Welcome to the inaugural Inland Ireland Minileague blog post! With an increasing number of participants from all corners of the country, it was deemed time to split the Ireland Minileague into coastal and inland groups which is a great testament to the growing popularity of PWC.
A small number of inland patchers will compete in the comparative minileague in 2016 but enough to get the ball rolling. For the moment, just Niall Keogh and Des Higgins have updated their comp scores for January 2016 but we eagerly await updates from other contestants over the coming months.
Niall shoots straight to first place at his group of local suburban parks in South Dublin with a fine 79.45%. A good clean up of all the expected winter species in the first month was down to some hardcore scouting for the annual Dublin Bird Race at these sites! All of this first month enthusiasm may result in slow progress until the Spring migrants arrive however. The highlight of the month for Niall was the arrival of a flock of 115 hrota Brent Geese which have taken to using the football pitches at Kilbogget Park as a foraging site, a new development for this location. Otherwise, an adult Peregrine over Clonkeen Park was a good addition seeing as he didn't connect with the species here in either 2013 or 2014.
Des clears the halfway mark with 57.89% at University College Dublin with Mediterranean Gull and Little Egret adding some extra points to the scoresheet plus the first modern campus record of Great Black-backed Gull. Will he manage to reach his 100% comp score in 2016 after the stellar find of Ring-necked Duck on the 'new lake' last May?
Lots of new names gracing the Inland Ireland Points Minileague! At the top is Derek Charles who is patching from the productive southern shores of Lough Neagh. Derek got off to a cracking start on 1st January with none other than a Black Guillemot from Ardmore! Only the second record for the lough with the first being as far back as 1932! This is what patch birding is all about folks. Pink-footed Goose and Bar-tailed Godwit were other noteworthy additions to Derek's species list of 63 and sees him finish the month on 68 points.
Black Guillemot at Ardmore, Lough Neagh © Derek Charles
Andrew Power kicks of his patch birding efforts from Kildavin in Co. Carlow with a nice spread of goodies including Iceland Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Goosander on the pit plus Red-legged Partridge (birds no doubt derived from released stock but one of the few sites in the country where confirmed breeding is going ahead). These place him in second with 54 species/59 points.
A 2cy Iceland Gull was a welcome surprise for Ian Stevenson at his Grand Canal Way patch in Dublin. Getting out on a wet & windy day to see if something different might be about resulted in this excellent find. Patch tactics on the brain!
Christian Osthoff's Wicklow woodland and farmland patch at Carrigmore produced a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 32 Crossbill and his second record of Stock Dove. A Long-eared Owl in the car headlights was top find of the month for Liam Lysaght at Bramblestown, Co. Kilkenny (a great blog post on Liam's first month on the patch can be read here) while Julian Wyllie gets the momentum going at Skibbereen in West Cork with a Mediterranean Gull.
Iceland Gull at Grange Castle Business Park, Clondalkin © Ian Stevenson