Anyhow, back to the recording area discussion. In the 19th century (1852 to be exact) a geographical division of the United Kingdom was devised that resulted in clear divisions of the vice-counties, also called the Watsonian vice-counties. These were adopted by biological recorders as easily identified units in which to collate and publish natural history records, which included the Surrey Bird Club (formed in 1957). I quote directly from Wikipedia:
The London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, and parts of Lewisham and Bromley were in Surrey until 1889. The boroughs of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton and Richmond upon Thames south of the River Thames were part of Surrey until 1965, when they too were absorbed into Greater London. In the same year, the county gained its first area north of the Thames, Spelthorne, from defunct Middlesex. As a result of this gain, modern Surrey also borders on the London boroughs of Hounslow and Hillingdon.
Today, administrative Surrey is divided into eleven districts: Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley and Woking. Services such as roads, mineral extraction licensing, education, strategic waste and recycling infrastructure, birth marriage and death registration and social and children's services are administered by Surrey County Council.
So we can see that, although the northern-most London boroughs of Watsonian Surrey 'left' the political county in 1889, they were still accepted in the biological recording unit for the county. And again, when the remaining London boroughs were removed in 1965, the biological recording unit of Surrey still adhered to the 'old' Watsonia vice-county area.
However, at the same time (1965), the addition of Spelthorne into the political unit was ignored by biological recorders.
What we have now is a bowl of confusion:
To be crass, Surrey listers do not count anything outside of the vice-county (that is to say, those involved in the competitive 'big boys' league table).
Wheatley's 'Bird of Surrey', published in 2007, refers to Spelthorne as a separate, but clearly removed, set of data.
The Surrey Bird Club website embraces all of Spelthorne as if an unquestionable part of Surrey - but if this is the case, why are the London boroughs still also included?
I think there are only two courses of action.
Firstly, (and my favourite), vice-county ONLY. This has the advantage of being a constant area and one that the historical record adheres to.
Secondly, admit Spelthorne, but lose the London boroughs. This would, at a stroke, remove the vast ornithological input of Beddington and Barn Elms/Barnes. This would hurt...
At the moment, all areas seem to be accepted, whether they have been added or subtracted from the political map. Surely it is time to adopt one or the other: Watsonian or political...