Friday, 20 January 2017

Some you win, some you lose

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.

6 comments:

  1. Dammit. I lose a Redpoll and a Whimbrel for the meagre gain of a Goose. And that sodding Whimbrel gave me the right run around at Pagham, and the less said about the Dungechat.... Another nail in the coffin of twitching. I have no idea what flavour of Shrikes I've seen. I tend to make more of an effort for this family so hopefully both!

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    1. Sometimes I'm glad that I'm a low lister Jono

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  2. Fascinating. I get at least a goose and a warbler. I can't remember how things finally panned out for the Devon wagtail, and I have no idea what versions of stonechat or shrike I've seen. Redpoll and Whimbrel are basically 'as you were' a few years back I suppose. You're right Steve, just a game!

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    1. Give me back the days before Iberian Chiffchaffs, Western this and Eastern that. Life was simpler then Gav...

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  3. I'm sick of all these taxonomic changes. Have you seen where theyve put falcons in the list of birds now? They aren't even with other raptors. At one time it was easy to flip through any guide and find the family you wanted in a known order. Now, even the guides can't agree where to put birds! So I've made a decision. I am sticking with my old Voous order and, more contentiously, I am sticking with my own list of identifiable forms rather than species. So, I will still be having Mealy Redpoll and Hudsonian Whimbrel, and I might even add Northern Bullfinch and Blue headed Wagtail etc. If its good enough for scientists its good enough for me. Its not as if the birds I see even matter to anyone else, and its irrelevant whether they are actual species or not, unless I am competeing, at which point I will use the recognised format.

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    1. Couldn't agree more Stewart. The shifting of the order I have not adopted.

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