Monday 31 December 2012

2012 Final Scores

Thought we should have a final scoreboard for 2012 to keep as a reminder of a great year of patch competition!

Final scores thusly....

Galley Head - 107.45%
Girdleness - 107.40%
Folkestone - 106.60%
Wanstead - 105.61%
Cotehill - 102.58%
South Don - 99.48%
Blackdog - 99.21%
Boghall - 98.66%
Collieston - 97.97%
Newbiggin - 96.53%
Old Portlethen - 83.58%
North Don - 0%

105.61% and out of the medals????!

I have to say I'm bitter, very bitter indeed. I've matched my highest ever patch score, had five patch ticks, and come fourth! FFS! Next year I'm quitting work and living on Wanstead Flats. Pffffff.
Just kidding, I have to work, which is by far the biggest obstacle to patching - very sad, but a sign of the times - I suppose I should be grateful. Enjoyed it though lads, and Mrs Nimmo is pretty relieved that the space on the mantlepiece that I had been reserving will now not be seeing an ornamental duck sp. Roll on 2013, and I hope you all get completely sozzled tonight and don't wake up til gone 11. Me, I'll just be having a mineral water, and I'll be birding from midnight.....

Saturday 29 December 2012

two days to go!

There's just two days to go in the 2012 Patch Challenge, and its still very close at the top! Although several of the top 5 are actually off patch till 1st Jan so things ain't very likely to change much between now & the year end! Unless a feckin coot finally decides to grace the lake with its presence tomorrow morning! You'll be the first to know!

Wednesday 12 December 2012

The times they are a changing...

Look at this lovely pool, prime patch habitat

It's had a few good patch birds on it including a fine selection of waders including wood and green sandpipers, black-tailed godwits, ruff and dunlin.  It's also where we caught the scaup this spring and is an all round good patch pool

Unfortunately not for much longer

A lovely trailer full of drainage pipes!


not so Happy Days


Tuesday 11 December 2012

just off patch

Haven't done a "just off patch" for ages but since I got a half-decent shot of one of these fellas I thought I'd bore you all with it! Sadly, it was 6 miles off patch, tho I did find one in Ross (only 4 miles off).

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Challenging times ahead

As you may have noticed, there's a veritable host of new patch challenges springing up for 2013 and beyond e.g. this one here or an "On foot from home" one that Mr McKinney seems to be organising. However, this is to confirm that the original (and still the one with the best prizes!) patch challenge (i.e. this one) will be continuing into 2013 (and beyond) also! Huzzah!

Bring on the Golden Mallard, I say!



Well, whilst others fight it out at the top, the past six weeks or so at Blackdog has provided a grand total of one year tick - crummy Fieldfare. And not for lack of trying either. Only other reasonably nice consolation was a Med at the weekend - I never tire of those things.

So now 124 species = 98.41%. Might reach 100% but the title race is over for me this year.


Sunday 18 November 2012

Whinchat's surprise appearance at Meikle Loch

Got a bit of a shock when I saw a "chat" peeping round some reeds on a fence line at Meikle today. Lapland bunting flying around and a good flock of Rock and Meadow Pipits added to the activity.
The chat proved hard to see being v. elusive and often disappearing into thick cover.
Eventually I satisfied myself I wasn't dealing with a Sibe Chat or the like, and in fact a very late record of Whinchat having seen tail/ rump/head pattern well, the latest ever for NES I believe. Intrestingly there are 3 other records from coastal Scotland later than this.

Do wonder where this bird orginates from, it did look quite frosty in appearance with quite a marked pale secondary panel,  pale underparts, with limited orange tones in the central breast.
Photos are poor as the light was hard to deal with with a lot of glare in least thats my excuse.
Few additions to the total recently with Waxwing last week as well as the Lapper today. Back later with updated figure.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

little orc ya bas!

Well! What a jammy bit of luck that was! I'd made the effort to go for a seawatch this am, but aside from a blue fulmar mealying around there wasn't much happening. Two small waders flushing around the rocks got me thinking of purps (they weren't turnstones anyway) but they blew away in the wind when I tried to stalk them. Back to the scope for another 5 mins, then packed up. Just standing up, lifting my trusty Scope Porter tm, when I noticed a bunch of kits going by close in, with what looked like a small dark wader even nearer. A quick perusal thru the spare car bins (left me leakys at home by mistake!) revealed that the wader was actually a little auk, complete with small dark bill and white streaks on the wing! Fantastic! Only my 3rd sighting on patch, with c.4 off Galley in pre-patch days (2002 i tink), and 1 wrecked on the lake in Feb '05! Major score and re-opens the daylight between me & 2nd & 3rd, with both FPS and Shakey needing two species again to take top spot! And I haven't checked the lake yet today either!!

Monday 12 November 2012

weekend scores

Both Shakey (lapland bunt) and Fat Paul Scholes (tystie - FFS!) got one back on me yesterday - I'm still out in front but only just!! Where's that pesky coot???

News from Royzah too - he nailed waxwing & tufted duck, leaving him 1 species short of the ton!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Nicht, Niente, Nada...

Nowt,  Nothing since the bullfinches on 17th of October, not even a waxwing!

Over three weeks without a patch tick....

Oh well still seven weeks to go and a dozen species to get...


Thursday 8 November 2012

latest news

No change at the top but waxwing at Folkestone & something well ganky like GND at girdle closes the gap between the top three! This year is going to the wire!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Swan japes

Took a while to sort out but these distant swans appear to have been Whoopers which, together with today's dugbird, puts me back into second spot on 105.44%

Thursday 1 November 2012

Squeezing The Last Drops

Working all weekend until Sunday afternoon, final hour of light managed to squeeze in a quick sea-watch and add two Little Auk and Black Guillemot, the latter only my 2nd on the patch ever. The following morning after counting 500+ Little Auks I sneaked a juv Sabine's Gull in moving south.

I also need to confess to some suppression, earlier in the year a White-spotted Bluethroat was found on patch and I was invited to assess whether it was twitchable in a difficult area for access with a new land tenant, recently ploughed field and in suitable breeding habitat (long shot but...) news was never issued but I did accidentally see the bird whilst discussing whether to put it out.

Anyway the long and the short of it, 138 and still need Pink-footed Goose!

whopper swan!

Checked the lake earlier - nowt doing. Just checked it again - whooper swan!! Fantastic! 148 for de year now - can I hit 150?

Monday 29 October 2012

Still here. Just

I managed to snatch a few hours to get out on the patch this weekend and last. Managed two full fat patch ticks in the process: an adult little gull flew past last weekend on a seawatch, and on Saturday a very interesting barred warbler. I have to admit I was flumoxed by it, because it was incredibly pale and sandy-coloured. I couldn't see any grey hints to its mantle and coverts and fairly uniform in colour. The fact that I considered an unstreaked accro and you get the idea. It wasn't especially big either - tree sparrow rather than house sparrow sized. And I couldn't see any barring on it - mainly cos its under-tail coverts were damp. It was only because I managed to see a bit of barring on the upper tail coverts that I could clinch it. Even the super and the wing bar and wing panel were really faint. Anyone know anything about the eastern race of barred? merzbacheri I believe.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Westerlies strike back

With an Autumn full of  great weather systems, the last few of weeks have been frustrating in Collieston with everywhere else pulling in quality birds...obviously the Hawfinch was great entertainment having said that. Plenty of migs around at some stages, but nothing too exciting. Reed Warbler might of been infact the best bird otherwise.
Another YB Warbler and a possible Sibe Chiff or two were the best of the rest I could do on the patch.
Have been steadily adding to my total however, which now stands on 155 for the year.Have missed a fair bit of other good year birds such as Bullfinch and Treecreeper so far though.

Having said that Gt Northern Diver yesterday was appreciated after a blank year for me. Goldcrest, Common Stonechat, Brambling and Lesser Whitethroat also adding to some of the recent variety as shown below.

Patch average now at 97.97%.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Creeping Up

Hampered by lack of effort early in the year, I'm out of the title race and struggling to avoid relegation. I have over the past few weeks dragged my score up to a semi-respectable 133, without scoring anything of note. A Treecreeper on Thursday was the latest to fall, recently Greenfinch, Fieldfare, Woodcock and Lesser Redpoll have all made themselves available. Realistically I'm now expecting a 135 finish which might just squeeze me past Collieston if he sits on his arse for the next few months.

Up into second

Little auk and great northern diver this morning put me on 105.05%, and into second place. I'd need two birds to take 1st though...

goldeneye anyone?

Er, there would appear to be a goldeneye on the lake! Hoo Hoo!

Friday 26 October 2012

Bully's Special Prize

Arrived at Shite Lane this morning via a rather convoluted route involving extra toast and a roadkill short-eared owl near our house (wasn't me guv but was probably the same bird we saw hunting out on Galley two days ago). As luck would have it, I was just in time for a female bullfinch to fly in calling! Fantastic! a few minutes earlier or later and I would have missed it, but my luck seems in at the moment! 146 for the year now - what odds on getting 4 more species and a 150 finish?


The magic easterlies have reached Boghall too, with loads of goldcrests and wood pigeaons arriveing. Other stuff, including brambling (top bird) brings us to 74 or 98.66%. Back in the chase.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Playing the percentage game

Fab news from Wanstead this morning as a couple of Brambling lolloped north over Coronation Plantation. Can’t quite believe how close it is at the top, but the very very good news indeed is that because my patch is an inner-city hell-hole rather than a remote headland that gets plastered with rare and scarce year in year out, my overall average yearlist is very meagre. Each new bird for the year sees me climb 0.93%, and so it is that Brambling easily trumps Dick’s Pipit in the percentage game.

As somebody small and blue once said, Happy Days!


Definitely not in the lead, for now!

How much more can this year produce? Was mooching about shite lane this morning when I got the good news that Nimmo had scored big at Wanstead with brambling! Feck, enough to put him back in front I thought! Finger out then! A rigorous hoof of Galley then ensued, complete with my trusty companion "Old Spoons". A few new bits and bobs - brambling, 4 black redstarts, blackcap and the yellow browed still at Shite Lane but the best happened on the way out to the lighthouse when a pipit flew in and landed on the grass in front of me. While trying to work out what it was, a voice in the back of my head was screaming "don't throw this away, this is not a meadow pipit, don't call this a meadow pipit", whereupon I heard it go "Shreep" and everything clicked - Richard's Pipit! Excellent! Old Spoons got shots too - see below:

My third on patch, and second one found - a great bird but somehow I don't think its going to be enough! Shreeeeeeeeeeep!

possibly maybe in the lead....

6 flyover whoopers this morning puts me one step closer....and on 103.50% Also, I had a flyover greylag yesterday that I need to check...but I think that might be a new one too. If it is, I'll be on 104.28.

Fingers crossed...

I had a leaf warbler with pale legs here the other day too. But it was a willow warbler.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Still only in bronze?!

Pallas' Warbler and Serin these last couple of days and still only good enough for third?! All to play for...

handy gank year tick!

In between getting amayzing views of the Dirk rb fly (down to 5 feet!!) and finding another ybw (three on patch this year - good going for Gallilee) I picked up three (count 'em) fieldfares, which just happen to be a year tick! Huzzah! My celebrations were cut a little short by news that Shakey had just had a flyover Serin on patch but hopefully I'll still be on top this evening! But probly not by very much!!

Monday 22 October 2012

pretty RB fly for a white guy

Found a red breasted flycatcher in Dirk today, which was nice! Irish finds tick & only my 2nd on patch so all good! Even better was that it puts me 0.01% ahead of el shakey after his twitchy pallas's warbler yesterday! Now to reel in Mr Nimmo with something glamorous like a coot!

Sunday 21 October 2012

Full Fat

Missed phone call from one of the guys had me bolting out the house this morning in just my wellies to latch onto a Full Fat Short-eared Owl as it departed Wanstead Flats to the west. A long-wanted patch tick, I was vectored in from afar and got onto it as a Crow hassled it off. As it happens I could probably have seen it from the back window and thus spared local residents a truly awful sight on a Sunday morning, but they all count!

Some late House Martins the best of the rest, with a couple of invisible Ouzels hanging around too.

Back in pole position, but hardly an unassailable lead. One bird in it by the looks of things.



Saturday 20 October 2012

even tighter!

FPS finally declares long-tailed tit action from the other day! five folk within 0.5% of top spot! FFS!

Tight at the top

Back into 3rd with Wood Lark. 102.52%. Weather looking ok so perhaps more to come...

Friday 19 October 2012




Leaves Seppy standing

Happy Happy Days....


Wednesday 17 October 2012


Spent 20 minutes this morning watching a 'beaked' whale swim past Collieston.  I strongly suspect that it was a Sowerby's beaked whale which is a bit of a mega!

but not a bird!....

Thankfully though the Whinnyfold road plantation came up trumps again with a pair of bullfinches.  Only my third ever record of bullfinch on the patch! Them and some crossbills that I'd previously forgotten to count put me somewhere up the leader board.

Happy days


Monday 15 October 2012


Quick update from Wanstead where it feels like I've not had a patch year tick since about August. I must look it up. Anyway, 2 Goldeneye on Heronry Pond were the first since 2009 and indeed only my second (and third) ever record. Patch Gold as some might say. Always a possibility, but didn't really think it would happen in such a critical year. From here on in it's all about oddball records.....

Takes me once again to the top of the pile, though a single bird probably now separates 1 and 5.



Anyone got a chainsaw?

The intoxicating autumnal lure of the Blackdog Burn sycamores to 'crests, sprites and, errr, me becomes weaker each year. As the confer plantations grow, the Fair Isle effect of an isolated habitat patch diminishes. Okay so maybe this is just an excuse for being a crap birder and having nothing to shout out about this weekend. Best I could manage on the patch were Ring Ouzel, Woodcock, Short-eared Owl, 2 Crossbills and a few Siskins. Still, along with a handful of migrants during the previous migrant weather a couple of weeks previous, the year list moves along nicely to 123 (97.62%), two ahead of same stage last year. Still a handful of patch gank that might or might not give itself up,


pretty fly

I also broke through to the other side over the weekend. Great fun with loads of birds around, patch highlights including twite (only my third ever on patch), yellow-browed warbler, a barred warbler today on my lunch break, and best of all, an RB fly flitting around the south bank. Not found by me unfortunately as it means I now have a dilemma regarding which slightly scarce species I'm going to choose to get nowhere near to challenging the best find. All academic anyway, I should imagine...

So those goodies put me on 131 species, or 101.94% - my second highest score ever and still some real dross to get (and some that I've definitely missed....). Joint third place though, and all to play for.

Sunday 14 October 2012

In the words of Jim Morrison...

Break on through to the other side

while managed to pass the 100%... but only just!

A weekend of easterlies has proven to be a bit disappointing.

The best of the bunch was a reed warbler found by Reg in the whinnyfold road plantation.  A good bird for the patch but it must be the only unstreaked Acro this autumn that hasn't been a Blyth's.  Totally ridiculous!  There's been flocks of Blyth's up and down the east coast all autumn  Not a sniff of a reed warbler in Shetland and yet, we get a bog standard reed warbler.  Unfortunately it showed rather well and as reg pointed out didn't show a single possible Blyth's feature.  But not to worry still a good one for the year.

Better still was this, not so, little cracker...

Appeared on my bird table and has now stayed for three days.  The last one in the patch was 12 years ago during the very first patch list challenge, also on the same bird table but in a different garden!

Happy Days


a load of tits

A good morning for vis-migging from de patio so I gave it a lash - coal tit, chaffinch, redpoll & siskin all through. Did some distant tree scanning for jay and the like, which netted me a bunch of distant long-tailed tits! Score!! Only my 4th time of seeing them on patch. They worked through the pines, then the lakeside reeds, up the hedge to the road and ended up in the garden! Amidst all the excitement, some crossbills flew over - patch tick no less, although I didnae nae see them unfortunately. Gotta tick 'em tho, cos hey, they were crossbills and they were on patch, as was I - top score! New patch year list record (142) and into first place in the challenge at least until Bushveld & Hollis get their scores updated! Happy days ted!

Saturday 13 October 2012

Back out in front

Still picking up bits in what seems certain to be a record year on patch, the best of which was my first ever Barred Warbler here. Good times.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Birding skills

Good to tick the Wanstead Birder and the rest of his birding pals watching a happy hammers game in a pub in Lerwick!  Safely off patch.  Cheers to you all.

Meanwhile back on patch the birds keep a coming.

First, at the weekend I finally connected with a fine hooded crow (and it was mostly a hooded) that's been kicking around.  The ol' Bill has been reporting it for ages but it's taken a while but now it's bagged.

Today a stroll down to the heavily trampled Whinnyfold Road bushes produced a very fine treecreeper and on the way back I checked a site in the middle of a stubble field that looked good for jack snipe.  Birding skills there is was, jack snipe.  Neither are easy and all much appreciated.

I've never been so far up the leader board before...

154 species


Happy Days


tits oot!

Two (count 'em) coal tits this very morning at Shite Lane was much welcome as I'd missed two out on de head while on Shetland - my 1st ones since Oct 2010! Get on it!

Monday 8 October 2012

yellow browed at Galley

Woohoo! Dug out a fine yellow browed warbler in Dirk this morning, in a stiff easterly and drizzle. Did a full lap of Galley afterwards waving to the crowds etc but couldn't do better than a handful of phylloscs, blackcap and 25 blue tits! Just one more required for the ton, and second place ahead of shakey!! Easterlies set to continue for next coupla days - its gonna be monster!

More monster this very afternoon after news of a lunchtime firecrest at Shite Lane! Once the rain eased off, it was swiftly hoovered for the year - 1st one on patch since 2008! Skills!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Paddyfield Warbler 8.9.12 Logie Buchan, Ythan

Thought about time the Paddyfield Warbler got its picture in lights as well, I know off patch, but its only a few miles away..

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler


Bushveld's revenge..Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler!

I won't steal his thunder too much but suffice to say I had a treat in store after work-
Sorry a bit blurred!

news from reg

the bugger found a little bunting on patch this morning - Arse!

news from Royzah

He's fat, he's round, he's always on the ground - particularly these days after a footballing injury, however he was out yesterday and scored lesser whitey, redstart & 2 (count 'em) jack snipes - redstart from his window no less - skills! He's nearly 90% now...

Saturday 22 September 2012


Jammed a barred warbler pretty much first thing after getting started this morning, That it was not on th patch was a slight shame, but no way I'm staying home in easteries. That said, I've had good vis mig of hirundines and mipits all week (Statto can come count them if he wants). Flushed 70 of the things from a patch of stubble mid week - was just like being in da northern isles. Nothing new for the patch though (unless pinkie is a year tick). More east tomorrow....

Da Procs in frocks.

The east wind doth blow...well nearly

Great day, blue skies, warm and mostly windless...but there were migs to chase. Best of it I suppose were the 2 Yellow-browed Warblers. Found the first in the usual location in the roadside willows, and then South Dons finest payed a flying visit and found a second, despite hobbling around on his injured ankle. Also delivered Yellow Wagtail to me which was nice, and probably in truth bird of the day given how common YB Warblers are becoming.
Other birds in included Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiff-Chaff.

Good numbers of Meadow Pipits seemed to be streaming through all long till  North-East Scotland gets its second Pechora, or amazingly its first Red-throated Pipit. Here's hoping.

Friday 21 September 2012

Rosy Pastor a full fat Folkestone tick and brings the 100% up in style. Good to get Seppy out me arse too!

90% there

A fine flock of knot during a seawatch (good for the patch) along with a fly by grey wag push me over the 90% barrier.

With easterlies forecast things should be looking up and we should be getting some long awaited migs.  Only fourteen to go for the ton!

Happy days


Tuesday 18 September 2012

Catching Up

A poor year on the patch this is turning out to be though I've only myself to blame, lacking in application and far too many away days elsewhere. My numbers are updated and I've managed to add two more ticks to the tally in the last two days, A flyover Crossbill yesterday and today a male Bullfinch that I'm guessing classifies as 'gank'.
Obviously being a Yank I'm a little confused by this term gank one's urban dictionary suggests it means 'To steal or take something that does not belong to you' yet this Bullfinch was all mine, there was no one else to see it, hear it and punch the air in feigned delight at another patch year-tick. An alternative offer from a different website suggests the term can be used as a verb as in ' To kill, ambush, or defeat with little effort' Though my personal favourite comes from the Star Wars wiki, apparently Ganks, also known as Gank Killers, were a bloodthirsty, bipedal sentient species. Members of the species usually wore high-tech battle armor from head to foot, so to most non-Ganks, their physical appearance remained unknown. Under the armor, Ganks were hairy and powerful, with yellow, squarish faces and beady eyes. They sported cybernetic implants that allowed them to communicate with one another silently. Ganks were rarely seen alone, as they moved around in packs and worked together to accomplish their aims. They relished opportunities for violent mayhem and massacring others, a joy that only embellished their reputation as bloodthirsty killers.

So I think my Bullfinch lacking the yellow squarish face may technically not be gank. Any views?

Friday 14 September 2012

At last...

Finally get round to updating on Collieston.Some good additions in the last 6 weeks or so since returning from my hols.The extended spell of easterlies in August proved rich with Icterine Warbler and then 2 Juvenile Long-Tailed Skuas flying over my head as I stood in my drive.
A reasonable range of common migrants kept me busy in-between with good numbers of Garden Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat and the odd Lesser Whitethroat and Redstart.
More recently waders have been the main attractions with Ruff and Black-Tailed Godwit all featuring among others.
2 Pectoral Sandpipers circled in over my head on 7.9 as I stood by one of the Feu farm pools, circled a few times  calling in a distinctive low pitched, short growl and dropped onto another , nearby field pool.Bushveld rounded off his Paddyfield weekend(cheers for that one by the way!) by finding a third bird on the same pool.Atmospheric scenery shot just for good measure as well.  Here's hoping for more such interest this weekend...

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Autumnal surge

A few bits and bobs recently puts me on 114 species, just one behind this time last year -  some more-or-less bankers remain and still time for a late run out of the bottom half of the table in this high-scoring year. Highlight was Red-necked Grebe on Saturday - just my second for the patch and coming just two days short of the seventh anniversary of the first.

Then a Greater-pecker this morning was a patch 4th - and second year in succession. With the plantations are getting so big these days maybe it will become a regular - actually there could already be Black Woodies breeding in there now.

And then there's the Feral Pigeon issue - I decided to take a principled hard line this year and not count any that seemed to come from the pigeon loft. Was starting to panic a bit that I might miss out so have counted a couple of birds flying distantly over the old Tarbothill Landfill site - probably as good as any of this year's Peregrine records anyway!

Statto on a roll  (90.48%)

Monday 10 September 2012

Did I mention...

Oh... did I mention

found a paddyfield warbler at the weekend

but alas not on the patch.  A first for NE Scotland can't be bad.

Happy daze


Flex those Pecs

After the ol' bill scored heavily last week with a couple pecs on the patch the birds duly settled in a puddle in the middle of a field just outside the patch.

or so I thought....

Having seen the two pecs yesterday  and, for good measure, found a third one with them I checked out the patch boundaries.  Dusting off an old OS map it was clear that the birds were actually miles inside (well about 100 yards at least) and therefore eminently tickable.  Full Fat Patch Tick.  Sorted.

 I also found a G-spot today so things are looking up.

137 for the year and 88.39%.

well off the pace but who cares

Happy days indeed.


Sunday 9 September 2012

Right up Shaky's arse!

Nowt new on a two hour seawatch (60 sooties tho - not bad!), so was desperately scanning the lake for a year tick when what should pop into view? Only a less-than-annual-and-you-can't-be-counting-on-one-showing-up Wigeon! Fantastic! Two to go for the ton!

Thursday 6 September 2012


five of the buggers - banker duly banked! Three required for the ton, 6 required for new patch high score, 4 months left - piece of piss!

Monday 3 September 2012

Powering on through

A rare Nuthatch, only the fourth I can remember in 8 years, takes me over 100%. Very hard from now on in, I am missing practically nothing expected. Tree Pipit is the obvious one, but they seem pretty thin this year. Brambling, Waxwing and Green Sandpiper are all possible, but all difficult. December on the other hand is always good for heard-only Mealy Redpolls......
I’ve also been thinking long and hard about what to enter for the patch find bit. We don’t really get rarities here, not like coastal spots which get the proper good ‘uns like Daffy Duck. The best I can probably offer is a Jack Snipe, which is mega by virtue of it being the first on the patch since October 1979 - a staggering absence of a third of a century.


Sunday 2 September 2012

Blackdog year-list Mired in Escape Scandel Shock!

Here, far from leaky collections at Pensthorpe or Edinburgh Zoo (you had the Scarlet Ibis on yer patch yet, Proclaimers?) the Blackdog list has been nothing if not pure (excepting a Fife White-tailed Eagle, ahem). This knackered Guillemot was certainly not questioning the credentials of the Peregrine that was helping it to perform a merry jig and some fine breakdance moves.


So imagine my incredulity when the Peg allowed a close approach and revealed a bloody blue falconer's ring. I mean - it wasn't even a dodgy Gyr-like hybrid or something. Surely they just grab wild Peregrines from nests don't they? And it throws the whole year list into turmoil. Is this the same bird I've seen a hunting along the beach a handful of times these last few weeks? Do I need to do some list cleansing? And what about all those dodgy scoter - should I have checked those more closely for rings?

Whinchat and Turnstone (if you can believe their credentials) in last couple of weeks bring the now plastic-polluted list to 109 species (=86.51%).


Kentish seawatching

The amnesty was a handy prompt to update my score following a very useful seawatch last weekend. Ok so there was no Fea's, this being Kent, but Balearic Shearwater and Black Tern are never easy here. Also a Dotterel recently. 99.03%

Thursday 30 August 2012

fisher of kings

whoop! whilst watching (count 'em) two green sands on the lakeshore this pm, a kingfisher flew over the top of them and off into the reeds - fantastic! Not quite annual and need to be jammy for em - all good!

Wednesday 29 August 2012

fea's fun

feck! that makes four now! wow! wasn't my find but was really glad i hadn't bailed out 3 minutes earlier when I said I was going home! really enjoyed the swearing afterwards as it scooted past! Fantastic!

Monday 27 August 2012


Putting in the hours, but no movement in Boghall. The best we could manage was a comedy fox trotting across a grassy field with a pheasant leg in its gob. Not a wryneck, and does not get us closer to Seppy, but it does mean there is one less pheasant out there.

Da Procs with Nocs

Sunday 26 August 2012


Momentous news from this humble patch - par has been reached, courtesy of a star Wryneck. In London, next to the bloody Olympics, a bloody Wryneck. And not just a Wryneck, but my second Wryneck in three years. Did I mention Wryneck enough yet? Slight panic yesterday when it was found, as I was in Cornwall drowing in big Shears, but I pulled myself together and reasoned that the patch is of such quality that only a really really stupid Wryneck would consider moving off overnight. Smart bird, it stayed, and even though I am floating around on almost no sleep, was about the first bird I saw this morning when back on the patch. So, that's 100%, and anything else from here on in is a bonus.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

It's been a while.....

...and not for lack of trying but finally the summer drought lifted this evening with two Green Sands heading south - first here for quite some years. A juv Little Gull was not a year tick but was more obliging for the camera.

So now 107 species (=84.92%). Well off the pace but actually just twp species behind this time last year.


quarterly score declaration

Time for my quarterly score declaration...

119 species/92.6%

Nothing earth shattering of course, cos you'd have heard about it.

I'm a little intrigued about what counts as 'on patch' though. I know we've been over this before, so if someone could refresh my memory that would be grand.

If I can see my patch and the humpback whale at the same time, can I count it (despite the fact that it isnt a bird)? It was only a few hundred metres offshore, as was I (on a boat, by the way...)

I reckon it is marginally better than wryneck. I've never seen a wryneck breaching, mind you...

leapfrogging da prockies

a fine flyover green sandpiper last nite brings me upwards of the 95% barrier - never been so high so early in da year! Scorchio!

Sunday 19 August 2012

Migs in the (wrong) morning

Well there were migs in the morning but alas I was in London when the ol' bill was piling in the birds and by the time I got back from my travels they'd pretty much all bogged off.  The only passerine remaining was a garden warbler, a bit disappointing really.  However, a hobby buzzing around was only my second for the patch and a gadwall was not only my first for the year but best of all, a garden tick.   Other bits and pieces included a long over due osprey (again over the garden) and a common tern and Arctic skua on a brief sea watch.  So, half a dozen or so patch birds over the weekend bring the tally up to 134 and 86.45%.

Happy days


Monday 13 August 2012

Migs in the morning

But not yet...

It's been a while since my last posting as there's not been much to be said during the summer doldrums. However, a few greenshank and a fly by ruff were recent additions putting me on 126 for the year and 81.29%.

Leaving me somewhere in the middle of the table and a long way off the medal positions...  Still can always hope for a nice fall tomorrow, here's hoping.


me me me

Two (count 'em!) pied flys plus a previously omitted arctic tern brings up 131 for the year - just 11 species short of a new personal best on patch in a year! Puts me up into 3rd spot, and just one species shy of leap-frogging the proccies with de nockies! All to play for!

Thursday 9 August 2012


A quick sconce at the lakeside curlew flock has just produced 2 black-tailed godwits! Huzzah! And with south-easterlies blowing today for the 1st time this autumn, all is good hereabouts!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Booya! Autumn!

Autumn started yesterday with the first southbound Wheatear, and was followed up this morning with a great little fall. Two Garden Warblers (absent from the patch up until now), two Spotted Flycatchers and a Sedge Warbler were the ones to beat. I caught up with one of each of the first two, but of the third there was no sign. A neat double nonetheless and takes me, Mr D Nimmo, to 97.20% in the great Patchlist Challenge.

Monday 6 August 2012

Another patch bogie falls!

Adult long-tailed skua past Galley fri nite! Patch tick no less! Hoo hoo! Delighted so I was! Still behind de proccies et al but firming up my position (if you can say that these days) for a push for the top come the autumn mig season!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Wi Jammin'

Despite it being the worst summer for birding that I ever recall, I managed to jam 2 Crossbill wsw over the garden last Friday. I got quite excited and ran around the house shouting for a little while, but then something else must have come up as I've only just remembered them six days later. When I went to add them to my spreadsheet of happiness, the last Wanstead record I have down is from the beginning of June. That, ladies and gentlemen, is patch birding during the summer. It can only get better from here though, one of the lads had two Blackwit (cripping, stonking, mega MEGA) over earlier this week. I was in bed.


Monday 30 July 2012

L’addition, s’il vous plaît.

Nothing doing for ages, then it all happens at once. Not only did we have a recently fledged dipper hoping around in the garden on Sunday, but also crossbill flying over. The 'bill takes us to 71, and a happy 94.66%. No ducks though.

Hey, that takes it to the top spot - we'll just get our guitars out and have a wee sing song to celebrate (unless you pay us to stop).

Tuesday 17 July 2012

pushing da envelope

A spare 30 mins this eve and a bit of a clearance of the fog so razzed up to galley for a sconce from the car (seriously cheating!) - manxies were hooring through but managed to glean a balearic in amongst them  - huzzah! a sooty & 2 stormies before the light finally went - all good!

Monday 16 July 2012

Daffy Duck turns the summer blues bright orange

Year ticks are few and far between of late with Gropper finally falling, along with Manxie and Great Crested Grebe. Other birders have gripped me off with Gadwall, Hobby and, patch mega gold, Coot!

I claim, though, Bird of the Year with the discovery at Blackdog of Daffy Duck. This bird has puzzled, repulsed and terrified observers, being likened to a cross between a Common Scoter and a Farmyard Goose. While much money now lies on a Common x Surfie hybrid, I think the images clearly show that, rather than living out an animated retirement from Looney Tunes, Daffy has pitched in and is trying to look inconspicuous among the local scoter flock.

Statto (106 species, 84.13%)

more swatching at the sea

2 hours in gloom & drizzle this am but worth it for a great shear and a few sooties - year ticks! Plus the close cory's was v cool! Quality not quantity so far this year, but one of everything is quite enuff!

Monday 2 July 2012

seawatching anyone?

Oh go on then! Gave it an hour & 15 mins last night and scored cory's, 3 poms, 2 bonx, 1 arctic skua & 4 common terns - score!

Monday 25 June 2012

patch tick!

got a leo over da hoose after de footy last night! Score! full-fat patch tick ya bas!

Friday 15 June 2012

Deja-vu all over again

Except well and truly on the patch this time, Mr. Blatter.

Whitethroat and Crossbill (as rare as Black Scoters around here) last weekend too move the list to 103 (=81.75%). King Eider and Surf Scoter remain and a Peregrine cruised by last night. There have been several reports on Birdforum of a Gropper at Blackdog but it schtum whenever I'm around.

Last weekend, I also twitched Reg's Marsh Warbler. Fortuitously, Reg came by on a routine patrol and took the opportunity of handing over the much-coveted Snowy Owl trophy. He was so fond of the wee fella on his mantelpiece that he clung on for an extra half year and tears were in his eyes as the grip from his finger finally relaxed. The whole presentation was witnessed by the paparazzi so hopefully an image will appear shortly.


Wednesday 13 June 2012

101 101 101 101

I forgot to say, but aaaaages ago whilst on the way to the way the pub, I heard a Tawny Owl on the patch. Shows very clearly the value of drinking. And not only that, but one of my fellow-patch workers has located a Garden Warbler. Not having seen it myself, I've not yet counted it (I'm good like that), but it's only a matter of time. For now, 101, or 94.39%.


Sunday 10 June 2012

Late spring migs

I was wondering yesterday morning as I trundled around me patch, why this spell of easterlies hadn't produced any half decent birds....

Twenty minutes later there I was enjoying a full fat patch tick, albeit a rather dull and tarty one, but a rosefinch is a rosefinch and much appreciated.

Less than an hour later I got a call from the ol' bill and Reg had gone and got himself a marsh warbler singing its little heart out and, amazingly, showing as well in a small group of willows.  Only my third for the patch and good regional rarity.

A fine duo of late spring birds and hopefully more to come.

Still plenty of 'regulars' to be had which might allow others to catch those front runners who seem to have got stuck in mid-summer stagnation.

These and a couple of fillers put me on to 78.40%.

Happy days


Thursday 7 June 2012

sneaky seawatch

All de spring stuff has pretty much dried up so I tried a wee look at the sea on Sunday morning - 2 easy bankers quickly nailed - stormie & puffin - result!

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Surf's up

Surfie joined the list today and then, to bring up the ton, six stunning Canada Geese winged their way north. First here in three years and the stuff that winning patch year lists are made of.


Monday 4 June 2012

Royal Duck Celebrates Jubilee at Blackdog

Visits have been periodic recently (been away again, mapping Mipits for some reason or other) but a few highlights to report since last update. Best was two Tree Pipits a few weeks back - a full fat patch tick and was,  indeed, one of the three most gaping gaps on my patch list.

More recently, the Ythan King Eider has pitched up. Despite three springs now on the Ythan, it had only been at Blackdog on one previous date, in 2010. Less anticipated were seven northbound pale-bellied Brents on Saturday. Also a Mute Swan, second of the year, pretending to belnd in among the Eiders.

Now on 98 species (=77.78%) which I was suprised to work out is two species ahead of this time last year. Well off the leadership pace though,


Saturday 2 June 2012

summer lull...

It feels like spring has petered out into summer at the ness. Everything that moves is a bloody linnet. Despite hitting patch every day almost, I've had very little of note apart from spotted fly and a tree spuggie, which was a bit of a surprise, having never had a spring'un before. Some good conditions later in the week so maybe spring will have one last throw of the dice.


Thursday 31 May 2012

Collieston Springtime score

Finally got round to adding up...added Bushvelds Cuckoo...nice one, and finally got the Garganey on patch. Also caught up with a lively Collared Dove.

Worth noting the continued local Little Gull "influx" with a count of 9 1st years in front of the Waulkmill hide and 2 on Meikle at the weekend. Some late evenings at Meikle there has been the spectacular sight of up to 8 Little Gulls mixed in with many BH Gulls hawking over the loch.

Total 122, or 77.05%


Wednesday 30 May 2012

Ton up in Wanstead

Although the patch has been largely torpid, a few of final 'expecteds' have made themselves known - a Common Sandpiper, almost mega again. We should have had a few in the spring, but this is the first. Then a returning Reed Warbler, they bred in the same spot last year, but are extremely late back, and then this morning two Common Terns fishing in the Park. I'm no mathmo, but that takes me to 100, and I believe just scrapes me into pole position.

Have been getting ominous sounding tweets from Seppy though, giving it large. Given some of the outrageous recent interpretation of getting birds on the patch list at vast range, surely it's time for some patch-line technology? I can see Seppy being more than willing....

onwards and upwards...slowly

A few more fine species since my last posting, with a fine long-eared owl perched at a base of a pine, a drake garganey from the house and a couple of sightings of a cuckoo.  Although long-eared owls and garganey are more-or-less predictable, cuckoos are a lot more tricky so a fine one for the year.

With the weather still looking good for a while longer yet and still a good number of regulars to be found, hopefully there'll be a late spring surge to carry us over 'til the autumn.



Happy days

no sign of the usual May slump

Still bangin them in here regular as clockwork! Over de weekend I managed a heard-only off-patch water rail i.e. i heard it from me patch plus some shenanagins with scoping (very) distant doves netted me a fine brace of turtles, while just yesterday mistle thrush did the decent thing and gave itself up without a struggle. Never been this high before so early in da year - approx 2 months ahead of where I should be! Golden Mallard you'll be heading home I'd say!

Thursday 24 May 2012

Springtime in Collieston

Great run of Easterlies last few days brings more hope for the weekend. A few migs in so far, best of it being a female Red-Breasted Flycatcher in the roadside willows. My first Spring record of this in NES. Picked up from my front garden whilst eating dinner, which is always a great way to bird. Got some  shots of it at 5.30 the next morning, but it was surprisingly elusive. Also gave me a shock when it emerged first thing from a presumed bathe in the stream (or prehaps just a damp hedge) looking grey and cold in plumage tones... still shows pale lower mandible and dark brownish upper tail coverts however. Can always hope I suppose.
House Martin at Cransdale last weekend picking up mud, and the Pied Wagtail at Slains pools.
Drake Garganey at Slains as well today, just off patch limits.
Still to get the patch total sorted for the last few weeks, should be alright I think.

Saturday 19 May 2012

ton up

with a long overdue patch tick, a flyover osprey.

puts me on 77.82%

Tuesday 15 May 2012

mid-table mediocrity

More Norwich City than Man City the season plods on.

Its been a while since my last post as there's been little of interest in the patch.  Mostly the usual summer migrants but still plenty of gap fillers to be had.

Highlights over the last month have been the two cranes which, according to Google Earth were about 2 km away when viewed from safely within the patch (A full fat patch tick).  Other notables include a fine collared dove in the garden (A full fat garden tick) and also a bean goose seen safely from the kitchen window and yet another fine garden tick.

The seawatching has been neglected over the last month, which is never a sensible thing to do as its always a good way to get the odd bonus bird or two.  This morning it was a great northern diver flying south and a pair of velvet scoter.  The velvet scoter are annual and easy enough but great northern diver is one of those species tagged with the "it should be annual' badge but often are not.

There's been a bit of wader passage with a few dunlin (a species I missed last year) and an early green sand,  occasional whimbrel flying over and a few golden plover dropping in.

All fine birds up 'til now, but as for this weekend.

Could be make or break time for the season as the winds drift east south east on Friday there's going to be some more birds to be had.

Total for the year stands at 111!


Happy days



An insect bonanza yesterday evening resulted in a stack of swift, house martin and a sand martin. No red rumpers though. Not as good as what Reg has managed recently, but they bring me to 93.33% (70)

Saturday 12 May 2012

It's no Atlas Fly...

Enough happening still round the patch in the last week or so.A new patch bird being 2 Cranes today was the greatest excitement. Plenty of Wheatears to look through, with a good variety of other commoner migs: Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler. Swifts arrived late at Meikle, with the first I saw being the beginning of this week. In the past I have had them the 1st or 2nd May. Best other mig is a male Pied Fly(or is it??), found on Wednesday, it is still present. This is actually a bit of a spring rarity in last few years in Collieston so made sure I got some photos. Happy to say I can rule out Atlas Flycatcher without the help of DNA!...maybe

Wednesday 9 May 2012

ooo waders

Galley is pretty crap for waders. This is mainly cos it isn't an estuary, its a headland. So a flock of 16 bar-tailed godwits high-tailing it south over the house this eve was pretty good. Well worth getting wet socks for, certainly. Though why they were going south is anyone's guess - probly to do with large circles or something - or is that only off Flamborough?

Tuesday 8 May 2012

reeling them in....


A second hand gropper at the battery this morning, along with a first hand whinchat, and good numbers of common migs all over the place. It feels like spring at last.

Monday 7 May 2012

Swanning about

The non-stop patch-birding rollercoaster is gathering speed. The weekend brought bankers in the form of Arctic and Common Tern and Sedge Warbler and also three useful, not quite annual, building blocks. Moorhen has bred on ponds within the hallowed ground at least twice but is sporadic in appearance and was missed entirely last year so one on the pools at the extreme north of the patch (potentially suitable breeding habitat) was welcome indeed. Ten southbound Little Terns might have been a patch record flock but with so many patch stats to remember, I'm just not sure. Most bizarre of all was an immature Mute Swan floating very distantly northwards out to sea among the shipping lanes.

These six additions move the total to 90 species (=71.43%). Three species behind same time last year.


Just thought i'd pop in...

...and say hello.

Formalities first, I'm on 93 species/72.32%.

It's been a strange but ultimately rewarding spring so far. Strange in that until very recently, lots of things that are usually common have been in pretty short supply. Phylloscs are down by about a half, sand martins have been none existent until this weekend, and until the Nor'westerners started moving through, wheatears were thin on the ground too.

That hasn't stopped the more interesting stuff though, with a couple of rouzels, common and black redstart, and wryneck being good spring birds. Lots of airgrab enducing patch ubergank as well, like collared dove, rook, shelduck etc...

One thing I wasnt expecting was a swan goose/greylag hybrid on a seawatch. Surely counts as two species. I think the circumstances are excellent for the swan goose bit to be wild too.

I hope to be round more often, especially as as of next week I will start working on patch. No stopping me now, and all that jazz.


Sunday 6 May 2012

ducking responsibilities

Last week was all about the spring migs. Even up till Fri pm when I snuck out for a quick look at shite and scored spot fly, plus jammed sanderling on de way home. This weekend has all been about ducks on the lake! 4 tufties there yesterday was bettered by 5 tufties & 2 pochard today, only to be superceded by 4 tufties, 2 pochard and 1 scaup once i'd worked out what i should be stringing! Missed spot fly, scaup & pochard last year so thats a triple whammy breakback! Also just realised that I omitted pheasant up till now - score! All of which means that 109 (on which I am now on) is my highest ever total by this date, beating my record breaking 2010 score by 2 species & 3 days!! Impressed? I was!