Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm losing sleep

Chapter 1
On Thursday 25/7/13 Irad Solnik found a summer-plumaged sand-plover on the Mediterranean coast, north of Bet Yanay, and posted a basic image-less description of the bird. This set the alarm bells off as Greater Sandplover moults much earlier and now is typically in full winter plumage (check the bird pictured in my previous post). Barak and myself asked Irad to return there and try to get some images of the bird.

Chapter 2
On Friday 26/7/13 at around midday Irad refound the bird and got some good images of it. When he uploaded the images my first reaction was atrifrons; I had a huge fight with my wife because I decided to go and twitch the bird next morning, despite an important family gathering following my brother-in-laws' wedding. Basically my wife told me I can stay there if I go for it.

Chapter 3
Late that night I had endless discussions with Hadoram, Barak, Amir and other top Israeli birders. We decided it was columbinus. With this feeling I wrote a beautiful piece for Birdingfrontiers showing nicely how this must be columbinus (and all this without seeing the bird!). And with this new insight I decided to give the bird a miss and save my marriage.

Chapter 4
After posting in Birdingfrontiers, I started to recieve a flood of emails, comments and messages from all over the world explaining plainly how this is a straightforward atrifrons. Then my Israeli pride and ego came in to act - hey, what does the world know? We know better! We know columbinus better than anyone else in the world! Then another, more sobre thought - hey, maybe they're all right and I'm wrong? Na.

Chapter 5
Today I decided to go and see the bird after it was not refound yesterday. I really wanted to see it myself and assess issues like size and structure that are so difficult from images. I checked the original site, and then some adjacent strips of snady and rocky beaches and found almost nothing. I had a small group of winter-plumaged Greater Sands, but the only summer-plumaged birds I had were these:

Chapter 6
Then in the evening, after the kids and wife went to sleep, another session of discussions, and now the concensus leans towards atrifrons after all. OMG. I can't cope with this rollercoaster anymore. Someone please refind this bird.

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