Thursday, 12 January 2023


Just lately there's been a great deal of this...

Wet and wild. West Bay at 08:30 today.

So far, this kind of weather has produced an improbable January Leach's Petrel and a Little Gull. My PWC list is very happy, but the novelty has worn off now and I wouldn't mind a change. Across the window depicted above flew 6 Red-throated Divers, 3 Med Gulls, 13 Kittiwakes, c50 Gannets and a billion gallons of airborne water. Pretty soon it was time to go home and stay there. And do some admin...

In the end I plumped for eBird last year. At the click of a mouse you can request all your eBird records, which are then emailed as a spreadsheet. Already I have extracted a load of West Bex and Cogden records from it for Mike Morse, who compiles the annual report for his patch. I did likewise with Bridport recording area birds for Pete Forrest, again for a local report. This was easy, though I did remove several superfluous columns of data first. In practice the eBird app was very user-friendly. I would happily have carried on with it, but this year decided to give the updated BirdTrack app a fair trial. And already I prefer it, but that's for a future post maybe. Initially I was concerned that BirdTrack might not make my records available to me in spreadsheet format as per eBird, but actually it does. Perfect.

So, for once I haven't needed to compile my own spreadsheet. Fa-a-a-a-ntastic! Mind you, there have been a few past years where I haven't compiled a spreadsheet either. Not so fantastic; basically I have no records for those years. Oops.

On to rarity descriptions then...

I don't find BB rarities, but a busy year might see me jam a few local ones. In 2022, as far as I can recall, Dorset description species were just a noc-mig Pink-footed Goose, Barred Warbler and a few Leach's Petrels. Writing them up as minimally as I can get away with is a chore tailor-made for a wet day, and is now done.

BirdTrack has already prompted me to write a description for the January 3rd Leach's Petrel, and even provided an online form for the purpose. I couldn't resist such helpful spoon-feeding, and complied immediately. It has automatically forwarded my submission to the county recorder and emailed me a copy. Neat. I quite like having my hand held.

Another recent job on the agenda was the book review I mentioned a few posts back. A lot of fact-checking, many notes, and way too much sighing and groaning, but the task is now completed. And strewth, what a can of worms it was. I've never been asked to write a book review (and wonder now if such a request will ever come my way again!) so wanted to do it properly. If a book is good, I can imagine the reviewer's task is rather joyful; giving deserved praise is always a pleasure. All I can say right now is that the author is unlikely to be rushing to buy me a grateful pint. Hopefully the review will be published in due course without too much editorial emasculation. In which case I will post a link here. Or maybe the whole thing.

There is just one admin task outstanding now. I need to write a short personal bio describing my birding- and nature-type 'qualifications'. This is to be posted on a company website in connection with a lovely little guiding job I've kindly been invited to take on. Sorry to be cryptic again, but as soon as that's done and dusted I shall feel comfortable to say more.

In the meantime, tomorrow's forecast is dry. Which means...sigh...that I shall have to get out there and earn some money...

West Bay Kittiwake on Monday afternoon. The ghastly weather has at least produced a wonderful crop of these beauties.


  1. Gav, written descriptions for species to be submitted for consideration by rarities committees? I wonder how many birders don't bother simply because they lack and always will lack the skills required?

    1. I'm sure you're right, and a lot of stuff never gets submitted. Probably a number of reasons. I'm sure I am not the only person who finds it a chore.