Sunday 29 January 2012

purple patch

Spoke too soon Mr B, as I have great news from the patch! Managed to scope purple sand with me new shiny zoom, a full-fat patch tick, from the patch shores, even tho they were at least 2.5km off patch! I drove closer to verify 'em, and drove back again to re-verify 'em but there's no gettin away from it, purp sand is now on de patch list, and I am a sad b@st@rd! Back in front, for now...

mid-winter blues

After a couple of quiet weeks weeks with only short forays into the patch a couple of hours of effort this Sunday morning produced a handful of patch ticks. The best of which was a woodcock an annual bird but one I didn't get last year. Which, I guess doesn't make it annual! A quick look at the sea produced a few fillers including long-tailed duck and common scoter. A possible fly-by black-throated diver frustratingly didn't quite make it in to the 'definite' category and alas cannot be counted. Still no purps or rbm's to be found. Finally a scan through some fields produced a flock of five corn buntings a regular but increasingly scarce species around the patch and will one day become a rarity.

The yearly tally now stands at 70 species and 45.36% and for the first time ever past Seppy!

Happy Days


Friday 27 January 2012

great! gadwall!

Two gadwall on the lake de other day - have now had them the last 3 years though never a sniff before that. All good!

Monday 23 January 2012

Grey-t day out

Recent rewards for a bit of patch bashing include the standard gank filling, but the highlight was the grey partridge. Annual, but it did not fall last year until well into the year, so I can sleep easy now (dreaming of a whole host of birds on the patch, and counting all of them - thanks to Derek's example). Other odds and sods included bully's special prize and a few barrow loads of well rotted manure for the garden. 52% and closing.

Saturday 21 January 2012

I had a dream

It was about a Lapwing. I was on the patch, and a Lapwing flew over. It was the most vivid, real Lapwing you could imagine, with perfect Lapwing wings, rounded, floppy, and slightly narrower near the body, a perfect Lapwing flight, doing perfect Lapwing jinking. In my dream I punched the air, for it was a patch year-tick. Can I count it?

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Higgs Boson Identity Revealed

After literally minutes of research and painstaking fieldwork I can reveal an extraordinary discovery from the patch today. The much-vaunted Higgs Boson 'particle' does exist and is actually a Black Redstart. The brief moment that this particle appeared revealing it's true identity has been captured by the highly sensitive cameras fitted to capture brief moments just like these.


Followed a female sparrowhawk along our road this morning - she was doing a cool 30 mph easy, till she dived through a gate into a field - I didn't attempt to follow in the car! They all count!

Sunday 15 January 2012

Collieston news

Not much new, a WF Goose at Meikle as well as a drake Goosander today. An unseasonal Bonxie as well as a few LT Duck on the move at Cransdale last weekend probably the most interesting.
The white-winger invasion has bypassed me so far at Collieston, though I have spent some time up on the North coast which explains the non-patch related picture, and maybe why I haven't seen one on the patch. This bird at Peterhead yesterday.

Saturday 14 January 2012


Wow! 70 votes! A new record by a country mile - not sure we've ever got above 15 before! Unfortunately, a recent probe into allegations of vote-rigging & multiple voting has revealed large scale vote-rigging and multiple voting! Who'd have thought?!?

Yes indeed, I can reveal some of the evidence which is quite revealing. A certain Mr Proclaimer, who no doubt wishes to remain anonymous, send me an email on 12th Jan, as follows...

"With 2 days to go I see Bonaparte’s Gull is still a bit behind. I would feel bad if it did not win as it is a great find. Are you happy that it should win and beat our poor offerings? I can supply a few votes in it’s favour if you are. We need to be in agreement though as I don’t want your wryneck taking advantage of my good nature."

Mr Blatter would like to point out that at this stage in proceeding, he had only voted once, and not for the wryneck! However, the most damning phrase used above "I can supply a few votes in its's favour" positively reeks of corruption and illicitness (is that a word?)

In later emails, Mr Proclaimer also proclaimed that he had "just given a brown paper bag stuffed full of used banknotes to someone who voted for your wryneck", before things took a turn for the worse with "Can you do anything about a swing to redpoll?" and a while later "Hey, as if by magic, a late surge in redpoll!"

When "voting" began to gather pace for the redpoll, Mr Proclaimer confessed he was now powerless to change the result "I have changed the votes that i have control over so can do nothing else". The whole thing began to snowball, and it became apparent that someone else was now running the show.

By pure coincidence, it turns out that Mr Blatter may have mentioned the vote to a certain well-known computer hacker and redpoll fancier from West Cork, Mr X around this time. His response, after assessing the hi-tech voting system was "that voting widget restricts you to one vote using browser cookies -- lots of ways around that." and shortly after another more worrying message "You is stomin' ahead mate ;)  I'll stop now... let normal statistical fluctuations take their toll."

By next day, it was clear that all was not well, and correspondents were getting increasingly edgey, no doubt as the big money behind this whole debacle started to flex its papery muscles. Blatter by this stage couldn't help himself, despite having still only voted once at this stage "that fuckin quail is back in the lead again!" Mr X from Connonagh had the answer though "Balls... I'll just put out a "get your vote in for the find of the year on the International Patch List Challenge blog" on the Ireland's Wildlife twitter feed... won't influence the voting in any way... just send more people... maybe... if anyone pays attention...that's not cheating... that's just sending traffic to the blog, and sharing relevant, wildlife related content with people who are genuinely interested... surely that's OK?"

[Ed- "wildlife-related content? what? this shite?]

This was followed up by a slightly more threatening question " The Redpoll has nada... you want it out in front then?" and shortly "mealy redpoll now on 8 votes!" and then "And de 'poll hits de front!" When asked directly if he was intervening in the voting, Mr X replied "Me? They can check the IP addresses -- different UK based addresses... only legit votes... nothing dodgy from Ireland" before adding "15 all -- anyone for tennis?"

The most telling text received was just minutes after the voting closed "so the mealy clinched it by... er... 9 votes then...oops!"

All in all, (as if anyone actually cares anyway) it turns out that the vote has been a total sham! Still, 70 votes is a pretty good effort I reckon. So without further ado, may I be the first to congratulate Statto for winning the Best Patch Find 2011 with Bonaparte's Gull, and commiserations to Bushveld's redpoll for not winning anything!

Friday 13 January 2012


That's right the 5 0 came up this morning riding a big 2m swell. A rush of patch ticks with Great Northern Diver and 3 Snow Buntings the bestest of the bunch. Having spent little time on the patch so far this year, every Blue Tit and Wren was racking up the percentage points. Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, a single Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Common Scoters added to the tick-fest. I even took a photograph of one of the Snow Buntings in some of the prime patch habitat.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Keep yer 'pecker up

Working from home on our new album yesterday bagged us a great spotted woodpecked on the feeders. Still no bramble finch though. Still, I'm sure we (likes yerselves) will be taking part in the big garden bird spotting competition later this month (, so may get one then (if we can be arsed to get out of bed).

34 or 45.33%

Procs with nocs

Buzzard from my desk

Was just sat at home thinking of new ideas for Just-a-Minute (doesn't come easily after all these years) when I thought I heard a delivery van roll up. Hoofed it to the window, as I am expecting a new monocle, and goodness gracious me there was a Common Buzzard drifting over with one Crow in tow. How splendid.

For those interested in patch stats, that was the 23rd Buzzard I have seen here, and easily the earliest - March 15th was my previous best. I do have a late November and an early December record, but by far the majority of records come from the period March-May, peaking with 9 out of my 23 occuring in April. I have no idea what this means - perhaps that I stare at the sky a lot in April.

67 species - 62.62%


Tuesday 10 January 2012

Hi Y'all

I'm sure you'd all like to thank me for joining but if we can stop the emails begging for an introduction to Whitney that'd be appreciated gents.
Spending much of the winter in So Cal I may lag behind in this here pissing contest for a while but I have flown in a couple of times this year firstly to catch up with that gigolo Desert Wheatear that's been shaking it's ass at anyone with a Polaroid for the last few weeks.

A few days later I had the yacht anchored for a short sea-watch during some fierce northwesterlies but despite the odd Gannet and Razorbill there was little of note and the beach volleyball just ain't the same in fleeces.

So 2012 to date is currently a measly 31

Welcome Aboard, Kevin Costner!!

Yes indeedy, in a Patch List Challenge scoop sensation, we are proud to announce that our celebrity birders have been joined by yet another birding celebrity, none other than failed and faded filmstar Kevin Costner (for it is he!). Once washed up and washed out, he's now back on track and on the hunt for year ticks aplenty! Join Kevin and his new friends on their hunt for year ticks aplenty er lots of year ticks in the coming er year!

Take it away, Kevin!

There's no business like show-business etc etc

Monday 9 January 2012

Still not a Pom at Blackdog too

Finally managed a good look around on Saturday, enough to jetison me to just under mid-table mediocrity. Highlights were a juvvie Arctic Skua, presumably the same as was around in December and the same also that FPS had off Girdle Ness. (By the way, a grudging well done from a City fan to Scholsey for coming out of retirement and scoring on Saturday - but be sure not to let the rekindled career in the Premiership affect the patch birding).

A small group of Siskin was unexpected (mostly an autumn passage bird) whilst a Peregrine terrorising gulls and waders was the first proper no-quite-annual building block of the year.

So 41 species (=32.54%) by the end of Saturday and then spent Sunday not seeing a Lesser Scaup.


ganky gank gank

A gank-fest this weekend, well black redstart was all right, but fulmar, kestrel and lapwing were all Class A Gank. Still, leaves me with better stuff to get at a later date. Or maybe not.

A case of thrush

Spent a fair bit of time on the patch this weekend, but unfortunately most of that was spent in the garden. Still, our greenhouse has now been cemented into the groud so hopefully it will stop thinking it is a kite (which it has done recently).

Despite (or perhaps because of) the time spent in the garden I did not add much beyond long tailed tit and goldfinch, but had frequent visits from our local nuthatch. Even beyond the garden i struggled to add much to the list, but a fine red grouse was appreciated. Fieldfare, song thrush and mistle thrush, did give me a good dose of thrushes though. it all counts.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Trio of plovers

A hen harrier hunting over the local linnet flock was probably best from a weekend of being out and about on the patch, which produced a handful of other birds for the year including Ringo, Goldie and lapwing. Other crackers included, meadow pipit, house sparrow and wren... They all count!

A busy week ahead means not much chance of getting out now until next weekend.

62 species - 40.17%

Happy Days


Strolling along

A four hour stroll in the Park produced a haul of 51 species, including three new for the year. First up was a Coal Tit in Reservoir Wood. Excellent start I thought to myself, and then discovered whilst trying to photograph it that dropping my camera yesterday on Southend Pier hadn't been the "close one" I had thought it to be. Piss.

Dumped the camera back home and carried on round, best of the rest were a pair of Kingfisher on the Roding, and a Grey Wagtail near the Old Sewage Works. New total 66 or 61.68%.


Does this count as one or two?

Friday 6 January 2012

Another one falls.

Missed my bus this morning by approximately 0.2s, so decided to walk over the Flats to the next stop and await the next bus. Why stand around doing nothing if you can be birding instead? My route takes me past the boggy bit, and despite being in a suit I took a short detour. Took all of one minute and delivered all of one Snipe, which "Tssskkkkkk'd" away and dropped back in quite quickly for Common Snipe. I'll get Jack one day - 63/58.88%

not as far ahead as you think, seppy...

Well, you say that, but I've added 3 in the last two days putting me onto 51/39.68%

Pure patch gank apart from a goldeneye...which is very nearly patch gank.

rtd for me

A 5 minute scan from the patio bagged me red-throated diver - takes me 1 more species away from scholsey, and 1 species nearer fat lad shakey.

Thursday 5 January 2012

ooo migrants

At last the wind has dropped off enough to actually see some birds! Not that I've been very far, but during the morning tea break stroll from the office to the house I managed to glean chiffchaff and reed bunting. Plenty more where they came from too! e.g. Stonechat in a quick stroll this pm - huzzah!

Wednesday 4 January 2012


A quick walk down to Nigg bay at lunchtime scored me redwing, fieldfare, and, wait for it, a bit of a patch mega in the form of 2 coal tits! Ye can keep yer Iceland gull....

Up to 48/37.35%

Storm cock

The title is misleading though because I have not yet seen mistle thrush on the patch this year. I did see 21 species yesterday though which gives me 28.0% of the 75 I am chasing. Yesterday was notable for my seeing more blown over and snapped trees yesterday than bird species.

Ho hum.

Procs with nocks

White wingers delight

After the storms of yesterday a seawatch this morning might have been productive and it started so well as no sooner had I got there than a fine 2nd winter Iceland Gull drifted north but then the next hour was all rather quiet with nothing but the usual suspects to add to the yearly tally. However, a flyby turnstone was one that I managed to miss last year so all in all a good mornings work. 52 species and 33.69%.

Happy days


Tuesday 3 January 2012

2011 Post Mortem

The late surge of the 2011 Blackdog year list failed to happen so all hail the champ, Shaking Stevens. A quick look back shows three species recorded in each year 2008-2010 failing to appear in 2011, namely Moorhen, Greenshank and Mistle Thrush. Still, can't complain with the quality 2011 brought.

This afternoon saw me 'dogging in the PJs for an hour and a half for the first patch visit this year. It also sees me posting the lowest so far declared score - the only way is up. The 100% target is 126 species, up from 123.67 in 2011. Bring it on........


not a pom

Wind and rain seem to have stirred a few things up, with common seabirds and an arctic skua past the ness this morning... (ok, i know an arctic skua is a common seabird, but not in january).



Off to a flyer

A little bit of birding last few days, and a quick look today in the gales produced a few handy species for the years total.
Purple sand today, and yesterday Hen Harrier, RB Merg, Merlin and Twite.

Sea is crazy today, so might be interesting along the coast tomorrow.
Bushveld and co continue to bait just behind my house, so will keep checking...hoping for that Redpoll sp.
Total 46 sp or 29.81%


Grip Back...

not one but two song thrush this morning should keep Seppy quiet for a while. Better still a goosander on Cotehill Loch. Bird of the year so far.


Monday 2 January 2012

New Years Resolution

My New Years Resolution was to get out more.

This lasted for an impressive couple of hours yesterday morning and produced a quick 33 species (22.38%). But alas old habits are hard to break and today I've spent inside working and not managed to add a single year tick. Still plenty of time left and there's always tomorrow.

Happy days


song frush

just the one so far today - song thrush. Still, any progress is good, and it'll take Bushveld till October to get that one back!

Sofa so good...

A further 15 species added this morning, including such sought after gems as lapwing, buzzard and goldcrest. Puts me on to 41 species or 31.90%. If I keep making this sort of progress I'll be unstoppable this year.

Also new in (perhaps a result of some hard weather movement) was this, which is handy for a bit of theme continuation...

Sunday 1 January 2012


As a measure of how desperate I am to earn fifty quid on ebay, ever since I knew I was going to be competing in the illustrious patch challenge I've basically been avoiding the patch like the plague in case I saw something that bumped the average up. Consequently I haven't thrashed it properly for about two months. Getting a job might also have had something to do with it, but whichever, I have not walked as far for ages, and every part of me hurts. I just used this very cool widget to tot up how far I went today, and it's an amazing 10.42 miles. This is basically a very very protracted and roundabout figure-of-eight, mainly due to the Firecrests right near my house seeming to show best at about lunchtime. I very nearly went back home and didn't do the afternoon loop.

Anyhow, the distance works out at about six birds per mile, though the last five birds cost about a mile each. Best of the bunch a Peregrine (annual, but only just), not one but two GBB Gulls (quasi-mega status, tempted to count both of them), the aforementioned Firecrest, five Bullfinches (highly restricted patch-range), Little Egret (normally a summer visitor), a Jan 1st Chiffie and one of the Water Rails. I finished up in heavy rain on 62 species, or 57.94% in Golden Mallard terms, which is six more than this time last year. Knackered though. And fat.

Nearly an armchair tick

So, a great start, but that's basically me done until the Wheatears turn up. There were a few missed today, namely Great Crested Grebe, Linnet, Snipe, Tawny Owl, Grey Wag, Kingfisher, Lesser Spot and Coal Tit, all of which are resident or mostly so, but unless we get a cold snap then I'm going to be trundling round for very little percentage reward.

PS Don't be fooled by the "posted by" name. I have no idea who that is. Cheers, Derek.

happy new year

28 species scored this afternoon. Bottlenose dolphin the best of it. Can I count them as well? getting desperate already....

28 species/21.78%

Fat Paul Scholes

And the winner is....

Congratulations to Shakin Stevens who has finally landed the coveted Golden Mallard after many years of trying. Hopefully he will recive the glorious prize very soon and will be able to post a photo of it in its new habitat. In the meantime, its on with the 2012 show, tho I'm struggling to get blogger to let me change things around!

I grabbed a couple of hours on patch this pm and managed to bag 52 species, or 37.50%. The best was last week's little gull that is still hanging about.

Word from our newest entrant, a Mr Nimmo from Wanstead is that he's off to a flyer - eagerly awaiting his first post of 2012. Game on!

the final curtain ...

well as hard as I tried, which lets face it wasn't very. I didn't manage to scrape the hoped for end of year patch ticks. Leaving me in rather disappointing 8th place and not a single half-decent bird for the year. Worse still Reg was obviously on duty last night and banged in a couple of late owls. However, the good news is that we've now started again and i can only do better, i hope.

All the best to fellow patch listers in 2012.

Happy Days


3rd place is mine!

since there has been no more talk of royzah's redpoll i'm hereby claiming 3rd place on the grounds that whatever ain't declared by year's end ain't countable! Huzzah!

Nip and tuck at the end

Happy New Year to you all!
Just an update on the close Collieston based totals, despite missing Bushvelds Mealy Redpoll in the large finch flock supported by a cast of ringers, including Bushveld, I managed to squeeze in two last gasp patch birds yesterday. One was at 11.45pm from a neighbours window: Short-eared Owl earlier and then Barn Owl. I have poor photos of the former and another eye witness for the latter to reassure any doubters.
Totals still lowest ever for the patch with no good rarities found on patch, so bodes well for 2012 maybe?
148 or 93.38%

I make a 2012 100% average of 154.33....

Hope you all have a great years birding.

Final score

Managed a very late addition with a fly by Purple Sand for 104.50% which I notice is the second lowest winning score to date