Monday 2 August 2010

Whatever happened to Swithland Res?

Inspired by the BUBO Listing badge which recently appeared on John's blog, I decided to join the site and add a couple of my lists. There are only two lists I care about these days - my British self-found list and my Leicestershire list, so those were the ones I added.

Two things struck me as I was entering the records for these: firstly, that I haven't added anything to my found list for about two years, and secondly, how many good county birds I first saw at Swithland Res.

When I started birding, Swithland was my main local patch, and I used to spend a lot of time there, often with Jeff Higgott and/or Steve Close. Like all the best inland local patches, most of the time it was crap. I have notebooks full of records of exceptionally dull visits in the 1980s and 90s which make me wonder why I spent so much time there. The answer, of course, is that every now and then it would be worthwhile. A quick skim through my county list reveals the following species I county ticked at Swithland: Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Shag, Bittern, Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Ring-billed Gull, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, White-winged Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Rock Pipit, Firecrest and Hooded Crow. And that's just the ones that were county ticks; there were plenty of other good birds that I'd previously seen elsewhere.

And what has Swithland had in the last few years? Lesser Scaup and Leach's Petrel in 2006, and, er, can't think of anything else off the top of my head. And the reason is because it doesn't get the coverage it used to 20 years ago. I hardly ever go there now I live on the other side of the city, and Rutland Water and Eyebrook Res are easier to get to. Yes, people do look at Swithland, but I don't think anyone spends the amount of time there that we used to. An opportunity waiting for someone to rediscover how good it can be?

P.S. Corn Bunting isn't really the most recent species I've added to my found list - I just did it in checklist order.