Tuesday 3 January 2023

My birding by bike stats for 2022

Some morsels of data on my birding year follow for the amusement of, well, mainly me. First up, the monthly species tally. All as recounted in torturous detail in my previous 'review of the year' post, but in a bar chart. Compared to 2021, the pattern for the first 7 months is broadly the same - peaks in Jan and Apr before the early summer doldrums kick in. After that though, this year differs from last in two major respects: late summer/early autumn was a fair bit more productive this year, but late autumn early winter the opposite: I accelerated from September onwards in 2021 but flatlined a bit after a good August this year. It was all riding on December which turned out to be, well, shite, for a variety of reasons.

And so to effort expended: my monthly mileage in 2022. A bit more erratic than 2021, when I started slowly until March and then did 200-350 miles per month for the rest of the year. This year holidays away from home and illnesses suppressed the distances I could manage in February, June, October and December. At 370 miles, however, August was the furthest I had cycled in any month, ever, so that was a milestone at least. Overall though, there's no getting away from the fact that my total miles cycled in 2022 of 2,600 was not as prolific as the 3,500 I managed in 2021, though a fair chunk of last year's mileage was purely for exercise, as evidenced by the correspondingly fair chunk which has reappeared around my waistline this year now that the cycling has been more exclusively bird-related!

Onwards we march then to the cramp-inducing dehydratathons of 2022: my top 25 longest bike rides. There ought to be an extra tarriff for those which take me west of Wareham, involving as they do more dangerous, heavily-trafficked roads and much greater elevation gain compared to the mostly off-road and flatter routes to the east. For this reason, as well as the sheer distance, the route which took me to Maiden Newton (Dipper), Bridport (Yellow-browed Warbler) and Portland Harbour (Red-necked Grebe) will live long in the memory as my most epic day of birding by bike in 2022. 

The route of my longest bike ride this year - 78 miles

I was on the move for just over 8 hours that day, hit my top speed of the year (36.9 mph virtually paragliding down towards Bridport from a high point of 991ft above sea level) and gained 5,695 ft in elevation - the equivalent of almost twice up Pen y Fan for those who know the Brecon Beacons. Four trips to Portland (including my first climb onto the island without getting off to push!) and five over the border into Hampshire over the course of the last 12 months also represented a fair amount of effort looking back on it.

Like last year, I remain unconvinced about the value of the next chart, as it really just shows you 'where I went' over the course of the year. That said, in comparison to last year it does illustrate that the relative importance to the yearlist of Swineham and Studland declined whilst that of Portland, Weymouth and Hartland Moor/Middlebere increased. As did the Dorchester and Keyhaven/Pennington areas, which don't show up in the key to the chart for some reason but which are the yellow and pale blue segments in the top left of the circle respectively. 

And finally to the ultimate measure of 'green' list purity - the number of species seen by non-motorised means expressed as a percentage of ALL species seen during the year. A fortnight in Scotland with the family at Easter, a week on Shetland in October and a bit of autumn twitching put a dent in this statistic somewhat and I ended the year on 88.80%, an improvement on last year's 86.15%. My Dorset stats were even better with only 1 of the 218 species I saw in the county in 2022 tempting me into the car (Black Kite). That was for an 8 mile round trip which, with hindsight, could have been done by bike as the Kite lingered for the best part of an hour against all expectations! But at 99.5%, it doesn't get much better, and it cements the pattern established in 2021 that I now do pretty much all my local birding (Dorset plus the bits of Hampshire I can reach) by bike. Hopefully I can make it 100% in 2023.

Well those are the scores on the doors for 2022 and if I can master the charts function in Word I'll try to make them a bit prettier next year!

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