Sunday, 24 May 2015

Coastal South Minileague - April

Paul Freestone stays top of the pops at Gwithian and becomes the first SW patcher to breach the 100% barrier (and does so in style) thanks to a Blue-headed Wagtail and 20 Purple Sandpipers. Second and third place swap over this month with Peter Hazelwood having the upper hand over Andy Rhodes. Peter's highlight was a Wood Sandpiper and Andy's best was Avocet whilst having fish and chips with his family.

65 points equates to a massive haul of migrants on his Ferrybridge patch for Joe Stockwell and he bursts the 200 point mark. Bonus points ahoy as well for a Black Kite as he opens up a 22 point lead over fellow Portland patcher Sean Foote. Sean failed to add any bonus points this time round but did manage to add Hoopoe, Crane and Wryneck. Kev Rylands down at Dawlish Warren moves up a place into third with thanks to an assortment of migrants.

Highlight of the month is probably Dan Chaney's breaching Basking Shark at Falmouth although a Storm Petrel scored more points for him. Andy Johnson managed a Wood Warbler at Sandy Point which is always a great bird to catch up with on passage.

Coastal North Minileague - April

Ash Baines moves ahead of Stewart Sexton in the Coastal North comparative minileague but there is only a Knats dangly bits between them as both are just south of 79%. Returning migrants fuel this fight and Ash's Ring Ouzel was perhaps the hihglight while an early Manx for Stewart helped boost his total. Seumus Eaves at Fleetwood holds onto third and gets to within striking range of the top 2 thanks to a brace of Richard's Pipits.

Its great to see Martin Garner top of the points minileague and a 19 point lead over Scarborough patcher Nick Addey and a 51 point addition in April is extremely impressive. His highlights included Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow but alas no bonus points yet while Nick managed to add Osprey, Red Kite, Garganey, Firecrest and most importantly Coot! Jonathan Farooqi is bringing an NGB flavour to the top three with 166 points for his Druridge Bay patch. He managed three points for a Great White Egret but the best bird for him was finally connecting with Bearded Tits on patch.

Away from the top three the highlights were a self-found Rough-legged Buzzard for Chris Bradshaw at Long Nab which was a patch tick. Jane Turner added Dotterel at Red Rocks while James Spencer connected with an Iceland Gull which marginally softened the blow of missing a drake American Wigeon at St Mary's Island which then set up home 2 miles away.

Estuarine Minileague - April

Ed Keeble remains on top in the Estuarine Minileague with an 8% advantage of Gordon Hodgson in second place (Gordon just parachuted in from Inland South due to a bit of a tide on the Severn). Emma Webb rounds off the top three at Maldon. None of the three mentioned any highlights so a month of spring accumulation served all three well.

Anthony Bentley managed to leapfrog his fellow patcher John Badley and in the process open up a ten point lead at the top in the points league with a Mandarin a highlight. Its a Frampton/Freiston top three with Paul Sullivan rounding off the podium places. The gap between all three is only 17 points so expect plenty of competition here on in. Its all going to be about the finds.The only bonus point scorer down there was Toby Collett with a probable Ashy-headed Wagtail which as a definite non-flavissima gets a couple of extra notches.

Ian Ballam and Shaun Robson shared a Wryneck at Lytchett Bay but with no find they had to each make do with 3 points. More impressive was the scoping of the Gloucestershire Pied-billed Grebe from a considerable distance by Andy Jordan at Sharpness for 5 points.

Finally Joost Brandsma has moved so Hythe and Dibden Bay will remain on 85 points for the remainder apparently. Fingers crossed you find another decent patch Joost!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Inland North. April 2015

In the comparative league Keith Dickinson and Nick Tonge hold the top two spots respectively, both going beyond their 2014 totals and still with eight months to go! James Common pinches 3rd place from Jonathan Scragg who slips to 6th.  May will likely see 3rd to 6th place (but definitely not 7th) pass the 100% mark.

After no submission in March Darren Starkey continues his stranglehold over the rest of the Inland North with a massive haul of 175 points. Darren's highlights during March included Brent Goose and Spotted Redshank - but that Ruddy Shelduck will need removing from your total Darren!
Despite a fairly lackluster month Jonny Holliday is back in 2nd adding Black-necked Grebe and Osprey. Snapping at his heels is Garry Taylor whose rare grebe trio pushed Mark Reeder back to 4th.
Best bird(s) of the month were the 2 brief  Black-winged Stilts for Pete Antrobus, though finding them would have made them sweeter.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Coastal Scotland Minileague - April

The battle for first place continues on the Coastal Scotland comparative table with Stephen Welch at Gosford Bay and Chris Hill at Burntisland both jumping 10% or so in their comp scores since March. It is Stephen who edges ahead this month but only just, by less than 1%. A Yellow Wagtail was his star bird of the month. Jim Dickson consolidates his third place position by adding a mighty 23 species along the Crinan Canal Corridor but gained no bonus points for his Argyll rarities of Scandinavian Rock Pipit and Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Mark Lewis at Girdle ness jumps from sixth to fourth after breaking the 100 species barrier and Peter Stronach now enters the fray with his patch at Durness/Balnakeil, closing in on 50%.

Jim's bumper crop of additions in April sees him take first place on the points table from former leader Mike Hodgkin at Aberlady Bay by a matter of six species and ten points. A good May could shake things up again however. Chirs Rodger now takes third place at Musselburgh with an extra 18 species added. Crested Tit was a welcome addition for Logan Johnson at Clickimin/Helendale & Seafield after much searching. A new addition to the minileague is Matthew Bishop who is patching froBelhaven Bay (John Muir Country Park).

Ireland Minileague - April

Lots of movement on the Irish Minileague comparative table by the end of April thanks to a rush of Spring migrants boosting everyone's scores which caused a shake up in the mid to lower rankings. At the top of the table, Eamonn O'Donnell still holds on to first place at Ninch/Laytown with twelve new species edging him ever closer to 100%. Whilst most of these species involved the expected migrants, his highlights included Cuckoo and Greylag Goose. A Carrion Crow at Cabinteely Park helped keep Niall Keogh in second place at his South Dublin Parks patch (now on 91%) whilst Neal Warnock slips from third to fourth place at Larne Lough where a Ruff was a #fullfatpatchtick for him. Third place now goes to Alan Lauder at Broad Lough to Wicklow Head where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was his best bird of the month. Darragh Sinnott recently submitted his scores from Holy Cross & Carriganore putting him straight into fifth place.

On the points table, Dave Suddaby reclaims the first place position he was so familiar with during last years competition. Whilst he doesn't have the highest species list in the league, it's his points per bird total of 1.5 which explains his ranking...thanks to fine selection of species added in April including a #patchgold Hoopoe and a #patchbronze Snowy Owl! The Hoopoe was a #fullfatpatchtick whilst the Snowy Owl was the sixth(!) he has seen in the general Mullet area since 2002! (third record on patch)

Given that Ireland was in the midst of a Hoopoe invasion overload during April (upwards of 60 recorded) it's a relief to see that at least one PWC contestant managed to connect with one!

Some scarce waders found during the month of April included a Curlew Sandpiper for Niall Keogh at Kilcoole and a Jack Snipe double act in Northern Ireland with one each at Ballyquintin for Keith Bennett and at St. John's for Tim Murphy who has also entered in a new inland patch at Lough Beg where a Wood Sandpiper was his best find.

Snowy Owl © Dave Suddaby

Hoopoe © Dave Suddaby

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Inland South Minileague - April

Tom Stevenson's monopoly has been shattered in the comparative table after Tom Raven headed a four person surge past him. For those living under a stone, Tom R has had quite the month after finding the kind of bird that makes people break out in a cold sweat. The self-found Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath is a rarity from the top draw and it was a proper blocker. Massively distinctive and polite enough to let Tom confirm his suspicions after a tense overnight wait this bird is a contender for the Bresser and Forest Optics best find. Will it win? It will take some stopping that is for sure. A bevy of other goodies takes Tom to 95.5% comparative. Josie Hewitt is in second place with 93% after adding Osprey, Greenshank and Hobby. Marek Walford climbs a couple of places into third thanks to seasonal Little Gulls and Whimbrel.

Unsuprisingly Tom moves into top spot climbing 5 places and adding 57 points in one month! Graham White in in second place at Rye Meads due to a small collection of two pointers and Adam Bassett at Little Marlow is in third after adding Pied Fly, Little Tern and Redstart.

Away from mega godwits Nigel Milbourne gets 6 points for a Great White Egret at Blagdon and with fellow Somerset reservoir watcher Tim Farr adding the same. Listed in the highlights a number of times were Ring Ouzel as several patchers managed to get involved in a very decent movement of birds across the south.

Islands Minileague - April

David Wood on The Oa has added a handsome 23% to his comparative score and moves 11% ahead of Bryan Rains with Tree Sparrow his best addition. Bryan added Black-throated Diver and Common Scoter to soften his fall from the top. Ian T moves up four places in the comparative table to third place thanks to two patch ticks in the form of Garganey and Iceland Gull.

In the points league John Bowler continues his Tiree based domination and is a whisker under 200 points already. Whilst he had a bevy of two pointers and a Green-winged Teal for some bonus points, John's bird of the month was a Stock Dove - his first in 14 years on the island. The leading Welsh challenger, albeit 64 points behind, is Jason Moss on Skomer who is putting the Bardsey boys in their places. Jason got bonus points for Wryneck and Blue-headed Wagtail while a Hoopoe was a decent non-find. David Wood moves up a place thanks to his profitable month and rounds off the top three.

There were Dotterel and Garganey on Oronsay for Morgan Vaughan and Stuart Taylor added Golden Eagle at Balivanich. Best find this month is possibly the Goshawk up on Unst for Mike Pennington. Special mention must of course go to the Great Blue Heron which toured the Scillys in April and put in a number of appearances at Lower Moors for John Headon.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Midlands Minileague - April

Tom Shields deposes Steve Lyon and moves up 3 places to first thanks to Wood Sanpiper, Mandarin and hordes of Yellow Wagtails at Holme Pierrepoint taking him to 96.5%. 2.5% back is Rob Williams at Upton Warren with Red-necked Grebe his monthly highlight. Last months leader, Steve Lyon, is in third despite a 20% jump in his comparative score. He even managed a brace of bonus points in the form of a Blue-headed Wagtail.

With familiar names at the top it is no surprise to see Ian Cowgill reassert his authority opening an 8 point gap to John Hopper in second and this is despite John adding Whimbril, Little Gull, Avocet and his first patch Corn Bunting in 17 years! Andy Mackay manages to make third place his own this month thanks to Ring Ouzel, Redstart and Little Gulls amongst a bevy of two pointers.

Away from the podium places there were bonus points for Carl Cornish for his Blue-headed Wagtail at Langford Lowfields which puts him in fourth while Dave Roberts also got in on the hot flava action at Marston Sewage Works.

Inland East Anglia Minileague - April

Nick Robinson holds onto first place in the comparative league and in doing so becomes the first person past 100%. May on wards is hard work at the UEA but it looks like being a good year there. Ben Moyes leapfrogs Ben Rickstraw into 2nd place as he closes in on the 100% mark. Just behind the Ben's its a close run thing with Nick Moran and Jim Bradley within 2% of the podium.

Ben Lewis takes a commanding lead in the points table, 26 points ahead of his nearest rival Nick Moran. Behind the front runners only 10 points separates the next 6 patches. Ring Ouzels were well represented in the highlights and Lizzie Bruce deserves a mention as here patch at Roydon Common had a peak count of 32 one day! Raven was an excellent record for Thetford and a first Great White Egret for Ben Lewis at the Yare Valley was the highest scorer. Patch gold of the month goes to James Appleton at Ebridge Mill with 7 Shelduck overhead, a patch first!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Wales Minileague - April

In a small village in North Wales Alison C is quietly having a productive year. Never a high scoring patch, Alison seems to be doing well in 2015 and is onto 110%. Henry Cook tends to score heavier at Little Orme and has had an electric 2015 with his score on 99% thanks to some decent migrants in the form of Little Gull and Ring Ouzel. Even a mediocre May would see him bust through the 100% barrier. Alun John is in third place on 98% (but only a couple of tenths of a % behind Henry). Alun is actually sandwiched between Henry's patches with Conwy RSPB on 97% in fourth.

In terms of points Laurie Allnatt at Llanelli WWT is way out front on 153 thanks to Garganey and Little Ringed Plover (and *ahem* Egyptian Goose #patchgold). Henry Cook is in second on 143 points and third with 141 points at Little Orme and Conwy respectively. Best bits this month were restricted to two pointers with Manx Shearwater, Whimbrel and Great Northern Diver all making multiple appearances. Special mention must go to Tony Swann's Tree Pipit which was his first at Brynna Woods for 40 years! Top stuff Tony!

Inland Scotland Minileague - April

After March's 'ructions' Chris Pendlebury holds onto the lead in the Inland Scotland comparative minileague with his Stirling patch on 82%. He holds off a resurgent Alastair Forsyth who moves back up the table into second thanks to yet another yankee quacker, this time in the form of an American Wigeon. Andy Cage holds onto third place and is squarely on 80% so all close at the top.

As expected Alastair remains top of the pile in the points minileague although David Douglas has closed the gap to sub-20. A couple of decent finds this May at Loch Leven and its on! Graeme Garner remains in third place and has opened up a gap to Pete Antrobus in fourth.

Friday, 15 May 2015

NGB Minileagues - April

The comparative league in the NGB minileague shows how connecting with all the returning migrants can give your score a massive boost and take you close to your previous years totals. James Common takes over the lead of this league with a hugely impressive April where he added 21 points, taking him up to a 96% comparative score, the highlight of which must be completing the set of resident British owls by adding both Short-eared and Tawny during the month. Josie Hewitt takes a massive leap up the table into second place with a host of classic summer migrants including Osprey, Cuckoo and Hobby along with a first for patch Greenshank. Exams meant I couldn't visit my Lancaster patch much during April resulting in me dropping down to third, exams being the scourge of many participants in this particular league over the next couple of months. With May bringing longer days and more migrants, surely the 100% barrier will fall in this league during the month?

April is the month in patch birding when you set your alarm for pre-dawn to get down to patch for first light and the promise of #patchgold migrants. Putting in the hours can produce some serious rewards and Joe Stockwell proved that and some on his Ferrybridge patch adding an enormous 65 points during the month! His highlights make for an envious read and include a self-found Black Kite seen coming in-off the sea, a stunning Red-rumped Swallow and a host of commoner migrants often coming in large falls. Anthony Bentley relinquishes the top spot for the first time this year despite adding 41 points himself on his Framtpon patch, his highlight however wasn't a classic migrant species but the second site record of Mandarin! The top 2 have a healthy lead over Jonathan Farooqi who retains his third spot at Druridge thanks in part to his second site Great White Egret and his first patch Bearded Tits in 6 years of trying, a true piece of #patchgold if ever there was one.

The best sighting from the rest of the league was a Hoopoe on Bardsey for Ben Porter who is wasting no time in shooting up the table after his absence at the outset, one can only expect to see his name entering the podium positions in the next few months. There isn't a separate inland section for this minileague but if there were there would be a fascinating fight for the top spot between James Common, Drew Lyness and Jonnie Fisk who occupy positions 7 through 9, separated by just 2 points. All the classic summer migrants appeared on NGB patches throughout the month including Wood Warbler for Jonnie Fisk, Nightingale for Drew Lyness,  Garganeys for Laurie Allnatt and Amy Robjohns, Yellow Wagtail for Daniel Gornall and Ring Ouzels for Michael Murphy and Ashley Baines.

With migration still in full swing May has huge potential for patchers to make some big gains in this league, and with a host of megas being found so far during the month will any NGB be lucky and hit the patch jackpot?

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - April

Craig Fulcher holds his lead in the comnparative table with nigh-on 70% which is a pretty decent achievement by the end of April on a 200+ point patch. Craig's month was made with Jack Snipe, a new patch tick whilst his first Nightingale for three years also helped make his month. A brace of Cranes got passing mention in dispatches as well. Tommy Corcoran at Great Yarmouth is 5% back but is ahead on points and moves up from fourth to second spot. James Brown is in third place and is well over the 60% mark despite hunting down a colossal comparative score of 289. His efforts were also aided by Crane related bonus points.

Robert Smith regains his place at the top of the table with a huge 188 points already on the board with his highlight a Blue-headed Wagtail triggering a couple of bonus points. James Brown holds onto second place with March's leader, Tim Hodge, slipping to third thanks to in his words 'a very quiet month'. Away from those highlights already mentioned our own Ryan Irvine managed to get enough time away from website design to find a Serin at Hemsby. Rumour has it he wasnt even on his sofa at the time.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Bresser and Forest Optics best find 2014 prize out in the field

Jonny Holliday has this to say about receiving his fabulous prize for the famous Pugneys Blyth's Pipit...

'So I have just received the prize for being the fortunate winner of 2014's PWC Best Find competition....and I must say it's a fantastic prize!!'

'So let me firstly say a huge THANK YOU to the sponsors -  Bresser and Forest Optics. Their generous support is appreciated by all involved in PWC I'm sure! 

I was lucky enough to receive a pair of the Bresser Montana 8.5x45 binoculars and as can be seen, they are a smart looking bit of kit. In the field they perform admirably and appear worth every bit of there retail value.' 

'It seemed only right to give them an initial trial in the recently re-named 'Blyths Field', and whilst they did not find another rare pipit, they did prove comfortable with excellent optical performance.'

'I'm sure the continued support from Bresser and the other generous sponsors will be a major driving force in the ever expanding Patchwork Challenge world - and to next year's winner of the best find - make it a big one because we will all be out there trying to find the next one!! 

Jonny '

Thanks Jonny, I hope you enjoy the prize. Remember everyone that you too can win these binoculars this year if you find something of similar calibre to Jonny's Blyth's Pipit or Andy Johnson's Semipalmated Plover back in 2013. Hudsonian Godwit is a pretty good start for PWC2015...