Sunday, 21 December 2014

Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find - November 2014

The Bresser & Forest Optics Best Find Competition is the highlight of the Patchwork Challenge year. This is the best find of the whole patchbirding year as voted for by you, the competitors. 

For the winner of the competition, those fine folk at Bresser & Forest Optics are very generously furnishing the winner of this esteemed competition with a pair of Bresser Montana 8.5 x 45 Binoculars worth £665.00. Follow the link to check out this superb reward for one lucky contender.

Sadly November was not the month for mega's that both October and September had been, indeed only a single mega species was located by a patchworker. Step forward Brian Rabbitts from North Uist, he was advised by Jamie Boyle of a possible coot with white under the tail on Loch nam Feithean at his Balranald Nature Reserve patch. He found the bird and more importantly clinched the id as American Coot giving him a steady 15 points to add to his tally for the year. 

American Coot at Baranald  Photo -Steve Duffield

There were numerous scarce birds ticked during the month with possibly the most unexpected being the Hoopoe Sean Foote found on his North Portland patch. Hoopoes are birds more usually seen as a spring overshoot migrant, so Sean was very lucky to get a bird this late in the year.

Hoopoe Photo - Lee Gardiner

There were plenty of warblers found during the month, Barred for Michael O'Donnell at his Kilmichael patch, 2 Dusky for Sean Foote and Yellow-browed for both Phil Woollen (Backford Cross) and Kev Rylands (Dawlish Warren). This was Kev's 6th Yellow-browed Warbler over the last 2 years but he has still to log a Coal Tit. This perfectly illustrates the joy in patch working, the commonest bird can be patch gold.

Dusky Warbler at Portland  Photo - Peter Moore

One of many Yellow-browed Warblers  Photo - Mark Lewis

Ducks also featured well with Ed Keeble's (Brantham) Surf Scoter being a notable find, whilst Ring-necked Ducks were bagged by both John Bowler (Isle of Tiree) and Andy Mackay (Eyebrook Reservoir) and a Green-winged Teal for Paul Bowerman at Severn Beach. John's bird was his third of the year.

Marcus Lawson finished the month by finding an adult Ring-billed Gull on his Swineham GPs site, this being the fifth American species to feature this month.

With the influx of birds in September/October you'd think that Rough-legged Buzzards would be off the menu but not so. Martin Garner (Flamborough-North Side) managed to add one to his patch list without having to brave the elements, one benefit of having your patch based around your house I suppose.

South West Minileague - November

Joe Stockwell still leads the way at Portland Bill with what looks to be an unassailable lead. Despite seeing fewer species than Kev Rylands at Dawlish Warren, his points per bird stands at an impressive 1.84 giving him a 46 point lead.

Peter Hazlewood at Oldbury Power Station has now hit an impressive 8000 records on BirdTrack this year.

Good birds were there to be found in November in the South West, with a number of patchers picking up good points. Typical late autumn fare arrived at Portland in the form of a brace each of Dusky and Pallas's Warblers. There were no extra points for Kev Rylands' 6th Yellow-Browed of the year, but he did add a number of species to his tally to take him into a clear second in the table. Providing an American flavour, a Black Brant was at Topsham, a Green-Winged Teal was found at Severn Beach and Marcus Lawson found a Ring-Billed Gull at Swineham Gravel Pits on the last day of the month.

In true patch style however, there are always those commoner birds that for some are simply #patchgold. For Roger Musgrove at Wall Common, a Yellowhammer was as rare as Pallid Harrier on his patch. Kev Rylands will be spending December trying to add Coal Tit to his impressive species total, a glaring omission from his year list.

5 patchers have now surpassed the 100% barrier. Kev Rylands is a Coal Tit away from joining them on that mark. But it is Roger Musgrove who looks like he will take the comparative league in the South-West in 2014.

London Minileague - November

A quiet month in England's capital, with just a Ruff at Little Marlow and a Short-Eared Owl at Henlow Grange in the highlights.

Adam Bassett at Little Marlow retains his lead with Nick Croft having a titanic battle with himself for 2nd and 3rd and the green league. Roger Hicks as the leading NGB member, has also submitted 7866 BirdTrack records.

Two patches have now achieved better scores than last year with Michael Terry at Hosehill Lake LNR leading the way. Adam Bassett is not so far behind with just one month left to go.

South Coast Minileague - November

The two horse race at the top will go down to the final month, with Adam Faiers at Sandwich Bay edging out Andy Johnson and Sandy Bay. Amy Robjohns is representing NGB in third.

There are 3 green contenders in the South league, with Andy Johnson leading the way at Sandy Point. Birdtrack participation is quite low, maybe something to build on in 2015.

A Serin and a Caspian Gull at Sandy Point were good quality finds to help rack up points for Andy Johnson. There was a 2nd patch record of Water Pipit for Mark Lawlor on Guernsey. The highlight of the month at Conningbrook Lakes was a Skylark using the cover of Neil Burt's car to escape the clutches of a local Merlin.

The comparative league is no contest this year, although next year there will be a few more participants in this category. Adam Faiers at Sandwich Bay has an impressive 147% comparative. Mark Lawlor on Guernsey just needs a couple of quality additions in December to take him past the 100% mark.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - November

Tim Hodge maintains his impressive lead at the top with over 200 species on his list at an impressive 1.68 points per bird. He also has the best BirdTrack submission count with just short of 14,000 records. Great effort. James Brown looks to have sealed second place but third is a titanic battle with just 5 points seperating 4 patchers. December could make all the difference.

November was a quiet month with not many highlights recorded. The clear outstanding record was the Desert Wheatear at North Lowestoft which arrived as part of a small influx of the species. Aside from this little gem, the bird that appeared on a number of lists in November was Little Auk which appeared in the highlights for three patchers.

On the comparative scores, Gary White at North Walsham looks to have taken this lead at 117% with a further 3 birders beating last years marker. Congratulations to all those who have achieved over 100% this year.

Inland East Anglia Minileague - November

Jamie Wells has a lead of 6 points at the top of the table. With an impressive species total of 170 species he should have the league sown up by now, but the quality of the bird list at Mid Yare Valley keeps Ben Lewis in contention to the last. Steve Swinney makes up the top 3.

Highlights in the month were the first Dartford Warbler in Essex since winter 2005/06 for Steve Swinney at Linford. A Surf Scoter for Mark Nowers at Stutton was quite a record whilst patchers scored point with locally unusual sightings such as Bearded Tit at two sites, Snow Bunting inland at Ebridge Mill and Red-Breasted Merganser at Paxton Pits.

Nick Moran at Thetford leads the green league with both Ben Rackstraw and Alison Allen pushing him all the way. There is no contender for the BirdTrack submissions though, as Nick surpasses the 10,000 mark for the year although Alison Allen has also amassed a very impressive record total.

There are a number of competitors in the Inland East Anglia comparative league and it is Steve Swinney who is away in the lead with an impressive 142%. That will be quite a marker for next year! 6 patchers have now surpassed the 100% mark with two others needing a final push in December.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Inland Scotland Minileague - November

The top three stays static in the Inland Scotland minileague. Alastair Forsyth is the runaway leader while Graeme Garner and Rory Whytock duke it out for second place. Simon Pinder is in fourth with 101 points level with the leading Chris P (Kinneil version). Best finds this month were few and far between with such patch luminaries as Water Rail, Woodcock and Great Spotted Woodpecker getting honorable mentions.

Alastair Forsyth is well clear in the comparative league as well a monster 40% clear of Andy Cage in second place. Chris P at Dunblane is in third on 86% (give or take).