Sunday, 15 February 2015

Estuarine Minileague - January 2015

Welcome to the new estuarine league. Created in PWC2015 to cater for those patches on an estuary or river who are technically inland as they have no sea border, but have more chance of seabirds than a truly inland site. It is a loose definition, but it is a league that hosts a range of birding patches that are capable of turning out some exciting birds in the year to come.

Scouring of Gull roosts has paid off for some with Caspian Gull at RSPB Rainham and a couple of patches picking up Med Gull and Yellow-Legged Gulls. Other typical January fare has included Water Pipit for Anthony Bentley, Slavonian Grebe at Maldon for Russell Neave, Black-Necked Grebes at both patches for Mark Nowers whilst last years Surf Scoter at Stutton held on into January. Perhaps less typical was Siberian Chiffchaff at RSPB Rainham in what has been a good winter for this sub-species, and showing that quality and quantity can be combined, 4 Firecrests at Hayle has already quadrupled the site count for last year.

There are six returning competitors this year who are patching the same 3km square as they were in last years challenge. Four patchers have already hit a healthy 60% competitive in the year with Mark Nowers at Stutton edging into an early lead. With just one month down there is still a long way to go.

John Badley at RSPB Frampton / Freiston leads the way in what we will be a furiously competitive league this year. He is one of two patchers to have hit the magic 100 species in January, with Ed Keeble also hitting the mark at Brantham but John's 1.267 points per bird has helped him to edge ahead early on. There are also a group of 5 sitting in the 90's, but a host of 2 pointers has helped them over the 100 points mark. A very impressive start.

Further down the league there is plenty more patching to be done for those a little behind the pace but the year is only just starting and we have all read the tortoise and the hare (given that I am in 15th place I have read it and am sticking to it!).

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