Sunday, 26 June 2016

Coastal North Minileague - May 2016

A further 14% this month keeps Ash Baines top of the Coastal North minileague and the only person pushing the 100% mark. His highlights this month were a Spoonbill, Whinchat and 13 Black Terns. Pete Marsh stays in second place in the comparative minileague despite no submission for May. Iain Robson has had an awesome month adding 19% and climbing from 9th to 3rd place. Despite no bonus points he did add Broad-billed Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret. 

#patchgold Nuthatch - Andy Hood

Mick Turton puts down a marker this month by stretching his lead from 6 points to 35 points. There were three species that he didnt add in 2015 with Thrush Nightingale, Blue-headed Wagtail and Montagu's Harrier welcome additions. Mick also scored bonus points for a trio of Common Cranes coasting south. Ross Ahmed holds on to second place with Grey-headed Wagtail, Pec Sand and Garganey new this month. Andy Hood manages to take his Flamborough patch above Nick Addey's at Long Nab as local tensions ratchet up. Andy managed Surf Scoter, Hoopoe, Glaucous Gull and #patchgold Nuthatch which breeds no closer than 20 miles away in the North Yorkshire moors.

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Paul French
This springs rarities avoided being found by the patchers but there was a good selection of decent birds and finds with a Bluethroat for Damian Money at Saltburn, 2 Glossy Ibis heading south at Whitburn for Mark Harper, Red-breasted Flycatcher at Spurn for Paul French and a Red-backed Shrike for Nick Addey at Long Nab. Paul French also caught up with Common Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike at Spurn whilst other notable birds included a non-assigned Subalpine Warbler for Jane Turner and a Citrine Wagtail for Alan Crossley at North Gare.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Islands Minileague - May 2016

Some of the highlights from a fantastic May in the Islands Minileague: top left - Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Steve Minton); top centre - Blyth's Pipit (Steve Stansfield); top right - Greenish Warbler (Ben Porter); bottom left - Black Kite (Steve Stansfield); bottom centre - Eastern Subalpine Warbler (Steve Stansfield); bottom right - Rook (John Bowler)

David Wood tops the Islands Comparative Minileague at the end of May with a clear 12% lead on IanT at Askernish who drops to second after taking the lead last month. David owes his good fortune to bonus points gleaned from a Subalpine Warbler found at The Oa along with some good supporting cast for Islay in the form of Turtle Dove and Little Ringed Plover. He finishes the month with 98% and ready to hit his target soon.

Plenty of change in the rankings elsewhere on the comp table with many contestants adding well to their scores in what was a very productive month to be patching on an island. Six patch birders are now over 75% with Bryan Rains, Paul Higson and Steve Minton gaining ground in the top five.

Steve Stansfield who patches on the mighty island of Bardsey comes charging in and takes first place on the Islands Points Minileague table with a mega Spring record of Blyth's Pipit, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Black Kite, Red-breasted Flycatcher, two Greenish Warblers and a flock of Mute Swans (8th record for Bardsey). All of this results in 135 species, 219 points and 1.622 Points Per Bird, the highest score in each of those categories in the minileague. With a comp score of 308 points to work against, Steve has done well so far but still has a long way to go.

Former head of the table, John Bowler, isn't too far behind in second place at Balephuil. A Pectoral Sandpiper was his bonus points scoring highlight of the month (helping to take him over 200 points) but it was a migrant Rook which provided the real element of #patchgold as they are less than annual on the island!

Steve Minton dug out one of the rarity finds of the year with an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in his garden at Scatness. It may not be the most colourful of vagrants but let us not detract from its value too much here. Being the first Spring record since 2008, a well deserved 15 points awarded for finding that one will go down well with Steve! He secures himself a fourth place position as a result.

Like Bardsey, the Welsh island of Skomer has also been enjoying a great Spring where Jason Moss (in fifth place) provides us with the following mouth-watering update: "Iberiae Yellow Wagtail (and a decent looking one at that. Record to be sent to BBRC), Black-headed Bunting (8 previous records; 3rd year in a row), drake Garganey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier (2), Little Ringed Plover (island mega; 6 previous records), Cuckoo, Nightjar (another island biggy; 12 previous records), Nightingale (8 previous records), Woodchat Shrike (2 stonking males) and Red-backed Shrike (another stonking male)."... Wow!!

On Scilly, a singing Great Reed Warbler was a welcome surprise for John Headon at Hugh Town and Lower Moors. IanT connected with a Nightingale at Askernish, a patch first for him and a rare bird in general for Scotland. Red-breasted Flycatcher, Turtle Dove, Hawfinch and Common Redpoll showed up on Barra for Bruce Taylor while another Hawfinch was seen by Barry Hamill at Burray.  

Inland Scotland Minileague - May 2016

Another month goes by with a Chris Pendlebury double header at the top of the Inland Scotland Comparative Minileague table. A Spotted Flycatcher at Blairdrummond along with a supporting cast of the usual Spring migrants has brought him to 98.8% there by the end of May. He is sure to make it to 100% in June. 

A Pintail was a #patchgold patch tick for Graeme Garner at Cambus bringing his patch species list to 94 for the year (the highest in the minileague) and over the ton in terms of points. This puts him in third place on the comp table with a score of 87.069%, narrowly knocking Andy Cage down to fourth place at Kilmany where he added Osprey, Cuckoo and Grasshopper Warbler in May.

Alastair Forsyth and Graeme Garner both move past David Douglas at Loch Leven to take first and second place on the Inland Scotland Points Minileague during May with their post 100 points scores. Alastair secured the lead at Old Nisthouse where a Great Crested Grebe was a fine #patchgold patch tick for him. 

Great Crested Grebe © Alastair Forsyth (his patch blog link here)

Nice local patch birds for other contestants came in the form of a Cuckoo at the SRUC Aberdeen campus for Gus Routledge and two very nice migrating Dotterel at Penicuik Estate for Mike Hodgkin.

Alastair continues to lead the charge in terms of most BirdTrack lists and records entered but good to see Chris Pendlebury's Green patch at Dunblane in second with 35 lists and 867 records.

Coastal Scotland Minileague - May 2016

Chris Rodger finishes the month of May within striking distance of reaching his 100% target in the Coastal Scotland Comparative Minileague. An excellent month for him at Musselburgh lands him on 98.3% and still in first place thanks to highlights which included a Golden Oriole (found by fellow PWC birder, Colin Davison) and a 'superciliarus'-type Yellow Wagtail which would seem to have a lot of feldegg in it.

A Short-eared Owl was Stephen Welch's fourth record for his Godford Bay patch where he remains in second place for another month. Tor Hamilton climbs to fifth place from eight at Leith where a Grey Heron during May was a first that far upriver for the patch. Andrew Whitehouse is also making tracks moving up from ninth to seventh at Girdle Ness and Torry with a Red-backed Shrike providing bonus points there.

Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck at Barns Ness © Geoff Morgan

Colin Davison holds on to first place in the Coastal Scotland Points Minileague for another month with Black Tern, Iceland Gull and Humpback Whale added (although no points for the latter!). He is just two points ahead of Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay however who pipped Chris Rodger to the post for second place. The top three are all in the 140 and 180 points bracket at the end of May so it will be interesting to see how the rankings pan out through the somewhat quite summer period before autumn kicks in.

Geoff Morgan holds onto his fourth place raking at Barns Ness with 169 points, an equal score to Jim Dickson at the Crinan Canal Corridor who has a higher species count but is beaten by Geoff on the basis of Points Per Bird. The male Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck picture above contributed to this for Geoff.

Eleswhere, a Glossy Ibis at Starnafin Pools for Lorna Dow at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg was the only other notable highlight of the month.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Estuarine Minileague - May 2016

Terns and waders dominated the highlights in an exciting month in the Estuarine league.

A mixed Tern flock at Oldbury Power Station provided the highlight for Peter Hazlewood who picked South Gloucestershire's first Whiskered Tern along with seven Black Terns. It also helped him to sail past 100% marker in the comparative league and take top spot. Joost Brandsma added Cetti's Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher in the month to retain second place whilst Ian Ballam Lytchett Bay patch makes up the top three as he enjoyed watching Black-Winged Stilt and Glossy Ibis in what must have felt like a very continental May!

Dave Craven retains his top spot as his excellent year continues. Bonus points went into the pot for Honey Buzzard but others beat him to it for the month's rarest patch birds with a Broad-Billed Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint. Add to that a bunch of two-pointers and he still has quite a margin in top spot with a very impressive 171 species. The Frampton / Freiston powerhouse is well represented in the top ten, with Daniel Newton the highest in second. Howard Vaughan found a Serin in the month and enjoyed a rather confiding Razorbill in the least Razorbill-like habitat you could imagine.

Alan Crossley at Saltholme had a good month with a brace of Whiskered Terns as well as a Great Reed Warbler in full song. Daniel Newton's second spot in the points league was certainly assisted when he found a smart Broad-Billed Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint. Most of the patchers at Frampton / Freiston also bagged points for Wryneck whilst Black-Winged Stilts were the flavor of the month turning up at both Frampton and Lytchett Bay.

Glossy Ibis is now a regular feature of the spring in the UK and as such will be downgraded to a three pointer next year. For some though, it is still a rare bird as demonstrated by the bird at Lytchett Bay which was the first since two birds were shot in 1847! Also enjoying this elegant Ibis was Graham Jones at Hesketh Out Marsh who added bonus points for his find.

Another continental wanderer is the Purple Heron which put in appearances at Snettisham Coastal Park and Topsham, certainly the highlight of the month for Irene Boston and Martin Elcoate.

This Glossy Ibis at Lytchett Bay on May 11th was the first since 1847! c/o Ian Ballam

Monday, 20 June 2016

Wales Minileague - May 2016

Some highlights from a fantastic month in Wales: top left - Squacco Heron (Paul Roberts), top right - Blue-headed Wagtail (Henry Cook), bottom right - Gull-billed Tern (Barry Stewart) and bottom left - Wood Warbler (Henry Cook)

The first contestant to hit the 100% target in the Wales Comparative Minileague is Mike Cram whose Broughton and Llangennith patch was graced by a pair of flyover Great White Egrets! A well deserved six points there.

Alison C updates her score at Llanfair Talhaiarn where a male Stonechat in May takes her to second place with 95.7%. Can she continue to add to her comp score and vie for first place again this year? Her move up the table has caused a stir in the rankings, helping send several folk down a slot or two.

In third and fourth place, Henry Cook and Julian Hughes continue their battle for top spot at RSPB Conwy, now in the mid-90% bracket after both connecting with the reserves first record with Wood Warbler in May as well as a long staying Blue-headed Wagtail, Garganey and Spoobill.

The Teifi patch birders, Richard and Wendy, both added Pied Flycatcher to their year lists during May, a good species for the site (first record in 9 years of ringing there). Richard continues in first place on the Wales Points Minileague table with 174 points from 140 species. 

Barry Stewart is close behind in second with 171 points from 130 species at Burry Inlet where finding a Gull-billed Tern gave him a fine points boost along with additions of Spoonbill and Pochard. The tern was well twitched and did the honour of also showing up at Morfa Bacas and with the addition of a Bonaparte's Gull at nearby WWT Llanelli meant that it was a great month for Dan Rouse at both of her patches there.

Rare herons made the headlines again with two Cattle Egrets gaining finders points for Peter Howlett at Cardiff Bay and best of all, a fine Squacco Heron at Ogmore Estuary which made it on to Paul Roberts patch year list there!

Elsewhere, Alex Jones added Yellow-legged Gull at Rhyl, Lesser Whitethroat was a patch tick for Tony Swann at Brynna Woods, Chris Jones had a Redstart from his back garden at Llysfaen and a male Black-headed(ish) Wagtail at at the River Clwyd estuary (but with perhaps too grey a nape to be the real deal?).

Friday, 17 June 2016

Inland East Anglia Minileague - May 2016

Adam Nicholls continues to lead the way with an impressive 124% thanks in no part to doing his chores as he added Cuckoo while putting the bins out! Do your chores people! James Emerson managed to get in on the inland Black Tern invasion with 3 at Whitlingham as well as his first patch tick of the year, Whimbrel! Steve Chapman ousts Nick Moran out of the top 3 as he approaches 100%. Mike McCarthy and David Gomer are the big movers of the month but with only 10% separating 3rd and 9th there is all to play for as we go into the summer.

Common Crane
Four points seperate the top 3 as Luke Wake takes advantage of a blank month for Ben Lewis, adding Black Tern and Whimbrel. Jamie Wells had a good month adding 19 points. Much like the Coastal East Anglia highlights were thin on the ground but there was a common theme as Cranes, Garganey and Turtle Doves made it onto multiple lists while Joe Harkness and Irene Boston had the pleasure of watching Nightjars on their patch.