I'm not the first to use the phrase, but it holds true and yesterday was a prime example of falling into the traps. Lets turn back the clock dear reader to November 2007.
I found a gull on the Thames that was much more than a 'funny looking Common Gull'. I took notes, and observed it for as long as I could. That night I looked in books (bird books obvously) to try and work out what it was and I thought that it could be a Ring-billed but I needed to check some more of the key ID features. Thankfully it was hanging about the next day, and I took more notes and observed it some more and was happy that it was a concrete ID for a Ring-billed and loaded it into my log and onto Birdtrack.
Now that I have a digital camera, I didnt take notes - I just wacked the machine on the end of the optics and filled up the bloody memory card with shitty pictures and hastily loaded a few onto the interweb like a twat to find out in the end that it was a Herring Gull (albeit a funny looking one). Now if I didn't have all this new fangled technology I would probably have taken notes - gone through the ID process more methodically and come to the conclusion that it was a funny looking Herring Gull and that would have been the end of it. Modern technology makes for lazy birding practices which makes for rubbish birding. But it's very easy to fall into the trap, especially when I am still learning how to use the camera and these days if you don't get a picture of a bird, there is that element of doubt hanging over the veracity of the record.
On Londonbirders there is a similar situation now with a possible Caspian at the far edge of my patch (the question has yet to be answered - and no way am I jumping in on this one!). So i'll be looking for that at lunchtime no doubt. With a camera.
In the evening, I was going through the memory card on the camera, as there is no need to have 200 pictures of one bird on it, accidently pressed the wrong button and formatted the card, wiping every last fucking image from it. I was slightly annoyed by this, but thankfully do have some of those pictures saved on various computers. So here is a picture of a Med Gull that I took earlier in the year (not in Fulham I hasten to add). No problem with the ID on this baby!
Despite the number of posts regarding Larids, I am not a gull obsessive. At the moment.