Many (but by no means all) birders are inveterate list keepers. Some settle for a world life list… a list of all the species of birds they have seen at home and abroad, others will also keep a list of their home country and separate lists for each country they have visited. Still others will keep a list of every state or county and one just for their patch. Others keep year lists; a list of all the species seen in any one year -–usually in the home country.
Regarding my lists:
In 2004, I started keeping a Life List, and with 2009 I started keeping Country, Continent and Year Lists.
Despite my wife’s concerns about what she sees as a growing obsessiveness, I steadfastly assert that I’m pretty passive about my listing habits – while in the States, I’ve never traveled beyond PA and NY solely for birding, and my North America List total is quite low as a result (198). I was very passive about it, gaining the vast majority of my twitches from participating in Cornell’s Spring Field Ornithology course, and content with not traveling more than half an hour from where I lived in PA or NY to check off a bird. And, keeping a Life List was more about the relaxed enjoyment of going out and enjoying nature than participating in a birdwatching competition (as a sport) or keeping track of where and how often I could see uncommon birds (which helps conservation).
Arrival in Cyprus has changed that a little bit. With it being much smaller than North America, it’s a much easier area to cover, and thus much easier to compete with other listers for birds seen in this country in a year. It’s also an area that needs a lot of conservation help, and I realize that as I get more involved with BirdLife Cyprus and become familiar with all of the rarities here, I can contribute more to the recording of those rarities. So I’ve started keeping a Year List, and with 2010 I plan to start keeping Month Lists and Place Lists to compare with the more prominent birders in Cyprus.
On Listing in Cyprus, specifically:
Of the 380 or so bird species that are on the Official Cyprus Checklist, some of those have only ever been seen once and that may have been many years ago. Apparently there aren’t any birders who claim to have seen more than 330 or 335 of those 380 birds. And the high Year List totals among BirdLife Cyprus members appears to be in the 250 range – I recall hearing that the high for 2008 was 252.
For myself, my Cyprus List has reached 208 species, and my 2009 List is currently at 197. Of those 197, most are not too difficult to see, although I count as rare vagrants Black-legged Kittiwake, Laughing Dove, and Asian Desert Warbler. And I count about 24 more birds that I think I’m very likely to still see this year. Notable misses that I’m not likely to tick off until 2010 include Golden Oriole, Thrush Nightingale and Black Tern. For the ones I still expect to see though…
Let’s see how I do.