Two cases of not believing a novice that I recall, one was in Maryland and the other in the U.K.
The first must have been in the mid-1980s. We had no internet then, of course, and bird info was by word of mouth or via the once-weekly Voice of the Naturalist. Claudia Wilds ran the Voice at that time, and determined which reports would be included, and which dismissed. Of course a lot of strange things are reported by novices, so she was very strict about eliminating these. Anyway, a woman reported a Limpkin in a wet area behind her house (in Columbia, as I recall. ) Claudia did not include this unlikely report, and unfortunately, did not ask anyone to check out the sighting. Apparently the bird was there for over two weeks. I don’t recall the details of who eventually checked on it and confirmed the rarity, but by the time this was reported, the bird had left. I went to look for it, as did others, but no luck. Claudia was very embarrassed about this, and afterwards, did ask people to go check out at least the more believable reports.
The other incident is famous. A backyard bird watcher in the U.K. photographed an odd little bird walking around under her feeder. She couldn’t find it in her bird book, but checked other references and came up with Ovenbird. She called the RSPB and reported it, and they apparently chuckled dismissively and said it was probably a Dunnock or similar common LBJ. The lady was a tad peeved at this, so she waited and finally was able to capture a good photo. This she snail-mailed to the RSPB office and of course, it was a lovely Ovenbird, one of the only records for the UK! And of course it was long gone by the time the photo was received. The pic was published in Birding World magazine, to much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair by twitchers!
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