December 24, 2005

What's this all about?

Many birdwatchers are bird-nerds at heart and enjoy keeping lists. County lists, patch lists, life lists, birds-seen-defecating lists, birds-heard-from-the-loo lists - you name it, and a birder somewhere is keeping a list of it.

While for many people it's a way of retaining interest (after the initial flush of excitement on 1 January, when everything is new and shiny), keeping a year list can soon become a millstone around your neck. Or, perhaps more appropriately, an albatross.

Feeling compelled to go and see birds is bound to make you grumpy. Year-listers would do well to remember that birding is supposed to be fun and enjoying what you see is what it's meant to be about. Not keeping up with the Joneses.

Check the Surfbirds UK year list rankings to see what I'm referring to. People chasing around after semi-rarities that they've seen dozens of times before - not because they're interested in seeing it, but because they neeeeed it for the year list, and so-and-so above them in the rankings has been for it, so...

So, in 2006, we're going to subvert the birding listing establishment, by trying to see (or hear) as many British breeding species as possible. Not twitching freakish vagrants that really shouldn't be here, but exploring our own British avifauna in a slightly different way.

With a bit of luck, this will also get us to some interesting parts of the UK that we haven't been to before, or that deserve a repeat visit.

Birding abroad is all very well - and often great fun - but there's a lot to be mopped up on home turf yet. Life's too short to spend it doing things you don't really enjoy...

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