Although I'm not a competitive lister, I am a keeper and maintainer of them. I love lists, but just for my own amusement you understand...
A few years ago some bright spark (step forward Mr Telfer) had the idea of putting together a league table of naturalists who admitted to being pan-listers. What is a pan-lister and what do they do? Well, this is what their very own web-site says:
'A pan-species list is a list of all the animals, plants, fungi and protists you have seen in Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands. Whether a Daisy or a Death's-head Hawk-moth, a Killer Whale or a Killer Shrimp, all species count as equal on your pan-species list. Although this may seem like the trivialisation of natural history to the accumulation of a big list, it's what is behind the list - how you get there - that makes this approach to natural history so powerful.'
I was one of the early adopters of this idea, in as much as I submitted my list way before most of the other competitors. Thus, I was in the Top Ten for several weeks, feeling quite smug that I had climbed to such dizzy heights, but in all honesty was a sham amateur in amongst so many professional field workers. But truth will out, and since then I have experienced a steady decent, settling down into mid-40s obscurity.
It must be admitted that I am a bit of a part-timer in all of this. I don't tend to look at much beyond birds, plants, Lepidoptera and Odonata, but sometimes a colourful beetle or odd looking fungi will intrigue me enough to try and identify it. I know that I could most probably add 100+ species over a weekend if I just made the effort (and more if I invested in some insect keys). But I'm happy just bumbling along, adding the odd tick here and there.
But something has just changed...
I've just had a look at the league table on the website and seen this. I've been knocked back into 43rd place by my cyber-chum Mark Skevington (better known to all as Skev). I have been aware of him lurking behind me for a year or two now, but far away enough not to cause me any angst. But, like his beloved Leicester City, he has crept up on the blindside and overtaken me with some latin jiggery pokery (I'm not even sure what half the things are that he's just added - no, make that ALL of them.)
So, how to respond? Well, maybe us boys can use each other to act as a bit of a catalyst to drag our sorry backsides further up the table. I have a folder of images on my computer named 'Mystery', all photographs of yet to be identified species. I might just stand in front of Hogweed and Ragwort for the whole of the rest of July and photograph everything that comes in and lands.
Skev, consider your overtaking my wake-up call. I'm on the prowl!