Thursday, 25 June 2015

Coastal East Anglia - May

Craig Fultcher has extended his lead with an impressive May with bonus points for a stunning male Red-backed Shrike and Grey-headed Wagtail as well as a host of nice spring waders including a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Away from Southwold and EA was pretty quiet in May with bonus points hard to come by, a Rough-legged Buzzard at Hemsby and Crane over Great Yarmouth the best the rest could muster. Gibraltar Point perhaps the exception as Nige Lound found both Golden Oriole and Serin on patch.

Robert Smith has seen is lead cut despite a Black Stork over his patch. Nige Lound has leap-frogged into 2nd with his fine month while Tim Hodge drops down to 5th thanks to his poor month and Craig's excellent month. Our top two from last year, Tim and James both described May as 'dire' and declared their patches as 'bird free zones'! Roll on the autumn....

Craig Fulcher's Red-backed Shrike

Inland East Anglia - May

The Nick Robinson steam train keeps rolling as he maintains his lead at the top of the Inland EA minileague thanks to a patch Osprey at UEA. Ben Moyes has kept pace this month and becomes the second contender to break the 100% mark thanks to a nice variety of migrants including an inland Sandwich Tern. Ben Rackstraw remains in third but has closed the gap on second to just 2.5% with his highlight being a Wood Sandpiper at Downham Market. With another three players in the 90s perhaps a decent late spring could see someone shaking it up.

Jamie Wells has coming striding in from 7th to take over at the top with 166 points at Paxton Pits displacing his old rival, Ben Lewis who slips to second place. Ben Rackstraw is also climbing this month - up two places to third. The best find of the month goes to Stuart Reeves at Mutford showing reward for diligence on patch with a Golden Oriole. Aside from this the only three pointer was a none find - a White-winged Black Tern at Paxton Pits which Jamie Wells connected with. Other highlights included Turtle Doves for Jonny Rankin (appropriately) and Ben Moyes.

Turtle Dove courtesy of Jonny Rankin.

If you haven't donated to Dove Step 2 (and why not?) read about Jonny Rankin and co's epic adventure to try and raise money for Turtle Doves here:

A very worthy cause!

Coastal Scotland - May

A brace of Little Egrets propel Stephen Welch to the top of the comparative table in Coastal Scotland with 90%. He has a 6% buffer over Chris Hill at Burntisland after the pair were neck and neck in April. Jim Dickson holds third place whilst the black mark that continues to linger against Mark Lewis ensures he drops to 5th.

Record shot of the Gosford Bay Little Egrets

Jim Dickson at the Crinan Canal managed to add a Little Tern to his patch list and extends his lead in the points table by three. Mike Hodgkin continues in second while Stephen Welch displaces Chris Rodger and moves into the top three.

Ireland Minileague - May

A productive May saw the first PWC contestants to break the 100% mark on the Irish Comparative Minileague table with Eamonn O'Donnell and Niall Keogh holding on to first and second place at Ninch/Laytown and South Dublin Parks respectively. Short-eared Owl, Red-legged Partridge, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher were all #fullfatpatchticks for Eamonn while Niall added Reed Warbler, Common Sandpiper and Fulmar to his local park patch list (the latter being most unexpected as it was seen 2km inland!).

Alan Lauder and Neal Warnock remain in third and fourth place (finding a breeding site for Whitethroat and a couple of migrant Little Gulls the best for Neal at Larne Lough) while Tom Moore reclaims fifth place at Kilmore Quay. Most contestants are now over 70% as we approach the half way point.

Little change in the Irish Points Minileague rankings. Dave Suddaby consolidates his impressive lead with a mighty 122 species, 190 points and 1.557 points per bird at Blacksod. The undoubted highlights from Dave being a #patchgold Alpine Swift (found while on the phone!) and a #patchbronze Bee-eater (found while on crutches!). The Bee-eater hung around for several days and inspired a twitch giving many the chance to catch up with this hard to connect with species in Ireland. 

Elsewhere on the table, Eamonn, Neal and Niall are battling it out for second, third and fourth place with just a species and a few points separating them. Richard Donaghey enters with his patch at the Bann Estuary and 100 species including Marsh Harrier. Half of the contestants on the table are now over 100 points with many reporting Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Sanderling and Cuckoo added to their totals in May.

Mega patch tick of the month goes to Des Higgins for his very fine drake Ring-necked Duck which turned up on a recently created pond at University College Dublin. An excellent county record and a new species for the campus list! Well worthy of six points there.

Ring-necked Duck at UCD © Pat Lonergan

Bee-eater at Blacksod © Brian Porter

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Estuarine - May

Ed Keeble continues his domination of the Estuarine comparative minileague and creeps towards the 90% mark at Brantham. Gordon Hodgson continues in second and has closed the gap to 4% thanks to 6 points for a Hoopoe. Shaun Robson leapfrogs Emma Webb into third place and there will be ructions in Maldon as Russell Neave also manages to usurp Emma.

A now familiar feel to the points minileague as the Lincs Wash Reserves dominate. John Badley has taken back his lead thanks to no submission from Anthony Bentley. Paul Sullivan sneaks into second thanks to finders points for a Temminck's Stint. He also managed to connect with the White-rumped Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts and Quail although he only intercepted the Black Stork offsite.

The Saul Warth Hoopoe courtesy of Gordon Hodgson

Both Howard Vaughan and Toby Collett found Temminck's Stints at Rainham and Frampton respectively. Toby also connected with the Black Stork and Black-winged Stilts although he missed finding the White-rumped Sand despite identifying it. Down in the South-west Martin Elcoate managed to see the Gull-billed Tern and Bonaparte's Gull at Bowling Green Marsh which is part of his Topsham patch. Out to the west and a Corncrake was a surprise for Dave Craven at Hale although no bonus points there sadly but a quality bird for the location.

Coastal North - May

Ash Baines ticked off a number of scarcer spring migrants including Tree Pipit and Gropper to retain top spot in the comparative league. Seumus Eaves makes it a west coast 1-2 with his Fleetwood patch scoring points for Pomarine Skua and a passing Marsh Harrier out at sea.

Stewart Sexton completes the top three with a Terntastic day on the 31st, bagging points for Little, Roseate and Arctic.

In the points league, the heavyweights have hit the top spots with the Yorkshire coast filling the top three spots. There is just one species difference between Mick Turton at Easington and Martin Garner at Flamborough, but Mick has a 13 point advantage, but there is plenty of time to go! Nick Addey completes the top three with a Temminck's Stint the best of the month at Long Nab.

Bird of the month goes to the Bee-eater which was also a garden tick for Martin Garner. This bird gets the bird of the month award purely on looks as this multi-coloured beauty has frequented a number of patches across the UK this month. Temminck's Stint is a classic May species, and a number of patches scored points for this diminutive visitor, but four together at Druridge found by Iain Robson and then appreciated by Jonathan Farooqi was impressive indeed.

Flamborough Bee-eater. Picture courtesy of Mark Pearson 
Chris Bradshaw's highlight at Long Nab was a Dotterel, leading to much chagrin that this falls short of hitting bonus points. Wood Sandpiper and another Temminck's helped Chris into fifth place. James Spencer finally connected with the Iceland Gull at St Mary's Island, somewhat unseasonal in May but welcome all the same.

Finally, mention to Tom Cadwallender at Alnmouth who scored with a cracking summer plumage Spotted Redshank, one of my personal favourite birds.

Islands - May

The story of May for those denizens of the off islands has been the misses. Squacco Heron on St. Mary's, Sabine's Gull on Tiree and Black Stork on Skomer. None the end of the world in the rarified air on our western seaboard but bonus points slipping away. 

Out on the Oa David Wood managed to add just four points but amongst those were a brace for a Dotterel passing through. Despite this Bryan Rains at Pennyghael managed to make headway closing the gap to 6%. Ian T at Askernish also made significant strides towards the top adding 11% in May including a patch first Long-tailed Skua. As is usual we await to see what the June mega season holds out here but we do know John B missed out again but the Bardsey boys got a second bite...

The Islands is where the big points come from. So far this year PWC stalwart John Bowler has been the only person to break 200 and he is already way past that mark thanks to May bonus points for White-tailed Eagle and Long-tailed Skua. The Sabine's was his but sadly away from patch while Jason Moss missed the Black Stork on Skomer but to make up for it he found at least 4 Golden Orioles and Great White Egret. Barrie Hamill and Ian T are neck and neck in third place.

Around the grounds and a Great White Egret was an Isle of May first for Mark Newell while Orcas were a non-point scoring bonus! John Headon missed the Squacco Heron at Lower Moors but added to his burgeoning patch heron list with a Little Bittern. Morgan Vaughan was the final scorer of scarcity points on Oronsay with a White-tailed Eagle.