Friday, 29 April 2016

Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find 2015 - The Winner

Voting is closed and the results are in. The winner is of course Tom Raven's Hudsonian Godwit at Shapwick Heath. It had it all as an inland mega blocker. It was cryptic enough to hide amongst its cogeners but then gave itself up to the masses whilst disappearing on a regular basis. It garnered 95 of the 137 votes cast and rightly wins Tom a pair of Bresser 8.5 x 45 Montana binoculars. Please check out the Forest Optics website as they continue to support us for #PWC2016 and like their facebook page. Of course the Hudwit wasn't Tom's only find of the year with Night Heron, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Dusky and Savi's Warblers all falling to his points cannon amongst others. Our heartiest congratulations to Tom!

Tom Raven's Hudsonian Godwit - Courtesy of James Packer
Despite Mark and James's best efforts to label it 'just a Yellow-legged Gull' in the podcast, Dave Roberts' fine Azorean Gull from Marston STW finishes in second place on 11 votes and 8% of the vote.

Azorean Gull - Ben Ward
Niall Keogh snagged third spot with a wandering Northern Harrier which he initially picked up at Kilcoole and was identified definitively shortly after. The Northern Harrier finished with 8 votes which constituted 6% of the vote.

Northern Harrier - Alan Lauder
The remainder of the top 10 finished like this:

4) Paul Sullivan, Broad-billed Sandpiper - 5 votes/4%
5) Ryan Irvine, Red-flanked Bluetail - 4 votes/3%
6) Dave Suddaby, Two-barred Crossbill -  4 votes 3%
7) Toby Collett, Wilson's Phalarope - 3 votes 2%
8) Alastair Forsyth, Gull-billed Tern - 3 votes 2%
9) Mick Turton, Laughing Gull - 2 votes 1%
10) Paul Parsons, Black Stork - 2 votes 1%

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.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - March 2016

Rob Hall's excellent PPB total of 1.493 sees him take top spot in the comparative league. 79.7% is an excellent score for a coastal site by this time of the year. Scott Mayson is in second with a patch tick Rock Pipit whilst Craig Fulcher secures third place.

A good run of two pointers for James Brown at North Lowestoft has given him an 11 point buffer at the end of the first quarter of the year. Paul Eele bags second spot with four more species than Craig Fulcher, but they are matching on points with an impressive 153 at the end of March. With Spring just around the corner, it could be all change by the end of May with plenty of bonus point potential on this stretch of the coast.


The delay in spring migration seemed to be evident in this league, with few spring migrants making the highlights. March is a great month to catch up with Black Redstart and James Appleton and James Brown did just that. March was also notable for movements in Firecrests along the coast, this little gem put in appearances at Southwold, North Lowestoft, Gibraltar Point and Titchwell.

A monster Glaucous Gull was at North Lowestoft whilst James Brown also located a large white bird of a different kind - the White Stork however was not added to any points scores due to questionable origins. Even so, impressive bird to find on patch.

Glaucous Gull at North Lowestoft (photo c/o James Brown)

The spread of Red Kites means that a few patchers had this graceful raptor in their highlights. Rarer still was a Rough-Legged Buzzard for Paul Eele at Titchwell, definitely the raptor highlight of the month from this part of the UK. Much less confiding were records of Jack Snipe at Titchwell and two patches recorded Bittern.

Finally two patches hit patchgold this month. Yellowhammers are becoming scarcer in many parts of the country but are recorded at an average of just one a year at Southwold. Equally, a pair of Grey Partridge was a bit special for James Appleton at his Happisburgh patch.

#Patchgold - c/o James Appleton

Inland East Anglia Minileague - March 2016

Tim Phillips bagged his first ever two pointer when a Red Kite sailed across his patch and this double pointer sees him past Adam Nicholls into top spot at the end of the first quarter. Nick Moran's first patch Shag since 2005 ensured that he bagged third place at the end of the first quarter.

Shag at Thetford - March 2016 (photo c/o Nick Moran)

In the points league, Luke Wake's good year at Fen Drayton continued in fine style with Black-Necked Grebe the highlight. Nick Moran at Thetford goes one place higher than the comparative league in second whilst Ben Rackstraw is enjoying life on his new patch adding Bewick's Swan and Cetti's Warbler in March leaving him just shy of 100 species, a barrier which will surely fall in April.


The delay in spring arrivals shows in the monthly highlights with just a handful of migrants bucking the trend of a continuing winter picture. Classic early species such as Garganey were recorded at two sites whilst Jim Bradley had an early Swallow on the 25th. Whooper Swans were noted at a couple of sites and an Iceland Gull was an excellent find for Terry Stopher at Great Livermere. Willow Tit is a much sought after bird these days, so a bird at Lakenheath for Nick Moran was very welcome, as was a brace of Ravens flying over the Nunneries. A Yellow-Legged Gull was just a second patch record for Mike McCarthy at Taverham and Ringland.

It is always a bonus if seabirds are found on an inland patch, even if the points don't reflect the personal satisfaction. James Emerson and Jamie Wells both cashed in on the inland Common Scoter movement with birds at Whitlingham GP and Paxton Pits whilst Nick Moran added Kittiwake to his growing Thetford list in the month. Paxton Pits also had Grey Plover and Rock Pipit in month, both scarce inland visitors.

Kittiwake at Nunnery Lakes - March 2016 (photo c/o Nick Moran)
One of the easier three pointers for East Anglia birders is Common Crane with birds wandering from breeding grounds becoming more of a regular feature in monthly round-ups. This month Jerry Lanfear added this to his totals. For some inland patches, even two pointers are hard to come by. So it was a good month for Rob Pople who scored his first double pointer of the year in the form of a Little Egret.

Finally, there is always room in an update for a good dose of patchgold, and this month it was not in short supply. Joe Harkness had his first Lesser Redpoll and Marsh Tit in two years at Haverlingland Hall whilst Redshank was a patch rarity for Mike McCarthy. Finally Stuart Reeves scored a full fat patch tick with a Canada Goose in the month, genuine airgrab moment!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Inland North Minileague - March 2016

David Franklin finishes March with a BOOM! A flyover Goosander and a returning Sand Martin at Campsall CP and Instoneville make him the first person in the minileague to reach the 100% milestone. While David keeps his Askem patch in second place, Ryan McClarence loses ground and drops into fifth place. Making a leap from thirteenth to steal third is Nick Tonge at Rodley who connected with a further fifteen species in March.

Duncan Bye continues to lead the pack in the Inland North points minileague with single point seperateing him from second place. Duncan's eleven points this month included Mediterranean Gull and Common Scoter which were both patch ticks for him at Wheldrake Ings. Chris Bradshaw remains in second place but applies the pressure by closing the gap. Nuthatch was a new species for the site at Wykeham Lakes and he also patch ticked Kittiwake this time out after good numbers were spread inland. John Law remains in third spot as he added 11 points for March.

Long-eared Owl - Ryan McClarence
There were precisely no bonus points acquired during March in a somewhat surprising turn of events - hopefully some over shooting migrants or moving wildfowl rectify this for April! Alan Todd managed to add Stonechat to his patchlist at Mootlaw Quarry, Bill Aspin had his earliest House Martin in 63 years of watching Brockholes whilst additions of Yellow-legged Gull and Osprey were noteworthy. Chris Knight at Thritoft added a trio of new birds to his patchlist with Firecrest a great bird in the Inland North. Phil Oddy had his first record of Woodcock at his Poynton Pool micropatch which is accruing birds at a very decent rate.

Inland Scotland Minileague - March 2016

Chris Pendlebury's grip on the comparative table loosens a little but only by the loss of third spot. His Dunblane patch is top of the tree on 77% having added his annual Redshank. His Blairdrummond patch moves on to 76% with Whooper Swan his March highlight there. At Cambus, Graeme Garner moves into third place after patch ticking both Short-eared Owl and Golden Plover.

Green-winged Teal, Croy - Jonathan Clarke

The inland behemoth that is Loch Leven keeps David Douglas on top of the Inland Scotland tree. This month he adds 9 points, keeping him 15 clear of Alastair Forsyth in second place with highlights including a Little Egret. Graeme Garner's new patch at Clackmannan is in third place on 79 points.

Liberton East and West Goshawk, Geoff Morgan
Find of the month goes to Jonathan Clarke at Croy after turning up a patch Green-winged Teal (one of two on his patch this month). One Goshawk made two patch lists as Geoff Morgans patches, Liberton East and West join at his abode so he raced round the house to see it from both front and back gardens! Also at Liberton East Geoff found the third Icelandic Redwing for Lothian, surely under recorded but it also shows Martin Garner's legacy in the competition. At Penicuik, Mike Hodgkin added Twite for a two-point bonus.  

Coastal South Minileague - March 2016

A whopping 23 points added by Amy Robjohns in March means she is on a heady 78.8% and 8% clear of the field. What a fantastic start to the year - perhaps Amy will be challenging overall by the year end? This months additions included Velvet Scoter, Water Pipit and Glaucous Gull which were all new patch birds for her plus Osprey and Black-necked Grebe. Paul Freestone upped the ante and moved up from 12th to second with 46 points and 40% added at Gwithian after a patch tick of Common Scoter and finding a Glaucous Gull and a Dartford Warbler. Stephanie Brown also moved up the table on her Swanage patch after a good start to the year.

Rob Rackliffe - Northern Long-tailed Tit

Amy's domination of the Coastal South minileagues is complete as she does the double this month after overhauling the early dominance of Joe Cockram. Joe himself added a patch first Glaucous Gull to hang on to second place from his namesake, Joe Stockwell at Ferrybridge. Joe S added a brace of Siberian Chiffchaffs for some meagre bonus points which keeps him in contact with the top two.

Siberian Chiffchaff - Joe Stockwell
Other good bits included four Northern Long-tailed Tits for Rob Rackcliffe and some bonus points to boot. There were still a trio of Yellow-browed Warblers on patch for Ilya Maclean but his highlight was perhaps the Ring-necked Parakeet that put in an appearance at Loe Pool. Mark Lawlor on Guernsey managed a first Shoveler for Hommet to Rousse whilst on Portland it was a Red-legged Partridge that got Sean Foote jumping for joy.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Coastal Ireland Minileague - March 2016

Another month at the top of the Coastal Ireland Comparative Minileague table for Noel Keogh who makes it to 90% during March with a Gadwall at South Dublin Bay, his 100th species there. Climbing the ranks and into second place is Eleanor Keane, patching for her second year from the Killiney Hill to Dun Laoghaire coastline where 6 Brambling, 3 Buzzards and a Kestrel were all great patch birds plus the addition of her first Chiffchaff of the year on 29th March resulting in an end of first quarter score of 80%. One to watch!

Regular faces at the top of the table, Eamonn O’Donnell and Neal Warnock, take up third and fourth place respectively. Eamonn was treated to a patch tick Jay and his second patch record of Shoveler at Ninch/Laytown while a Greenland White-fronted Goose was a patch tick for Neal at Larne Lough (with Tufted Duck, Pintail, Gadwall, Common Scoter and Iceland Gull as other notable highlights).

Three contestants come in with a score of 127 points at the top of the Coastal Ireland Points Minileague by the end of the month but no surprise that it is Dave Suddaby which bests them all with the highest points per bird score of 1.337 at Blacksod where 22 Greenland White-fronted Geese, a Jack Snipe and a Black Redstart were his highlights for March.

Other notable mentions throughout the month included a Water Pipit at Tramore Backstrand for Arlo Jacques, the first Manx Shearwater of the year for Christopher O’Sullivan off Inchydoney, a #patchgold Pintail at Belfast Harbour RSPB reserve was the first one Derek Polley has seen there in 18 years visiting the site, Pintail was also notable for Tom Moore at Kilmore Quay along with Stock Dove, a trio of Spoonbills and a drake Green-winged Teal graced Tacumshin Lake for Noel Keogh and finally, Niall Keogh caught up with the (in)famous Forster’s Tern at Mutton Island for his Galway City patch. 

Greenland White-fronted Goose © Neal Warnock

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Inland Ireland Minileague - March 2016

We see some very high scores on the Inland Ireland Comparative Minileague table by the end of the first quarter. Niall Keogh caught up with Kingfisher at Kilbogget Park where some viz-mig Meadow Pipits and Skylarks over the football pitches also bolstered his first place score, taking him to 91.7%. In close second on 87.7% is Des Higgins who had a productive month at University College Dublin with flyover Cormorant and Buzzard plus Reed Bunting and Stonechat in the few remaining ruderal sites on campus.

In minileagues such as this, just one or two species can make a huge difference to your comparative score, so with a number of ‘guaranteed’ spring migrants just around the corner we could see some vying for top spot here over the coming months.

Alan Lauder and Darragh Sinnott make no mention of notable highlights during March but gain ground with common species, taking them into the mid-70% region.

Andrew Power continues to top the points table for the second month in a row at Kildavin where a late evening Wigeon coming in to roost on the pit was the highlight of his month. Andrew has the highest overall species total in the minileague with 66 species earning 73 points.

Elsewhere, the 2cy Iceland Gull at Grange Castle Business Park continued its stay for Ian Stevenson’s Grand Canal Way patch, a Glaucous Gull showed up at Skibbereen for Julian Wyllie, a female Brambling visited Christian Osthoff’s garden feeders at Carrigmore, a Merlin was seen at Lough Ree by Brian Burke, a Cormorant on the River Dodder was the first there for several years for Mary Fitzgerald and Liam Lysaght finally got Tree Sparrows at Bramblestown after much effort!

Brambling © Christian Osthoff

Des and Julian are neck and neck in eight place with 50 points apiece. Darragh also finishes the month with a score of 50 points and while he is a species higher than the guys in eighth place, it is the points per bird (PPB) score which sorts out the rankings in this case. Overall, the highest PPB score on the table (of 1.200) goes to Alan Lauder mostly due to his garden tick White-tailed Eagle last month!

Midlands Minileague - March 2016

Andrew Chick continues to lead at Fulbeck with three further points added in March taking him to 81.6% with a herd of 25 Whooper Swans his highlight. Phil Hyde is in second spot just 2% behind with a patch tick of Nuthatch this month. Andy Sims goes over the century of points and moves onto 78.5%. At Boultham Mere Andy added Kittiwake which is his 4th record and also 9 Black-tailed Godwits which were the 2nd record in the last 10 years there.

Apologies for the tiny writing now in the minileagues - there are just so many of you in the Midlands - best to enlarge for a better view. Erik Ansell at Rutland continues to lead and is on a monster 141 points including Garganey and Pink-footed Goose. Rod Baker is nine points back with his March highlight a Firecrest. John Hopper is in third place having added 28 points this month. His brace of Cranes for six points were the highlight but an inland Kittiwake was also not to be sniffed at and neither was the flock of 49 Common Scoter. 

female Brambling at RSPB Langford - Carl Cornish
The other set of bonus points this month were for Matthew Hazelton who uncovered a Great White Egret at Summer Leys for 6 points. Another Great White Egret was at Linford NR where Rob Hill managed to see it. Elsewhere there were floods of migrants coming in and going out. Three patchers managed to connect with Garganey and two had Ospreys pass through. As mentioned above Kittiwakes were a feature and six patchers managed to find them. One lucky patcher managed a Midlands Goshawk but we wont elaborate further for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Inland South Minileague - March 2016

Stephanie Brown has added a further 17 points in March to lead with 91% at Twyford over last months table topper, Richard Scantlebury. Stephanie's highlights include Lesser Redpoll and Yellowhammer. Ian Bennell is in third on a stunning 88.5% as his new addition to the family hasnt yet put the breaks on. This month he lists Grey Partridge which was a patch tick and Little Owl, a long awaited returner, as his highlights.

After getting bonus points for refinding the Bonaparte's Gull earlier in the year at Tring, Lee Evans adds 11 points this month including a few early migrants to hold onto top spot by a narrow margin with a trio of patchers lined up four points back. Tom Raven starts his challenge at the Somerset Carmargue with bonus points coming in the form of Ring-necked Duck which did the decent thing and relocated from Glastonbury. Tom also added Short-eared Owl which was one of the few species that avoided him last year. Joining Tom in second is Nick Croft who added Hooded Crow for the second year running at Wanstead along with an early Wheatear, Ian Bennell is the third part of the chasing pack at Tring.

Hooded Crow, Wanstead - Nick Croft
This month saw the arrival of the first hirundines, Little Ringed Plovers and Wheatears across the region whilst early breeding scarcities like Cetti's Warblers and Woodlark piped up to get points for several patchers. There were no further bonus points aside from Tom's Yank quack. Other highlights include Tim Farr's first Avocet for Sutton Bingham reservoir.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Wales Minileague - March 2016

Alastair Flannagan and Trevor Fletcher both make it into the 70% bracket during March in the Wales Comparative Minileague. Alastair continues his reign in first place where his earliest patch Sand Martin (6th March) brought him to 76% at Swansea Vale to Fendrod Lake. A pair of Tufted Ducks in a moate (!) at Rudry Common were a most welcome #fullfatpatchtick for Trevor Fletcher who sits in second place at 72%.

Chris Jones gains 9% at Llysfaen and moves into third place while some Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers at Brynna Woods help Tony Swann jump from seventh to fourth.

A hefty 20 point gain ensures Richard Dobbins remains in first place in the Wales Points Minileague for another month. Coot and Tufted Duck were some proper #patchgold for him at Teifi. Also patching at Teifi is Wendy James who takes second place this month with her star bird being a Common Scoter at the mouth of the estuary. Steady in third place is Ceri Jones at Comeston, Sully and Lavernock where a Firecrest was highlight of the month. 

Ceri is a stalwart BirdTrack contributor with over 200 complete lists and over 4,500 records submitted during PWC so far. Overall, BirdTrack'ing in the Wales minileague is something to be envious of... fast closing in on 800 complete lists and 20,000 records!

Chough © Henry Cook

Spring migrants were thin on the ground, Dan Rouse logging a Willow Warbler at WWT Llanelli and a Common Tern at Morfas Bacas while Alex Jones connected with a Common Sandpiper at Rhyl (along with an Iceland Gull) and David Carrington getting in on the action with Garganey at Sker and Kenfig (which also happens to be the top scoring inland site in the minileague).

The best of the rest included an Avocet at Aberthaw (David Pritchard), a fine trio of Slavonian Grebe, Velvet Scoter and Firecrest at Little Orme (Henry Cook) and a further Firecrest at Ogmore Estaury (Paul Roberts).

Islands Minileague - March 2016

While a number of challengers suggested March was a quiet month on their respective islands, there was still a steady progression up the minileagues and highlights added by a number of folk this month. The humble Woodpigeon graced the paths of both Emma Webb and Russel Neave at Sanday providing them with a much needed tick. Elswhere, more common mainland species attracted attention with Great tit for Ed Tooth on the Farne Islands, a tricky combination of Jackdaw and Rook for Alastair Forsyth at Palace, Birsay, a #patchgold Mute Swan for John Headon at Hugh Town and Lower Moots, and finally a Mistle Thrush at Brevig for Bruce Taylor. 

John Bowler at Balephuil made no additions to his patch list for the month, instead trading it for the warmer climes of Cambodia, where he managed 350 species and 130 world lifers including Giant Ibis! While he listed no highlights for the month, Steve Minton did make do with multiple viewings of the aurora from Scatness...

Awesome aurora (Credit: Steve Minton)

Moving on to the comparative minileague, David Wood moves his Oa, Islay patch into pole position, knocking Paul Higson down into second place. Having finished in third last month, IanT at Askernish now finds himself dropping into fifth behind Bryan Rains and Barrie Hamil in third and fourth. A number of patchworkers broke the 50% barrier in March - Steve Minton, Stuart Taylor and Sean Morris.

No change at the top of the points league with John Bowler and his Balephuil patch still reigning supreme on 94 species and 146 points despite being in Cambodia for six weeks. Paul Higson at Quoyangry is slowly catching up, closing the gap to nine points. Will that sabbatical off patch prove costly for John Bowler next month!?

Elswhere, Mark Newall connected with a Water Pipit on the Isle of May (3rd island record and a patch tick), however, it wasn't enough to keep him from descending two places down the league. Sean Morris managed to move both his patches up the board from last place. A brute of a Glaucous Gull graced his Kilmory patch but more impressively, Sean added 433 BirdTrack records for Kilmory and 659 records for Kinloch. Great effort!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Coastal Scotland Minileague - March 2016

March finally saw Chris Rodger swiped from his perch at the top of the comparative leader board. Adding another 5% wasn't quite enough for him to hold onto his reign at the top. Stepping up to the plate is Stephen Welch and his Gosford Bay patch. He managed an impressive leap from third place with 17% gained since February!

At Aberlady Bay, Mike Hodgkin is also progressing up the league table with an 8% increase, moving him into fourth place and hot on the heels of Andrew Whitehouse who didn't manage to add a single species for the month.

He may have slipped on the comparative scores but Chris Rodger isn't giving up the top spot on the points league. With a tidy haul of birds including Black-throated Diver, he's increased his lead over second place by seven points.

Adding Iceland Gull could prevent Geoff Morgan and his Barns Ness patch dropping into fourth place as Stephen Welch and Mike Hodgkin move up the points league. Iceland Gull featured elsewhere this month, with Colin Davison (Scoughall) and Andrew Whitehouse (Girdle Ness and Torry) both connecting with a white-winger.

Iceland Gull, Barns Ness (credit: Geoff Morgan)

Highlights were slim for March with Iceland Gull gracing the three patches mentioned above and a small selection of waterbirds enjoyed by Stephen Welch at Gosford Bay - Whooper and Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Stephen yet again impressed with his BirdTrack recording, managing 581 record submissions! Elsewhere, Common Crossbill was encountered by Jonathan Clarke at Whiteness Head and a Red-necked Grebe for Geoff Morgan at Barns Ness.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Coastal North Minileague - March 2016

Ever one of the Challenges more lively leagues, the Coastal North did not disappoint during March - a scattering of rarities, no end of scarcities and some early migrants making for an all around lively month. Looking first at the comparative table and Stewart Sexton continues to reign supreme at Howick. With an impressive score pre-migration score of 64% Stewart holds on by the skin of his teeth this month, second place Ash Baines snapping at his heels following a lightening advance up the table. John Chapman concludes the glorious triumvirate this month with 59% of his 2015 score at Whitburn South; followed by Jonathan Farooqi in fourth and Damian Money in fifth respectively. Further down the table a host of other PWC stalwarts continue to build on their scores and with the onset of spring migration it will be interesting to see what the table looks like come April.

To the points league now and perpetual high-scorer Mick Turton steals the top spot following a great good run at Easington; former front-runner Ross Ahmed finding himself relegated to second place at South Tyneside. With a mere two points separating the top two it will exciting to see how this budding rivalry develops in the coming months. Third place this month goes to Jonathan Farooqi at Hadston to Hemscott while further down Nick Addey sits just outside of the top free with 141 points at Long Nab.

In terms of birds seen throughout March the pickings were far from slim in the Coastal North; some glaring rarities comprising Green-Winged Teal for John Chapman, Surf Scoter for Jane Turner and Siberian Chiffchaff for Will Scott. March, as ever, provided a real mix of returning migrants and typical winter fare; Black-Throated Diver, Velvet Scoter and Whooper Swan cropping up in the highlights for a number of competitors. With these, Iceland Gulls for both Mark Harper and Gary Storey, Snow Bunting for Ross Ahmed and Jack Snipe for Ash Baines. In terms of the migrants notched throughout the month; Black Redstart featured for five competitors while Little Ringed Plover, Wheatear and Sand Martin appeared as highlights - ever some of the earliest migrants to return. Looking quickly at some of the #patchgold unearthed during the month and Andy Hood's Bittern certainly warrants a mention, marking only the third record for Flamborough. Elsewhere Coot for Nick Addey was a less than annual tick and yours truly finally caught up with Rook on the Blyth Estuary - about bloody time!

Iceland Gull - Newbiggin - Gary Storey

- James C (Patchwork Challenge)