Saturday, 1 August 2015

Ireland Minileagues June

Stalemate at the top of the Ireland Comparative Minileague where Eamonn O’Donnell and Niall Keogh remain in first and second place position come the end of June at their Ninch/Laytown and South Dublin Parks patches. Both have done very well to get beyond 100% by the half way point in the year but are starting to slow down now with just one species added during the past month each, Roseate Tern and Siskin respectively. Can they keep up enough momentum to see them through the year or will others start climbing the ranks once autumn and its bounties arrive?

Neal Warnock moves past 90% and into third place at Larne Lough after a #fullfatpatchtick brace of European Storm-petrels as well as notching up Arctic Skua and Roseate Tern for the year. Alan Lauder heads up a patch double act with his two patches to take up fourth and fifth place where a night time flyover Black-tailed Godwit was just the second record for his inland Carrick Mountain patch.

A quiet month for Dave Suddaby at Blacksod (European Storm-petrel his best bird) yet he still leads by a county mile in the Ireland Points Minileague, 38 points clear of second place thanks to his impressive run of Spring rares which keeps him firmly in the lead with a points per bird score of over 1.5 (the highest in the minileague). Neal at Larne, Eamonn at Ninch/Laytown and Niall at Kilcoole battle it out now for second, third and fourth position with very close species and points totals. Neal now taking second by the end of the month from Eamonn by a matter of one point. After a quiet May, Niall clawed back a decent batch of year ticks at Kilcoole during June including Long-eared Owl, Crossbill, Gadwall, Puffin and Knot.

Most other contestants have moved up or down by a matter of one place here and there elsewhere on the table, a testament to a relatively quiet month except for Cathal Forkan, our sole representative of Next Generation Birders (NGB), who played a blinder at his North Galway Bay patch jumping from 11th to 6th place and beyond the 100 species mark thanks to some excellent midsummer sewatching producing Balearic Shearwater, European Storm-petrel, Little Tern and Little Gull. Ger Murray also joins the 100 species club at his Boyne Estuary patch.

Record keeping enthusiasts in the Ireland Minileague have now added approximately 5,600 records from 116 complete lists to the BirdTrack database. Well done all! Of the six Irish contestants in the Green category (i.e. patching without motorised transport), Julian Wyllie leads the charge at Baltimore with an impressive 88 species.

Spotted Flycatcher at Larne Lough © Neal Warnock

Friday, 31 July 2015

Inland North Minileagues June

Nick Tonge takes advantage of a blank month for Keith Dickinson and James Common and takes the lead after adding 7 new species in June while Steven Ward joins the 100% club in 5th place. With less than 30% separating the top 15 it looks like a good autumn could well see anyone make a push for a podium place!

Darren Starkey maintains his healthy lead at the top of the points table with Andy Bunting still his closest challenger. Garry Taylor has finally made his move into the top 3 adding 17 points from his 'inland' patch at Hornsea. 4th place is jointly held by Mark Reeder, Tom Lowe and Jonny Holliday so its all to play for while their PWC2014 nemesis Bill Aspin slips out of the top 10 and surely out of contention!

Highlights were thin on the ground this month but Long-eared Owls featured in a few patches while Tome Lowe added a Quail to his Goole Fields score, Andy Bunting caught up with a Red-necked Phalarope and Paul Massey found the same species at his patch at Grindon Lough and Chris Bradshaw found a Honey Buzzard flying over his patch. Garry Taylor managed to twitch the American Wigeon at Hornsea and Pete Antrobus managed a patch life tick in the form of a flock of Crossbills at Neumann's. Perhaps find of the month though has to go to Jonny Holliday when he found a pound coin at Pugneys!

Inland South Minileagues June

Nothing new for Tom Raven this month (thats because he has seen everything already!). Tom Stevenson's battle with himself sees Battle Farm leading the way and busting through the 100% barrier at the same time thanks to three additional points. His Ewelme patch remains in third. Neil Burt added 8% in June to climb into 4th and putting pressure on the leaders.

Again Tom Raven is out front but his lead has been cut by Graham White at Rye Meads who added a brace with Ruff and Tawny Owl. Adam Bassett holds onto third place as he added two as well thanks to a pair of Garganey and some Black-tailed Godwits.

     This Knot was a nice inland find for Tim Farr at Sutton Bingham

There were a pair of very decent finds in June for our Inland South patchers. Nick Croft got a handy 6 points with a Black Kite over his Wanstead patch. Not perhaps as big-hitting as the Blyth's Reed Warbler of last year I bet this was a tad more impressive! At Sutton Bingham Reservoir Tim Farr managed to find a Night Heron for some bonus points as well. Good work chaps!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Coastal South Minileagues June

A wader double act for Ian Pitts was the highlight of an otherwise quiet month in the Coastal South league. Not satisfied with a superb Hudsonian Godwit, a fine Terek Sandpiper also paid a visit. Both were enjoyed by many observers, and for Ian they represent a couple of superb patch ticks and a load of points which lift Ian to 8th in the points table.

Meanwhile the long staying Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven continued to draw admirers, but for Amy Robjohns whose local patch it has chosen to take up residence, it is that little bit more special.

Greater Yellowlegs : Titchfield Haven c/o Amy Robjohns

Despite no additions in the month, Paul Freestone at Gwithian retains the lead in the comparative league. Peter Hazlewood has taken advantage of the opportunity to close the gap, with Nuthatch and Coal Tit being tough patch ticks at Oldbury Power Station.

In the points league, Paul Bowerman bags points for a Storm Petrel and Crossbill at his Severn Beach patch to help consolidate third place behind runaway duo Joe Stockwell and Sean Foote.

Coastal North June Minileagues

An american gull left Mick Turton laughing at his Easington patch in June.

West continues to dominate east in the comparative league, with Ash Baines retaining top spot despite no additions in June and Seumus Eaves sharing second with Stewart Sexton. As is the trend for coastal sites, the autumn is a high point scoring period, so 89% is a very respectable score at the half year point.

In the points league, a superb May sent Mick Turton at Easington into top spot, and a couple of superb additions in June extend his lead. It will be quite a turnaround for the chasing pack to close the gap now. Perhaps they will be hoping that Mick has a two month holiday booked in September and October!
The highlight of the month was a cracking Laughing Gull, located by the aforementioned Mick Turton at Beacon Ponds. A first for the Spurn area, he also found a Bee-Eater as he stepped out onto his doorstep and enjoyed Spurn's first American Wigeon in addition to a long staying Red-Necked Phalarope. Who said June was quiet!

   Laughing Gull, Beacon Ponds c/o Tim Jones

          Bee-Eater c/o Tim Jones

John Chapman finds most of his patch birds himself, and reaps the bonus points. However, he had to be content with enjoying someone else's Common Rosefinch as it sang by the Whitburn Obs on the 7th June. Surf Scoters are also making the lists of quite a few Coastal North patchers, and a bird flying north with Common Scoters was an unexpected bonus for Chris Bradshaw at Long Nab as was a #patchgold Little Tern - a long overdue patch first.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Coastal East Anglia June Minileagues

Craig Fulcher's fantastic year continues at Southwold with Manx Shearwater and Wood Sandpiper helping to extend his lead at the top. 91% at the half year is a superb score and with the autumn just around the corner the 100% marker must surely fall soon. A Red-footed Falcon for Ryan Irvine helped him leap frog Tommy Corcoran who saw what was undoubtedly the Coastal East Anglia bird of the month - a gleaming Pacific Golden Plover at the east end of Breydon which arrived on the 27th June.

No locusts required in Hemsby!

Nige Lound leads the point table at Gibraltar Point NNR, his location on the Lincolnshire side of the wash pushing the Norfolk and Suffolk sites down the table! He added a further six year ticks in the month, including a Montagu's Harrier. Robert Smith at Holme Dunes NNR keeps second despite no additions in the month but his gap to third is closing due to a Hen Harrier for James Brown.

Gary White at North Walsham scored bonus points with a self-found Bee-Eater. In true patching style however, a Tufted Duck also makes his highlights list. #Patchgold comes in all forms!

There is still plenty of time in this league, and looking at some of the sites in the chasing pack it will be an interesting autumn!

Great Yarmouths star attraction in June.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Estuarine Minileagues June

A patch find Crane at Brantham keeps Ed Keeble in top spot for the month. Meanwhile Gordon Hodgson edges the battle for second with Shaun Robson just 0.7% behind. No-one has hit the 100% mark yet - but with an autumn of potential wader highlights on the horizon there should be some game-changing points scoring to come!

The heavily watched Frampton / Freiston reserves dominate the top places with Dave Craven and Howard Vaughan breaking the whitewash. With so many watching the same site, the points table is extremely tight. So finding a rare bird on patch is going to make all the difference, and so it proved as a self-found Broad-Billed Sandpiper sends Paul Sullivan into top spot. Frampton also got in on this spring's Red-Necked Phalarope influx.

Dave Craven is in an excellent fourth spot, with three patchlifers in the month in the form of a Sandwich Tern, Hawfinch and Pied Flycatcher. 

#Patchgold - Pied Flycatcher at Hale & Pickerings Pasture c/o Dave Craven

Howard Vaughan also added points for a Quail whilst Ian Ballam had #patchgold with a Nightjar at Lytchett Bay.