NZ bird Tickability lists

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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zarkov
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby zarkov » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:38 pm

I saw Sirocco at Maungatautari, he's not a pet, he's a superstar. Charisma, handsome, beautiful handmaidens, and acolytes in droves.

You wouldn't tick him, you'd get his autograph.
andrewcrossland
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby andrewcrossland » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:32 pm

Just catching up on all these posts over the last few days...... crikey..... some really interesting debate here......

My comments would be, "isn't almost anything fair in love and war"? If people have money and time to go look for difficult-to-find birds, especially long distance twitches or trips to islands or pelagics, then good on them, and lets celebrate their passion and drive.

I unfortunately don't have the money, nor the time, nor the ability to leave my wife and kids to fend for themselves for a while, but I look forward to the day when I do!!

Some years ago I asked Brent if he'd mind putting up a "mainland list" on the Wrybill listers website for the very reason that we could all see the outright leaders in the race to 300, but also appreciate that a more level playing field is a mainland list because it excludes all those amazing sub-Antarctic or Sub-tropic pelagic and island birds that the combination of money, time, luck, skill and skilled company enable folks to see. So, that's a pretty useful additional list to have, right?

Despite not being able to get on many pelagics or visit far-flung islands, I have a fairly good list, mainly made up from birds I've found myself over the years and with relatively few that I've twitched, so I feel that I'm still batting relatively competitively. I can probably count birds I've twitched to get new ticks on the fingers of just three hands! - Semi-palmated Plover, Oriental Pratincole, Black Kite, Little Stint, White-eyed Duck, Erect-crested Penguin and Brown Booby come to mind. Some things I've tried to twitch have turned into giant dips (bloody Franklins Gulls and Nankeen Kestrels!), but then I've serendipitously come across my own finds a little later on - Northern Shoveler, Australian Pelican, Glossy Ibis. Other times its been right place, right time! Australian Reed Warbler, Great Crested Tern, Lesser Yellowlegs, Tree Martin, Satin Flycatcher (but that one was dead so not countable!), but you know, you can't win em all!! . Over the years I've been lucky enough to stumble across some rare species more than once- 2 Asian Dowitchers so far, 6 Common Sandpipers, 2 Whiskered Terns, 4 Terek Sandpipers, 8 Common Terns, but I'll never get back the halcyon period in the mid-late 1990s when I decided I was too cool to go twitching and let some real stunners slip through my hands - Painted Snipe, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Black-tailed Native Hen, White-necked Heron - arrgh!! I'll probably never get any of those ones back, but that's birding.

So, my point here is that you'll find lots of good birds by simply getting out there and exploring, but in some ways these days many birders seem to have lost the exploring extinct and instead just go to the "places of certainty" following well-trodden paths to Miranda, Tiritiri, Manawatu Estuary, Lake Ellesmere, Ulva Island, Zealandia. People also sense that DoC staff or scientists or those with connections are the only people who will ever see certain bird species, which in the case of things like Kakapo is probably right, but generally for others there's always an alternative way -
maybe its simply a case of saving up some money for a once-in-a-lifetime sub-Antarctic cruise, or finding time to volunteer on the Chathams or Codfish or Little Barrier. If seeing some of those species is a serious aspiration then it takes a bit of effort and financial resources - thats just the way the world works.

Like Steve and others, I'd count a released bird like the oriental cuckoo on my NZ list after it was back in the wild and it were my only chance of seeing one here in NZ. However, like Phil Battley, I'd rather all my ticks be of free-living wild birds and personally the test if I'd add a released rehab bird would be based on a next to zero chance of seeing a wild one in the future. So no rehab Grey-headed Albatross or Frigatebird for me, but a released, free-flying Oriental Cuckoo, Bulwers Petrel or Asian Koel, yeah I think so.
Steve Wood
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Steve Wood » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:08 am

Andrew I'm some what puzzled. Can you explain the difference between the three examples you have quoted and why the Cuckoo should be any different?
I can't see any difference, they have all spent time in rehab, and then, all been released and all flew away ?
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Adam C
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Adam C » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:57 am

Isn't Andrews point that there is no explanation? Its personal and thats the way it should be. It can be standardised to a degree but will always fall back on each personality as to what counts as a 'tick' in terms of released birds or a birds heard but not seen etc. To argue the finer points of this is an endless circle and isn't the whole point to get out there and see more birds and enjoy ourselves out there. I think as long as we are sharing any rare sightings so they are recorded and others can get out there and view them too...isn't that all that matters?
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Steve Wood » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:13 am

If that’s what it is,that Andrew really likes Cuckoo’s and not fussed on the the other two birds, nothing wrong with that.
That idea You have suggested doesn’t stack up for me.
When you read his brief above he is a good keen twitcher, only restricted because of family and financial commitments, like most of us. I’m sure he would b first in the queue if all three examples turned in ChCh.
Maybe Andrew is better placed to clarify this.
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RussCannings
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby RussCannings » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:24 pm

I'm assuming he means that at least he has a shot at finding the other two in the wild himself one day? Though why not hold out hope for a cuckoo too? :)

I'm with Steve in that some clear rules are needed to at least define the playing field for those that enjoy the ultra competitive aspect. Life will never be fair but that's part of the chance element I love about birding.

I am also with Adam (as I'm sure we all are) in that we're all here for the birds and that makes us allies where it counts.

Russ
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Steve Wood » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:27 pm

Well said Russ - a perfect summary.
andrewcrossland
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby andrewcrossland » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:42 pm

Yeah sorry, reading back over my post its a bit confusing!

I named a bunch of birds on my post but I think Steve was asking about the cuckoo, frigatebird and Grey-headed Albatross?

I think that (based on discussions by folks above and reference to overseas practise) then counting species such as these after they've been released from care is fine from a set of fair play rules perspective.

For me personally I'd back myself to one day eventually run into a fully free-flying frigatebird and a fully free-flying GH Albatross while birding somewhere, so wouldn't go to see one released. I know its risky, but thats ok, there's still plenty of time to spot a Frigatebird off a Northland headland, or a GH Albatross on a pelagic. But thats just a personal challenge I've set for myself (and hence my earlier comment regarding respect to Phil Battley for letting a Blue Petrel go and not counting it). Based on fair play rules I think its fine for anybody else to count those species (and others like them) at release if they choose to.

However, when I think about the chances of finding a free-flying Oriental Cuckoo, the chances of running in to one is very low, so yep, I'd count one at release I think. Same with the Emperor Penguin if say I'd been aboard the boat when it was released, or that Bulwers Petrel that was found alive in CHCH a couple of years ago but sadly died in care. Those are once in a life time birds, so, given ABA and the UK authorities say its acceptable, I'd be happy to go to a release site, witness the bird returned to freedom, and count it as it flew into the sunset (or maybe try for it xx many kms down the coast or xx many hours later if the new rules end up requiring that).

cheers
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Brent Stephenson
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Brent Stephenson » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:19 am

An interesting discussion, and clearly shows some interest in creating rules attached to what can and can't be counted. But it is also interesting to see that some of the latter comments seem to circle back around at the stance that people should tick what they are comfortable with, and that some would tick a released oriental cuckoo, whilst others wouldn't. This seems to go against the need for an absolute rulebook on what can and can't be ticked? Perhaps there are two separate issues here - a list that is able to be fairly compared to other birders in New Zealand using the same set of rules, and a personal list that adheres to ones own personal ethics? The whole reason I started the Birders' Total page on the Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ website was to create a platform for the former - a fair and even playing field, that was just for New Zealand (and didn't include parts of Australia!), and had a species list that was revised more frequently than the then ageing OSNZ checklist.

And the impetus was to leave it fairly simple on the Birders' Total page...

http://wrybill-tours.com/birders-totals/

The rules that are on that page, and that which Birder's submitting totals to this page have hopefully been adhering to are pretty straight forward. And really THE ONLY thing that they do not currently consider are released birds. The rules are currently...

1. The Checklist to be used in this exercise is "The 'Official' New Zealand Birders checklist". The list can be downloaded as a PDF version here. http://wrybill-tours.com/birders-totals/
2. The geographical boundary for the list is defined as mainland New Zealand, offshore islands (all sub-antarctics and Chathams, not including Macquarie Island or Norfolk Island), its territories or anywhere within the 200 NM limit.
3. All species counted should be seen alive and in the wild (island populations are countable including all species on Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti Island, Ulva Island, etc.).
4. Beachcast birds, as long as they are still alive, are countable.
5. Birds must be seen, hearing calls or song of a species does not count.
6. Submissions should be honest, accurate and dated. Any entries for species not currently on the New Zealand checklist must be verified by the Rare/Unusual Birds Committee of the OSNZ.
7. Entries shall not be made without permission from the owner.

We could add an example into Rule 3 for Sirocco, that would be an example of what can and can't be ticked? A rewrite of that rule might be

3. All species counted should be seen alive and in the wild (island populations are countable including all species on Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti Island, Ulva Island, etc.). However, birds kept in cages in wild locations, or being 'road-showed' such as Sirocco the Kakapo, cannot be counted.

And I really don't see the point in adding in a list or class for 'professionals' vs 'amateurs' or for guides, DOC workers, or people with household earnings of more than $100K! I just think this distracts from the intention of the whole thing, to get out birding and have fun. What if a guide or DOC worker were to see a bird whilst birding on the weekend? Or what if a casual birder takes payment for a days birding with an overseas birder and sees a bird? Or what if a birder gets a one off job on a ship and sees a mega? Creating something like this will just mean getting bogged down in more rules than is worthwhile - keep it simple!

I am very happy to add in a rule (perhaps rule 4) on counting released birds as well. Open to working with Russ/AC/Steve/David and anyone else who wants to have a say. I think all of you guys have a Total on the Birders' Totals page anyway!

And whilst I agree the consensus now in the UK and ABA rules are that released birds are countable at the time of release, I also agree completely with the very well written thoughts of Russ earlier in the thread. For me, going to see a released bird as it flies from the box is not what attracts me to birding, or twitching. It is a myriad of things, but a large component is the 'what if'. As also outlined by David, twitching birds would be pointless if you got every bird you ever twitched, and I really feel NONE of us (who lead normal and sane lives - ha!) would bother if that was the case. So, whilst we might end up with a rule that released birds can be counted, would that mean I would bother to 'twitch' a released bird, probably not. And differing from AC, it wouldn't matter what species it was. I might go and see the bird if it was a lifer I was highly unlikely to see anywhere else in the World, but I wouldn't count it on my 'hand-against-heart NZ list'. For the sake of an even playing field it would go on my Birders' Totals list though.

I am very happy to have thoughts and comments on the above, and please if there are birders out there who would like to submit a total to me for the Birders' Totals page, then please just email me - brent @ waybill-tours.com (remove the spaces). Always happy to add more folks! After all this was never meant to be serious and 'legal' and always should be fun.

My 2c...send me an email with your totals if you haven't already, and please check your totals are up to date if they are already there.

Happy birding!
Brent Stephenson
Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ - Great birds, real birders
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: NZ bird Tickability lists

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:14 pm

When I hear there are 'rules', I tend to walk the other way. But that's just my preference. I can see real merit in having standards and rules for those who treat birding like a competition. I think Brent's #5 is discriminatory against the visually impaired though. Seriously, I don't get that rule at all.
I like to know birds - how they behave and interact with their natural environment - not just collect the stamps, so I personally like the rule Russ referred to earlier; that reintroduced birds are only counted if they were released into part of their former range. That would rule out every takahe in the North Island and associated offshore islands. Seeing one up here is not terribly rewarding. Seeing one in the SI mountains would be completely different (I think, because I never have).

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