Thursday, 28 July 2016

Estuarine Minileague - June 2016

The Cornwall Dalmatian Pelican finally made it's way to the Hayle Estuary as Paul Freestone added this unexpected visitor to both of this patches this year. This five pointer puts him into first place and sailing over the 100% marker in the comparative league. Peter Hazlewood had an excellent spring to put him in second place, but the same cannot be said of June with nothing new of note in what is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year. Joost Brandsma remains just shy of the 100% mark in third, a barrier which is sure to fall soon!

In the top two spots are Dave Craven and Howard Vaughan in what is becoming quite a tussle at the top. In fact these two patches produced the best finds of June also, with a male Golden Oriole making for real #patchgold in it's most literal sense for Howard whilst a very unseasonal and unexpected Green-Winged Teal brightened up Dave's month.

An unseasonal American visitor at Hale & Pickerings Pasture in June - c/o Dave Craven

The 14 extra species so far at Hale and Pickerings is telling though as Dave retains a 16 point lead at the top. Meanwhile, the Frampton / Freiston collective cannot be ignored with autumn approaching, and waderfest is on its way! They occupy third and fourth spots so it should make for an exciting autumn.

For most patchers, June is a quiet month in the competition, so enjoying the breeding birds and summer residents becomes the highlights when few points are added. There were however a few points additions to be made. A Spoonbill at Frampton was to be expected at some point in the year, but a bird at Birkenhead Docks much less so for Elliot Monteath, it was a first for patch, Birkenhead and east Wirral. In fact Elliot had a good month with a fine Roseate Tern and a Little Tern which flew up the estuary giving Elliot enough time to tip off Dave Craven at Hale and Pickerings who added it to his list also. A great example of patch teamwork which is what we like to see! Another example of teamwork was the White Stork at Saul Warth which was added by Gordon Hodgson thank to the local Twitter network. How social media has changed birding.

Little Gulls are often a feature of late summer and an early bird was an excellent patch tick for both patchers at Hesketh Out Marsh.

Little Gull was a patch tick for Stuart Darbyshire at Hesketh Out Marsh
Excluding the literal example from Rainham above, a Marsh Tit for Ian Ballam was a lifer for him at Lytchett Bay so takes the #patchgold kudos for June.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Islands Minileague - June 2016

After a rarity-filled, hectic May, relative calm returns to the Islands Minileague during June. David Wood remains in first place on the comparative table at The Oa, edging slightly closer to his target for the year, now on 99.3%.

Swift was a welcome addition to IanT's patch year list at Askernish as they are not easy that way out west plus two bonus patch ticks with Long-eared Owl and a snazzy Red-necked Phalarope! This results in a percentage jump into the 90's where Ian keeps hold of second place for another month with 92.9%.

Mark Newell is close behind in third on 90.9%, having overtaken Bryan Rains on Mull. Mark added House Sparrow to his Isle of May list in June, bringing his overall patch life list to 200. Quite the patch milestone. Well done!

No update from Bardsey during June but Steve Stansfield still claims first place on the points table for another month. John Bowler is catching up however with seven points added at Balephuill in the form of Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Turtle Dove. This would normally be considered a fine haul if it wasn't for the White-throated Sparrow, singing Icterine Warbler and singing Marsh Warbler which John also saw on Tiree during June but all of which were off the patch!

Bruce Taylor looks like he is giving PWC's own Ryan Irvine a run for his money when it comes to sofaseawatching. Bruce gained some excellent bonus points with a White-billed Diver scoped from his lounge at Brevig on Barra! Add to this, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skua too! Bruce jumps from ninth to fourth on the points table. 

Other monthly mentions included a Crane at Balivanich for Stuart Taylor, a Quail on the Farne Islands for Ed Tooth and Tree Pipit plus Bar-tailed Godwit for Sean Morris on Rum.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Inland East Anglia Minileague - June 2016

Adam Nicholls lead has been cut to 11% as he had a blank month in June with James Emerson still his closest challenger. June was a good month for Tim Phillips as he added 13% and jumped 4 places into 3rd spot. Nick Moran had a good month and holds on to 4th after finding a Honey-buzzard and twitching a Glossy Ibis at Thetford. The other side of the #beatnick challenge didn't go so well as Jonny Rankin managed a miserly zero points! There's always autumn Jonny......

Glossy Ibis, Nunnery Lakes c/o Nick Moran

There isn't much movement in the points league as the top four remain the same and Nige Lound (thanks to a Caspian Tern) swaps 4th and 5th with Nick Moran. Great White Egrets made a few more appearances as Pete Antrobus and Luke Wake added it to their lists while the other bird of note in the month was a Montagu's Harrier for Derek Gruar, found on the way to the dentist! No pain no gain! The mid-table of the league is incredibly tight with 12 points separating 9th and 24th so a good July (is there such a thing in birding??) could see major changes.

Coastal East Anglia Minileague - June 2016

Very little movement in the comparative league as Rob Hall holds on to the lead despite adding no new birds in June. James Brown reduces the gap at the top to 2% thanks to a nice trio of Blue-winged Teal, Marsh Warbler and Bluethroat in the Lowestoft area. Scott Mayson holds on to the last podium place but Tommy Corcoran is closing in on him, mainly thanks to finding a Caspian Tern at Breydon Water. The lower positions all remain the same despite Ryan finding a male Golden Oriole at Hemsby!

Caspian Tern, Breydon Water c/o Tommy Corcoran

While the comparative league was largely dormant in June the points table had some real movers. James Brown still hold a commanding lead thanks to the aforementioned birds but we have new challengers in the shape of Justin Zantboer (a massive 72 points since last update) and Tommy Corcoran. Justin moved from 10th to 2nd thanks to an amazing month, adding Little Bittern, Whiskered Tern, Kentish Plover (all patch ticks), Montagu's Harrier and Marsh Warbler. A truly memorable month!! The other main bird of the month yet to be mentioned made it onto two patches, bringing both Paul Eele at Titchwell and Irene Boston at Brancaster 5 points for the wonderful Great Knot. That's quite a haul of bird for June, I can't see July keeping up......

Great Knot c/o Paul Eele

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Coastal South Minileague - June 2016

Everyone is playing for second in the comparative league as Amy continues to dominate at the top. Paul Freestone submitted his score this month which included a mighty 15 points for the Gwithian Pelican! Even with this boost however, he is still adrift of the leader who is pushing the 120% mark.

Dick Best at Steart holds onto third place but only just with Paul Bowerman at Severn Beach hot on his heals.

In the points league, Amy and Joe were neck and neck last month. But Amy has edged ahead with Great and Arctic Skuas as well as an returning Green Sandpiper her highlights whilst Joe had no additions in June. Sean Foote consolidates his position in third adding an early Curlew Sandpiper to his total and bringing up the 150 species mark.

June is a month to enjoy the summer residents and breeding birds rather than bag lots of points in PWC. There were a few additions to be had however with the Dalmatian Pelican at Gwithian back in May a find for Paul Freestone as it flew over Gwithian. This bird which has since become a bit of a local celebrity in Cornwall is a potential UK first (which will be a first for PWC!) and bags 15 points. As per the PWC podcast discussion this is accepted by us but whether the points stand will be on the decision of the BBRC, it will be interesting to see the outcome. Whatever that might be it is a great looking bird and was probably not on Paul's patch target list for the year!

A White Stork was welcome at Steart Marshes in the month whilst a Roseate Tern would make the highlights of anyone's month, as it did for Andy Johnson at Sandy Point. Other June additions which were a little more expected were Grasshopper Warbler and Nightjar at Coverack and Cuckoo (not always the easiest to get sadly nowadays) at Severn Beach.

A Yellow-Legged Gull at Walmer Beach was new for the year for Rob Rackliffe as many of us will be on the lookout for this larid in the next couple of months.

 Finally - #patchgold award this month goes to Kevin Rylands from his Teignmouth rear window! It is only 61 years since the first UK breeding record, but there are not many patches now that have to wait until June to record Collared Dove.

Curlew Sandpiper at North Portland - c/o Sean Foote

Coastal Scotland Minileague - June 2016

The message that June is a quiet month for adding points clearly didn't get through to Chris Rodger at Musselburgh as he hit the 200 point mark and extended his lead in both the comparative and points tables. Highlight of the month was a King Eider which bagged bonus points. In addition, Chris found both Little and Roseate Terns on patch, the former being a patch tick.
Stephen Welch closes in on the magic 100% marker with the Gull-Billed Tern at Foray making a brief sojourn to Gosford Bay, perching for just twenty second before taking off again. Right time, right place!
Gull-Billed Tern on its brief visit to Gosford Bay (c/o Stephen Welch)
Jim Dickson at Crinan Canal Corridor taken third spot this month adding Long-Tailed Duck and Crossbill in the month.

In the points league, Colin Davidson and Mike Hodgkin are pushing Chris Rodger in top spot. All three are in the 140's for species, but those all important bonus pointers give Chris a stronger points per bird. Plenty of time left to go!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Wales Minileague - June 2016

Very little change in the rankings on the Wales Comparative Minileague during June. The leaders on the table were busy bumping up their percentage scores however. 

Stock Dove and Manx Shearwater were patch ticks for Mike Cram who leads the charge at the top of the comparative minileague for another month at Broughton and Llangennith with a score of 108.9%. Well done to Mike for achieving and surpassing his PWC target for the year.

Alison C also achieves her target for the year with bang on 100% at Llanfair Talhaiarn by the end of June. A Hooded Crow at RSPB Conwy was the second site record but the first for local patch birder Julian Hughes, which allows him to slip past fellow patch birder Henry Cook and into third place for the month on 97%. The two have been almost neck and neck battling it out here for a while now!

Wendy James gets a great Teifi blocker with a Dipper which fellow patch birder Richard Dobbins will be eager to catch up with no doubt. Richard did well with Willow Tit however, a difficult local species. This helps keep him in first place on the points minileague table for another month with 176 points from 142 species.

Alex Jones found a superb Broad-billed Sandpiper at the mouth of the River Clwyd estuary where Chris Jones also caught up with it for his patch year list. Definitely the rarity highlight of the month here!

Gull-billed Tern was another superb patch rarity, this time seen by David Carrington at Sker and KenfigCeri Jones had the first Redshank at Cosmeston, Sully and Lavernock for two years (and is top of the BirdTrack stats with over 650 lists and nearly 11,700 records). Tawny Owl and Rook were both rare at Brynna Woods for Tony Swann. The first record of confirmed breeding by Spotted Flycatcher occurred at patch of Trevor Fletcher's patch at Rudry Common. 

Broad-billed Sandpiper © Alex Jones

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Coastal Ireland Minileague - June 2016

Come the end of June we see Noel Keogh top both the comparative table and the points table in the Coastal Ireland Minileague for another month.

His South Dublin Bay patch remains in first place on the comp table with 105% after a male Ruff put in an appearance at Merrion Gates where Joe Proudfoot also connected with the same bird for his patch year list (the two lads have their respective patches overlap around here). 

Further to the south, Noel's patch at Tacumshin Lake is the first to reach 200 points on the points minileague table with 143 species after an amazing month for the site where he added a plethora of rarities including Semipalmated Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret and a #patchgold Rock Pipit! Bonus points for the month came in the form of a stunning adult breeding plumage American Golden Plover which he found while twitching the Semi-p Plover!

No other major updates received from other contestants here so another brief update for what must have been a quiet month for many.

American Golden Plover, Cattle Egret and Semipalmated Plover © Noel Keogh

Inland Ireland Minileague - June 2016

The month of June brings the mid-summer lull to the Inland Ireland Minileague so we'll keep this brief!

Alan Lauder catches up with the remaining migrants at his Carrick Mountain patch and as such moves into fourth place with 96.8% on the comparative minileague table where otherwise it's business as usual.

A Cuckoo at Bramblestown was an unexpected highlight for Liam Lysaght while Christian Osthoff had the pleasure of having his garden feeders at Carrigmore visited by a family of five Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a species which only colonised within the last decade but is now a regular sight in County Wicklow.

Great Spotted Woodpecker © Christian Osthoff

Friday, 15 July 2016

Inland Scotland Minileague - June 2016

The 100% mark gets ever closer for a number of patchers with Chris Pendlebury at Blairdrummond closest to hitting the marker, just one more point to go! That point didn't come in June however, a traditionally quiet month which is reflected in the table. Graeme Garner in third breaks up the monopoly of Chris patches at the top of the comparative league.

David Douglas retains top spot at his Loch Leven patch, leading by 25 points to Alastair Forsyth at Old Nisthouse. Graeme Garner at Cambus  takes third.

A quiet month with one clear highlight. A Gull-Billed Tern arrived at Kinneil in early June and stayed on for most of the month allowing many people to connect with this excellent bird including Chris Pendlebury. In what was a purple patch at Kinneil, Chris also connected with Fulmar and Grasshopper Warbler in the space of two days as well as the Tern.

Superb shot of the Kinneil Gull-Billed Tern c/o Scott Wotherspoon (@spoony123456)

The only other additions in the month came from Dunblane where a Spotted Flycatcher was a new record for the area for Chris Pendlebury.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Inland South Minileague - June 2016

Despite no additional points at Twyford, Stephanie Brown maintains her healthy lead in the Inland South comparative minileague. Richard Scantlebury also drew a blank at Fishponds in Bristol meaning that Ian Bennell had the opportunity to close the gap. The Tring based patcher duly obliged with 4% added this month taking him over the 100% mark and into virgin territory courtesy of a Common Scoter and Black-necked Grebe combo.

No news from the Avalon marshes means Tom Raven has his lead chipped away at by Ian Bennell. Adam Bassett adds a single point to ensure he stays in third place and whilst the pickings may be slim, patch Black-tailed Godwits are never to be sniffed at.

Black-necked Grebes at Stoke Newington - Chris Farthing
There were no bonus points this month but there was some quality in the form of a pair of Black-necked Grebes for Chris Farthing at Stoke Newington reservoirs. Gareth Blockley found his second patch Nuthatch at Grimsbury Reservoir after one last year. Paul Freestone managed to get in on the now annual Red Kite passage in the South West with 10+ birds over his garden whilst also adding Osprey, Hobby and Grasshopper Warbler this month. There was a Peregrine for Martin Wood and a Hobby for Steve Chastell whilst at Sutton Bingham Tim Farr recorded his first Redshank and Curlew of the year.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Midlands Minileagues - June 2016

John Clarkson defends his position at the top of the comparative table, adding a further 4% in June to extend his lead. His highlight this month was a Red Kite soaring over the garden. Tom Shields recaptures second place with 3% added this month and Phil Hyde stakes his claim on the podiun and becomes the 5th member of the 100% club in the Midlands after patch ticking Sedge Warbler and Curlew as he also broke the 100 points mark.

Steve Nuttall only added two points this month but stays top of the points minileague thanks to a timely Avocet. Rod Baker overhauls his Rutland rival, Erik Ansell, to retake second place and moves within 4 points of the lead after a brace of Little Terns graced the giant reservoir. Erik made no additions this month.

Red-crested Pochard and hybrid young - Jacob Spinks
Best find this month was a Great White Egret for Ben Ward to earn him 6 points at Whisby. Rob Swift at Radford meadows adds Cuckoo this month, a species which can be very hit and miss in the lowlands. There was a Dipper for Pete Fontana at Trentham Gardens and Matthew Dick at Darley Dale adds Quail and Red Kite. Matt Griffiths found the first Black-necked Grebe at Earlswood since 1955. A Red-crested Pochard was present for Edward Betteridge at Throckmorton Lagoons as we scrape the barrel for highlights... Its autumn now though!

Under 25 Minileague - June 2016

Two further points for Amy Robjohns this month as she had some early skua movement off Titchfield Haven to extend her lead to 19.5% in the comparative minileague. In second place Rhys Chivers in failed to make any additions. Ash Baines in third also made no progress in a tricky month and continues just 3% back from Rhys.

The big beast finally awakens as Tim Jones lets us know how he is getting on at Spurn with three Spoonbills his best bit from June. Amy is in second place, 34 points behind Tim with Joe Stockwell a further two points back in third place but with no additions this time out.

Red Kite - Ben Moyes
As you might have noticed the big scorers havent really made much headway but there were additions round the table. There was a Spotted Flycatcher at Humanby for Will Scott and at Ruskington for Jack Dawson. Jack added Spoonbill at Frampton whilst Ben Moyes added Red Kite in the Gipping Valley. Dan Beadle got himself Nightjar on patch as well as Grasshopper Warbler for a profitable nocturnal visit. Finally Jack Bradbury added 4 ticks this time out including Siskin and Marsh Tit.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Inland North Minileagues - June 2016

A mere five days after the belated May Inland North Minileague and we have the June edition. A mostly quiet month as June often is inland there was little change in the comparative minileague. David Franklin failed to make any additions at Campsall or Askern but stayed clear in first and second while John Law added 5% to close the gap and move into third place meaning Duncan Bye slips off the podium for the time being. Ryan McClarence became the 6th member of the 100% club on the patch he shares with David.

Common Tern - Findlay Wilde
John Law jumps from third to first place, overhauling Chris and Duncan as no additions were garnered at Wykeham or Wheldrake. In terms of quality it was thin on the ground with a few early autumn waders the pick but these might not even have made it onto the breeding grounds. A Knot for Alan Todd at Mootlaw was probably the pick of the bunch and a first patch record. Bill Aspin added Ruff while there were Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover for Nick Morgan and Pete Antrobus respectively. Non-waders included a breeding attempt by Common Terns at Winsford Flash as recorded by Findlay Wilde above and passerine interest was piqued with a brace of Crossbills at Hawes for Steven Ward (his first since 2012) and a patch first Tree Pipit for John Conlin at Gott's Park.

A bit thin but we already know that July has been better for one patcher...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Under 25's Minileague - May 2016

Amy Robjohns adds 18% to her total to lead the Under 25 comparative league. This month her highlight (and everyones) was a male Caspian Stonechat which she found on patch whilst counting snails. This is a 15 pointer and well deserved for a devout patcher. Second place is still Rhys Chivers and he hits the 100% with Wood Sandpiper and Whimbrel his best bits this month. Ash Baines rounds off the top three and is only 3.25% short of second as he adds Spoonbill.

Caspian Stonechat - Titchfield Haven (Amy Robjohns)

Amy's exploits see her join Joe Stockwell in first place on 218 points each. His highlights were a self-found Temminck's Stint and a patch first Cattle Egret. Jonathan Farooqi is heading up the pack 35 points behind in Druridge Bay. He managed to connect with the touring pair of Glossy Ibis that worked their way down the east coast along with a Great White Egret.

Other highlights this month include bonus point scoring Great White Egret for Jack Dawson whilst Toby Carter gets a bonus for a Purple Heron. The final set of bonus points this month goes to Josie Hewitt who managed to connect with a Honey Buzzard at Blackbushe airfield. Dan Beadle managed to catch up with a Hoopoe on his patch at Coverack and there was a Turtle Dove for Ben Moyes in the mid-Gipping Valley. Dan Rouse saw the Bonaparte's Gull at WWT Llanelli and the Gull-billed Tern at Morfa Bacas - quite the double! Erik Ansell managed a Red-necked Phalarope at Rutland and Jack Dawson saw the Wryneck and Black-winged Stilt double at Frampton. Finally there was also a Turtle Dove for Zac Hinchcliffe at Old Bolingbroke.

Inland North Minileague - May 2016

David Franklin maintains his double headed stranglehold on the Inland North comparative minileague with his Campsall patch on 120% including a hepatic Cuckoo whilst down the road at Askern he hits 113% with a Hobby being Mays best bird. Duncan Bye at Wheldrake Ings moves up into third displacing John Law. Duncan's highlights included a brace of Cranes, Black & Arctic Tern plus Garganey and Hobby. A very reasonable haul and takes him over 100%. There were two other patchers to hit 100% - John Law and Chris Bradshaw with new ground being broken for the rest of the year by these guys.

For raw pointage Chris Bradshaw leads the way by one point on 161 at Wykeham Lakes with Osprey and Wood Sandpiper his highlights. He dipped a Pallid Harrier which he then co-found on his 'other' patch at Long Nab which he hasnt entered this year. Duncan Bye moves up one place into second spot. John Law drops two posts but holds onto the podium level with Bill Aspin in this place on 156 points. Bill was a beneficiary of a Pallid Harrier as he found the first for Lancashire at Brockholes giving him a handy 15 points (this is a species which will be changed to a 4 pointer next year).

Bill Aspin's Pallid Harrier
Beyond the top of the table there was a Red-necked Phalarope at Grindon Lough for Paul Massey which despite discussions remains a two pointer much to Paul's chagrin... In Newcastle Andy Rickeard turned up a rather late Ring Ouzel whilst Adam Moan at RSPB Geltsdale had his first Red Kite for the site. Justin Parker at Rossington added Black-necked Grebe and Peter Williams connected with the two Glossy Ibis that did a tour during the month at North Cave Wetlands.