Thursday, 28 April 2016

Estuarine Minileague - March 2016

Both Paul Freestone and Joost Brandsma have passed the 80% marker this month. Paul takes the top spot with his first six pointer of the year in the form of a Ring-Billed Gull, a Glaucous Gull and Avocet which is still a hard bird to find in the far south-west. With both spring and autumn to come it looks like a great year is in the making at both sites. Martin Elcoate completes the top three at his Topsham patch.

Dave Craven continues his dominance at the top of the points league in the early part of the year. He added Bittern, Caspian Gull, Brent Goose and Red Kite in the month to bring his species total for the year to an impressive 135. Howard Vaughan and Daniel Newton are keeping on the pressure though in second and third! With spring wader passage to come it can only get more exciting still for estuarine sites.

There were some decent birds in the estuarine league in March. Alan Crossley at Saltholme became the latest to bag 3 points for a yank duck with a Green-Winged Teal. Gordon Hodgson landed a three pointer when he linked up with a Great Grey Shrike at his Saul Warth / Frampton patch, an excellent addition to his patch list. Great White Egrets are perhaps one of the easier three pointers and both Howard Vaughan and Ian Ballam doubled that with finds at RSPB Rainham Marshes and Lytchett Bay. Perhaps surprisingly given its south coast location, this is just the fourth record for Lytchett Bay, so was very welcome indeed. For Howard a Goldeneye on the 18th was a patch rarity and very 'smileworthy'.

Great Grey Shrike finally posed close enough for a distant record shot. c/o Gordon Hodgson

Two of the birds of March were Black Redstart and Firecrest, with many birds recorded across the UK. Estuarine patches were no exception with records from two patches for each of these smart looking birds. In particular Daniel Newton at the Lincolnshire Wash Reserves scored for both. Despite Daniel having these and a Black Brant in month, his highlight and air grab moment came from a pair of Goosander on the 3rd.

Shaun Robson unearthed a Sibe Chiffchaff in the month which got him an extra two points into the bargain. There were plenty of white wingers still around in the UK during March and Elliot Monteath got in on the act with an Iceland Gull at Birkenhead Docks. He also scored with Jack Snipe and Common Scoter. Joe Stockwell had a raptor rich March with Goshawk and Red Kite at RSPB Arne. Lytchett Fields yielded that most elusive of birds, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, for Martin Wood. A Water Pipit was the highlight of the month for Colin Bushell at Hesketh Out Marsh whilst a Brent Goose was a patch tick at the same location for Stuart Darbyshire.

Finally, a Goosander wins the patchgold award in Estuarine league for March, just the second record in three years at Topsham. Meanwhile a Sandwich Tern at Oldbury Power Station on the 28th was the earliest ever record for South Gloucs.

Back of the camera shot of the fourth record of GWE at Lytchett Bay c/o Ian Ballam.

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