2nd November. Pointless Stats

For no reason whatsoever and at the risk of turning a little LGRE I decided at the beginning of October to keep a tally of the distribution of rares throughout the UK during October. There were one or two shocks at the bottom of the table with Yorkshire, the South West and Scilly/Cornwall equalling just four rarity species each. The Southeast came out as the top English area though curiously it is also the 'stringiest' district with Eleanora's of every description being claimed. Not surprisingly the Northern Isles came out on top, closely followed by Ireland (North and Eire) though Shetland on its own managed almost as many total individual rarities as the whole of England and Wales combined and twice as many as Ireland. The Midlands fared well beating many traditional autumn sites though like many English areas it's individual rares total was boosted somewhat by the Glossy Ibis influx.
So what does all this prove? Well if you were based on Shetland during the first two weeks of the month it was great, though there was distinct north south divide and Fair Isle was generally grim. Presumably birders in Norfolk were throwing themselves in to the sea by the time the Fieldfares started moving and at Spurn the Crown and Anchor's owners are Carribean bound following record takings this autumn.*
The Scillies are now clearly the place for birders to get away from it all, get ripped off, get a nice suntan and to listen to tall stories of how good things used to be. Scilly fans shouldn't take much from any of this, at the end of the day it's about how much you enjoyed yourself. The fact that you spent a months salary on flights, accommodation, beer, boat trips to see whales and had to do a 250 mile detour to Surrey on the way home just to salvage something from the autumn was all part of the fun, I think.

Whilst Ireland came second it was pointed out to me by one Irish Birder that things were pretty bad most of the time and that seeing as much as a Blackcap on some days was good!

Will next autumn tell a similar story, probably not. But I for one will be back up north regardless, I just hope the crowds don't follow suit!

EDIT. Wales added and totals for Nortwest amended


Alan Tilmouth said...

You could sell that to the Shetland Tourist Board as 'strategic analysis' must be worth a whisky or two.

rumpelstiltskin said...

Think you are being a bit generous BB rare wise with those ripoff islands off Cornwall. LB Dow, Citrine Wag and an OBP. What else, apart from a load of old f*ckers and string? Raddes Warblers not a BB these days.

Mark said...

The Scilly stats were 4 rares of 3 species (2 OBP's). All totals were for current BB's only.

thedrunkbirder said...

To be fair I really enjoyed Scilly this year and let's not forget 2008 on Shetland was pretty dismal whilst we were there and the SW scored with some Willow/Alder Flycatcher.

As Disraeli is reputed to have said: lies, damned lies and statistics. Don't forget you book your flights to Shetland early and did well, I know of one birder who didn't book till very late on and was well and truly fucked by Flybe. Even using his Shetland discount Bentos couldn't afford to fly south for the Birdfair. If you also didn't have the luxury of free digs then Shetland wouldn't be quite so cheap.

I really love both Shetland and Scilly and from now on will try my best to do both. The weather did more fore Scilly than anything else and yes it is living off it's past reputation but then there are always good and bad years - everywhere. I had some good finds that would have pleased me anywhere, Wryneck and Red-throated Pipit. I also discovered a second Yellow-browed Warbler on the Garrison. Had I stayed... I might have turned up an OBP as I seemed to be the only person to do the Sunnyside Farm trail thinking this would be brilliant for an OBP. As numbers decline on Scilly my chances of being first to the 'rare' increase. Next year my target has to be one BB rarity.

Oh and by the way - I always turned away fromn the crowds at every opportunity. The one thing that Scilly does score on is pubs - and to be fair to the Islanders, I didn't feel I was in anyway paying over the odds for anything.

Pound for pound provisions in the Shops such as Mainlands are far higher than Scilly!

PS. I know your post is light hearted...

Mark said...

Things must have changed in the Scilly shops and bars then John. Ten years ago, when I was last there, a pint of Guinness was £3!!