how do i work this?

Monday, July 26, 2010

So the year list for the patch is now higher than last year by one. In fact I am now in the biggest year of my patch life for this patch. And it’s only July. I was in the 29th best patch in London last year, but even with last years total beaten, I'm only in the mid thirties.  And that's assuming that all the other worthy patch birders have updated their lists.  So to maintain the top 30 status pop-pickers I need a big year.

Funnily enough, I’ve just finished reading The Big Year by Mark Obmascik, which if you have any lists of birds that you see, you will enjoy. Three now legendary birders in America try to break the record for the most birds seen in America in a year. The winner (Sandy Komito) ended up with 745. If you haven’t read it (regardless of which side of the pond you sit on), get hold of it. It’s a ruddy good read. Their antics would make the most mental UK twitcher rare bird enthusiast look like a reasoned patch birder. Kind of.

The interweb also informs me that this subject is now being made into a comedy film with Jack Black, Angelica Houston and Steve Martin along with a load of actors that I’ve never heard of but are probably regarded as celebrities. I suspect that this will be rubbish. I digress. This is now the patch Big Year, I’ve already broken the record due to the recent run and the good fortune that the severe winter weather brought at the beginning of the year.  So what should I have, and what might I get, to move further into unknown territory?

Here are six species that I had last two years that have yet to appear this year.

Goldcrest – should be a cert in the Autumn/Winter
Collared Dove – rare but annual, only a matter of time
Brambling – a previous one off
Green Sandpiper – not wholly unlikely
Greenshank – a previous one off
Oystercatcher – a previous one off, but not uncommon in West London.

So out of that lot let’s say that I’ll get two more - 67 for sure.

Now, for the Brambling, let’s assume that there is a finch of somer sort knocking about for the year – either that or a Siskin, a Bullfinch or maybe even a Reed Bunting. 68

For the waders, let’s assume that one of the above will drop in at some point – 69

Which leaves me one off the heady heights of 70. So we need to spread the net a bit wider.

Ducks. I have never seen a Pochard on this patch, which is slightly odd. Other candidates in this area are Shelduck and/or Shoveler. So let’s call that a nice round 70.

Gulls. I’m never short of Gulls in the winter, so it’s only a matter of time before something from the top drawer pops in . Med is my best bet (there was one in Chiswick over the weekend - hubba hubba!). – 71

Accidentals. This is where I need to be really lucky. But the following are seen on occasion within a couple of miles, Warblers, Osprey, Hobby, Sand Martin, Snipe, Dunlin, Plovers, Godwits, etc etc etc

Extrapolate from that lot, and in the spirit of the Big Year, nothing less than 73 will be accepted.  The chances of getting it though is another matter...

A Swallow, doing into the blue again.


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