Saturday, 18 April 2015

Wales Minileagues - March 2015

Two extra veteran patchworkers entered onto the Wales minileague comparative table during March including Alison C at LlanfairTH with no less than 85.366% and straight into first place (Tawny Owl her highlight of the month). Half of the contestants are already now over 60% to boot.

Almost a third of the contestants on the points table are over 100 points, a fine tally considering there's now a total of 35 folk taking part but Laurie Allnatt still holds on to first place at Llanelli WWT. All of the top ten were close to breaking the 100 species barrier in March and will no doubt make that leap through April. Henry Cook at Little Orme claims the highest points per bird total with 1.259 (Surf Scoter his best find during the month).

A Dartford Warbler found at Sker and Kenfig was the first for that area for many years, a great find by David Carrington. Ogmore Estuary produced one of the other best finds of the month with a Great White Egret for David Ripley. Several folk were more content with returning migrants, even if they were expected ones (the welcome sound of singing Chiffchaff mentioned by many).

The Welsh league sees some great 'Green' effort with Marc Hughes still claiming top place as a non-motorised patchworker and an ever impressive list of contestants with BirdTrack records into the thousands (Laurie Allnatt with the highest at 3,352) and complete lists into the hundreds (Alastair Flannagan with the highest at 152).

Estuarine Minileague - March 2015

Ed Keeble makes an impressive jump on the Estuarine Minileague comparative table moving to first place from fourth in the space of a month down to adding a whole 11 species and 14 points leaving him on 73.481% at his patch at Brantham. Shaun Robson enters the league in March with a solid 61.326% at Lychett Bay, claiming fifth (an impressive 8 Spoonbills at that site). The highest comp score average on the table is claimed by Toby Collett at RSPB Frampton Marsh. He has a long way to go but is doing well, just shy of 50% by the end of the first quarter. A good Spring might make all the difference for him.

It's a trio of RSPB reserves at the top of the points table with a first/second place tussle at Frampton/Freiston where a single species separates John Badley from Anthony Bentley (although John leads by 7 points and a points per bird score of just over 1.3). Howard Vaughan moved from fifth to third during March thanks to 12 species/22 points added including Little Ringed Plover and Common Scoter. Well over half the contestants are now above 100 points and it's most certainly worth highlighting the stellar BirdTrack effort of Ian Ballam at Lychett Bay from where he's submitted a mighty 2,599 records from 74 complete lists (Garganey and Little Ringed Plover for him there).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Inland Scotland Minileagues - March 2015

Ructions on the Inland Scotland comparative table! Alastair Forsyth's rarity filled patch at Old Nisthouse is pipped to the post by super hard working local patchers Chris Pendlebury (Stirling) and Andy Cage (Kilmany) who now claim first and second place respectively but only by a matter of a few percent. Still, it just goes to show what can happen when we get to comp scores of longer running veterans... and this is exactly what PWC is all about!

On the points table, Alastair's rarities keeps him firmly in first place as the only contestant still above the 100 point barrier (the Blue-winged Teal remained into March but a Brambling was the best new species for him) and David Douglas added 13 new species at Loch Leven securing his place in second. Graeme Garner at Cambus added a mighty 14 species (he resisted the urge to add Ross's Goose!) allowing to move up the ranks past Pete Antrobus (Lochmaben) to take third pace. Pete had a great month with some excellent patch birds in March including a pair of Willow Tits, two Scaup, the first patch Tree Sparrow for 31 years and the first Meadow Pipit since 2003!

A warm PWC welcome goes out to Scott O'Hara who enters his new patch at Forrest Estate.

Coastal Scotland Minileagues - March 2015

No change in the rankings on the Coastal Scotland comparative table during March with Chris Hill at Burntisland still holding on to first place with 72.18%. Stephen Welch is not far behind however with his comp score of 70% on the button at Gosford Bay.

It's a different story altogether on the points table with Mike Hodgkin being the first to break the 100 species barrier with his impressive tally of 104 species and 125 points at Aberlady Bay where he now secures himself first position for the month ahead of Jim Dickson at Crinan Canal Corridor (but only by a matter of two points).

The biggest mover on the table is Jonathan Clarke (Whiteness Head) who jumps from second last to seventh with a little help from a #patchgold Coot! Jim Dickson claims the highest points per bird total so far (1.24) with a Stock Dive his highlight for March and not a bad bird to get out West. A special mention for both Mark Lewis (Girdle ness) and Stephen Welch who have both submitted a fine number of BirdTrack lists to date.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Coastal North Minileagues - March 2015

Stewart Sexton keeps topspot with a superb 70% in the Coastal North Comparative League with Twite and Waxwing this months highlights. Ash Baines keeps second place whilst Seumus Eaves at Fleetwood moves up to third displacing James Spencer thanks to the first patch Avocet since 2010. Tom Cadwallender is up into 5th place thanks to a pair of Mediterranean Gulls.

In terms of raw points, Martin Garner moves up a spot into first with a combo of two pointers including Flamborough's third Mandarin. Nick Addey managed to add 7 points for second spot while Jonathan Farooqi at Druridge Bay manages to displace Chris Bradshaw from the top three thanks to some coastal Willow Tits amongts a decent haul of late winter goodies.

The month was pretty quiet with no bonus points and highlights aside from those mentioned included Pomarine Skua, Long Nab's first Egyptian Goose and a couple of Iceland Gulls.

Inland North. March 2015

Despite no submitted score this month (perhaps he was giving the rest of us a chance) from Darren Starkey he still holds firm at the top. Jonny Holliday's two weeks in Mexico opened the door for Mark Reeder to steal second space. Birds still had a winter feel to them with numerous reports of Whooper Swan (as they began there exodus) including a Sheffield area record breaking flock of 180 through Orgreave. A Bewick's Swan a Stobswood, for James Common, was a site first. Common Scoter were reported from several sites with Marton Mere, Neumann's Flash (a first at this site) and Orgreave. Willow Tits still hang on at a good number of sites in the Inland North, with Adel Dam, Chorlton Water Park, Norton Common and Northwich Woodlands adding them.

With most summer migrants back by the end of the month April should see the biggest monthly species count, and a good number of patchers will see their species total break through the 100 barrier.

In the Comparative League Keith Dickinson increases his score to 92.7% staying firmly rooted at the top. The gap with Nick Tongue slightly widened, by 2.6% (0.5% in February). Jonathan Scragg takes a massive jump from 6th to 3rd place increasing his haul by an impressive 12.7%. With the bulk of summer migrants yet to come these 3 can only keep climbing.

Until next time...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find - February 2015

The Bresser & Forest Optics Best Find Competition is the highlight of the Patchwork Challenge year. This is the best find of the whole patchbirding year as voted for by you, the competitors. 

For the winner of the competition, those fine folk at Bresser &Forest Optics are very generously furnishing the winner of this esteemed competition with a prize tbc, hopefully next month we will be able to reveal all

February had been a somewhat mixed month weather-wise, starting off with colder than average temperatures before ending the month with them being slightly higher than average. This seems to have had a knock-on effect with the birding world.
The only rare of the month was the Bonaparte's Gull found at Llanelli WWT by Laurie Allnatt, well done that man! Not only finding the bird but getting a decent photo of it as well.

Bonaparte's Gull - Laurie Allnatt

 There were lots of scarce birds during the month, mainly multiple finds of a few species rather than loads of species. 

We'll start with Great White Egrets, or Great Egrets as we are supposed to call them now, 3 patchworkers found  them during the month; Anthony Bentley at his Frampton Marsh/ Frieston RSPB patch in Lincolnshire, also Drew Lyness at UEA in Norfolk and Dave Craven who had 3 birds on his Hale & Pickering Pasture patch in Cornwall. 

Next a couple of Ring-billed Gulls, oddly enough both in Ireland, one at Larne Lough found by Neil Warnock, the other on the Boyne Estuary picked up by Gerald Murray.   

Back to England for Great Grey Shrike, again a couple of birds, one on Benjamin Ward's patch at Aubourn in Lincolnshire and the other giving Matthew Dick the points on his patch in Darley Dale, Derbyshire.

The west of the PWC area had the next multiple sightings, Green-winged Teals for Balivanich in the Outer Hebrides, a nice one for Stuart Taylor and also for Eamonn O'Donnell at his Ninch/Laytown patch in Ireland. Keeping the Western trend going Pete Marsh had Cetti's Warbler on his Heysham and Middleton patch in Lancashire, the first winter record for his area. 
Green-winged Teal - Johnathan Farooqi
Moving across to the East of the map we have a couple of good birds found in Norfolk, starting with Crane for Gary White  at North Walsham/Trimingham and the only Rough-legged Buzzard on patch during February found by Tim Hodge at his Horsey Mill patch.

Mention should go to David McGrath who found a Dusky Warbler on his Marton Mere patch during January, a good winter record. David was late in registering on the challenge so we'll let him off this time. 

As I write March is half over and the first migrants are being picked up on the South coast, can't wait for next month's listings.