When birding goes bad – rarity hoax UK

16 01 2009

It all seemed quite innocent enough, an ex-birder had been out for a round of golf in Wales on a beautiful coastal course and had spotted a lone sea duck in the water. It struck him as something that he hadn’t seen before and so the next day he returned to snap a picture of the bird in question in order to send on to a couple of birders to get their thoughts on the ID of the bird. The fuzzy snap was quickly identified as a rather distinctive female Steller’sEider, a fairly exciting find and perhaps only the 15th or so record for the UK. As is usual the word was rushed out to birders via pagers and mobile phones (the RBA in the UK is a little more advanced than it is here) and birders got in their cars and headed to the site to search unsuccessfully for the bird.

Not so uncommon that a rare vagrant bird flew the coop and so the story might have ended there. However, a couple of suspicious birders thought that some of the description of the find just didn’t ring true and started to do a little digging. Lo and behold the EXIF data from the  camera (which can be found on digital images) did not tally as far as the lens, date of when the photo was supposed to have been taken etc. With a little detective work it was discovered that the picture had been taken in Finland a couple of years earlier and had just been flipped and cropped a little. Quite an amazing and shocking little story. It certainly isn’t the first birding hoax to be perpetrated and I’m sure it won’t be the last, I just hope it won’t catch on on this side of the pond. You can see the hoax picture and the original on the BirdGuides website. ps If you plan to hoax a few good birds it’s probably worth remembering to delete the EXIF data from your stolen pictures 😉

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2 responses

16 01 2009
Chrissie T

Hope you’re not trying to suggest that UK birders are scoundrels!!!

16 01 2009
underclearskies

He he – not all of them 😉 It’s by no means a new phenomenon – check out the Hastings Rarities: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastings_Rarities Although this recent one was carried out just to wind people up not to claim fame and fortune.

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