Showing posts from February, 2024

PSL complete

Back in the mists of time (or at least the turn of the millennium) I sat down and worked out my UK list of lifeforms that I had identified. This was primarily made up of birds, plants, butterflies and moths, although I was able to dig up plenty of additional filler, such as dragonflies, easy to identify insects and a whole host of miscellaneous creatures that I could remember having seen. I kept it in a notebook and now and again would suddenly remember something from the past and add it to the list. The list was purely for a bit of fun, and as far as I were aware there was nobody else that kept such a pointless tally - but I was so very, very wrong. I cannot remember the moment that I became aware of other 'lifeform listers' although I'm pretty sure that the name Mark Telfer was involved. He, too, kept such a list and not only that, he was on the lookout for other like-minded souls, to gather (and publish) a league table of totals. Even though my competitive listing days w

Mistletoe, thrushes and wings

The belated 'Waxwing Winter' continues in Surrey, with birds on offer at places such as Farnham, Carshalton, Wallington, Redhill, Ashtead, Bookham and Leatherhead. Some of these may be the same flock meandering around the local berry crop, but it would be fair to say that there must be at least a couple of hundred in the county. At most sites the birds are keeping fairly faithful so that any observer wanting their Waxwing fix is able to do so. During the week I went along to Leatherhead to see the 50+ birds which were feeding on (and in) Mistletoe behind the leisure centre. There is plenty of Mistletoe in the area (as can be seen in the pictures above) and the birds spent a lot of time perched out in view, their soft trilling competing with the nearby sub-singing Redwings. A Mistle Thrush did decided to confront the flock, harshly rattling in warning, no doubt defending its patch of Mistletoe. Quite sensibly, even though they outnumbered it 50 to 1, the Waxwings decided to vaca

PSL reborn

It must have been some time in the early 2000s that I first counted up all of the life forms that I had identified and recorded in Britain. This fledgling list was largely made up of birds, moths and plants with a few large, colourful and obvious insects thrown in for good measure. I thought of it as an enjoyable sideshow in my natural history studies, and, as a maintainer of lists rather than a chaser of them, it kept itself firmly in the background, coming out to play whenever I had a few ticks to add to it. I'm at a loss to remember the precise moment that I discovered that there were others out there that kept a similar list - maybe through an internet search or a discussion while out birding, but I soon found myself in touch with Mark Telfer, who was organising a web-site devoted to such matters with an accompanying league table of recorder's lists. I needed no second invite to post my efforts and, very briefly, found myself in the top 10 of the innaugaral table. I soon st

More Waxwings

After a fairly featureless wander around Holmethorpe Sand Pits with Gordon Hay this morning - our time being spent under a dull dark-grey blanket of cloud, and wondering where all the birds had gone - we decided to make the short journey to the Frenches Road area of Redhill, where a group of Waxwings had been found yesterday afternoon. On arrival just the one bird was present, perched high in a Silver Birch before it descended onto a pale-orange berried Sorbus tree to feed. After 20 minutes a further 28 Waxwings decided to show. They were wary, keeping high and away from the Sorbus berries. Our patience was rewarded as they came down to feed several times. Their location of choice was unfortunate - a small, neat cul-de-sac of modern houses - an area in which I would feel awkward loitering even without a pair of binoculars and a camera around my neck. There is no way that you can blend into such surroundings. I was, without any doubt, intruding on the resident's space and privacy. A