29 Aug 2014

29 Aug 14 - Crucial Imminent Vote For Scottish Birders

In under 3 weeks, there will be a crucial vote for all Scottish Birders. Scottish Birders will be asked to decide "Do You Wish Your List To Become Independent From The UK". This post can now reveal for the first time some of the real facts behind the Yes campaign.

The date for this crucial referendum has been chosen with great care by the Yes campaign. They have gone back & scoured history & selected the key date of 18 Sept for it's historical significance. There has been a lot of speculation in the press, about it being on the anniversary of some big battle. That is just coincidence. This blog can now reveal the true significance of the 18 Sept. It is only 5 days after the only UK Hawk Owl in living memory was found on 12 Sept 83 near Lerwick (and 4 days after it disappeared). The Referendum was chosen to celebrate the day the Bressay finders planned to go birding a couple of days later & were lucky to relocated it on Bressay. The historical significance of this date is therefore obvious. Some of the key people behind the Yes campaign managed to twitch this bird on Bressay & grip it back on those who got to see it near Lerwick. The subliminal message is also clear: it was there on the 18 Sept, but it was not actually seen on that date. So if you live South of the border, you will be denied to get this on your UK list, when the next one turns up in Shetlands. Also if you did see it, you will have it removed as it will no longer be in the UK.
Hawk Owl: Will we ever get another chance to tick in the UK: if there is a Yes vote it seems unlikely. Zwolle, Holland (29 Nov 13) 
The timing of the vote has a second significance. The date is also just before the start of the main Shetlands & Fair Isle Birding season. In recent years, Birders have headed to the Shetlands & Fair Isle from mid September onwards from all over the UK. A Yes vote might seem appealing. After all, if Scotland becomes independent, then the UK birders won't be allowed to tick Birds in Scotland. So most will stop going & be forced to return to the traditional old haunts of the Scillies & West Cornwall.  Perhaps Lundy (the site of a number of Firsts for the UK) will again become popular. So it would seem appealing to a Scottish voter to vote Yes. After all, it will be easier to make a booking on Fair Isle or get a seat on a plane there, if there are only Scottish twitchers trying to get there. Also, a Yes vote will appear to provide a greater chance of a self found Scottish mega. But with the loss of all those English Birder's eyes covering the Shetlands & Fair Isle, maybe less rarities will be found. It would bring a premature end to the Shetlands tourist season & maybe the Fair Isle Bird Obs will have trouble filling its accommodation with purely Scottish Birders through the year & would run the risk of eventual closure. So some big potential home goals by voting Yes, but the Yes campaign have stayed silent on these risks.
Cape May Warbler: Would as many birds of this calibre be found with a reduced coverage of Birders in the field following a Yes vote? Baltasound, Unst (29 Oct 13)
But again the Yes campaigners are not telling the Scottish Birders the full picture. They talk about the positives of keeping the Scottish Birds for Scottish Birders. Of how only the Scottish Birders will be able to tick species like Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, genuine Rock Dove & Crested Tit.
Rock Dove: It would be no longer possible for UK Birders to tick Rock Doves looking like this. The Yes campaign want this kept only for Scottish Birders. Instead, UK Birders will be left desperately trying to find a pure looking individual in Trafalgar Square (having had to take the whole family there as a cover story) or perhaps hoping for a lone, clean-looking Racing Pigeon to flyby at a coastal site (& hoping no questions are asked). Sollas, South Uist (4 June 12)
But what the Yes campaigners are not being honest about is the Yes campaign plan to strike off all those birds Scottish Birders have seen in England or Wales. This is their secret plan, which they managed to avoid being mentioned so far. Amazingly, it was not discussed in the recent TV debates. Today, a Scottish based Birder could book a week's holiday & head South for some easy English specialities ticks: such as Yellow-legged Gulls, Melodious Warblers & Ortolans. All of which could be fairly easily seen with a week's stay about this time of year at Portland Bird Observatory and all of which are currently tickable. If we hear a sudden appearance increase in the numbers of Scottish accents around Portland in the coming weeks, we will know that Birders living North of the border are getting these easy ticks in while they can (as they fear a Yes vote). But it will all be in vain, a Yes vote will mean all of your lists will be purged of these species. This blog has it on good authority, that Lee "Good" Heavens has already been provisionally booked to police the purges of the Scottish Birders lists. This blog understands that controversially, part of the payment for this work, is the agreement that he will be allowed to join (& remain) in the top 10 Scottish listers following the completion of these purges.
Short-toed Eagle: In the event of a Yes vote, this will be struck off your list if you saw the Scillies bird or this year's bird in Dorset or Sussex. If you saw it in Hampshire, then prehaps you should be honest & quietly change it to a Buzzard in your notebook. The Yes campaigners are hoping to attract the votes of those people that appear on Birdforum to add useful quotes to the thread of the latest UK mega to say "they would never go beyond the end of their road to see the bird". Morden Bog (31 May 14)
Yellow-legged Gull: This rare English breeding bird only breeds at a handful of sites in Southern England, but is fairly easily seen in Poole Harbour at this time of year. There have only been a handful of Scottish records this year. Scottish Birders will be forced to work hard to add this to their lists in the event of a Yes vote purging them of one seen South of the border. Brands Bay (21 April 14)
Melodious Warbler: Portland is one of the best locations for this species. With an average of only one or two a year in Scotland, this is a species you might end having to twitch an outer island to see after a Yes vote. Winspit (8 Dec 13)
Cirl Bunting: A bird most Scottish Birders will lose off their lists. With only 3 island records this millennium, this is very likely to be purged from Scottish Lists by Lee "Good" Heavens. It is likely to the first lost in a series as the Policeman, as he likes to be know, removes all the birds ticked on those old Scillies trips. Velji Do, Croatia (5 May 14)
Ortolan: Again Portland is one of the best UK locations for this species & the Yes campaign will purge this off your list if you have seen it there. It is likely to be a costly Fair Isle twitch to tick this one if the Yes campaign get their way. Yotvata, Israel (11 April 14)
So now the truth is being revealed about the real risks to your lists in the event of a Yes vote, then it is clear there are only 2 real options: Vote No or in the event of a Yes vote, move to Fair Isle.