Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 Final Scores

The final score submission form is up. You have until the 9th January to get your final scores in and the results will be published on Birdguides as soon as we can turn this round. Remember to sign up for 2015 as well. Oh and Happy New Year! Hope you find one of these:

Photo with thanks to Stuart Taylor

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Joining PWC 2015 - The Practicalities

PWC 2015 promises to be bigger and better than ever. Entry is simple, fill in the form on the right hand side of the blog at The only information we need right now is your name, patch, league and whether or not you have taken part before. Click submit and your entry will be registered.

The only information here which you may not know is the league that you will be in, leave this blank if unsure and we will ensure that you are allocated to the appropriate league based on your patch location in time for the start of the challenge.

Later this month we will send out the rules and information required for next years competition, including details of any new rules and changes for 2015. This will include an update on the new website and database which should deliver even more value to participants as well as more information on birding trends. Keep your eye on the blog and social media for these updates!

Any questions, feel free to e-mail us and one of the team will be happy to respond.

In the meantime, if you are thinking of entering or have registered your entry for next year, here are some useful things that are good to know.

- Your patch must be no larger than 3 square kilometres. It can be any shape that you wish it to be as long as it is joined together. There is a mapping tool available as a link on the blog to help map out your patch. 

- All birds seen in or from your patch count. Therefore a bird seen outside your patch area but whilst you are standing in it can be added to your scores.

- PWC has it's own scoresheet which can be downloaded from the links box on the right hand side of the blog. Birds have a value of between 1 and 5 depending on rarity value. Birds scoring higher than 3 points receive additional points if they were found by the patcher. The best part is that the spreadsheet will calculate all of this this for you! All you have to do is type in the bird name and if it gives 3 points or more enter whether or not you found it and the scores will calculate automatically.

- The leagues are based on geographical location including different leagues depending on whether you are a coastal or inland patch.

- There are also leagues for green birding (no use of motorised transport) and an NGB members league.

- There are two types of scores, points score and comparative. The former is the straightforward score for the year. You can start scoring comparative in your second year with PWC. This will be a comparison to your previous year in the competition and will give a percentage. It is this that allows all patches to compete on a level playing field.

- We have prizes which will be announced by the end of the year .These include the Forest and Bresser Optics Best Find. A shortlist is drawn up at the end of the year, and then it is open for patchers to vote for the winner. A Semipalmated Plover won in 2013, just edging out an inland Pied Wheatear and a Mourning Dove This year there are a number of contenders, but the inland Blyth's Pipit this month will be a contender and shows that anything can turn up anywhere.

- We encourage participation in BirdTrack. We would love it if all competitors to put their data into this BTO initiative. It is easy and provides a vast swathe of data to the BTO from across the UK, including many under-watched areas. Many patchers already contribute and we hope this will increase next year.

- We plan to run events throughout the year, many in association with our partners. We work closely with Birdguides, BTO, Birdwatch magazine, Birding Frontiers, NGB and Trektellen.

- We have a social media presence on Twitter (@Patchbirding), Facebook and the blog. Join us and enjoy all of the latest updates, discussion and observations from patchers.

- We expect to have a new internet site and database for the end of December which will run alongside the blog. It should provide much more information and functionality and add to the PWC experience.

- Finally, PWC is about enjoying your birding above all. It is a hub for birders who all share the same love of birds and patch working. Whilst there may be competition with others, it adds enjoyment to your own birding experience too.

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

Siberian Chiffchaff

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). 

Ireland Minileague - November

The top five rankings in the Irish Minileague Points Table remain the same come the end of November. Dave Suddaby claimed and held on to first place a long, long time ago at his Blacksod patch (with a clear lead of almost 70 points!) but still managed to add a species in November, Short-eared Owl. 

A fantastic month for Niall Keogh at Kilcoole saw no less than eight species added to his patch year listing effort (most welcome this late in the year), keeping him in second place just short of the 200 points mark. The only movers on the points table this month are Tom Moore at Kilmore Quay who skips up from eight to sixth and Michael O'Donnell at Kilmichael, increasing slightly from eleventh to tenth place.

In the comparative league, Michael O'Donnell jumps back into first place with 109.4% on account of a Barred Warbler at Kilmichael, a superb local record and by far the best find of the month. 

Tom Moore hits is PWC2014 target reaching 100% on the dot thanks to additions of Purple Sandpiper, Black Redstart and Merlin. Will Niall Keogh at Kilcoole and Neal Warnock on Rathlin Island muster enough effort/luck in December to bring them level with last years scores?

Other notable patch birds recorded through the month included Black Redstart at Brownstown Head for Paul Walsh, Slavonian Grebe (2nd patch record) and Jack Snipe (first for five years) at Larne Lough for Neal Warnock who also patch ticked Short-eared Owl on Rathlin and Yellow-legged Gull (patch tick), Lesser Whitethroat (2nd patch record) and Black Redstart (3rd patch record) for Niall Keogh at Kilcoole.

This Grey Plover at Larne was TWITCHED by Neal Warnock, but we'll forgive him. It's often a much sought after species for many Irish patchworkers. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Midlands Minileague - November

A Lapland Bunting for John Hopper at Hoveringham helps to close the gap, but Ian Cowgill still retains his lead despite no additions in November. Andy Mackay retains third thanks to a returning Ring-Necked Duck, despite Nick Crouch adding the first Stonechat since 2012 on his patch.

Other highlights in the month included a Rock Pipit at Sence Valley and Longmoor and an Iceland Gull at Boultham Mere. Sam Pitt Miller in particular had an excellent November, adding Great White Egret, Cetti's Warbler and Bearded Tit amongst others at Priory Water to reach 100 species for the year.

Andy Sims leads the way at Boultham Mere on both BirdTrack contributions and the green league.

There will be many more competitors in the comparative league in PWC 2015, but this year it looks like Matt Griffiths will take the title, having beaten last years score at Earlswood. One more month for those in the 90's to hit the 100% mark.

Coastal Scotland Minileague - November

Peter Donnelly looks to have stolen a march on John Bowler in the two horse race for the Coastal Scotland league. It would take a very special December at Balephuil to take the title now.

Tighter is the race for third, which will come down to the last month. Gary Bell at Sumburgh holds the position currently but Steve Minton and Mike Pennington are hot on his heels.

Highlights for the month were the third Ring-Necked Duck of the year at Balephuil, a Great Grey Shrike on North Ronaldsay and a Black Guillemot for Stuart Taylor at Balivanich.

Mark Lewis leads the way on BirdTrack records with Sean Morris also recording impressive submissions for the year whilst in the Green scores, Mark Lewis will have a bit of work to do in December to catch up the 10 point deficit on Steve Minton at Scatness.

Congratulations to the 5 competitors who have now exceed last years marker. Andrew Whitehouse leads the way with John Bowler and Stephen Welch just behind with all to play for in December.

Wales Minileague - November

Steve Stansfields score continues to creep up on Bardsey whilst Ben again fails to make any additions. Jason Moss remains in third with Matt Meehan fourth. David Carrington managed Glamorgan's second latest Osprey record. Other highlights were pretty standard fare with GN Diver, Snow Bunting and Firecrest doing the rounds.

Alison continues to hang on at the top with the Bardsey boys in second and third. A plethora of patches in the 90s mean we may see a mass crossing of the 100% barrier fuelled by too much turkey!

Inland North Minileague - November

Back to real life for some of our patchers and the now familiar top three remains the same with Wayne Gillatt well clear and seemingly putting the inland north minileague to bed. No updates from Darren Starkey leaves Fairburn ahead of St Aidan's. Tom Lowe closes the gap by 10 chiefly because of a self-found Great White Egret. Best of the other finds this month goes to Phil Woollen with an inland Yellow-browed Warbler. We all know that this may be somewhat overshadowed by a certain pipit come the year end but here we celebrate November. Bill Aspin and Pete Antrobus both added Willow Tit which becomes more difficult each year and remarkably this is Bill's first record at Brockholes.

James Common continues to be well clear in the comparative league, top by 20% on a cracking as he also managed to catch up with the Rough-legged Buzzard on his patch. PWC's own Pete Williams has retained second at Laycock and Phil Woollen becomes the third member of the 100 club thanks to the aforementioned Yellow-brow.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Coastal North Minileague - November

Tim remains in top place despite not updating this month. Martin cuts the gap with 12 points although a 44 point margin would seem unbridgeable with just one month to go. Jane Turner is well clear in third with a handsome 13 point cushion from Iain Robson at Druridge who himself is under threat from Chris Bradshaw. The battle of two Northumbrian birders sees them both on 210 points but could Tom Cadwallender's experience tell come the turn of the year (or is Jack's freshers term finishing going to give him the time to take the lead ). Seumus Eaves at Fleetwood holds 8th ahead of Alan Tilmouth while Ash Baines closes on James's Barmston patch. Plenty of positions to play for at this late stage!

Highlights this month were decidedly wintery. Best find goes to Martin Garner with a Rough-legged Buzzard from home. A Hume's and Pallas's Warbler double sadly led to no bonus points for Jack Bucknall (whilst James missed them both). Little Auks, Long-tailed Ducks and Great Northern Divers were all found and typical of both season and location.

Iain Robson's wonder year has him on 112.5% and a healthy lead in the comparative table with Jane remaining in second still just below that elusive 100% mark. James is also close to the 100% but time is running out.