A Big British Birding Year: Part I

Jessica (Rosamund Pike): I thought you agreed to wait to do another Big Year.

Kenny (Owen Wilson): Jess, I’ve told you, the birds wait for no man. And neither do I.
– The Big Year, 2011, 20th Century Fox

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

A ‘Big Year’ is an informal competition amongst birders to see or hear the largest number of species of birds in a year. It mainly exists in the States and the record for the US is held by Sandy Komito with a staggering 748 species from 1998. They even made a film about it with Owen Wilson playing Kenny Bostick, who is very loosely based on Sandy, alongside Jack Black and Steve Martin.

I plan to photograph as many species in Britain this year as I can and will publish them to this blog as my own little Big Year.

I started yesterday and clocked up 27 birds in the day (inevitably almost every day afterwards will be a smaller, and decreasing, number(s)). Along with the Parakeet above, I got the following:

Blackbird (Turdus melua)

Blackbird (Turdus melua)

Coot (Fulica atra)

Coot (Fulica atra)

Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

The first ducks I photographed in 2014 were a pair of Wigeon:

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

The problem with counting birds I photograph is that, sometimes, the quality of photograph will be awful (see the shot of a pair of snipe below for evidence). To avoid this becoming too tedious a list of poor shots, I have created some collages below:

Ducks clockwise from top left:
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)


A mixed bag from left to right, top to bottom:
Magpie (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Cormorant (Phalocrocorax carbo)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Mixed 1

Mixed bag 2:
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) – believe it or not, this distant smudge is actually a pair with a Jack Snipe invisible behind them (so not counted)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Mixed 2


2 thoughts on “A Big British Birding Year: Part I

    1. iago80 Post author

      Thank you very much Annie! I don’t think I shall be threatening Sandy’s number, but I hope to maybe break into three figures. I hope it is great year for you too.


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