Wednesday, 1 April 2009


This post is all about the numbers. It's my 100th post on this blog, it's the first of a new month, but it also creates a perfect Pareto ratio between 2008 and 2009 with my posts for this year totalling 80 and last year 20.
I've never analysed my birding records but the Pareto principle is one that I've used a great deal in business and it is surprising how many times it proves correct. I can see many ways in which it applies to birding.
I've no doubt that 80% of what we as birders consider 'good' birds (generally the scarce & rare) occur on only 20% of our birding days. To be a better bird finder we need to understand what it is about those 20% of days or trips that yields the scarcer birds. Destination? Weather? Season? Time of Day? all can have an impact.
Once you have been birding for a while and have grasped the basic ID then Pareto will probably apply again, 80% of your ID problems will come from 20% of species. Analysing your birding in this way should help identify the species that you need to spend more time reading and studying in field guides or BWPi if your lucky enough to have it.
I'm willing to bet that if I'm out for one hundred minutes 'birding' I'll probably only look at birds for 20% of the time, the rest of the time will be spent walking, looking around or searching or moving between birds. Again thinking about birding like this can help, If I derive pleasure from seeing the birds then I need to focus on how I can spend more of the other eighty minutes watching the birds rather than always trying to find the next bird.
Anyway enough numbers, a post lunchtime spare hour today saw me check out a couple of local pools. Woodhorn Flash had nothing out of the ordinary with five Pink Footed Geese the highlight. I drove around to Lynemouth Flash and found myself a seated position on the grassy knoll overlooking the flash and settled down. At first only a Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail were obvious but after a few minutes I located another pipit on the southern edge and was pleased to find yesterday's reported Water Pipit. The number of wagtails increased to three with another Pied and a male White Wagtail, another White had joined three or four Pied by the time I left for Druridge.
A short session at the Budge screen was fairly unproductive other than common birds, a couple of drake Shoveler the pick of the bunch.


Stewart said...

Aye Alan your theory is correct! After reading 80% of your post I read the other final 20% and enjoyed it!!! :)

Steve Gale said...

Is this the cerebral version of art's golden triangle? Or similar to the phenonomen of repetition of pattern in natural things the closer that you look at them? Is our life mathematically mapped out more than we realise it? Give Channel 4 a ring Alan, they may be interested in a documentary on all of this.

Steve Gale said...

Also Alan I have added your excellent blog onto my recommended list. You must feel so pleased now...probably...maybe not at all actually...