This our first look at the nationwide top 20 inland patches and for those of us familiar with the Inland North category it will come as no surprise that the top three sites (two individuals) are sitting at the top of the Nationwide Inland League. Those of us residing near the bottom or indeed outside the table should take solace from the fact that as site manager (Is that the new name fro Reserve Warden?) for Fairburn and St Aidan’s it is perhaps not surprising that Darren Starkey sits in first and third place with his patches. Also with an advantage of a different sort, and currently second, is Wayne Gillat. Wayne’s patch at Alkborough is clearly better positioned for those all important wetland birds - particularly waders. Some may dispute Alkborough’s position as an inland patch given it’s location on the Humber estuary, though situated at the confluence of the Trent and Ouse (next to Blacktoft Sands) it is some 20km inland of Hull and geographically similar to other inland patches.
Closing on Darrel and Wayne and just a BB rarity find from the top spot is Jamie Wells with his Cambridgeshire patch Paxton Pits.
Scotland’s only representative, currently in the top 20, is Alastair Forsyth who will no doubt be keeping everything crossed for a bumper autumn on the Orkney Mainland.
Typically June and July can be testing times for the inland patch birder, though as I write this two ‘top drawer’ rarities are gracing inland sites in the Midlands and East Anglia. A Black-winged Pratincole on the Ouse Washes and a Pacific Golden Plover (below) at RSPB Middleton Lakes near Tamworth. The latter site surely one of the most inland sites in the UK.
|Both photos with the kind permission of Steve Nuttall|
August can be a real game changer with return migration for waders in full swing. Whilst July’s table will likely see little change from June’s, August’s will tell a whole new story and maybe even a change at the top with perhaps some relegation at the bottom.
Whilst patchers closer to the coast may already have added many key species the more land-locked locations will be looking to the weather charts hoping for favourable conditions to drop ‘patch gold’. For me August can be the best month of the year and based on previous years experience I could add as many as six or seven species - but given that in previous years I have been away for up to two weeks during the month, this year I’m hoping for at least ten!
This may be a case of telling your Granny how to suck eggs, but my tips for a successful August would be keep an eye of the weather and always, wherever possible, visit the patch during or immediately after rain. Those late summer downpours can and do come up trumps.
Thank you and good luck