Thursday, 28 July 2016

Estuarine Minileague - June 2016

The Cornwall Dalmatian Pelican finally made it's way to the Hayle Estuary as Paul Freestone added this unexpected visitor to both of this patches this year. This five pointer puts him into first place and sailing over the 100% marker in the comparative league. Peter Hazlewood had an excellent spring to put him in second place, but the same cannot be said of June with nothing new of note in what is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year. Joost Brandsma remains just shy of the 100% mark in third, a barrier which is sure to fall soon!

In the top two spots are Dave Craven and Howard Vaughan in what is becoming quite a tussle at the top. In fact these two patches produced the best finds of June also, with a male Golden Oriole making for real #patchgold in it's most literal sense for Howard whilst a very unseasonal and unexpected Green-Winged Teal brightened up Dave's month.

An unseasonal American visitor at Hale & Pickerings Pasture in June - c/o Dave Craven

The 14 extra species so far at Hale and Pickerings is telling though as Dave retains a 16 point lead at the top. Meanwhile, the Frampton / Freiston collective cannot be ignored with autumn approaching, and waderfest is on its way! They occupy third and fourth spots so it should make for an exciting autumn.

For most patchers, June is a quiet month in the competition, so enjoying the breeding birds and summer residents becomes the highlights when few points are added. There were however a few points additions to be made. A Spoonbill at Frampton was to be expected at some point in the year, but a bird at Birkenhead Docks much less so for Elliot Monteath, it was a first for patch, Birkenhead and east Wirral. In fact Elliot had a good month with a fine Roseate Tern and a Little Tern which flew up the estuary giving Elliot enough time to tip off Dave Craven at Hale and Pickerings who added it to his list also. A great example of patch teamwork which is what we like to see! Another example of teamwork was the White Stork at Saul Warth which was added by Gordon Hodgson thank to the local Twitter network. How social media has changed birding.

Little Gulls are often a feature of late summer and an early bird was an excellent patch tick for both patchers at Hesketh Out Marsh.

Little Gull was a patch tick for Stuart Darbyshire at Hesketh Out Marsh
Excluding the literal example from Rainham above, a Marsh Tit for Ian Ballam was a lifer for him at Lytchett Bay so takes the #patchgold kudos for June.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Islands Minileague - June 2016

After a rarity-filled, hectic May, relative calm returns to the Islands Minileague during June. David Wood remains in first place on the comparative table at The Oa, edging slightly closer to his target for the year, now on 99.3%.

Swift was a welcome addition to IanT's patch year list at Askernish as they are not easy that way out west plus two bonus patch ticks with Long-eared Owl and a snazzy Red-necked Phalarope! This results in a percentage jump into the 90's where Ian keeps hold of second place for another month with 92.9%.

Mark Newell is close behind in third on 90.9%, having overtaken Bryan Rains on Mull. Mark added House Sparrow to his Isle of May list in June, bringing his overall patch life list to 200. Quite the patch milestone. Well done!

No update from Bardsey during June but Steve Stansfield still claims first place on the points table for another month. John Bowler is catching up however with seven points added at Balephuill in the form of Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Turtle Dove. This would normally be considered a fine haul if it wasn't for the White-throated Sparrow, singing Icterine Warbler and singing Marsh Warbler which John also saw on Tiree during June but all of which were off the patch!

Bruce Taylor looks like he is giving PWC's own Ryan Irvine a run for his money when it comes to sofaseawatching. Bruce gained some excellent bonus points with a White-billed Diver scoped from his lounge at Brevig on Barra! Add to this, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skua too! Bruce jumps from ninth to fourth on the points table. 

Other monthly mentions included a Crane at Balivanich for Stuart Taylor, a Quail on the Farne Islands for Ed Tooth and Tree Pipit plus Bar-tailed Godwit for Sean Morris on Rum.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Inland East Anglia Minileague - June 2016

Adam Nicholls lead has been cut to 11% as he had a blank month in June with James Emerson still his closest challenger. June was a good month for Tim Phillips as he added 13% and jumped 4 places into 3rd spot. Nick Moran had a good month and holds on to 4th after finding a Honey-buzzard and twitching a Glossy Ibis at Thetford. The other side of the #beatnick challenge didn't go so well as Jonny Rankin managed a miserly zero points! There's always autumn Jonny......

Glossy Ibis, Nunnery Lakes c/o Nick Moran

There isn't much movement in the points league as the top four remain the same and Nige Lound (thanks to a Caspian Tern) swaps 4th and 5th with Nick Moran. Great White Egrets made a few more appearances as Pete Antrobus and Luke Wake added it to their lists while the other bird of note in the month was a Montagu's Harrier for Derek Gruar, found on the way to the dentist! No pain no gain! The mid-table of the league is incredibly tight with 12 points separating 9th and 24th so a good July (is there such a thing in birding??) could see major changes.

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - June 2016

Very little movement in the comparative league as Rob Hall holds on to the lead despite adding no new birds in June. James Brown reduces the gap at the top to 2% thanks to a nice trio of Blue-winged Teal, Marsh Warbler and Bluethroat in the Lowestoft area. Scott Mayson holds on to the last podium place but Tommy Corcoran is closing in on him, mainly thanks to finding a Caspian Tern at Breydon Water. The lower positions all remain the same despite Ryan finding a male Golden Oriole at Hemsby!

Caspian Tern, Breydon Water c/o Tommy Corcoran

While the comparative league was largely dormant in June the points table had some real movers. James Brown still hold a commanding lead thanks to the aforementioned birds but we have new challengers in the shape of Justin Zantboer (a massive 72 points since last update) and Tommy Corcoran. Justin moved from 10th to 2nd thanks to an amazing month, adding Little Bittern, Whiskered Tern, Kentish Plover (all patch ticks), Montagu's Harrier and Marsh Warbler. A truly memorable month!! The other main bird of the month yet to be mentioned made it onto two patches, bringing both Paul Eele at Titchwell and Irene Boston at Brancaster 5 points for the wonderful Great Knot. That's quite a haul of bird for June, I can't see July keeping up......

Great Knot c/o Paul Eele

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Coastal South Minileague - June 2016

Everyone is playing for second in the comparative league as Amy continues to dominate at the top. Paul Freestone submitted his score this month which included a mighty 15 points for the Gwithian Pelican! Even with this boost however, he is still adrift of the leader who is pushing the 120% mark.

Dick Best at Steart holds onto third place but only just with Paul Bowerman at Severn Beach hot on his heals.

In the points league, Amy and Joe were neck and neck last month. But Amy has edged ahead with Great and Arctic Skuas as well as an returning Green Sandpiper her highlights whilst Joe had no additions in June. Sean Foote consolidates his position in third adding an early Curlew Sandpiper to his total and bringing up the 150 species mark.

June is a month to enjoy the summer residents and breeding birds rather than bag lots of points in PWC. There were a few additions to be had however with the Dalmatian Pelican at Gwithian back in May a find for Paul Freestone as it flew over Gwithian. This bird which has since become a bit of a local celebrity in Cornwall is a potential UK first (which will be a first for PWC!) and bags 15 points. As per the PWC podcast discussion this is accepted by us but whether the points stand will be on the decision of the BBRC, it will be interesting to see the outcome. Whatever that might be it is a great looking bird and was probably not on Paul's patch target list for the year!

A White Stork was welcome at Steart Marshes in the month whilst a Roseate Tern would make the highlights of anyone's month, as it did for Andy Johnson at Sandy Point. Other June additions which were a little more expected were Grasshopper Warbler and Nightjar at Coverack and Cuckoo (not always the easiest to get sadly nowadays) at Severn Beach.

A Yellow-Legged Gull at Walmer Beach was new for the year for Rob Rackliffe as many of us will be on the lookout for this larid in the next couple of months.

 Finally - #patchgold award this month goes to Kevin Rylands from his Teignmouth rear window! It is only 61 years since the first UK breeding record, but there are not many patches now that have to wait until June to record Collared Dove.

Curlew Sandpiper at North Portland - c/o Sean Foote

Coastal Scotland Minileague - June 2016

The message that June is a quiet month for adding points clearly didn't get through to Chris Rodger at Musselburgh as he hit the 200 point mark and extended his lead in both the comparative and points tables. Highlight of the month was a King Eider which bagged bonus points. In addition, Chris found both Little and Roseate Terns on patch, the former being a patch tick.
Stephen Welch closes in on the magic 100% marker with the Gull-Billed Tern at Foray making a brief sojourn to Gosford Bay, perching for just twenty second before taking off again. Right time, right place!
Gull-Billed Tern on its brief visit to Gosford Bay (c/o Stephen Welch)
Jim Dickson at Crinan Canal Corridor taken third spot this month adding Long-Tailed Duck and Crossbill in the month.

In the points league, Colin Davidson and Mike Hodgkin are pushing Chris Rodger in top spot. All three are in the 140's for species, but those all important bonus pointers give Chris a stronger points per bird. Plenty of time left to go!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Wales Minileague - June 2016

Very little change in the rankings on the Wales Comparative Minileague during June. The leaders on the table were busy bumping up their percentage scores however. 

Stock Dove and Manx Shearwater were patch ticks for Mike Cram who leads the charge at the top of the comparative minileague for another month at Broughton and Llangennith with a score of 108.9%. Well done to Mike for achieving and surpassing his PWC target for the year.

Alison C also achieves her target for the year with bang on 100% at Llanfair Talhaiarn by the end of June. A Hooded Crow at RSPB Conwy was the second site record but the first for local patch birder Julian Hughes, which allows him to slip past fellow patch birder Henry Cook and into third place for the month on 97%. The two have been almost neck and neck battling it out here for a while now!

Wendy James gets a great Teifi blocker with a Dipper which fellow patch birder Richard Dobbins will be eager to catch up with no doubt. Richard did well with Willow Tit however, a difficult local species. This helps keep him in first place on the points minileague table for another month with 176 points from 142 species.

Alex Jones found a superb Broad-billed Sandpiper at the mouth of the River Clwyd estuary where Chris Jones also caught up with it for his patch year list. Definitely the rarity highlight of the month here!

Gull-billed Tern was another superb patch rarity, this time seen by David Carrington at Sker and KenfigCeri Jones had the first Redshank at Cosmeston, Sully and Lavernock for two years (and is top of the BirdTrack stats with over 650 lists and nearly 11,700 records). Tawny Owl and Rook were both rare at Brynna Woods for Tony Swann. The first record of confirmed breeding by Spotted Flycatcher occurred at patch of Trevor Fletcher's patch at Rudry Common. 

Broad-billed Sandpiper © Alex Jones