Friday, 4 December 2015

Best Finds: Autumn 2015 in progress

Bresser & Forest Optics Best Find Competition marks the pinnacle of the Patchwork  year.

This prestigious award goes to the lucky patcher who turns up the years best bird. A bird that causes other discerning patch birders to turn green at the gills with envy. The fine people at Bresser & Forest Optics have once again demonstrated monumental generosity and have donated a pair of Bresser Montana 8.5 x 45 binoculars worth a grand total of £665.00. A fine prize that will be awarded to the winner come years end when the results are collated and the votes cast.

With two months to catch up with it’s time to look at what September had to offer. First up the rarities and starting with our overall leader, Mick Turton, who found a Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Sammys Point on the 28th. An excellent find tick for Mick and still a very hard species to find on the mainland. We stay in the Coastal North league for the next two cracking birds. Nick Addey at Long Nab had another excellent month with Sabine’s Gull and Yellow-browed Warbler bringing bonus points but bird of the month had to be the Fea’s Petrel he picked up moving north on the 8th. Peter Marsh completed a hat-trick of great birds for the Coastal North with an adult White-winged Black Tern at Heysham on the 26th, an excellent find and worthy of the six points. Toby Collett at RSPB Frampton Marsh rounds up the rarities for September with a brief Wilson’s Phalarope on the 8th which was on the patch with a Red-necked Phalarope and a Temminck’s Stint at the same day. What a day!!

On the not quite so rare scale but still excellent finds was a showy Red-footed Falcon at Girdle ness, Aberdeenshire and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Balephuil, Tiree.

September also produced many of the usual autumn scarcities with multiple patches recording Yellow-browed Wabler, Barred Warblers, Wrynecks etc while seawatching was productive with several Long-tailed Skuas, Sabine’s Gulls and Leach’s Petrels picked up. Other PWC bonus point staples were recorded throughout the country with several Great White Egrets, an American Golden Plover in Ireland, Cattle Egret in the south west etc.

As expected October was busy with no less than 75 entries into the bonus point section! The majority of these were Yellow-browed Warblers (25 patches!), Great Grey Shrikes (12 patches), Pallas’s Warbler (5 patches) and Richard Pipits (4 patches) along with a few Leach’s Petrels, Sabine’s Gulls, Siberian Chiffchaffs, Red-breasted Flycatchers and Rough-legged Buzzards (3 on his patch for Tim Hodge!).

Great fall of GG Shrikes on the east coast
As expected or at least hoped for a Radde’s Warbler (Tommy Corcoran, Great Yarmouth) and Dusky Warbler (Nige Lound, Gib Point) made it on to at least one patch in October.

American waders were represented well with the highlights a Baird’s Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs (an American Wigeon made it a patch yank hat-trick for the month) at Balephuil for John Bowler and an American Golden Plover for Mick Turton at Easington. An Alpine Swift at Little Orme found by Henry Cram was a great record for the area and a late one too! A Glossy Ibis made it too Rainham, a good record for the reserve and welcome bonus for Howard Vaughan. A Serin was a good find at Southwold for Craig Fultcher, adding to the Great Grey Shrike and Leach’s Petrel for the month.

Finally on to the rarer rarites of the month. A Pallid Harrier delighted two patches in Lincolnshire as both John Bradley and Nige Lound found it on their patches, Freiston and Gibraltar Point. Excellent work, a stunning bird. Staying on the east coast and Ryan Irvine at Hemsby had a day to remember as he found a Red-flanked Bluetail in the morning only to then find an Olive-backed Pipit 50m away in the afternoon of the 18th. 27 points in one day! Nigel Millbourne at Blagdon had a good month, adding a Lesser Scaup, always a tricky species to ID and great find. An Azorean Gull at Marston STW for Dave Roberts was welcome bonus points. Finally, we head over to Dave Suddaby at Blacksod, Ireland and his male Two-barred Crossbill. An amazing find and extreme rarity for Ireland. Well done Dave! 

OBP at Hemsby

So that’s the autumn, can any of these excellent finds challenge for the best finds prize? We will have to wait and see, they have many good challengers from earlier in the year......

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