Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Inevitable Decision

On the Algonquin trip in April, Jean and I added Evening Grosbeak to the life list but we did not inch any closer to our 300th lifer. We remain at 291 species. As I added one bird to the life list, another was removed.

The bird in question was a Barnacle Goose. In field guides it is noted that numerous sightings from eastern North America are most likely escapes, especially if they are found inland. So the possibilities of a Barnacle Goose flying down the St. Lawrence River and coming to a stop on the southern shore of Lake Ontario were slim to none.

We observed the Barnacle Goose on Boxing Day last year and if there was the slightest chance of being an acceptable bird I added the goose to my eBird lists. There it would remain until the Ontario Birds Record Committee (OBRC) determined the bird's status.

During the Algonquin trip I was able to make a final decision on the Boxing Day Barnacle. Not only is retired park naturalist Ron Tozer an OFO trip leader, he is also a member of the OBRC. While on lunch at the park's visitor centre I asked Ron about the Grimsby Barnacle Goose. The bird has been observed in the Grimsby area for a few years and was rejected by the OBRC.

Now I am not one to judge nor was Ron for that matter. If a birder wishes to keep this Barnacle Goose on their life list that is their choice to make. It's their list and they can maintain it as they please. I have chosen to only count birds that are wild. If I did count escapees not only would the Barnacle Goose be on my list, I would also have an Asian bird commonly found in India on the list. A group of us observed a White-eared Bulbul at Rock Point Provincial Park during the 2007 OFO field trip.

With the life list still sitting at 291 it will be interesting to see if I can reach 300 before the end of the year. That may actually be easier than observing 200 species in Ontario. Looks like another OFO field trip is in order.

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