Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Divining 2009

What have I done? In a moment of extreme foolishness I have signed up for the Londonbirders 2009 patchlist competition. Not only do I not really have the time to do this, but I must have the rubbishest most challenging patch in London.

I have inherited (due to location of flat) Acton and Southfields parks. A quick search of the omnipotent BirdGuides database suggests that there was once a fly-over Black-winged Stilt (which you must admit sounds flaky).

So here's the Google map. The green bits to the top and bottom are the parks in question. I'm competing with oases such as RSPB Rainham Marshes (home to Serins and Penduline Tits much to my disgust), Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (subject of many a previous blogpost) and other goodies - Hampstead Heath and Crossness LNR. I must be mad. The rarest thing I ever found on my patch was a Firecrest (proving conclusively that jogging is a good thing).

There are two teeny ponds on my patch - but no proper body of water. Southfields is host to a marvellous population of Stag Beetles - but they don't count sadly. So, my predictions for 2009 are as follows:

Ring-necked Parakeet, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Magpie, Jay, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Sparrowhawk, Pied and Grey Wagtail, Mallard, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Swift.

That's 33 species (I think). Looking at the results for the 2008 competition I won't be troubling anything other than the wooden spoon. What I'm hoping is that I'll bird my patch more assiduously, generally carry my bins and notebook more than I do now, and trip over some unexpected wildlife (and I'm not fussy if it isn't all birds).

So I enter 2009 with a spirit of hope and curiosity as to what the year might bring. That's a good thing I think, and generally what birding should be all about. I hope to bring you news of unexpected finds (hopefully not all tramp-related) and the pros and cons of birding an awfully urban, unpromising patch. Happy Hogmanay!


Marvin said...

I know you secretly relish the challenge. Here's hoping you have some unexpected discoveries -- of the avian variety.

Have a great 2009.

Rare Visitor said...

Is there not some kind of handicap in place to make the competition even?

Fiona Barclay said...

Hi Rare Visitor, sadly not - although I think you gain extra kudos for doing well with a bad patch. I'm now trying to work out why I don't have any Stock or Collared Doves. Bizarre - no?