Friday, 18 April 2014

Ireland Minileague - March

Dave Suddaby's excellent late winter returns keep him top despite no additions this month. Niall Keogh holds on to second with only two additional points. Neal Warnock moves up one place to third thanks to this months best Irish find, a Kumlien's Gull at Larne Lough. Eamonn O'Donnell loses out despite a relatively productive month. Peter Phillips slips to 6th despite a Todd's Canada Goose on patch with new entrant Julian Wylie goes straight into 5th with his Baltimore patch. 

It's still as you were with the Top 3 in the Comparative League but Tom Moore manages to usurp Niall Keogh to move into 4th. Eamonn O'Donnell is the first of the Irish competitors to breach the 80% mark and stands 9% clear in first.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

London Minileague - March

Adam Bassett remains out front at Little Marlow with his Kittiwake very much find of the month for the London minileague. Nick Croft holds both lower rungs of the podium with his Wanstead patch usurping Marek Walford at Dinton. Jason Reynolds manages to climb one place to 5th.

Jason Reynolds holds on to top spot in the comparative table for London with a stunning 84%. 9% back is Tom Stevenson with Michael Terry rounding off the top three which now has a familiar feel to it. Lower down and Adam Bassett has managed to overhaul Roger Hicks and claim fourth place.

County Firsts!

Congratulations to Espen Quinto-Ashman and Yvonne Benting on their respective county firsts found this week. Espen found a rather fine female Bluethroat at Wellington GPs, Herefordshire whilst Yvonne found a rather smart Serin at Askernish which is a first for the Outer Hebrides. Thanks to both for letting us use their images.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

South Coast Minileagues - March

Andy Johnson holds onto top spot at Sandy Point but has some serious competition from Harry Ramm who managed to connect with a Hoopoe on his patch at Climping. After an initial miscount Adam Faiers manages to hold on to third place whilst Mark Lawlor drops to fifth with Joost Brandsma splitting the difference. Amy Robjohns debuts in sixth place with Neil Burt overtaking Chris Dennis and Andy Rhodes. The best find of the month scored no points as a mixed singing Chiffchaff at Sandy Point suggested hybrid ancestry.

Adam Faiers leaps to the top of the comparative league with a heady 74% giving him a 9% lead over Mark Lawlor on Guernsey. Mr Crakes himself has a 21% cushion over Andy Johnson thanks to Andy's monster score last year.

Inland North

 Darren Starkey retains his monopoly on the top steps of the podium but this month Fairburn supplants St Aidan's for an RSPB 1-2. Bill Aspin has forced his way back into the reckoning moving up two places to third with Andy Bunting making way. New entrant, Chris Bradshaw comes straight into 7th place splitting Yorkshire rivals Jonny Holliday and Mark Reader. Tom Lowe and Steven Ward both make strides with Tom getting his Goole Fields patch into the Top 10.

Best finds this month were Chris Bradshaw's Green-winged Teal at Wykeham Lakes and Jonny Holliday's singing Siberian Chiffchaff at Pugney's. Also worth an honorable mention was the Gillatt's Spoonbill at Alkborough.

Its the same Top three in the comparative table but Peter Williams leaps two places to first with 74% at Laycock. Phil Woolen holds onto second whilst James Common falls two places into third. Out side the Top three and Mark Reeder has overtaken Jonny Holliday which is sure to spark a fightback at Pugney's.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Where are all the Cormorants?

As many of you may know, if you follow me on twitter, I like to seawatch, partly because I can from my sofa and partly because I lived in Cornwall for 4 years which saw me cave in to the dark arts of seawatching! However, seawatching at Hemsby is a far cry from Pendeen or Porthgwarra! No longer am I counting shearwaters in their hundreds or thousands, seeing flocks of petrels etc. In fact I’ve only recorded 11 shearwaters and 2 petrels in the last 20 months off Hemsby. Autumn can still be good here with nice skua passages and wildfowl and waders passing through but for most of the year it is the common, the mundane birds that keep me going with the hope of a nice patch year tick along the way with 2014 delighting me with Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver and some unseasonal skuas.
So to the common birds, it was in the early part of 2013 that I started taking a real interest in Cormorants. In January and February I was recording some really high numbers of Cormorants moving south with maximum counts of 913, 893 and 696, culminating in a total of 3398 being recorded up to 18th March 2013. In the same period this year I have only recorded 374! Why?
Was my effort higher in 2013? No, in 2013 I had seawatched a total of 25 hours 45 minutes up to this date, in 2014 it was up to 40 hours 30 minutes. I then started to think of the other more common species that I record while seawatching, it seemed like it has been a bad year for Brent Geese and Common Scoter (wildfowl in general really) but did the figures match up to what I was thinking?

Looking at the raw numbers does indeed show that it has been a poor year for Brent Geese, Wigeon and indeed wildfowl in general, passing Hemsby. But it also appears at first glance that it hasn’t been a bad year but in fact a better year for Common Scoter than 2013, unlike what I had thought. The table also shows it has been a great year for Gannets and Red-throated Divers (more on the divers later). This, however, does not paint a true picture. As I said before I have been seawatching more in 2014, 14 hours 15 minutes more (57% more) than in 2013 so to get a more accurate picture I decided to look the number of birds per hour.

This table still shows that Brent Goose and Wigeon numbers are far lower than last year as I had thought and that there was in fact very little difference between 2013 and 2014 for Common Scoter and Gannet numbers. Is it due to the mild winter we have had down here? It does highlight the dramatic difference in the two years for Cormorants. It would interesting to know if other areas of the Norfolk coast have suffered similar drops in numbers or the reverse and the cormorants I was recording last year are somewhere further along the coast somewhere?

And so I go onto the Red-throated Divers. Both the above tables suggest that it has been a great year for RTDs so far with over 3000 more recorded and over 64 per hour more than 2013. If I had written this post over the weekend (as I had intended to do) it would have been a different story. On the 17th and 18th March 2014 I had a crazy passage of RTDs, in total over those two mornings (2 ½ hours of seawatching) I recorded 2730 divers mainly going north. So, if I had written this at the weekend the RTD figures would have looked like this:

I could have been writing about all but Gannets being recorded in lower numbers and about how poor seawatching has been this winter but instead I can now rave about the huge numbers of RTDs compared to last year etc but perhaps it just illustrates that you need to catch the right days to seawatch, not go offshore working when the peak days happen etc and that nothing has changed from the two years

Fortunately I’ve put all this seawatch data into BirdTrack so I’m sure if anything can be gleened from this data the real scientists will have a far more scientific and useful approach to analysing it!

If nothing else I have created some colourful graphs to keep Mark happy!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

South Coast Minileague - February

A quiet month on the South Coast with only four submissions but some decent patch birds with Chris Dennis and Andy Johnson both recording White-fronted Geese and Andy managed a rather snazzy Black Brant. Joost Brandsma managed a Water Pipit at Lower Test with Mark Lawlor getting only his second Little Gull for his patch on Guernsey. In terms of positioning the Top three remain static with Andy Johnson continuing to score big in first place at Sandy Point. Adam Faiers retains second place at Sandwich Bay and Mark Lawlor just manages to fend off Joost to hold on to third. Joost had a great February adding 11 species and 15 points meaning he climbed above Harry Ramm into fourth. Andy Rhodes managed to overhaul Neil Burt and to rub salt in Chris Dennis's first submission puts him in above Neil as well.

This smallest of comparative minileagues changes with Mark now heading the league up with 58%. Adam's score remains the same whilst Andy Johnson does his best to close the gap which remains large thanks to his monster comparative score.