Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Inland South Minileague - December 2016

Congratulations Tim Farr! Sutton Bingham's finest has had an excellent year (you can read about it on a special blog post here). He had a great final month adding Firecrest and a Black-necked Grebe on the 31st December, an excellent finish to an excellent year which included finders point for a stunning Spotted Sandpiper amongst the most memorable moments.

Stephanie Brown finished in second, just a whisker ahead of Richard Scantlebury in third. Whilst no additions of note in December both had scored over 120%, a superb performance marked with annual highlights of Cetti's Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler respectively.

Twelve patch birders beat or matched their comparative target, three of whom ended up bang on 100%. Great effort all round.

Nigel Milbourne ends the year at Blagdon Lake on 198 points, an excellent total for an inland site and 25 points clear of his nearest competitor. Nigel has been birding Blagdon Lake for 24 years now, but December 2016 will go down in the memory as he added Jack Snipe, Bearded Tit and of course Blyth's Pipit to his patch list in the space of 48 hours. Congratulations to Nigel, the pipit really was a superb bird and finders points added too!

Blyth's Pipit (c) Nigel Milbourne (check out the Blagdon Lake birds website)

Playing for the podium spots, Tom Raven (he of Hudsonian Godwit fame) takes second place despite no additions in December. Brendan Sheils could not take advantage however, and ends in third. Well done all.

December turned up a few good birds around the Inland South league aside from the Blyth's Pipit. A Glossy Ibis at Stoke Newington was an excellent find for Chris Farthing as was an inland Brent Goose. The Cattle Egret influx in December made it's way onto Ollie Thomas's Puddletown list whilst a Little Stint was an unseasonable addition to the Longham Lakes yearlist.

A Yellow-browed Warbler found it's way to Wanstead in December. Caspian Gulls were found in December at Grimsbury Reservoir and Rye Meads while Scaup found their way inland at Dinton Pastures and Linford Lakes. Finally, a good December for Neil Burt saw Grey Partridge, Woodcock and White-Fronted Goose keep the score ticking up right to the end.

Well done to everyone who competed in the Inland South league in 2016. Hopefully we will see many of those in the points league this year move into the comparative league also in 2017. It really was an excellent year, with amongst the highlights Herts' first Bonaparte's Gull, Black Stork, Red-Footed Falcon, Ortolan Bunting, White-tailed Eagle, Wryneck, Spotted Sandpiper and Blyth's Pipit. An amazing year and a credit to those covering a network of patches right across the south.

Coastal North Minileague - December 2016

Long time leader of the Coastal North comparative league (Ash Baines) does it for the west coast and canters to victory. An excellent 132% is a great score topped up with a Snow Bunting in December. Ash's highlight for the year was undoubtedly Desert Wheatear with Yellow-browed Warbler and Pomarine Skua representing a fine supporting cast. Well done Ash, your score will definitely make it harder in 2017! Damian Money had an excellent year at Saltburn to seal second place, scoring maximum points for arguably the #PWC2016 bird of the year in the form of a Siberian Accentor.

Siberian Accentor (c) Damian Money

Third spot goes to PWC's own James Spencer. Barmston sits in the shadow of Flamborough Head and James will be swapping one for the other this year, so it is great to end on a high.

The top eight all surpassed the 100% mark, a great performance. 

The coastal north points league it where the big east coast hitters come out to play. The Spurn and Easington areas in particular always generate some monster scores that top the overall points league and this year is no exception. Tim Jones is a familiar name at the top and does it again, matched species for species by Mick Turton but with a better points per bird total, both totalling more than 400 points!! Paul French will be a force to be reckoned with as well in 2017 and falls just shy of the leading pair this time on 392 points. Tim won't be competing in 2017 so Mick and Paul will be battling it out for top spot but will the east coast get another year like 2016?

Nick Addey finished fourth above Andy Hood at Flamborough. Nick scores more than 300 points as he takes a break for #PWC2017. Meanwhile Andy has entertained us with his pictures from Flamborough all year and some superb birds. Well done both.

December was short on highlights from the coastal north, with new additions hard to come by at these locations after the rush of autumn. Tim Jones and Mick Turton added a Glaucous Gull whilst Mick also enjoyed a Purple Sandpiper, not the easiest bird at Spurn. Nick Addey added Red-necked Grebe whilst a Long-tailed Duck was a #fullfatpatchtick for Nige Lound at Crook Bank. Nige Lound also had the privilege of two Shore Larks at his Rimac patch - a joy of a bird. Final mention for December goes to Will Scott who added a few extra points at the death to finish in mid-table including a White-fronted Goose.

2016 was a tremendous year for rarities in coastal north. There have been some excellent birds found on patches in what has been a superb autumn, particularly in the east. The year highlights include Siberian Accentor, Eastern Black Redstart, Paddyfield Warbler, Desert Wheatear, Citrine Wagtail, Kumlien's Gull, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Brown Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear, Stejneger's Stonechat, etc etc...

It really has been an excellent year, thanks to all who contributed to it.

Estuarine Minileague - December 2016

Paul Freestone's Hayle patch sweeps to victory in the Estuarine comparative league. A fine year marked by Franklin's Gull and that Pelican was capped off by finally getting Caspian Gull onto the list and securing the title. Ian Ballam had a superb year at Lytchett and pushed the race to the wire, but adding Green-winged Teal (including finder points) and patch lifer Brambling was not enough to grab top spot. Christmas Cattle Egrets galore for Gordon Hodgson helped him to take third.

Green-winged Teal at Lytchett Bay (c) Ian Ballam

More than half of patches in the comparative league beat their target which is a great performance. Well done all. 

In the points league, long term leader Dave Craven couldn't quite hold on to take the title. Paul Sullivan at estuarine tour de force Frampton/Freiston too the spoils, with a comfortable lead of 15 points at the final tally. Paul added Jack Snipe, Velvet Scoter and Shag in December. Frampton/Freiston is better known for its waders, but Paul's highlights this year were Bittern (his only patch first in the year) and finding Glossy Ibis.

Dave really made a fight of it though, and had an excellent year featuring in first place in many of the monthly updates. He just couldn't add anything new in the last couple of months but his year highlights from this west coast patch were Broad-Billed Sandpiper and the number of Yellow-browed Warblers this autumn.

Howard Vaughan managed to keep the other Frampton birders out of the top three by a single point! His comment on the submission form for December: "oh so nearly the first blank month... dire but salvaged with a one point Goosander on 27th - a rare bird here". An important addition in the end, every point counts! The best of the year for Howard Vaughan was a fine male Golden Oriole, there are not many better birds.

Other highlights in December involved the start of the Waxwing invasion with birds at Aigburth. A second Yellow-browed Warbler of the year for Martin Elcoate meant no additional points but is still a nice winter find. A number of patches added Water Rail, Woodcock and Brambling in the month and a Red-throated Diver was the highlight at Snettisham.

Final mention for December should go to Elliot Montieth for his Great Crested Grebe heroics. Spotting that it was caught in fishing line he swam out to it at Bidston Moss in the middle of winter! A hero indeed.

Spoonbills at Holes Bay (c) Ian Ballam

Friday, 27 January 2017

Under 25's Minileague - December 2016

Contestants in the Under 25's Minileague were some of the most prolific patch birders in all of #PWC2016 with Amy Robjohns finishing in first place on the comparative table, unchallenged with her mega 142.93% score from Titchfield Haven. Just reward for all the effort put in over the year as well as for keeping us entertained with top quality record pics of each new scarce or rare species added to her list!

Caspian Stonechat at Titchfield Haven (c) Amy Robjohns

Ash Baines finishes with a very strong second place score of 132.47% at Starr Gate - Fairlawn road with Snow Bunting added in December. Cattle Egret and White-fronted Goose boosted the score from Mid-North Gipping Valley to 115.13% for third place Ben Moyes.

Rhys Chivers managed to hold on to fourth place by a matter of .01%!!! Rhys didn't add any new species for Soar Valley Pits in December but his comp score there remained high enough to fend off Espen Quinto-Ashman at Wellington GPs despite Espen having added Barn Owl in the dying moment of #PWC2016 on New Year's Eve!

While there was plenty of success in the Under 25's Comparative Minileague, results from the Points Minileague also showcased the great enthusiasm of the youngest patch birders that PWC has to offer. Nearly 50 contestants make up this table and we can see some closely fought battles down through the rankings, but it is Tim Jones who leads the way, charging ahead of all others with that mega score of 421 points from 231 species and a PPB of 1.823 from the mighty Spurn. 

The BirdTrack effort by the Under 25's was also top notch with Ollie Thomas contributing a truly amazing 637 complete lists and 20,684 records from Puddletown while James McCulloch also gets an honourable mention with 660 complete lists and 6,018 records from Hedgecourt NR & Domewood.

When it came to personal highlights of the year, reading through the list of submissions really gave a flavour of how epic 2016 was for birding across Britain and Ireland with all of the following seen by PWC Under 25's contestants: Caspian Stonechat, White-crowned Sparrow, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Black Stork, Forster's Tern, Black-bellied Dipper, Desert Wheatear, Dusky Warbler, Purple Heron, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitcher, Richard's Pipit, Black Brant, Cattle Egret, Green-winged Teal, Sabine's Gull, Honey Buzzard...

Black-bellied Dipper (c) Ben Moyes

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Coastal South Minileague - December 2016

A confiding Snow Bunting during December was the final addition to Amy Robjohn's mammoth patch birding year at Titchfield Haven. Hardcore effort at this site resulted in a final comparative score of 142.93%, one of the highest in all of #PWC2016 and first in Coastal South Minileague.

Amy's Caspian Stonechat find was hands down her highlight of the year but closely followed by Stone Curlew and Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Second place remains in the hands of Paul Freestone at Gwithian who had an equally impressive year, finishing on 121.31% with top finds such as Isabelline Wheatear plus Dalmatian Pelican, Rose-coloured Starling, Wryneck etc.

Mark Lawlor, Dick Best and Paul Bowerman all keep their same positions in the top five at the end of the year, having beaten their comp score targets. Mark's Kentish Plover find is certainly worthy of an end of year mention, the first on Guernsey in thirteen years!

Snow Bunting at Titchfield Haven (c) Amy Robjohns

Joe Stockwell's lead on the Coastal South points table was secured for the year thanks to a wildfowl-fest at Ferrybridge to Weymouth during December which saw Goldeneye, Eider, Black Brant and Egyptian Goose bring his points score up to 277.

Amy's success in the comparative league was complemented by a second place position on the points table where Andy Johnson moved into third place ahead of Paul Bowerman by a matter of two points, helped by Snow Bunting and Long-tailed Duck added at Sandy Point in December.

Some highlights at the months end included a Hume's Warbler at North Portland for Sean Foote, an amazing flock of nine Cattle Egrets found by Ilya Maclean at Loe Pool on 30th December and a patch tick Caspian Gull for Kev Rylands at Dawlish Warren.

Aside from some of the aforementioned megas, the Coastal South Minileague was awash with rare and scare birds during #PWC2016 with the likes of Ross's Gull, Red-throated Pipit, Greenish Warbler, Bonaparte's Gull, Great Grey Shrike, Shorelark, Temminck's Stint, Cory's Shearwater, Ortolan Bunting and Serin making the best bird of the year comments section from this years contestants.

The PWC #patchgold favourite, Coot, also got an honorary mention as bird of the year for Sean Foote at North Portland! ;)

Hooded Merganser at Radipole...eating fish and NOT bread as kindly pointed out by Joe Stockwell :)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Inland East Anglia Minileague - December 2016

Congratulations to Adam Nicholls for winning the comparative with a mighty 145%. A very impressive effort Adam. James Emerson beats Nick Moran to second place with a good December thanks to a Velvet Scoter (patch tick) and Scaup. Nick drops to 3rd despite a Lapland Bunting on patch and a Hawfinch in his garden, a great duo so late in the year and increases our suspicion that Thetford has moved to the coast! Ben Moyes extends his lead in fourth place over Tim Phillips and Jim Bradley as he had a great month with Cattle Egret, White-fronted Geese and Goosander added. It was a good month for White-fronted Geese as Ben Rackstraw, Mike McCarthy and Nige Lound also added them during December. Rob Lucking finished the year at Colkirk with a Kingfisher, a colourful patch tick. 
White-fronted Geese were seen throughout the region in December

The top 3 didn't change in the points league during December so its congratulations to Ben Lewis as his very impressive year at the Mid Yare see's him win quite comfortably in the end. Jamie Wells holds on the 2nd despite the efforts of Luke Wake, although his Siberian Chiffchaff in December wasn't quite enough to catch Jamie. Nige Lound leap frogs Nick Moran into 4th courtesy of his PPB score. Rob Pople managed to get a December patch tick in the shape of a Smew at Milton CP. It was great to see 23 patches all recording over 100 species this year, a testament to the hard work put in by everyone.

Reading the list of year highlights makes me wonder if some patches are inland!! It truly has been a great year for the Inland East Anglia Minileague. Ben Lewis had a memorable year and struggled to pick a bird of the year from Little Tern, Penduline Tit, Bee-eater or Savi's Warbler. All great finds inland. Other national rarities included the Great Reed Warbler Jamie Wells saw at Paxton Pits, Nick Morans Little Bunting at Thetford (Lapland Bunting completing an amazing bunting bonanza there), Nige Lounds Caspian Tern at Middlemarsh Farm and the Black-bellied Dipper on Ben Moyes patch at the Gipping Valley. Its not all about rarities though and many of the patches benefited from the invasion year for several species, Yellow-browed Warbler a highlight for Joe Harkness, Rob Pople and Alison Allen while Waxwings and Curlew Sandpipers were mentioned on a few patches too. Lets not forget the moments of patch gold that have been etched into the memory of patchers this year, Irene Bostons Coot at Dersingham Bog was a patch tick and a Knot for Martin Oakley-Martin was a first for the county in 3 years, pure patch gold.

2016 Review - Sutton Bingham Reservoir by Tim Farr

Patchwork Challenge 2016 - Sutton Bingham Reservoir
Report by Tim Farr

I had a pretty good year in 2015 and honestly thought I would be heard pressed in beating last year’s total, but I guess hard work pays off and 2016 turned out to be a real cracker of a year with four patch lifers and some quality rarities to boot. As always my apologies for the photographs…I rely on phone-scoped record shots!

Not a bad start to the year with a January 1st visit producing a drake Shoveler amongst the regular wintering Wigeon. A Stonechat kindly stayed in to the New Year and got added to the list alongside Kestrel and Little Grebe. Just a couple of days later I found a small flock of Lesser Redpoll, a species I’d not seen on patch for a couple of years and a week later I added Marsh Tit, a species which took eight months to get on to the year list in 2015! Some annoying news was received on 14th January as a fellow birder had flushed a Jack Snipe, despite trying a couple of times I failed...my first patch dip of the year, and unfortunately not my last! A spontaneous lunchtime visit on 21st, always a bit of a rush, turned out to be an inspired decision with a group of eight Pintail and three Shelduck present off the dam. An adult Mediterranean Gull was a mid-month highlight, as was a female Gadwall. A pretty respectable 64 species of bird had been recorded by the months end.

Pintail – 21st January 2016

The month started late with my first visit being on 7th but that did produce a Peregrine. Despite some nice birds being seen, nothing was added to the year list for a week when a flock of Golden Plover flew through heading north, a real unexpected bonus with it being several years since the last time I’d seen this species on patch. On the morning of 19th I spent a bit of time working an area that I thought may get me Jack Snipe back, and the birding Gods were with me as I flushed a single bird, that made up for missing this species in January and was only my second ever patch Jack Snipe! A couple more common species were added before the end of the month. Eight species added to the year list, which was now at 72 species.

A Shelduck early in the month was a surprise, not an annual visitor to Sutton Bingham, so two records (of four birds) in a year is pretty good. Then is all happened on 19th March when a quick pre-work visit produced my first patch tick of the year with an Avocet seen on a pontoon off the Sailing Club. Unfortunately it was flushed by sailors shortly after I left and only one other local birder got on it. The end of the month produced the expected Swallows and Sand Martins as well as my first Chiffchaff. The year list had risen to 77 species.

Avocet – 19th March 2016

The first of the month produced the first Willow Warbler of the Spring, a handful of “late” Fieldfares and a fly-over Yellow Wagtail. A week later and the first Blackcap was back on territory and a day later a couple of adult Great Black-backed Gulls were present. Six Common Cranes on 9th provided a little excitement, though being from the Somerset Levels reintroduction scheme I didn’t add them to the list! A couple of days later and widespread news of Little Gulls moving throughout the UK meant I had to stop off on my way home from work, and sure enough two adult Little Gulls were present, my first at Sutton Bingham since 2001. Another Shelduck passed through and two drake Mandarin were noted and the first passage Common Sandpipers arrived on exactly the same date as they did in 2015 and peaked at 25 birds on 17th. Four Whimbrel were seen mid-month followed by another individual a few days later, the latter on the same pontoon as March’s Avocet. Finally, a Northern Willow Warbler was a new sub-species for me at Sutton Bingham. A busy and productive month with the total of species having risen to 89.

Great Black-backed Gull – 8th April 2016
Whimbrel – 27th April 2016


With trips to the Isles of Scilly and visits to friends in Essex and West Sussex meant little time on patch, just two species were added during the month with a Hobby a nice addition to the patch list. I did however dip an adult Black Tern that lingered for less than an hour and had gone by the time I could nip out during my lunch break. All in all May turned out to be a rather quiet month with the total rising to 91 species.

Rather embarrassingly a Feral Pigeon produced my 100th Patchwork Challenge point of the year, and I missed a Pochard early in the month. I managed to finally add Little Egret to the patch list and a couple of waders added a bit of class, Redshank is expected annually but a couple of fly-through Curlew were an unexpected bonus. Steadily approaching the century, the year list was at 95 at the end of the month.

Little Egret – 18th June 2016

Things really took off during July. Two more Redshanks turned up and yet another Shelduck, both good birds but not year ticks. Up to three adult Great Black-backed Gulls and a Yellow-legged Gull were present during the course of the month and then a touch of class with a summer-plumaged Dunlin near the dam. A patch lifer in the form of a Fulvous Whistling Duck failed to make the list, despite it being a rather smart bird! My first patch Sandwich Tern for fifteen years was found on 13th July, but it was gone the next day. Another wader in the form of a Greenshank was added to the list with a second bird a few days later. These were soon followed by a Green Sandpiper and a couple of fly-through Common Terns. Hearing an Oystercatcher whilst collecting my son in East Coker spurred me in to zooming down the road “just in case” and sure enough it had landed at the reservoir, right time and right place, and another quality patch year tick in the form of a Black-tailed Godwit (I’d missed two earlier in the year) rounded off the month. Patch lifer number two of the year came in the form of a female-type Black Redstart present on the dam one morning. No idea what that was doing there or where it came from. This was a long-awaited addition to my patch list, though I was always thinking one would turn up in the winter! A really productive month brought up the total to 103 species for the year, matching my entire 2014 total.

Sandwich Tern – 13th July 2016
 Yellow-legged Gull – 26th July 2016

 Black-tailed Godwit – 29th July 2016
The month continued as July had ended with a few quality birds on patch, starting on 4th when I found a very smart summer-plumaged Spotted Sandpiper! Stupidly I had left my phone in the car so the best record shot I got was a few days later. Arguably the bird of the year, though as it spent most of the time in an inaccessible area of the reservoir arranging access was a headache with many visiting birders ignoring instructions and a few trespassing…it makes one think twice about sharing bird news! The month continued with a fine supporting cast as another Shelduck appeared, this one staying for nearly two months. Two more Oystercatchers dropped in and my first patch Lapwing of the year was a one-day bird on 15th. An early Teal popped in mid-month and fly-through birds included a Tree Pipit and a female-type Garganey.  A couple of Green Sandpipers and a hand full of Greenshank were also noted during the month, which ended on another high with an Osprey being present. Another great summer month had pushed the year list to 108 species which equaled my previous year list record, set in 2015…and still four months to go!

Spotted Sandpiper (honest!) – 8th Aug 2016
Oystercatcher – 11th Aug 2016

Shelduck – 9th Aug 2016
The summer continued in to autumn with another half a dozen species added during September. The Osprey popped up on 1st but that was it whilst a day later my highest single count of Black-tailed Godwit as a flock of fifteen flew south. On 3rd September in heavy rain I found a Pectoral Sandpiper, present just until the rain cleared at lunchtime, when it did a bunk, this was my second for Sutton Bingham, the previous one was also found by yours truly back in 2001. The first of a hand full of Whinchats turned up on 4th and my first patch Wheatear for several years was seen on 10th. A little bit of excitement a few days later with three Lapwing on the West Pool and a female Blue-headed Wagtail was in a private area of the reservoir (where a Yellow Wagtail had been earlier in the month). The first Wigeon of the winter arrived on 15th and a few White Wagtails were noted. Another couple of year ticks were added nearer the end of the month with three Spotted Flycatchers and my first patch Garden Warbler for an age both logged. The end of the month yielded a Stonechat and the patch year list had grown to 114 species.

Lapwing – 14th Sept 2016

Spotted Flycatcher – 18th Sept 2016

Blue-headed Wagtail – 14th Sept 2016
A Pintail was seen at the start of the month, and spent a few days on and off at the reservoir during the month, though it was more often absent than present. A couple of Green Sandpipers were loitering at the start of the month and a Redshank passed through on 7th. Another patch dip on the 12th, this time I missed a Red Kite, still a very scarce bird at Sutton Bingham but a Siberian Chiffchaff, a nice vocal and showy example to boot, a couple of days later was some consolation. Wigeon and Teal numbers steadily grew as the month progressed and the first Mediterranean Gulls of the winter were noted. A birthday day present came in the form of a calling Red-legged Partridge, just my third patch record for this species. October ended with a mini Goose-fest. A first winter Eurasian White-fronted Goose dropped in on the evening of 26th with a flock of Canada Geese, and amazingly a Barnacle Goose also dropped in. A Common Sandpiper was still lingering to the end of the month also and a drake Goosander flew through on 28th. The patch year list was now standing at 118 species.

Green Sandpiper – 5th Oct 2016

Common Gull – 16th Oct 2016

White-fronted Goose – 26th Oct 2016

The month started well with a female Goldeneye seen on 5th, but that proved to be my only addition for the month, but a small grey and white wader seen in flight could have been good if only it had been close enough to identify. That being said there was a little bit of quality with the Barnacle Goose being seen on a couple of occasions and another Goosander, this time a redhead, being seen (followed by another drake at the end of the month) A pair of Shoveler were noted as were a couple of Mandarin, a drake Gadwall and a pair of Pintail but I missed four Egyptian Geese that didn’t linger long enough for me to try during my lunch break. That single addition rose the total to 119 species.

Barnacle Goose – 6th Nov 2016
Stonechat – 23rd Nov 2016
Goosander – 9th Nov 2016
It was a slow start to December, and to be perfectly honest I was not holding out much hope of adding anything to the year list, but with patch birding you just keep going. Rather unseasonal, a Great Black-backed Gull and Little Egret were one-day wonders and a sub-adult Peregrine kept an eye on things from a regular perch atop a pylon. A few nice winter plumaged Mediterranean Gulls were as ever a delight. Then as if from nowhere on the morning of 19th a quick stop before work produced patch lifer number three of the year and great little gem to break the December duck…a Firecrest! Only the third record of Firecrest at Sutton Bingham and the first for thirty years. Things crept along quietly for the rest of the month but I did manage one final visit on 31st to end the year. This proved to be an inspired decision as I found another patch lifer, this time a winter-plumaged Black-necked Grebe. What a way to end the year, and to add a little dusting of New Year joy a female Pochard completed the year list for 2017.

Black-necked Grebe – 31st Dec 2016

Mediterranean Gull – 20th Dec 2016
I ended up with a great total of 123 species in 2016, smashing my previous Sutton Bingham year list record. Just goes to show that hard work pays off, but I feel I will be hard pressed to match this total in 2017!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Coastal Ireland Minileague - December 2016

There was no let up for Noel Keogh at South Dublin Bay who added Fieldfare, Jack Snipe and Eider to his year list in December, bringing him up to 124.09% at the top of the Coastal Ireland Comparative Minileague. The rest of the top five here managed to equal or better their 100% target but second place was 19% or so behind Noel.

Woodcock and Pheasant added in December at the Bann Estuary (patch blog here) allowed Richard Donaghey to keep hold of second place while a fine end to the year for Cathal Forkan at North Galway Bay helped him to claim a podium position, moving up from fifth to third thanks to a #fullfatpatchtick Fieldfare plus Black Redstart and bonus points for not only being the first person to find the returning Forster's Tern this winter but also for locating it well away from it's usual haunts.

Derek Polley kept patch birding at Bangor West right up to the bitter end of the year and was rewarded for his efforts with a #patchgold Mute Swan seen at 3:15pm on New Year's Eve, his first there in two years of PWC! This stroke of luck took Derek to exactly 100%!

Forster's Tern (right) and Sandwich Tern (left) at Barna (c) Cathal Forkan (patch blog)

Little Gull at Larne Lough (c) Neal Warnock

It was a relatively quiet year for Dave Suddaby at Blacksod. It seems the Mullet Peninsula missed out on the madness of Autumn 2016, with not a single Phylloscopus warbler seen for three weeks during the month of October! Despite this, Dave still managed to dig out some good birds like Surf Scoter and his final score for the year broke past 200 points and allowed him to take up second place on the points minileague table. 

With the mega birding site of Tacumshin featuring in PWC for the first time in 2016, a strong score was always to be expected on the points table. Noel Keogh took on the challenge here and finished up in first place with no less than 163 species which gained him 250 points. With 2016 being an exceptional year for wader diversity at Tacumshin (40 species seen in total through the year), has Noel set the bar too high for his first year of comparative listing here in 2017?

Cathal Forkan's good fortunes in December allowed him to take third place on the points table from North Galway Bay while we see Christopher O'Sullivan's first year of PWC effort at Clonakilty/Inchydoney bringing him to fifth place with Cattle Egret added there during the final month of the year.

Glaucous Gull was the last addition for Graham Johnston at Rinville while Joe Proudfoot launched into a year ticking bonanza at Sandymount to Dun Laoghaire with Velvet Scoter, Fieldfare, Dipper, Water Rail and 9 Waxwing!

Neal Warnock topped of his year list at Larne Lough with Skylark, Stonechat and Slavonian Grebe. An account of his year of patch birding at Larne Lough and Rathlin Island can be read (with lots of fantastic pics included) on the Patch Birding Ireland blog.

Black Redstart at Barna Pier (c) Cathal Forkan

Islands Minileague - December 2016

December brought no new additions for Steve Minton at Scatness but his second Kumlien's Gull of the year was a welcome sight among good numbers of large gulls present there along with a few white-wingers. While Steve's score remained unchanged, his first place position on the Islands Comparative Minileague table was safe due to a hefty lead of 18%! 

Bonus points from a Lesser Scaup find at Palace allowed Alastair Forsyth to make a jump from seventh to second place on the comp table, where he finished up with 122%, knocking Steve Stansfield down to third. It ain't over until the fat Aythya sings!

Kumlien's Gull (c) Steve Minton (patch blog)

Lesser Scaup (c) Alastair Forsyth (patch blog)

Despite losing ground on the comparative table, Steve Stansfield remained unchallenged at the top of the points minileague with his impressive 368 points from 186 species seen on Bardsey, the highest species tally in the minileague also resulting in the highest PPB score too, just shy of the magic 2.

Scottish islands dominated the top of the points table save for two Welsh locations making themselves known there. John Bowler, Steve Minton, Jason Moss and Mark Newell all remain in their allotted positions from second to fifth.

Bruce Taylor's first year of PWC from Barra was a good one and the end of the year brought Glaucous Gull and Salvonian Grebe added (from his lounge!) at Brevig. Looking forward to seeing his contribution to the comparative minileague during #PWC2017.

The final month of the year also brought an American Wigeon for Russell Neave on Sanday and a Siberian Chiffchaff for John Headon on St Mary's.