Sunday, 26 June 2016

Coastal North Minileague - May 2016

A further 14% this month keeps Ash Baines top of the Coastal North minileague and the only person pushing the 100% mark. His highlights this month were a Spoonbill, Whinchat and 13 Black Terns. Pete Marsh stays in second place in the comparative minileague despite no submission for May. Iain Robson has had an awesome month adding 19% and climbing from 9th to 3rd place. Despite no bonus points he did add Broad-billed Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret. 

#patchgold Nuthatch - Andy Hood

Mick Turton puts down a marker this month by stretching his lead from 6 points to 35 points. There were three species that he didnt add in 2015 with Thrush Nightingale, Blue-headed Wagtail and Montagu's Harrier welcome additions. Mick also scored bonus points for a trio of Common Cranes coasting south. Ross Ahmed holds on to second place with Grey-headed Wagtail, Pec Sand and Garganey new this month. Andy Hood manages to take his Flamborough patch above Nick Addey's at Long Nab as local tensions ratchet up. Andy managed Surf Scoter, Hoopoe, Glaucous Gull and #patchgold Nuthatch which breeds no closer than 20 miles away in the North Yorkshire moors.

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Paul French
This springs rarities avoided being found by the patchers but there was a good selection of decent birds and finds with a Bluethroat for Damian Money at Saltburn, 2 Glossy Ibis heading south at Whitburn for Mark Harper, Red-breasted Flycatcher at Spurn for Paul French and a Red-backed Shrike for Nick Addey at Long Nab. Paul French also caught up with Common Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike at Spurn whilst other notable birds included a non-assigned Subalpine Warbler for Jane Turner and a Citrine Wagtail for Alan Crossley at North Gare.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Islands Minileague - May 2016

Some of the highlights from a fantastic May in the Islands Minileague: top left - Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Steve Minton); top centre - Blyth's Pipit (Steve Stansfield); top right - Greenish Warbler (Ben Porter); bottom left - Black Kite (Steve Stansfield); bottom centre - Eastern Subalpine Warbler (Steve Stansfield); bottom right - Rook (John Bowler)

David Wood tops the Islands Comparative Minileague at the end of May with a clear 12% lead on IanT at Askernish who drops to second after taking the lead last month. David owes his good fortune to bonus points gleaned from a Subalpine Warbler found at The Oa along with some good supporting cast for Islay in the form of Turtle Dove and Little Ringed Plover. He finishes the month with 98% and ready to hit his target soon.

Plenty of change in the rankings elsewhere on the comp table with many contestants adding well to their scores in what was a very productive month to be patching on an island. Six patch birders are now over 75% with Bryan Rains, Paul Higson and Steve Minton gaining ground in the top five.

Steve Stansfield who patches on the mighty island of Bardsey comes charging in and takes first place on the Islands Points Minileague table with a mega Spring record of Blyth's Pipit, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Black Kite, Red-breasted Flycatcher, two Greenish Warblers and a flock of Mute Swans (8th record for Bardsey). All of this results in 135 species, 219 points and 1.622 Points Per Bird, the highest score in each of those categories in the minileague. With a comp score of 308 points to work against, Steve has done well so far but still has a long way to go.

Former head of the table, John Bowler, isn't too far behind in second place at Balephuil. A Pectoral Sandpiper was his bonus points scoring highlight of the month (helping to take him over 200 points) but it was a migrant Rook which provided the real element of #patchgold as they are less than annual on the island!

Steve Minton dug out one of the rarity finds of the year with an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in his garden at Scatness. It may not be the most colourful of vagrants but let us not detract from its value too much here. Being the first Spring record since 2008, a well deserved 15 points awarded for finding that one will go down well with Steve! He secures himself a fourth place position as a result.

Like Bardsey, the Welsh island of Skomer has also been enjoying a great Spring where Jason Moss (in fifth place) provides us with the following mouth-watering update: "Iberiae Yellow Wagtail (and a decent looking one at that. Record to be sent to BBRC), Black-headed Bunting (8 previous records; 3rd year in a row), drake Garganey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier (2), Little Ringed Plover (island mega; 6 previous records), Cuckoo, Nightjar (another island biggy; 12 previous records), Nightingale (8 previous records), Woodchat Shrike (2 stonking males) and Red-backed Shrike (another stonking male)."... Wow!!

On Scilly, a singing Great Reed Warbler was a welcome surprise for John Headon at Hugh Town and Lower Moors. IanT connected with a Nightingale at Askernish, a patch first for him and a rare bird in general for Scotland. Red-breasted Flycatcher, Turtle Dove, Hawfinch and Common Redpoll showed up on Barra for Bruce Taylor while another Hawfinch was seen by Barry Hamill at Burray.  

Inland Scotland Minileague - May 2016

Another month goes by with a Chris Pendlebury double header at the top of the Inland Scotland Comparative Minileague table. A Spotted Flycatcher at Blairdrummond along with a supporting cast of the usual Spring migrants has brought him to 98.8% there by the end of May. He is sure to make it to 100% in June. 

A Pintail was a #patchgold patch tick for Graeme Garner at Cambus bringing his patch species list to 94 for the year (the highest in the minileague) and over the ton in terms of points. This puts him in third place on the comp table with a score of 87.069%, narrowly knocking Andy Cage down to fourth place at Kilmany where he added Osprey, Cuckoo and Grasshopper Warbler in May.

Alastair Forsyth and Graeme Garner both move past David Douglas at Loch Leven to take first and second place on the Inland Scotland Points Minileague during May with their post 100 points scores. Alastair secured the lead at Old Nisthouse where a Great Crested Grebe was a fine #patchgold patch tick for him. 

Great Crested Grebe © Alastair Forsyth (his patch blog link here)

Nice local patch birds for other contestants came in the form of a Cuckoo at the SRUC Aberdeen campus for Gus Routledge and two very nice migrating Dotterel at Penicuik Estate for Mike Hodgkin.

Alastair continues to lead the charge in terms of most BirdTrack lists and records entered but good to see Chris Pendlebury's Green patch at Dunblane in second with 35 lists and 867 records.

Coastal Scotland Minileague - May 2016

Chris Rodger finishes the month of May within striking distance of reaching his 100% target in the Coastal Scotland Comparative Minileague. An excellent month for him at Musselburgh lands him on 98.3% and still in first place thanks to highlights which included a Golden Oriole (found by fellow PWC birder, Colin Davison) and a 'superciliarus'-type Yellow Wagtail which would seem to have a lot of feldegg in it.

A Short-eared Owl was Stephen Welch's fourth record for his Godford Bay patch where he remains in second place for another month. Tor Hamilton climbs to fifth place from eight at Leith where a Grey Heron during May was a first that far upriver for the patch. Andrew Whitehouse is also making tracks moving up from ninth to seventh at Girdle Ness and Torry with a Red-backed Shrike providing bonus points there.

Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck at Barns Ness © Geoff Morgan

Colin Davison holds on to first place in the Coastal Scotland Points Minileague for another month with Black Tern, Iceland Gull and Humpback Whale added (although no points for the latter!). He is just two points ahead of Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay however who pipped Chris Rodger to the post for second place. The top three are all in the 140 and 180 points bracket at the end of May so it will be interesting to see how the rankings pan out through the somewhat quite summer period before autumn kicks in.

Geoff Morgan holds onto his fourth place raking at Barns Ness with 169 points, an equal score to Jim Dickson at the Crinan Canal Corridor who has a higher species count but is beaten by Geoff on the basis of Points Per Bird. The male Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck picture above contributed to this for Geoff.

Eleswhere, a Glossy Ibis at Starnafin Pools for Lorna Dow at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg was the only other notable highlight of the month.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Estuarine Minileague - May 2016

Terns and waders dominated the highlights in an exciting month in the Estuarine league.

A mixed Tern flock at Oldbury Power Station provided the highlight for Peter Hazlewood who picked South Gloucestershire's first Whiskered Tern along with seven Black Terns. It also helped him to sail past 100% marker in the comparative league and take top spot. Joost Brandsma added Cetti's Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher in the month to retain second place whilst Ian Ballam Lytchett Bay patch makes up the top three as he enjoyed watching Black-Winged Stilt and Glossy Ibis in what must have felt like a very continental May!

Dave Craven retains his top spot as his excellent year continues. Bonus points went into the pot for Honey Buzzard but others beat him to it for the month's rarest patch birds with a Broad-Billed Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint. Add to that a bunch of two-pointers and he still has quite a margin in top spot with a very impressive 171 species. The Frampton / Freiston powerhouse is well represented in the top ten, with Daniel Newton the highest in second. Howard Vaughan found a Serin in the month and enjoyed a rather confiding Razorbill in the least Razorbill-like habitat you could imagine.

Alan Crossley at Saltholme had a good month with a brace of Whiskered Terns as well as a Great Reed Warbler in full song. Daniel Newton's second spot in the points league was certainly assisted when he found a smart Broad-Billed Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint. Most of the patchers at Frampton / Freiston also bagged points for Wryneck whilst Black-Winged Stilts were the flavor of the month turning up at both Frampton and Lytchett Bay.

Glossy Ibis is now a regular feature of the spring in the UK and as such will be downgraded to a three pointer next year. For some though, it is still a rare bird as demonstrated by the bird at Lytchett Bay which was the first since two birds were shot in 1847! Also enjoying this elegant Ibis was Graham Jones at Hesketh Out Marsh who added bonus points for his find.

Another continental wanderer is the Purple Heron which put in appearances at Snettisham Coastal Park and Topsham, certainly the highlight of the month for Irene Boston and Martin Elcoate.

This Glossy Ibis at Lytchett Bay on May 11th was the first since 1847! c/o Ian Ballam

Monday, 20 June 2016

Wales Minileague - May 2016

Some highlights from a fantastic month in Wales: top left - Squacco Heron (Paul Roberts), top right - Blue-headed Wagtail (Henry Cook), bottom right - Gull-billed Tern (Barry Stewart) and bottom left - Wood Warbler (Henry Cook)

The first contestant to hit the 100% target in the Wales Comparative Minileague is Mike Cram whose Broughton and Llangennith patch was graced by a pair of flyover Great White Egrets! A well deserved six points there.

Alison C updates her score at Llanfair Talhaiarn where a male Stonechat in May takes her to second place with 95.7%. Can she continue to add to her comp score and vie for first place again this year? Her move up the table has caused a stir in the rankings, helping send several folk down a slot or two.

In third and fourth place, Henry Cook and Julian Hughes continue their battle for top spot at RSPB Conwy, now in the mid-90% bracket after both connecting with the reserves first record with Wood Warbler in May as well as a long staying Blue-headed Wagtail, Garganey and Spoobill.

The Teifi patch birders, Richard and Wendy, both added Pied Flycatcher to their year lists during May, a good species for the site (first record in 9 years of ringing there). Richard continues in first place on the Wales Points Minileague table with 174 points from 140 species. 

Barry Stewart is close behind in second with 171 points from 130 species at Burry Inlet where finding a Gull-billed Tern gave him a fine points boost along with additions of Spoonbill and Pochard. The tern was well twitched and did the honour of also showing up at Morfa Bacas and with the addition of a Bonaparte's Gull at nearby WWT Llanelli meant that it was a great month for Dan Rouse at both of her patches there.

Rare herons made the headlines again with two Cattle Egrets gaining finders points for Peter Howlett at Cardiff Bay and best of all, a fine Squacco Heron at Ogmore Estuary which made it on to Paul Roberts patch year list there!

Elsewhere, Alex Jones added Yellow-legged Gull at Rhyl, Lesser Whitethroat was a patch tick for Tony Swann at Brynna Woods, Chris Jones had a Redstart from his back garden at Llysfaen and a male Black-headed(ish) Wagtail at at the River Clwyd estuary (but with perhaps too grey a nape to be the real deal?).

Friday, 17 June 2016

Inland East Anglia Minileague - May 2016

Adam Nicholls continues to lead the way with an impressive 124% thanks in no part to doing his chores as he added Cuckoo while putting the bins out! Do your chores people! James Emerson managed to get in on the inland Black Tern invasion with 3 at Whitlingham as well as his first patch tick of the year, Whimbrel! Steve Chapman ousts Nick Moran out of the top 3 as he approaches 100%. Mike McCarthy and David Gomer are the big movers of the month but with only 10% separating 3rd and 9th there is all to play for as we go into the summer.

Common Crane
Four points seperate the top 3 as Luke Wake takes advantage of a blank month for Ben Lewis, adding Black Tern and Whimbrel. Jamie Wells had a good month adding 19 points. Much like the Coastal East Anglia highlights were thin on the ground but there was a common theme as Cranes, Garganey and Turtle Doves made it onto multiple lists while Joe Harkness and Irene Boston had the pleasure of watching Nightjars on their patch.


Coastal East Anglia Minileague - May 2016

No new additions for Rob Hall this month has seen James Brown close the gap to 6% at the top after he added 23 points with the help of 6pts for Great White Egret and a couple of 3 pointers including Greenish Warbler and Temminck's Stint. Scott Mayson climbs into the top 3 as he adds 7% for the month while Craig Fulcher has a quiet month on patch has he spent much of the month gallivanting around China. Ryan Irvine had a good month after 3.5 months off patch and managed to add 52 species including bonus points for Wryneck, Montagu's Harrier and Red-backed Shrike.

Red-backed Shrike, Hemsby c/o Ryan Irvine
James Brown is running away with the points league as his lead increases to 42 points. The top 3 remain as they were at the end of April. Highlights were thin on the ground and perhaps a sign of the times that Turtle Dove and Whinchat were highlights as they become ever harder to see on the coast this spring, well done Irene for catching up with both! A thought should go out for James Appleton who missed out on the Black-eared Wheatear on his patch, so close to a contender for best find prize!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Coastal Ireland Minileague - May 2016

Noel Keogh is the first to reach the 100% milestone on the Coastal Ireland Comparative Minileague table with some great patch birds for South Dublin Bay seen during May including singing migrant Reed Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler at Irishtown Nature Reserve plus a Great Skua and a Cuckoo(!) seen while seawatching the bay. He finished the month with a clear lead on 104.38%.

Eamonn O'Donnell adds Roseate Tern at Ninch/Laytown, completing the list of expected migrants for the site. This lands him on 90% but slips to fourth place due to the advancements of Eleanor Keane and Richard Donaghey. While watching four Wheatears at the West Pier Dun Laoghaire, a trio of Whimbrel flew overhead for Eleanor making an evening stroll all the more worthwhile as she finishes the month in second with 91.964%. Close behind in third is Richard who had a double duck patch tick day on 22nd May with a male Garganey and a female Scaup at the Bann Estuary. You can read more about Richard's patch birding exploits at the Bann Estuary on his blog post here

No major patch highlights for Neal Warnock at Larne Lough during May but at least these Dunlin showed well! © Neal Warnock

Noel's second patch site at Tacumshin, Co. Wexford is racing ahead on the Coastal Ireland Points Minileague table with 132 species yielding 173 points. That's 7 points clear of former table leader, Dave Suddaby at Blacksod who now sits in second place even after some #patchgold Shoveler. 

Seawatching from the sand dunes at Tacumshin has been productive for Noel, adding a trio of Great Skua, European Storm-petrel and a Black-throated Diver to the tally along with Spotted Flycatcher at the 'High Car Park', Curlew Sandpiper on the flats and a Hobby hunting over the marsh.

It has been a good Spring for Hobby in Ireland and Tom Moore got in on the action with one at Kilmore Quay (along with a most welcome Coal Tit!). A drake Garganey was backed up by a pair of Tufted Ducks at Chris O'Sullivan's patch at Clonakilty/Inhcydoney. Glaucous Gull was a fine addition during May for Michael O'Donnell at Kilmichael/Kilpatrick/Kilgorman and a Bullfinch at Belfast Harbour RSPB was Derek Polley's second record for the site, with the last being in 2010.

Inland Ireland Minileague - May 2016

Michael John O'Mahony comes in with a mighty update from Upper Rathduff at the end of May which sees the addition of the expected Spring migrants including Spotted Flycatcher as well as Swift (not seen in 2015). A total of 60 species recorded on the farmland around his home in Co. Cork so far this year. With this, he sails past the milestone marker and on to 106.25% taking him to first place on the Inland Ireland Comparative Minileague table!

Des Higgins also breaks the 100% barrier at University College Dublin but slips to second place with 103.5%. His additions during the month included Swift, Sand Martin and House Martin feeding over the main lake on campus as well as Dipper and Grey Wagtail on a stream near the border of the site.

Two Sedge Warblers and a male Tufted Duck were both patch scarce for Niall Keogh at Kilbogget Park and brought him to 100% on the dot, in third place.

Derek Charles updates his score from the southern shores of Lough Neagh for the first time since winter. A productive Spring results in Derek taking first place on the Inland Ireland Points Minileague table from Andrew Power with a grand total of 86 species and 99 points. 

A second summer Ring-billed Gull put in an appearance at Derek's patch on 10th April which constitutes the second county record for Armagh. This was followed up by a Corncrake on the 24th April (singing passage migrant) and a Little Egret on the same day which was just his second patch record. Inland rarities during May included a flock of 7 Light-bellied Brent Geese on 8th, a Sanderling on 10th and an Arctic Tern on 22nd May, all of which appear to be genuinely rare inland in Northern Ireland (the brent and tern were patch firsts for Derek).

Light-bellied Brent Geese © Derek Charles

Elsewhere on the points table, the welcome return of singing warblers was noted with Whitethroats at Grand Canal Way, Carrick Mountain and Bramblestown and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler a Carrigmore.

Ian Stevenson continues to do well at his Grand Canal Way patch in Co. Dublin where a Common Sandpiper was a patch first plus nice sightings of Long-eared Owl and Stock Dove.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Midlands Minileague - May 2016

John Clarkson climbs from 5th to 1st in the comparative minileague as he becomes the first of four patchers to break the all important 100% mark and early as well. This month at Louth, John's highlight was a Hobby over the town centre. Friendly rival, Andy Sims, slips to second spot but he also breaks the 100% mark with his best bits including his first patch Black Tern for 13 years and 2nd patch record of Ringed Plover when a trio touched down. Tom Shields keeps hold of third place and also leaps the 100% hurdle with a brace of Temminck's Stints. An honourable mention goes to Rhys Chivers who is just 3.65% off the top and is the final member of the 100% club this month thanks to Wood Sandpiper and Whimbrel.

For the first time this year Rutland loses its grip on top spot in the points league as Steve Nuttall at Belvide takes over. He was aided by a monster haul of two-pointers including Roseate Tern, Black Tern, Little Stint, Little Tern, Garganey, Marsh Harrier and Red Kite plus 6 points for finding a Temminck's Stint. Just a point between the Rutlanders with Erik Ansell in second place overall on 176 having added Red-necked Phalarope and Knot which also happens to be his rival, Rod Baker's highlights.

Best finds this month are Toby Carter's Purple Heron at Grimston and Ben Ward's Whiskered Tern at Whisby, both crackers. Other three pointers hosted by patchers in the Midlands include a Temminck's Stint for John Hopper. There was a Great Reed Warbler for Mark Gash at Willington GPs and a Glossy Ibis for Kate Thorpe at RSPB Middleton Lakes.

Whiskered Tern, Whisby c/o Ben Ward

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Inland South Minileague - May 2016

Stephanie is having her best ever year at Twyford and is top of the Inland South comparative table adding Common Tern, Cetti's Warbler and Hobby in May. She is on a heady 118%, way ahead of Richard Scantlebury who holds on to second place despite a quiet month. Ian Bennell at Tring Reservoirs takes over in third as he crests 100% although just 5% covers 3rd-8th. Ian's star bird was a Roseate Tern, just the 3rd for Hertfordshire and the 2nd site record. 

Roseate Tern c/o Ian Bennell

Returning migrants see Tom Raven add 26 points at Shapwick Heath to create a gap to second where Ian Bennell resides. Adam Bassett at Little Marlow is in third place, up a spot from April with Black Terns, Little Gull, Cuckoo and a second site Cetti's Warbler this month.

Honey Buzzard c/o Josie Hewitt
Away from the top and find of the month goes to Mark Andrews at East Verwood with a Red-footed Falcon seen from his new 'watchpoint'/patio. There were also bonus points for Josie Hewitt at Blackbushe Airfield with an overflying Honey Buzzard. Several patches recorded inland Arctic Terns, Sanderling and Cuckoos. A Black-necked Grebe for Martin Wood at Longham Lakes and a Brent Goose for Matt Phelps at South Guildford were probably the pick of the rest.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

PWC2017: upcoming changes to the scores

As you may all be aware during our AGM at Spurn Bird Obs we discussed changing some scores for certain species. After much debate we decided to change 34 species based on losing or gaining BB status, declines and increases in more common species and deleting a couple plastic species or non-existent sub species. We have discussed all the changes in the latest podcast (which can be listened to by clicking here) but here is a very brief overview of the changes:

Lets start with the species that we have promoted from a 4 pointer to a 5 pointer.

Great Bustard
Forster's Tern
Black-eared Wheatear
Syke's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Bunting

Several species have went the other way and have been demoted from 5 points to 4 points:

Hooded Merganser
Pallid Harrier
Buff-bellied Pipit
Red-flanked Bluetail
Iberian Chiffchaff

Four species have been increased from 3 points to 4 points as they all have become BBRC species again:

Tawny Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Aquatic Warbler
Rustic Bunting

And six species have went the opposite way as they lost their BBRC status so 3 points for the following as of 2017:

Lesser Scaup
White-billed Diver
Glossy Ibis
Olive-backed Pipit
Citrine Wagtail
Blyth's Reed Warbler

Three species have been upgraded from 2 points to 3 points, the first due to the increasing difficulty in finding them bar a few hotspots and the latter two to clear up a sub-species anomaly we created by mistake! So as of 2017 it will be bonus points if you find any of these:

Shore Lark
Any non-flavissima Yellow Wagtail
Siberian Chiffchaff

The next category hurts slightly as we see some of our old faithful 3 pointers cut down to 2 pointers, mainly because they are pretty common now so if you find any of these next year there will be no bonus points on offer:

Great White Egret
Yellow-browed Warbler

On the plus side five 1 pointers have been upgraded to 2 pointers as a result of their much publicised declines in the country:
Grey Partridge
Ruddy Duck
Turtle Dove
Willow Tit
Corn Bunting

Only one species has went the opposite way as the ever increasing populations of Little Egret sees it reduced to a 1 point bird.

And finally the 2 species/sub-species that will now score 0 points:

Ruddy Shelduck
Borealis Eider

All point changes will be in place as of 1st January 2017 and the new website (hopefully) will have these changes in place for your scoring at the start of the year.