Well that was an interesting morning! I'd checked the Sussex Birders FB group over breakfast to see that someone had posted some iphone pictures of their day out at Lancing Ring... one of the pics was intriguing to say the least and was pretty quickly identified as a Savannah Sparrow! A flurry of phone calls and a hectic van ride later and I was on site with a few other birders looking for this mega. At this point I should say that I had no idea that there was anything amiss, no 20-20 hindsight for me!
In due course more Sussex birders and even a few from out of county started to turn up and, after a bit of debate about the exact location, someone said the finder was now present; surely he would put as straight on the minutiae of the original sighting! This is where it all starts to go downhill...
"On reflection, that really is a good pic for an iphone isn't it?..and the barbed wire is American two point, not like the our wire, that's odd... and it's rusty not like the shiny new stuff here...and isn't the light wrong for the time of day the pic was supposedly taken?...hmmm..."
And so duly questioned on these and other points the finder skulked off which is odd in itself...if there really was a Savannah Sparrow why not fight your corner? Turn the iphone over to RBA, Birdguides or whoever, something the gentleman in question refused to do, and they can check the data. If it checks out then case solved m'lud.
So what to make of all this? The biggest annoyance to me and many others present was the complete waste of time it was..I personally had better things to do than be strung like this! I am however totally prepared to forgive and forget as long as the truth gets out...was it just a joke taken too far as I suspect? or was it an attempt to deliberately mislead people for the glory? I feel a bit sorry for the gentleman in question tonight I have to say whatever his motives. Others it has to be said probably aren't feeling quite so charitable!
I wonder though, will anyone be up at Lancing Ring tomorrow looking for an American Sparrow just in case....?