|Dreadful record shot of the last rare bird I found - Bonaparte's Gull at Dungeness almost FIVE years ago.|
People have been banging on about their 'UK self-found lists' for an age, but I have not sat down and worked mine out. Until now. 287. That is, species identified by me without knowing that the species was present. Some of them have to go down as joint finds, but all of them had input from myself in their identification. If I went and lived on a Shetland croft for a couple of years I could most probably bump this up by 50 species, so the total is relative. It is still a poor total. By admitting to it I have most probably black-balled myself from several birding gangs.
My rarer finds do, however, include: Ring-necked Duck, Surf Scoter, White Stork, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Black Kite (2), Red-footed Falcon, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Bonaparte's Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Bee-eater (several), Red-throated Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, Aquatic Warbler, Booted Warbler, Hume's Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Two-barred Crossbill and Rustic Bunting. Had I been desperate I could have added things like Richard's and Tawny Pipits, Bluethroat, Marsh, Barred, Melodious, Icterine and Yellow-browed Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatchers, Serins and Ortolans - dammit, I am desperate, so let's add them as well! Looking back at that list, it isn't too shabby, but doesn't include a real stonker and is scant reward for 46 years worth of birding. That lot would be a couple of year's worth of finds for some of the big boys.
Finding a rarity is not the 'be all and end all' but it gives you a great big thrill when you do so. Part of me wants to get those thrills again, on a regular basis. But to give myself a fighting chance of doing so will mean some changes in where I go and how I bird.