Thursday, 29 October 2020

The challenge of year listing in 2020

As we approach the end of October I find myself looking at the year list again and have to say it's hit a bit of a wall. I sit on 267 and the years total looks likely to be a poor one. November and December historically are quiet months with an average of nine ticks in total over the two months since 2010.

My best November is just eight and my best December is just seven so fifteen would probably be a very optimistic outcome for the rest of this year and that would deliver a years total of just 282 but I have to remind myself that we are in a Pandemic and I was locked down from early March until June and since then travel has been difficult and I've been going solo without the Jims to save compromising them on long car journeys with me. It looks like I have missed the chance to visit Scotland and that's cost me around ten ticks. I had as previously mentioned also hoped to visit Shetland or Scilly this autumn but put that plan on ice due to the virus.

I suppose when bearing the above in mind then the current total is quite respectable and yes I know year listing isn't for everybody and in some quarters it's the subject of derision and there will always be a debate about the impact on the environment driven usually by all those lucky enough to live by the coast and particular birding hotspots meaning that they no longer need to travel to see or find good birds so until such time that I'm lucky enough to be one of them I'll continue travelling to good areas to see good birds and when I am able to call a coastal site home I'll be front of the list of people moaning about everybody else travelling I'm sure. 

Now as winter comes I usually look forward to spending some time closer to home watching some of our wintering raptors too with Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier and Merlin all obvious favourites and provided we don't get locked in again anytime soon I see no reason why I can't stand in a freezing cold field on my own watching these fabulous birds again this winter.

Little Auk top of my want to see again list for this Autumn

Historically November has delivered a few good vagrants too with the following a sample of the quality on offer at the cost of quantity. 

King Eider, American Wigeon, Little Auk, Long-eared Owl, Surf Scoter, Isabelline Wheatear, Little Bittern, Hume's Warbler, Pallid Swift, Dusky Warbler, Forster's Tern, Cliff Swallow, Pied Wheatear, Crag Martin and Penduline Tit.

Isabelline Wheatear. I'd quite like another before the years out

(Above all birds not seen thus far in 2020 but seen in November between 2010 and 2019)

And then of course there is always the chance of a new bird or two dropping in within reach and allowing me to travel within safe Covid regulations which look set to get worse in the next months not better with Nottingham now out of bounds from tomorrow as well as Wales, large parts of Scotland and most of the north of England. In Essex we sit in Tier two and only time will tell if we move up or down a tier but my gut says we'll be moving to Tier three before too long.

Anyway bring on November which will also see me quietly celebrate another birthday which as readers of my ramblings will know is always a special milestone given my previous trials.

Onwards and upwards.

Stay Safe!

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