Monday, 7 December 2015

#PWC2016 - How to take part.

Welcome one and all to Patchwork Challenge 2016!

2015 is drawing to a close and registration for next year is open (see the form on the right hand side of the blog). But what is Patchwork Challenge and why do we need your details?

Patchwork Challenge (PWC) has been running since 2013 and is a friendly, community orientated competition to help link patch birders and encourage birding your local area whilst providing support and context for this. Friendly rivalries are encouraged and regional minileagues are often the forum for this. We also aim to help you push yourself by providing you with a measure of year on year comparison in our comparative leagues. The registration form in the right sidebar thus needs your name, patch name, which minileague you would fit into (or your general location if you dont know), whether you have competed before (in order to work out your comparative score), whether you are eligible for the Under 25's league or the Green league. And thats it. For us it gives us an idea of how many people are taking part and where people are. Listed below are a few bits of information to help you with the challenge.

(1) 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 to help map out your patch (linked here). It would be useful to take a screenshot of your mapped out patch for future reference. 

Ryan Irvine's Patch at Hemsby, Norfolk
(2) All birds seen or heard on the patch count. Similarly, all birds seen from the patch count too (i.e. seabirds seen offshore while seawatching, distant soaring birds of prey etc.). Therefore a bird seen outside your patch area but whilst you are standing in it can be added to your scores. Equally a bird seen which is inside your patch but you are outside also counts. This is purely for comparison between patches and what you count for your more formal patch list isn't important in this instance.

(3) PWC has its own scoresheet which can be downloaded via the link here. 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 (add an F in the appropriate column if you find such a rarity). The best part is that the spreadsheet will calculate all of this this for you!

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

Alison and Ian's Gyrfalcon from Askernish in 2013
(5) There are also leagues for green birding (no use of motorised transport) and an under 25's league for NGB and AFON members.

(6) 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.

(7) We have prizes which will be announced in the New Year.These include the best find competition which is sponsored by Forest Optics. A shortlist is drawn up at the end of the year, and then it is open for patchers to vote for the winner. Former winners are Andy Johnson's Semipalmated Plover at Sandy Point from 2013 and Jonny Holliday's Blyth's Pipit at Pugney's in 2014. Amongst the favourites this year are Tom Raven's Hudsonian Godwit and Dave Suddaby's Two-barred Crossbill. The 2015 winner will receive a pair of Bresser Montana 8.5 x 45 binoculars. Further prizes for the 2015 competition include Undiscovered Owls by the South Approach, British Birds subs, Birdguides subs, BTO goodie bag and nest monitoring guide, £50 Natural History Bookstore voucher, a week on Bardsey thanks to the Obs, and some Birding Frontiers goodies.

Patch - the dearly departed PWC Cuckoo

(8) 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.

(9) 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.

(10) We have the new website which will run alongside the blog. It was delayed last year due to coding issues and will initially run alongside the blog and scoreforms but once all the problems are ironed out it will replace the scoreforms. Further details on how to use this will emerge once beta-testing is complete but at the moment it is planned to go live on January 1st 2016.

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.

Here are a couple of links to older posts about taking part:


  1. I drive to my patch but once there it's footit all the this green?

  2. Nope - otherwise it would be a big green league!

  3. To encourage more people to enter their data on to BirdTrack could there not be some kind of bonus system in the PWC score of so may points per list submitted, or something similar?



    1. Hi Seumus. The way in which we encourage more folk to enter records into BirdTrack is by having a 'BirdTrack Birdrace'. There is a separate league for those who enter BirdTrack records and is ranked by number of complete lists submitted. This league applies across all regions and minileagues in PWC. The winner gets a bunch of prizes from the BTO!

      Details below:

  4. Hi just registered for the first time forgot to put my location (old age creeping up) my patch is basically the north side of the mouth of the River Tees. So do I just wait now for Jan 1st and start adding my sightings to the score sheet, when does the 2015 score sheet arrive?

    1. Hi Alan. We have you down as patching from North Gare as per the registration form data. I can add the relevant minileague for you if you like? If you can see/or on the coast then you will be Coastal North but if you are up river far enough then you will be Estuarine (this is determined by how often you see common seabirds on the patch like Gannet, auks, Kittiwake, Fulmar etc.). If they are easy to get or regular then you are coastal, if they are rare then you are Estuarine. The scoresheet can be downloaded here

      Just add species into the columns as you see them and it will calculate the score for you. We then have submission forms on the blog at the end of each month where you can update your running total. More info on how to get started here

  5. My patch is in the Coastal North.

  6. My patch is in the Coastal North mini league.