Since most of us listers can be considered to be obsessive to a certain degree, we're happy to give a bit of publicity to another obsessive lister with a particular listing quest...
UK birdwatcher Chris Gooddie is attempting to see all the world's species of pitta in a single year. Following conservative taxonomy (and as per Clements), there are 32 different species of pitta Pittidae known to science, and no-one has ever attempted to see all the species in a year. So far as is known, only two or three birders have managed to see all 32 species during a lifetime.
Pittas are amongst the beautiful birds in the world, and as a result were originally called "Jewel-Thrushes" in many parts of Asia. They live in the rainforests of SE Asia, Australia and Africa, and are a highly secretive, terrestrial family. Despite their gorgeous colours, almost all pitta species are elusive, and finding them requires experience, detailed site and species knowledge, and precise field skills. A number of species are migratory, many are endangered, and a few species, such as Gurney's Pitta (Pitta gurneyi, known only from one site in Southern Thailand and one site in Tenasserim, Southern Myanmar) are on the verge of extinction. Having already run the London Marathon twice to raise funds to protect the remaining forests in which Gurney's Pitta survives, Chris is now looking forward to returning to the Thai forest in an attempt to see Gurney's Pitta again.
Chris's journey will begin on February 2nd 2009 in Southern Thailand, and during the following twelve months he will be travelling extensively in Thailand, Malaysia, Sabah, Vietnam, The Philippines, (Northern Luzon and Eastern Mindanao), Taiwan, Indonesia (Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi, Halmahera, The Sula Islands, Flores, Sumba and Tanimbar), Northern Australia, Sri Lanka, Manus Island, The Solomon Islands, Uganda and Zambia.
We wish Chris all the best with his 'pitta-listing'. To follow his progress check out www.pittasworld.com.
Birders in Britain and Ireland are surely all aware that a new bird distribution atlas has been in the planning for some time. Well, the planning is over and the fieldwork started on 1 November 2007 and will carry on until summer 2011. Birders are now needed to help with both timed tetrad visits or simply listing of birds in given 10-km squares. The aim of the atlas project is to map the distribution and relative abundance of every species in Britain and Ireland in both the winter and breeding season.
Obviously, BUBO listers include many of the keenest and most dedicated field ornithologists in the country. Just in case anyone out there wasn't already planning to get involved, please visit www.birdatlas.net to get more details on this exciting project. This new website allows you to select tetrads and submit records far more easily than during past atlas surveys, and will provide a fascinating record of the way in which the project is progressing.
The results of previous atlas projects, in 1968-72 (breeding), 1981-84 (winter) and 1989-1991 (breeding) have resulted in iconic publications, and the results of the 2007-11 are eagerly awaited. Many species are suspected to have changed in status dramatically over the last few decades, but Bird Atlas 2007-11 will be the new definitive work to describe the status of the avifauna of Britain and Ireland.
The results of the British Birds and British Trust for Ornithology "Best Bird Book of the Year Award" for 2006 have just been announced. The overall winner is something no serious birder should be without, Sound Approach to Birding, The: A Guide to Understanding Bird Sound.