Having been to a couple of new places last week, I marvelled again how this absurd thing called twitching does at least come with the side benefit of increasing one's knowledge of the British Isles. That sounds extremely pompous and wholesome does it not? Probably, but visiting new places is not always a good thing, for instance I would quite happily never go to the utter dump that is Minsmere again, but mostly it has been a real treat. Places like Aveley Landfill and Staines Moor are absolutely stunning and were it not for the great birds that have been there I doubt I would ever have gone and thus missed out on some superb scenery.
I thought it would be a really really cool* idea to create a map showing just where I have been for various birds, and rather than colour in the entire map, I thought I'd stick with megas (the really really rare ones). Whilst I weep at the mileage, and lament the kidney I had to sell, I've been to a fair few places in just a few short years**, and am very pleased to bring you the Mega Map (TM, don't even think about copying it).
This shows all the megas I've seen, if they were megas when I saw them, or possibly mega whenever it was that I downloaded all the species - things change, today's White-throated Robin is tomorrow's Red-flanked Bluetail. They are not labelled, but it's easy to see that the one and only Welsh rare bit is that Marmora's Warbler, the only Scottish one is last week's Black Scoter, and that I have never been to Ireland. Scilly is notable by its absence (horrible, bird-free, blood-sucking place, where a ten minute boat ride would cost me my other kidney), whereas Shetland, with it's Buff-bellied Pipit, Swainson's Thrush etc, shines like an irresistible beacon. Closer to home, Kent is winning hands down, though Norfolk isn't doing badly, and London boasts three, the Brown Shrike, the White-tailed Plover, and whether it gets accepted or not, the Slaty-backed Gull.
So now you know what I do with my weekends. ***
** I am a lunatic