Can you count it?

Spotted Rock Rose - I've only seen it on Jersey, SO HANDS OFF!!!

There's been a bit of a Twitter discussion this evening, between a few of the Surrey/Middlesex based birders, on where it is permissible for you to count a bird tick, as regards your British/UK/GB list.

Simply put: 

The British Isles are England, Wales, Scotland, Eire, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands

The United Kingdom is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland only. 

Great Britain is England Wales and Scotland only.

The correct answer is, of course, you can count what you want, where you want. A list based on political divisions is an area that has been carved up over the centuries and will always be in a state of flux - imagine having been a big Yugoslavian lister before the country shattered into many pieces. I bet they wept when they had to start again.

I have a bit of a mish-mash as to my wildlife recording areas:

My pathetic bird list is a UK one (although I've not been to Northern Ireland)

My better botanical list is a British Isles one. This is because the recording bodies (BSBI, Wild Flower Society) have always embraced Eire and the Channel Islands as part of their beat, so I have adopted it to. I have visited Jersey on a few occasions and have a healthy plant list from there. Don't try and take it away from me!

Pan-listing allows all records from the British Isles

For no other reason than gut instinct I've always found it rather strange that the Isle of Man has always been off-limits for UK bird listing - it's a lot bloody closer than the Isles of Scilly. And yes, the Channel Islands are as French as Eric Cantona, but hey, I don't make the rules up.

It does show up the absurdity of listing, but we all take part to some degree.


Gibster said…
Regards Isle of Man. Strange though it seems it does appear to have strong links with both Ireland and Scotland in certain respects. Take the butterflies. I'll give a set of links from the brilliant UKButterflies site. Check out

Green-veined White at
Meadow Brown at
Orange-tip at

Plus they have whacky cats?

Skev said…
All my 'British' lists are Great Britain only. Don't want to be politically provocative but for me there is only one Ireland and it's a great big separate land-mass from Great Britain. I agree that the Isle of Man is an oddball case, but as it has it's own list and authority for birds then I don't consider it. Channel Islands - meh. How they are part of the 'British Isles' is beyond me - there is no justifiable reason that allows the Channel Islands in but not the Falklands.
Paul Trodd said…
I`m a British Isles man myself (allows me to include Wilson`s Petrel off Co. Kerry seen from a warship in 1975!) and totally agree with Skev that the Channel Isles are to be excluded - look at an atlas, its geographically a part of FRANCE. As for other lists, I used to be a keen national and Bedfordshire lister, but now am only interested in a Marsh list, or more specifically birds seen south of the RMCanal; this `allows` me to include anything at Rye and Pett as well as Dunge, so nice and local, low carbon footprint and all that, daft I know, but it gets me through the day... Happy listing
Steve Gale said…
Seth - those maps were interesting. I wasn't aware of such sub-species distribution. Thanks.

Skev - what you have written makes total sense, but the Channel Islands thing is something I've adopted for plants only because the BSBI and WFS use it in their recording areas. Nuts, I know...

Paul - I am increasingly treating my Uberpatch list is very much like you do your Marsh list.

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