The coastal north is undoubtedly one of Patchwork Challenge's most competitive leagues and thus far in 2016, things appear to be progressing rather nicely. Indeed, prior to the excitement and multi-point scoring species that so often coincide with Spring migration, many competitors have already wracked up some impressive comparative scores and points totals.
Looking first at the comparative league and Stewart Sexton reigns supreme at Howick with 59% of his 2015 score, adding a pair of scarcities in the form of Twite and Great Northern Diver. Another Northumbrian contestant, Jonathan Farooqi comes in at second, boasting a similarly impressive score of 54% derived from 110 species and 136 points at Hadston to Hemscott Hill. John Chapman takes third place at Whitburn South, adding his first Barn Owl in quite some time while further down the table things remain close between Damian Money, James Spencer, Seaumus Eaves and Iain Robson.
To the points league now and PWC newcomer Ross Ahmed holds the spot with a whopping 154 points and 121 species in South Tyneside, notching a host of goodies including Shorelark, Short-Eared Owl and Long-Tailed Duck. Jonathan Farooqi takes second place in this league also, followed by Nick Addey in third, who holds his own despite being out of the country for most of the month. Further down the table, Andy Hood takes fourth place while a mere two points separate PWC stalwarts Iain Robson and James Common in fifth and sixth.
In terms of the birds seen throughout February, two glaring rarities stand out. Firstly; Surf Scoter for Tom Giles at Old Gunsite and secondly; Long-Billed Dowitcher for Iain Robson at Druridge Pools. Atypical winter fare was well represented this month; a count of fifty Little Gull for Stephan Dunstan surely rather pleasing and an array of grebes, seaducks and divers noted by various other patchers. Among these; Red-Necked Grebe for Andy Hood, Black-Throated Diver for Alan Crosley and Velvet Scoter for Duncan Watson at Tynemouth. Two Iceland Gulls were sighted in February, for Duncan Watson and Martin Kerby while Mark Harper nabbed Shorelark at Whitburn. Elsewhere instances of #patchgold were rife in the North, some highlights including James Common's first Blyth Tree Sparrow, Stonechat for Nick Addey and Merlin for Chris Small.
- James C (Patchwork Challenge)