Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Inland East Anglia Minileague - October 2015

A further four species added to Ben Moyes Mid-North Gripping Valley patch sees him remain at the top of the comparative minileague. At UEA, Nick Robinson holds on to 2nd place without any further additions this month, however, with Ben Rackstraw gaining another three species for Downham Market and moving into 3rd place and Mike McCarthy at Taverham & Ringland not far behind, he may have some competition for the 2nd tier soon.

Steve Swinney massively advanced his score for October as he jumped from 13th to 7th position with an impressive twenty-nine species ticked at Linford Birding. If he carries on in this way, he'll soon break the 100% barrier! In addition, this month also saw Ben Lewis rise up the comparative ranks with a further fourteen species seen at his Mid Yare RSPB patch, earning him 12th position and leaving him 17% from the coveted patch score. Finally, Nick Moran hit the 100% mark this month with the addition of Cetti's Warlber at Thetford.

Yet again, pole position for the points minileague was a battle between Ben Lewis and Jamie Wells, however, with Ben gaining an extra 29 points at his Mid Yare RSPB patch with the help of bonus points for Great Grey Shrike, Jamie simply couldn't hold onto his title. However, with only 2 points separating them, it's still all to play for in November!

Further down the league table, Nick Moran lost his 3rd position and dropped down into 5th place as his only additional species for the month was Cetti's Warbler (lovely all the same!). Although, a five day quest to read a Cormorant's ring kept him busy and produced a nice record for only the 8th ever German-ringed in the UK.

German-ringed Cormorant, Thetford - Nick Moran

Taking Nick's place in 3rd, is Steve Swinney at Linnford Birding who managed to add 41 points to his score with the addition of the first Gannet in two years and the first patch record of Short-eared Owl, now giving him a full set of British owls for his patch.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Islands Minileague October 2015

October's comparative Islands minileague sees Alastair  Forsyth take the top spot with a 10% increase, knocking Bryan Rains down a peg after Pennyghael could only offer one addition for the month - Goldcrest.

While still in third position, Ian T broke the 100% barrier with three new patch ticks (Yellow-browed Warbler, Little Egret and a #patchgold Coot!) which bolstered his score by 9% and carried him over the threshold. David Wood at RSPB Oa, Islay also jumped the 100% target this month with the help of Yellow-browed Warbler. Heading closer is Stuart Taylor who sees a 4% increase with the addition of four new species added to his patch list, while John Bowler made a leap from 8th to 6th position this month with an impressive 13% improvement.

No change at the top of the points league as John Bowler firmly held his ground and remained in the lead with the addition of a further nine species and bonus points for Baird's Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs  (only Tiree's second) American Wigeon  and Leach's Petrel which gave him 45 extra points. Quite a month for John!

With no further species added for October, Jason Moss lost his 2nd place to Steve Stanfield who had a cracking Bluetail on his Bardsey patch. However, Steve's move into 2nd place was no match for John's whopping 52 point lead. It seems John and his Isle of Tiree patch may be enjoying pole position for quite some time!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Coastal Scotland Minileague - October 2015

Stephen Welch stays top of the comparative minileague for Coastal Scotland and adds 3% in the process with Barnacle Geese and Whooper Swans the source of his points. Mark Lewis gets oh so near to the 100% benchmark as he stands on 99%. This month he got bonus points for Yellow-browed Warbler and Siberian Chiffchaff and backed that up with a brace of patch ticks in the form of Smew and Treecreeper. Andrew Whitehouse overhauls Jim Dickson to move into third place at Girdle Ness and Torry with 93.8% adding 7% this time out.

Mark Lewis continues at the top of the points league for Coastal Scotland with a 20 point cushion from Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay. We have already heard how Mark got on but Mike also added plenty of points with 23 accrued in October. Mike got his first bonus points this month with a self found Surf Scoter as well as a patch American Golden Plover which whilst not a find was three more points on the total. Jim Dickson at Crinan Canal managed just three points and meant he fell to third this time out despite adding Short-eared Owl and Brambling.

Away from the podium places there were highlights with a Firecrest for Peter Stronach at Durness and Balnakeil, a self-found Long-tailed Skua for Chris Rodger at Musselburgh which give half a dozen points to the finder who also added Lapland Bunting.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Estuarine Minileague - October 2015

Another month draws to a close in the estuarine minileague and the comparative table looks largely the same, the top five comprising the same familiar names all be it in a slightly different order. Ed Keeble remains in poll position at Brantham followed by Shaun Robson at Lytchett Bay. Ed is still the only competitor to have reached the coveted 100% marker though November should see a few others passing this milestone. Gordon Hodgson jumps from fifth to third this month with an impressive gain of 19 points. Toby Collett drops to fourth position followed by Russell Neave at Maldon. Sixth place Emma Webb also patches Maldon it seems and it will be interesting to see if she can overtake Russell before the years end. With only 2% separating the two one good bird in November could see this happen.

Paul Sullivan heads up the points league this month with an impressive 188 species and 295 points respectively. Both Paul and second place John Bradley notched Pallid Harrier during October, bringing in welcome bonus points for both competitors. Paul also picked up an additional 9 points for the impressive combination of Black Brant, Yellow-Browed Warbler and Sabine's Gull. A good month in Lincs it seems! Further down the table, Howard Vaughan upset Dave Craven for third place following an impressive gain of 30 points at RSPB Rainham Marshes.

In terms of the birds seen this month the aforementioned Pallid Harrier in Lincs was surely bird of the month with a self-found Glossy Ibis for Howard Vaughan coming in a close second. The latter adding 9 points to Howards already impressive October score. With Black Brant, Sabine's and YBW already mentioned, other notable finds this month include a record count of Great White Egrets for Dave Craven and Dartford Warbler for Howard Vaughan. The latter his first in five years. #PatchGold was well represented this month with Dave Craven wracking up Spoonbill, Great Skua, Woodlark and Black Redstart among other new additions and Black Redstart also featuring for Ian Ballam. Red-Necked Grebe for Ed Keeble also warrants a mention while Shaun Robson's first Yellowhammer in five years was surely put a smile on his face.

- James C (Patchwork Challenge)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Midlands Minileague October 2015

Tom Shields holds on at the top but only by the thinnest of margins as Andy Mackay jumps from 4th to 2nd and becomes the fourth person to hit 100% and adding 10% in October. His highlights this month include bonus points for a Great White Egret (although only 3 points gained as he saw one in the first winter period). Other goodies included American Golden Plover, Spoonbill, Bewick's Swan and Jack Snipe - a very decent haul for inland even if Andy did miss out on the find for the AGP.

Azorean Gull - photo courtesy of Ben Ward
Dave Roberts also has a superb month jumping from 6th to 3rd and becoming the 5th 100%'er in the minileague. His best bit find was a monster - an Azorean Gull which he co-found and is certainly a contender for this years Forest Optics best find competition. We dont adjudicate on identification - we leave that to BBRC and the consensus is positive at the moment. It is up to the individual to decide on 'difficult' species/subspecies and what to include. Azorean Gull is a RIACT species and considered rare by Birdguides and is as such worth 12 points.

Andy Mackay closed Ian Cowgill's lead down to 11 points and moves above John Hopper in the points table. Ian managed three points but no notable species whilst Andy added 17 in October. John Hopper stays in touch adding four points with his October highlights an inland Rock Pipit and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Away from the top of the table there was a Rough-legged Buzzard for Kevin Clements and patch ticks in the form of Hawfinch and Cetti's Warbler for Matt Griffiths at Earlswood with the latter a new species for site and the former the first record in over 70 years. Sometimes it is the more mundane that brightens the day and for Matthew Dick this was certainly the case as he added Wigeon to his Darley Dale patch list with 6 flyovers.

Inland Scotland Minileague - October 2015

An extra two species including Redwing added and a 4% increase sees Chris Pendlebury's lead unchallenged again in the comparative table for his Stirling patch. Alastair Forsyth made similar gains with 5% added this month although he did manage three Yellow-browed Warblers (plus Chiffchaff and Goldcrest) for yet more bonus points. He also overtakes Andy Cage and becomes the third Inland Scotland patcher to reach the hallowed three figures. The aforementioned Mr Cage failed to make progress in October and as such slips to third.

As mentioned above it was another good month for Alastair Forsyth at Old Nisthouse and he retains top spot in the points league and increases his lead from 6 to 14 points as David Douglas didnt register a score this month. Pete Antrobus didnt make any gains at Lochmaben and so remains a way back in third but now under pressure from Graeme Garner who added 8 points in October at Cambus.

I could list all of Chris P's finds this month but sadly we know he wouldnt want to blow his own trumpet but suffice to say gains were made all round and a Little Egret at Dunblane is noteworthy. We await updates from the other contestants as we get to the sharp end of the year.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Coastal North Minileague - October 2015

The top five remain unchanged in the coastal north comparative league this month despite gains by numerous competitors and a plethora of good birds strewn along the coast. Ash Baines remains rooted in first place with an additional seven species boosting him from 104.75 % to 109.58% with Snow Bunting and a patch first Goldeneye his highlights throughout October. Second place Stewart Sexton was also rewarded this month with his first Jack Snipe in seven years of observation at Howick, Northumberland. - #Patchgold!

Congratulations go to third place Seaumus Eaves for reaching the 100% marker this month following a good run at Fleetwood that saw the addition of 15 points derived from seven new species. Among these, tantalising goodies such as Marsh Warbler, Yellow-Brow and Long-Tailed Duck. Both Chris Bradshaw and James Spencer also look set to break the barrier in the coming months and November could easily see the top five comparative patchers nestled snugly on 100% and above. 

In the points league Mick Turton continued his impressive (to say the least) run at Easington with a smorgasbord of avian delights noted throughout the month. Among these; Pallas's Warbler, Lapland Bunting, American Golden Plover and Great Grey Shrike. Not one to bypass the more run of the mill species however Mick was also delighted to pick up three Bullfinch his garden.

Further down the table things remain largely unchanged yet again though many and more patchers clocked some #patchgold throughout October. Among these Hume's Leaf Warbler, Pallid Swift, Siberian Stonechat and Great Grey Shrike for Martin Garner at Flamborough Head, enough to make anyone's mouth water. A Great Grey Shrike also featured for Dave Aitken at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. Elsewhere in the league Chris Bradshaw unearthed not one but two Richard's Pipits at Long Nab, followed later by a Sabine's Gull. Yellow-Browed Warblers continued to be a prominent feature of the league throughout the month, notched on a total of five patches, sometimes in force, as was the case for both Stewart Sexton and Pete Marsh. Concluding the noteworthy offerings this month, a healthy dose of autumn migrants including Short-Eared Owl, Brambling, Ring Ouzel and more Jack Snipe added points for some patchers though a special, non-avian, mention has to go to the Basking Shark picked up by James Spencer at Barmston. Not bad at all!

Yellow-Browed Warbler - Stewart Sexton

Record shot of the month? - Ash Baines
- James C (Patchwork Challenge)