Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The bird that keeps on giving

An early Christmas present arrived for me today in the form of the British Ornitholigists' Union decision to 'split' Northern Harrier from Hen Harrier, thus bestowing it with full species status in the eyes of the keepers of the official British list. This makes it the 599th addition to said list, and the 452nd to my own via that most decadent of means, the 'armchair tick'. More importantly, the one I discovered on Portland in April last year (identified from my photos by Martin Cade) gets an upgrade to become the most recent addition to the Dorset list, which now stands at 423. The fact that I was the only person to see it still creates mixed feelings, sort of summed up by the reaction to today's news from birding friends: the public Tweets have been generous ('well done'), the private texts less so ('jammy get')!
It's been, ooh, at least 6 months since this photo of the Portland Northern Harrier made an appearance on these pages - but I make no apologies for a repeat appearance on the day it was elevated to full species status on the British and Dorset lists. And besides, I haven't taken many other photos lately.
So what do I take from all this as the Christmas holiday approaches? Should I slob out in the armchair more often? Statistically, taking December as a random sample, it certainly seems to offer better prospects of adding to my list than actually going birding, for which there hasn't been much opportunity lately anyway. Tempting, isn't it, but I think not: that April I stumbled across the Northern Harrier, I was thrashing around my favourite Dorset haunts pretty assiduously, determined to find something good, and for once it worked. That's settled then, outdoors it is, and I resolve to make more effort to go there.

For those in the 'jammy get' camp, I will try not to dwell on the Northern Harrier again, though I reserve the right to make a brief reference to it in the forthcoming 'review of the year' post. Until then, a very merry Christmas to you all, and many thanks for reading.

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