Wednesday 23 November 2016

Estuarine Minileague - October 2016

October was a busy month in the Estuarine Minileague with rafts of scarce birds featuring in the reported highlights by patch contestants. 

Ian Ballam continues at the top of the comparative league with one of a number of Yellow-browed Warblers reported in the Estuarine league this month, this one at his Lychett Bay patch. Other additions were patch firsts in the form of Golden Plover and Whooper Swan.

Paul Freestone is in second place, just over 2% behind Ian. Paul spent some of October on Scilly, so was relieved to find the Franklin's Gull at the Hayle Estuary had decided to hang around for his return! Shaun Robson who also birds Lytchett is in third with plenty of YBW action and a Ring Ouzel, less than annual at the site.

In total, ten patches have beaten the 100% mark, great news for them but making #PWC2017 a tougher prospect with a higher comparative to aim at.

In the points league, long term leader Dave Craven has finally been displaced by the Wash reserves who have been waiting in the wings all year. Paul Sullivan had an excellent month with Glossy Ibis getting bonus points and a quality supporting cast including Sooty Shearwater, Firecrest, Long-tailed Duck, Long-Billed Dowitcher, YBW, Grey Phalarope and Black-necked Grebe. A pretty decent haul which sees him on 272 points from 187 species.

It is harsh on Dave Craven to be displaced in a month where he was in fine form himself. Pectoral Sandpiper and YBW both brought bonus points to the west coast, the latter a patch tick involving more than ten birds to Hale and Pickerings Pasture including five on one day. Gannet and Guillemot provided a coastal flavor whilst Hawfinch and Cetti's Warbler were second and third records for Dave there.

Toby Collett moves into the top three pushing Howard Vaughan into fourth. Toby scored bonus points for a very showy Long-billed Dowitcher as well as enjoying many of the birds noted earlier. Howard himself had a fine month, although he had to visit on the days he wasn't working on patch to get Cattle Egret and Dusky Warbler, the latter on the second record for London. He also had a few two pointers including Woodlark and Hen Harrier.

Cattle Egret at Rainham Marshes (c) Howard Vaughan

Max Hellicar also got in on the Rainham action with the Dusky and Cattle Egret. Meanwhile Yellow-browed Warblers made the day of seven patchers after easterlies brought many of these stunning Sibes to UK. Yellow-browed Warbler and Great White Egret are two of the more likely bonus pointers, and two more patchers got in on the GWE action with birds at Sharpness and Saul Warth. A number of Long-tailed Ducks made appearances across the UK in the month, and the Estuarine league didn't miss out with birds at Frampton and Saltholme. Elliot Montieth at Birkenhead Docks scored a patch first Firecrest, but his main highlight was the fall of his target bird for the year, a Leach's Petrel which put in an appearance after strong north-westerlies.

Final mention has to go to Simon Brebner who had a superb month at Paull Holme Strays. After just one species added in a quiet September, he added eleven species in October including all four skuas on the same day. When the weather is right, seabirds will make their way up the Humber, but to get all four skuas including a patch first Long-tailed is great going.

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