A number of blogs that I read have talked idly about listing and why people bother. A good subject I always think, and one that engenders a lot of debate in the Lethbridge household. To date I have not really mentioned how idiotically obsessive I can be in the pursuit of a totally meaningless collection of birds I have seen at X Y or Z during the periods A B & C. Time to start. Dearest to my heart of course is
Then I have an Essex list. This is a good one, as a lot of London is in Essex, indeed Wanstead is in Essex, and so I sometimes get to add ticks to several lists if I see a new bird at Rainham or somewhere. I was once standing in Kent, within the good old London circle, watching a White-winged Black Tern flying about the river. I willed it to fly to the opposite bank so I could tick it for Essex, and it did! Hurrah! I have in the past stood one-legged on a fence in order to add a distant Redshank to a patch list......
I also have a list of the birds I have seen in Norfolk, in Suffolk, and in Kent, all which are vaguely nearby. I can also tell you how many birds I have seen in Cornwall and in Devon, which are not nearby........and handily my parents live in Scotland and we go there a lot, so that means I can legitimately have a Scotland list as well. And a Fife list, which is where they live. And for good measure I have a list for their garden and their village too. "All entirely useful and sensible" most birders will at this point be saying. "What a ridiculous hobby" most birders' wives will now be saying. "What a total fucking loser" everyone else will be saying....
But this is of course just the start. Year-listing. And Patch Year-listing This is where it becomes truly stupid. I recognise the futility and irrationality of it, and yet I can't stop doing it. This year I am already on 250 for the UK, a total I didn't reach until September in 2008. Thanks to the magic of the web, you can track my progress via that little box over on the right. I am about to undertake a trip to Norfolk in order to add Nightjar and ascend to the lofty heights of 251...check the box for success or failure. Talking of failure, this week I did a round trip of 130 miles and gave the National Trust £5.50 in order to not see a Squacco Heron from what turned out to a public footpath not owned by the National Trust at all, for a total cost of roughly £19. Not ideal for the unemployed - in the new currency that's a child's shoe.
#310 BOU, Wood Warbler. Told you I was a low-lister.
In Scotland last week, I drove 514 miles in a day in order to boost my year-list. The last 188 miles of those only netted me a Black Guillemot, at a cost of roughy 20 quid. In fact the whole escapade was totally daft. I left Fife at about 7pm, via a convenient American Wigeon (#241) on the Tay, and the obligatory Osprey (#242) at Loch of the Lowes. I arrived at a Black Grouse site near Aviemore at 10pm, arising at 3.30am due to a text from an insomniac Hawkins. Actually waking up to the bubbling of Black Grouse (#243) is very nice, but probably not to everybody's taste. I then proceeded to Grantown on Spey for Capercaillie (#244), and a bonus Scotsbill (#245). Then back to Loch Garten for Crested Tit (#246) and over to Aviemore for Wood Warbler (#247). All ticked off by 10am, so up the Findhorn for no Golden Eagles, over to Loch Ruthven for a quick peek at summer plumaged Slavs, very nice, and then up to Wester Ross for more eagle disappointment and Black Guillemot (#248). My new hobby is buying diesel.
I arrived back in Fife at about 11.30pm after a 20 hour day on 5 hours sleep. You kind of get into a groove, I felt I could have driven back to London, I was on automatic pilot. My Mum thinks I am quite mad. Great day though, also saw Dipper, Red Grouse, breeding Common Sand and Red-breasted Merg, summer plumaged Divers. And the scenery was stunning, although it could have been considerably enhanced by an eagle flying through it....
<-insert crass comment about nuts here-
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