Armchair ticks   Leave a comment

A wet and unpleasant day like today provides an excellent opportunity to get my life list updated.

There are various checklists of the birds of the world, all with their merits. I personally prefer the one published by the International Ornithological Congress,  which is updated regularly on line and is more likely to recognise the fruits of recent research than, say, the Clements checklist .

That said, because James Clements was a founding member of the American Birding Association, all American (and many birders from elsewhere) follow his checklist. Clements did a wonderful job of providing a world checklist for birders, but since his death in 2005, the work has been taken over by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who have proved to be very Americo-centric in their decisons. The most recent update posted on e-bird has gone a long way to correct this with many established Old World splits being finally published

I was pleased to find that I gained some 40 ‘armchair ticks’, i.e. birds that you can add to your list without getting out of your armchair, bringing my Clements based list to 7201. However if I was to count every split that had been published I could still add another 300! I have never worked out exactly what my list would be following the IOC, something for another rainy day.

The New World Common Gallinule (above) has been split from the similar Old World Moorhen on the basis of very different vocalisations. This was first published by Mark Constantine in the Sound Approach to Birding. Photo from the internet.


The lack of a deep chestnut cap, more black on the ear coverts and shorter legs separate the New World Snowy Plover (above) from the Old World Kentish. Photo from the internet


Tibetan Blackbird - near Lhasa 2005. Blackbird has been split into three, Eurasian, Indian and Tibetan. The above species is larger with a blue sheen to the mantle, little in the way of a yellow eye ring and vocalisations more like a Ring Ousel.


Cream-coloured Courser, Cape Verde 2008. East African population have been split as Somali Courser


The very dark and critically endangered Cape Verde Buzzard is given full species status. On the other side of Africa the Socotra Buzzard is finally recognised as an a valid species. Photo by Tommy Ekmark, Cape Verde 2008


Not all proposed splits have been acted upon. The more easterly 'Indian' Reed-warbler remains lumped in Clamerous Reed-warbler. 'Indian' Reed-warbler Uzbekistan 2006 - photo by Dave Farrow


Similarly, Clements update has not adopted the widely accepted albatross taxonomay. This Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross remains lumped with its Atlantic counterpart.


Posted August 18, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: