Friday, 29 April 2016

Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find 2015 - The Winner

Voting is closed and the results are in. The winner is of course Tom Raven's Hudsonian Godwit at Shapwick Heath. It had it all as an inland mega blocker. It was cryptic enough to hide amongst its cogeners but then gave itself up to the masses whilst disappearing on a regular basis. It garnered 95 of the 137 votes cast and rightly wins Tom a pair of Bresser 8.5 x 45 Montana binoculars. Please check out the Forest Optics website as they continue to support us for #PWC2016 and like their facebook page. Of course the Hudwit wasn't Tom's only find of the year with Night Heron, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Dusky and Savi's Warblers all falling to his points cannon amongst others. Our heartiest congratulations to Tom!

Tom Raven's Hudsonian Godwit - Courtesy of James Packer
Despite Mark and James's best efforts to label it 'just a Yellow-legged Gull' in the podcast, Dave Roberts' fine Azorean Gull from Marston STW finishes in second place on 11 votes and 8% of the vote.

Azorean Gull - Ben Ward
Niall Keogh snagged third spot with a wandering Northern Harrier which he initially picked up at Kilcoole and was identified definitively shortly after. The Northern Harrier finished with 8 votes which constituted 6% of the vote.

Northern Harrier - Alan Lauder
The remainder of the top 10 finished like this:

4) Paul Sullivan, Broad-billed Sandpiper - 5 votes/4%
5) Ryan Irvine, Red-flanked Bluetail - 4 votes/3%
6) Dave Suddaby, Two-barred Crossbill -  4 votes 3%
7) Toby Collett, Wilson's Phalarope - 3 votes 2%
8) Alastair Forsyth, Gull-billed Tern - 3 votes 2%
9) Mick Turton, Laughing Gull - 2 votes 1%
10) Paul Parsons, Black Stork - 2 votes 1%

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Estuarine Minileague - March 2016

Both Paul Freestone and Joost Brandsma have passed the 80% marker this month. Paul takes the top spot with his first six pointer of the year in the form of a Ring-Billed Gull, a Glaucous Gull and Avocet which is still a hard bird to find in the far south-west. With both spring and autumn to come it looks like a great year is in the making at both sites. Martin Elcoate completes the top three at his Topsham patch.

Dave Craven continues his dominance at the top of the points league in the early part of the year. He added Bittern, Caspian Gull, Brent Goose and Red Kite in the month to bring his species total for the year to an impressive 135. Howard Vaughan and Daniel Newton are keeping on the pressure though in second and third! With spring wader passage to come it can only get more exciting still for estuarine sites.

There were some decent birds in the estuarine league in March. Alan Crossley at Saltholme became the latest to bag 3 points for a yank duck with a Green-Winged Teal. Gordon Hodgson landed a three pointer when he linked up with a Great Grey Shrike at his Saul Warth / Frampton patch, an excellent addition to his patch list. Great White Egrets are perhaps one of the easier three pointers and both Howard Vaughan and Ian Ballam doubled that with finds at RSPB Rainham Marshes and Lytchett Bay. Perhaps surprisingly given its south coast location, this is just the fourth record for Lytchett Bay, so was very welcome indeed. For Howard a Goldeneye on the 18th was a patch rarity and very 'smileworthy'.

Great Grey Shrike finally posed close enough for a distant record shot. c/o Gordon Hodgson

Two of the birds of March were Black Redstart and Firecrest, with many birds recorded across the UK. Estuarine patches were no exception with records from two patches for each of these smart looking birds. In particular Daniel Newton at the Lincolnshire Wash Reserves scored for both. Despite Daniel having these and a Black Brant in month, his highlight and air grab moment came from a pair of Goosander on the 3rd.

Shaun Robson unearthed a Sibe Chiffchaff in the month which got him an extra two points into the bargain. There were plenty of white wingers still around in the UK during March and Elliot Monteath got in on the act with an Iceland Gull at Birkenhead Docks. He also scored with Jack Snipe and Common Scoter. Joe Stockwell had a raptor rich March with Goshawk and Red Kite at RSPB Arne. Lytchett Fields yielded that most elusive of birds, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, for Martin Wood. A Water Pipit was the highlight of the month for Colin Bushell at Hesketh Out Marsh whilst a Brent Goose was a patch tick at the same location for Stuart Darbyshire.

Finally, a Goosander wins the patchgold award in Estuarine league for March, just the second record in three years at Topsham. Meanwhile a Sandwich Tern at Oldbury Power Station on the 28th was the earliest ever record for South Gloucs.

Back of the camera shot of the fourth record of GWE at Lytchett Bay c/o Ian Ballam.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - March 2016

Rob Hall's excellent PPB total of 1.493 sees him take top spot in the comparative league. 79.7% is an excellent score for a coastal site by this time of the year. Scott Mayson is in second with a patch tick Rock Pipit whilst Craig Fulcher secures third place.

A good run of two pointers for James Brown at North Lowestoft has given him an 11 point buffer at the end of the first quarter of the year. Paul Eele bags second spot with four more species than Craig Fulcher, but they are matching on points with an impressive 153 at the end of March. With Spring just around the corner, it could be all change by the end of May with plenty of bonus point potential on this stretch of the coast.


The delay in spring migration seemed to be evident in this league, with few spring migrants making the highlights. March is a great month to catch up with Black Redstart and James Appleton and James Brown did just that. March was also notable for movements in Firecrests along the coast, this little gem put in appearances at Southwold, North Lowestoft, Gibraltar Point and Titchwell.

A monster Glaucous Gull was at North Lowestoft whilst James Brown also located a large white bird of a different kind - the White Stork however was not added to any points scores due to questionable origins. Even so, impressive bird to find on patch.

Glaucous Gull at North Lowestoft (photo c/o James Brown)

The spread of Red Kites means that a few patchers had this graceful raptor in their highlights. Rarer still was a Rough-Legged Buzzard for Paul Eele at Titchwell, definitely the raptor highlight of the month from this part of the UK. Much less confiding were records of Jack Snipe at Titchwell and two patches recorded Bittern.

Finally two patches hit patchgold this month. Yellowhammers are becoming scarcer in many parts of the country but are recorded at an average of just one a year at Southwold. Equally, a pair of Grey Partridge was a bit special for James Appleton at his Happisburgh patch.

#Patchgold - c/o James Appleton

Inland East Anglia Minileague - March 2016

Tim Phillips bagged his first ever two pointer when a Red Kite sailed across his patch and this double pointer sees him past Adam Nicholls into top spot at the end of the first quarter. Nick Moran's first patch Shag since 2005 ensured that he bagged third place at the end of the first quarter.

Shag at Thetford - March 2016 (photo c/o Nick Moran)

In the points league, Luke Wake's good year at Fen Drayton continued in fine style with Black-Necked Grebe the highlight. Nick Moran at Thetford goes one place higher than the comparative league in second whilst Ben Rackstraw is enjoying life on his new patch adding Bewick's Swan and Cetti's Warbler in March leaving him just shy of 100 species, a barrier which will surely fall in April.


The delay in spring arrivals shows in the monthly highlights with just a handful of migrants bucking the trend of a continuing winter picture. Classic early species such as Garganey were recorded at two sites whilst Jim Bradley had an early Swallow on the 25th. Whooper Swans were noted at a couple of sites and an Iceland Gull was an excellent find for Terry Stopher at Great Livermere. Willow Tit is a much sought after bird these days, so a bird at Lakenheath for Nick Moran was very welcome, as was a brace of Ravens flying over the Nunneries. A Yellow-Legged Gull was just a second patch record for Mike McCarthy at Taverham and Ringland.

It is always a bonus if seabirds are found on an inland patch, even if the points don't reflect the personal satisfaction. James Emerson and Jamie Wells both cashed in on the inland Common Scoter movement with birds at Whitlingham GP and Paxton Pits whilst Nick Moran added Kittiwake to his growing Thetford list in the month. Paxton Pits also had Grey Plover and Rock Pipit in month, both scarce inland visitors.

Kittiwake at Nunnery Lakes - March 2016 (photo c/o Nick Moran)
One of the easier three pointers for East Anglia birders is Common Crane with birds wandering from breeding grounds becoming more of a regular feature in monthly round-ups. This month Jerry Lanfear added this to his totals. For some inland patches, even two pointers are hard to come by. So it was a good month for Rob Pople who scored his first double pointer of the year in the form of a Little Egret.

Finally, there is always room in an update for a good dose of patchgold, and this month it was not in short supply. Joe Harkness had his first Lesser Redpoll and Marsh Tit in two years at Haverlingland Hall whilst Redshank was a patch rarity for Mike McCarthy. Finally Stuart Reeves scored a full fat patch tick with a Canada Goose in the month, genuine airgrab moment!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Inland North Minileague - March 2016

David Franklin finishes March with a BOOM! A flyover Goosander and a returning Sand Martin at Campsall CP and Instoneville make him the first person in the minileague to reach the 100% milestone. While David keeps his Askem patch in second place, Ryan McClarence loses ground and drops into fifth place. Making a leap from thirteenth to steal third is Nick Tonge at Rodley who connected with a further fifteen species in March.

Duncan Bye continues to lead the pack in the Inland North points minileague with single point seperateing him from second place. Duncan's eleven points this month included Mediterranean Gull and Common Scoter which were both patch ticks for him at Wheldrake Ings. Chris Bradshaw remains in second place but applies the pressure by closing the gap. Nuthatch was a new species for the site at Wykeham Lakes and he also patch ticked Kittiwake this time out after good numbers were spread inland. John Law remains in third spot as he added 11 points for March.

Long-eared Owl - Ryan McClarence
There were precisely no bonus points acquired during March in a somewhat surprising turn of events - hopefully some over shooting migrants or moving wildfowl rectify this for April! Alan Todd managed to add Stonechat to his patchlist at Mootlaw Quarry, Bill Aspin had his earliest House Martin in 63 years of watching Brockholes whilst additions of Yellow-legged Gull and Osprey were noteworthy. Chris Knight at Thritoft added a trio of new birds to his patchlist with Firecrest a great bird in the Inland North. Phil Oddy had his first record of Woodcock at his Poynton Pool micropatch which is accruing birds at a very decent rate.

Inland Scotland Minileague - March 2016

Chris Pendlebury's grip on the comparative table loosens a little but only by the loss of third spot. His Dunblane patch is top of the tree on 77% having added his annual Redshank. His Blairdrummond patch moves on to 76% with Whooper Swan his March highlight there. At Cambus, Graeme Garner moves into third place after patch ticking both Short-eared Owl and Golden Plover.

Green-winged Teal, Croy - Jonathan Clarke

The inland behemoth that is Loch Leven keeps David Douglas on top of the Inland Scotland tree. This month he adds 9 points, keeping him 15 clear of Alastair Forsyth in second place with highlights including a Little Egret. Graeme Garner's new patch at Clackmannan is in third place on 79 points.

Liberton East and West Goshawk, Geoff Morgan
Find of the month goes to Jonathan Clarke at Croy after turning up a patch Green-winged Teal (one of two on his patch this month). One Goshawk made two patch lists as Geoff Morgans patches, Liberton East and West join at his abode so he raced round the house to see it from both front and back gardens! Also at Liberton East Geoff found the third Icelandic Redwing for Lothian, surely under recorded but it also shows Martin Garner's legacy in the competition. At Penicuik, Mike Hodgkin added Twite for a two-point bonus.  

Coastal South Minileague - March 2016

A whopping 23 points added by Amy Robjohns in March means she is on a heady 78.8% and 8% clear of the field. What a fantastic start to the year - perhaps Amy will be challenging overall by the year end? This months additions included Velvet Scoter, Water Pipit and Glaucous Gull which were all new patch birds for her plus Osprey and Black-necked Grebe. Paul Freestone upped the ante and moved up from 12th to second with 46 points and 40% added at Gwithian after a patch tick of Common Scoter and finding a Glaucous Gull and a Dartford Warbler. Stephanie Brown also moved up the table on her Swanage patch after a good start to the year.

Rob Rackliffe - Northern Long-tailed Tit

Amy's domination of the Coastal South minileagues is complete as she does the double this month after overhauling the early dominance of Joe Cockram. Joe himself added a patch first Glaucous Gull to hang on to second place from his namesake, Joe Stockwell at Ferrybridge. Joe S added a brace of Siberian Chiffchaffs for some meagre bonus points which keeps him in contact with the top two.

Siberian Chiffchaff - Joe Stockwell
Other good bits included four Northern Long-tailed Tits for Rob Rackcliffe and some bonus points to boot. There were still a trio of Yellow-browed Warblers on patch for Ilya Maclean but his highlight was perhaps the Ring-necked Parakeet that put in an appearance at Loe Pool. Mark Lawlor on Guernsey managed a first Shoveler for Hommet to Rousse whilst on Portland it was a Red-legged Partridge that got Sean Foote jumping for joy.