Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Bresser & Forest Optics Best Find Competition Review of 2014

The Bresser & Forest Optics Best Find Competition 
Review of 2014

It's that time again folks, you have got to get your thinking caps on and vote for who you believe to have found the best bird of 2014. The person with the most votes will win the Bresser Montana8.5 x 45 binoculars, worth £665.00, kindly donated by those great people at Bresser and Forest Optics.

To help you make up your mind here's a run-down on what was about and more importantly found on patch during the year starting with a round up December's birds.

It has been difficult to write the review for December as a fair number of people included their highlights for the year in the response box, rather than just December's birds. Once I'd done a bit of delving I think I have got things sorted correctly, if I have missed out your find then I apologise in advance. 
There was only 1 mega  this month, step forward Johnny Holliday at Pugneys in West Yorkshire, his Blyth's pipit was an outstanding inland record. The bird stayed until the new year allowing many birders to start the year with a cracking bird. Later on in the month Johnny also had a Thayer's gull on patch but as this was a bird that had originally been found a short distance away at Mirfield it doesn't quite have the kudos of the pipit. Other notables during the month were Ivory Gull, Kumlien's gull, Penduline Tit and a late Yellow-browed warbler for Dan Chaney at Falmouth.
Blyth's Pipit - Jim Welford

With the year just starting a the first bird worthy of adding to the shortlist was the Blue-winged Teal found by Alistair Forsyth at his Old Nisthouse  patch.
Martin Garner's Northern Treecreeper found on his Flamboro Head North patch was another worthy bird during the month.
Other notables that don't quite make it are the numerous Glossy Ibis finds, a couple of Ring-billed Gulls in Ireland and Mark Lawlor in Guernsey found the first of the year's Kumlien's Gulls.


Not the month for adding to the short list although some good birds were found, Sabine's Gull and American Wigeon on the Inner Hebrides and by way of contrast on the Outer Hebrides Brian Rabbitts found a Ring-necked duck on his Balranald patch.


Even worse than February as there were no 'new' birds found at all during the month. The 4 Kumlien's Gulls that were found on patches brought the to total to 8 birds recorded by PWC birders this year. There were 3 Green-winged Teal logged by Patchworkers as migration of the winter wildfowl flocks started up.


At last some more variety with 14 species found that scored 3 or more points. Top of the list are Franklin's Gull found by Barry Stewart on his Burry Inlet patch and a second Blue-winged Teal for Alastair Forsyth. Sadly we can only give him the one shot at the binoculars though.
There were a couple of  'Firsts' recorded during the month, Ian T with Serin on the Outer Hebrides and Espen Quinto-Ashman found Herefordshires first Bluethroat, Nice work guys.


Migration started to speed up this month with a couple of additions to the shortlist -  Alan Tilmouth's Eastern Bonelli's Warbler on his Newbiggin patch and the male Collared Flycatcher that John Bowler logged for his Tiree patch, which was also a County first. Other good birds found included Black Storks at Dawlish, Goole Fields & Little Orme, Citrine Wagtails at Bardsey, Portland and Red Rocks. However I don't think that many people would argue that the best of the also-rans had to be the breeding plumaged White-billed Diver found at Falmouth by Dan Chaney, only a flyby but what bird.


Best find honours for June were shared between Paul Bowyer and Joe Stockwell. Paul found a Greenish Warbler at his Sand Point patch, initially picked up on song, Paul was able to get several other birders on to the bird during it stay. Joe however had a brief flyby from a Pallid Swift at Portland Bill and so wasn't able to be quite so generous.
Other good birds seen during the month were Glossy Ibis - logged on several patches including Graeme Garner on his Cambus patch in Scotland. Further Citrine Wagtails were at Bardsey and Balnakeil in Scotland  


This month saw Martin Garner add another bird to the list - a Baltic Gull found on his Flamborough Head patch whilst Toby Collett made his first appearance in the list with the Lesser Yellowlegs he photographed at Frampton Marsh.

Lesser Yellowlegs - Toby Collett

Joe Stockwell might have been in with a shout this month if he had been the finder of the Black-browed albatross at Portland Bill - even so I bet he is still on cloud nine over that bird. 


Bird of the month has to be the Booted Warbler found on Orkney by Barrie Hamill. 
Booted Warbler - Paul Higson
One that would have been on the shortlist if it were not for it being a refind would be the Stilt Sandpiper on Ian Robson's Drurudge Pools patch, shame.
Other notables were yet more Citrine Wagtails, Long-tailed Skuas, Ortolan Bunting and Icterine Warbler


Lots of great birds around this month but sadly most of them seen but not found by PWC contestants. Of those that were found on patch, the first was Olive-backed Pipit at Wanstead, Nick Croft picked up this bird on call as it flew towards Long wood. Sadly not found again. The other bird was Fea's Petrel, Iain Robson heard the news of the bird flying North along the coast, he gambled that the bird would pass his Druridge Pools patch, rather than making his way to Newbiggin which would seem to offer the best chance of a view. His gamble paid off and he got #patchgold. 
Fea's Petrel - Mark Newsome
Probably the best not found bird has to be the Masked Shrike at Spurn, if Tim Jones had been the first to see the bird he would probably be in prime position to lift the prize but sadly it was not to be. 


Third mention for Mr Garner, flyby Br√ľnnich's Guillemot at Flamborough Head, a distant bird that was seen by a few other birders but as is normal with sea watching the bird was long gone in moments. The second contender this month was a much more co-operative bird, the Red-flanked Bluetail found by Dave Suddaby at Blacksod stayed for a while allowing a good many birders to connect with a handsome little 15 pointer. This was a first for County Mayo and only the fourth for Ireland as a whole so kudos to Dave.
Red-flanked Bluetail - John N Murphy

Following on from last month's Masked Shrike miss, a disappointed patchworker has to be Peter Donnelly on North Ronaldsay who dipped on the Black-billed Cuckoo but he made up for it with both Olive-backed and Pechora Pipit on patch.


Bird of the month for a lot of people has to be Brian Rabbitts' American Coot at Balranald on North Uist, initially told of a coot with some white under the tail Brian managed to find the bird and also nail the id. 

American Coot - Steve Duffield

A slew of warbler species were found during the month ensuring points for Michael O'Donnell (Barred), Sean Foote (Dusky), Phil Woollen and Kev Rylands (Yellow-browed). Interesting fact - Kev has logged 6 Yellow-browed Warblers over the last two years on his Dawlish Warren patch but has yet to find Coal Tit. Other birds of note during the month were Surf Scoter - Ed Keeble, Ring-necked Duck - John Bowler also Andy Mackay and lastly Ring-billed Gull - Marcus Lawson

That's all for now so get your thinking caps on and vote your best bird of the year.

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