Thursday, 20 November 2014
A pertinent message from Simon Nichols - North Bucks Birding Email Group Moderator
North Bucks hoaxer
Birding and bird reporting relies on trust and goodwill. Sometimes honest mistakes are made, but it is with a great degree of sadness that I write this evening to confirm that we unfortunately have an active hoaxer in North Bucks.
In recent weeks a "Gary Tobias" has appeared on twitter and reported a series of scarce local birds, including his most recent report of a Great White Egret over Caldecotte this very morning.
Unfortunately "Gary Tobias" does not exist, and his reports are malicious attempts to mislead the local birding community, wasting both our time and effort. Other recent tweets have displayed a more aggressive agenda, including personal slurs and homophobic references. This is no longer a "bit of fun".
The main bird news providers, Birdguides and RBA, are fully aware of the situation and will not be broadcasting any of "Gary's" claims.
This email is provided to the group for three further reasons.
* Firstly, please be on your guard and use a degree of scepticism when seeing birds reported from our area where you do not know the source. It is such a shame that the bond of goodwill has been challenged in such a way, but an exposed hoaxer will often find other ways to lash out, so be prepared. This is really unfortunate, as birds such as the Willen Slav Grebe suffered from this scepticism, showing that totally unrelated records are tainted by this individuals actions. Equally, if a report of yours is questioned in any way, please don't be offended. I will not be texting or emailing any bird news from unknown Twitter sources in future.
* Secondly, an appeal to "Gary" to apologise and cease. The show is over, and group members who have wasted their time and goodwill recently looking for fictitious birds deserve a whole-hearted apology.
*Finally, this sensitive subject will undoubtedly and quite understandably provoke a whole range of reactions from our subscribers. That is entirely understandable, but please can I strongly appeal that any reaction is confined to private conversations, and is NOT conducted through the Yahoo groups. This may seem like unnecessarily harsh censorship, but past experience has shown that when feelings run high, the groups become overwhelmed with posts, and the conversations have to be moderated anyway. Let’s not reach that stage, which in effect is providing oxygen to the fire that “Gary Tobias” has started.
Many thanks all,