It's never been less about the list

"It's all about the list"

I have heard this little gem from many birders over the years. At times I've even agreed with it.

But age has mellowed me. A list is just a number and that number is meaningless. It really is.

What is your British bird list? How many species of butterfly have you seen in your home county? And what of orchids? If you know the exact numbers (which I'm sure many of you do), does that make you a better person than somebody with fewer? A higher number doesn't even suggest somebody with more experience or more knowledge. It is, after all, just a number. A bit of fun.

My time spent in the field is increasingly one of enjoyment in marvelling at what I come across. I get more pleasure in seeing something on my doorstep than I do a proper rarity miles away. It's a good place to be. Pan-listing, rather than being at odds with this, actually helps my state of mind. It's enough to come across a beetle, realise it's a click beetle, and leave it alone unidentified. If the mood takes me I might try and specifically identify it. If it doesn't then so be it. I'm happy with that.

Maybe I've finally found my place in all of this natural history stuff.


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