Back in the spring of 2013, I brought you much fanfare when I nipped down to Margate to watch grown men trample over graves with complete abandon. The subject of this angst was a Dusky Thrush, and it was my 400th BOU bird. Because it was a landmark bird, I slapped it on more or less immediately, and asked no questions whatsoever about it. A storm then blew up on the internet about how rufous it was (those who hadn't seen it) vs how this was an artifact (those who had), all of which I ignored studiously. Following seeing it, I did of course give up twitching. For a whole week, and then started again when a gettable Roller turned up. The rest, as they say, is history, and I then caned it for the rest of the year seeing such delights as Bridled Tern, Great Snipe and Ivory Gull. In due course, indeed quite rapidly, the Dusky Thrush was accepted by the powers that be whose name I can never remember, but there was no need to ink it in as I already had.
But now I need some tippex, as Dusky Thrush can no longer be considered my 400th bird. Shame. That major honour now goes to a somewhat lowlier Subalpine Warbler, and the Thrush becomes number 401. This is because a new entry has appeared way back at number 356 - the Blakeney Point Empid has been accepted to species. Unlike the Dusky Thrush, which obviously was one, the Traill's Flycatcher complex is rather difficult. And so unlike the Dusky Thrush, I exercised massive caution and did not add it to my list. Despite the epic slog down the Point, my efforts went unrewarded in listing terms. Until now that is, as the same people whose name I always forget have now decided that it was definitively an Alder Flycatcher and not a Willow Flycatcher. To be honest, either worked for me, but there was always the danger that they might never decide. But now they have, and so from the comfort of my armchair I've had to rework my entire list, including relegating Dusky Thrush to the completely unremarkable slot at 401. Bo-ring!
And as for Subalp as number 400, what a disgrace! Not as bad as your first ever Shrike in the UK being nubicus of course, but up there. There is however hope. If Dom's 2011 Slaty-backed Gull gets on, then Harlequin Duck becomes number 400, which is a bird well worthy of the number. The only slight difficulty is that shortly after seeing it I then clapped eyes on a Richardson's Cackling Goose. That is surely going to get on the UK list in the near future, and as I'm then fresh out of armchairs, all I can hope for is a split somewhere down the line to avoid the permanent ignominy of having a runty Canada Goose as my 400th tick.
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