Sunday, 23 January 2011

On why I'm not year listing this year

This year marks my second in the world of birding. This blog was born on the 12/01/2009 and once again I've completely missed its birthday.

And for both of those years I've kept a list of things I saw in that space of time. I've never experienced birding without the year list. In one sense it's a positive force - I'm making sure I get out and nail those Fieldfares in January - but it's only so I'm not left chasing them in December. Shouldn't I be getting out and seeing Fieldfares because Fieldfares are awesome?

Today I went out for a walk round Harrow Lodge Park, my local patch, with the fiancée. We fed the ducks and then we walked back along the stream along the edge of the park because we wanted to see some Grey Wagtails. Not because I hadn't seen them yet this year (which I hadn't, but shhh), but because Grey Wagtails cheer us up. So do Pied Wagtails, for all that they're common as dirt. And family flocks of Long Tailed Tits. It's a concept that's been swirling round my head for a couple of weeks now, but it needed the simple pleasure of today's walk combined with a bit of reflection on a recent post by a widely read blogger to form it into a coherent thought.

This year I'm not going to year list.

I'll keep the life list ticking over, but I'm not going to count the year up because I've got a feeling that, somewhere along the way, I missed the point of the hobby and started collecting Pokemon instead of watching birds. It's a strangely liberating feeling, and suddenly Blackbirds are fun again even in mid-January.

And for those who are still reading, now I've got that off my chest, there was a very suspicious looking Greylag durng that trip to Harrow Lodge today. It was on the main lake and had a big white patch above its bill. I didn't have the camera so have no photo evidence, but if you're in that neck of the woods during daylight hours and you know your White Fronted Goose from any other medium sized brown wildfowl, give it a sneaky glance. I'll be taking the ID guide next time I'm over there.


  1. Personally I think listing is one of the greatest joys in life but I understand that many people feel differently. For myself, I see absolutely nothing wrong with being competitive, obsessive, perhaps slightly mad on the topic of birds---but it also serves a greater purpose in my life. Do I sometimes reduce a wonderful sighting to a mere tick on a list? Probably. But on many other occasions I am motivated to go out and look for birds because I have to increase the List (and someone else saw something good so I have to find it too!) and end up having a wonderful day with many wonderful birds in it--if I weren't such a lister, I might have stayed home. It all balances out. I think it's a very personal issue of when it stops being fun (and joyous)and becomes a chore.

  2. I agree to an extent, and the point I wanted to make clear in the post was that I've never experienced birding without the list and so I'm in a bad position to praise or criticise either way.

    And sure enough, this year I've hardly been out birdwatching at all. That's partly because life has been extremely busy - this is the first weekend I've really been able to call my own - but I'm sure last year I'd have squeezed in an hour or so.

    But I've never been worried the size of the list really. If I'd found at the end of last year that I'd seen less birds than the year before I really wouldn't have cared. Listing has always meant record keeping to me rather than setting goals. I'll probably find a happy middle ground for next year once life has settled down a bit.

    Thanks for the erudite comment! Always a pleasure to read.