When a birder sees a really, really, good bird and another birder doesn’t see the bird, the first birder will often “grip off” the other birder. This is a process whereby the birder who failed to see the bird is reminded of having missed the bird in any way imaginable. For example, let’s say that one birder saw a very-out-of-range Purple Gallinule in New York and a second birder missed it. And let’s say that the next time they are birding together they see a coot and the birder who did not see the gallinule makes some mention about coots being a rather bland bird. The first birder might then say something like “You know what isn’t bland? The Purple Gallinule I saw last week!”
Yes, gripping off can often be that stupid, but, and I say this from experience, if you are the one who is on the receiving end it really can get to you. Of course, the more you show that the gripping off is getting to you the more gripping off occurs in a positive-feedback loop that grows until someone ends up with broken optics.
There are, of course, some things that make gripping off better than usual. Things like a person just missed the bird by moments, or the bird would have been a lifer, or everyone and their mothers have seen the bird. What matters the most, though, is that a person who wanted to see a bird didn’t and someone else did. Where does the term come from? The exact origins are shrouded in mystery but the term comes to birding from the British who, it must be said, do more than their fair share to enrich the birding lexicon. A slang dictionary defines the term as “angrily disappointed,” which is as accurate a definition for which one could hope.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, dear reader, you may have heard of the Ivory Gull that birders have been seeing (and being seen with) in Cape May, New Jersey? Yeah, I heard of the bird too, but, seeing as the adorable Desmond came into the world when the gull showed up there was no way I was going to be twitching the Ivory Gull. It’s not that I really minded missing the bird, having seen an Ivory Gull before, and, besides, having a kid beats the heck out of seeing a bird anyway. But, still, an Ivory Gull! So of course I was jealous when friends, like Patrick from The Hawk Owl’s Nest, got great looks at the gull, but, well, life goes on, right?
Imagine my surprise when I went out to get the mail on Friday morning and a mysterious package had arrived, addressed to Desmond (his first mail!), and, when we opened it up, we found a onesie decorated with an Ivory Gull! Who was it from? Well, take a look at the tag below…
Does little Desmond like his new outfit? You be the judge!
Patrick’s gift is absolutely adorable – uh, birdorable – on several levels. First of all, the shirt itself is cool however, and more importantly, Desmond is adorable in his own right.
BTW- thanks for linking to my blog post = )
Hooray for Patrick, Beth and Julian! Of course, they will now have to get Desi onesies and t-shirts of increasing size as he grows, so you will not forget that you (and Desi) missed that absolutely beautiful bird (but not as beautiful as Desi).
(Not familiar with the term “gripping off”, is it similar in any way to “gloating”?)
If I had a dime for every time, you Mr. Finger, were guilty of this, well I’d be a rich man.
And yes Desi is adorable.
Desi: “Dad, as if it wasn’t already bad enough that uncle Patrick has already seen two Ivory Gulls while I’ve already been around for, you know, like, DAYS and haven’t seen any gull at all, but to rub it in with this shirt … So unfair! Can we at least ban him from seeing any Ash-throated Flycatchers?”
@Patrick: this shirt and the story behind it is AMAZING!!! 🙂 You’re a star!!!!
Glad to be of service! HAHAHA! He’s a cute little guy. Must be from the mother’s side.
Thanks to Amy and the Birdorable crew for taking my special request.
Of course he loves his outfit its a bird duh! cant wait to see you in 9 days hooray
Desi is obviously the center of attention here and the shirt is way cool. Congrats Corey and thanks Patrick for bringing Corey to write such an interesting post. I actually never heard of “gripping off.” Those Brits!
You know, when I sent the shirt, I thought you hadn’t seen one at all. I think I was mixing up you and MIke, who I believe missed the Piermont bird. Oh well, it was still fun.