Monday 11 December 2023

The battle for second hots up...

So, we're into last gasp duck, gull and wader territory. Yippeeee... all my favourites!

It's been a while since I last updated the blog... although I've been keeping the score comparatively current. I actually started several posts (thanks to Seppy's incessant nagging), only to find that I really couldn't be arsed and sacking it off after the first paragraph. Ah well... this little roundup will have to suffice.

After an autumn that didn't really happen (no decent migrants -- with the exception of Lesser Whitey -- oh, and Cliff Swallow... did I mention I found a Cliff Swallow?), I was away in Africa for pretty much all of November, so had no additions to the year list at all last month.

Once back, I hit the patch with the renewed optimism only absence and being overtaken by Seppy can muster. Naturally, said enthusiasm didn't take long to wane... but I did manage to score Dabchick for the year, and jam a tasty female Scaup to boot, lifting my tally to 102.42% and, critically, taking me back past Seppy into second place on the podium.

Cracking female Scaup -- joined today by a bonus Ring-necked Duck (not a year tick alas)

I might add one or two more before calling it quits (I still need Perg for the year, FFS)... but reckon it's pretty much a battle for second place now. Bushveld has the top spot sewn up (or should that be stitched up🤔) with his 110% effort.

Still... top Irish patch would do... along with what must be a higher than average chance of bagging New Ol' Snowy, thanks to the aforementioned Swallow.

Monday 27 November 2023

Full Fat Patch Gank

In what is simply amazeballs news, Saturday saw five Whopper Schwanns grace Wanstead airspace for about 45 seconds. Conclusive photographic evidence was of course obtained, and if you zoom in 10000x and squint you can easily see that these can't possibly be anything else. Not only is this a patch first for Derek (that's me), it is also a patch first for the patch - Whopper Schwann has NEVER been recorded here. We have records of Bewick's from the 1930s and 40s, but never this slightly bigger (and much gankier) Schwann. With this kind of cachet it is hard to see how this could fail to win the coveted, ahem, Black Scoter, but as the other contender is from Fifa HQ I expect underhand voting, bribery and various other forms of corruption, sorry I mean 'fair play' will probably be the deciding factor.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Full fat patch action

 Yes indeedy, while the regular autumn migrants have all but dried up at Galley (no ybw, no lesser whitey, no firecrest etc), there's still been a bit of score-age going on. Just as well really, given the hours I've been putting in!

Imagine my surprise when I saw a goose coming off the flooded carrot field last Thursday! Although it was flying into the sun, after a few terrifying moments when I thought I wasn't going to be able to ID it, it did the daycent thing and banked round back west, allowing me to clock the dark head and pinky bit on the bill - pink-footed goose ya bas! A true patch gold ingot, and even better, ganky enough to almost certainly secure me the Black Scoter - the trophy for best full fat patch gank ticked in a year!

A pink-footed goose yesterday

After a celebratory slap-up lunch, I was back out in the field that very afternoon, whereupon I flushed a fine yellow wagtail, which are considerably less than annual around here. In addition, over the next coupla of days I added long-tailed tits, lapwing and a fine short-eared owl. Even better was the phone call two evenings ago, telling me there was a glossy ibis on the way from Red Strand. I rushed outside avec bins, and sure enough, five minutes later there it was, flopping slowly west, safely onto my patch year list! Finally for now, a cracking male ring ouzel was kind enough to materialise right in front of me on this mornings dog walk. Which was nice. So, the upshot of all this is that I've cracked the near mythical 140 species barrier for only the 5th time in 20 years, but the second consecutive year. Plus only another 10 species required to beat my best ever total of 149! And plenty species still to get! Don't rest easy just yet Mr Bushveld!


Monday 23 October 2023

Filling in the gaps

 I'm getting nothing but grief from Seppy to update the blog; it's not even the end of the month.  Luckily though things have been moving along just quite nicely this month.  The best of the more recent birds was fine drake green-winged teal enjoying the fine ambience to be found in the waters of the Notsogreatpool.  A full fat patch tick and the second yank of the month... so to speak.

Bagging both long-eared and barn owls the other night were both much appreciated.  A seawatch squeezed in a Pom and the fairly typical October migrants of blackcap. brambling and woodcock all keep the tally going in the right direction.  

South-easterlies for the rest of the week could produce something and there's still a few gaps to be filled.

A total of 132 species is, by quite a way, the highest ever yearly total for the patch and puts me on 109.70%

Happy days


Monday 9 October 2023

Better than average

 After the fun and games of August, September was a quiet affair with just the four patch ticks, the best of the limited bunch being long-tailed skua.  Fortunately October has perked the patch up a bit, with the very best being a fine Semi P Sand on the Notsogreatpool.  Unfortunately it didn't find the pool to its liking and departed south with a dunlin not too long after being found.  However, a full fat patch tick and the first Yank for the patch, that and the first jack snipe of the autumn got me to within a smidgen below the magical 100%.

Luckily a sniff of south-easterlies this weekend brought in a few birds, including two lovely little grebes (only second patch record) and some brambling. 

Pushing me on to 123 species for the year and tipping me over the better than average and onto 102.2%.  

Still time and species to get.

Happy days


Monday 11 September 2023

Galley's Marshy Bits

 Yes indeedy, it's been another red-hot early September period on Galley, with a fair bit of quality birding. Things began with the south-easterlies last week which brought in a few pied flycatchers, spotted flycatchers, whinchats  and best of all, a cracking wryneck, which was nice.

As the SE winds continued into the weekend new birds were pretty thin on the ground, but it always felt like there was something lingering somewhere. And sure enough, a last ditch wander down Dirk late on Saturday afternoon produced a belter in the form of a marsh warbler in the fuschia bank. I'd been watching the two large sycamores which were still in the sun, hoping for an icky or the like, when I heard something rustling about close by in the fuschia. A gentle pish and it dropped down to eye level - a gorgeous olivey-green acro with straw-coloured legs! Sadly, it didn't hang around in view long enough for a photo (might have been too close to focus anyway) but a cracker none the less. 19 years to the month since my last one on Galley, so worth a quick reminder of that bird....

A marsh warbler 19 years ago (photo: M O'Keefe)

As if that wasn't enough excitement, I was on my homeward stumble yesterday lunchtime when I came across a huge flock of starlings at Shite Lane. Imagine my surprise when one of them turned out to be a juvenile rosy starling! Managed to get scope views before we lost the bird and it hasn't been seen since. Great to finally get one ON patch, rather than having to count that dubious off-patch pinkish blob at red strand that could have been anything!

And then to top it all off, I scored 11 (count 'em) brent geese this very pm! All to play for!

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Royzah's Return

 Finally, after much hounding, Royzah (for it is he) has calculated his 2023 patch percentage to date. Sadly its ahead of mine, so that plan backfired somewhat, but thats showbusiness! The dead tap-dancing maestro has been giving it 110% on patch of late, and has had some rewards, in the form of  spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, garden warbler, ruff, and golden plover, and to top the lot a fine barred warbler, which turned out to be his 80th one ever (but then again he is ancient).

A visiting poaching bam twitching his barred then slipped a wryneck past him, but that happens to the best of us, specifically me the other day when Old Spoons did exactly the same.

So all the scores in order then, and I think for once even Basil doesn't have any undeclared stuff hidden away.

All to play for as the autumn gets underway...