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%.


Thursday 17 February 2011

What did I tell you?

Just off patch...............

Just off the patch...

Following Royzah's photos of birds "just off the patch", I thought I would add a couple of my own of things I have seen "just off the patch". I look forward to seeing what T2006 has been seeing on his patch, now that it does not matter what size our patch is (see Seppy's 2.2 km patch for details)

My rubbish photo's

Since Nick has put some of his pics on I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon with a pic of the shorelarks at the on the golf course last year and a lapland bunting just off patch up past the exhibition centre.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Stop yer Grinnin......

Had a peregrine fly over the house yesterday morning plus lapwing and knot on Sunday. So I move on to 55.17%. Finally managed to get my map to work too quite an achievement for a luddite like me. OK, so the boundary is blue but ye can't have everything.

My patch is too small!

Bored at work so did some hi-tec fancy dan calculations using a BTO 2 km tetrad map, a sheet of acetate, a permanent marker, graph paper and a propelling pencil, oh and a calculator to work out the precise area of my patch, and guess what? its too wee! Yes indeedy, for our patch challenge, de patch must be less than 2 square km, but mine is waaaaaaay less - taking up an area of approximately 1.04 square km! Wonder if I expanded in a 100 m wide path, could I reach White's Marsh from here....

or am i doing something really stupid?

Indeed, and I am! Sorry, panic over, please move along, there's nothing to see here...2.11 square km is perfectly acceptable, ahem, arse!

Monday 14 February 2011

Over halfway there

Broke through the magical 50% barrier this morning by bagging the wintering whimbrel down in Dirk. Not much else doing - had 2 merlins knocking about today, one of which just edged onto the BWI garden bird survey by hunting through the garden and a few GNDs but quiet otherwise. Still, the dugbirds will be back soon....

Sunday 13 February 2011

Blast from the (near) past

After a wet weekend with little to show, I started to dwell instead on the patch year list that was Blackdog 2010. I dabbled in 'dogging from 2002 and then embraced it fully as a way of life from 2004. In those early years the action came thick, fast and frenetically. More recently the pace has slowed with something like, 5 patch ticks in 2006, 3 in 2007, 7 in 2008 and 3 in 2009. So 9 patch ticks in 2010 was certainly a lot more action than I have become used to...

Partly for personal nostalgic reflection and partly because I've got nowhere else to post crap photos, here is a pictoral run down of these nine patch ticks in 2010.

Bullfinch (31 Jan) - a male in the village - no pics

Gadwall (11 July) - the stuff patch list dreams are made of!

Roseate Tern (26 July) - adult on beach for a few minutes.

Spotted Flycatcher (10 September) - having been away when a deluge of migrants hit the region, I was thankful that some dregs hung around until I returned including 2 Spott Flys to plug a gaping patch list hole.

Sea Eagle (14 to 26 September) - seen on three dates. A tagged bird (yellow E) released in Fife a couple of months earlier and named Vilde after a boy who lives in a house near the Norwegian nest.

Lapland Bunting - (7 dates from 14 September to 12 October with a peak of 9 on 30 September). All sightings were of calling birds in flight and no pics were taken.

Barred Warbler (29 September) - One on the rifle range on a really grotty day. No pics.

Whooper Swan (14 November) - Another long overdue, species, 8 (4 ad, 4 juv) flew south, then back north again 10 minutes later.

Twite (20 November) - Another somewhat overdue, given the regular wintering flock just a few miles to the north. One bird among a large Linnet and Goldfinch flock by the Millden landfull site at the very northern boundary of the patch.

Friday 11 February 2011

counting dodgy stuff

How dodgy would something have to be before you wouldn't count it? Lets try a multi-choice anser (ho ho!)

Unlikely as it may sound, imagine you noticed a fully winged unringed snow goose on your patch, sheltering under a gorse bush, trying to defend itself against irate golfers and their golf balls. Would you:

A) Grab the nearest mashie niblick and have a swing yourself?

B) Abandon all thoughts of birding and rush home to phone the RSPCA?

C) Attempt to catch the poor blighter, bring it home for questioning, leave it on the patio, and be amayzed when it proved its genuine rarity credentials by vaulting the 6 foot high fence?

That'll be option C then! Of course it is ok to tick this bird on your patch list!

Wader mayhem

Managed a sneaky widweek visit down Blackdog way yesterday. Never seen so many waders in my life - not at Blackdog anyway. Best was a mobile flock of 16 Grey Plovers, 150 Dunlin and 5 Knot. All year ticks. Have only ever seen one and two of Grey Plover before and only about every other year or so. Don't know off hand what previous high Dunlin count was but I'm guessing this may double it. Was there some almighty snenanigans on the Ythan to push them my way?

A handful of staple stuff last weekend too and I am propelled into a top half of the table position. Getting vertigo even writing about it.

By the way - had no qualms last autumn adding a 2-month-out-of-cage Sea Eagle to the list. Will I get drummed out of the league for indescent behaviour or are such indiscretions positively celebrated?


pig gets stuck

Just happened to be within earshot of de lake as dusk fell this evening (but still on patch, I hasten to add!), and just happened to overhear a water rail giving it laldy - 4 year ticks in 3 days - I'm on fire!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Can you count...

A purely hypothetical question!

But lets say you're grafting away in your patch one day and you're lucky enough to see a white-tailed eagle fly by; could you count it?

After all they're all pretty much straight from cages having been flown over from some foreign land and deliberately released. A bit like a budgie really. Just because the person releasing it is wearing an RSPB badge doesn't make it any more wild than a muscovy duck.

So I say you can't count them, at least not until I get one flying past my house one day or I get a muscovy duck, both will do...

wat no birds

Yet another fruitless five minutes kicking the patch produced nothing new for the year. still, could spend a day or two working out how to put a map onto the blog or looking for flyby w-t eagles! both equally frustrating

bugger it...

cape, wand, hat - the lot!

A glance out the window mid-morning produced the goods in the form of a hunting merlin!

ka-ching - into de year list bank with that one!

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Hammer Time comes early

Never mind yer fancy dan snowy owls and marsh hawks - its back to reality patch listing with a fine yellowhammer in the garden - whoop! Garden tick no less, and a tricky bird at Galley - there's usually two or three in a year, but they ain't guaranteed so well happy with my lot this morning!

Sparrowhawk during lunch too - the loooooooooong winter drought period is hopefully over at last!

Other peoples patches

While we speculate on the next patch tick we could get, some are seeing the return of regulars that we would love:

and then adding ticks:

I don't think we should invite him to join our challenge.

Saturday 5 February 2011

whats yer next patch ticks then?

Blimey its quiet eh? So, here's an attempt to lift the gloom - what do you predict will be your next three patch ticks?

My next three for Galley will be:

Alpine Swift


and Garden Warbler

Bring 'em on, I say!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Slow going

It's been slow going at the ness these last few days...putting in the hours before heading off to Norway and then the North Sea in close succession. If I'm not dead last by mid April it'll be a miracle! 51 species/40.06%

Best of it has been a Jackdaw. Hmmmm.......