All you bird listers out there! Feeling lucky today? Well some of you will be, especially if you maintain your list using the British Ornithologists Union's criteria as your guideline, and you have seen any of the following: Isabelline (Daurian) and Red-tailed (Turkestan) Shrike, Taiga and Tundra Bean Goose, Thayer's Gull, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Least Tern, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and Stejneger's Stonechat. They will now be considered as full species, no longer just closely-related or sub-species. As many of you will know, there are several bodies that maintain global bird lists and each differs slightly as to what is considered a full-species or not. You can read about the rationale behind the BBRC and the BOU's decision to adopt the IOC version by clicking here.
But where there are winners, there will be losers, so, get your rubbers and Tippex out if you have seen both Lesser and Common Redpoll and Whimbrel and Hudsonian Whimbrel, as each pairing are once again lumped. Oh, and by the way, don't ammend anything right now, as these changes do not come into force until January 1st 2018. And will then be reviewed again after five years... you could be unravelling, or bundling up your list again.
I have a simple rule with all this listing malarkey. If you get involved in it then it needs to be understood that it is just a game. If you do so competitively, then you have to accept the laying down of some ground rules to ensure a level playing field. But even if we do not list, these announcements do have relevance to each and every one of us. Such changes are important for all who send ornithological data into county recorders or enter data into BirdTrack. We should take all steps necessary to ensure that we leave behind an accurate account of our bird life for future generations to refer to, whatever the birding gurus of the time decree that our bird life does, in fact, consist of.
Today's sub-species may be tomorrow's species, and vice-versa. They are still all equally worthy of our attention.