Saturday, 28 February 2015

Armchair ticking

The British Birds Rarities Committee, which assesses the voracity of reports of rare birds in this country, can take quite a while to pronounce with some complex and controversial cases taking years, even decades, to conclude. So it was a relief to see it take less than a year to rule on a couple of special birds which I saw in April last year. First of these was a Baikal Teal in Cambridgeshire. There could be no doubt about the identification of this bird, only the origin, but the Committee was clearly satisfied with its provenance, so my slightly superstitious decision not to add it to my Bubo list until it was deemed acceptable seems sort of vindicated. And now gives me the pleasure of adding that most effortless of things to my list, the armchair tick.
Baikal Teal, Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, 2nd April 2014
On the same day as it ruled on the Baikal Teal, the BBRC also accepted my own record of Northern Harrier on Portland, I think just the 7th accepted record of the hudsonicus sub-species of Hen Harrier in Britain. My footnote in Dorset birding history thus seems secure, and Ref No 5637 will forever have a place in my list of portentous numbers which I really should remember, but probably won't. My account of how it was found and identified remains far and away the most popular post to have appeared on this blog, with 1,800+ page views to date.
Male Northern Harrier, Portland, Dorset, 21st April 2014
Speaking of armchair ticks, after a recount, I have also gained another half dozen on the 2015 photo year list, by virtue of not counting birds photographed in an earlier post. Maths never was my strong point. On the up side, this brings the total up to 120. On the down-side, it means that the Waxwing loses its crown as the 100th species to appear on the blog this year, and has to hand it to a scabby Greylag Goose (or, if I recount in the strict chronological order the photos were taken, Bittern, which is a bit more respectable).

With no holidays planned for a few months though, a busy year ahead, and bearing in mind that when I have bothered to tot up a year list in the last few years I haven't breached the 250 barrier, realisation is already dawning that I am not going to be pulling up many trees, tally wise. Still, it's early days so I'll persevere, despite dipping on a local Great White Egret, re-re-re-re-refound and photographed very nicely by Steve Smith today. I scrambled, but it didn't hang around, hence returning to the comfort of the armchair.

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