Monday, 30 May 2016

Inland Scotland Minileague - April 2016

In typical fashion, Chris Pendlebury once again resides at the top of the Inland Scotland Comparative league. He's moved his Blairdrummond patch into 1st place, thereby knocking his Dunblane patch into second position. Finishing the month with a strong 91.765% for Blairdrummond, surely that 100% milestone can only be just around the corner. Great work Chris!

Further down the table, Andy Cage at Kilmany manages to knock Graeme Garner and his Cambus patch from third place. Andy managed a further 11 species and finished on 77% for April.

Moving on to the points league, no change at the top of the table with David Douglas and his Loch Leven patch still holding off the competitors despite not adding any further species for the month. In second place, Alastair Forsyth remains as he plays catch up adding another ten species and finishing on 95 points. With only three points separating the top two, David may not be holding onto 1st place in May!

No bonus points this month but raptor highlights for April included Goshawk for Gus at SRUC Aberdeen Campus and Andy Cage at Kilmany, Iceland Gull for Graeme Garner at  Cambus, Merlin for Geoff Morgan at Liberton West (4th record for ten years!), Marsh Harrier at Kinneil and Osprey at Blairdrummond for Chris Pendlebury. In addition, a number of folk reported their first records of hirundines and warblers for the year.

Sean Foote - #PWC 2016 part 6

We haven't kept up to date with Sean since his February posting so here is the early part of Sean's spring in three parts.


April part 1

April part 2

Coastal Scotland Minileague - April 2016

Chris Rodger takes over in the lead of the Coastal Scotland comparative minileague as he crests 90% at Musselburgh. His highlight this month was a spring Redstart. Stephen Welch drops into second after a quiet month as he spent half of it in China. Mike Hodgkin of Aberlady Bay moves up into third just 0.3% ahead of Jim Dickson.

Colin Davison, who patches Scoughall in Lothian, is top of the Coastal Scotland points league after finding a very fine spring Olive-backed Pipit. Chris Rodger is in second place just three points behind Colin while Mike Hodgkin holds the third step on the rostrum in both minileagues.

Olive-backed Pipit - Colin Davison
There were more good birds found by patchers north of the border as Geoff Morgan found a Caspian Gull at Barns Ness just a day after it was seen in Aberdeenshire. Caspian Gull remains a mega in Scotland and this birds distinctive primaries meant that it was picked up in Northern England as well. Mark Lewis adds Shore Lark at Girdle Ness along with Garganey and his third patch record of Moorhen. 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Coastal North Minileague - April 2016

After lying second by a sliver last month, Ash Baines takes over at the top in the comparative table for the Coastal North Minileague after reaching 82%. He adds Grasshopper Warbler, Redstart and Short-eared Owl this time out. Pete Marsh is in second place, just 1% behind after adding Slavonian Grebe at Heysham. John Chapman at Whitburn is in third place on 70% and a sliver ahead of last months leader, Stewart Sexton, as John adds a brace of Cranes to net 6 points.

Mick Turton adds thirty points in April to reinforce his lead over Ross Ahmed at South Tyneside. Mich added Crane but his most satisfying tick was Water Rail after missing out in 2015. Ross' endeavours this month saw Hooded Crow, Avocet and Willow Tit fall to his points cannon. Nick Addey overhauls Jonathan Farooqi to move into the top three on 174 points although fellow Long Nabber, Chris Bradshaw found the Short-toed Lark that graced Scarborough last month and Nick makes do with three points.

Mealy Redpoll - Stewart Sexton
Outwith the podium places there were migrants all round with Dotterel, Black-necked Grebe and Crane for Andy Hood at Flamborough. Alan Crossley managed to add Great White Egret as this species becomes ever commoner. There was a Goshawk for Chris Small at Green Lane whilst Dave Fletcher added Whimbrel and Osprey. Both Duncan Watson and Will Scott added Black Redstart as Iain Johnson adds Bonxie and Iceland Gull. Gary Storey had the pleasure of a close encounter with a Short-eared Owl and James Common connected with a rather late White-fronted Goose on the Blyth Estuary.

Estuarine Minileague - April 2016

Peter Hazelwood moves up from 4th place to top the Estuarine Minileague on 88.75% with Ring Ouzel this months highlight. Gordon Hodson is less than 1% behind in second place moving up from 6th. Martin Elcoate rounds off the top three maintaining his position for a second month after adding Bonaparte's Gull which went on a wander from its Dawlish Warren base.

Bonaparte's Gull, Topsham - Martin Elcoate

In the points league Dave Craven stays top with a 19 point lead at Hale and Pickering pastures. Glossy Ibis and Channel Wagtail were the highlights amongst several decent migrants. Paul Sullivan is in second spot leading the Lincs Wash Reserves contingent on 180 points after finding a Red-rumped Swallow. Daniel Newton is on 177 points after adding Ring Ouzel and Wood Sandpiper at the same location.

Good finds outside the top three included a Spoonbill at Hesketh Out Marsh for Stuart Derbyshire. There was a Little Ringed Plover patch tick for Dave Jones at Lytchett Bay whilst Graham Jones at Hesketh Out Marsh added the same species and Water Pipit to his patch list. There was an Iceland Gull for Ian Ballam at Holes Bay and Peter Williams added Whimbrel and Bearded Tit on the muddy banks of the Humber. Finally Andy Jordan added Short-eared Owl at Sharpness and Elliot Montieth managed a Sandwich Tern in the docks at Birkenhead.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Inland North Minileague - April 2016

April sees many Inland North patches beginning to spring into life. Lots of cracking birds recorded and a few bonus points for those lucky enough to find them. Andy Bunting locked onto a Siberian Chiffchaff at WWT Martin Mere, while Green-winged Teal graced Duncan Bye's Wheldrake Ings patch. Elsewhere, Findlay Wilde spotted Ruddy Shelduck at Windsford Flash but saving the best for last - George Dunbar was given a slight shock when White-crowned Sparrow causally dropped by at Woolston Eyes.

White-crowned Sparrow (Credit: David Bowman)

In addition to regular migrants, other highlights for the month included Garganey for Bill Aspin at Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT and Adrian & John at Northwich Woodlands. An unexpected patch first Little Ringed Plover for Steven Ward at Hawes. Little Ringed Plover also dropped in for Keith Dickinson at Adel Dams/Breary Marsh/Eccup Reservoir providing him with a patch tick and at Norton Common for David Franklin (another patch tick!). Green Woodpecker gave Mark Doveston a patch tick at Riddlesden & Whetstone but his personal highlight was seeing three pairs of buzzards displaying on territory (almost unheard of in the Aire Valley!). 

Moving onto the leagues, David Franklin is keeping a tight grip on the two top spots in the Inland North Comparative league. He's pushed past the 100% milestone with his Campsall CP & S Instoneville patch and has broken the 100% barrier with his Askern patch. In third, John Law at Old Moor/ Adwick has pushed on from 11th adding a further 29 species.

John Law takes the top spot in the points league this month moving up from third position and swapping places with Duncan Bye at Wheldrake Ings. Andy Bunting at WWT Martin Mere jumps from fifth into second adding 35 species and 44 points for April.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Under 25 Minileague - April 2016

The top three remain static in the April Under 25 comparative minileague with Amy Robjohns heading things up thanks to four patch ticks in the month (Stone Curlew, Great White Egret, Dartford Warbler and Arctic Skua) taking her beyond the 100% mark. Rhys Chivers has pushed her all the way and finishes this time on 91% adding Wood Warbler, Avocet and Yellow-legged Gull. Ben Moyes completes the top three on 86% with a host of regular migrants including Cuckoo and Yellow Wagtail.

It is a different story in the points league with Joe Stockwell taking over at the top on 187 points with Amy just a brace behind. Joe added Balearic Shearwater and Pied Flycatcher to hold top spot and we know both have bagged bonus points in May so who knows how this will end? Jonathan Farooqi loses his share of second but remains on the podium this month at Druridge Bay although he remains a single point ahead of Erik Ansell.

Black Redstart - Will Scott
Outside the podium there were a number of good bits and pieces turned up with George Dunbar being on hand as part of the ringing team when the White-crowned Sparrow (photos coming on that minileague post) unexpectedly turned up at Woolston Eyes. A Ruddy Shelduck for Findlay Wilde scores a big fat 0 as there havent been any accepted birds in 50 years. To score points for this species in all likelyhood you will need a ringed bird (sorry Findlay...). Will Scott turned up a Black Redstart at Humanby while Ellis Lucas managed to connect with the Green-winged Teal at Wheldrake. Several folks intercepted Ospreys moving north this month as this species continues to become more abundent with each passing year. Edward Betteridge at Evesham had a Siberian Chiffchaff on patch. Dan Rouse had Slavonian Grebes on both of here patches including a brace at Morfa Bacas. Worst luck went to Dan Beadle who had an Iberian Chiffchaff 100 yards outside his patch boundary (was it not audible? points then...).

And just for giggles here is Amy's Glaucous Gull.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Coastal Ireland Minileague - April 2016

Noel Keogh is on the fast track to reaching his 100% target at South Dublin Bay with a suite of common migrants boosting him up to 96.3% and remaining in first place on the Coastal Ireland Comparative Minileague table.

Eamonn O'Donnell moves into second ahead of Eleanor Keane (second place holder in March) as he clocked up 12 migrants species in April at Ninch/Laytown including Whimbrel and Little Tern. Eleanor keep the momentum going in third place at Killiney Hill to Dun Laoghaire coast with a singing Whitethroat, a scarce species for the site. 

Richard Donaghey is climbing the ranks, moving up from eighth to fifth on 81.8% at the Bann Estuary. A breeding plumage Spotted Redshank was his find of the month.

No less than three patch ticks for Dave Suddaby in first place on the Coastal Ireland Points Minileague table. A splendid breeding plumaged Red-necked Grebe was backed up by Tufted Duck and Carrion Crow. All new and all welcome as they keep him one point ahead of Noel Keogh's Tacumshin patch. Noel connected with the long staying Cattle Egret during April but also lucked out with an impressive patch tick, a Sooty Shearwater seen from the sand dunes during a seawatch there. 

Christopher O'Sullivan is thoroughly enjoying his first year of taking part in PWC from the West Cork site of Clonakilty/Inchydoney. Two six-pointer finds came in quick succession with a Great White Egret and a drake American Wigeon.

American Wigeon and Great White Egret at Clonakilty/Inchydoney © Christopher O'Sullivan

Other highlights from around the country included Sooty Shearwater, Arctic Skua and perhaps more importantly a Whooper Swan (in terms of patch listing) for Julian Wyllie at Baltimore. Joe Proudfoot was surprised to see a kettle of 3 Buzzards and 2 Red Kites over his local park near Sandymount, a great local record. A Spotted Flycatcher was at Rinville for Graham Johnston, always good to get those in early and a duo of Ring-billed Gull and Iceland present at the RSPB Belfast reserve for Derek Polley.

The absolute cracker of the month was waiting for Neal Warnock on Rathlin Island. A beautiful, untagged immature White-tailed Eagle, which almost certainly came over from Scotland. His pics say it all! 

White-tailed Eagle at Rathlin Island © Neal Warnock

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Coastal South Minileague - April 2016

Four new patch ticks for Amy Robjohns saw her pass the comparative score for Titchfield Haven by a single point. As we know Amy has had a very successful May this will only grow... Her ticks this time out were Great White Egret, Stone Curlew, Dartford Warbler and Arctic Skua. Dick Best moves into second place in the comparative table after a profitable April. Steph Brown hangs onto third place with returning Chiffchaffs her highlight.

Despite adding 40 points in April, Amy Robjohns loses top spot to Joe Stockwell in Weymouth. He added Balearic Shearwater plus Pied Flycatcher and Cuckoo with the latter two new for the patch. Like Amy we know he has added bonus points in May so perhaps there will be a fight on for top spot next month. Sean Foote on North Portland is in third place just 2 points behind Amy. As well as finding a Hoopoe he also added Hawfinch and Iceland Gull.

Hoopoe at Portland - Sean Foote
Away from the podium places there has been plenty going on with spring hotting things up. Ilya Maclean added Woodchat and Hoopoe on the Lizard as well as finding Siberian Chiffchaff. Also getting in on the Hoopoe act was Andy Johnson at Sandy Bay who turned up his own one this month. Paul Bowerman adds Blue-headed Wagtail this month along with Garganey and Osprey in Somerset. Kev Rylands had a good month at Dawlish with Kentish Plover, Black Redstart and Roseate Tern although Willow Tit takes pride of place. Dan Beadle missed out as an Iberian Chiffchaff turned up 100 yards outside his patch. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Islands Minileague - April 2016

April was a fairly decent month for many of the Island patchers. A couple of true #patchgold entries were submitted (Great Tit for John Bowler at Balephuil and Canada Goose for IanT at Askernish) along with a few other patch firsts in the form of Iceland Gull for Mark Newell on the Isle of May and Great White Egret for IanT at Askernish. Probably the highlight of the month for Steve Minton at Scatness was a pod of Orca cruising by. Although not birds, they're freaking awesome and I'm sure many of us would love them as a patch tick!

Credit: Steve Minton

After 10 weeks away in Spain, IanT returned in style and topped pole position of the Islands Comparative Minileague. On his return to patch, he added twenty-seven species, including two patch firsts (Great White Egret and Canada Goose) leaving him on 98 species and 78.8% for April. All but one patcher have at least broken the 50% milestone and are steadily adding species, and with only a few percent separating the top 3, May could see a change at the top again. 

Moving on to the Island Points Minileague, while points have increased, there's no change for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. John Bowler at Balephuil remains on the highest perch with some cracking birds added for the year (Corncrake, Manxie, Little Tern, Mealy Redpoll, and Lapland Bunting), while Paul Higson at Quoyangry clings on in 2nd despite not adding any species in April. Barrie Hamill at Burray is hot on Paul's heels in 3rd with finds including Hawfinch, Little Gull, and Black Redstart. As April ends, only one point separates 2nd and 3rd place.

Elsewhere, Bryan Rains had the first Iceland Gull for five year on patch at Pennyghael, Mull. Alastair Forsyth at Palace, Orkney also had Iceland Gull in addition to Carrion Crown (very uncommon) and Common Scoter which is less than an annual visitor to his patch. A drake Garganey graced Steve Minton's patch, while Bruce Taylor's highlights were Gropper at Brevig and White-billed Diver at Ardmhor.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Inland Ireland Minileague - April 2016

Des Higgins rockets into first place in the Inland Ireland Comparative Minileague with a mighty score of 94.7% from University College Dublin by the end of April after adding some of the expected spring migrants along with a one day stay Wheatear being the highlight. Not a bad species to see on this suburban Dublin campus! Des is catching up with his comparative score nicely now, which may have seemed a daunting task after the bonus points gleaned from a Ring-necked Duck in 2015. With several common but crucial #patchgold species added so far in 2016 it seems he is on track to break 100%.

Niall Keogh was away for most of the month so gets bumped down to second as a result while Darragh Sinnott moves into third place with 83% at Holy Cross and Carriganore.

Stock Dove and Woodcock were the latest additions to Andrew Power’s patch list at Kildavin taking him to 72 species and 79 points, remaining at the top of the Points Minileague. Brian Burke and Derek Charles are neck and neck in terms of points with 68 apiece from the inland lakes of Lough Ree and Lough Neagh but Brian's slightly higher points per bird score of 1.097 edges him forward into second place. 

Long-eared Owl and the first Swift of the year for Christian Osthoff were his monthly additions at Carrigmore. A Curlew at Bramblestown was Liam Lysaght’s first for the site while a pair of #patchgold Coot on the pond at Bushy Park constituted the first record there since 2003 for Mary Fitzgerald. Ian Stevenson got into the swing of spring at Grand Canal Way, adding Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Swallow along with Coal Tit (after much effort!) and Lesser Redpoll. 

male Hen Harrier, a garden bird in Upper Rathduff! © Michael John O’Mahony (patch Flickr page here)

Wales Minileague - April 2016

Spring was kind to the contestants of the Wales Minileague where we see good ground being made on the comparative table. No less than seven patch birders are now above 80%. Alastair Flannagan still leads the charge from his inland Swansea Vale to Fendrod Lake patch with 85.7% where Glaucous Gull was a patch tick plus his third patch record of Redstart provided added value. Close behind in second and third with 84% are Henry Cook and Julian Hughes, both patching from Conwy RSPB and both connecting with a male Blue-headed Wagtail and a colour-ringed Twite there. Henry edges just ahead on the table with a Spotted Redshank. 

colour-ringed Twite at Conwy RSPB © Henry Cook

Peter Howlett jumped from eight to fourth at his Green minileague Cardiff Bay patch, finishing on 83% by the months end thanks to 19 species added including Iceland Gull, Short-eared Owl, Yellow Wagtail and Whinchat. 

The same names crop up in the Wales Points Minileague during April. Richard Dobbins and Wendy James occupy first and second place again at the productive site of Teifi where a White Stork was a great find by Richard and also seen by Wendy. Barry Stewart increased his points total at Burry Inlet by 34 with Garganey, Little Gull, Yellow Wagtail and Razorbill taking him to 147 points and third place.

Thirteen patch birders are now above 100 points which is no surprise given the list of highlights reported to us at the end of April. Yellow Wagtails, Grasshopper Warblers and Whimbrel were popular along with Ring Ouzel at Little Orme (Henry Cook) and another Ring Ouzel, Osprey and Pied Flycatcher at Ogmore Estuary (Paul Roberts). Kentish Plover was a fine patch tick for David Carrington at Sker and Kenfig in addition to other highlights such as Garganey and Little Tern.

The PWC favourite #patchgold species, Coot, was a patch tick for Martin Bell at Parc Taf Bargoed and Coed Cefn Forest. Long live the Coot!

Long-eared Owl and Short-eared Owl at River Clwyd estuary © Chris Jones

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Midlands Minileague - April 2016

Andy Sims has climbed to the top of the comparative tree for the Midlands minileague from his March position of third. This is testament to the time and effort Andy puts into his patch and a little bird tells me he may be across the 100% mark now... In April Andy had his first Little Ringed Plover in 33 years for the site. Rhys Chivers adds 17% to move into second place. He added Wood Warbler, Avocet and Yellow-legged Gull this time out. On the third step of the podium is Tom Shields at Holme Pierrepoint who moves up from ninth position. He adds his first site Grasshopper Warbler plus Avocet and Whimbrel.

Erik's lead at Rutland is cut to three points as Rod Baker makes up ground. Erik added Short-eared Owl, Redstart and Red-breasted Merganser. John Hopper remains in contact on 156 points at Hoveringham as he adds a first site record of Cetti's Warbler plus Brent Goose and Osprey. There were no bonus points this month but plenty of highlights were shared about.

Hen Harrier - Steve Nuttall at Belvide Reservoir
There was a Siberian Chiffchaff at Evesham for Edward Betteridge plus his second site Yellow Wagtail. Little Gulls were a feature on inland waters with birds noted at 5 sites. Some tern passage also occurred with Sandwich Terns at Upton Warren whilst Kate Thorpe had an Arctic Tern at Middleton Lakes RSPB. Ospreys passed through a number of sites including Tame Valley, Welby, Old Bollingbroke and Grimston. Steve Nuttall had the rather smart male Hen Harrier featured above. There were a brace of Black Redstarts for Matt Griffiths constituting his first record for Earlswood. Matt Hazelton managed to connect with Wood Sandpiper on both his patches and scarcer migrants abounded.

Inland East Anglia Minileague - April 2016

April was obviously a good month for the Norwich area as both Adam Nicholls and James Emerson break the 100% and take the top 2 spots, Adam helped by several patch ticks including Common Sandpiper and Grasshopper Warbler. Nick Moran remains in third place after another good month with 2nd patch records of Iceland Gull and Sandwich Tern, both excellent inland records. The other big mover of the month was Jim Bradley as he finally picked up a Crane at Surlingham.

The Nunneries Sandwich Tern!

The points league also has a new leader as Ben Lewis, thanks to a Firecrest (2nd patch record!), Green-winged Teal and many migrants, leaps from 4th to first. Luke Wake drops to second place despite adding 28 points during the month. Jamie Wells and his big hitting Paxton Pits patch moves into the top three as April gave him an unexpected seabird, an Arctic Skua.

Many patchers managed to find some patch ticks throughout the month, Rob Pople managed to find a Cetti's Warbler at Milton CP, Irene Boston lucked in on a fly over Raven (a great county bird!) at Dersingham Bog and Terry Stopher managed to find a Ring Ouzel at Livermere. There were also a few bits of pure patch gold as Rob Lucking had a Shelduck on his Colkirk patch, Stuart Reeves picked out a Wheatear at Mutford.

First heard in January at Mid Yare RSPB, Ben Lewis finally managed to photograph this Penduline Tit in April!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - April 2016

Rob Hall continues his dominance in the comparative league adding 10% to his end of March score. Craig Fulcher had an excellent month finding Crane and Great White Egret for some much needed bonus points while James Brown makes the top 3 thanks to finding Cranes as well as some ggod patch birds turning up such as Lesser Yellowlegs and Wood Warbler. Gary White also managed some bonus points with a cracking Great Grey Shrike, a very nice spring find!

Great Grey Shrike found by Gary White

James Brown has increased his lead at the top after another superb month while Craig Fulcher leap frogs Paul Eele into 2nd. Not much movement in terms of league placings but some cracking birds seen throughout the month as several patches catch up with an 'easy' 6 pointer Crane. Irene Boston lucked in on a short staying Little Ringed Plover in Brancaster and a Nightingale at Thornham, both patch ticks. Tommy Corcoran added several new species the highlight perhaps his Hawfinch, an excellent east coast record.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Inland South Minileague - April 2016

 Stephanie Brown at Twyford and Richard Scantlebury at Fishponds in Bristol both breach 100%. Richard's highlights include Reed Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher whilst Stephanie adds Lesser Redpoll and Marsh Tit. Marek Walford is in third place.

With Lee Evans deciding to drop out of the competition the Inland South points league has a familiar feel with newly crowned Forest Optics Best Find 2016 winner Tom Raven now leading the line. Ian Bennell is in second place after a productive month which included patch ticks of Ring Ouzel and Short-eared Owl and the top three is rounded off by Nick Croft at Wanstead who added Osprey, Redstart and Ring Ouzel in the 'burbs of London.

Tree Pipit - Chris Bessant
Best find this month was undoubtedly by Rob Hill who turned up a Gannet at Linford NR. There were two Black-winged Stilts at for him at Manor Farm which Ashley Beolens also saw although it wasn't a find for either. Chris Bessant had a Tree Pipit at Maple Cross and other summer migrants were spread widely with many patchers getting Ring Ouzel and Redstart. Tom Stevenson had a Garganey at Dorchester Gravel Pits and a Merlin for Tim Farr at West Sherbourne.