Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mega Godwit (no, not that one) Gives Joy

A Harshad number, in a given number base, is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits when written in that base. (bear with it, i'm goiing somewhere)

To take a random example, 200 would be divisible by the sum of its digits (2+0+0=2). It has a mathematical symmetry that is pleasing to the (OCD) mind.
Harshad comes from the Sanskrit hara (joy) + da (give), meaning joy-giver.

It could be said, therefore that 200 is a number that gives joy to the recreational mathematician.

Birding is a not the be all and end all for me (no really), I have many other far more important things to do in life, nonetheless it is a source of great joy and part of that joy is in the numbers. I like a list....or two....or more.

I have seen Bar-tailed Godwit on my World List, Western Palearctic List, British List, English List, East Anglian & South-Eastern Lists and London List but, up until today, not on my Patch List, there was an OCD brain-itching gap against that particular delicacy, all the more so in that a number of local patchers have previously connected with BTG, some multiple times.

All that was to end however this morning when Adam ‘harshad’ W braved the elements and found one on the Lockwood (story below) and to his credit got the news out. His initial views, in very poor conditions led him to the, not unreasonable, conclusion that it was Black-tailed, a bird that I have seen on the patch, (20th July 1998, 9 summer-plumaged birds off the reservoirs and South over my house). Although I didn’t need it and only having a 40 minute window available this morning I thought it too good a patch year tick to miss and so shot up there. Imagine my confusion and delight that when clapping eyes on it, albeit distantly, with only bins and in the murk, it looked a bit Bar-taily. Adam W and Steve H had also got onto it again but were not getting fabulous views either, however a fisherman flushed it, and its true identity was revealed.

After a near thing with Hoopoe last week (we don’t talk about it) I finally got to ink in my 200th patch bird; Bar-tailed Godwit, a giver of joy indeed. Not that it has been a quick thing mind you; I first visited the patch, for the purposes of birding, in 1967, so 48 years, though with many and long hiatus (not hiatai apparently) in between. I have to agree with that other great local patcher, Fat Boy Slim (no relation) when he waxed lyrical about the patch:

We've come a long long way together,

Through the hard times and the good,

I have to celebrate you baby,

I have to praise you like I shouldddddd
PW @birdingprof

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