GENERAL TIPS FOR LOCAL YEAR LISTING
Keep an eye on news services, such as local mailing groups, Twitter or bird news info services.
Keep half an eye on weather patterns. The timing of the appearances of migrant birds is a balance between time of year and the weather.
Keep in contact with other birders in your area. You can’t find everything on your own. Help each other, don’t ‘compete’.
Birds often come in ‘waves’ across the country. Keep an eye on trends of birds turning up around the UK and act accordingly. For example, if there are lots of Common Scoters dropping down, check your local lakes. If there are Honey Buzzards on the move, check the skies!
Keep a list to track your progress and make sure nothing goes missing. Keep one each year and you can start to work out patterns, trends and timings, as well as setting a target to aim for.
‘Twitch’ rare and scarce local birds as soon as you can; there is never a guarantee a bird will linger. Year listing, like any birdwatching, does not have to be a solitary pursuit. It can just as well be a family and friends activity
August is a progression of the turning tide of July, with the added twist that this is a time when wader movement increases, and many small birds are starting their return passage. Pied Flycatchers and Wrynecks are targets every year around Peterborough and warblers and chats are coming back through in slightly drabber, fresh plumage. And so into September, which sees a build-up of warblers and chats on the move, and we yearn for scarce waders and perhaps a migrating Honey Buzzard overhead. High winds can bring seabirds inland and perhaps a scarcity such as a shrike. October is usually the last chance for many passage waders, such as Little Stints, but it also sees the heralding of winter with the first returning wintering wildfowl etc. And as October turns into November it really feels like the second winter period is coming in earnest. Now is the time to mop up all the stuff missed earlier in the year and hope for invasions of scarce geese, Waxwings, Mealy Redpolls and Bramblings. And December’s short days offer the last chance to mop up birds for the list, although somehow there will always something left field and unexpected. Birding slightly obsessively every year has undoubtedly made me a better birdwatcher. It also keeps me visiting some of the superb areas we are blessed with around my home city. And every time I visit, I see something interesting, something new, something sensational, something exciting! I do it because I love it and, perhaps, you will, too.
Scarce waders, like this Little Stint, can be crucial for building a great local year list
YOU ARE NOT ALONE