only to find George did not see the claimed bird. If we had access to old Herts Bird Reports we probably would have found more string.

We think the following list of string is not exhaustive: Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Fulmar, Gannet, Velvet Scoter, Blue-winged Teal, Purple Sandpiper, Goshawk, Rough Legged Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Hooded Crow, Bee-eater, Woodlark, Twite, Marsh Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Serin (he did not see the 1991 bird), White Stork, Hoopoe. George has now seen about 40% of these birds. In his 2005 list he was not sure if he had seen Green-winged Teal or not, but it was on his 3/12/11 list. However it was not on his 2018 list. For a number of scare/rare birds George does not give an exact date which made it impossible to check.

There are many other claims we also suspect. There are also examples where an exact date is given when he should have been in school and in the winter time there would have been very little time to get from his school in Luton to the bird in time (e.g. Merlin 10/1/75). On his 2011 & 2018 list George states “A roosting and feeding juvenile [Night Heron] on the cress beds 8 December 1971”. The 8th Dec is a Wednesday when George was aged 11 as he was born in Oct 1960. George also gives 1970 dates e.g. an editorial written by George says “My next rarity was a Night Heron in Lemsford Springs in 1970”, e.g. “My first rarity was a Pectoral Sandpiper at Tring Reservoirs in 1969 followed by a wintering Black-crowned Night Heron at Lemsford Springs in 1970″. The BBRC report gives 28/11/71 to 19/2/72.

Why does George keep on giving different dates for different birds when he claims to have good recording skills. In the book “Behind the binoculars” he states “I began collating field notes from my earliest outings in 1968 [age 7- 8] …. I was obsessed about taking notes as much as I was about actually seeing those birds, and kept a meticulous record of them in foolscap”. Elsewhere he says: “I keep meticulous notes on all of the birds that I see.” 

On the subject of dates, George claims different dates of when he started birding so take your pick. For example, George claims to have been birding from at least the age of 4 (i.e. 44 – 40). [from Herts email group: 25 Feb 2005, Subject: Re: Re: Goshawk ……”I have been in active birding in Britain for over 40 years”]. Can you hold a pair of bins at the age of 4? For the record, I started birdwatching in July 1968” i.e. age 7. He “become interested in birds at the age of eight”. E.g:. 

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