Three words once more: Birds Of Prey. Eagles, Falcons, Owls, Secretary Birds (who doesn't love them?), Vultures et al. I've pondered long and hard again to come up with a challenge "with legs" and hope I've cracked it this time (I didn't anticipate Hevden's drive last year!). I also fancied moving away from mammals for a change. I've tried to create a marathon, rather than a sprint, again and hopefully this one will keep running for a little longer than last year's. The winner will most likely need to be someone who's well traveled and is as happy to visit some obscure little collections as well as the big places. Whilst a handful of excellent larger (bird specialist) collections will give someone a substantial score I believe it'll be "picking up" extra species over a large number of collections that will ultimately decide the winner. As per last year, I'm hoping a number of lesser-visited places gain some benefit, exposure and (where appropriate) appreciation as a result of this year's challenge. An interesting random factor this year is that I find that new birds of prey species often "pop up"/appear from nowhere, especially at smaller collections, so it's likely that the number and types of species on show at the start of the year will be different to that at the end. Whilst certain collections (such as "Newent" and a couple of others) will most likely be needed to be visited to underpin chances of winning a combination of many species being represented in a number of collections and some species only being present at a small number of places means that there is most likely more than one way of winning this challenge. Hopefully this helps smooth out geographical advantages to a some extent though I can see that living in the South-east is probably a little disadvantageous and, as always, the Midlands, turns out a good base-point. Unfortunately a little geographical bias is unavoidable as I can't physically shift the Midlands (if I could move land I'd bring Northern Ireland close enough for a bridge first so I could visit Belfast more often). For the record I'm not expecting anyone to see all possible species in the year (then again I didn't last year)-they'd have to be very obsessive and time and money rich to cover all the traveling (and have no inclination to use those resources to travel outside the UK). As always, I'm hoping it'll be a fun challenge that many can get involved in. As always, I'm keeping the challenge to a species level as I don't want to get bogged down in the quagmire of debating validity of sub-species and/or genetic purity of specific animals (Eagle Owls anyone?). Taxonomy is not the greatest strength of mine so I'll rely on others to challenge anyone trying to sneak sub-species in and, if necessary, I'll take appropriate counsel for assistance on any related debates. My decision on any of these squabbles is "final" (subject to better evidence being presented and new scientific findings). To be honest I'm not sure of the (current) maximum number of species potentially viewable in the UK. Please accept my apologies for this but I've been away most of Christmas and December at work was "crazy busy". I'm sure someone will come along with a summary in due course. For clarification, rules are as follows: 1. You have to actually see the animal, even if just for a second. You don't score if you visit a collection but don't see the animal (harsh, but fair); 2. Proof via photographs is not required, your word is your bond; 3. You have to see the animal via normal public access (i.e. not including zookeeper for the day or photography days behind the scenes) during normal public opening hours (i.e. no scoring because you know the keeper and can get access before/after hours). Basically the species has to be seen as Joe Public would; 4. Any severely limited opening or private collections (e.g. Heythrop, WHF, and any similar collections or refuges) don't count for this challenge. Controversial I know, but see previous point and I didn't think it fair to include a handful of days these collections might be open to the public as this might logistically disadvantage a large number of people; 5. Report/update your progress on this thread as you go along (let's say mandatory reporting from fifteen species and above); 6. Except for the unlikely event that someone gets to see all the species potentially seeable by 31/12/15 the winner will be deemed to be the person(s) who's seen the most at that date; 7. My (final) decision is final but I'm open to discussion and debate on any specific points. Right, do your Zootierliste research, get your atlases out and Satnavs/smart phones set, go!! Finally, can Hevden please get in touch and let me know their address so I can arrange delivery of 2014's trophy?