Friday, 15 January 2016

Ireland Minileague - December 2015

Those who were already over 100% in the Ireland Comparative Minileague at the end of November took a run at claiming first place during December yet it was a lean final month with not a whole lot on offer for those going for gold.

No new additions for Eamonn O'Donnell at Ninch/Laytown (a repeat Long-tailed Duck the best) or Alan Lauder at Broad Lough to Wicklow Head but Niall Keogh added a female Brambling at Kilbogget Park while Mark Shorten swooped in with a high ranking updated score from the Old Head of Kinsale, knocking some top five regulars down a few pegs in the process!

Eamonn's fantastic third year at Ninch/Laytown saw him lead the way for most of the past few months and with a final comparative score of 115%, he claims first place in the #PWC2015 Ireland Minileague. Well done!

Mark's update from the Old Head boasts a fine list of rare and scarce species seen through the year including Cory's Shearwater, Red-backed Shrike, Yellow-browed Warbler, multiple Hoopoe and good numbers of Whinchat. His second year of PWC efforts left him in second on 114%, just within sight of first place. Strong incentive to take the title next year?

A nice springtime duo from the Old Head of Kinsale © Mark Shorten

Niall and Alan ended up just a percent or two behind in third (113%) and fourth (111%) place respectively while a further seven patchers got into the 90% bracket which is a feat not to be snuffed at, especially as the years go by. Darragh Sinnott did very well at Holy Cross & Carriganore where a twitch for the first Great Spotted Woodpecker in modern times for Co. Waterford at the National Biodiversity Data Centre HQ spurred on some extra effort during December which produced several year ticks with Green Sandpiper and Stock Dove topping the bill. He ended up in fifth with 95%. 

With storm after storm battering the west coast for much of the winter so far, it is no surprise that Dave Suddaby added a couple of Little Auks as his final patch year tick at Blacksod along with a Grey Phalarope taking him to 241 points and a clear lead in the Ireland Points Minileague. With rarities galore, Dave's chances of doing well on the points table will always be strong but he did extremely well to end with a comparative score of close to 94% also.

Some good birds on Niall's Kilcoole patch in December included two Greenland White-fronted Geese, 7 Snow Bunting and a Bonxie yet none were new additions. Continuously dipping Brambling there left him with the first blank month of the year in terms of ticks and so finished in second on the points table with the same score at the end of November but with the highest overall species list in the minileague of 145.

No change in the rankings for Eamonn or Tim Murphy at St. John's Point, both remaining in third and fourth respectively while Cathal Forkan bangs in a superb find at his North Galway Bay patch...breeding plumage Sabine's Gull! What a bird for the time of year and one which boosts him up to a well earned fifth place. 

Sabine's Gull © Cathal Forkan

Noel Keogh's inaugural year in the competition ended with 110 species in South Dublin Bay (Little Auk, Black Redstart and Ring-billed Gull seen during the month there) while Michael John O'Mahony ended his first year in the compettion with 58 species at Upper Rathduff with Woodcock and Merlin added in December. Be sure to check out Michael's stunning set of patch images on Flickr. Otherwise not much else to report in terms of sightings from other contestants in December bar another Iceland Gull for Neal Warnock at Larne Lough, this time a fine adult. 

Tim Murphy boasted the highest scoring inland patch at Lough Beg with 77 species and 84 points. Julian Wyllie led the way in terms of non-motorised 'Green' patching at Baltimore with a very respectable 109 species and 135 points.

Overall, Irish patch birders added 12,000 BirdTrack records and 250 complete lists to the database during 2015. Fair play all who got involved!

Iceland Gull © Neal Warnock

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