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