Despite my, much publicised (cheers Steve!), opposition to the disrespectful trend to turn the enjoyment of natural history into a sport - complete with rules and league tables - I have also (as pointed out by Bill Dykes) been compiling lists as I've meandered along the highways of my life. The very basic difference is that I keep them purely for personal reference - under no circumstances do I use, or wish them to be used by others, as a measure of my ability, or status, within a specific field. This is true of all aspects of my outdoor pursuits - angling, birding, mothing or any other group that has taken my interest, in our natural world, to another level.
|Migrating female Honey Buzzard, over our garden, 5th August 2012|
It is moments like this that elevate "patch watching" to an experience unlike any other.
I've seen 1,000's of Honey Buzzards during my life - none can compare to this one!
Since Bev and I moved to our bungalow in West Dumpton, November 2000, I have been keeping records of the wildlife that I've encountered (whilst stood) within the boundaries of our property. 30m x 9m - my little piece of England. Birds, moths, butterflies and bumble-bees have provided the bulk of my records - because they are what I am happiest with. There have been a few mammals, dragonflies and other stuff, but birds have been the central core of my interest. My first Mediterranean Gull was a major event - they're annual and, as such, although they are always a welcome sight, are no longer unexpected. A Rock Pipit is a completely different encounter. Craig Sammells recorded the first one, from my garden and I missed it! - it took three more years before I got it back and I've only another single record since then. Tree Sparrow was a scarce, but annually recorded, species a decade ago - I've not seen one since 2009.
|A Reed Warbler in our garden buddliea. Not a species normally associated with euphoria?|
When it was a first record for the garden - you'd better believe that I got very animated!
Getting lists down to this intimate level ensures that personal involvement, and local status, is the very essence of the encounters. None of this "Red Data Book" stuff, attempting to create an impression of added skill involved (it will be a direct consequence of restricted habitat in the vast majority of cases) - it is real, alive and dynamic, and happening where I live. (Not a demonstration of my garden's better than yours!)
I maintain loads of lists - I have the ability to go back to 1974 and look at the weight, bait, the venue, date and weather for all my tench captures. Pike, over 10 lbs' have a database to themselves going back to 1981, as do Carp and Wels Catfish - lists, yes I keep 'em and they are of huge value - but only at this personal level. Measuring yourself against others is (in my opinion) an exercise in pointlessness. In angling we use the term "glass ceiling" - it is the point you can reach when your skills can be no further developed; you can cast a line, tie the correct knots, know your baits, can read a water and have a knowledge of your chosen quarry and venue; after this level of competence has been attained it is the availability of time on the bank that dictates the successes you are able to accrue.The competent anglers with the most time will, therefore, catch the most fish and this will apply in a similar fashion with any individuals involved in "twitching" or multi-taxa appreciation.
|Yellow-necked Mouse (I think?) foraging under the garden feeding station - 23.06.2014|
The biggest question that any individual will need to ask of themselves is "Have I
reached that "glass ceiling" or am I using time to compensate for a lack of skills?" Time bandits - we all know who they are - carp fishing is full of them! All show, no go - ready made anglers straight off the shelf! Of course they catch fish, but not as many as the anglers who have learnt their skills and know when, where and how to apply them. You certainly see it at "twitches" - shiny gear, constant reference to the pager and "is that it?" with a bemused look on their chops! As the only multi-taxa enthusiast, that I've ever met, also happens to be a complete freak - with encyclopedic memory retention and self-found lists of mammoth proportions - I am unable to offer a description of what a PSL"tourist" would be like?
|What difference, to anyone else, does it make that I released this striking geometer|
without being able to id it?
Does it really matter, how we, as individuals, choose to demonstrate/pursue our enjoyment of the natural world? Of course not; when all said and done it should be each to their own. (and that, by the way, also includes me!) Having an opinion doesn't mean that there is a right or wrong way of doing this stuff - it is simply a manifestation of an individual mind-set and nothing more. If it appears on this blog, then it is very unimportant indeed - as is the guy who wrote it!
|Better late than never? That insect which had me so confused when I first set eyes upon it|
in East Blean Woods (02.07.2014)
A hoverfly which goes by the name of Chrysotoxum bicinctum
A very pleasing result, but in no way has it improved the enjoyment of the original encounter!
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