One way of assessing the quality of a year list is to look at the points scored per bird (which is very simple to work out - simply divide the number of points by the number of species). My points per bird for the last two years are as follows:
2011 - 1.297
2012 - 1.380
Living by the coast, I'm lucky enough to get several easy 2 pointers every year, like kittiwakes, razorbill and the like. These are my bread and butter. The ones that really make a difference to the points per bird are the ones for which you get the finds bonuses (see above). 2012 was a much better year than 2011 for finds bonuses, with three 'finds' scoring me an extra 9 points. If someone else had found these birds my points per year would have been 1.313. If I hadn't seen them at all, it would have been a lowly 1.274.
You'd think that the best time to see these 'extra pointers' might be the spring and autumn - and if your patch was on the east coast like mine you'd probably be right. The graph below for 2012 shows a big peak in October (when I picked up YBW and barred, and saw a lovely but unfortunately second hand RBfly), but shows no real peak for my other 6 pointer (an April wryneck - probably as it would have been somewhat 'swamped' by the scoring of lots of 1 point birds in the form of common migrants). The blue line is the monthly 'ppb' with the red line representing the year end 'ppb'.
The points per bird graph for 2011 looks somewhat different though - a trough in October and peaks in August, and perhaps a little more surprising, March. Just goes to show that it's worth getting out there at all times of year - you might find yourself scoring very valuable points at a time when you least expect it!
And thats enough of the graphs for now...