Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To tick or not to tick

I've been thinking again about one of my birding hobby horses - non-native species. Not so much the Ruddy Duck controversy, as the fact that most birders (myself included) are curiously inconsistent in what they regard as a 'tickable' species.

So, some geese and ducks (such as Red-crested Pochards, at some times of the year) immediately arouse suspicion, on the grounds that, although they might now have formed self-supporting populations, they're originally from captive stock. Even Egyptian Geese get ignored by some, although most of them in the UK are descended from stock released in the 17th century.

Mandarins, on the other hand, nearly always get ticked, even though they're surely just as suspect. Little Owls always get ticked. They're not native. Neither are Red-legged Partridges, or Pheasants. Or Rabbits, for that matter, which as a prey species must have greatly helped the rise and rise of the Buzzard. Where do you draw the line?

So, where do you stand? Do you have your own criteria? Send us your comments now...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

if it lives wild it gets ticked! If phesants did not live wild here and one blew in in some freak weather or something, everyone would rush to tick it same with any of the other species!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I don't think I'd tick a mandarin, certainly not an Egyptian goose, probably would tick a little owl. Interesting question both in general and for my own internal sense of the birding landscape...

alan tilmouth said...

Most birders follow the official line I would have thought. So I guess its more a question of what the BOU says to a goose.

BW said...

Like it, Alan!

I suppose the problem is the definition of living wild. After all, the majority of pheasants aren't strictly wild - they get bred and released and fed for shooting - but birders still tick them. It's a tricky one.

sheffieldwildlife said...

I always go with what the BOU say... I'd never tick Eagle Owl, Bar-headed Goose, or Muscovy duck for example, as the BOU still haven't elevated them past Cat E, and who am I to argue?!

The difficulty arises when there's a feral species away from its main population. For example Red-crested Pochard in Gloucestershire, Egyptian Goose in Norfolk and Ring-necked Parakeet in London I'd tick without a thought, but if any of them showed up near me (in Sheffield) I'd have to think again.

My most difficult one for me was a female Red-crested Pochard at Attenborough NR in Notts, which had six ducklings paddling after it. Obviously breeding in the area, but well away from the accepted feral population further south. That was a tricky one! (I ticked it, but was never happy about it...).