Saturday, 29 August 2015

Coastal South - July 2015

Paul Freestone adds three points and jumps to 108% thanks to some glorious #patchgold in the form of a Kingfisher - a new bird for his Gwithian patch. Andy Rhodes failed to add but stayed in second place while Peter Hazelwood makes slow progress to 96%. Will he break through 100% in August?

Joe Stockwell, who runs the rule over the Weymouth reserves, stays top of the pops after another decent month with five points added this time. Such exotica as Wood Sandpiper and Crossbill managed to grace his list which keeps him clear of Sean Foote who couldnt make inroads at the top. Paul Bowerman just manages to hold on to third spot thanks to a Ruff. Ilya Maclean makes his play for the podium with a Cory's Shearwater on his Lizard patch plus a handful of Pomarine Skuas. Roger Musgrove in North Somerset managed to add both Red-necked Phalarope and Quail this month which were perhaps the highlights. Roger incidentally along with Dick Best are the beneficiaries of some incredible habitat creation on their patches with the new Steart WWT reserves which could turn up something outstanding before too long.

Estuarine - July 2015

Ed Keeble adds a single double pointer which extends his lead in the comparative table to 11%. Shaun Robson manages to overtake Gordon Hodgson to move into second spot despite no highlights... 

Paul Sullivan reinforces his grip on the Estuarine minileague adding 6 points including White-winged Black Tern whilst his fellow patchers failed to make headway. John Badley and Dave Craven stay static but maintain position in second and third respectively. Howard Vaughan in fifth is the only member of the upper echelons to make ground after recording a London Pomarine Skua. There weren't a huge number of additional finds with a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls proving the best of it.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Coastal East Anglia - July 2015

Only a handful of scores were recieved for July in Coastal East Anglia but nearly all of them had something good to contribute. Craig Fulcher adds a further 3% to his score thanks to Little Gull and Velvet Scoter and he is now only 12 points from matching his comparative mark. Tommy Corcoran closes the gap from Ryan Irvine to 0.2% thanks to an Osprey on his Great Yarmouth patch. Ryan 

Nige Lound at Gib Point had a trio of highlights which boosted his score and keep him in first place. A Roseate Tern took pride of place but his first patch Black Tern since 2011 and first patch Quail since 2007 also get mentioned in dispatches. James Brown at North Lowestoft reclaims second spot thanks to a self found Marsh Warbler while zero points for Robert Smith at Holme means he drops into third. Finally, Rob Hall at Halesworth to Dunwich managed to get himself finders points for a Bee-eater.

Inland East Anglia - July 2015

Ben Moyes continues his fine run of form to add 6% to his already mighty score for his Gipping Valley patch. This month he added Osprey, Black-tailed Godwit and Crossbill whilst his close rival, Nick Robinson, managed a solitary point for Sand Martin. Ben Rackshaw in third did not manage to add to his score and so he finds his place in third under threat by Jim Bradley who is only 4% behind and sits on the brink of 100%. 

Black-tailed Godwit - Ben Moyes

Jamie Wells manages to extend his lead to 11 points but it could have been so much sweeter! A July lesser golden plover usually turns out to be a Pacific GP but sadly for Jamie it remains a non-specific GP as a brief visitor to Paxton Pits evaded identification. Luckily for him Ben Lewis failed to capitalize on this and remains on the same score as in June.  Ashley McElwee manages to leapfrog Ben Rackshaw and move into third thanks to a flocks of Whimbrel and a flyover Greenshank. Nick Moran in fifth managed to break the 10 thousand record mark for Birdtrack. Good work Nick!

Coastal Scotland - July 2015

Stephen Welch is top of the Coastal Scotland comparative minileague once again and adds a single point in July. Jim Dickson moves into scond, 6% adrift but having added 5% in July including a self found Ring-billed Gull and 4 Ruff which are less than annual on his Crinan Canal patch. Chris Hill drops to third thanks to a blank month.

The Ring-billed Gull also helps Jim to consolidate his lead at the top of the points table with a ten point cushion. Not too much to overcome but it will take a good month to overhaul him immediately. Mike Hodgkin in second has a blank month while Chris Rodger takes a break from the Ashes to secure a Little Stint and third place. The only other bonus points this month would perhaps get sniffed at further south but a Great White Egret for Jonathan Clarke is a very decent record for Scotland and a welcome Dorothy for him (enough cricket puns already! - ed.).

Jonathan Clarke also managed Curlew Sandpiper in July.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Inland North - July 2015

Keith Dickinson closes in on Nick Tonge as the Leeds suburban patches fight for the overall comparative lead. Nick failed to add anything but keeps a 2% buffer. Too much time in the hills causes James Common's challenge to faulter as he drops to fourth with Steven Ward at Hawes replacing him on the rostrum after a bumper month including two patch seconds in the form of Marsh Harrier and Stonechat.

Patchgold for Steven Ward - a Marsh Harrier at Hawes

No points for the top three mean that Darren Starkey's lead in the Points minileague remains the same. Unlike some of the other players in this division Darren isn't particularly vocal in backing his challenge but a little birdie tells me that his latest recruit has been tasked with ensuring that Fairburn stays top of Inland North. Tom Lowe is in joint third now after adding seven points in July including a Wood Sandpiper and a Caspian Gull. Other highlights from within the fiercely contested minileague include two Bee-eaters over a retail park for Phil Woolen which sneak into his Backford Cross patch and are a superb record inland. Adam Moan managed to notch a Scaup at RSPB Geltsdale which must have been a shock whilst Chris Bradshaw had two Cranes at Potter Brompton Carr in the Vale of Pickering. Mark Reeder lists Bill Aspin sliding out of the top 10 as his highlight - ouch! But we all know where karma gets you as Bill will show with his next update.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Inland South - July 2015

The top three patches failed to make any additions in the Comparative minileague in the Inland South and Neil Burt at Conningbrook managed to close right in thanks to a breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebe. Ten competitors are over 88% and there is only a 17% spread across these so it really is open for anybody to take the win here.

Lee Evans' Pectoral Sandpiper from Wilstone Reservoir

Tom remains top in the points league despite no additions as mentioned above. Lee Evans moves into second place amongst a pack of four patchers over 140 points thanks to a Pectoral Sandpiper which banks him 6 points (and also netted Ian Bennell three points). Nigel Milbourne managed the find of the month with the moulting drake Lesser Scaup gaining him a tasty dozen at Blagdon. Having seen this bird last year I can attest to the difficult in picking it out as it goes through eclipse so hearty congratulations to Nigel.

Islands - July 2015

Two single pointers keeps David Wood in the lead but a patch mega Nuthatch for Bryan Rains on Mull closes the gap to 2% in the Islands comparative minileague. Alastair Forsyth managed to usurp Ian T at Askernish and take third spot thanks to an Iceland Gull (although I'd have rather seen the trio of Orcas that graced his patch).

Nuthatch at Pennyghael - Bryan Rains

In the points minileague John Bowler's efforts at the overall title hit a speed bump with only Knot adding a point to his total. Jason Moss moved into second and even closed the gap a little although I think we are too late already here. Jason added Firecrest and that most precious of patch ticks - Coot. Mike Pennington failed to add at Baltasound and slips to third. Best bird of the month goes to a Red-backed Shrike on the Isle of May for Mark Newell but this wasnt a find. Both Pec and Least Sands managed a bit of patch avoidance for John Bowler and John Headon respectively. Fingers crossed for a brighter August.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Inland Scotland - July 2015

Chris P continues to make strides in Stirling and continues to add points despite cracking the 100% mark in June. This months addition was Stock Dove and a sliver of #patchbronze. Alastair Irvine jumps into second after adding 11% to his total at Whiteford. Alastair Forsyth slips to third despite adding Whimbrel after failing to nail the flyover Redpoll to species...

David Douglas closes up to Alastair Forsyth at the top of the table after the latters seemingly unassailable lead is reduced to 8 points. Pete Antrobus managed to overtake Graeme Garner on his Lochmaben patch to move into third place. Sadly there were no highlights submitted to us this month from the minileague aside from those mentioned so fingers crossed this improves in the early autumn...

Midlands Minileague - July 2015

100% up for Tom Shields at Holme Pierrepoint as he keeps control of a competitive midlands minileague. Rob Williams stays second at Upton Warren despite a blank month and Steve Lyon at Marston holds station in third despite similar travails.

Some Godwit based reflection on Matthew Bruce's final month at 'The Puddle' before moving to Sandy.

Ian Cowgill has his lead cut to a mere 23 points as the autumn kicks off. He failed to add any points and John Hopper at Hoveringham managed to add a cheeky duo. Andy Mackay also adds a single to keep himself in third. Carl Cornish sinks to sixth at Langford as this close league starts to hot up.

Around the patches there was a nice selection of waders with Wood Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff featuring plus a Great White Egret at Soar Valley for Rhys Chivers and a couple of Garganey at Salford Priors and Collingham for Neil Duggan and Nick Crouch respectively.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Wales - July 2015

Alison C stays top of the comparative league with 127% and Adam Tilt remains in second place without any additions. Henry Cook adds to both patches and closes in on second place with over 102% at Conwy RSPB and Little Orme thanks to a few wader additions.

Laurie Allnatt stays in the lead as the top three fail to add any points in July. David Carrington closes in with 12 points with Marsh Tit (#patchgold) and six points for a Great White Egret at Sker and Kenfig while Paul Roberts managed 5 points to make it close at the top.

Mediterranean Gull - Henry Cook

Coastal North Minileagues - July 2015

Glaucous Gull - Stewart Sexton
Ash Baines stays top of the Coastal North comparative table for July and becomes the first participant to score more than 90%. He managed a brace of two pointers at Starr Gate with Arctic Skua and Scaup the additions. Stewart Sexton overtakes Seumus Eaves and closes in on top spot after moving to 89% at Howick, Northumberland with an unseasonal Glaucous Gull his best addition. Seumus does manage to hold on to third place despite no points this month.

Mick Turton shows that birding the Spurn area remains a profitable pastime as he increases his score to 271 points, up a dozen on June. He managed to add White-rumped Sandpiper on the 4th July to celebrate Independence day in style as well as a fly by Nightjar which must have been a surprise. Incidently, Mick is 11 points up on our record holder, Tim Jones, who was on 260 at this point last year. Martin Garner managed to close the gap a little on Mick with 20 points. Nick Addey remains the top Scarborough birder and is now only 6 points behind Martin after a Long-tailed Skua flew past Long Nab.

The aforementioned Long-tailed Skua was found by Chris Bradshaw for some bonus points. The only other six pointer this month was a Crane for Tom Cadwallender. Other highlights this month include Roseate Terns for Tom Middleton and Jonathan Farooqi while Chris B also managed a Storm Petrel and a Balearic Shearwater.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ireland Minileagues July

Slim pickings for the leaders of the Ireland Comparative Minileague sees no change in the top three rankings during July.  An Arctic Tern added by Eamonn O'Donnell at Ninch/Laytown results in his score edging over the 105% mark. A flyover Curlew was a welcome addition to Niall Keogh's South Dublin Parks patch right at the months end while Neal Warnock drew a blank in a tough July at Larne Lough. Keith Bennett picked up a Pomarine Skua at Ballyquintin which helps him climb from eight to fifth, knocking Alan Lauder at Carrick Mountain down a few places. The only other major mover on the comparative table is Niall Keogh at Kilcoole where a productive July seems him get over 80% and into ninth place from thirteenth last month. 

The first record of Crossbill at Blacksod in two years was the only addition for Dave Suddaby, but a most welcome one. Surpassing the 200 points mark is surely 'only' a reasonable months worth of sightings away for him. Neal's very quiet month at Larne Lough allows Niall Keogh at Kilcoole to swap places and take second from fourth during an excellent July on the Co. Wicklow patch where no less than 13 species were added to the year list including a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull (#patchgold - 2nd record), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Roseate Tern, European Storm-petrel, Pochard and Feral Pigeon(!). 

Other notable sightings during the month include Little Gull and Ruff for Tim Murphy at St John's Point, European Storm-petrel for Graham Johnston at Rinville (relief after a very quiet spell!), Little Tern for Tom Moore at Kilmore Quay and Roseate Tern for Noel Keogh at South Dublin Bay. Keith Bennett is now over the 100 species threshold at Ballyquintin and joins the top ten rankings as a result.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Kilcoole © Niall T. Keogh

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Ireland Minileagues June

Stalemate at the top of the Ireland Comparative Minileague where Eamonn O’Donnell and Niall Keogh remain in first and second place position come the end of June at their Ninch/Laytown and South Dublin Parks patches. Both have done very well to get beyond 100% by the half way point in the year but are starting to slow down now with just one species added during the past month each, Roseate Tern and Siskin respectively. Can they keep up enough momentum to see them through the year or will others start climbing the ranks once autumn and its bounties arrive?

Neal Warnock moves past 90% and into third place at Larne Lough after a #fullfatpatchtick brace of European Storm-petrels as well as notching up Arctic Skua and Roseate Tern for the year. Alan Lauder heads up a patch double act with his two patches to take up fourth and fifth place where a night time flyover Black-tailed Godwit was just the second record for his inland Carrick Mountain patch.

A quiet month for Dave Suddaby at Blacksod (European Storm-petrel his best bird) yet he still leads by a county mile in the Ireland Points Minileague, 38 points clear of second place thanks to his impressive run of Spring rares which keeps him firmly in the lead with a points per bird score of over 1.5 (the highest in the minileague). Neal at Larne, Eamonn at Ninch/Laytown and Niall at Kilcoole battle it out now for second, third and fourth position with very close species and points totals. Neal now taking second by the end of the month from Eamonn by a matter of one point. After a quiet May, Niall clawed back a decent batch of year ticks at Kilcoole during June including Long-eared Owl, Crossbill, Gadwall, Puffin and Knot.

Most other contestants have moved up or down by a matter of one place here and there elsewhere on the table, a testament to a relatively quiet month except for Cathal Forkan, our sole representative of Next Generation Birders (NGB), who played a blinder at his North Galway Bay patch jumping from 11th to 6th place and beyond the 100 species mark thanks to some excellent midsummer sewatching producing Balearic Shearwater, European Storm-petrel, Little Tern and Little Gull. Ger Murray also joins the 100 species club at his Boyne Estuary patch.

Record keeping enthusiasts in the Ireland Minileague have now added approximately 5,600 records from 116 complete lists to the BirdTrack database. Well done all! Of the six Irish contestants in the Green category (i.e. patching without motorised transport), Julian Wyllie leads the charge at Baltimore with an impressive 88 species.

Spotted Flycatcher at Larne Lough © Neal Warnock