Jonathan's picture

Jonathan - Grey squirrel - 15th October 2008

Observed: 15th October 2008 By: Jonathan
iSpot team
Jonathan’s reputation in MammalsJonathan’s reputation in Mammals
Description:

A saw a grey squirrel today assiduously burying something (I couldn't see what). Presumably a nut. It was so intent on what it was doing that it totally ignored me, even though I was very close.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) interacts

Comments

dejayM's picture

Red?

I guess the reason why there WERE no agreements is because people saw no photo.
I would encourage people to post without pictures but with good descriptive diagnostic text. Have we lost the knack?
Do red squirrels bury food? Did they exist on the OU Campus?
See 1998 map
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-6A4LVQ
So....an agreement!

the naturalist man's picture

Losing the knack

I think we are losing the knack of good description - we are becoming more and more reliant on visual information. I spend a lot of my time trying to get children, and adults, to describe what they see before identifying it for them in the field. Whilst some are good, even excellent; many are mediocre (only describing the really obvious, basic colour etc.) and a few are appalling, I sometimes wonder if they are looking at the same thing!

Modern guide books are full of pictures with very little writing. I have nothing against the use of pictures in identification; whether we admit to it or not it's how many of us learn - if not pictures then mounted specimens or an expert identifying the real thing i.e. visually rather than from descriptions. But I do bemoan the loss of descriptive text to support the visual images, in the way a good teacher will identify then tell you the key features to look for.

I guess iSpot is a bit of a double edged sword here. We encourage, but do not demand, people give written descriptions - there is a box for such when you post an observation, not that many people use it. However, we tend to require a photo before we agree with an identification. Of course that's better than the good old days when you had to produce a dead body for a record to be accepted! Even then there are infamous cases of that system being abused especially in the bird world.

Personally, I enjoy reading descriptions of behaviour but don't agree to identifications without photos, because where do we draw the line? Squirrels are 'easy' to identify, or we think they are. Over the years I've heard people mix squirrels up with rats, rabbits, foxes and even mice. What about mice/voles/shrews? Even the 'experts' can disagree over otter/mink/ferret/polecat.

Not that I would suggest Jonathan (he-who-must be-obeyed, tugs forelock four times, or would if I had one) could mistake a grey squirrel but I like to try and be consistent.

Of course that leaves the tricky situation where someone uses a photo from another source and I don't notice, why believe the photo is genuine and agree to the sighting but not a record without a photo? I have just one thing to say to that -

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

dejayM's picture

well said

Jolly well said Graham.
So what about joining MY little crusade for better (even some!) descriptive text, a photo or two from a different angle and, occasionally, a posting without a picture (deliberately mind you!)

Typically (and recent) -
http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/346897#comment-120098
and
http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/350257#comment-120715
And this?
http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/317051 with only two agreements