Here's a comment left by Fred on a recent blog posting (about some potential "new" species for the provincial list) that were hard to ID... It was good enough that I thought it deserved its own post:
Do you mean it's never been seen in Ontario or
it's never been described to a record committee?
Because whatever I see or hear is my reality,
and I would not bother having it voted on by
people who I have seen make mistakes at Pelee.
(Not you personally).
And birds do pop their heads out the leaves at
Pelee for 10 seconds and are never seen again.
I was going to reply in the comment section, but I thought I would do an entire post!
In direct reply - I can say that the article was based solely on the flawed process of the OBRC review. There is one thing to be said about "experts" - if you think you don't make mistakes when identifying birds, then well, you're mistaken.
With that said, it really is the best option we have to document these things. There is nothing wrong (at all) with taking the approach that "I bird for myself, and I don't care what other people think" --- but at the same time, it doesn't help anyone else either. I can speak from personal experience that reading past OBRC reports (especially older copies from the 80's - before I was born) were of extreme interest to me, and allowed me to expand my knowledge of birds/birding/vagrants in Ontario far beyond what I would be able to know without them. I think this resource is more valuable (especially to the younger/starting birders) than most people give it credit for, since these records would start to fade away over time without the reports.
There seems to be a fair bit of negativity regarding records committees at times, and I understand it completely. I (personally) think the best way for the OBRC to move forward and be more accepted is to openly admit that the process is flawed to a degree, that mistakes are made, good birds are voted down, bad records are accepted, etc and that the only way to improve it is to be comfortable with the "flawed process" idea..
In short, we should all try to have short term memory loss when something happens we don't approve of - deal with it - and move on. Deciding to "no longer submit" because person X said something you didn't like is very likely going to hinder someone down the road (who has no knowledge of your current "beef").
I was going to hold this off for a while, but I figure it can't hurt to do it multiple times.
As chair of the 2012 voting year, I can say that this fall we are going to have an OBRC policy meeting! There will be a huge list of things to discuss. As a sample:
-- What do we do with potential hybrid OBRC rarities (like plegadis ibis hybrids)
-- the duties of the chair, the secretary, and potential duties to be added for voting members
-- deciding on if we need a policy to re-review records (accepted and rejected) by past years)
Which all sounds great... But a MAJOR focus is going to be how to make the OBRC more friendly to the general birding population.. And no, I don't mean updating the online report form... I mean things like:
--- How do we get people contributing "again" - after giving up on the process years ago?
--- How do we make the process of "rejecting" a record better for the person who submits it? (I can speak from personal experience that it !&%#*$& sucks to read the comments on a personal record that has been rejected).
--- how do we make the OBRC voting process more open to the public?
(as some examples)
Hopefully there will be a post about this in the future on Ontbirds --- but a GREAT way for the OBRC to become more user-friendly will be to hear DIRECTLY from birders in Ontario
PLEASE feel free to leave a comment, or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let the OBRC know exactly how you feel about the job we've been doing (negative responses may help more than positive ones!)
All responses that I get will be printed and circulated at the policy meeting. Heck, even if you just want to rant about something that has happened in the past, please send it!