Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find Rarity Roundup - June 2014

The Bresser & Forest Optic Best Find Competition is the jewel in the crown for Patchwork Challenge. This is the best find of the whole patchbirding year as voted for by you, the competitors and a few more contenders threw their hats into the rarity ring this month.

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 that awaits one lucky patcher!

June is a quieter month for rarities than May, and for many this is reflected in their scores for the month. A large number of patchers reported a quiet month, but for some the rarity roll call of spring continued onto summer's doorstep.

The first contender for bird of the month was a superb find for Paul Bowyer at Sand Point on the morning of the 2nd June. Approaching the Trig Point, Paul immediately picked up on a singing Greenish Warbler. A first for Avon, the bird continued to sing but was skulking high in the tree canopy. Without the ability to pick the song, this bird could easily have been overlooked, but as it was Paul a number of other observers got to enjoy the bird as it fed amongst the hawthorns.

    Greenish Warbler (Paul Bowyer)

The second contender was a briefer bird which put in a flyby appearance for Joe Stockwell at Portland Bill. A Pallid Swift added a satisfying 8 points to Joe's total following a bumper May which included a smart Bee-Eater, perhaps the most beautiful of all birds.

In May Black Stork was the main heron of note, but in June it was Glossy Ibis which continued to put in appearances on a number of patches. Darren Starkey managed to bag this continental visitor on both of his patches in West Yorkshire whilst records from Martin Mere, Kelling and most surprising of all Cambus in Scotland added to the tally. A White Stork was reported from Bardsey and a fine record of Purple Heron from Tim Hodge helped to bolster his position at the top of the coastal East Anglia league. Great White Egret and Spoonbill put in appearances at Sker and Kenfig and Fairburn respectively.

As might be expected in June, ducks were not a major feature of most people's patch list. A Scaup was an unseasonal find at Fairburn as was a Slavonian Grebe at St Aidan's. A late record from May was the highlight of Dan Chaney's seawatching career. Testament to the patience of those who watch the waves, a White-Billed Diver in full breeding plumage flew close in at Falmouth in the south west on May 8th. In just a few moments, those hours of seawatching can pay dividends.

Bardsey had another impressive month. In addition to the White Stork this Welsh gem turned up Marsh Warbler, Stone Curlew and Golden Oriole. It also joined the ever-growing number of patches this spring that have recorded Blyth's Reed Warbler and Citrine Wagtail. It has been a great spring for these two species and Peter Stronach at Balnakeil in the Highlands added another stunning Citrine Wagtail on the 18th-19th June.

    Blyth's Reed Warbler (Ben Porter)

   Citrine Wagtail (Peter Stronach)

Steve Minton also got in on the Blyth's Reed Warbler show, but was able to appreciate his from the kitchen window as he discovered it singing in the garden on Friday 13th June. Unlucky for some but not for Steve! Alistair Forsyth was another birder who managed to score points from an even more relaxing spot, listening to a Corncrake from the safety and warmth of bed in Orkney. The advantages of living on patch for both of these birders clearly emphasised in June.

   Blyth's Reed Warbler (Steve Minton)

July is always a good month for Terns and Gulls and I'm sure will feature in next months update, but there were records of Black, Roseate and Little Tern from patches this month. Kev Rylands followed the Topsham lead, with 2 Boneparte's Gulls at Dawlish Warren whilst Niall Keogh at Kilcoole in Ireland recorded a record high 115 pairs of Little Terns. No extra points but birding is all about successes such as these. Perhaps the success of the Little Terns helped to soothe the pain of dipping on a Laughing Gull after a few too many beers the night before!

Last but not least, I have been doing this update for just two months, but at this rate I suspect that John Bowler on Tiree will be getting his own paragraph most months! After his sensational bird list in May, John added another Rustic Bunting and a Red-Breasted Flycatcher in June to add to what was already being dubbed as Tiree's best ever spring.

  Red-Breasted Flycatcher (John Bowler)

    Rustic Bunting (John Bowler)

So onwards to July. Waders are returning already with Great Knot and both Collared and Black-Winged Pratincoles gracing our shores in recent days. The Bridled Tern and Short-Toed Eagle continue to reside in the UK but thus far avoid our patchers attentions. So eyes to the skies, you never know when that moment might come which puts you in contention for those Bresser Montana 8.5 x 45 Binoculars.

So what will the June scores show. We know June has not been short of quality birds with Short-Toed Eagle and Bridled Tern both commuting in UK airspace. Surely one of these will make a patchers day soon and will become a real contender for Bresser & Forest Optics wonderful prize.

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