I have finally finished organizing my life list. I’m still missing some dates, but it’s good enough for government work and I have posted a link to it on my blog.
I formatted my list with Excel on my laptop. I made six columns:
Common Name, Scientific Name, Date, Location, Detailed Location and a box for whether I had a photo or not. My previous bird accounting consisted of check marks in field guides so I went through my guides and transferred the ‘checks/ticks’ to the spreadsheet (all but my Indonesian book which I gave to a student on the Kumai River in Borneo; that was before I envisioned a Life List .)
I started this spreadsheet some time ago (years?). I have been good about entering data in all columns the last year or so, but my laziness about filling in past bird data came back to bite me. Yesterday, I worked like a fiend to fill in all the blanks and get this thing done! When I typed in scientific names, I was alerted that that name had been typed before and I found I had several duplicates. My life list is now seven birds less than it was before I finalized it. I had Jacana listed under Jacana and again under Waders (I can’ tell you how many times I rearranged where I put species.). I had White-breasted Wood-swallow listed by that name (Fiji) and again under Wood-swallows—White-breasted Wood-swallow(Australia). When I typed in the scientific name Podiceps nigricollis, I found that Black-necked Grebe (Turkey) was Eared Grebe (California), and the same problem occurred with Hen Harrier (Germany) and Northern Harrier (California). A more experienced birder would have said, “Hum, that Eared Grebe looks just like a Black-necked Grebe.”, and might not have just looked in whatever guide book he had for whatever country he was in and ticked off the new ‘lifer’. I find that one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had with birding during this sailing circumnavigation is that I left before I had developed birding skills at home. I was not familiar with plumage changes and it seemed I was most often in places during non-breeding seasons and identifying could often be frustrating.
I have configured my list to make things easy for me but I have no doubt that it is probably not the way it should be formatted. I listed alphabetically for several reasons. It will be easy for me to find the group I need and to add a new group when I reach a new area of avi-fauna I won’t have to try and figure out where to put what in a Taxonomic order. It’s one thing to follow Collins Bird Guide for Europe or a North American Guide and start with the Loons and end with Buntings, but where would I put Australo-Papuan Robins or some other such thing? I would then have to get into another column listing scientific family names and even superfamily names. I’m sure this issue would be a piece of cake for many of you, but I’m a rank amateur. Until I get home and have access to better reference material, I need to keep things simple. I listed the Australo-Papuan Robins as Robins. The American Robin and the European Robin went under T for thrushes. My Wader section is a bit of a mess though. Should I break it up and put Sandpipers under S or leave it as: Waders- -Sandpipers- -Curlew Sandpiper? I have Vultures under V, but should they be with the Raptors? Ex: Raptors- -Vultures- -Turkey Vulture.
Here is my Life List:
Does anyone have any suggestions for improvement? (Other than telling me to put the list in Taxonomic order.)
Thanks for reading this long thing.