|White-faced Ibis (bottom) with Glossy Ibises|
Photo: Skyler Streich
This happened yesterday at Island Beach SP. While I was chatting on the beach of Barnegat Bay with Skyler Streich, we had a close fly-by of a flock of ibises. We both joked about finding the White-faced Ibis in the flock of what I estimated to be 25 birds, while Skyler lifted his camera and shot some photos. Last night, after examining his pictures, Skyler sent me an email with an attached picture: It turns out that there actually was a white-faced in the flock of 24 (good guess, on my part). I saw all 24 birds, but did I really see the rare one? I certainly didn't recognize the bird at the time, but my life list would be a little shorter if it only had birds on it that I immediately recognized. I saw a lot of flycatchers in T&T that someone else had to put a name to, yet I count those birds.
When you fill out an eBird report, you're actually submitting a bird survey, so I can say, based on the evidence, that at around 8:30 yesterday there was a White-faced Ibis flying low over Barnegat Bay. But I don't have to, because Skyler already submitted his report and if I were to list it, it would actually make the bird seem a bit more common that it really is.
With digital photography, we have, in a way, returned to the birding style of pre-binoculars days, when the best (and, really the only acceptable) way to identify an interesting bird was to shoot it dead with a shotgun and figure out what it was later. A purely visual sighting was met with skepticism. Now the birds have the advantage of only being figuratively shot.
If I had taken the picture, I probably would be inclined to count the bird; this seems absolutely irrational to me, but there is a sense of "capturing" the bird with the camera that I don't have looking at someone else's photo, even though I was right next to him what the event occurred. It's the same kind of irrationality that makes me want to see a bird in my scope before I feel like I've seen it. I will count a bird in someone else's scope. But this ibis I can't, in good conscience, list.