Saturday 31 December 2011

nothing to add

Well I have given up and am in Spain where today's highlights include hoopoe and Sardinian warbler. None of it improves my score though.
Happy New yearlisting.

Friday 30 December 2011

Not so common...

A rather nice meally redpoll in amongst a flock of linnet and twite puts me equal to Reg on 92.11% and still lots to go for. Still reckon a few more ticks still to be got which although won't push me into a podium position but might just drag me past Reg, unless he gets the redpoll.

Happy Days


Monday 26 December 2011

little to see here

Ventured out after 3 days of man-flu today - was scoping the gulls at Red Strand (off-patch) from de comfort of de car when "feck, little gull!" Straight round to Dirk Bay (on patch) where it is possible to 'scope Red Strand and score! First time I've tried it with little gull, but it stuck out like a small, sore thumb! Think about me 4th or 5th record for Galley. Drags me over the 100% barrier, and into 3rd for now, till Royzah declares his redpoll situation!

Tried me luck at seawatching for a bit then and was rewarded with 3 "blue-ish" fulmars - I'd say they were D, rather than DD, but best was kept for last when a frame-filling great shearwater coasted past - picked it up by eye, and couldn't work out what it was till I got the bins on it - late for one hereabouts - no December records mentioned in CBR 1996 - 2006, but I've seen them in early November in recent years. Easily bird of the day though - belter!

Sunday 25 December 2011

It's not over until the fat goose is roasted

Has Shaky declared for the year now?
Aptly for Xmas, roastable fowl have me edging ever closer. No festive additions today, but 3 Short-eared Owls was nice this afternoon while a lingering Arctic Skua yesterday stubbornly refused to look like a Pom. Most recent year bird was 2 northbound Greylags last weekend:
And here's the Whooper from earlier in December, also fleeing from the Xmas roasting tin.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Thanks to a new lease of life, emanating from FIFAs own version of Alan Hansen, I can now declare that  an Iceland gull and a little auk at the weekend send me on to 121 species, or a staggeringly average 97.97%

Not much time to add anything else, and not many available options either.....although there is a dead seal in Nigg bay that I'm hoping will attract an Ivory gull. I still need Merlin (not seen one of them on patch for a couple of years now, and if a barnacle goose was to wonder past that would do nicely too. Barny is usually the second easiest goose to get, so not to get one in a year with 6 goose species is, well, errrrr, whats happened.

Merry christmas to all fantabulosans, old and new.

Monday 19 December 2011


hoo hoo! One I thought I'd missed for the year but apparently not. Managed a fine sanderling on de beach yesterday, which puts me within striking distance of el castillo, assuming he's turned into the eternal flame for the winter!

Friday 16 December 2011

bully's special prize

Quick on the draw this morning when I heard a forlorn piping call - "bullfinch" i thought, and sure enuff, there she was in the garden sycamore - a classy bird if ever there was one! About me 6th for the patch I tink, certainly less than annual, tho missed one in Dirk back in the autumn. Not enuff to catch boy roy though, yet....

Wednesday 14 December 2011

A snipe few weeks

The boggyness of our beloved Boghall paid off with a couple of recent snipe flushed from patches of Juncus. All grist to da mill, and takes us to 93.51%. Still backliding though. Been frantically scanning geese too, but to no avail - they are all still geese.

Da Procs

Sunday 11 December 2011

Fat Paul Scholes says hello!

He's fat, he's round,
he's always on the ground...

He's also forgotten his login name & password so once more I am a conduit for the blog! FPS says...

"Since I last updated in what seems like 1996, I've accrued a total of 119 species...which is 96.35%. It's not a terrible total really, just looks bad compared to last years whopping 136. I have absolutely no rare finds to declare. I was away when the dusky turned up, and I scanned greyhope bay just a few hours before the Dessie turned up there....The best I've managed has been a euro whitefront and a few flyover beanies. The whitefront was a patch tick, which was nice. Not much available to take the total towards 100%. It all sounds terribly glum, doesn't it!"

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Reg breaks his silence...

Everyone's favourite copper has finally declared his score. He can't come to the blog right now but he has assured me that he's tallied it all up and he is not in the lead! In fact, he's not even ahead of Bushveld, although bushy currently disputing it! It'll all come out in de wash!

Monday 5 December 2011

Want to see our Boney's?

Well sorry - you can't. It was a non-photographed, single observer fly-by (last Sunday, 27 Nov). Would certainly have been patch bird of the year were it not for better birds! The patch list creeps ever upwards, to 188 now. Three years to the big 200?

And then yesterday, another fly-by - an adult Whooper Swan northbound (just added to the patch list November last year).

All of which brings me to 126 for the year which equals 101.89%. Still three birds short of top place and I'm away for the next week and a half. After that though... well, maybe... Mistle Thrush quite possible with cold weather now arriving then.... Brent Goose maybe, Long-tailed Tit moving to the coast, perhaps the time has finally come for a Jack Snipe on the patch..... All there for the winning!


not over yet!

Two big scores over da weekend leaves me closing in on the boy royzah. First up was 4 (count 'em) gadwall on saturday morning on de lake, with a great crested grebe hot on their heels de following morning - gadwall was me 2nd record on patch (after 4 last dec on the sea - returning birds?), whilst greasy grebe was me 4th record - all good, and still need pochard, scaup, sanderling, glaucous (all relatively get-able) to leave me with a Twop Two finish! Specially as Reg has been frozen on 72.56% plus whatever he gets from now on! What a waste!


Not much to add since my last update. A couple of species to add (I can't remember what they were) have increased my tally to 91.48%. Still way behind Reg who must be close to winning.

Happy Days

Sunday 4 December 2011

No change at the top

Nothing to declare amnesty or otherwise. Still on 103.91% and looking set to stay there now, which should be enough?

Thursday 17 November 2011

Soooo close

It's been a good little spell up here Dusky, Hume's and Pallas's over the weekend. Not on the patch unfortunately, but nice all the same and you do get fed up bashing your head off the wall after a while and are forced to get your jollies elsewhere. I have managed a couple of new species in the shape of waxwing (2) at the barracks and merlin on the King's Links which is always a good un on the Don. All of which leaves me tantalisingly close to the magic hundred on 99.76%.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

fisher of kings

hoo hoo! With the lake pretty flooded just now, I've been playing a hunch and today was rewarded with a fine kingfisher on a fence post from de house - tricky enuff at Galley, probably get one 2 years out of 3 or so - a good bonus, with the apparent end of the mig season upon us! Although did manage a late swallow from de house mid-morning. Think what I could get if I actually left the building!!

Saturday 12 November 2011

Good month (for a change)

This is turning into a good month on the patch, after a long spell of dross. Last weekend I too saw a treecreeper (rarer than yellow-brows you know).

But today has been quite spectacular. There were a few common migrants in the village first thing and plenty of blackbirds. I saw 3 little auks flying south during my walkaround - not bad, but not unexpected.

But a flock of geese in one of the road-side stubble fields was unexpected, especially while looking into the sun, I realised that two of the pink-feet had white across their foreheads.

And finally, as I got into better light. I realised that one of the remaining pinkies had yellow legs and a stonking long beak. Hang on, there aren't any pinkies, all of the remainder are beans.

It took me a while to get my head around which race - tundras, but this is the largest flock of bean geese in a long time, and with the white-fronts and a little grebe that flew south during a later seawatch, they were full fat patch ticks. Also had four mergs on the seawatch.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Good couple of days

Just what you didn't need really. Caught up with a few bits and pieces that really should have been on by now - Golden Plover, Snow Bunting and Woodcock - and some real quality in the form of a Pink-footed Goose. A full fat patch tick and, I think, the first one I've seen since leaving Aberdeen in 1996 (unless I maybe saw a few on Shetland one autumn). If you think that's sad I witnessed a birder at our local RL Buzzard take a call about a Long-tailed Duck at Dungeness and high-tail it the 15 miles or so to twitch it. It's a different world down here. Anyway, enough preamble, 103.91%. Looks like you're all suffering from doing so well last year.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Can you count....yes you can

Way back at the beginning of the year I posed a hypothetical question of whether you could count a white-tailed eagle. If lets say one flew past my house. which it now has. A fine immature flying past the house earlier this month is definitely on the list. If its the same returning one that Reg got earlier in the year it is now a good bit older and therefore now tickable... isn't it. anyway I didn't see any tags and a fine patch tick it is.

So aside from that and a treecreeper earlier this week which is good bonus bird for around here there's been nothing much to shout about. Pity as I still have 19 species to get to hit the 100% mark.

At the moment a pitiful 88.32% puts me some way off the leaders board but the 19 species I'm going to get this weekend should help me out.

Happy days


Softly, softly, catchee monkey

Dull weekend on the patch really - patch ticks in the form of single Snow bunting and an impressive 27 Whooper swans migrating over at 2100hrs as I walked back to the car after the firework show.

89.11%. The eight-eyed groove machine is not clear of me yet.

Just as well I twitched the local rares to brighten it all up then. Desert wheatear at Greyhope Bay late on the Friday afternoon then added to the autumns Dusky haul by going to see one at Balmedie - which was easy to hear but a bugger to see well. Bit of a 'Sibe' chiff there as well too.

Friday 4 November 2011


Three species added since my last update: Yellow-browed warb (2, I'm claiming, one a find), 2nd wint Med gull (find too) and, er, dipper (got that one pointed out to me).

87.62% and currently equaling my lowest ever score at North Don with 118 species (which I recorded on my first year working it).

Got bored and twitched the Arbroath Duskies - nice!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Ton up

Water Rail only appeared once or twice in my early 'dogging years but one squealing yesterday morning from marshy along Blackdog Burn made it four years running now. Indeed most have been late autumn/early winter birds at this same spot.

No bankers left now. Need two species to pass Shaky's current score which should be easy enough but how many more can he get???

Also, during a quiet weekend at the patch, I got to thinking about the overall Blackdog list - i.e. my 187 species and whatever anyone else has seen. Including all dodgy non-submitted claims I know of, it came in at 200, which is a nice round milestone I reckon.


Monday 31 October 2011

Stop yer ‘grin-ing

At last some movement (in more ways than one) over Boghall. Although it remains the only place in the UK not to have claims of both pallid harrier and pallid swift this autumn, the birding gods delivered 3 fly over crossbills and a peregrine at the weekend. The latter is a full fat patch tick. Not that it makes any difference to the rankings, but it puts a little space between ourselves and the oily T-2006 (for now at least).

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Going nowhere fast

East winds meant an afternoon spent on the coast today. Another yellow browed but it does nothing for may patch list.

Monday 24 October 2011

gettin there

Strugglin on here - finally nailed yellow browed on satday courtesy of "old spoons" and strung a flyover brambling calling (once) this morning so some progress. Looks like i'm fecked for spot fly & reed warbler tho but - oops! Shouldn't have been so slack back in de spring!

Short Eared

South easterlies at last but pretty strong so it's hard work. A couple more added though, short eared owl (2) and brambling to take me to 98.34%. Hopefully summat a bit more interesting out there............

Friday 21 October 2011

Want to see our Dick's?

Finally grabbed something out of all these sibes but a Dick's Pipit is small fry when there's been 2 Bluetails and a Daurian Shrike in the county. Twitched the latter as I've seen 'Isabelline Shrike' before in Kent but wasn't entirely sure if that would be quite the same thing when someone goes and splits them. SE Owl too but it's not great for October. Away at Chessington at the weekend too. In South-easterlies. Hmm, probably will do well to only miss a Crane.

Thursday 20 October 2011

A kick in the nuts

Was out on Galley this am, but not a whole lot to report - indeed, 2 yellowhammers de best of it - good views too! So I thought it would be safe to flake to Mizen to see de Red-eyed Vireo there - Cork tick, like biy!

Vireo duly hoovered, giving great views, when I got a call from Claire "I'm watching a crane circling outside the house" - Arse! The house being 1 hour away from the Vireo. Shortly after, got another call saying "its flown out to sea!"

That's showbusiness, Kevin!

Tuesday 18 October 2011

never enuff!

A fine drake ring ouzel on satday and a flyover golden plover this morning bumps me well clear of Boghall's finest but there's been no sign of yellow browed despite birds to east & west and i'm gonna seriously struggle for missed gank like spot fly & reed warbler if we don't get some more easterlies very soon! And i missed 2 jays on sunday - doh! Not lookin good despite me current 4th place!

Just been lookin at me spreadsheet and discovered i hadn't ticked lesser whitey - result! All is not yet lost...

ahem...or barred warbler - woohoo!

Monday 17 October 2011

'creepering up

Some good birds recently but no additions to the year list until the weekend.

An arse-end view of a ringtail harrier three days after the Pallid was, in all likelihood, the same bird but not seen again. Hen Harrier would still be a patch tick.

Two days later, a viz mig count for two and a quarter hours from dawn produced 13,732 Pinkies outhbound (and 30 confused birds going north). The same count produced patch record viz mig counts for Goldfinch (101), Tree Sparrow (14) and Linnet (630).

More recently, a Bar-wit has been linkering with the Oiks, a Peregrine went south and a Long-tailed Duck has returned.

Far more important, of course, were a female Blackcap up at Millden Links on Saturday (almost annual) and a Treecreeper in the Blackdog Burn sycamores on Sunday (4th record, I think - all at the sycamores).

The year list is 123. Next species puts me over 100% though need two species to overtake Shaky.


Saturday 15 October 2011

Through the 100 barrier

Well it's been a while coming but finally limped through the 100% barrier courtesy of Lap Bunt and my first Sooty Shear since 2007 - second shearwater species of the year (probably too late for Manx now - not seen one since 2008! and not had 3 shearwater species in a year since 2006. Galley Head this is not!)

Gettin closer

Slowly moving towards the magic 100%. Two more added in the last couple of days in the shape of Woodcock and Yellow Browed Warbler, 96.92% now.

Thursday 13 October 2011

see ya bye proclaimers!

Yes indeedy - successfully twitched a barred warbler in Dirk yesterday for a full fat patch tick, and then out again today and bumped into a Galley Mega.... (wait for it) coal tit! Yes, indeed, rarer than yellow browed and my first since the monster year of 2008 (when there was 3!). Also netted buzzard (honest guv) and a fine pied fly - the new feather dna App for Android really payed off for that one!

One small step for me, but a giant leap in front of the proclaimers, at feckin last!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

How I R'oll

Another eight patch ticks over the weekend. By far the 'best' was Redpoll - a full fat patch tick no less although honourable mentions must go to Barnacle goose (miss them some years) and Merlin (only my 3rd on patch).

El Castillo gets Redpolls most years though so I've just been blind until now. Sensors now feasted on such jewels it will be interesing to see if I ever spot them again or lapse back to usual ways.

85.39% with still some rank-rotten common stuff to connect with. No sign of a decent bird for the year yet though. The joys of patch watching.

Monday 10 October 2011

galley update

Been a while! Had a dodgy skulky redstart sp in de garden a couple of weeks back which I'm having as common redstart cos it was keeping to trees (and I've had black red already!). After umpteen blip views of pallid harrier on Shetland, it was no surprise to get a blip view of a harrier from de house the night after I got back - just a hen tho - good one all de same. And finally, twitched a fine juv woodchat shrike on patch on saturday - got me out of the painting - huzzah! Just 1 more year tick needed to shoot past the Prockulator Fiscals!

Have a pic!
A woodchat yesterday

Some shetland snaps over on me other blog here

Tuesday 4 October 2011

You are not alone

No YBW down the Don either. And no Pallid harrier too although I was down there at the time, just neck deep in the Barracks bushes - it could have easily snuck past me down the Royal GC channel.

Another 4 patch ticks anyway since my last update, best being fly-by Pintail and a Lesser whitethroat at the Barracks.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Another cracking patch tick weekend thanks to Paul and Chris doing some proper birding on the Ythan. A text just before 9 on Saturday morning that they had a Pallid Harrier circling over Inch Geck sent me racing out of the flat. However, once I had cleared Aberdeen's traffic, a call to Chris put me in a dilemma of which way to go. The bird had drifted off, maybe going south east (towards the coast) or maybe it had gone back onto the extensive area of harrier habitat on Forvie Moor. Not much of a dilemma though so, with the patch list firmly in mind, I pulled up at Blackdog a couple of minutes later, left the car and scanned north. Within a minute there it was, coming over the rifle range straight towards me and continuing on away to the south. The camera was on crap settings and I didn't have the composure to adjust it in time but, with a bit of imagination, these point and shoot efforts at least show its wopping great collar.

Five folk just off Shetland (including a BBRC member who shares his name with a European country) were scoter scanning from the dunes and also clocked the bird as it went through.

A few other additions - a lone Barnacle Goose south with Pinks on a morning viz miggin session last week and a northbound lone Golden Plover Saturday morning too (both virtually but not quite annual). Redwing on Saturday was a banker whilst today (Sunday) saw the first Short-eared Owl in three years. The Black Scoter remains but I must have been the only birder out today who failed to find a Yellow-browed Warbler.

With four patch ticks this year, the patch list moves on to 187. How long now to the big 200? Year list is 121 which equals 97.84%.


Tuesday 27 September 2011

Late update

Been away in Aviemore for a week but before I left scored four patch ticks although that morning (Sat 17th) it didn't really happen around the patch despite promising much. Best of the bunch was Reed warbler, only my second on patch with the last one in 2006. 76.48%

Natch, returned home via Strathbeg.

Sunday 25 September 2011


Same old, same old here in Boghall with nothing new since June. Pinkies are passing over again so scanning them for white 'uns. It got so bad that I had to make a trip north to the Strathbog to get the crane (and jolly nice it was too). Scored a breaching minkie whale too. Not that any of that slows my slide down the table.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Pue, Pue, Barney McGrew

Some pueing siskins over yesterday morning were new for the year, and when I heard some more I looked at them and lo and behold they were pueing snow buntings! Huzzah! First ones here since 2005! Blimey! Dipped the ortolan though, which was therefore clearly bollox!

And then I cracked and went off to Mizen to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel, which was nice.

Tuesday 20 September 2011


Managed to get out on Saturday afternoon but it was hard work around the patch. Fortunately Reg had been out earlier and nailed a few birds to some posts for me...

A fine YBW was quickly followed by a goldcrest and an elusive Barred warbler in the same small plantation was swiftly followed by a blackcap. Four patch birds in the space of a few minutes.

A couple of lapland bunts flying over were much appreciated.

Best bird for the patch were three bar-wits from a seawatch this morning. Could be a patch tick but not sure.

Patch list now stands at 81.38% but a quick 'future look' doesn't bode well with a predicted end of year tally around the 95%.

Spot the Difference

Mute Swan flying past Blackdog on Sunday evening:

KLM logo:

Should've got out Saturday by looks of things but prior commitments kept me from the patch until Sunday evening. No deluge of Garden Warblers here but Mute Swan (not quite annual) flew onto the year list.

The an early visit Monday morning brought altogether better quality with the third Blackdog Greater-pecker record. Unfortunately not a better quality pic, though:

Now on 116 species which is the same total as all of 2009. 93.80% is not quite enough to reclaim 2nd place but I'm biting at Royzah's heels.


Monday 19 September 2011

Okay but no rares

The weekend's easterlies brought in a fair number of migs to the patch. Best of the bunch were a reed warbler and two common crossbills which are good patch birds. Also picked up lesser redpoll, lesser whitethroat, grey and golden plover. There were lots of blackcaps, 6 garden warblers, 2 whitethroats, 3 willows, 2 chiffs and a tree pipit. If the weather hadn't been so foul,especially on Sunday morning, I'm sure I could have dug out something else so it was a wee bit frustrating. Still, closing on the shaking fella........... 95.5% and counting. No bankers left, all less than annual now.
Roy da boy

Friday 16 September 2011

more gank

a fine black-tailed godwit nestled amongst the roosting curlews this pm - quite impressive pick-up given my hungover status. Netted a turtle dove out on galley earlier too, but couldn't tick it, cos i had wan in de spring.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

cap'n cash

Flat calm this morning so hot-footed into Dirk for the rare yankee passerine. No such luck but did scor 4 (count 'em) blackcaps in a tree which was in fact a year tick! Huzzah!

And just realised I'd missed common scoter off de year list - huzzah again! Are the prockies with the nockies gettin worried yet?

Monday 12 September 2011

Virtual breakback

Since ole Seppy has declared his Sabs before I've even reported mine, I claim a virtual breakback. Ha ha that'll teach ye! The Sabine's reminded me of the one me and Seppy found on North Ron because we were basically arsing about at the time and it just flew past us, this time I was walking along the boulevarde with the kids scanning occasionally whilst they were arsing about and it came by close in heading south towards the Ness. That's birding for ya.

Also had a little stint yesterday so rather a good day all in all.

91.24% and the autumn is young.

breakback sab's ya bas!

Hot on the heels of boy roy's sab's off donmouth yesterday, imagine my delight to hear of a lingering juvenile off the Galley! oml ya bas!

Also bagged a turnstone on de beach from de house so that was another year tick - 2 in a day, but i need a lot more if I'm to catch the leaders up front!

You can't have it all

Ten patch ticks since my last update. Mostly gash again but Ruff (as mentioned elsewhere), a fly-by grey plover (Sunday mid-morn) and a flock of 13 pale-bellied brent geese (Sunday mid-afternoon) were most welcome. Unfortunately, missed the two best birds.

Now almost in the top-half of the table. Still lots of gank to see yet though time running out to connect with some of it.


Saturday 10 September 2011

Feelin Ruff

Whay hay! First ruff (two actually, count em) for three years and a whinchat t'other day takes me to 89.84%. Our shiny metal friend T2006 was in on the ruff too, it was in fact his advanced wader finding software wot detected them. Payback for him twitching me garden for blackcap and garden warbler.

Roy da boy

Thursday 8 September 2011

Five alive

After several visits with no patch year ticks, a viz miggin' session this morning came up trumps with five year ticks. Aside the torrents of Mipits and steady flow of Swallows there were several small parties of Siskins (nothing like numbers reported in recent days elsewhere in eastern Scotland), smaller parties of Redpolls and the expected Grey Wagtails. A Peregrine flew south too (not quite annual) and best of the lot was 3 Ruffs (well actually one ruff and two reeves) also heading southbound. Just one previous Ruff record here of a couple of birds in with the Lapwings for a couple of days in 2008.

Clearly other birds on the move too as jumping about for a few minutes in an isolated and, usually unproductive, willow clump next to the count position before moving on were a number of tits (4 Blue, 2 Great and a Coal), 3 Chiffhcaffs and singles of Willow Warbler, Goldcrest and Sedge Warbler.

So the year list leaps ahead to 114, or 92.18% and I leapfrog two places up the table.

Monday 5 September 2011

Cashing in those missed chips

Nine patch ticks over the weekend - all of them gash (best was Whinchat). Still, it moves me up the leaderboard a little.


Tuesday 30 August 2011

Back up and running

Nothing doing since May until finally I added Whinchat over the long weekend. Hopefully be a few more autumn migs to come though before too long...

Monday 29 August 2011

Patch tick - and not a scoter

Yes the third patch tick of the year but the first one that was something other than a scoter. This time a Kingfisher, yesterday, fishing along the seaward end of the Blackdog Burn.

Actually quite a good day yesterday. Little in the way of hoped for offshore seabird passage but aside from the Kingfisher, the Black Scoter remains along with a couple of Surfies whilst a juvie Little Gull dropped in on the beach for a few minutes alongside a couple of Bar-wits. Both species are less-than-annual building blocks for the patch year-list but both already on it for 2011.

A visit a few days ago produced also the second Cuckoo of the autumn, a nice brown one this time.

So the patch list marches on to 186 and the year list to 109 species (88.14%) but sliding down the table compared to a couple of weeks back.


Thursday 25 August 2011

Great Tit...

An incredibly skulking greenish warbler in Collieston is the only migrant around and a new patch tick to. Fortunately the great tit it was with wasn't, as I got my first for the year three days ago. A common sand and grey wagtail push the total to 118 and 74.44%.

Happy days


No Greenish

Just a spotted flycatcher in the back garden. keeps me ticking over but. 88.44%

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Green Sand - Ooof!

As usual I'm slow on the update but here's the latest from South Don. I've managed another 8 species since my last post. Common sandpiper, little gull, shelduck, bonxie, manxie, wigeon, stonechat and star bird green sandpiper (only me 4th ) this very morning. That takes me to 124 species for da year or 87.74% in patch list terms.

Only three bankers left to get whinchat, lesser whitethroat and golden plover, everything else is less than annual.

Feeling ruff

No, not actually feeling one, but saw two fly across the fields on Saturday morning, which was a bit random really. Oh, and I had a bit of a fuzzy head too. Full fat patch tick too.

Sunday 21 August 2011


Two classy year ticks - bar-wit & balearic shear finally gets me ahead of el castillo, at least until he updates. Any points for a blowing fin whale at all?

Thursday 18 August 2011

crested tit

no, not really - did jam a goldcrest at shite lane tho, which was a year tick!

Monday 15 August 2011

Brief update

Work and holiday commitments have limited recent 'dogging opportunities. However a trip out to show my better half butterflies on Sunday afternoon brought the first two year ticks for a while: Cuckoo and Merlin. The Cuckoo, a smart juvenile, was just my third here although second autumn bird in two years. On first glance in flight, I thought it was a Merlin. And then a little while later, seeing the Merlin, I assumed at first it was the Cuckoo again - it wasn't.

The Black Scoter remains, always tantalisingly too far offshore for descent photos. This was the best effort from Saturday:

And, among those butterflies, some strange goings-on between a Grayling and a Dark-green Frit...

108 species puts me on 87.33%

Thursday 11 August 2011

Big wheels keep on turnin'

A few species addedd in recent weeks, best of which was a summer plumage GND. The T-2006 has really been too busy elsewhere. It hasn't even made it up the coast to bag the rare scoters.


Tuesday 9 August 2011


Shortly back from the family hols has seen me spending some time sea watching, an exercise that is not usually on my birding agenda but needs must...

So a couple of sessions has produced a scaup and most pleasing a couple of stormies. A few other bits and pieces including a flock of five snipe pushes me onwards and upwards to a grand total of 71.92% a mere single species behind Reg...

Happy days


Monday 8 August 2011

Collieston race hots up

Additions in the last (many) weeks for me include Grasshopper Warbler and Knot...the best of an average bunch for me. Bushvelds list is beginning to look somehat different, including with a Quail that I never caught up with among other things.
Seawatching yesterday yielded quite a few Sooties and Manxies.
So far my best bird for the year remains Yellow pretty quiet so far this year.
keeps the total ticking over though so I make the average as 72.56%, a patch total of 115.

That's Great, Ted!

A wee swatch at the sea yesterday morning produced the goods in the form of 4 great shearwaters, plus another nice pom. Also haven't yet declared a common tern on de lake from last weekend. All good and more SW promised for wednesday too - bring it on!

Friday 5 August 2011

Oh come on

Boring! Nothing happening on the patch, or anywhere in Lothian. Indeed it got so dull that I had to go to Italy to break the tedium. Nothing much there either mind you, but the cheese and wine were good.

Monday 25 July 2011

Some seawatching success

Northerly winds seem to have brought about more productive seawatching down here in Portlethen, with a sooty north on Thursday, and Arctic skua finally on Friday. Also finally caught up with grey wagtail. Still no wader passage for me yet

go go gadget guillemots

A wee crack at de seawatching on sat morning in flat calm conditions, which, as Reg will attest, can occasionally produce the goods. Not quite what I hoped, but 2 (count 'em) tysties were a worthy year tick. Even better, when I updated my spreadsheet just now, I realised I hadn't actually year ticked guillemot - fantastic!

Friday 22 July 2011

Downpours in Leith

All there is to look at on my patch at present are squadrons of young tits, wheatears and whitethroats. I doubt if anyone is interested in updates on them. Grasshopper warbler still siningin, and sporadic chiff. No waders yet. The sparrowhawk juveniles are slowly reducing the local tit and chaffinch population.
Went for a verra long walk up the west coast of Scotland recently, but no birds to report from there either. Still, the wader season is almost upon us, but until then I'll stick to the biking for entertainment.

Da Procs

Thursday 21 July 2011

Autumn not here quite yet

I did manage a Spot Fly back in May before things totally dried up but never got round to posting or updating my score (to 97.46%). Absolutely nothing else since and off to France for a couple of weeks soon so it'll be mid-August before I get chance to get back amongst it. My total is far from unassailable but if we get a decent autumn I could be in with a shout this year.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Autumn is here - yippeee

A few bits of movement these last few days. Started a week or so ago with the first Bonxie of the year, and then waders started doing their thing at the weekend. Saturday brought two flocks of southbound Redshanks (23 birds in total and a year tick), 9 Knot and 9 Teal. Then yesterday there were a couple of Common Sands (virtually but not absolutely annual) and a couple of Sanderlings. There's also been a few Swifts moving swiftly through and some Manxies shearing through.

The Black Scoter remains but is not always detectable. Plus 5 Surfies. I finally got some really dodgy pics of the BS (hand-held digiscoping at 60x) that at least give the right general impression (i.e. a distant fuzzy duck with a glowing bill).

Redshank and Common Sand move the year list on to 106 (85.71%) and consolidates the Bronze Medal Position (but maybe others are just keeping their cards close to their chests with undeclared and unasailable lists....).


Thursday 14 July 2011

celeb spotting

not on patch, and feck all to do with birding, however, did spot a plethora of celebs at the Nouvelle Vague gig in Kinsale last night - David Beckham was on security, whilst former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was in the crowd. Highlight however, was Anas Fantabulosa's very own fat dead tap-dancing superstar Boy "Royzah" Castillo on acoustic guitar, complete with flat cap but no whippet, whilst the support band featured north-east blast from the past peeeeter coszzzzzgrove in a fright wig. Anyone still out there at all, and do you have any idea where yer bins are??

Saturday 9 July 2011

Wednesday 6 July 2011

cory's anyone?

Thats more like it! After arsing about this morning with an arctic skua and some stormies, over 1,200 cory's shearwaters in an hour and a half was a big improvement! Some really close wans too! Bagged a couple of poms just before i left was another bonus - missed both last year!

halfway through

Well now having past the halfway mark probably time to see how one is doing.

"could do better" I think is the mid-term verdict.

A mere 66.2% and a dubious and probably over optimistic sixth position is not where one would want to be at this stage. But then there is hope, looking through the list of species still to be seen gives one a glimmer of optimism still requiring such species as great tit, song thrush and snipe has got to mean that there is a chance to do better and autumn is almost upon us

so here's for the next six months and another 55 - 60 more species should see me through to an easy victory.... Can't be that hard surely?

Happy Days

Tuesday 5 July 2011

de seawatchin starts here!

Shame it didn't start this morning when de sab's went past, but I did get out this evening and got meself a sooty shearwater for de year. Ho hum.

Thursday 30 June 2011

At last - a decent bird

Didn't realise it had been so long since I had posted anything, 2nd of May apparently. So here's the update starting with me star bird ................little egret up by the bridge yesterday morning. Seppy will be suppressing a yawn at this point as they're ten a penny in his neck of the woods. However, for me it's a full fat patch tick and it's been a long time coming. Other bits I've gleaned since the last update are great northern diver,arctic skua, garden warbler, puffin, dunlin, whitethroat, sedge warbler and surf scoter. I have been searching for the Blackdog biggies in the hope that they might drift into the patch eventually.

Anyway, all of this puts me on 82.08%.


Tuesday 28 June 2011

Please can I have a bigger patch?

Dear Mr. Blatter,

As one who is known for his sense of fair play and ability to compromise, please can I formally request of you that my patch be extended under rule 3.2, subsection 46? Specifically I would like to include an extension southwards of just a measly few hundred metres and it need only be as wide as the footpath along the top of the dunes, thus still keeping me within the 2 square km limit agreed previously in the all party discussions.

If you feel able to acquiesce to my request, can it be backdated to 8pm last night? The reason for this request is simply that it forms a more natural unit to cover and has nothing to do with this:

I would, of course, honour your approval by naming the extension as the Sepp Blatter Annex as well as asking the kind people at the Murcar Golf Course to grant you life membership.

Yours in anticipation,


Friday 24 June 2011

Patch listing

I visited 6 of the patches involved in this challenge yesterday - is this a record for the year, and do I win a prize?
In the process I scored the duck which I must admit was uninspiring. I was rather glad of the rather fuzzy images available on the web as I may have overlooked it otherwise. I also failed to avoid a couple of the drake surfies, and then went on the year tick Elvis III. After all that excitement I came back and had a quick squizz at my patch, but did not see any ducks at all.

Monday 20 June 2011

Off the patch :-))

The White-winged Scoter is now officially OFF THE PATCH. It started out visible from the southern annex of the Blackdog patch but has now moved down the coast a few hundred metres and, if it continues at this rate, will be on the cards for T2006 and Roy Castle. As most folks now park at the golf course, maybe peace will once again descend on my birdless little corner of Scotland.

However I did trudge down to pay my respects again at the weekend. A fly-by white-winged gull was called by some as Iceland. I barely got on to it before it disappeared around the bend. Later I re-found it well and truly on the patch and this was it:

However, after remarkably eluding me (or me being blind) up to now, Common Tern landed on the year list, bringing up the ton, at 80.86%. Not many out and out bankers left - the only ones that come to mind are Bonxie, Grey Wag and Redwing.

Oh and the first for Britain did show rather better off the patch (did I mention it is not at Blackdog any longer? - nothing to see here, please move along!) on Sunday evening than during preceding days apparently.


Saturday 18 June 2011

The curse of an on-site mega

Nice as it is to have a first for Britain loitering on the patch, it has the real drawback of revealing what the lazy patchworker has been failing to find. Up to three potential patch ticks were reported this week as well as at least one other patch year tick (Osprey). Actually I am choosing to only believe one of the potential patch-ticks; a Quail flished from the edge of the golf course. One of the others, Black Scoter, was reported as a possible (and whilst it is odds on to occur at some time there are some really rather yellow-billed Commons out there). The third species, Black-throated Diver, is a mythical creature in this area and chooses only to reveal itself to those with sufficiently open minds and well-developed imaginations.

Swift last Monday moved the year list to 99 species (80.05%) but I have once again neglected Blackdog since by doing a few days in Sutherland and enjoying a pine marten fest in the process (thee sightings - two singles and two together). Back now and really should get out there in the rain and continue the flogging.


Monday 13 June 2011

a duck

Well it is not every day that a potential first for Britain appears on one's patch. Better still, it is, of course, a patch tick. And even better - a patch year list challenge year tick. As with Seppy's Turtle Dove, this one took some proper birders to find (Chris, Hywel and Paul) and, given that next to nothing is published on identifying 1st-summer male White-winged Scoters, it was a helluva find indeed. Here are some impressionist interpretations of what it looks like:

Such is the degree to which my neglect of Blackdog has been over recent weeks that Surf Scoter was new for the year too. However, it was not all birds found by others. On Saturday 2 Collared Doves on the edge of the village was a 100% self-found building block patch year tick - no-one can take that find away from me! Manxie on a brief visit a few days ago and the year list is now on 79.25% (98 species).


Friday 10 June 2011

Banking on it

Sand martin on Tuesday evening was an astonishing patch tick. Astonishing because it could be considered overdue, but then again there is no suitable breeding areas on the patch, and they don't stray for from nests to forage.

I'd rather have been in Hartlepool though. Who went from Aberdeen?

Monday 6 June 2011

Slowly, slowly

Finally saw a kestrel in the village on Friday evening, and a bonxie on a seawatch on Sunday, so things moving along very slowly.

I'm gonna be doing stuff on my boat (yeah, the one with a hole in the side, no engine and no trailer to launch it with. Thinks my patch list isn't going to progress much over the next couple of months.

Sunday 5 June 2011

puffin at last

A very quiet spell with no patch ticks for a couple of weeks forced me to do a bit of sea-watching. Usually a complete and utter waste of time but a trio of patch birds in the form Arctic skua, Manxie and at long last ... puffin. A little tern would be nice so I'll keep going.

Good news is that the my tally now moves up to a whopping 65.61%. Ahead of Reg...

Happy days


Quaility, mate!

Not the quality of red rumper, but a good record for the balladeers of Boghall: quail calling and seen yesterday. A first for Boghll, and a possible entry for best find. I'll pop out leter today to see if I can make it two in a row.

Nothing else around beyond puffins and manxies at aberlady.

Thursday 2 June 2011

St Kilda exile

Heinous crimes against humanity saw the T-2006 exiled to St Kilda for a week.

Kilda itself had been carpet bombed with rares in recent weeks, 2 Purple Herons, a Night Heron (on one of Boreray's stacks), 3 American Wigeons and a Yellow Wag, none of which hung around for the man-machines visit.

However, you can't keep an unfeeling lump of metal down. So it was with something akin to what you humans call 'glee' that the T-2006 turned up a female Surf Scoter (3rd Kilda record) and a female Common Rosefinch (less than 5? records although some are multiple sightings). The latter was initially spotted from the Puff Inn whilst topping up the fuel cells. Unfortunately, the T-2006 also found the scoter dead on the rocks the next day and so it now resides in the NTS freezer awaiting the day when human technology can reanimate her.

Disappointingly, the Snowy Owl had not been seen for a month.

Ah well, back to the patch now. Brain the size of a planet etc. ....


Damn rabbits

Garden tick eh! Vermin do not count though (no matter how cute a picture you post) and you can have our bloody rabbits any day, Seppy. They have gnawed through the netting over our strawberries and are happily eating the fruit. They have also done for some sunflowers.

I only post this as I have not added anything new to the patch list since the June doldrums began in mid May. I did manage to score a fine hobby from a window at the HQ of a large bird conservation NGO yesterday though. Just a shame it does not count for the patch list, but a good year tick.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Long live El Presidente!

Great news that I've been kept on as unopposed president of FIFA yet again! Needless to say, the cheque's in the post, boys! Rest assured my dedication to the Patch Challenge will not be affected by me footballing duties.

This appeared in the garden this lunchtime - garden tick no less. Presume its ok to count it?

Monday 23 May 2011


A useful one on Friday afternoon - a tystie sitting on the sea, followed by a couple of Arctic terns bombing past. That's my first tystie in almost exactly two years.

spring satday seawatch

A quick seawatch early doors on sat produced puffin, arctic tern and dunlin for de year - sadly no poms tho!

Friday 20 May 2011

Marginally less mediocre

Managed to scrape up a whimbrel yesterday evening. Actually, this was an assist, a birding friend heard it while I was blethering on the phone, and I managed to see it as it flew north past the 'Sloppy Black Dykes'. No, not an over-sentimental lesbian of Afro-Caribbean origin, but the local name for a stretch of the coast.

We had an awkward moment after that, when I admitted to my pal that I didn't notice a white rump on the whimbrel. Not did he. All too late to do anything about, so we'll just cast a veil over that one I think.

Also flushed a couple of grey partridges, which is just as well, because I was feeling guilty about my record from earlier in the year, which I was considering de-ticking on the grounds that it was probably a pheasant.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

moving swiftly on

Ach, we cannae compete wi' that kind o' Mediterranean madness. I'd better declare the swift I had last week (just after Seppy had his).
Otherwise Lothian remains a birdless desert. The best reward for the weekend efforts was some common sandpaper. Ouch.

Monday 16 May 2011


Pics, now there's an idea. Here's one of our rumpers to grip Seppy off just that little bit more...

The mediocrity continues

Well, I added house martin and siwft at the weekend, but in spite of my best attempts, have failed to add a single decent migrant this spring. And with the weather looking set for south-westerlies, this seems unlikely to change. My position in the table is flattering, because Reg and the Bushveldt don't seem to have updated their scores.

errrrr....sorry I'm a bit late...

Well I guess I'd better re-engage with this and declare my score! Spring has ticked along nicely at the ness. (when I've been here....I've spent a lot of time offshore fending off *****-******* ******...all names have been deleted to protect somethingorother)

There's been nothing out of the ordinary, but some nice spring migs such as tree pipit, whinchat, and my first spring reed warbler on patch were very welcome. But enough of all that bobbins. It's the digits you're after and the digits you shall have.

80 species or 62.8%. Right back up there to mid table mediocrity, which is exactly where I belong.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Rumper run

A quite ridiculous run of Red-rumped Swallows here (3 in the space of a week) finally included one that I managed to see on patch and a contender for best find too. After garden-ticking Rough-legged Buzzard in April (my first locally for 10 years) one appeared on patch today too, as did a Red Kite. Tree Pipit, Turtle Dove and Nightingale have also fallen recently.

On the down side I've only got 6 bankers left for the year(!) and not that many 50/50s. A quick calculation suggests that something in the region of 107-108% could be on - which, looking at previous years winners, could put me in contention

Flying visit

After two weeks of being totally neglected, Blackdog would have been well within rights to have presented me with nothing but Eiders today but, no, it welcomed me back with open arms and a Marsh Harrier. A cream-crown, flushed from the burn behind the dunes and dissapearing over towards the Links was a patch 2nd (first was in 2008). Cue dodgy photo of bird dissapearing into distance:

With singing Whitethroat too, I move on to 93 species or 75.2% and am back in a medal position. Back to pipits in Perthshire next week though...


Update at last

Finally I get round to updating my total:
Some of the spring delights so far are Yellow wagtail, Garganey, Garden warbler, Wood Sand, Black Tailed Godwits, Common Sand and Black Redstart. Coal tit was a patch goodie a few weeks ago now.Maybe slow down a little now as winds gone westerly; though quite an influx of commoner waders onto Feu on thursday night...20 ringed Plovers, 8 Dunlin and the Common sand (and includes the wood sand that Bushveld had the next morning).
Otter on Cotehill first thing this morning as well...only my second or third sighting ever on the patch, with the garganey now showing well on Feu pools.
Total is 103, or 64.98%.
I will try to post a little more frequently from now!

a couple of nice ones

Amongst a fair few gap fillers.. including such corkers as lesser black-backed gull and whitethroat, a flighty wood sand at a Feu Farm pools and a fine drake garganey at Meikle shuffles me on to a mighty 62.46%. Not quite leader board stuff but still in the chase...happy days

Thursday 12 May 2011

moving swiftly on

Two swifts over the lake this morning - last gasp before the May slump hits I'd say! See ya in July!

It's all s**te

Tried yet another seawatch, and yet again there was nothing moving. The sum total of migrants during this spell of easterlies has been 1 willow warbler. All the summer migs are logged, bar stuff like swift and house martin. So, don't think I'm going to be challenging for anything this year, except the wooden spoon (if we've got one).

Tuesday 10 May 2011

'ard graft

After a weekend of easterlies and a fair amount of rain produced very little. A tree pipit being the best of a bunch of thin pickings. However this and a few other gap fillers lifts my total to a staggering 58.04% and 6th place; catching Seppy up fast and well ahead of Reg... Happy days

Monday 9 May 2011


....are visits down the patch for the T-2006 this year.

Fleeting forays to the DLNR on Saturday and Sunday saw it move to the heady heights of 49.75% although most ticks were purely of catch-up value.

Best bird so far this year still the glaucous gull from a few weeks back.


Corking stuff

Scored a good patch tick yesterday in the form of Seppy. After 10 mins on ma patch he was all ready to jack in Galley and move to da silent bloody hedges of Midlothian (not). Still, he did get red legged partridge for the year.
Otherwise, a garden warbler on Friday brings me to 84.41. Miles behing Mr Stevens, but at least i have a clear conscience.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Done with Doves!

Just happened to be on patch when some proper birders dug out a turtle dove for me - easy skankin'!

Thursday 5 May 2011

Seawatching bonanza

Some of the best spring seawatching for years has seen me add a plethora of species, a number of which are far from annual e.g. first Arctic Tern since 2009, first GN Diver and Greenshank since 2008, first Slavonian Grebe since 2004, and some notable others e.g. Arctic and Great Skuas, Eider and Little Gull. Also had Hobby and Osprey in off the sea. Little on the land though did add Raven (at last), Corn Bunt and twitched a Garden Warbler this evening. All of which puts me on a quite ridiculous 93.93% and at my highest at this stage since 2006. Beginning to think that maybe it might be my year

Hull's finest

A poor weekend on the patch, but Lothian birding was rescued by a fine shore lark just (well, 40 miles) off the patch at Barns Ness. Closer to the patch, yesterday's bee eater must have been only 3 miles from my patch.
However, none of this counts, unlike Hull's finest indie pop quarter who paid me a visit yesterday. Yes, the first house martin of the year takes me to 83.12 % apparently.

Monday 2 May 2011

Ice Ice baby

A few bit and bobs to update from last week. The best of the bunch was an Iceland gull at the rivermouth ably supported by whitethroat, arctic tern and little tern. Also had the annual collared dove which flew over the back garden on Saturday never to be seen again as is their wont on the Don. All of which takes me rumbling on to 75% .

To cap an interesting week I had a touch of the exotic with a cockatiel being chased for it's life by a gang of gulls on Friday night too and a new set of wasters disturbing what tranquility there remains on the Don in the shape of some BMX'rs who've thoughtfully made a track and a jump through the bushes at the mouth. Lovely.

Saturday 30 April 2011


Nae migs again this am, but did glean a flyover redpoll - unusual in de spring.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Sorry folks

Despite promising to be too busy atlasing we've had a raging NE blowing so I thought feck that and have done a bit of seawatching instead - expected a few waders would be on the cards but didn't expect a male Monti's to come in off right in front of me. Pom Skua the other highlight amongst the more usual. Garden ticked RL Buzzard too, though that's off patch. 85.71% at this stage is my best since 2006, and I still need Gropper

Reely good

Apparently Groppers are everywhere this spring (can't remember where I read that but was somewhere in last couple of days). Even Blackdog had one last night, reeling away on the banks of the burn alongside the folk course (along the "southern extension" of the patch). Suprisingly just my 2nd Blackdog record and the other was years ago.

Thanks to some posh kids getting married, got the day off tomorrow so here's to a bumper long weekend before I am banished to deepest darkest Perthshire, counting Meadow Pipits (yes really!), for much of May.


john, paul, george and...

on the beach tonight - sorted!

And then double wader bonanza as a knot flew over, in with a bunch of whimbrel. Honest guv! News of the incoming knot was received from Old Spoons a couple of miles away, and after the fly-past we concurred that knot was what it was - patch bonus!

Does anybody care..

....about that house crow in Cobh? Every day someone puts it on Birdguides, and every day I care a little less.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

One good tern....or 15 of them

A bit of catch up last night after some gallivanting. House Martin before I stopped the car, Sedge Warbler before I'd got out and then 3 Wheatears on the rounds. Out to sea, the star turn/tern was a flock (yes a flock no less) of Little Terns - 15 or more, jinking, dipping, fluttering and generally making merry just offshore. Little Terns are almost, but not quite, annual and never before in numbers greater than can be counted on the fingers of a one-handed person. Arctic Tern rounded off proceedings to bring me up to the Joe 90 too (or 72.78%).


Monday 25 April 2011

Come on, come on, do the locustella...

Grasshopper warbler on da patch this morning, which was nice. No dotterel though.

Then I went to Aberlady where I was rewarded with more grasshopper warblers. Nothing else doing though so should have stayed on my patch.

Saturday 23 April 2011

nowt on patch

Nothing new on the patch and indeed I could only manage crippling views of Ireland's first Pallid Harrier early on Satday morning - what a great bird! Pics by Old Spoons here

Not a bird but...

Had an otter this morning, only the 2nd time I've seen one at the Donmouth. Bings of wheatears 30+ and lots of swallows coming through, maybe tomorrow will be the day since I'm going to be in Dundee with Patrick!

Dipping in and out

Nothing to add to the list, but I while reclining in bed this morning with a coffee I was watching a fine dipper. Doesnae count, and not a Slav.

Friday 22 April 2011

Slavering slavs

Been thick haar here all week nothing to see.

But then...

There I was grafting a way on a report that's two weeks over due and a quick glance out the window and the haar had cleared enough to reveal a rather splendid Slav on me loch. And very nice it was to.

A few other odds and sods like 'em my first warbler of the year this morning in the form a willow pushes my total to a grand 52.99%

The winds are looking good for something half decent this weekend so should pick up the pace a bit before Monday.

I'll see yours and raise ya

Stung into action after losing first place, I gave the sea an hour where Little Tern and Common Sand were handy additions, before heading inland and adding Cuckoo. Best get back out there Proccies

Creepin on

Managed to sneak away from work bang on 4 today and meander back through the links and up the river. Highlights were 2 whimbrel over and a house martin and common tern at the river mouth. takes me to 71.44%. Maybe bang into a bee-eater or a purple ron if me luck's in this weekend they seem to be everywhere further sooth.

No that's white I like

It begins with a w, but not as good as a wryneck. Yes, whitethroat today for me. Ma list is on ma PC at work, so not sure what % I am on now, but I'll be having the lead back please Shaky. Its tough at the top.


Had the dubious pleasure of old spoons's company this morning - dead as a doorknob it was, till the flat-footed one conjured up a stock dove out of nowhere - happy days!

Thursday 21 April 2011


Added another 3 or 4 since the last update, nothing of Wryneck quality, just regular bits like Lesser Throat, Merg and Merlin. 79.84% though and back into first

Usual Suspects

Had a good scour around since I got back from da Big Smoke. Pretty productive with 5 more falling; Velvet Scoter, Sand Martin ,Chiffy, Wheatear and Blackcap. So I'm propelled up to 69.34%. Pity those Pintail from Blackdog didn't drift my way they're always a goodie on the Don.

you've got a fat neck, fat neck

Galley came good this morning with a fine wryneck and a corking male whinchat, on the same stretch of wall! Feck all else doing tho, but how bad?

Is anyone else actually doing anything on this blog? or this challenge?

art or arse - you decide!

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Joe 90

A singing whitethroat this morning moves me onto 90 for de year, and the May doldrums are beginning to edge a bit nearer!

A bit more excitement this afternoon in the form of a cracking woodchat shrike and 2 flava wagtails, one of which was a belter of a blue-headed along the road at Ross, and sadly (you'll be delighted to hear) just off patch! Still great to see them though!

Piccies I hear you ask? Bein sur!

sorry - didn't get the wagtail! But I'll be sticking up some piss poor wryneck shots later!

Monday 18 April 2011

seppy may find this difficult to swallow

Ha, Seppy thinks he has put daylight between us, but he was not counting on my laziness in updating da scores on da doors. I've had a bit of a deluge since last I could be bothered to write anything of note on this page. No ozzers, no groppers, no wood warblers to report, but loads of gank. In addition to the rather obvious swallow, there are two noeable bits of news from the patch. There is at least one pair of curlew back in the glen, which is good news considering their fortunes in south Scotland in general. I'll have to get oot there and do a fuller survey to determine actual numbers. The other recent highlight came yesterday while perched on my roof painting our chimney. Much comedy could have come from a slip, but instead it was quip quip, coming from a nuthatch in the wood behind our garden. Second for the patch (first in April 2009). If this is climate change, I look forward to the Cetti's warbler next.

goan yursel

Cashed in 3 easy wans in the form of house martin, manxie & sedgie yesterday, and then knocked in a fine gropper this very am, courtesy of a hyper awake small fella so now defo clear daylight between me and the proclaimers, which can only be a good thing!

Friday 15 April 2011

Pin the tail on th list

A cracking couple of ducks this evening with a pair on Pintail on the sea. A real building block with records in only two or three previous years. What with Yellowhammer and Willow Warbler yesterday too the list marches on to 85 species or 68.73%.

Doggin' opportunities are limited for the next week and a half, though, (look out for Balearic Warbler "just off the patch" after next weekend) so maybe time to slide down the table...


Tuesday 12 April 2011

Nearly halfway there!

Creaking up to a mighty 49% with a fine Osprey over Meikle, flocks of migrating golden plover overhead and the first swallow! Still ahead of Reg but only cos he doesn't join in. Come on Reg, tell us your score...

galley is the new deeside

After yesterday's singing wood warbler, today's quality mig was a tree pipit - all I need now is a wintering great grey shrike and some lekking black grouse and I'll be sorted!

Monday 11 April 2011

welcome back after the break

Perhaps being off-patch for the 1st 10 days of April wasn't the wisest move, however, I've mostly got away with it, nailing Saturday's long staying Wood Warbler this morning (patch tick - phew!), along with swallow and shelduck - all good!

Sunday 10 April 2011

Migrants trickling in

A quieter weekend of doggin' but with Wigeon and Swallow on Saturday and then Sand Martin and Chiffchaff today moving me to the heady heights of 2nd place (until Roy Castle posts an update). Keeping up the pictoral postings, here's a colour-ringed Mipit on the Rifle Range today that seemingly is one of Clive Mackay's from Tayside (unless he gave some rings to Raymond to slap on the ones he was ringing last autumn at Blackdog).


Tuesday 5 April 2011

Wish you were (wheat)ear

No strains of Pink Floyd were to be heard above the howling gale on the patch today, but my buffeting was rewarded with a couple of 'ears at last. Weeks after I had them elsewhere I managed to nail them back on da patch (the time it has been since I last got up the hills certainly explains the delay - too busy doing the Lothian coast for such trivialities).

Monday 4 April 2011

A Touch of the Exotic

Saturday finally brought a proper migrant to Blackdog with several Sandwich Terns offshore. Add in the first Tufted Duck and Velvet Scoter of the year (a drake of each on the sea) and the list was walloping along.

Sunday brought altogether higher quality. After an uneventful walk around Blackdog Links, the Rifle Range and then down through the willow plantation into Blackdog Burn, an evening look out from the dunes revealed two Med Gulls, evidently paired up, cavorted on the beach. Both were in gaudy summer-plumage with one being adult and the other a 2nd-summer. They continued to flaunt their stuff, posturing erotically to each other, chasing Common Gulls and generally larging it in the evening sun. Just recorded previously in 2008 (2 separate birds that year).


Saturday 2 April 2011

Can't touch this - (Yellow)hammer time

Spring seems to have finally hit the Don with a singing willow warbler, a swallow over the garden and 21 sarnie terns on the beach. A couple of yellowhammer put in an appearance too and at last I nailed linnet and reed bunting today, don't know how I've avoided them so far. So I'm on to 65.8%

Thursday 31 March 2011

Still no Sand Martin...

...but plenty of other migs including some real quality in Slavonian Grebe and Avocet, usual early migs like Swallow and Willow Warbler and a few bits on the sea including Shag and Whimbrel. A whopping 76.32% and equalling my best total ever at the end of March. Lucky for you lot now that I'll be spending the next four months atlasing!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

And they're here as well...

A few sand martins over Meikle Loch were the first migrants of the year. What with these and a coal tit a few days ago (a good bird for the patch) the total creeps up to 73 and 46%.

Monday 28 March 2011

There's some sand, martin...

About 15 sand martins were swooping around the edge of the lake this evening - they've been 'in' for ages, but I never seem to get early sand martins here - got 'em now tho!

Sunday 27 March 2011

just off patch (again)

Finally got me arse up to Rossbeigh for good views of de white-winged scoter this morning - all good it was, and well worth de trip - cool bird! Don't suppose I can count it for the patch tho?

Snow good

A northbound Snow Bunting trilling and teou-ing along the dunes was the first for a couple of years and a (not quite annual) drake Goosander flew north along the beach a while later. Potentially the bird of the day was clocked too late to see properly but may have been a Ruff - also nothbound over the sea.

Another new arrival was this fence and gate at the southern boundary of the rifle range:

Note sure what the point of this is (given that there are no livestock either side of the boundary) unless it was to spend money before the end of the financial year. A nice job done though!

And finally not quite so new but the return of an old-faithful. This Sanderling has appeared three winters running now, including last autumn, but this is its first appearance in 2011.


Saturday 26 March 2011

A bonus at last

The first bonus bird of the year on Meikle this morning in the form a of a smew moved me on an extra percentage point. Only my second ever smew in the patch with the last one being over ten years ago. But still no migrants up here yet.

Friday 25 March 2011

lunchtime sarnie

2 sandwich terns slipped onto de year list this lunchtime - good to have them back on the lake, and good enough to move me into 4th spot! Have at ye, statto!

Thursday 24 March 2011

ooo migrants

with the man-flu receding I tried a constitutional stroll around the patch this afternoon, purely for medicinal purposes of course! Good job I did, cos there was a bit of stuff in - male black redstart, 2 chiffchaffs and a willow warbler all new for the year - getting places now, surely!

the dove from above

Slumped over me toast this morning in a man-flu-induced death haze, yet somehow still managed to raise me game to get the bins on a fly-by collared dove - a good wan for de patch as there's usually only a couple of records a year - quality!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

what is an arctic warbler?

A bit off topic, but interesting paper in April's Ibis on arctic warblers:

Apparently there are three anciently separated cryptic species in the traditional species, and these can be separated by song and call.

Unfortunately, two of the species occur in the far east and japan, so less chance of vagrancy.

Monday 21 March 2011

Utter Dross

No Builders, blockers or anything for that matter making this patch listing a rather slow progress. Three whoopers on the Loch this evening have been the highlight. The rest not been worth talking about. However the list limps on to 42%. the good news being that I'm not last... well not quite

Gank watch

A passage of meadow pipits that was underway on Thursday kept going all weekend. Thursday was the one day of the year that I'll get excited by this classic bit of gank. Despite a scattering of hot records near by (osprey at Gladhouse must have passed close(ish) to my patch), while who cares where the Musselburgh white stock came from, the only sign of summer was a blackcap having a half arsed attempt at singing. I bet it has not seen the other side of the Sahara though.
Otherwise, the sparrowhawks continue to plough their way through the local tit population.

Sunday 20 March 2011

The Three B's

Good patch year lists are built of the three B's; Bankers, Building Blocks and Bonus Birds (okay 5 B's then). Bankers are guaranteed each year. Building Blocks are maybe the most important - species that are not quite annual but a good selection in any one year can really boost the totals. Bonus Birds are the rest - everything from national rarity patch ticks to common species in the general area that only occasionally stray onto the patch.

Saturday saw one banker and two building blocks added to the Blackdog year list. The Banker, Meadow Pipits, have at long last started to arrive and take up territories. Of the two Building Block species, Shelduck (2 north) is virtually annual and Great Crested Grebe turns up maybe every other year. The grebe was present again today (Sunday) - maybe the same bird drifted down the coast and flaunted itself to Royzah too.



An unprecedented three species of grebe on the patch today, the usual littles plus a Great Crest and a Slavonian. Usually lucky to get 2 species in year so this year's 4 so far (ever the optimist) is fanfeckintastic. Now to 60.83% with some good stuff bagged already, roll on the spring.

Friday 18 March 2011


A good early run of stuff including Wheatear, Sandwich Tern, Blackcap and Chiffchaff moves me on to a very respectable 70.45% - my best total at this stage since 2003

Stuff starting to move

I've been seeing a bit of movement at Old Porty - yesterday there were common gulls and black-headed gulls flying north in a steady stream. I've also seen a couple of lapwing in the fields (now moved on), a siskin in me garden and the star of the show yesterday, a shelduck flew north offshore (three years running that is). A sub-Saharan mig would be nice now.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

they're back!

Woohoo! 2 fine resplendent male wheatears out on Galley just now - spring has sprung!

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Glauc etc

Got a call from T2006 on Saturday about a Glaucous gull so I duly ambled out and nailed it. I've had a few bit and bobs over the last couple of weeks, nothing out of the ordinary; fulmar, rock pipit, meadow pipit, gannet, LBBG and sky lark as well as da Glauc. So it's a leap to 59.43% for me. First Glaucous for 3 years, a fine piece of fluffing by the manchine Mavor.

T-2006 back on patch

After a near 6-week lay off the T-2006 once again tundled down the North Don patch, for only the second time this year!

The sight of a fine glaucous gull, a full-fat patch tick no less, on the mud in front of the hide blew its transistors forcing it to retire to Castle's castillo for tea and biccies. But not before the short, fat, tap-dancing twat ambled out his front door to bag it for his own list.

Expect some top-notch pics of it soon.

Some other gank brings the T-2006 to 41 species for the year.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

when is it ok to tick on call?

A friend of mine, definately not me, was at Tacumshin bright and early on Sunday morning in the hope of seeing the wintering Cetti's Warbler, which has recently started to sing more and more. Sure enough, shortly after arrival, the bird could be heard singing, but after 5 or 6 bursts of song it then shut up for the rest of the visit.

So, this got me to thinking. What are the ethics of ticking on call? I've always been anti-ticking on call for lifers, but everyone year-ticks on call don't they? And its not like I, ahem, my friend hasn't seen lots of Cetti's Warblers elsewhere, so its not actually a lifer. So, would it really matter if I er, he stuck this particular Cetti's Warbler on his (paltry) Irish list even though he only heard it?

I mean, the ID is not in question (for once!). And would it have made so much difference if I he had glimpsed a glimpse of it briefly in the bottom of the bush? And what would I do if such a scenario ever happened on patch? I'm not sure, but I did scotch tick Spotted Crake after finding the one in the garden here, and I've only ever heard them calling in Scotland. I do feel kind of bad about it though! But they were Spotted Crakes, and it is still on the list! But don't tell the authorities though, just in case!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Calm seas

Blackdog - 5th March

A nice calm sea produced an excellent count of 140 Red-throated Divers. These birds have done some strange things recently. Until last year there was always a spring peak with May usually producing the only three figure counts of the year. Then last year spring passage was bizarrely non-existant with a May peak of just 20 birds. However there were then big late autumn influx with 131 in late November. And now this. An excellent count of Long-tailed Ducks too with 67 birds - quite possibly a Blackdog record!

However, back to more important things - 5 Fieldfares, single of Fulmar and Goldeneye and then a pair of Stonechats moves the year list to 67, or 54.18%, ahead of Seppy and hot on the heels of Roy Castle.


Friday 4 March 2011

ice for breakfast

A fine iceland gull from the breakfast table this morning - can't say fairer than that!

Thursday 3 March 2011

no hoopoes

just had to go for a quick hoof around the likeliest hoopoe spots this afternoon, as it felt so good for one! No luck Ted, but did flush 2 pheasants so still a result!

Monday 28 February 2011

Oscar my arse

And last it didn't! With March almost upon us I got out the gank-hoover one last time so that the next three months can be spent totally mig-focused. Though of the additions 5 Pintail heading up-channel were really early migs already.

And the oscar for best score by the end of February goes to


(Much applause from all except Shakey and Seppy.)

Well, what an honour. I would like to thank Sunday's kesterl, and the skylark I had singing this morning. Without them I would not be on 47 (or 61.04%)

It will never last.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Catching up on Seppy!

Nothing startling today but Skylark, Robin and Pied Wag were all new for the year as was a Lesser Black-backed Gull. I'm sure this must be my earliest ever here. More unusually, one has spent the last couple of winters on the roof of my workplace (and remained last summer, seemingly paired to a Herring Gull).


Thursday 24 February 2011

Young oiks

Putting the time in on the patch is what matters. I have been rewarded this week on my daily walk through the patch with oystercatcher and a few wheel barrow loads of manure for the garden (thanks to a fortuitous chat wi' the farm manager). 58.4%

Wednesday 23 February 2011

bonxie bingo

A lake tick this morning (not that I'm sad enough to have a Lake List), in the form of an unseasonal bonxie! Get in!

Monday 21 February 2011

kitt cash-in

I too gleaned a kittiwake on sunday afternoon, but would happily swap it for a little gull! Wasn't out much on de patch at all, as I was being keen and doing another TTV for de winter atlas.

Linnet to win it

I gave the patch a good bash on Sunday, but despite good numbers of the old favourites (red grouse, dipper etc), I did not manage to turn up anything new. Today dawned bright though, and on my way to my lift into work I have 5 linnet over (57.14%). Not quite little gull though.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Little Reward

With a bitterly cold wind blasting in off the sea, and having forgetton to bring my coat, the only option today was to take shelter and slowly freeze solid beside the rifle range target. Before I lost ability to move at all, a first-winter Little Gull battled south through the swell. A minute later an adult followed and then another adult after another 45 minutes. Little Gulls are not quite annual so a good species to secure early on. A Kittiwake too moved the list on further with another three species needed to bring up the 50%.