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!