Now I'm not one for questioning people who demonstrate greater birdspotting knowledge than my own but in instances like this I want to learn from the bloke who's demonstrating greater birdspotting knowledge than my own.
"How did you ID that?" I asked.
"Oh, I did it on smell".
Fuck me! On smell?
Birds have their own characteristic smell? Fucking hell's teeth!
Doing stuff on sight, yeah, I'm mostly on it. Doing stuff on call, I'm not quite there but whatever. But doing stuff on smell is fucking mental! The front ears of birding are being pushed further and further.
This will be the next big thing in bird identification. Wandering around the Point, a bloke comes up.
"Had much?" I said.
"Yeah, I could smell a Common Rosefinch in them there bushes".
In the Spurn log.
The question will then be whether you can tick stuff on smell alone. New field guides are being produced as we speak. Killian Mullarney's future classic "The Smells of the Birds of the Western Palearctic" with scratch and sniff areas next to each species description, and Lars Johnsson's "Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll Fucking Stink" will be published in British Birds and is a paper at the cutting edge of bird identification.
Really though, when will it stop?
When I were a lad there was simply a Herring Gull. Nice. Easy. From this one species the listers (it is their fault) have managed to squeeze out Yellow-Legged, American Herring and Caspian to bolster their figures, with Armenian, Azorean, Kazakhstanian and South-East Norwegian all being touted as future splits to aid the ailing British List.
Seriously, the level of knowledge these days is phenomenal. Which I suppose also relates to most subjects in these modern times.
Take this Gull for instance. A Herring Gull?
No! The tick on the side of it's chest was identified as
of the genus Givus Fellatio which is endemic to the
Aleutian Islands, which identified the first record
of the race Aleutian Herring Gull in Britain.
I joke, of course, but things like that may not be
as far fetched as it seems in years to come.