Wednesday 18 November 2020

Closing in

Unless there is a big change in the weather I think my year lists in Wanstead and nationally are done. 226 for the UK, 118 for the patch. As I mentioned in a recent post 226 is pretty middling - I once managed 313 though that became a little draining - but I'm happy with it. The number in of itself doesn't mean much, but it does signify that I must have been out birding. Had I not it would be much lower, and so it is that that 226 invokes memories of vast flocks of Aythya on Abberton, tons of waders at Boulmer including an incredibly smart PGP, a week in Yorkshire filled with Thrushes and Finches, a Red-flanked Bluetail and a Dusky Warbler in the same hedge in Norfolk, Sea Ducks, Alcids and Skuas in Fife, Chough in Cornwall. All of that was supplemented by a huge amount of birding at home - 2020 really was the year for garden and patch birding. I've stalled on a record-equalling 118 but I've really enjoyed it. Hoping for a cold snap to add a Lapwing or Goosander. Or both.

Like my UK list my blog fell into decline. Once upon a time it was close to a post a day, maintained for an entire year. That same period when I was off twitching with the gang also saw around 200 posts annually. I expect that there was some crowing about all the great birds I saw, but that alone wouldn't have been enough. The truth is that back then I simply found it far easier to write original material. As the years have progressed that's become harder and less enjoyable, and in parallel I've found I've less free time. My frequency of writing declined, and in 2015 I didn't even manage 100 posts, under half of the number of prior years. Since then I've been bumping along at about 130, so about once every three days. That seems a mostly sustainable level although as with all things there are fits and starts. There are weeks at work that are so draining that I simply can't string a sentence together in the evening. Equally there are also intense periods at work where writing about something else afterwards acts as an antidote. I'm in one of those periods right now, long days at the "office" where I never seem able to do everything that I need to do, but where I also seem able to bash out a post each evening. I guess my brain must still be going full tilt when I eventually jack it in for the day. 

Right now I'm closing in on those 130 posts. One more to go in fact, helped by a few recent fillers of which this is definitely one. Part of me wants to exceed it, to get to at least 134 which would be the most since 2013. Petty perhaps, but it's just the mood I'm in at the moment. As if an arbitrary number could act as a marker of change, as a feeling that something has changed for the better, but there it is.

I mentioned Hong Kong the other day as being the trip that in 2014 that kicked off my obsession with travelling. The following year I went again, but this time with the whole family. Five years ago, on the 18th November 2015, I posted this photo. I had no idea who the person is and still don't, just a candid taken on a busy street. All blog posts are enhanced by a photo so I was just searching for something random to accompany today's as I've not taken any recently, and in common with the Mallards from Monday was looking for an 'anniversary' post. This popped up. I still like it, and for added relevance it also has someone wearing a mask. So 2020. The full post is here.


  1. Even that post was very mildly interesting! Carry on. Stuck on 220 myself.

  2. This post prompted me to review the NQS numbers for recent years. Prior to this year, pretty dreadful. From 2015 it was 31, 43, 43, 34, 52. So 163 this year is bizarre. Apart from BWKM0 I don't bother with bird lists any more, but I expect 2020 would once again stand out. What a peculiar year it's been. And still is...

    Sympathise with the writing issues. Very glad Wanstead Birder is still a going concern though. Long may that be so. 😊 👍

    1. I think we're all astounded by your recent and sustained proclivity Gav! And not all about fishing/running/cycling either!

    2. Yes, I should rectify that. There's a backlog of DIY posts too... 😄