Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Welcome to the Team: Sacha Elliott

Being relatively new to Patchwork Challenge (#PWC2015 is my first!) I’m more than pleased to have been considered to join the current admin team.  As I’m joining the PWC team, I should probably quickly introduce myself: I’m Sacha, a general nature and wildlife enthusiast from County Durham. A passion for wildlife rules my life – I work in ecology and spend my spare time bird watching/ringing. While I’m slightly obsessed with most wild creatures, birds are my passion and are often the reason I’m outdoors exploring the local landscape.

I’ve always had a “patch” of some description, whether it was simply where I walked the dogs or where I worked, however, having discovered Burdon Moor and the surrounding area when I moved house, my interest in patch birding has changed. Birding locally on a patch for me has become more than just a pleasant way to spend the day but has evolved into a pastime filled with expectation and eagerness for what will drop in or flyover next. Further, keeping an actual proper list of birds seen on patch is a fairly new venture for me but what an addictive one it’s proving to be!

My current patch is roughly 4km directly west of the Angel of the North. Burdon Moor is one of the highest points in the area, showcasing panoramic views of both the Gateshead and Co. Durham countryside. Originally lowland heathland, this rare habitat was lost to agricultural “improvements” and opencast mining around 100 years ago. In an attempt to restore this location to its once glorious past, Gateshead Council instigated the ‘Bringing Back Burdon Moor Project’ to regenerate heather where it once grew. From birds to dragonflies to lizards, my local patch is a tantalising experience for any keen naturalist and offers truly wonderful wildlife encounters with often very little effort.  If you’re lucky, the distinctive ‘wet-my-lips’ call of a Quail and the ‘squeaky-gate’ call of young Long-eared Owls can be heard during summer, while influxes of Short-eared Owls dazzle and perform over the cold and barren winter months. Being a high point in the area, Burdon Moor is often used as a stopping point for birds, so species such as Wheatear, Whinchat, and Stonechat can be easily picked up before they move on to their breeding grounds. You have to be a bit luckier to catch Cuckoo or Ring Ouzel but put the time in and you’ll be rewarded!

Long-eared Owl, Burdon Moor - Sacha Elliott
For me PWC brings a new element to patch birding and allows like-minded people to share a bit of friendly competition.  I hope by joining the team that I can add my ever increasing enthusiasm for patch birding to the challenge and share ideas that will see it grow as an event and continue for years to come.


  1. I must say that this is the most inspiring piece of writing I have ever seen on what birding should be all about.. Please can I copy and paste it on to our local birding site. Thanks.

  2. Thank you very much, Pete, that's very kind of you to say. Yes, feel free to use this :)