Saturday, January 28, 2017

MY List.

Bird listing has always been a bit of a debating topic between birders of all generations. Now I see that there are some big changes coming to the British list in 2018 where some species such as Common and Lesser Redpolls ( that I can identify) will be lumped together and others such as Isabelline type Shrikes ( that I can't identify) will be split into separate species.

This kind of reorder happens ever more regularly these days. What ever happened to the good old Professor Voous order? It served us well for many years. This is where the issues begin I think. It is up to scientists and geneticists to decide on what is a species and what isn't and how those species all fit into the grand order of things. That's a good thing, I mean after all, the science has to be there so internationally those decision makers in power will know whats what.

But what about Joe Public? Birders like me who just enjoy our natural world for what it is? I love to watch birds both common and rare for aesthetic reasons as much as anything else. I also like to wonder, whimsically, about where they come from, what they do, how they featured in history etc. I never ever wonder if the DNA sequence of a Merlin is closer to a parrot, than a Buzzard! Currently I have Mealy Redpoll and Hudsonian Whimbrel on my list. Should I suddenly erase these and tear the page from the guide because, in the laboratory they no longer exist?

I think its time to rebel and push Clements, Howard and Moore, Sangster and the rest to one side and have a look at a list that suits my own needs. I can leave the science to the professionals to sort out.

Basically, do I need to worry whether the birds I watch are even different species at all? I like to look for sub species such as Dark bellied Brents, Scandinavian Rock Pipits, Blue headed Wagtails and Northern Bullfinches, but these are deemed untickable by the powers that be. You can argue that we don't need a list at all, but most birders do keep them, and they are a good way to guide our birding plans, other wise we might as well just be out looking at the same Robin everyday rather than revelling in the variety on offer.

What I think I'll do from now is to record all field identifiable forms, in an order that I recognise. If there are any competitions in the offing such as Patch Challenge, Bird Races, County Listing etc, it will be easy just to conform to the standard like everyone else, but in my own world, falcons will be with raptors, divers will come first, there will be no such thing as Lapland Longspurs, and I might even add another Brent Goose to my list...

Pale bellied Brent Goose. The commonest of the Brents in Northumberland. One of only two Brents that I've seen ( Black Brant might appear one day) 
Today this is an Isabelline Shrike. In 2018 I'll have no idea what it is, thanks to science.


Anonymous said...

As usual I agree entirely - a cracking post!


Stewart said...

Cheers Andy :)