The 300 Club

I don’t think this exists in the same way as the UK400 Club, but I’m unlikely ever to join the latter so I’ll have to invent the former. In any case on Saturday a green-winged teal at Slimbridge was my 300th British species, just as I’d predicted weeks back on 299.

Having tried for what’s presumably the same individual already this year, I had an uncanny feeling as I approached the Zeiss Hide that I would crack it. Sure enough, many scopes were trained on one spot as I entered and a little enquiry soon put me on to one bird with the very obvious vertical rather than horizontal flank stripe. The teal stayed asleep all the time so there was no opportunity to see if it really did lack a border to its green eye-patch – not that I considered it (I’ve only just looked it up!)

So this year has seen a push of five new species to get me to that 300. Needless to say the year list also hit 201 and then moved on to 202 with just one Bewick’s swan on the Rushy Pen.

The day after, a jack snipe at Upton Warren was number 203. It made my job easy by bobbing diminutively next to a couple of common snipe for only my third sighting ever. That’s a bit remarkable, the more so because all three have been at Upton.

But even by then the day had been notable for my first record of nuthatch at the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve. Seventeen years have elapsed without a single sighting and then three appeared round the back of the Moors Pool. This is not due to an oversight: Uncle Dave is meticulous about his recording and he’s not registered the species since 1989.

To cap it all, a couple of ravens were an Upton first for both of us. What a reward for a session that wasn’t cold, but rendered thus by sheer dampness. Or was it age that robbed my fingers of all feeling after half an hour or so?

If you wish to register, please email me
Log in


Expand All
BUBO Listing
  • Categories

  • My Favourite Links

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel

    How did agriculture take hold? Piecemeal seems to be the answer, at first supplementing hunter-gatherers‘ food, then in favourable conditions replacing it. Those conditions were most favourable in the Fertile Crescent, where crops came to provide much of humans’ needs. That is to say, subsistence needs; the evidence also points to a marked decline in health and lifespan during this period.

    So, how did agriculture start? By chance initially. We selected optimum sources of nutrition and unwittingly spread them, in a natural symbiotic process. Other creatures have done the same since the beginning of life. We had the advantage of more…

    River Avon, Bristol

    Bristol Temple Meads

    Bristol Temple Meads & Site of Bath Road

    This immediately conjures up images of the Gorge, the Downs and Clifton Suspension Bridge. But forget all those. Last Saturday my route to Mrs Beese’s beer and cider festival took me past grungier stretches of the river.

    I’m amazed actually that I haven’t walked the loop round St Philip’s Marsh. It’s so nearby. And straightaway a jay made its presence known, as did a calling grey wagtail. Better, although more frustrating, was a couple of more…

    Civilization IV Decline

    Interesting though the exercise was in subverting the goal of this computer game to anarchy, the software also allows modification of some of its basic parameters. XML files hold these values and a few look like they’d simulate depletion of resources and the spiralling costs of maintaining an ever more complex civilisation. See Tainter if you don’t believe more…

    Wryneck, New Passage


    Wryneck, Israel © Marcel Holyoak

    The day after Frampton’s marsh sandpiper, Twitter was abuzz with news of this relative of the woodpeckers. Knowing from experience that the species doesn’t hang around, I rescheduled my Sunday and motored up to New Passage. My previous dips cautioned against optimism but just 100 yards on from parking the car, a knot of watchers got the pulse racing.

    An alert little long-tailed shape on a lawn had to be the bird and my binoculars confirmed it. If the shape was distinctive, the markings were more…

    Marsh Sandpiper, Frampton

    My 298th UK species but not a lifer thanks to birds at Cairns and Albany in Australia. Does this imply that marsh sandpiper is some sort of mega? Certainly there was a consistent posse of watchers for this corner of Gloucestershire, from various points of the country. My Collins notes that the bird breeds in southern Russia and winters in Africa, so this one was not too far off course.

    Morcombe, who describes it as a small greenshank, has it as regular down under. This makes its wintering range broad and vagrants must be expected. Luckily for the assembled at Frampton, several more…

    Civilization for Anarchists

    To continue this strategy for Civilization IV – i.e. not aiming to expand an empire, just survive the expansion of others – even the basics I’ve come up with sound like rather a lot of civilised activity. It’s not half as much as is available in the game. For instance, religion doesn’t get a look in, to confirm my belief that it’s an artefact of civilisation.

    Another facet is diplomacy. Forget open borders for a start: we don’t need them and we don’t aim to be friendly with anyone who’s looking to subjugate us in some way. Trade proposals are another more…


    Sid Meier's Civilization IV

    Sid Meier’s Civilization IV

    A propos of nothing at all to do with this blog, here’s my version of the computer game, Civilization IV. I’ve subverted its goal though: not to build the “best” empire, but to be as uncivilised or anarchic as possible. This may suggest how to survive the worst aspects of empire, such as power, slavery, poverty, disease and so on. Of course this is just a game and its rules don’t reflect the real world, or even this society’s interpretation of it, so the exercise is simplistic.

    The first over-simplification is the picking of a country to play, the assumption being that more…

    Year List Doldrums

    After a few attempts yellow-legged gull finally made its way onto the year list. Herriotts at Chew Valley Lake a fortnight ago was again the venue. The bird wasn’t obvious at first so I went for coffee at the nearby and walkable Stable Tea Rooms. Over the last five years this place has grown from a one little café into a full-fledged restaurant and farm shop. Someone’s still doing well!

    On my return a birder up from Cornwall reckoned he had a yellow-leg in his scope. This is the lazy man’s approach to listing. Through my optics the colour of the legs was doubtful but more…

    Turtle Dove, Woods Mill


    My Brother’s Chooks

    The bastard Maltese failed to shoot one that was almost purring – if that’s not too cat-like a word – somewhere out the back of my brother’s place near this Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve. I’m shocked at not having seen the species since Otmoor in 2009 but not so at not hearing one since 2003. Regardless, the sound is that distinctive, it’s unmistakable.

    I scurried for my binoculars in a vain hope of maybe picking the bird out of the trees round about. It kept calling but was hard to locate until I noticed more…