Monday, 31 October 2016

Inland East Anglia - September 2016

Again no further progress from Adam Nicholls but with a score of 136% does that matter? He remains top by 23% ahead of James Emerson who also added naught. Nick Moran broke the mold and his 6% draws him close to second place. Nick found a rather fine inland Yellow-browed Warbler as well as adding Raven and Tree Pipit, both of which are excellent for his patch.

Yellow-browed Warbler by Neil Calbrade at BTO towers giving Nick Moran 6 points.

Ben Lewis adds 10 points to extend his lead at the top to 23. This month he added Glossy Ibis and got in on the Yellow-browed Warbler finding at Mid-Yare RSPB. Luke Wake at Fen Drayton remained in second but failed to make any further additions. Jamie Wells in third position added just a brace this time out for Little Stint.

Other highlights this month include a Pectoral Sandpiper found by Ben Rackstraw at Wretton. Stephen McAvoy also managed to see Nick's Yellow-brow and Raven combo. Things were thinner on the ground away from here as a Stonechat making the highlights attests but Derek Gruar wont be complaining at RSPB Hope Farm.

Coastal East Anglia - September 2016

Rob Hall had an excellent September to add 19% to his comparative score to hit 113%. His highlights this month included bonus points for Temminck's Stint and Great White Egret. James Brown becomes the second over the 100% mark just reaching the target with most of the autumn to go. James got bonus points for Yellow-browed Warbler and Long-tailed Skua this month. Scott Mayson closes in on 100% after finding Honey Buzzard and Long-tailed Skua at Thorpeness this month to move into striking range of second place.

James Brown's Lowestoft patch is in top spot in the points minileague, 42 points ahead of second place. He also added Balearic Shearwater and Black-throated Diver this month to round out a productive time. Justin Zantboer extends his cushion in second place having seen an Arctic Warbler at Landguard plus Wryneck and Icterine Warbler. Nige Lound at Gib Point remains in third as well adding 13 points.

Best find this month was a Tawny Pipit unearthed by Paul Eele at Titchwell. There were  Yellow-browed Warblers for James Appleton and Irene Boston for bonus points. Non-bonus scorers include a Hoopoe for Irene at Brancaster and a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Kelling for Luke Nash.

Islands - September 2016

Steve Minton's superb year at Scatness continues this month as he adds bonus points for Little Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Barred Warbler moving onto 118%. Ian T moves into second as he overhauls David Wood. Ian's highlights at Askernish was a fine Baird's Sandpiper which he found but he faces missing the rest of the autumn on patch. David Wood had some patchgold on the Oa, Islay as he located a Blue Tit for his monthly highlight.

Baird's Sandpiper, Askernish - Ian T

John Bowler adds only 56 points this month. This includes a glut of bonus points for a very fine Swainson's Thrush, a quartet of Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Leach's Petrel, Common Rosefinch, Sabine's Gull and Yellow-browed Warbler. Tidy! Steve Minton climbs to second at Sctness and Steve Stansfield holds on despite missing the update so expect a mega October from Bardsey.

Other bonuses include Icterine Warbler, Sabine's Gull, Wryneck and Yellow-browed Warbler for Jason Moss on Skomer, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Yellow-browed Warbler for Barrie Hammill on Burray and Common Rosefinch for Alistair Forsyth at Palace, Birsay. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler for Bruce Taylor on Barra. John Headon on St Mary's added American Golden Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Spotted Crake and Dotterel this month whilst there were Lapland Buntings for Sean Morris and Bruce Taylor respectively.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Inland North - September 2016

No highlights of note from David Franklin this month at his two table topping patches, but his cracking year keeps him dominating the top two places. There is still plenty of time to be toppled though, and John Law at Old Moor is having a good crack, another two percent will be enough to dent the domination. Twelve patchers have now hit the 100% marker with plenty more not so far off. 

In the points league it is mighty tight at the top and is one of the most exciting league in 2016 - just seven points splitting the top 6 places with very familiar names fighting it out. It was Andy Bunting at Martin Mere who made the greatest strides adding Pectoral Sandpiper and Great White Egret. Two patchers were lucky enough to bag the bonus points in September, George Dunbar at Woolston Eyes was the latest to unearth a Yellow-Browed on patch whilst Pete Antrobus found a Spotted Crake trying to hide against the background at Neumann's Flashes.

Spotted Crake posing nicely at Neumann's Flashes c/o Pete Antrobus

Other notable additions in the month included Pintail, these graceful ducks started to come back to UK shores in September, including a patch first for Findlay Wilde. It was a month for patch firsts with Adam Moan getting first ever Shoveler and Marsh Harrier and Casper Pottle had Little Egret and Peregrine. Pete Antrobus narrowly missed out on bonus points for Great White Egret at Neumann's Flash in the month.

A rather disgruntled looking Great White Egret at Neumann's Flashes c/o Pete Antrobus

A quieter month overall in Inland North, perhaps summed up by Duncan Bye who pointed out that Rotherham United added more points in September than he did.

Under 25 League - September 2016

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Amy Robjohns
Amy Robjohns extends her lead at the top of the Under 25 minileaguehaving added 5% this month having added Semipalmated Sandpiper and found an overflying Honey Buzzard. Ash Baines is in second position having moved onto 113% with a duo of Great and Pomarine Skuas this month. Rhys Chivers is still in third place as he adds 5% with American Wigeon his highlight at Soar Valley Pits.

Joe Stockwell draws level with Tim Jones at the top of the table as we still havent heard how Tim's autumn is progressing. Joe however found Woodchat Shrike, Sabine's Gull and Blue-headed Wagtail. Amy drops back to third and Erik Ansell leads the pack in fourth with 208 points.

Jacob Spinks found Great White Egret and Honey Buzzard at Pitsford Reservoirs whilst Cathal Forkan managed to add Baird's Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher in North Galway Bay. Elliot Montieth found a first site record of Spotted Redshank on the Wirral and also added Little Gull and Bonxie while there was also a Spotted Redshank for Erik Ansell as well as Ruddy Duck and Pectoral Sandpiper. Findlay Wilde added his first patch Pintail at Winsford Flash and also in Cheshire an inland Yellow-browed Warbler for George Dunbar was a nice addition. Luke Nash managed to see a Red-breasted Flycatcher on his Cley to Kelling patchm, Max Hellicar saw the Great White Egret at Rainham and there was an inland Wryneck at Puddletown for Ollie Thomas to catch up with. Finally Will Scott added Yellow-browed Warbler and  Whinchat at Humanby while Toby Carter added Cetti's Warbler on his arable patch at Grimston.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Coastal North - September 2016

Ash Baines continues at the top of the comparative table and remains the only competitor over the 100% threshold having added Pomarine and Great Skuas this month at Starr Gate. Damian Money at Saltburn moves to 93.6% and jumps into second place from fourth in August having gained bonus points for Greenish Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler this time out. Iain Robson drops into third place but adds Kingfisher, Merlin and Tree Pipit.

Greenish Warbler - Damian Money

Mick Turton hasn't submitted his September score so moves no further forward but is 30 points clear of Nick Addey in second place. Nick adds 32 points including bonus points for Cory's Shearwater, Long-tailed Skua and Yellow-browed Warbler as well as seeing Dotterel on patch. In third place is Tim Jones but again there is no update from Spurn - we will find out if October has been productive no doubt...

Paul French was only on patch at Spurn for one day this month but he managed to coincide with the second Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler for the site which he connected with for a handy 5 points. There were Yellow-browed Warbler find points for Nige Lound at Rimac and he added the same at Crook Bank plus Leach's Petrel and Honey Buzzard. No doubt there will be rafts of these in October.. Will Scott added Yellow-browed Warbler at Humanby but not found by his own eyes sadly so no bonus points. Finally Alan Crossley managed to add Yellow-brow at Hartlepool Headland as well.

Estuarine - September 2016

A brace of Lesser Yellowlegs in September left four patchers very happy, with a bird at Topsham and a bird at Lytchett Fields. The latter was enjoyed by all three patchers at that site, but crucially Ian Ballam sealed the find points which put him at the top of the comparative table on 114%.
Lesser Yellowlegs number 1 at Lytchett Fields c/o Ian Ballam
The battle remains tight for the other spots, but half of all birders in the comparative league have not hit the 100% barrier. Joost Brandsma is in second place despite not adding any points this month whilst Peter Hazlewood had his first Ruff since 2007 to stay in the podium places.

Lesser Yellowlegs Number 2 at Topsham c/o Martin Elcoate

In the points league Dave Craven still holds on to his long term lead despite his confident prediction to the contrary. It is a lead that is getting eroded all the time however, in particular by Howard Vaughan who despite being on holiday for two weeks found Honey Buzzard in month for those all important extra points and added Curlew Sandpiper. Paul Sullivan at Frampton just added Red Kite in the month but keeps third place but Toby Collett got useful additional points by finding Pectoral Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint. In fact, Toby was just whinging about the lack of Pectoral Sandpipers at Frampton when he found two! (The irony of Frampton moaning about lack of waders is not lost!)

Best of the rest in month was the stunning Aquatic Warbler from last month, which had the good manners to hold on until the 1st for Shaun Robson. Shaun also found a Spotted Crake whilst carrying out an RSPB survey and enjoyed the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lytchett. In his own words which we can all appreciate, the Spotted Crake was his favourite bird of the month as 'finds are always better and the core of patching'.

Great White Egrets might be getting more regular, especially in the south but they are still appreciated by those lucky enough to have them on their patch. This month Paul Brebner scored with the first on his Paull Holme Strays patch and Max Hellicar enjoyed this scarce visitor at Rainham.

Chris Andrews had a nice find in another Pectoral Sandpiper at Frampton. Andy Jordan at Sharpness has just had a new baby (congratulations!) - and his highlights were two Shags on patch. Meanwhile a couple of site firsts were Spotted Redshank at Hesketh Out Marsh for Graham Jones and Pied Flycatcher for Ian Ballam at his other patch Holes Bay.

Finally - a Hen Harrier was a stunning addition for Gordon Hodgson at Frampton. Long may this beautiful raptor grace our shores!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Midlands Minileague - September 2016

Richard Harbird's Honey Buzzard at Morton Bagot
John Clarkson remains static at the top of the table but his score also remains static and Nick Crouch is just a whisker away after adding 6% in September. Nick's month featured Temminck's Stint and Osprey and he upgraded his Great White Egret with finders points. Tom Shields holds on to third place on 111% but doesn't add anything further as Phil Hyde closes up on the podium.

The points league has reverted to Rutland 1-2 with Erik top by 7 points on 208 and Rod in second. Erik found Rutland's first Ruddy Duck in three years and also added Pectoral Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank to keep him on top whilst in second Rod also connected with the Pec. There is a third contender and Steve Nuttall runs the Rutland boys close and is just a further point behind on 200 to hold third place and added Great White Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Curlew Sandpiper and Grey Plover this month.

Best find this month by far was Dave Roberts' Solitary Sandpiper at Marston Sewage Works. Sadly in a private area this mega wasn't available to the masses but kudos to Dave for the find. Elsewhere Jacob Spinks found Honey Buzzard and Great White Egret at Pitsford Reservoir and Richard Harbird also added Honey Buzzard as one overflew Morton Bagot. At Soar Valley, Rhys Chivers connected with American Wigeon but had to contend with just the three points. Andy Ambrose, Mike Wakeman and John Belsey were lucky enough to see both Baird's Sandpiper and Sabine's Gull this month at Upton Warren. Finally Carl Cornish managed to see Crane at Langford Lowfields. 

I'm sorry if we missed your highlight but there were just too many to list...

Coastal South Minileague - September 2016

Amy Robjohns just keeps seeing new birds and spending every waking hour on site appears to be reaping rewards as adds another 5% this month to move onto 135%, a mere 33% ahead of second place. This month she adds Semipalmated Sandpiper and finds a Honey Buzzard to keep the ball rolling. Dick Best at Steart in Somerset moves up into second place from 4th in July as he also goes over the 100% mark. Paul Bowerman moves onto 96% to keep third place adding Great White Egret and Pectoral Sandpiper whilst gaining the bonus points for finding a Sabine's Gull.

Woodchat Shrike (c) Joe Stockwell

Joe Stockwell overtakes Amy in the battle for top spot in the points minileague. Joe moves onto 254 points after finding Woodchat Shrike, Sabine's Gull and getting the 2 point bonus for Blue-headed Wagtail. Amy is just 5 points behind and is 27 points clear of Paul Bowerman in third place on 222 points at Severn Beach.

Mark Lawlor found a Short-toed Lark and a Wryneck on Guernsey whilst there was also a Wryneck found by Andy Rhodes at Calshot. Rob Rackcliffe at Woolmer beach added Greenish Warbler this time out whilst at Steart, Joe Cockram managed to connect with the Lesser Yellowlegs that was present. Elsewhere Andy Johnson managed a patch first Nightjar and added Sooty Shearwater whilst Kev Rylands added Osprey and Wood Sandpiper to his house list.

Short-toed Lark at Hommet, Guernsey (c) Mark Lawlor

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Wales Minileague - September 2016

Mike Cram continues to tip away at Broughton and Llangennith where a Turnstone brings him to 119%. What a year he has had. Mike mentioned in the score submission form comments that he was going hell for leather on the patch during October so his lead in the Wales Comparative Minileague might well be sealed if he gets any more year ticks! 

Henry Cook adds Scaup and Yellow-legged Gull at RSPB Conwy, taking him to third place on 111% which will be close enough to keep fellow patch birder Julian Hughes on his toes. Julian was kind enough to join us for a chat on the most recent PWC Podcast and gave us a great insight into his patch at RSPB Conwy from where he currently sits in second place on 113%. Well worth a listen! Podcast link here

Garganey at RSPB Conwy (c) Henry Cook (flickr page)

A stunning 1cy Little Gull at Cardiff Bay (c) Peter Howlett

Richard Dobbins and Wendy James are both off to Costa Rica on a ringing trip and won't be back until November so this might give other contestants a chance to catch up with the Teifi duo in the Wales Points Minileague. Barry Stewart could use this to his advantage and get his Burry Inlet patch into first place.

Knot was a patch first for Ceri Jones at Cosmeston, Sully and Lavernock. No doubt a welcome addition to the suite of impressive BirdTrack lists there! 

While Julian didn't manage to find a Wryneck at RSPB Conwy as per his podcast prediction, David Ripley got in on the Jynx action with one at Ogmore Estuary.

David Carrington reports a lean month at Sker and Kenfig but still added Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper, Knot and Goshawk while Alex Jones enjoyed some nice wader passage at Rhyl with up to three Little Stints, four Ruff, four Greenshank and five Curlew Sandpipers.

The ever increasing BirdTrack stats in the Wales Minileague finished up at 2,889 lists and 61,946 records by the months end.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Coastal Scotland Minileague - September 2016

September brings lots of activity to the Coastal Scotland Comparative Minileague with almost every contestant increasing their comp scores.

Chris Rodger remains in first pace at Musselburgh, now on a hefty 116.9% after adding bonus points in the form of Long-tailed Skua.

Light-bellied Brent Geese at Musselburgh (c) Chris Rodger

Mike Hodgkin and Stephen Welch continue to battle it out for second place with Mike taking the spot this month but only by a matter of .01%!!! His gains were more significant compared to last months score with a four skua day on 11th September increasing his Aberlady Bay comp score from 100% to 107%. It was a Black-tailed Godwit at Gosford Bay which helped Stephen move from 105% to 107%, the species being less than annual there.

Tor Hamilton becomes the fourth contestant to reach 100% in the minileague, doing so at Leith.

Long-tailed Skuas certainly proved popular, Colin Davison also getting in on the action here, bumping up his points score at Scoughall to 222, taking him into first place from third by 1 point! This moves Mike and Chris down to second and third respectively.

Yellow-browed Warbler was bound to make it onto a patch list somewhere here during September and it was Andrew Whitehouse who listed it as a highlight for the month. More to come no doubt!

Some serious challenges for ranking position are being made across the Coastal Scotland Minileague as September draws to a close. With October to play for, it could get very interesting here!

Inland Scotland Minileague - September 2016

Still awaiting the first contestant to reach 100% in the Inland Scotland Comparative Minileague at the end of September but several contestants are making progress on that front. Chris Pendlebury's only addition for the month from his multitude of patches was a Spotted Flycatcher at Stirling, new for his patch list and his office list! This takes him to 93.5% and third place there.

Graeme Garner moves into second place at Cambus, now on 94.8% while a fine duo of Black-tailed Godwit and Stonechat at Kilmany takes Andy Cage to 93% on the dot at Kilmany. 

Little movement on the Inland Scotland Points Minileague table save for Graeme Garner's Clackmannan patch which moves from fifth to fourth place thanks to a Long-tailed Duck there which leaves him on 95 species and 102 points by the end of the month. Five contestants are now over 100 points.

Some welcome additions during the month included a flyover Rock Pipit at Liberton West for Geoff Morgan and Kestrel finally made it onto Mike Hodgkin's patch year list at Penicuik Estate. 

Crested Tit is very much a specialty of the Inland Scotland Minileague and Jonathan Clarke added one to his patch year list at Croy while out for a run!

Nina O'Hanlon bows out of #PWC2016 at Kelvingrove but for very good reason, she gets to spend the rest of the autumn on Fair Isle... we won't blame you! 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Inland South - September 2016

Ortolan - Nick Croft at Wanstead
Stephanie starts to find herself being closed down at the top of the comparative minileague after a second blank month. Tim Farr springs from fifth to second thanks to a double dose of bonus points for Pectoral Sandpiper and Blue-headed Wagtail. Dropping to third is Richard Scantlebury in Bristol who fails to add this month. Roger Murfitt becomes the seventh member of the 100% club this month thanks to the first site Curlew Sandpiper in 9 years at Moor Green Lakes. There are a further 9 patchers in the 90%+ bracket so expect further additions next time out.

Tom Raven reclaims top spot at Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall after the additions of Pectoral Sandpiper and Black-necked Grebe although there were no bonus points this time. Still no further update from Brendan Sheils at Trent Manor farm but he remains in second whilst at Blagdon, Nigel Milbourne is in third place after usurping Ian Bennell. Nigel added the third site record of Spoonbill this month.

Spotted Flycatcher - Chris Bessant at Maple Cross
Elsewhere there was an Ortolan found by Nick Croft at Wanstead. Adam Bassett had a Brent Goose and Jack Snipe at Little Marlow GPs and Chris Bessant had a Spotted Flycatcher at Maple Cross. At Grimsbury, Gareth Blockley managed to connect with his first Marsh Tit in three years. James McCulloch had a Black Tern at Hedgecourt NR on the lake. Redstart and Garganey were Marek Walford's star birds this month at Dinton pastures. Martin Kettell gets in on the act with a patch Bar-tailed Godwit as did Steve Chastell whilst Roger Hicks also got in on the waders with Greenshank and a patch first Grey Plover. Martin Wood scored with a Little Gull which was his first on patch at Longham Lakes. Finally at Puddletown there was a Wryneck for Ollie Thomas but alas just the three points this time.  

Coastal Ireland Minileague - September 2016

September brought three new year ticks for Noel Keogh at South Dublin Bay with Black Tern in the autumn roost at Sandymount Strand (up to 17,000 Sterna terns there!) plus Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint with the Dunlin at Merrion Gates. His first place position in the Coastal Ireland Comparative Minileague is in safe hands for the moment thanks to a comp score of 112%.

Richard Donaghey reached 100% with a couple of patch tick Black Terns at the Bann Estuary, holding on to second place for another month. Eleanor Keane is plugging away in third place, adding Crossbill during the month at Killiney Hill to Dun Laoghaire coast.

Cathal Forkan had a great month for waders at his North Galway Bay patch with a fine duo of Baird's Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher at Rusheen Bay hanging around long enough for him to catch up with them plus Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Little Gull also present. Quite a productive spot! This purple patch moves Cathal up from seventh to fourth place with 95%.

Spotted Redshank and Long-billed Dowitcher at Rusheen Bay (c) Cathal Forkan

Tacumshin Lake continues to lead the way in the Coastal Ireland Points Minileague where Noel Keogh added Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Osprey and Grey Phalarope plus some #patchgold in the form of Grey Wagtail and Siskin. He finishes the month with 155 species and 230 points.

September proved fruitful for many other contestants with plenty of welcome additions featured in the monthly score submission form comments.

In third place on the points table, Chris O'Sullivan added Common Tern and Little Gull at Clonakilty/Inchydoney. Manx Shearwater, Curlew Sandpiper and Chough were new for Tom Moore at Kilmore Quay. Spotted Redshank and Wheatear brought autumn with them to Graham Johnston's work based patch around the Marine Institute offices at Rinville. Roseate Tern and Little Stint at RPSB Belfast Harbour were eclipsed by a #patchgold Kingfisher for Derek Polley.

September produced no less than seven new species for Niall Keogh at his new Galway City patch with Raven, Common Sandpiper and #patchgold Pheasant at Lough Atalia, a couple of Little Gulls along Claddagh Strand and a fine seabird trio of Leach's Storm-petrel, Great Skua and Pomarine Skua in the bay off Mutton Island during some westerlies.

Tim Murphy provides us with an update from St John's Point in Co. Down where his patch birding efforts throughout the year have brought him to 113 species, 136 points and 78.6% so far. His highlights during the month of September include excellent views of Tree Pipit and some lunge feeding Minke Whales offshore.

Grey Phalarope at Tacumshin, looking a little worse for wear (c) Noel Keogh

Inland Ireland Minileague - September 2016

An update from Upper Rathduff puts Michael John O'Mahony firmly back in first place on the Inland Ireland Comparative Minileague table with a whopping 114% aided by additions of Sedge Warbler, Curlew, Sand Martin and Black-headed Gull up to the end of August (but with no new species seen in September).

With a strong lead like this entering the final quarter of the year, Michael's score will be hard to beat. Alan Lauder added Crossbill at Carrick Mountain, edging him ever closer to his 100% target. 

Derek Charles consolidates his lead on the Inland Ireland Points Minileague table at Lough Neagh South Shore by being the first contestant to cross the 100 points barrier. Yellow-legged Gull is a scarce enough species in Northern Ireland so one of those was most welcome on Derek's patch but even rarer and more surprising was the Nightjar seen thereafter! A fantastic bird for the region and one which Derek was surely not expecting to get! His Points Per Bird score has now reached a respectable 1.167, the highest in the minileague.