Monday, 21 March 2016

Estuarine Minileague - February 2016

A Short-Eared Owl was the highlight for Joost Brandsma who has hit the 75% mark after just two months of the year. His 87 points is 14 higher than his total at the same time last year putting him well on the way to challenging his highest patch score to date. Paul Freestone is pushing him hard however, less than one percent adrift with an Iceland Gull his February highlight. Martin Elcoate makes up the top three, with bonus points for his self-found Siberian Chiffchaff a perfect birthday present.

In the points league Dave Craven continues an excellent start to the year and has a 5 point gap at this early stage. Whilst his points per bird is lower than that of Howard Vaughan and Daniel Newton in second and third, 121 species is a distance ahead of the opposition and one ahead of where John Badley was in top spot in 2015. Dave had a Firecrest early in the month before a gull takeover resulted in four Iceland and two Glaucous on patch.

In second place, Howard Vaughan at Rainham Marshes had a Goshawk in the month, but as is often the case on Howard's patch it was a seabird that gave the punching the air moment, with a Fulmar on the 13th only the third site record.

Fulmar was an excellent record for Rainham Marshes, photo c/o Jonathan Wasse
It wouldn't be Estuarine without Frampton/Freiston getting into the mix and they are not far off the pace, filling the next three spots. It has been a slower start for the site compared to last year however, Black Brant, Bittern and an out of season Little Stint being the highlights for February.

Black Brant c/o Toby Collett

Stuart Darbyshire's excellent month ensures that he leads the battle of Hesketh Out Marsh, with Eider, Woodcock and Jack Snipe all being personal full patch ticks and Rock Pipit his second record. Meanwhile the January American Wigeon continue its stay through February at this west coast site.
Meanwhile, a contender for record of the month goes to a rather unseasonal Storm Petrel. A good February bird anywhere, this was Peter Hazlewood's first for the site and the first record there since 1990. Meanwhile, on the seabird theme Andy Jordan at Sharpness was less content with a Skua passing through his site having to remain unidentified due to insufficient views and therefore adding no points, the one that got away.
Final word goes to Joe Stockwell at RSPB Arne who gets this months patch gold award with his Moorhen making his monthly highlights (with exclamation marks).

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