Monday, February 14, 2005

Year-listing thoughts Part 1

For the last few years I have kept a yearly list of the birds I have seen in the Peterborough area (the PBC Area, no less, recording area for the Peterborough Bird CLub). This slightly bizarre cross-shape around Peterborugh is neatly designed (or fudged) to include some of the most juicy habitat around, from the Nene Washes in the chilly east, Woodwalton Fen and part of Monk's Wood in the balmy south, kite-filled, rolling Northamptonshire hills in the west and the Welland and Baston and Langtoft and Deeping Pits in the frozen north.
The main reason I keep a year-list is because it gets me up and out in the morning birding! Local year-listing is a slightly different world from more national stuff – so eg. I'm delighted if I bump into a Turnstone or Bar-tailed Godwit, but would rather take them in my stride up at the coast.
We usually get about 200 species recorded in the PBC Area each year and over the last three years I have seen (or heard) the following numbers of species...
2002: 175
2003: 182
2004: 174
2005: 103 (so far)

My thought for today is that, when you break down the birds of the area, there are (in my opinion) 136 species which are common and regular enough to be expected with comfort in any year without any real effort. The rest take a bit more work, finding-skill/luck or a bit of twitching (chasing someone else's find). This bunch, the 'elite' birds, include scarce residents like Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but also rather scarce passage birds like Whimbrel or Redstart, and locally very scarce stuff like Red-necked Grebe or Red-footed Falcon.
Basically, what I call 'elites' are anything not in my list of 136 'cores'. These are the birds, when totted up, which separate a pretty good year list from a top year list.
So far this year, I have seen 10 species which I include in the 'elites', so, if all goes miserably from now on, my 2005 total should be 146, but if I keep bagging the birds, who knows what the total will be?
My year-listing advice?
Get finding,
Get lucky,
Get twitching
Get out there!

[By the way, this weekend (12-13.2.05) I saw two 'elites', both of which are already on my 2005 PBC list: Red-breasted Merganser and Water Pipit]

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