Sunday, 26 January 2014

Personal Birding Quest 2014 – ‘The cuckoo comes in April …’, but where will I find one in August?

Having actively kept a year list over the past 20 years +, my bird records of the more commonly occurring species are generally limited to the date and place of the first sighting of the year.  For the less common or rare species, a richer account of sightings across the year have been kept.

During the dark months at the tail of 2013, I set about developing a spread sheet of which species I had seen within the UK in each month of the year.  The initial idea had been one of getting out more, especially during the quieter birding months of the year, to fill in as many of the gaps as possible.  A particularly early or late bird locally would offer that little bit of extra enjoyment – an alternative fix to long distance twitching.  I have a gap in my list for Pintail in June and I’m not at all clear as to whether I’ll find one on Anglesey.   I have records for Cuckoo in April, May, June and September - it will be interesting thinking through where I might see one in July and August – in any event I’ll have to get out looking!

There is a danger that what was initially going to be a concentration on local birding might get out of hand.  A chance remark to Alan Davies on my progress during January and a comment that it would be quite an achievement to have seen 200 species in each month of the year has already had me mapping out whether this might be possible – but I think not unless there are long distance trips to pick up Wood Lark in Norfolk and Cirl Bunting in Devon etc during multiple months … but we will see.  Interestingly, July in particular seems a quite challenging month ...  I now wish that I had gone for some of the long staying June rarities not just when they first arrived, but also towards the end of their stay as they crept into the first few days of July.

January has got off to a good start with 203 species to date, although this has involved a couple of medium distance twitches for Parrot Crossbill, Two-barred Crossbill and Buff-bellied Pipit, whilst also filling in a gap for Red Grouse on route.  The start of each birding month will be very much looked forward to.  If you see my SOS for Pintail or Cuckoo during future months, you’ll now understand the context :).


  1. If you want to see a Cuckoo in August ask Kelvin because he knows where the Welsh radio-tagged birds are ;-)

  2. I think that the bto's scheme has shown that the adults at least are well gone by then. (Most by End of June) so it would be a fluke at a juv in jul-August.

  3. Looking back through The blog for 2013 bird records I noticed there was a photo of one in August on the River Clwyd, but it's just really a case of jamming in on a juvy!