#My200birdyear: half year update!
In January, Bird Watching magazine launched a fun and flexible challenge to get people out seeing even more birds – and #My200birdyear is proving to be extremely popular with UK birders
Hundreds of you are taking part in our fun and flexible challenge
THE HALFWAY POINT of 2017 is upon us, so it’s a good time to take stock of how you’ve fared in Bird Watching’s #My200birdyear challenge, and to plan the rest of your birding calendar to fill in the gaps on your list. It’s not a competition, of course. You’re free to set your own rules about exactly what counts. Some people are stricter than others about species that are only heard, for example. Some count birds seen outside the UK, while others don’t. The idea, above all, is to see more bird species by setting yourself a target.
HOW HAVE THE TEAM DONE? Matt Merritt on his #My200birdyear
As I write, in late May, my total is 165. Unlike Dr Weedon (see panel right), I’ll take any ticks going, so that includes birds seen close to home in Warwickshire, and others seen close to our Peterborough offices, plus a few more picked up during working trips to Cumbria, Northumberland, Speyside and Austria (Short-toed Treecreeper, Red-crested Pochard, and Crested Tit, the latter a surprising ‘dip’ in Scotland). I’ve missed some waders, like Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel and the stints, so I’m looking forward to putting in a few hours during autumn migration, and I need to do some searching for the two flycatchers, Redstart and Wood Warbler over the summer. Add in a skua or two, and a concerted effort where winter wildfowl are concerned, and the 200 looks well within reach. Best of all, it’s taught me a lot more about my new patch. I’m getting to know where to find passage migrants, and if there’s one bird I’d like to make part of the 200, it’s one of the Bearded Tits that drop in at Napton Reservoir now and then.
Mike Weedon on his #My200birdyear
In a normal year, I am out birding quite a lot, trying to see as many birds as possible around Peterborough. Luckily, #My200birdyear has provided me with a ready-made excuse for business as usual, but even more so! As I write, it is the last week of May, and I already have 171 on my Peterborough area year list. This includes such gems as Red-rumped Swallow, Rough-legged Buzzard and, recently Black-winged Stilt; with 10 bird species I didn’t see at all last year, nicely bagged on the list. I have strayed from my home area on just a few occasions: to see the Bluethroat and White-billed Diver in South Lincolnshire, and for our BW reader holiday in the Highlands. These trips have boosted my year list so that when I heard Spotted Crake near home a couple of weeks ago, I had reached the 200-bird yearly target. However, the Peterborough area challenge is spurring me on. The record is 189 bird species in a year, so 190 will do (200 would be even better, of course, but is surely not possible. Or is it?).
BLUETHROAT Both Matt and Mike made pilgrimages to see this beauty at Willow Tree Fen LWT, in South Lincolnshire, early in the year
PTARMIGANS Male (right) and female moulting into spring plumage on Cairngorm Mountain, during our BW reader holiday in the Highlands in April