Tuesday 12 January 2010

London Listing

There was an interesting post a while back on one of the websites I peruse about Norf London year-listing. Apparently the record is only 214 species, set in 2003. I say 'only', that is 5 more birds than I have seen in London full stop over the last four years, so I guess it is a very respectable total. Especially seeing as most of the good birds are going to be at the far extremities like Staines and Rainham and at the busy times of year you would have to constantly zoom like a nutter between the two. Anyway, list-freak that I am, I started wondering how many I had seen in London in the last few years. I know you want to know.

OK then. Well, in 2008 I saw 172 species, not too shabby I suppose. In 2009 I saw 182 without even thinking about it. And because I wasn't thinking about it, I didn't bother looking for Nightingale singing in the Lea Valley. I didn't chase down any Turnstone, Knot or Little Stints on the Thames. I didn't go up onto the tip at Aveley for Corn Bunting, or look for Marsh Tit in Northaw Wood. I didn't try and find Grey Partridge, and I was half-hearted in my pursuit of Osprey. I just added up what I could have gone for, and, assuming I scored every time or pretended I did, I'd have been on 201 for the year. Not bad eh - I'd wager that total would be in the top ten ever. Add some non-existent sea-birds and some waders I'd seen somewhere else and the title could be mine! Oh the glory! I imagine I'd have to go birding somewhere else in order to avoid the hordes of hero-worshippers constantly throwing themselves at my feet in adulation.

I've already stated I'm not doing a national yearlist this year, but what about a London list? The possibility hadn't even crossed my mind until the back end of last year, but 200 seems on the face of it relatively straight-forward if you assume an average number of vagrants and scarcities. In 2009 I saw Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Honey Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Spotted Crake, Grey Phalarope, Ring-billed Gull, White-winged Black Tern, Alpine Swift, Great Grey Shrike, Brown Shrike, Savi's Warbler, Penduline Tit & Serin. They would be good birds anywhere. I also saw Red-necked & Black-necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver (3!), Whooper Swan, Velvet and Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Iceland Gull, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Snow Bunting & Twite. All of those are good birds in London. And as I say, I had not even been thinking about it. Imagine if I did think about it?! Hope Mrs L doesn't read this. Having said that, she might be happy about it as I'd at least be relatively local. Or maybe I could stay properly local, doss about here in Wanstead all year, and make it all up? These days all you really need is photos, and god knows I've got a lot of those. I probably wouldn't even need to nick any off the web. I'm also aware of exif data so I wouldn't get caught out there. What could be easier?

As some readers may know, I originally wrote most of this post on November 27th last year. I've just edited it to make sense for reading today, changed tenses, updated numbers etc. Back in November I took it down shortly after writing it because I had learned that there was in fact somebody going for the London record, and not only that, but there was some controversy surrounding some of the birds seen. I know, what an amazing coincidence, I could scarcely believe it myself!! In the circumstances I decided that my totally unrelated post might come across as prejudicial, so with great sadness I took it down. I've never met the guy in question, though apparently I nearly bumped into him in Lancashire at William Girling Reservoir the same day I wrote the post. Astonishing! I was there to twitch a Leach's Petrel that I couldn't find. Possibly because it wasn't there, though this is obviously nothing more than wild speculation on my part. I rather suspect the record won't be claimed for last year, for various reasons, but the thought of it is intriguing me. Yesterday I hit 100 for London for 2010, including quite a few good ones already, and started to wonder again.... Then I remembered this old post, had a quick look, and seeing as the fuss has all died down, decided it was probably safe to finally hit 'publish' with a few minor edits. Frankly it was better first time around, topical and so on, but what the hell, here it is, resurrected.

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