Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Points. And Bonus Points.

If you find one of these be happy. Its worth 15 points. If you see it but didn't find it then its worth 5 points.

Blyth's Pipit

If however it is one of these still be happy. It is worth 12 points. And looks better than a crappy pipit. If you see it but didnt find it then it is worth 4 points. 

Red-flanked Bluetail

If you find this then still be happy. It is very pretty. And worth 6 points. If you didn't find it then kick yourself and accept your three points.


If you find one of these then you only get two points. That is all. No bonus. If you twitch one of these must try harder.


And if you see/find/ignore one of these then you get one point. If you ignore it then you are a fool as it is yellow. And awesome.

Yellow Wagtail


We did some silly things at the beginning so if you see one of these you get two points BUT if you find it you get four points.

Siberian Chiffchaff

Blue-headed Wagtail

Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find March 2015

The Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find Competition is the highlight of the Patchwork Challenge year. This is the best find of the whole patchworking year as voted for by you, the competitors. 

For the winner of the competition, those fine folk at Bresser and Forest Optics are very generously furnishing the winner with a pair of Bresser Montana 8.5 x 45 Binoculars worth £665.00. Follow the link to check out this superb reward for one lucky contender.

Bonaparte's Gull at Tramore - thanks to Michael Cowming

March and still no mega's seen on patch anywhere, indeed PWC only had one rare bird during the month, Bonaparte's Gull. However there were a few of them in the UK and Ireland with two lucky patchworkers finding their own. Arlo Jacques at Tramore Blackstrand in Ireland, and John Bowler who found a first winter bird on patch at Balephuil on the Isle of Tiree. 

Ring-billed Gull at Pennyghael - Bryan Rains
Heading up the list of scarce birds seen in March was another gull, this time Ring-billed which was with birds found by four patchers and again in the western half of our area. 

Another of Brian's photos of the Ring-billed Gull
Ilya Maclean down at Loe Pool (Cornwall), with John Headon, Hugh Town and Lower Moors (Scilly Isles) not too far away. Travelling a little further north and west we get to Blacksod in Ireland where Dave Suddaby also found a bird. Probably the easiest of them of all was the one that walked into Bryan Rains garden at Pennyghael on Mull, a benefit of having your home within patch. 

The only other scarce bird with more than a single mention was Surf Scoter. Eammon O'Donnell found one at Ninch/Laytown in Ireland whilst Henry Cook on his Little Orme patch also came up trumps. 

In Norfolk, Alison Allen found 5 Common Crane on her Thorpe-Next-Haddiscoe patch meanwhile on the other side of the country at Ogmore Estuary in Wales, David Ripley scored with a Great White Egret. Other birds of note in March were Goshawk found on 3 separate patches, I'll not mention names or patches for obvious reasons but you know who you are guys. 

April looks to have a little more colour than this months slightly monochrome selection. The yanks are coming!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - March 2015

Craig Fulcher is still in the lead in the comparative table on the East Anglian Coast with 52% thanks to some early migrants ahead of James Brown at Lowestoft who is 2% back. Our own Ryan Irvine is in third place on 49%.

Tim Hodge moves up into third place with White-tailed Eagle his highlight as Robert Smith fails to make any additions and slips to third. Splitting them is James Brown who managed to Red Kite, Great Northern Diver and Spotted Redshank this time out. There were only a handful of new scores for March and several bemoaned the lack of anything new - lets hope April brings something special.

Coastal South - March 2015

Paul Freestone stays top with his Gwithian patch despite no new additions. Andy Rhodes and Peter Hazelwood close the gap and remain in the same positions with Peter adding Firecrest.

Joe Stockwell has extended his lead to eight points thanks to a productive March including a Bonaparte's Gull which he had to be assisted to see by his better half after a heavy night out. Ilya Maclean moves up a spot into second thanks to a self-found Ring-billed Gull and Siberian Chiffchaff at Loe Pool. Lee Fuller at Needs Ore moves from eighth to third  with Red-necked Grebe, Jack Snipe and Water Pipit on his hit list. The highlights from around the patches include another Ring-billed Gull for Dan Chaney and Sean Foote also connected with the Bonaparte's Gull at Ferrybridge.  

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Ireland Minileagues - March 2015

The Ireland Comparative Minileague has a new leader at the end of March as Eamonn O'Donnell's excellent run at Ninch/Laytown continues with seven new species added including a self found male Surf Scoter leaving him close to 86%. Neal Warnock moves up from fifth to third with 72.024% at Larne Lough (Scaup his best bird of the month) and it's good to see some inland patches earning places in the top five with Alan Lauder's Carrick Mountain patch in fourth and Niall Keogh's South Dublin Parks patch in a close second to Eamonn's first place position with less than 1% separating the two (a Woodcock and a pair of prospecting Stock Doves for Niall were nice highlights for his suburban parklands site).

A flurry of scores updated from other patch veterans sees the comp league jump from nine contestants to fourteen by the end of the first quarter. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of them get on over the coming months with some of their recent highlights including a Kumlien's Gull for Tim Murphy at Killough & St. John's Point, an adult Ring-billed Gull for Dave Suddaby at Blacksod, a Black-throated Diver for Julian Wyllie at Baltimore and a #fullfatpatchtick Mute Swan for Neal Warnock on Rathlin Island!

Eamonn's comp score rampage has also seen him take the lead on the Ireland Points Minileague table knocking Neal's previous top spot position at Larne last month down to third with Niall at Kilcoole filling in for second place thanks to a productive month with eight year ticks including Little Gull, Wheatear and Sandwich Tern making him the first to get over the ton on species total. A total of seven contestants are now well over 100 points with several more close behind.

The points per bird title goes to Dave at Blacksod for the time being with 1.352. He has added eleven species since his last update as has Julian at Baltimore. Eight new species for Arlo Jacques at Tramore included Short-eared Owl and Spotted Redshank as well as a cracking find in the form of a 2nd calendar-year Bonaparte's Gull which hung around for quite some time, allowing many to twitch it! What a superb patch that is turning out to be.

We welcome two new contestants to the points table, both from Dublin. The highlight of Noel Keogh's South Dublin Bay efforts to date include one of the regular Ring-billed Gulls at Sandymount Strand and 3 Gadwall plus 4 Pochard off Irishtown in February... real #patchgold stuff there. Mark Carmody enters his Dublin 2 patch where a Buzzard was most notable for an urban region of the capital.

Cathal Forkan, the sole representative of Next Generation Birders in the Ireland Minileague, added a 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull to his tally at North Galway Bay and Julian Wyllie heads up the non-motorised 'Green' section at Baltimore with a very respectable 80 species.

Keep an eye on the 'unofficial' Ireland Inland Minileague down at the bottom of the points table. Three patches battling it out in their own right! If we get anymore entries from inland patches then who knows, we may have to set up another 'official' minileague for them! Watch this space...

Niall is the first contestant to surpass 1,000 records for BirdTrack at Kilcoole with a worthy mention also going to both Neal at Larne and Julian at Baltimore for entries of 600+ records from their patches.

Bonaparte's Gull at Tramore ©  Mícheál Cowming

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

NGB Minileagues - March 2015

A new month for the NGB league and now there is the comparative score table to go alongside the points league. My own university patch tops the league with a comparative score of nearly 82%, however with the resident species all but mopped it it will prove difficult to stay ahead of the chasing pack. James Common's impressive run at Stobbswood sees him second in the comparative scores thanks to both Bewick's and Whooper Swans turning up on patch, the former a patch lifer. Another university patch rounds off the top 3, Jake Gearty at the classic birding university of UEA.

Onto the points league and it's the a repeat at the top where Anthony Bentley heads the table with Joe Stockwell still hot on his heels in second. Anthony added 10 points at Frampton including a Great Northern Diver whilst Joe faired slightly better with 13 additional points including the Bonaparte's Gull which he managed to get his girlfriend to drive him to after a heavy night out in town. Joe will have to watch his back as spring progresses as Jonathan Farooqi had a cracking month in the north-east adding 21 points to take the final podium position including two patch firsts in the form of Willow Tit and Red-legged Partridge.

Looking further down the league and it is good to see the return of Bardsey's Ben Porter after a few months abroad at the start of the year. Straight in at 12th I'm sure we will see him climb up the league as spring dawns. The highlights section of the score submissions held a classic sweep of late winter visitors such as Red-necked Grebe for Lee Fuller, Brambling for Rhys Chivers and Short-eared Owl for Daniel Gornall, mixed with the first returning migrants including a very early Little Ringed Plover for Matthew Bruce at The Puddle on the 9th.

April has seen the regular summer migrants appear in droves and a fair few scarcer species thrown into the mix, will any NGB's be able to capitalise on the migration?

Inland South - March 2015

Tom Stevenson continues to out-do himself at Ewelme and Battle Farm with comparative scores of 86 and 77% respectively to hold onto the top two spots in the Inland South comparative minileague. Roger Hicks stays in third place 7% back on 70% with a Woodcock boosting his score.

Lee Evans has had a decent month at Tring and squeaks to the top of the points table 15 points ahead of Ian Bennell who lies in 10th and shares a patch with some decent bits and pieces including Scaup. In second Adam Bassett at Little Marlow is only a point behind with Goshawk his biggest hitter (alongside the semi-resident Great White Egret). Graham White at Rye Mead rises to third in his debut year with Jack Snipe his March highlight.

Three patches recorded Goshawk this month and two managed Kittiwake this month which makes an Inland patchers day. A dribble of early migrants and a few Red Kites were also added around the minileague.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Inland East Anglia Minileague - March 2015

A quiet March for Nick Robinson but his three points gained were still enough to keep him top of then Inland EA comparative table, cresting 90%. 11% behind in second is Ben Rackshaw at Downham Market while Nick Moran has been deposed from the podium and slumps to 7th place (not alot between 2nd and 10th in all honesty). Ben Moyes in Gipping Valley takes advantage to move into third.

Jamie Wells and Ben Lewis are used to duking it out at the top and find themselves in first and second respectively and it only took until March for their now familiar bilateral points domination to start but an interloper has appeared in joint second - Mr Birdtrack himself is level with Ben thanks to a Common Redpoll at Thetford. To be fair to Nick he was in second in February but how long can he hang on?

March's highlights were topped by 5 Cranes for Alison Allen at Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe with bonus points for finding them. A Great White Egret at UEA was a handy three points for a couple of the NGB patchers as Jake and Michael both connected. Despite this they are third and fourth/last in the UEA mini-minileague. Elsewhere Black Redstart at Surlingham and a sprinkling of Sand Martins, Little Ringed Plovers and Chiffchaffs were the best of it.  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Islands Minileague - March 2015

The calm before the storm in the Islands minileague with (I assume) bonus points being scored throughout April this table may already be well out of date but some of the less migrant heavy patches have made a great start to 2015. Bryan Rains' patch in the South-west of Mull is idyllic when the sun shines and while he waits for Corncrakes to return he has been doing rather well with a Ring-billed Gull in the garden which means he moves from third to first place in the comparative table. David Wood in second is only 1.5% behind and he managed a slightly commoner larid visitor with an Iceland Gull on the Oa, Islay. Last months comparative leader, Paul Higson, had a rather quieter month but he isnt far back.

John Bowler has pulled clear with a 27 point advantage already on Tiree thanks to a Bonaparte's Gull. A self-found Blue-winged Teal however fails to register points as it was on Madeira... Paul H is in second place for points while Burray Barrie is in third as the top three hold station.

Best bits away from what has already been mentioned was another Ring-billed Gull on St Mary's for John Headon. One might speculate that he may have added a rather larger visitor to his patch list over the last 7 days. Elsewhere returning white-wingers were a theme with multiple glaucs and Icelands noted.

Midlands Minileague - March 2015

Steve Lyon jumps from 10th to top in the Midlands Comparative minileague with a 19% gain in March. Andy Sims climbs a place into second spot at Boultham Mere with Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Whooper swans aiding his cause whilst Dave Roberts joins fellow Marston patcher Steve in the top three. Last months top two, Tom Shields and Sam Pitt Miller slide into the relative obscurity of 4th and 5th place.

Excel has decided that John Hopper is in first place but in reality the top two are tied and it looks like being a close race between Ian Cowgill at Lound and John at Hoveringham. Both are 17 points clear of Nick Crouch and Andy Mackay who are in joint third. With 41 competitors there is plenty to play for as a handful of points can propel you up the table with great rapidity. Now if only there were a few bonus points to add it would shake things up a little...

Best bits this month in lieu of bonus point scorers were early Garganey, wandering Red Kite, Avocets and some of the winter stuff leaving such as Jack Snipe and Whoopers.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Wales Minileagues - March 2015

Two extra veteran patchworkers entered onto the Wales minileague comparative table during March including Alison C at LlanfairTH with no less than 85.366% and straight into first place (Tawny Owl her highlight of the month). Half of the contestants are already now over 60% to boot.

Almost a third of the contestants on the points table are over 100 points, a fine tally considering there's now a total of 35 folk taking part but Laurie Allnatt still holds on to first place at Llanelli WWT. All of the top ten were close to breaking the 100 species barrier in March and will no doubt make that leap through April. Henry Cook at Little Orme claims the highest points per bird total with 1.259 (Surf Scoter his best find during the month).

A Dartford Warbler found at Sker and Kenfig was the first for that area for many years, a great find by David Carrington. Ogmore Estuary produced one of the other best finds of the month with a Great White Egret for David Ripley. Several folk were more content with returning migrants, even if they were expected ones (the welcome sound of singing Chiffchaff mentioned by many).

The Welsh league sees some great 'Green' effort with Marc Hughes still claiming top place as a non-motorised patchworker and an ever impressive list of contestants with BirdTrack records into the thousands (Laurie Allnatt with the highest at 3,352) and complete lists into the hundreds (Alastair Flannagan with the highest at 152).

Estuarine Minileague - March 2015

Ed Keeble makes an impressive jump on the Estuarine Minileague comparative table moving to first place from fourth in the space of a month down to adding a whole 11 species and 14 points leaving him on 73.481% at his patch at Brantham. Shaun Robson enters the league in March with a solid 61.326% at Lychett Bay, claiming fifth (an impressive 8 Spoonbills at that site). The highest comp score average on the table is claimed by Toby Collett at RSPB Frampton Marsh. He has a long way to go but is doing well, just shy of 50% by the end of the first quarter. A good Spring might make all the difference for him.

It's a trio of RSPB reserves at the top of the points table with a first/second place tussle at Frampton/Freiston where a single species separates John Badley from Anthony Bentley (although John leads by 7 points and a points per bird score of just over 1.3). Howard Vaughan moved from fifth to third during March thanks to 12 species/22 points added including Little Ringed Plover and Common Scoter. Well over half the contestants are now above 100 points and it's most certainly worth highlighting the stellar BirdTrack effort of Ian Ballam at Lychett Bay from where he's submitted a mighty 2,599 records from 74 complete lists (Garganey and Little Ringed Plover for him there).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Inland Scotland Minileagues - March 2015

Ructions on the Inland Scotland comparative table! Alastair Forsyth's rarity filled patch at Old Nisthouse is pipped to the post by super hard working local patchers Chris Pendlebury (Stirling) and Andy Cage (Kilmany) who now claim first and second place respectively but only by a matter of a few percent. Still, it just goes to show what can happen when we get to comp scores of longer running veterans... and this is exactly what PWC is all about!

On the points table, Alastair's rarities keeps him firmly in first place as the only contestant still above the 100 point barrier (the Blue-winged Teal remained into March but a Brambling was the best new species for him) and David Douglas added 13 new species at Loch Leven securing his place in second. Graeme Garner at Cambus added a mighty 14 species (he resisted the urge to add Ross's Goose!) allowing to move up the ranks past Pete Antrobus (Lochmaben) to take third pace. Pete had a great month with some excellent patch birds in March including a pair of Willow Tits, two Scaup, the first patch Tree Sparrow for 31 years and the first Meadow Pipit since 2003!

A warm PWC welcome goes out to Scott O'Hara who enters his new patch at Forrest Estate.

Coastal Scotland Minileagues - March 2015

No change in the rankings on the Coastal Scotland comparative table during March with Chris Hill at Burntisland still holding on to first place with 72.18%. Stephen Welch is not far behind however with his comp score of 70% on the button at Gosford Bay.

It's a different story altogether on the points table with Mike Hodgkin being the first to break the 100 species barrier with his impressive tally of 104 species and 125 points at Aberlady Bay where he now secures himself first position for the month ahead of Jim Dickson at Crinan Canal Corridor (but only by a matter of two points).

The biggest mover on the table is Jonathan Clarke (Whiteness Head) who jumps from second last to seventh with a little help from a #patchgold Coot! Jim Dickson claims the highest points per bird total so far (1.24) with a Stock Dive his highlight for March and not a bad bird to get out West. A special mention for both Mark Lewis (Girdle ness) and Stephen Welch who have both submitted a fine number of BirdTrack lists to date.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Coastal North Minileagues - March 2015

Stewart Sexton keeps topspot with a superb 70% in the Coastal North Comparative League with Twite and Waxwing this months highlights. Ash Baines keeps second place whilst Seumus Eaves at Fleetwood moves up to third displacing James Spencer thanks to the first patch Avocet since 2010. Tom Cadwallender is up into 5th place thanks to a pair of Mediterranean Gulls.

In terms of raw points, Martin Garner moves up a spot into first with a combo of two pointers including Flamborough's third Mandarin. Nick Addey managed to add 7 points for second spot while Jonathan Farooqi at Druridge Bay manages to displace Chris Bradshaw from the top three thanks to some coastal Willow Tits amongts a decent haul of late winter goodies.

The month was pretty quiet with no bonus points and highlights aside from those mentioned included Pomarine Skua, Long Nab's first Egyptian Goose and a couple of Iceland Gulls.

Inland North. March 2015

Despite no submitted score this month (perhaps he was giving the rest of us a chance) from Darren Starkey he still holds firm at the top. Jonny Holliday's two weeks in Mexico opened the door for Mark Reeder to steal second space. Birds still had a winter feel to them with numerous reports of Whooper Swan (as they began there exodus) including a Sheffield area record breaking flock of 180 through Orgreave. A Bewick's Swan a Stobswood, for James Common, was a site first. Common Scoter were reported from several sites with Marton Mere, Neumann's Flash (a first at this site) and Orgreave. Willow Tits still hang on at a good number of sites in the Inland North, with Adel Dam, Chorlton Water Park, Norton Common and Northwich Woodlands adding them.

With most summer migrants back by the end of the month April should see the biggest monthly species count, and a good number of patchers will see their species total break through the 100 barrier.

In the Comparative League Keith Dickinson increases his score to 92.7% staying firmly rooted at the top. The gap with Nick Tongue slightly widened, by 2.6% (0.5% in February). Jonathan Scragg takes a massive jump from 6th to 3rd place increasing his haul by an impressive 12.7%. With the bulk of summer migrants yet to come these 3 can only keep climbing.

Until next time...