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Watsonian Vice Counties (1 Viewer)

Johnny Allan

Dip or Glory
In my home county of Surrey the recording area for the Surrey Bird Club Surrey Bird Report is within the Watsonian Vice County of Surrey (VC17), some of the Vice County is now part of Greater London.

I know that some counties do not follow the Vice County boundaries and wonder why not.

The Watsonian Vice County system was set up to ensure the accurate comparison of historical and modern data. Whilst boundaries change, the Vice Counties remain the same.

Would it not be better if all recorders used the Watsonian system to ensure continuity and avoid confusion and duplication etc ?

What do others think and what do other counties do ? Do any chop and change along with boundary changes ?

How do counties come not to use the Watsonian system (assuming they all used it in the first place) ?

Do County Recorders ever have national meetings to discuss these and other matters to come to a general agreement ?

Johnny Allan
 

DunnoKev

Guest
Would it not be better if all recorders used the Watsonian system to ensure continuity and avoid confusion and duplication etc ?
Johnny Allan

Hi Johnny, I tried to get a similar discussion started before, but didn't get too far:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=75553&highlight=Watsonian

I don't think much will have changed, most County bodies would wet themselves if they had to contemplate something as radical as this, which is a shame as we claim to be scientific, but don't want to fit in with the rest of science.
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
it also depends on which flora / fauna!

In Hants, the botanists use the VC system (and this is the case in most other places) but the birders use the new county boundaries. I have long argued for the primary recording area to the two VCs (11 &12 - this would be great as we'd get back Hengistbury and I get to add "Elegant Tern", Parula and Bobolink to my Hants list!

cheers, alan
 

DunnoKev

Guest
it also depends on which flora / fauna!

In Hants, the botanists use the VC system (and this is the case in most other places) but the birders use the new county boundaries. I have long argued for the primary recording area to the two VCs (11 &12 - this would be great as we'd get back Hengistbury and I get to add "Elegant Tern", Parula and Bobolink to my Hants list!

cheers, alan

Alan, that's precisely why you won't get them back! The peeps at the top of the clubs are scientists and have their lists to protect and aren't really up for following a well-established scientific protocol.
 

ColinD

I'm younger than that now
Moth recorders use Vice Counties as well. My Vice County is VC59.

I don't understand why bird recorders don't. It seems odd to me. For example, the Lancashire bird report covers Lancashire and North Merseyside (but not south Merseyside which historically was in Cheshire). It also doesn't include Manchester which historically was in Lancashire.

And does Merseyside even exist anymore? I live here and I don't know. Last time I heard, the North Wirral coast including Hilbre Island, West Kirby and Hoylake was in Merseyside, but though I suspect that this has now changed, I don't know the official position.

Why should I (in St Helens) still be in Merseyside if West Kirby isn't? I'd rather be in Lancashire along with both Liverpool and Manchester.

It's so complicated, and clouded by petty and irrational snobbery about not wanting to be associated with our neighbours that it seems to me that it would be much simpler to use the Vice county system like everybody else.

I suspect that it will never happen though.
 
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liverpool_bob

scarce migrant to yorkshire
I don't understand why bird recorders don't. It seems odd to me.

Yorkshire do - VCs 61/2/3/4. Part of what is now Cleveland was Yorkshire and is in one of the the VCs. Yorks listers use the VCs.

Why should I (in St Helens) still be in Merseyside if West Kirby isn't? I'd rather be in Lancashire along with both Liverpool and Manchester.

Oooh no no no, there's more chance of Scousers creating an independent peoples republic than wanting to be part of Lancashire again ;)
 

chris butterworth

aka The Person Named Above
It seems that all other sections of "natural history" use vice counties for recording, perhaps thats why birders don't, awkward buggers! 3:)
Chris ( from Scouse West Kirby in Merseyside ) :t::t::t:
 

Johnny Allan

Dip or Glory
Thanks for all the comments. This is not about whether one can add a few ticks or not, it just seems to make sense from a point of having a recording area which doesn't chop and change over time (which is what it was set up for in the first place). I've heard of counties which have lost territory and regained it at a later date.

Apparently, County Recorders do have National forums. I wonder if they think it's just too difficult (or perhaps there is some resistance), to revert to using the Watsonian System throughout.

Cheers

Johnny
 

Richard Klim

-------------------------
I wonder if they think it's just too difficult (or perhaps there is some resistance), to revert to using the Watsonian System throughout.
In some cases I suspect that it reflects the fact that birding/birdwatching in particular is dominated by amateur (ie non-scientific) participation. Hence the maintenance of short-sighted modern abominations such as Avon (or CUBA - the County that Used to Be Avon) and Cleveland, in deference to the large numbers of birders living in/around large conurbations who want a recording area focused on their idea of the centre of the universe.

I admit that this is the totally biased viewpoint of a Somerset birder who resents the surrender of a large chunk of his home county to a blot on the landscape otherwise known as Bristol. ;)

Richard
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
VC55 is religiously followed by both moth-ers and birders in Leics and Rutland. It has survived the political splits and lumps of the two counties, as has the nobel LROS.
Steve
 

Cortonbirds

Well-known member
Ahh this old chestnut...

Here in Suffolk we record to the old watsonian boundary....as it should be. This means we claim birds such as the Kildeer on Breydon south wall...while Norfolk also claims such birds...wrongly. Think about it whats the best dividing boundary for a county and its bird life---the middle line of a river/estuary (as it has mainly been in the past and should be) or..a recent government drawn line and sign in the middle of nowhere to help them with recent politics and administration......do the math....you know what makes sense

The situation has gotten crazy. With all the new administrative counties springing up it has to end somewhere and revert back surely to the old system. For example there is? (or soon will be) COUNTIES such as Southend etc etc etc.

The deciding authority in all this is surely the British Birds Rarities comitee, but despite numerous suggestions with valid reason how they must change it such correspondance has lead to nothing. No valid evidence to back up their flawed philosophy and a stubborn refusal to change. Many, many counties now go against them and record to their own boundaries (Watsonian) but it all has to be tied together nationally or it becomes a farce..

Something must be done soon.....
 
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Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
in deference to the large numbers of birders living in/around large conurbations who want a recording area focused on their idea of the centre of the universe.
St Paul’s (20 miles from) would be the one here.

Although I know the term vice county, I have no idea where the vice county lines are. I think this would be the major hurdle for implementation. You'd have to send every interested birder a detailed map... or do you draw those borders onto your OS maps yourselves? (I am not organised enough to start recording everything in NBN software which will tell me the Vice County, sorry).

The recent discussion was started when I reported the continuing presence of the Savi’s Warbler to both the Essexbirders and Londonbirders yahoo groups — only to find out that a Watsonian Birders Front member (hi Joan!) had forwarded my message to Hertsbirding.
 

ColinD

I'm younger than that now
......Although I know the term vice county, I have no idea where the vice county lines are. I think this would be the major hurdle for implementation. You'd have to send every interested birder a detailed map... or do you draw those borders onto your OS maps yourselves? ........

That's a good point actually. I guess that most other forms of wildlife recording are much more static than birding. For example, when I go moth trapping, we put the trap down and it stays there for the duration. It's easy to know which vice county we are in, because we tend to do the same sites several times per year. However, when I go birding, I might cover 200 miles in a day at several different locations. Which vice counties have I been in then?
 

Johnny Allan

Dip or Glory
If I went birding and covered 200 miles in a day at various locations (rarely nowadays), I might not be too sure of which counties I'd been in/through, Watsonian or current political.

I'd have thought that if there was consensus between County Recorders and the body which governs these matters (BBRC BOU ?), it wouldn't be that difficult to make maps, clearly showing the Watsonan VC boundaries, available on the net or in publications. Perhaps they are already out there. Counties which still use the Watsonian sytem obviously know where they are.

Johnny
 

JoanT

Well-known member
St Paul’s (20 miles from) would be the one here.

Although I know the term vice county, I have no idea where the vice county lines are. I think this would be the major hurdle for implementation. You'd have to send every interested birder a detailed map... or do you draw those borders onto your OS maps yourselves? (I am not organised enough to start recording everything in NBN software which will tell me the Vice County, sorry).

The recent discussion was started when I reported the continuing presence of the Savi’s Warbler to both the Essexbirders and Londonbirders yahoo groups — only to find out that a Watsonian Birders Front member (hi Joan!) had forwarded my message to Hertsbirding.

Hi Jan,

If you used my maps it doesn't show the modern county line in the Lea valley and I am not talking ancient but a map issued after the main alterations to administrative areas in the 1970's. Even my 1991 map covering TQ09/19 did not cover the small area that became part of Bucks and lost modern Herts the 2007 Purple Heron which according to my map was in Herts and Bucks.

Some people still send records into Herts which are from sites which are now in Essex!

The situation is particularly confusing in that London keeps to Watsonian County Boundaries and Herts and Essex doesn't. So in the London Bird Report the said Savi's warbler will be in Herts but not in the Herts report. A Savi's at the same site in 1982 is in the Birds of Herts and for comparison I believe this one should be in Herts as well.

For anyone wishing to use the county bird reports for wildfowl population changes it is impossible. I only have the odd Essex report but it uses the whole Lea valley as one site which is no longer the same as what it was prior to some time in the 1990's when the boundary changed. Herts recorded Cheshunt GP's in its reports and that area is now reduced by the territory that is now the wrong side of the Lea navigation and in modern Essex.

To my mind one of the purposes of county bird reports (and I write part of the Herts one ) is to be able to look back at them years later and see how bird populations have changed. This is impossible to do properly if at the whim of some politicians territory is switched to some other county who records the new territory in some other way than that which was done previously.

I am not talking ticks here as county listers can choose to use the Watsonian counties if they like for their own lists.

It seems to me some counties use Watsonian county boundaries and some the modern political ones for bird recording. I would be very interested to know which counties use which method.

Certainly in Herts the moth recorder uses the Watsonian boundary and I am not sure what other recorders use.

Joan
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
The problem with political boundaries is that they are subject to the vagaries of politicians, who may be tempted to redraw them if they can see an advantage at the next election. At least the Wastonian system represents stability.
I was born in Lancashire, and proud of it, but my place of birth is no longer in Lancashire - ah, well!
Ken
 

deeestuary

Dee Estuary
Moth recorders use Vice Counties as well. My Vice County is VC59.

I don't understand why bird recorders don't. It seems odd to me. For example, the Lancashire bird report covers Lancashire and North Merseyside (but not south Merseyside which historically was in Cheshire). It also doesn't include Manchester which historically was in Lancashire.

And does Merseyside even exist anymore?

Hi Colin
Just clarify Meresyside does exist still, and Wirral Borough council (i.e. North Wirral) is still part of Merseyside. But there is no Merseyside Bird Report as that bit of Meresyside north of the Mersey (i.e. Liverpool etc.) is covered by the Lancashire Bird Report and that bit of Merseyside south of the Mersey (north Wirral) is covered by the Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report.
 

deeestuary

Dee Estuary
I know that some counties do not follow the Vice County boundaries and wonder why not.

The Watsonian Vice County system was set up to ensure the accurate comparison of historical and modern data. Whilst boundaries change, the Vice Counties remain the same.

There is a forum for County Recorders http://groups.google.com/group/acre-birds, you are probably best trying this. This forum has taken over from NewsAcre which was run by Judith Smith who is county Bird Recorder for Greater Manchester.
 

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