It is 30 years since we arrived on the scene with "This is the story" so it is appropriate that 2017 was the year of our highest chart position - numero uno! As noted by Seppy, our 114% score represents the first time we’ve won the precious Golden Mallard. We came close in 2013 but Reg did even better and we were third in 2016. And unlike the (unproven) accusations about Haddock’s big year, we are in the clear of accusation about low effort in previous years.
January was quite dull as ever, with little of note but in February all those hours checking our inland gull flock paid off when we scored Mediterranean gull. Two of them in fact. That represented the first of five patch ticks over the year. March saw us take top spot with 70%, and some convincing photographic evidence of the Med gulls. Chiffchaff was the first summer migrant of the year, and we landed it the same day that Bushveld has his first wheatear of the year. About a month later we really scored with the second patch tick of the year - a lesser whitethroat in full song. Not a bad bird for Lothian.
A long summer silence ensued, broken by a few common gank and, of course, a documentary about our activities (see : This is the story), but nothing to come close to a specific swift. A July break took us to Ireland to check up on a few patches over there and get some inspiration. Basil did his best to slow us down with vast quantities of beer but we made it back to the safety of Boghall. About 6 weeks later, boy wonder Lachlan found a dotterel on my patch (trespass) which he then suppressed until he was safely having a cup of tea in a nearby cafe. However, as we were fortunately ‘working from home’ that day, we got our third patch tick of the year. It was followed closely by an inland cormorant which slowly circled over the patch from Glencorse, making it four patch ticks for the year. Madness, but could we make it our year? It all depended on how good an autumn it was and...it was a crap one. Some the normal autumn bonanza failed to materialise for the competition while we kept going. Seppy tried hard to break back with both Melodious and Icterine warbler simultaneously, and a case of thrush.
A final big push was needed, and as Bushveld points out, we discovered the power of a telescope to nail the fifth and final patch tick of the year - mute swan. Cracking stuff, and before you scoff, Bushveld also ticked it for his patch this year. After a few beers Seppy was unable to find any issues with the claims. Jay, snipe and finally woodcock put the icing on the cake. And end this dull summary.
It’ll be tough the next two years, but we eagerly await the mallard arriving safely in the post from Royzah.
Happy birding all,
Craig and Charlie