Thursday, 19 January 2017

Coastal Scotland Minileague - December 2016

A busy year with many highlights for the Coastal Scotland Minileague, exemplified by the fact that no less than nine of the eleven Comparative Minileague contestants reached or surpassed their 100% target!


Chris Rodger had a fantastic time of it at Musselburgh where Scaup and Tawny Owl added to his tally in December left him safely in first place with an enviable comp score of 128.42%, a good 13% or so ahead of second place Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay (who had the highest number of species seen on any patch in the minileague).

Stephen Welch and Andrew Whitehouse remain in third and fourth place at Gosford Bay and Girdle Ness & Torry respectively while Jim Dickson, Mark Lewis and Chris Hill all move up a place or two during December to finish on fifth, sixth and seventh from their respective patches.


Eastern Black Redstart at Torness (c) Geoff Morgan


Geoff Morgan rounded off a very successful year of finding scarce and rare birds at Barns Ness with a cracking Eastern Black Redstart at Torness at the start of December. What a bird and a major 15 point boost to his score bringing him up to 268 points from 167 species, securing his lead on the points table and ensuring a very fine PPB of 1.605! Talk about going out in style!

Waxwings were new in December for Colin Davison at Scoughall and Mark Lewis at Girdle Ness (who also got in on the #patchgold action with Little Grebe) while Chris Hill added three waders (Ruff, Greenshank and Woodcock) at Burntisland.

A Great Grey Shrike was an excellent addition to Jim Dickson's Crinan Canal Corridor patch along with three Black Grouse, a species which doesn't often get mentioned in PWC Minileague blog posts!

Mark Lewis led the charge in terms of BirdTrack effort for the year, breaking past 200 complete lists and 10,000 records.


Inland Scotland Minileague - December 2016

Chris Pendlebury had a busy December, adding new species to all four of his patches in the Inland Scotland Comparative Minileague. Blairdrummond remained the only patch to break past the 100% target and as such wins the minileague title for #PWC2016 with 103.53% thanks to a Long-tailed Duck.

Other additions for Chris included a Peregrine at Dunblane, a Lesser Redpoll at Stirling and a double act of Stonechat and Kingfisher at Kinneil. Chris's Dunblane patch steals second place from Cambus where Graeme Garner takes up third place for the year, ensuring the top of the table wasn't completely dominated by one person!

Rankings were close in the Inland Scotland Minileague throughout the year, with just a percent or two separating most contestants on the table in the end. Roll on #PWC2017!


Waxwing at Dunblane (c) Chris Pendlebury


No new additions from David Douglas in December but his patch at Loch Leven remains in first place on the points minileague table at the end of the year with 130 species and 155 points.

The highest Points Per Bird score and BirdTrack stats come from Old Nisthouse where Alastair Forsyth had a productive year, his best #patchgold being a Mistle Thrush! Alastair holds on to second in the points minileague with a comfortable gap between him and third place Graeme Garner at Cambus. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Coastal East Anglia - December 2016

Long time leader of the Coastal East Anglia Comparative Minileague Rob Hall holds on to the top spot as he added a further 5% in December with a Short-eared Owl the highlight of his December. Well done Rob, it will take some matching in 2017!

Ryan Irvine stayed in second place, holding off the towering presence of James Brown's patch with a few excellent birds such as Iceland Gull, Purple Sandpiper, Bewick's Swan and Slavonian Grebe, all less than annual at Hemsby. James's astonishing year ended slowly as he failed to add any species in December. With 209 species and 327 points I'm sure he isn't complaining too much. Craig Fulcher was the only mover in the league as moved into the top 5, just failing to reach the magical 100% mark.


Bewick's Swans
Congratulations to James Brown as he holds on to the top spot he's occupied for most (all?) of the year in the points minileague. A truly mammoth score of 327 points will take some beating next year. Ryan Irvine and Nige Lound make up the rest of the podium positions while Justin Zantboer managed to pick up a few winter birds, Hen Harrier and Tundra Bean Goose the highlights, to sneak past Paul Eele into 4th place. Other movers were Craig Fulcher and Luke Nash, the latter having a great month by adding Black Brant and Iceland Gull to pass Tommy Corcoran near the end of #PWC2016.

Tundra Bean Goose


Coastal East Anglia had a great year. While sites further to the north may have grabbed the headlines with the Siberian Accentor invasion may having passed by the region by but when you read the list of year highlights its very impressive. Great Knot , Black-browed Albatross, Blue-winged Teal, Little Bittern, Alpine Accentor, Black-winged Stilt in addition to a whole host of excellent scarcites. Here's hoping 2017 is equally impressive. Well done to everyone involved in #PWC2016.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Inland Ireland Minileague - December 2016

The addition of two species of gull to Michael John O'Mahony's patch year list at Upper Rathduff in the final two months of the year allowed him to increase his lead in the Inland Ireland Comparative Minileague by almost 10%, finishing up on a fine comparative score of 120.31%.

It was a Herring Gull in November and an excellent inland record of a flyover Yellow-legged Gull in December which added points and percentages, while a couple of male Hen Harriers locking talons for winter hunting rights certainly stole the show!

Michael's patch birding year is summed up beautifully by a suite of stunning pics in his Flickr album.

No additions for Alan Lauder, Niall Keogh or Darragh Sinnott in December while Des Higgins got lucky with both Little Grebe and Coot (the ultimate PWC #patchgold bird) at University College Dublin, securing third place on the comp table for him this year.

Fighting male Hen Harriers at Upper Rathduff (c) Michael John O'Mahony


Yellow-legged Gull at Upper Rathduff (c) Michael John O'Mahony

Derek Charles remains in first place on the points table with a final tally of 92 species and 108 points from Lough Neagh South Shore. A high standard has been set!

Mediterranean Gull and Skylark were welcome last minute additions to Andrew Power's second place home patch at Kildavin while Ian Stevenson had a fantastic three tick day at Grand Canal Way with Pochard, Wigeon and Peregrine bringing him to 74 species and 79 points in third place (up from fifth), a result which was far better than his expectations at the start of the year.

Pochard at Grand Canal Way (c) Ian Stevenson


Coot at University College Dublin (c) Des Higgins

Wales Minileague - December 2016

A comfortable first place lead for Mike Cram through much of the second half of the year kept him there all the way up to New Year's Eve by which stage his position at the top of the Wales Comparative Minileague was due to an impressive 144.94%! (the second highest in the whole of the UK and Ireland)

Mike rounded off his year at Broughton and Llangennith with the following comments... "Just one visit [in December] yielding a Red-breasted Merganser to close of a fantastic year. If it is not enough to clinch the British Comparative League then well done to whoever pips me! I never imagined doing this well and shows what you can do if you really focus on an under-watched patch and learn how to get the best out of it. Although a Great White Egret was the best scoring bird for me with 6 points, the best bird personally for me was clearly the superb pair of Black Redstart that dropped in to the caravan park for a few days."

That pretty much sums up the essence of PWC!

The battle for RSPB Conwy finished up with Henry Cook boasting the higher species and points tally but Julian Hughes with the higher comp score. Julian claims second place in the Wales Comparative Minileague for the year after adding some #patchgold Treecreeper (only his second for the reserve) in December.

Henry stays in third and Trevor Fletcher remains in fourth at Rudry Common while Peter Howlett moves up to fifth by the end of the year after adding Gadwall at Cardiff Bay. No less than 13 of the 20 contestants in the Wales Comparative Minileague finished the year by reaching or surpassing their 100% target.


A fine male Black Redstart at Cardiff Bay (c) Peter Howlett


A duo of Slavonian Grebe and Black-throated Diver made for a fine finish to the year for Richard Dobbins at Teifi, where he remained in first place on the Points Minileague table with 211 points. Richard has set the bar high for his first year of comparative patching in 2017 but no doubt the challenge will be met head on!

The rest of the top five were busy in the final month of the year and ended up well into the 190 points bracket. Paul Roberts holds on to second place with 199 points while David Carrington moved up from fifth to third with Bittern, Black Redstart and Jack Snipe at Sker and Kenfig during the final month.

Waxwings showed up at Llysfaen for Chris Jones and Rhyl for Alex Jones while a Yellow-browed Warbler made for a fine end to the year at Brynna Woods for Tony Swann.

And finally, the BirdTrack stats from this most active and hardworking of minileagues comes to a staggering 80,839 records from 3,754 complete lists! While both Alastair Flannagan and Ceri Jones contributed a huge amount of the lists and records to this tally, there was plenty of solid effort from other patches too so a round of applause must go out to all who got involved! 

Midlands Minileague - December 2016

The first Yellowhammer in seven years for Tom Shields at Holme Pierrepoint helps seal his victory in the Midlands Comparative Minileague with 120.49%.

Nick Crouch didn't manage to add any new species during December and as such must settle for a very close second place. Matthew Dick added Common Gull, Merlin and Shoveler at Darley Dale, boosting his fifth place comp score by an additional 4%. However he would surely have traded these and more for the Dusky Thrush that was just a mile from his patch!

A total of 18 patchers made it into the 100% club with John Hopper the last to join after adding four points with Great Northern Diver and White-fronted Goose at Hoveringham.


Steve Nuttall is crowned King of the Midlands (well, in the Points Minileague anyway!) after Erik Ansell and Rod Baker failed to topple him. Steve added Grey Phalarope to take him three points clear of the Rutland set who are tied in joint second place after Erik closed the gap with Green-winged Teal and White-fronted Goose. Finishing in fourth, Ben Ward needed a miracle to close the 19 point gap between his humble Whisby patch and the giants of Rutland and Belvide. As previously mentioned Nick Crouch had no new additions but comfortably secured fifth place. 

Only a single 3 point species was added during the month, a Green-winged Teal at Rutland. Intriguingly a Surf Scoter there in late December failed to make it on to either patchers lists.

With close to 60 patch birders taking part in the Midlands Points Minileague in 2016, the Comparative Minileague should be even busier in 2017!

Grey Phalarope at Belvide (c) Steve Nuttall

Inland North Minileague - December 2016

David Franklin ends the year in top spot on the Inland North Comparative Minileague with 124.05% at Campsall CP and S Instoneville... one of his three (yes three!) patches in the region.

John Law takes second despite not adding any new species - a feature of the top 4 in this league. A total of 17 patches passed the 100% target with new entries from Andy Bunting, Rob Worlsford and Mike Pilsworth - the latter two saving up their totals for the December submission.  


Despite not adding any new species Bill Aspin clings on by the skin of his teeth to take the title of Cock of the Inland North in the Points Minileague. Bill was given a few sleepless nights by his arch nemesis Mark Reeder who added Bewick's Swan, Red-breasted Merganser and Merlin before realising that he'd never credited himself with 2 finders points for a Blue-headed Wagtail back in April, taking him just a point shy of Bill! John Law was moved down into third place bu Andy Bunting on the basis of Points Per Bird. John promises to make a real game of it in 2017! 

Bill was ecstatic when he heard confirmation of his achievement! 

Potentially bird of the month was a putative Brown Shrike found at Geltsdale by Adam Moan, some commentators considered it to be a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and at the time of writing the jury is still out. Other highlights included Black-throated Diver for Chris Bradshaw, Tundra Bean Goose for Mike Pilsworth and Green-winged Teal at George Dunbar's Woolston Eyes patch.

Putative Brown Shrike (c) Adam Moan
Bewick's Swans at Orgreave (c) Mark Reeder