This morning, on the Rare Birds of Britain and Ireland Facebook group, Simon Smethurst pointed out that, although certain species can become our bogey birds (with frequent dips), there are others that we cannot but help connecting with. He has seen three different Green Herons in the UK. What rare multiples do others have, he asked? The response was revealing:
Multiple American Robins, Yellow-browed Buntings, Mourning Doves, Scop's Owls, Alder Flycatchers, American Redstarts, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Thick-billed Warblers, Tengmalm's Owls (that's just being greedy, Martin Gray!) and - I had to mention them again - my two WALLCREEPERS... I then posed the question, if these birds could be traded like football cards and stickers, what would I be offered for my spare Wallcreeper? The best offer came from Martin Goodey, who upped his initial offer of a spare Scarlet Tanager to also include a Cliff Swallow and a Northern Waterthrush. I'd be tempted! How did he know I needed them all? Does my reputation as a low-lister travel that far?
But just imagine if listing did involve bartering. And was not just confined to swaps. What if you got fed up with birding and wanted to cash in your list and start on moths. How much would a White-crowned Black Wheatear fetch - is it worth a Willowherb Hawkmoth and a Patton's Tiger? Would somebody be prepared to give me a Ghost Orchid for my Varied Thrush? (come to think about it, I'll keep the thrush...) This would be worth watching, seeing what desperate listers would be prepared to give up for that one elusive seabird, that possibly extinct plant or a horrendously rare migrant moth.
I would make sure that any new kid Surrey lister would pay dearly for my spare Cirl Buntings and Willow Tits, now sadly extinct in the county and unlikely to pop up again any time soon. I could sit back and wait for the offer of their hard won skuas and petrels before coughing up any of my (many) spares. If only we could play such games, this listing lark would be much, much more fun...