Sunday, 24 May 2015

Coastal South Minileague - April

Paul Freestone stays top of the pops at Gwithian and becomes the first SW patcher to breach the 100% barrier (and does so in style) thanks to a Blue-headed Wagtail and 20 Purple Sandpipers. Second and third place swap over this month with Peter Hazelwood having the upper hand over Andy Rhodes. Peter's highlight was a Wood Sandpiper and Andy's best was Avocet whilst having fish and chips with his family.

65 points equates to a massive haul of migrants on his Ferrybridge patch for Joe Stockwell and he bursts the 200 point mark. Bonus points ahoy as well for a Black Kite as he opens up a 22 point lead over fellow Portland patcher Sean Foote. Sean failed to add any bonus points this time round but did manage to add Hoopoe, Crane and Wryneck. Kev Rylands down at Dawlish Warren moves up a place into third with thanks to an assortment of migrants.

Highlight of the month is probably Dan Chaney's breaching Basking Shark at Falmouth although a Storm Petrel scored more points for him. Andy Johnson managed a Wood Warbler at Sandy Point which is always a great bird to catch up with on passage.

Coastal North Minileague - April

Ash Baines moves ahead of Stewart Sexton in the Coastal North comparative minileague but there is only a Knats dangly bits between them as both are just south of 79%. Returning migrants fuel this fight and Ash's Ring Ouzel was perhaps the hihglight while an early Manx for Stewart helped boost his total. Seumus Eaves at Fleetwood holds onto third and gets to within striking range of the top 2 thanks to a brace of Richard's Pipits.

Its great to see Martin Garner top of the points minileague and a 19 point lead over Scarborough patcher Nick Addey and a 51 point addition in April is extremely impressive. His highlights included Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow but alas no bonus points yet while Nick managed to add Osprey, Red Kite, Garganey, Firecrest and most importantly Coot! Jonathan Farooqi is bringing an NGB flavour to the top three with 166 points for his Druridge Bay patch. He managed three points for a Great White Egret but the best bird for him was finally connecting with Bearded Tits on patch.

Away from the top three the highlights were a self-found Rough-legged Buzzard for Chris Bradshaw at Long Nab which was a patch tick. Jane Turner added Dotterel at Red Rocks while James Spencer connected with an Iceland Gull which marginally softened the blow of missing a drake American Wigeon at St Mary's Island which then set up home 2 miles away.

Estuarine Minileague - April

Ed Keeble remains on top in the Estuarine Minileague with an 8% advantage of Gordon Hodgson in second place (Gordon just parachuted in from Inland South due to a bit of a tide on the Severn). Emma Webb rounds off the top three at Maldon. None of the three mentioned any highlights so a month of spring accumulation served all three well.

Anthony Bentley managed to leapfrog his fellow patcher John Badley and in the process open up a ten point lead at the top in the points league with a Mandarin a highlight. Its a Frampton/Freiston top three with Paul Sullivan rounding off the podium places. The gap between all three is only 17 points so expect plenty of competition here on in. Its all going to be about the finds.The only bonus point scorer down there was Toby Collett with a probable Ashy-headed Wagtail which as a definite non-flavissima gets a couple of extra notches.

Ian Ballam and Shaun Robson shared a Wryneck at Lytchett Bay but with no find they had to each make do with 3 points. More impressive was the scoping of the Gloucestershire Pied-billed Grebe from a considerable distance by Andy Jordan at Sharpness for 5 points.

Finally Joost Brandsma has moved so Hythe and Dibden Bay will remain on 85 points for the remainder apparently. Fingers crossed you find another decent patch Joost!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Inland North. April 2015

In the comparative league Keith Dickinson and Nick Tonge hold the top two spots respectively, both going beyond their 2014 totals and still with eight months to go! James Common pinches 3rd place from Jonathan Scragg who slips to 6th.  May will likely see 3rd to 6th place (but definitely not 7th) pass the 100% mark.

After no submission in March Darren Starkey continues his stranglehold over the rest of the Inland North with a massive haul of 175 points. Darren's highlights during March included Brent Goose and Spotted Redshank - but that Ruddy Shelduck will need removing from your total Darren!
Despite a fairly lackluster month Jonny Holliday is back in 2nd adding Black-necked Grebe and Osprey. Snapping at his heels is Garry Taylor whose rare grebe trio pushed Mark Reeder back to 4th.
Best bird(s) of the month were the 2 brief  Black-winged Stilts for Pete Antrobus, though finding them would have made them sweeter.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Coastal Scotland Minileague - April

The battle for first place continues on the Coastal Scotland comparative table with Stephen Welch at Gosford Bay and Chris Hill at Burntisland both jumping 10% or so in their comp scores since March. It is Stephen who edges ahead this month but only just, by less than 1%. A Yellow Wagtail was his star bird of the month. Jim Dickson consolidates his third place position by adding a mighty 23 species along the Crinan Canal Corridor but gained no bonus points for his Argyll rarities of Scandinavian Rock Pipit and Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Mark Lewis at Girdle ness jumps from sixth to fourth after breaking the 100 species barrier and Peter Stronach now enters the fray with his patch at Durness/Balnakeil, closing in on 50%.

Jim's bumper crop of additions in April sees him take first place on the points table from former leader Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay by a matter of six species and ten points. A good May could shake things up again however. Chirs Rodger now takes third place at Musselburgh with an extra 18 species added. Crested Tit was a welcome addition for Logan Johnson at Clickimin/Helendale & Seafield after much searching. A new addition to the minileague is Matthew Bishop who is patching froBelhaven Bay (John Muir Country Park).

Ireland Minileague - April

Lots of movement on the Irish Minileague comparative table by the end of April thanks to a rush of Spring migrants boosting everyone's scores which caused a shake up in the mid to lower rankings. At the top of the table, Eamonn O'Donnell still holds on to first place at Ninch/Laytown with twelve new species edging him ever closer to 100%. Whilst most of these species involved the expected migrants, his highlights included Cuckoo and Greylag Goose. A Carrion Crow at Cabinteely Park helped keep Niall Keogh in second place at his South Dublin Parks patch (now on 91%) whilst Neal Warnock slips from third to fourth place at Larne Lough where a Ruff was a #fullfatpatchtick for him. Third place now goes to Alan Lauder at Broad Lough to Wicklow Head where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was his best bird of the month. Darragh Sinnott recently submitted his scores from Holy Cross & Carriganore putting him straight into fifth place.

On the points table, Dave Suddaby reclaims the first place position he was so familiar with during last years competition. Whilst he doesn't have the highest species list in the league, it's his points per bird total of 1.5 which explains his ranking...thanks to fine selection of species added in April including a #patchgold Hoopoe and a #patchbronze Snowy Owl! The Hoopoe was a #fullfatpatchtick whilst the Snowy Owl was the sixth(!) he has seen in the general Mullet area since 2002! (third record on patch)

Given that Ireland was in the midst of a Hoopoe invasion overload during April (upwards of 60 recorded) it's a relief to see that at least one PWC contestant managed to connect with one!

Some scarce waders found during the month of April included a Curlew Sandpiper for Niall Keogh at Kilcoole and a Jack Snipe double act in Northern Ireland with one each at Ballyquintin for Keith Bennett and at St. John's for Tim Murphy who has also entered in a new inland patch at Lough Beg where a Wood Sandpiper was his best find.

Snowy Owl © Dave Suddaby

Hoopoe © Dave Suddaby

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Inland South Minileague - April

Tom Stevenson's monopoly has been shattered in the comparative table after Tom Raven headed a four person surge past him. For those living under a stone, Tom R has had quite the month after finding the kind of bird that makes people break out in a cold sweat. The self-found Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath is a rarity from the top draw and it was a proper blocker. Massively distinctive and polite enough to let Tom confirm his suspicions after a tense overnight wait this bird is a contender for the Bresser and Forest Optics best find. Will it win? It will take some stopping that is for sure. A bevy of other goodies takes Tom to 95.5% comparative. Josie Hewitt is in second place with 93% after adding Osprey, Greenshank and Hobby. Marek Walford climbs a couple of places into third thanks to seasonal Little Gulls and Whimbrel.

Unsuprisingly Tom moves into top spot climbing 5 places and adding 57 points in one month! Graham White in in second place at Rye Meads due to a small collection of two pointers and Adam Bassett at Little Marlow is in third after adding Pied Fly, Little Tern and Redstart.

Away from mega godwits Nigel Milbourne gets 6 points for a Great White Egret at Blagdon and with fellow Somerset reservoir watcher Tim Farr adding the same. Listed in the highlights a number of times were Ring Ouzel as several patchers managed to get involved in a very decent movement of birds across the south.