Wednesday, 6 July 2011

And the worst county for rare birds in July is....

Inspired by this post from Gnome, I thought I would attempt to work out exactly which was the worst county for Rare or Very Rare species in July in the UK. I dived headlong into the Birdguides database and discovered a whole host of counties many of which I did not even know existed: Offaly? Loais? I have ignored negative news, possible sightings and escapes. After trawling through over 100 counties some of the adding up of species became approximate, but here are the places you would rather not be in July:

Counties with no Rare or Very Rare Species in July, since July 2000:

West Midlands0

And here are the places one should head for:

Top Ten counties for Rare and Very Species in July, since July 2000:

Suffolk 15
Devon 11
E Yorkshire11

So what differentiates the best from the worst? Most of the zero scoring counties are landlocked counties in southern England. Ceredigon and Glamorgan are the exceptions here, perhaps a reflection of poor observer coverage? Being on any coast in July is better than being inland. Cork and Wexford score highly and reflect on the Atlantic seabird passage. However, Shetland is simply head and shoulders above anywhere else in July and the list of Rare and Very Rare species seen there contains large numbers of passerines, rather than seabirds, from the east and the west. As always, the lack of cover and good observer coverage help birders find rare birds on Shetland, but perhaps the top ten have something else in common: the list is virtually a list of the extremities of the country. The extreme north, south, east and west of the UK are included in the top ten counties and only these extreme coastlines regularly attract rare birds. The further one goes from the coastal extremes, the less rare birds are found. Extending this theory to it's natural conclusion, one ends up at the place with the least chance of finding a rare bird in July: Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire. Success at last.


  1. haha! Excellent! So where abouts near Cuddesdon should I be visiting, albeit when thre's more around.
    (I live at Views Farm, Great Milton, which is at the top of the hill overlooking Cuddy, but haven't found much in the way of 'decent' places nearby to look)

  2. Try sitting in the field below you, sort of near the Mill, or up in the woods along the footpath from Cud to Little Milton. Oh and a good place is along the footpath from LM to Cud the one that goes via Chislehampton. Niki (I live in Cud on the hill opposite your hill).