Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quick note on comments...

Some comments seem to be getting disappeared today, or at least delayed.

We're not moderating comments, so there must be some sort of glitch on Blogger today that is screwing things up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Message from Tyler Hicks

Here is a nice message from Tyler Hicks to all birders and BINAC readers:

I encourage all birders, skeptics and true believers, to visit the Choctawhatchee River. You can find recommended sites on the Auburn IBWO website. There is a lot of good information on the website on some guidelines that we respectfully ask birders to follow such as refraining from the use of playback or tapes. In addition there is some good information on their concerning your safety.
When the Choc is running high it has a powerful current even deep in the swamps and it is very easy to get disoriented in a flooded forest. Most of all I think it is worth a visit simply because the forests there are so beautiful. In certain areas especially in the Dead River & Tilley landing vicinity the forests are as inspiring as the great forests of the Pacific Northwest.
A great time to visit is in April as the forest lights up in an almost neon green. The numerous Prothonotary Warblers will be blasting their songs and Swallow-tailed Kites will be swooping over the ancient cypress. I think it is important to remember that no matter how amazing Ivory-bills are, they are just one part of this fascinating eco-system. There is so much life in these primeval forests and I think it is an eco-system that few birders get to experience or even know exists. These forests can be found throughout the South from the Carolinas to Texas. So bust out your paddles or waders this spring or just stop by and take a look.
Have a great fall migration everyone.
OK, we still cannot understand why no one can get a picture of an IBWO if they still exist. That bothers us big-time. But it's clear that the Auburn group is not a bunch of flakes or weirdos or zealots who are obsessed by conspiracy theories and bird-whisperers. They're legit birders who have taken careful notes and have put their evidence out there for all of us to analyze and criticize. They have done what so many people have asked Cornell to do. They clearly learned from some of the mistakes that Cornell made, and their openness and honesty is refreshing. Geoff Hill even seems to have a decent sense of humor about the whole situation.
Will that amount to a Hill of beans in 2-3 years if no photos are obtained in the meantime? Who knows. It is doubtful that this new evidence will change the minds of any hard-core skeptics. But there are a few people that have changed their position already, and there is still hope...and that hope can still be fully realized as long as somewhere out there there might, just might, be an IBWO that is waiting to be photographed for the cover of a magazine...

*Two* Northern Wheaters in Florida?

There was a Northern Wheatear sighted in Everglades N.P. a few days ago. That bird has not been seen for a day or two. Now, a Northern Wheatear has also been sighted at Honeymoon Island in Pinellas County (north of Tampa). Wonder what the odds are that this is the same bird?

BINAC has birded both of these locales in the last few months. Don't you just hate it when a mega-rarity shows up *after* you've been somewhere? Birder envy again. This must sound awful, but do you ever feel like "if I don't see a bird, I wish that no one else will see it, either?" Yeah, that's a "bad birder" thought, but deep inside the pit of your stomach, admit it, you've had that feeling, too.

We read all this shit so you don't have to!!!

We are not going to link to all of the new IBWO info because, well, we actually have a job, and the two all-IBWO-all-the-time sites do a much better job of that than we ever could.

So we will, instead, do what we do best...comment on the IBWO news, on funny little tidbits, on some of the stupid little comments that are floating around right now in the blogosphere. Pretty much our random thoughts on the whole situation.

This post will be updated as work allows. Blogger is fucked up today so who knows what will get through. (Why all the vulgarity today? Is this the only birding blog that regularly curses???)

1. OK, doesn't it seem like Cornell's web site is a big corporate deal, while Auburn's was put together by a bunch of guys in their basement? To put it into birder terms:

Cornell=National Audubon Society
Auburn=local birding club or ornithological society

That's not intended as an insult...we strongly prefer local birding groups over the NAS...but it is kinda funny.

2. Note to Auburn: do you have a law school? Because there are a lot of copyright notices on the sites that say something like "this information is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission." But you can't copyright information. You could copyright the actual text of an article, or of a field note, but you can't really copyright the information. There is no restriction on using that information, at least not in this context. And all of the info on the site is copyrighted to Hill and Mennill...but the individual sighters should still have their own copyright in their own field notes.

3. We at BINAC do really like these Auburn guys. They seem like nice, normal, approachable birder dudes. And they are being totally honest about what they have and what they don't have, and they have made almost all of it available online. (We'd still like to see the video!!!) So kudos to them for that, they have learned from Cornell's mistakes.

4. Who the fuck is Amy Lester? (Again, the vulgarity.) What, you don't even have to own a pair of binoculars to comment on the IBWO now? And that link that someone posted to a "paper" on birds written by "Amy Lester" (that was obviously written by a grade schooler) was hilarious. We give credit where credit is due, so if that link really was posted by Fishcrow, kudos to Fishcrow!

5. What the hell is John Wall talking about? Hey, we love his Worldtwitch site, but his theory is that the Auburn sightings are some sort of Bush-Rumsfield conspiracy to preempt the election of a Democrat governor in New York? WTF??? Is everyone crazy?

6. The rumor mill was pretty much wrong on this one. Or at least the people pimping the rumor were wrong. Remember all that talk about True Believers dancing on the graves of suicidal skepctics? Didn't happen.

7. You can't blame Auburn for the rumor mill, though. They have been honest and straightforward about what they have. And putting the original field notes and virtually all of the recordings online was a cool deal. We also like the editorial that was attached to the online paper. And you actually have a chance to respond to both the editorial and the paper itself. Very interesting.

8. So did pd actually take up Amy Lester (again, WTF is she???) on her thousand-dollar bet offer?

9. More kudos to Auburn for bringing Jerry Jackson into the loop on this one.

10. If we have one major objection to the Auburn team's way of doing things, it involves birder access, as noted by Mike H. in comments below. If the area is open to the public, it is open to the public, period. You can't let hunters and fishermen in and then chase out (even politely) birders.

11. What do you think Auburn would have found if they had gotten just a tiny piece of the $1M plus that Cornell used to get exactly zero credible sightings this past search season? But see #10. After Cornell's efforts, no photo=no money.

Encourage everyone to go down to the Chachi-wacthie or whatever its called and *someone* will get a photo if the birds are actually there.


12. Somebody just clicked onto this site by Googling the phrase "Florida Ivory-bills Here We Go Again." That's pretty funny, we might steal it!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

BINAC World Exclusive: Tyler Hicks Speaks!!!!

Well, this is a BINAC-exclusive: we just got a very nice e-mail from Tyler Hicks, and he told us that

and we think that should settle the question of the existence of the IBWO once and for all!!!

For our more intelligent readers, you may notice that the information Tyler gave us has been cleverly concealed by the use of blank spaces. Actually, Tyler can't really say much about the IBWO right now, so we just made up the blank spaces. But Tyler seems like a good guy and seems pretty normal so we are going to cut him some slack, and who knows, we might hear more from him in the future.

In the meantime, Tyler wanted us to plug a cool scholarship for young birders, it seems like a great cause, so why the hell not. Here is the link Tyler sent us, and we've added another link below:

If we can set aside the IBWO debate and arguing and insulting for just a minute check out that link, if you're a young birder you might want to apply, and if you're an old birder (aren't most of us?) you might even want to donate. That's our good deed for the week.

ADDENDUM: OK, a few people have started to take shots at Tyler already. We feel partially responsible because we put up the link to his website, but it would have gotten out there eventually. Let's just say that Tyler has the bona fides...if you look into his background a bit, he (and for that matter some of the other people involved) does have significant birding experience, not just in the U.S., but in Latin America and Asia. Don't judge someone's experience based on one link alone. Does that mean BINAC is going soft? (No jokes please!!!) No, we'll make fun of the whole Auburn team if they deserve it, but let's give them a bit of a chance to at least officially announce their findings before we pile on. At least the people involved are birders. It would be so sweet if they got the definitive photo before one of the TB zealots.

BINAC is going to see Jet play tonight so there might not be any updates until tomorrow.

One of us?

Well, by-golly, it seems like the person who has had the best "sighting" of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker since the Singer Tract birds is not some delusional self-promoting government scientist, failed magician, or psychic-consulting loon, he's actually....a freakin' birder!!! What are the odds of that?

A birder who participates in bird-banding, leads bird tours, and reports birds to his local RBA.

You can check all of the IBWO-only sites tomorrow for plenty of discussion of the new Florida evidence, the nastiness has begun already...the evidence is not rock-solid, but Geoff Hill et al seem to have learned from some of Cornell's mistakes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wait and See (again)

Well, you may be wondering what we're thinking about all of those IBWO rumors. This site was the first (or maybe the second) to run with the specifics of the recent rumor, although a number of other sites (including cyberthrush's site) had been pimping the info, without specifics, for some time. Kudos to John Trapp for breaking (via Tom Nelson's site) the story wide open and sleuthing some details about the papers that will be presented at the upcoming AOU meeting

Basically, we're in a wait-and-see mode on this one. We don't have any inside information or secret sources, all we know is what people send us, and most of that has already been posted (here and elsewhere). It seems obvious that if "they" had a pretty picture of an IBWO it would have been released by now; if the new "evidence" is not conclusive, the sparks are going to fly.

We're quite looking forward to it, actually.

In the meantime, remember that, as we have repeated here time and time again in connection with Mr. Guppy and other alleged sightings, even if the IBWO does still live, we as birders have an obligation to make sure that junk sightings don't pollute the pool of knowledge about this species.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reddish Egret Re-Found at Miller Beach!!!!

Yes, this headline deserves *four* exclamation points.

Check IN-Bird for more details. Reddish Egret is not a bird that we see too often in the Chicago area, or anywhere in the Midwest. (Obviously.) So if you live in the Chicago area or anywhere in Indiana or in southern Michigan go see this cool bird!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nocturnal Mega-Migration Currently Underway!!!

Hundreds of birds are streaming over downtown Chicago tonight.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arizona Addendum

Well, we're back from Arizona, some of us didn't get back until late Monday/early Tuesday morning.

There is *sooooooooo* much that has happened in the last week or so we would like to talk about but since I'm on the road again(in Virginia right now) until at least next Thursday updates may be a little slow. Then I'll forget what I was going to write about anyway...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Aztec Thrush is in the house!!!

Today was a typical "birder day."

We got into Phoenix late last night. Our flight was late. The rest of our group was coming in on a different flight. Can't find any info on the arrival of the other flight. Finally realize that their flight is coming into a different terminal. Take bus to stupid Garage Mahal rental car terminal that we're paying for with our 45% taxes on our rental car. Get to pick our own SUV-Hooray! They only have one SUV to choose from --Boo!!! The truck's thermometer reads 115 degrees at 11:00 p.m.--is that even possible? How do people live here?

Arrive in our hotel in Tuscon at around 1:30 am -- which would be 3:30 am Chicago time. Only make one wrong turn and end up near strip club. Up at 5:45 in the morning, bird the parking lot a bit, buy gas/water/etc. at Madera Canyon by about 8:00. Hike up the canyon, wherewe blow by the original Aztec Thrush site and continue uphill until we luckily meet a friendly photographer who shows us the female Berryline Hummingbird *tick* on the nest. Head back downhill and wander around for a about an hour at the Choke Cherry tree until another birder spots the Aztec Thrush *tick* fly into the tree.

Proctor road---get the funky-looking Black-capped Gnatcatcher almost immediately after walking down the wrong trail and ending up at an unmarked shack or outhouse or something.

Lunch at KFC. See a bird, eat a bird.

Drive towards Nogales and head to Sycamore Canyon. Someone's passed out in the back seat already. Ruby Road will wake them up. On the way to Sycamore, pass Border Patrol with their machine guns out and at the ready. Let's not stop here. Miss the R-C Warbler by about ten minutes. Still, we savor the unexpected beauty and general birdiness of Sycamore Canyon.

Almost 5:00 now. Haul ass to beat a storm and head towards Patagonia. Skip Paton's, Patagonia Lake, etc. Stop at Roadside Rest area, Zone-tailed Hawk *tick* and Thick-billed Kingbird *tick*.

Very tired. More Coke and gas station coffee. Get to Sierra Vista to find our hotel. Dark now. See sign for Ramsey Canyon. *Shit* Finally realize that unless we're staying in Mexico we missed our hotel. Turn around. Check into hotel.

Chase a nighthawk around a mall parking lot. End the night at a filthy Pizza Hut. Our waitress tells us about her recent experiences at a Slayer/Slipknot concert. She makes our pizza for us, too. Get directions to nearest Whataburger for future reference.

Head back to the hotel and catch up on e-mail.

Do the same thing tomorrow.

Birding is easy, right?