27th November. FOOT IT

One of the great things about Twitter as a birding source, is not only do you often find out about 'rare' before the major news outlets, you also get to keep in touch with birders worldwide.  Hearing about another birders success in the field can often spur you on to try just that little bit more, occasionally proving worthwhile.  I regularly keep in touch with Pugneys stalwart Jonathan Holliday @jonnybirder who's patch updates have regularly inspired me to keep on trying and hopefully on the few good days that I've had he's felt equally enthused.

During one such Twitter conversation with Martin @birdingfrontier I appear to have foolishly offered to challenge him to a January bird race, a bird race with a twist. The challenge was quickly taken up by several other Tweeters (hate that word) including Tom McKinney @tom_mckinney.  The challenge is to see as many species as possible in the month of January. Fairly straightforward except there is a twist. They have to be within walking distance of your house.

Now I am fairly lucky in that I live in a fairly bird rich area and could realistically bag about 80 species on foot in one month. However some unfortunate souls (like Tom and Martin) live in areas where the diversity is on the low side and the chances of them seeing such high numbers in a year, let-alone a month, is problematic to say the least.  So with that in mind it seems only fair to bring in a handicap system, though this relies on the individuals integrity (I'm sure some birders must have some).

Every birder has an idea of what species they are likely to see on any birding trip and none more so than a trip to their local area.

The handicap system will work like so; You calculate (as honestly as possible) a list of birds that you could realistically see in one month in a reasonable walking distance from your house.  In my case this is 80 species.  At the end of the month you take your final tally and compare it with your predicted list.  Working out the percentage of species you actually saw will give you your score e.g my predicted total was 80 my actual score is 78 therefore I scored 97.5%. Tom on the other hand predicts say 40 species (it really is crap around Glossop) and sees a total of 39 giving him an equal place of 97.5% . Martin on the other hand predicts 60 species (not including races, hybrids, or regional variations) and scores a wapping 63 -BOOM- giving him a winning score of - long pause whilst I get the calculator out.......105%.

There will of course be some kudos for the birder scoring the highest total, though implausible totals from the Little Chalfont area will be confined to the bin...

So I propose that the rest of the rules are:

1. Total number of species recorded on a journey on foot from home.

2. No plastic species i.e. dodgy ducks, parrots etc etc.

3. The extents of your area must be stated prior to starting your challenge.

4. Species seen from the house can be included.

5. There are no limits on how far you can walk, providing that you have allowed for the varying diversity in your target score.

6. All lists must be posted on BUBO under the subtitle 'JANUARY FOOT LIST CHALLENGE'

Why do it?

1. Don't know really, it seemed a good idea at the time!

2. If nothing else it will open your eyes to the wealth (or in Tom's case dearth) of bird life in your immediate  area.

3. Prizes Galore

4. Number 3 is a complete lie, there aren't any! Unless of course Martin wants to have a word with his friends at British Birds for perhaps a free subscription to the winner or one of those nice new Swarovski Scopes -mines getting a bit worn out now :-).

5. It gives us something to do in what is generally considered a crap month!

And remember this was found by a birder walking to post a letter in January 1989.......


Paul Freestone said...

Im in. Is there a limit to how far you can walk??

Paul F

Mark said...

No limit as long as it is from home and you've included all likely species in your monthly target.

Nick said...

Great stuff Mark (and friends)! We did something very similar at the Nunnery in 2011... If you're looking for an answer to 'Why do it?', look no further than our 4th bird listing 'rule'! http://btovrspbbirdtrackchallenge2011.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/it-started-with-ring-ouzel.html

Rob said...

Can I join in too please? Think my predicted list in January in Shetland will be about 3, assuming it gets light

Mark Smithson said...

Sounds like a great challenge to me. Who can enter? Anyone? I'll give it a go

Malcolm Royal said...

A great way to start the year, I shall definately be having a go.

Malcolm Royal said...

Sounds a great idea, I shall be having a go.

Skev said...

Mark - to see and be able to compare everyone's lists, they all need to be in the same area. Can't see a way of comparing lists by filtering the comment, and creating it as a British year list just means there are 100s to wade through. One way to tackle it (unless Bubo moan) is that I've created a 'region' called January Foot List Challenge directly under Britain, so you'd create your list with that as the area rather than Britain / Sheffield etc. Have a look and see if that works for you.

James Emerson said...

Sounds like fun, count me in. I don't use twitter, so will there be an option to put your target and area in the comments of the list, or send it to you before we start?

Re. Skev
Whilst your area thing would work, its unnecessary because you can select different types of BUBO list other than the main one, so in this case Green, Foot. Its seldom used (my Green, Foot life list is one of only 4!) so there wouldn't be lots of extra non-competitors clogging it up.


Ryan/Mark/Colin said...

Hi Mark, love the idea of Footing it. Fancy guest blogging about it on our 'patchwork' blog? I don't see the 2 as being exclusive!

DaveN said...

Sounds good to me, Mark. I'm generally a local patcher and can luckily walk there in half an hour. My patch is Wyver Lane NR in Belper and features quite heavily in My Blog http://daven-belperbirdersblog.blogspot.co.uk/

You will notice Of Pies and Birds is listed as 'useful links' (-:

I'm also on Twitter.