Yes indeed, I can reveal some of the evidence which is quite revealing. A certain Mr Proclaimer, who no doubt wishes to remain anonymous, send me an email on 12th Jan, as follows...
"With 2 days to go I see Bonaparte’s Gull is still a bit behind. I would feel bad if it did not win as it is a great find. Are you happy that it should win and beat our poor offerings? I can supply a few votes in it’s favour if you are. We need to be in agreement though as I don’t want your wryneck taking advantage of my good nature."
Mr Blatter would like to point out that at this stage in proceeding, he had only voted once, and not for the wryneck! However, the most damning phrase used above "I can supply a few votes in its's favour" positively reeks of corruption and illicitness (is that a word?)
In later emails, Mr Proclaimer also proclaimed that he had "just given a brown paper bag stuffed full of used banknotes to someone who voted for your wryneck", before things took a turn for the worse with "Can you do anything about a swing to redpoll?" and a while later "Hey, as if by magic, a late surge in redpoll!"
When "voting" began to gather pace for the redpoll, Mr Proclaimer confessed he was now powerless to change the result "I have changed the votes that i have control over so can do nothing else". The whole thing began to snowball, and it became apparent that someone else was now running the show.
By pure coincidence, it turns out that Mr Blatter may have mentioned the vote to a certain well-known computer hacker and redpoll fancier from West Cork, Mr X around this time. His response, after assessing the hi-tech voting system was "that voting widget restricts you to one vote using browser cookies -- lots of ways around that." and shortly after another more worrying message "You is stomin' ahead mate ;) I'll stop now... let normal statistical fluctuations take their toll."
By next day, it was clear that all was not well, and correspondents were getting increasingly edgey, no doubt as the big money behind this whole debacle started to flex its papery muscles. Blatter by this stage couldn't help himself, despite having still only voted once at this stage "that fuckin quail is back in the lead again!" Mr X from Connonagh had the answer though "Balls... I'll just put out a "get your vote in for the find of the year on the International Patch List Challenge blog" on the Ireland's Wildlife twitter feed... won't influence the voting in any way... just send more people... maybe... if anyone pays attention...that's not cheating... that's just sending traffic to the blog, and sharing relevant, wildlife related content with people who are genuinely interested... surely that's OK?"
[Ed- "wildlife-related content? what? this shite?]
This was followed up by a slightly more threatening question " The Redpoll has nada... you want it out in front then?" and shortly "mealy redpoll now on 8 votes!" and then "And de 'poll hits de front!" When asked directly if he was intervening in the voting, Mr X replied "Me? They can check the IP addresses -- different UK based addresses... only legit votes... nothing dodgy from Ireland" before adding "15 all -- anyone for tennis?"
The most telling text received was just minutes after the voting closed "so the mealy clinched it by... er... 9 votes then...oops!"
All in all, (as if anyone actually cares anyway) it turns out that the vote has been a total sham! Still, 70 votes is a pretty good effort I reckon. So without further ado, may I be the first to congratulate Statto for winning the Best Patch Find 2011 with Bonaparte's Gull, and commiserations to Bushveld's redpoll for not winning anything!