Tuesday 31 December 2013


Bloody keepy backs... left looking longingly at the podium again.

Well done Reg.

Well done Reg...

Thankfully this is the last day of 2013… and what an utter shite year it has been.

It started badly with one of my main birding footpaths being ploughed meant my regular patch walk with the dog was ruined and means the only way to get around the main patch sites is rather unsatisfactory by car.  This dampened any enthusiasm for working the patch which following the spring petered out to a totally couldn't be arsed feeling.  Not helped by the 'ol bill pulling in the goodies week in week out topped by the brown shrike which was a fantastic find.

So the end of a disappointing year I managed a meagre 145 species and 93.19%.

And a big Congratulation to Reg   a superb year for him and a superb list of excellent finds.

Well done Reg….

last day on patch

Had a crap seawatch off Galley late morning but failed to do better than a fairly blue fulmar.

Elsewhere, Royzah has declared on 96.5% - a reasonable effort considering he's dead.

Bushveld is threatening to update the blog but in case he doesn't, he's finished on 92.0% - disappointing after winning the snowy owl last year.

Reg is still winning. Both trophies. No-one has done that before. The Bollix.

Still a chance of a change on the 3rd podium position, with Kevin Costner done but as yet undeclared - we'll have to wait till after 5.30 pm apparently...

Meanwhile Derek Nimmo is out scouring Wanstead in the rain for a bullfinch, or a redpoll or an american robin. Or else he's gone to the pub. Sauce.

Tune in later to see how it all turned out!


Just to up the 2014 target figure for no benefit in terms of 2013 rankings, an Iceland Gull appeared out of the post-dusk darkness at Blackdog a couple days back. So, unless today produces a deluge, looks like I'm stuck at 7th on 127 species (=98.45%).

The good news is that a similar total next year would give me 100.5%, having finally shaken off the burden of a high-scoring year just prior to joining this esteemed contest (the original and the best as a marketing person might say).


Monday 30 December 2013

Patch thrashing yields a little something...

A rare opportunity to really thrash the patch this afternoon left me tired and frustrated, and then BOOM! A little grebe surfaced on the back section of the lake as I was about to give up and head home.

Outstanding! That takes me to 106.67% for the year, leapfrogging me into third spot... and onto the podium. It all hangs on tomorrow!

Thursday 26 December 2013

It's all to play for...

Tree Sparrow finally crept onto the 2013 year list. Now on 126 for the year (=97.67%). Only need another 16 more species, or 7 more than the previous best Blackdog year, to take that Golden Mallard next week.

It's all to play for....


Tuesday 24 December 2013

Chatty man and owl action.

Just when you think its all over, and are starting to ponder next year's patch challenge, along come two year ticks in a row.

 First up was a male stonechat -- my first on patch since the big freeze of winter 2009, then driving back after an emergency Christmas beer run to Skibbereen this evening a long eared owl flew across the road in front on the car.

 Puts me on 105.45%, just shy of a podium place with a week to go. Game (still) on!

Ton up

A nice Glauc the other brought up the 100% but that's probably it for this year.

Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a bird-filled 2014!

Sunday 8 December 2013


I've seen some reed buntings, which puts me in second place, but still trailing way behind Reg. Well done Reg....

Monday 2 December 2013

news from reg

so reg has seen some twite. this puts him even further ahead. great!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

avin a barney

News of 2 barnacle geese just off-patch got me & Old Spoons out on full alert. With me safely on patch, a wee well-applied chivvy and the geese were securely on the patch list! Cork tick too! Score!

Oooof! Boom! etc etc

Monday 18 November 2013


Still adding to the 2013 total, a bird at a time. In fact, given that a podium position is totally out of reach, I'd be best off staying well away from Blackdog until Jan 1st but force of habit draws me back. Gadwall two weeks ago was just my third patch record, 11 Mistle Thrushes last weekend was the first record since 2010 (formerly reasonably regular in winter) and 12 Snow Buntings yesterday was a record Blackdog flock.

Just realised, I still need Tree Sparrow for the year - myaybe its time to lurk around the village gardens.

Now on 125, equal to the 2012 final total.


Monday 4 November 2013

It's the little things that count...

Like the little egret that happened to fly past our back garden this morning at the exact same moment as I was having a wee on the compost heap (apparently it's good for the composting process... I saw it on Gardener's World... well, not the actual weeing bit, but you know what I mean).

Here's one I prepared earlier....
30 seconds either way and I'd have missed it. Just goes to show... you should never fight the call of nature.

Only my second little egret on patch... they're tricky enough up here... to take me to 103.03%. So, still in 4th place, but achingly close to a podium place again.

All to play for!

Friday 1 November 2013

What's another word for speechless...?


3 (count em) mute swans over the back garden a few minutes ago takes me to 101.82%.


Gulls FTW

Who'd have thought it... on this inland patch gulls, of all things, are keeping me in the running for a podium spot, and sneaking me just ahead of Seppy again in the Irish mini-league.

First up, a stonking med gull fly-over from the garden while letting out the girls' guinea pigs (originally purchased to bait in buzzard and white tailed eagle... but no luck so far). First ever on patch... so a great one to score.

Then a female yellowhammer down the lane and a common gull on the ludicrously unproductive lake... pushing my running total to a non-too-shabby 100.61%... so back up into fourth place with a podium finish still a distant possibility.

Unlikely, it's true... but hey, aim high they say.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

firecrest for 100 up!

Old father spoons worked his magic this am with a fine firecrest in Dirk, which I managed to track down this pm, putting me smack bang on 100% for the year, and into bonus time! Couldn't find his long-tailed tits tho, the bugger!!

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Boom! Its all over!

FFS! Just been stupid enuff to force Reg into checking his scores for 2013 - he's only gone and smashed his best year ever on patch! 173 shagging species! For a whopping 109.15% So there goes the mallard and the snowy owl too, most like! Bugger!

"It's been a good year" he says....

Sunday 20 October 2013

It's getting congested in the middle of the table

I had a good weekend for a change. A morning walk produced a nice lesser whitethroat and a couple of blackcaps in one of the heugh-top gardens, and a barnacle goose flying over with pinkies. Then in the afternoon, while cleaning out my bird feeders, I could hear the unmistakable 'tsi-leet' down at England Farm. Surely a yellow-browed warbler? Surely not judging by Portlethen being the only place in Britain without a yellow-brow during earlier falls. Bugger me, it was, and another blackcap at the farm as well. Neither were there this morning, so looks like new birds were arriving in the afternoon. Oh, and I'll have that yellow-brow on me garden list, thank you.

Bird scaring double-whammy

Dirty tricks at play at the Costa del Landfill conspiring to devoid the patch of birds. First, last year's plastic Peregrine shows up again, scattering everything from the south end of the patch, and snaffling a juvvie Common Gull...

 My, what a big bulging crop you've got...

And then, bloody Michellin Man in a spacesuit and IRA-style balaclava at the north end.

Still, a few final certs and a bonus fly-over Yellow Wag (2nd for the patch) bring the total to an underwhelming 122 (=94.57%).


Wednesday 16 October 2013

This patch is a dive!

There's a little elevated patch on the farmland behind the house where, on a good day, I can see a thin sliver of the Atlantic in the "V" between two hills. It's 4.5 miles away... but hey, it had to be worth a punt right?

I finally lugged the scope up there on a clear, cold morning last week.

After looking for a while to get my eye in I managed to bag gannet -- little (as in far away) white birds wheeling on mass, plunging towards the water and making a splash that caught the sunlight.


This shot was digiscoped on-patch with my mobile phone hand-held to the scope eyepiece (ahem!), honest guv'nor!

Important thing is gannet puts me at 96.97% -- still moving in the right direction, and falling behind more sedately than I'd expected, given the time of year. It's also such an epic tick for this little patch of mine that I've added it as an "honorouble mention" to the "best finds" list.

a ybw at last!

Old Father Spoons was down Dirk before me this am but sadly his young fella started to kick off so it was home for an early bath for him! This left me ample time to stroll down & steal a fine yellow-browed warbler from him - perfect really!

A quick stats update - ybw is 142 for the year, which is my 2nd highest total ever, after 149 in 2012 and 141 in 2010. 145 should be reasonably gettable I'd say with gank like pochard, scaup & goldeneye still to come, with any luck!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

news from Royzah

Yes indeedy - everyone's favourite (dead) trumpet-playing tap dancing twat has been out in the field yet again, this time netting a fine lesser whitethroat and also a kwality ring ouzel!! He even passed on his score & everything! Aymayzing!

Sunday 13 October 2013

there's another one!

Had to commute to de patch from Btown today but it was worth it as I gleaned a fine ringtail hen harrier for me troubles - normally only 1 or 2 records per year, almost all in autumn so well-timed!

A quick peruse of whats left available, and it is technically possible to hit a new record of 150 (9 species required, but need nowt rarer than yellow-browed warbler to do this) - however, even if such a mammoth achievement was er achieved, this would only leave me on 104.90%, so lookin unlikely to be able to claim the top spot this year, especially if Reg continues his meteoric form. Oh yes, Mr Nimmo, don't be restin up there thinkin you're home & hosed - Reg has a good few he ain't declared since el shrike browno I think so he's the one to beat!

Saturday 12 October 2013


Two ouzels for me today was about it - not 140 of 'em that has been published elsewhere - Kapwing!


Friday 11 October 2013


A fine whopper swan this afternoon on the lake was indeed a year tick - huzzah! Gettin up there!

A whopper swan earlier

Sunday 6 October 2013

Knot giving up just yet!

Quite a good run of it this last week. Red Backed Shrike and Wryneck on Galley last Wednesday were both Irish ticks, followed by a Serin on Friday for another tick and a Black Tern on Kilkeran Lake today for yet another.

All good... but none of which helps my on-patch tally one iota.

As luck would have it though a fly by flock of a dozen or so knot this evening does. First time on patch... and the second patch-tick wader of the autumn.

Puts me on 95.76% -- and, crucially, still in touch with Seppy in the Irish patch race!

more scores

Friday was a good day - spotted a juv black tern from the lunch table, and then Old Father Spoons pulled a marsh harrier out of the bag - he's a love eh? Marvellous! Here's a photo for Royzah as he's still only seen 1 black tern ever ever ever

A black tern yesterday [Copyright Old Spoons]
ya mite as well have one of de marsh harrier too eh?

A marsh harrier yesterday [Copyright Old Spoons]

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Ah yes,the redstart...

Well prompted chief! Today we saw a redstart at galley - it was nice. i licked it.

This wasn't it

you got a fat neck, fat neck

Forgot about the wheatear

Slip-sliding down the rankings, as expected with migs hopping all over the coastal patches. Just back from birding Galley with Seppy -- lovely red backed shrike, 2 wryneck, 2 whinchat a redstart, a curious looking reed warbler and piles of wheatears hopping about all over the place.

Which reminds me -- finally had wheatear on patch a couple of weeks ago. I'd practically given up on them when there it was... hopping around the edge of a freshly ploughed field with a mob of meadow pippits.

78 species... 94.55%... back up to fourth, and first of the Irish patches... at least until Seppy gets around to inputting his redstart.

Monday 30 September 2013

another mig

Despite the great conditions for a fall, digging out the migs at Galley has been hard since those goodies turned up last week - did find another wryneck, which was nice, but the only year tick i managed was a lesser whitethroat as dusk fell last night - still - rarer than ybw here!

Saturday 28 September 2013

Brown Shrike excites

About time I posted, and no better time...Brown Shrike in Collieston!
See http://colliestonbirding.blogspot.co.uk/  for a bit of an account of the fun.
The winds still in the SE as well, so could be more to come tomorrow.
Off to have a glass of wine and a bit of a rest.

Thursday 26 September 2013

back home & back in the groove

After a very successful few days on Shetland, with several members of the Golden Mallard contest, it was back home to Galley and easterly winds! A pied flycatcher at Shite Lane yesterday was new, while today's kwality came in the form of a wryneck  and a juv red-backed shrike. Have a pic...

PS Just realised I forgot to tick common tern from the other day - 4th place beckons!

Here we go

Autumn getting into full swing now. The weather promises a good few days, kicking off yesterday with a brace of Blackdog Yellow-browed Warblers - first here for a few years. Plus a brace of Lesser Whitethroats and, at last, the first Blackdog Chiffy in a couple of years.

Here's a few dodgy distant digi-scoped ducks and things from recent days:

Now on 116 species (=89.92%)


Monday 16 September 2013

spot fly twitching

Was "working" just now when a text came in alerting me to the presence of a spotted flycatcher in Dirk - off I went to verify it, and it was one! Yeah! Year tickage! And i get to waste more time blogging about it afterwards! Double bonus!

It's been a while.....

A demanding summer of reciting football facts and figures has somewhat gotten in the way of more important stuff such as updating on here. Hopefully normal service (i.e. dodgy digi-scoped pics of distant ducks on the sea) will now be resumed.

Undoubted highlight of the autumn so far was Greenish Warbler on 25 August. Admittedly a corpse could've found a Greenish in the region that weekend. Before finding this bird, I'd dipped Scholsey's first Greenish and Reg's Greenish and then connected with Bushveld's (off-patch) Greenish. Anyway the Blackdog bird cavorted in some willows on the rifle range and became the first Blackdog first of 2013.

A few other bits and pieces of non-annual - Black-wit, Rockit, Pied Fly and Brent come to mind.

Now on 111 species (=86.05%). A few bankers to come yet.


Wednesday 11 September 2013

Tickidie doo dah, tickidie day

Boghall does the business again, this time with a full on patch gold tick of hen harrier. Yup, a ringtail cruised its way along the back of Hillend and Caerketton on Sunday, taking bird of the day award from greylag goose which was a year tick (sorry purists). A grey wagtail a couple of weeks ago (and again on Sunday) brings the total to 77, which means 104.05% for us boys. And we had time to work the coast on Sunday too.


The Procs.

patch tickage

two (count 'em) spotted redshanks on the lake on monday morning were a full fat patch tick. Interestingly they were there the previous night too but I considered them to only be common redshanks then - but no! Also 3 redpoll flying over this am keeps me nicely ahead of Shakey, by a whopping 0.01% - hoo hoo!

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Wading through treacle....

Haven't popped in here for the while... well, it has been hotel silly season, hasn't it?

Nothing much to report either -- all very subdued on the patch front -- like the title says... patch birding of late has been akin to wading through treacle. Very little progress for the (admittedly lacklustre) effort invested.

Black-headed gull was about the best addition to the tally since the last post... until around 7:30 this morning that is, when I was utterly gobsmacked to clock a flock of eight (count 'em) small waders hurtling by the front garden. Luckily I'd had the good sense to grab a pair of bins before going out the front door. Dunlin -- who'd have thought!

That's a big fat patch tick right there... we simply don't get waders. Just goes to show -- anything can turn up anywhere and all that mallarky. Here's hoping for something a bit more exciting over the coming weeks.

Current tally -- 77 species, and more importantly 93.33% for the year. So, back up to third spot on the leaderboard, and surprisingly still first of the Irish ;-).

Oh well... onwards and... er... downwards, probably!

Saturday 7 September 2013

Boom boom!!

Another short missive to say that Wanstead is crap, only another bloody Wryneck! Three in four years, it is just ridiculous. Oh, and Tawny Owl to take me to 113 or 101.50%. My patch is on fire at the moment, the next thing you know there will be a Golden Mallard on Jubilee Pond......

Wednesday 4 September 2013

pretty fly for a white guy

A cracking red-breasted flycatcher today (my 3rd ever for Galley), plus a reed warbler at Shite Lane - top kwality migrants for Galley!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

buzzin da patch

Scoped a distant soaring buzzard from de patio this pm - about time!

Monday 2 September 2013

Nearly there

Quick update from Wanstead, where between rehearsals for my latest hit show I've managed to eek out both Spotted and Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, and completely jam a Green Sandpiper. I'm aiming, I'm told, for 111.33 species for 100%. Clearly I can't see a third of a species, so I need a quick rule check. I'm on 98.81%, but would be on 99.10% if I can eliminate the third. Seppy, that icon of fair play, that bastion of parity, that tower of reasonableness, what say you?


1 step forwards, 2 steps back

a bit of an up & down weekend so it was. Very calm both mornings so was hoping for at least a bit of local migration, if no stuff from further afield. But got nowt in the end. Have spent the last 2 weekend scouring de patch for stock doves - checking every woodpigeon - immensely dull. This has relevance to later in this sorry tale.

Yesterday i spent ages watching some trees cos i thought I'd seen a spot fly at distance. It never reappeared. Immensely dull.

Then I got home and found this on the lake

a yellow-legged gull yesterday (allegedly)
Exactly! Clearly an obvious yellow-legged gull! Except they all flushed and then i got on an LBB and then got confused, which I still am. Yellow-legged gull would be a patch tick, and, as I am ultra-squeaky-clean when it comes to me patch list, I don't think I can have this as I don't know any of the features. Except it looked like a dark-backed herring gull with yellow legs and a big beak. So I don't know. Its in the "Pending" file, although Big Gav (who once kind of partook in the Golden Mallard challenge, factfans) was threatening to send the boys round if I claim it - he knows about gulls, you see.

Anyway, the upshot and tremendous climax to this long & harrowing tale of woe is that whilst I was dicking around trying to scope the gull, 2 stock doves flew thru the scope! Year tick! Whoop! No more looking at pigeons for the rest of the year! SCORE!!!!!

Saturday 24 August 2013

Surfin the waves

Yep, got myself together to look at the sea the other evening, and there was a female scoter among the eiders in the gathering gloom. I started to convince myself it must be a female surfie. Then a herring gull started to harass it and it opened its wings. Bingo, full fat patch tick.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

a few big shears thru

Monster seawatching de last couple of days - 800 cory's & 57 great shears last night, followed by a whopping 1,107 cory's & 290 great shears this am - that's 2,254 big shears over 6.5 hours, which is 5.7 shears per minute! Busy!

Monday 19 August 2013

Patch tickage!

Yeah! A wader tick! Ooof! Indeed and it was! A fine wood sandpiper no less, graced the lake edge with its presence over the weekend, but seems to be missing today. Number 195 for de patch in fact. Eat me!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Ton up

Well, a flock for curlew over Boghall last night shows wader passage is happening, and also takes me to 100% for the year (just 74 species needed for that where we come from). We can feel my hands around that prize. We might even dedicate our next album to it.

Thursday 1 August 2013

bulmer's off Galley

wisnae me tho! Bugger!

stunning seawatch

Got me arse oot to Galley for 15.30 yesterday after hearing of some big numbers of big shears off Mizen. Very glad that I did too! The mist was well down when I got out there, 1st bird through the scope was a manx, followed shortly after by a cory's  and 3 greats! A good start! The mist gradually lifted, but the large shears were still passing incredibly close - within 200 metres some of them! Tremendous views!

And then a fea's-type petrel flew past, which was nice!  and an hour later there was another one! And then 40 mins after that came number three! All slightly different on plumage - amayzing!

Finished up with about 250 cory's and 50-odd greats, plus the supporting cast included several more year ticks - 5 (count 'em) long-tailed skuas, 7 poms, 3 arctics, plus a jammy turnstone too! A few sooties and bonxies thrown in too. All good! Will have to keep seawatching though, cos I still need sab's and common tern!

Oh look - 4th place!

Wednesday 31 July 2013


Jeez, been a bit slack with my attendance on here! Still, had a slow trickle of year ticks since I last posted, including such finery as tystie, sooty, stormie, baleary, ringoey, & common sandy. So that sees me safely back in front of Old Hadders and Senor Kostco but still sadly lagging behind Mr Bushey.

Still and all, can't grumble, with ace views of a fantastic summer male Mongolian Sandplover  on the weekend - have a pic!

Lovely job, Ted!

Monday 29 July 2013

Loxia love

Friday saw the addition of crossbill to the year list for the patch, with 9 birds flying over the garden during breakfast. Maybe these were the birds that i had on Saturday further out into the patch proper. Or maybe not.That and house martin (overlooked from adding to the list earlier in the year) bring me to within 1 species on 100%. What will it be????

Tuesday 16 July 2013

It's good to have a hobby

I was walking up to my car with a large piece of boat on my head on Sunday when I heard alarm calling. It was a hobby trying to harvest some of the village's swallow crop. I didn't even have time to drop the boat part on my foot, let alone find some binoculars before it swept off north. This was a full fat patch tick, which always goes down well. Add to that a whimbrel heard from the house (hot weather = windows open).

Thursday 11 July 2013

Summer madness

While not up to the standard of the recent run of UK rares, my garden had its own spell of summer madness on Monday evening. And since my garden is the start of my patch, they all count. First up was a ghostly barn owl floating past at the back of the garden – not a patch tick but new for the year and a quality bird. But headline spot goes to a twee wee wee night flying common sandpiper that flew over within 10 minutes. Oddly, this was predicted as a possible species by Seppy a couple of years ago. Way to go Seppy, and since you predicted quail and common sand correctly, perhaps you would like to make a few more predictions for the coming seasons. Cracking patching for sure, all from the comfort of my own decking. 95.95%, approaching the ton.

The Proclaimers (hot)

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Anyone seen a snowy owl

It's now past mid-summers day and the nights are drawing in but still no sign of that snowy owl...

You would have thought that with a name like Statto he would know a year only has 365 days in it.  But apparently not and having claimed the prize back in 2011 he's decided it warrants a second year.

Anyway, I've been keeping busy and even built a whole new fireplace just hoping for the day that a snowy owl might stop by...

The couple of stock doves last week won't keep the snowy owl but adds one more to the year list.

Happy days


Thursday 13 June 2013

Moving swiftly on....

Sitting outside enjoying an evening beer in the uncharacteristic West Cork sunshine last week when "BOOM!"... three (1... 2... 3...) swifts hurtled overhead.

Breaking the 90% barrier with 90.91%... but frustratingly STILL in third spot.

Seppy keeps telling me I need to get out more... I'm beginning to think he may be right.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Otter have known

Probably time that we two minstrels stopped our idle strumming and brought you up to date. No, not a new album, but happenings on Boghall after a week on Shetland:
Garden warbler brings the list to 69, or 93.24%. Top of the heap.
Oystercatcher chicks running around waiting to be predated by the local foxes
And best of all, yesterday evening, otter in the burn in the garden. Not a bird, but a cracking garden tick (although not as good as Bushy's recent run I grant you). perhaps it was after the goosander.

Happy birding,

Craig and Charlie

Raptors @ Cotehill

After the Monty's last week, a (long overdue) sparrowhawk, (another) Mash harrier and a (first) honey buzzard were all seen from the garden.   The honey buzzard was a full fat north-east Scotland tick, garden tick and best of all patch tick.

Some other non-raptor species for the year include a fine adult pec sand and 'thunbergi' yellow wagtail both at Miekle Loch, a stonechat, hooded crow and a couple of canada geese!  (They all count).

This little haul of patch ticks puts me on 81.62%; 127 for the year.   That's a whole five species more than this time last year!

Happy Days


Tuesday 4 June 2013

A good hobby this birding lark!

It had been dismally quiet on patch for what seemed an age... then, as tends to be the way, it all kicked off at once. Well -- if you can call three year-ticks "kicking off" -- it certainly felt like it after the dearth of activity.

First an overdue whitethroat which turned up yards from home after pounding the patch for hours (typical).

Then the next day I heard the swallows making a commotion, dived out the office door bins in hand to be greeted by a 2CY hobby coming straight at me, going hell for leather. It passed overhead -- only about 20 feet up -- and was gone. Great... if brief... views. Class bird!

Finally, one of my favourite spring migrants... probably because I can identify with its tendency to be late all the time... a spotted flycatcher turned up in next door's hedge.

Those three take me to 74 for the year -- or 89.70% -- STILL languishing in third place.....

Other news: I discovered that I can actually see a narrow sliver of sea from one elevated corner of the patch . It's a long way off, so not sure I'll be able to nail anything at that distance... even with the super duper Meopta S2 scope... but it does introduce some tantalising possibilities.

Monday 3 June 2013

another trio

A ring-tail Montagu's harrier flew past my house yesterday...  that was nice.

My bird of the year so far.

This is the third one from the garden in the last four years!  A quite remarkable set of records seeing that  Monty's are a bit of a rare up here.  (I must admit that I didn't see the last one.  I was sitting in an airport lounge as my wife watched one from the kitchen window).  

A stunning male summer plumaged snow bunting last Wednesday was extraordinarily late and a pair of corn buntings cling on in the patch.  Once common, but now down to the last pair.  

Three in this last week put me on to a tidy 119 for the year and 76.48%.  

Happy Days


Saturday 25 May 2013

thats more of it ted

So, still stuff moving through even though we're into late May! A dunlin on the lake yesterday plus 14 (count 'em) sanderlings on da beach this am were both new, as was todays collared dove. Best of the lot was a very late singing grasshopper warbler this morning out on Galley - thought I'd missed 'em this year but thankfully not!

So safely still ahead of old bushy!

Happy days!

Friday 24 May 2013

It had to be done...

A two hour sea watch first thing this morning eventually produced the goods with a fine sum plum long-tailed skua flying north, close to shore.  It's my first long-tail for many a year and my first ever spring one on the patch.  So very pleased I was indeed.

Better still though was the one that flew low over my head when I was out with the dog the other side of Cotehill Loch.  This one drifted south across the reserve and across the loch towards the Ythan.  A bitter sweet moment as it flew within a few metres of my garden when I wasn't there.  So alas no garden tick for me.  I'm now spending the rest of today looking out my front room pretending to do some work.

Other good birds included a fine summer plumage black guillemot.  A very good bird for the patch plus a lot of extra seabirds that I hadn't seen this year and a migrating dunlin for good measure.

This mornings haul of year ticks puts me on 116 species and a better than average 74.55% .  A head of Seppy for the first time ever me thinks.

Happy days


Tuesday 21 May 2013

Still lagging

Not got the pace, not in the race

Some nice birds though...

A full fat patch tick in the form a bluethroat at the weekend was as far as I can remember, through my ever thickening fog of dementia, a first for me on the patch.  Not that I found it.  The bird found by a local birder on a fine sunny Sunday morning drew the biggest twitch of birders that I've seen on the patch (or in the region) for many years.  I suspect more people went to see this bird than did the p-g tips last year!  bizarre.

Other nice birds include a fine male red-backed shrike in the village (courtesy of Reg) and female marsh harrier which are both firsts for a few years.  A few waders passing through include a wood and common sandpipers on Meikle Loch and ringed plover over the garden.

These and other bits and pieces put me on 106 for the year and 68.12%.

Happy Days


Monday 20 May 2013

getting back at haddock

I managed to add four species to the year list on Saturday: turtle dove and whinchat, neither of which are guaranteed, plus swift (at last) and best of all, a grey plover which was only me 4th ever record for the patch, and was the first one on the deck.

All good!

Monday 13 May 2013

Ticking over nicely

I added four species this weekend, which could have been more if Seppy hadn't done the dirty on me and dragged me down to London for a meeting when migrants were arriving all along the coast on the Friday. Still, Arctic skua and lesser redpoll were handy and Sandwich tern and sedge were warbler were to be expected.

peep x 6

Braving the winds and rain, I continue to be reminded how plain my patch is. Indeed, I might have to go to Shetland in a couple of weeks just to see some bloody birds. Still, in addition to late swallow and whitethroat, highlight from the past week or so was Boghall's second whimbrel. This is the first spring record, and gives me hope that my patch is not total gank.Gives us 90.5%, and still need house sparrow (only tree sparrows round my way). And there are all these black and white things all over the place. No idea what they are:

Sunday 12 May 2013


Okay, okay, so I know I can't count it but this Lesser Whitethroat would have been a great spring bonus had I connected when it still had a whisper of a heartbeat.

Pick of the breathing birds recently was Shelduck (two south) whilst Little Tern was useful and a few other migrants have duely arrived. Just four summer bakers remaining now I think; Manxie, Arctic Skua, Swift and Surfie. Oh, and I've also still yet to conciously notice a patch Dunnock this year.

91 species (=7-.54%).

Friday 10 May 2013

Harrier ho!

Bit blowy of late around here... but still managed to clock a distant male hen harrier from the front garden yesterday. Amazed I could even hold the bins up.

Takes me to 86.06%... rats... still in third spot!

Tuesday 7 May 2013

New breeding site?

Enjoyed a very pleasant walk around the patch on Sunday and scored two species I never saw at all last year: lapwing (displaying) and tystie. Also saw my first wheatears and an 'on-time' whitethroat on the patch. During the week, I saw my first Manxies flying north.

The tysties were interesting because, while watching from the Muckle Shore in my patch, I saw the tell-tale signs that a bird was showing interest in a bit of coast slightly north of my patch, but out of sight. So I walked around the to a place where I could see a nice piece of cliff and bingo, there was a perfect tystie, sitting on a ledge, squeaking away. Although this is a perfectly suitable spot for them, I believe it is the first time they have been known to attempt to breed away from their regular spot 10 miles south. I shall keep a careful eye on them.

Friday 3 May 2013

Catch'n up

Well a few moments of excitement in recent weeks to keep Blackdog well poised for a 2nd-half-of-year climb up the table. Key building blocks were Grey Partridge (thought they were a thing of the past after the transfer of ownership of the release site at Menie Links), a pair of Shoveler (real patch gold with just two previous records, including one uncannily silimar record of a pair at much the same season a few years back) and a Med Gull - third year running of occurrance. Was particularly chuffed with this one as I picked it up initially on call flying over from inland.

Among scarcer but just about annual species, Whimbrel appeared and a pair of Tufties called by.
Just remembered a few days ago that I still need to pass on the majestic white owlish creation to Bushveld - find another goodie on the patch and I'll being it with me...

Now on 83 species (=64.34%).


Gropping my way

Bingo... grasshopper warbler on patch earlier in the week was a real boon to get. Tend not to stick, so always a relief to get them.

The lone collared dove seems to have been joined by a partner, so with a bit of luck they'll become less of a struggle on patch in the future. A singing male blackcap yesterday was another patch year tick... keeping things ticking over nicely. Puts me on 70... or 84.85%... still in third... but crucially still in touch.

Thursday 2 May 2013

ton up

A glorious yellow wagtail (4th ever on patch) and a smattering of whitethroats got me through the 100 species & 70% barriers today! All to play for!


Monday 29 April 2013

A whole 2 hours

I spent a whole two hours birding on the patch this weekend.  yep, whole two hours....that's the most I've done this year and unsurprisingly, I even managed to see a few birds.

A total of nine patch ticks for the year... awesome.

The best of the bunch being a record count of gadwall with three pairs on Meikle.  Gadwall might be annual but usually just one or two each year.  The best of the rests was a Manxie heading north during a sea watch.   The rest being regular stuff but they all count.

Now with 95 species and 61.05%.

On the heals of Cap'n haddock

Happy days


I want to sax you up

Patch gold on Sunday in the form of a cracking male whinchat. A full fat patch tick, and I don't get many of those. Loads of wheatear still on the patch, with birds in previously unoccupied areas of the hill, and on passage through the lowland fields. 3 red grouse territories. Oystercatcher on nest (until the local farmer harrows the field, at which point the eggs will become oystercatcher omelette, again)

And has Bushy been putting his dirty mits on my redpoll? One had a ring on it. The cheek.


Sunday 28 April 2013

What a lark!

Skylark from the washing line (year tick hot spot) and newly arrived sedge warblers push me up to 82.42%... But looking like my flirtation with the top of the leaderboard is coming to an end. Ho hum!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Some helpful additions

After the excitement of last weekend bagging bananabills (see http://andywebbsblog.blogspot.co.uk/) I thought it was about time I saw what was going on closer to home. I saw a useful pair of goosander heading north offshore and another absentee from last, in fact two years, grey wagtail supported by Old Porty's first willow warbler of the year. On the down side, it looks as if my pair of moorhen appear to have gone awol.

Friday 26 April 2013

Banging them in

It's that time of year. From nowhere in mid April to one a day since, so steaming up the table. This week:

Wednesday: Sedge Warbler
Thursday: Lesser Whitethroat
Friday: Reed Warbler

= 96 or about 86%


I went out again and got a Garden Warbler and later on a Red Kite flew over my house = 98 or 88%

First Patch Rare of 2013

Not that I can claim any credit for the find, as Reg of the ol' bill called to say he had a rather nice male ring-necked duck on Meikle.  And sure enough he did.

Although not a full fat patch tick it's certainly a good un.

Migrants have started to arrive but I'm missing more than seeing and my total so far of 86 is meagre 55.27%.

Must do better

Happy days


Tuesday 23 April 2013

Boghall strikes back

Spring arrived on Friday in Boghall. The 30 siskins that have been around for the past few weeks cranked up the volume, but two chiffchaff fought back and turned it up to 11 to break through the din.But it did not end there. 36 wheatear on the patch on Sunday, with 32 of them migrants in the lowland fields and only 4 males holding territory on the hills. Add to this willow warbler and blackcap (2 drakes and a duck) on the bird feeder, and it was shaping up well. A cracking cock brambling in full sum plum was joined by two hens at the feeder and to top it all, a couple of lesser redpolls dropped by for supper. Super. All this, together with the tawny owl I had during the week brings Boghall to 85.13%. And I still need house sparrow.
While there has not been Kumlin's gull in sight a fine vixen did pop through (although I need to change the date stamp).

Sunday 21 April 2013

Washing line strikes again!

The washing line is a great place for picking up impromptu year ticks. So much so that you'll even find me VOLUNTEERING to hang stuff out (and on any rarity scale me volunteering to do anything is going to be right up there).

This weeks washing line bounty was the first swallow back on patch... followed by a collared dove (a la the extremely dodgy digibinned-with-the-mobile and cropped half to death shot attached). Tricky enough bird on patch... so a bit of a coo to get it (sorry... couldn't resist)!

House martin turned up yesterday evening too taking me to 66 -- which in real money puts me on 80%

Saturday 20 April 2013


Well, a little anyway. 5 overdue year ticks today - Arctic Skua, Whimbrel, Buzzard, House Martin and Coal Tit (not the normal habitat for them as you can see...)

Wednesday 17 April 2013

All go round here

Too windy for anything but a seawatch on de weekend, which got me manxie, bonxie, tammie norrie and scooty doo for the year. A fair few mealies moulieing too. And then today its windy again, so checked de lake and there's a 1st w kumliens loafing around - saw what was shurely the same bird coast past de house 2 days ago but didn't get a great look at it. 2 house martins were new today plus I also had a shag on the lake, which was nice!

Monday 15 April 2013

Migs Galore

Today on Patch we had 27 Wheatear, 5 Common Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Swallow, 1 Sand Martin and about a trillion Chiffs. I saw at least one of each of them, which frankly catapults me away from the competition and through the 80% barrier, with nine new year-ticks in the last three days, during which I birded the patch for approximately four hours. A tick about once every half hour in other words.

All the best

Sunday 14 April 2013

Red Hot

Wanstead on fire! Two (count 'em!) full-fat patch ticks on Saturday, plus my first Blackcap and Willow Warbler of the year takes me to 86, or 77.25%. First up a blinding adult Kittiwake, a great London bird and good enough to fly directly over my head shaking its little black feet at me. Nearly fainted. And then when the Black Redstart was refound, well good gracious me, I may have actually passed out with delirium. Straight to the top of the leader board. It won't last, but good to let those normally at the top that I'm not out for the count just yet. Can full-fat patch ticks be beaten?! NO!



Rather less frequent than King Eider but, by fine timing, just two days short of two years since the last record.

No hirundines, warblers, wheatears, etc. yet......

69 species (=53.49%)

Saturday 13 April 2013


How long has it been since I last posted? Must have been a while. Think it was pre-Bluethroat (on patch) and was certainly before I saw Red-throated Pipit and White-throated Robin (off patch sadly, out of the UK even - others of note in a recent UAE trip included Rufous Bush Robin, Turkestan Shrike, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Indian Pond Heron, 2 species of Roller, 2 species of Bee-eater, you get the idea). Back on patch finally added Swallow, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Yellow Wagtail but very very slow and still no Whitethroat

Friday 12 April 2013

Long Live the King

Blackdog's mention in the 2013 BBRC report is secured early this year, the Ythan clearly not being to Elvis's liking.

A few other "spring" birds now filtering in with Reed Bunting, Linnet and Lesser Black-back helping the total on to an underwhelming 68 species (52.71%).


Wednesday 10 April 2013


Finally glimpsed the velvet scoter from de patch this am, which was a full fat patch tick (up to 194 now!), plus got iceland gull from de hoose this eve - 2 year tick day - gotta love it!

Monday 8 April 2013


oops! haven't divulged me scores for ages! Oh well - although the spring has hardly arrived yet, I did manage wheatear, chiff, willow, blackcap and swallow before the end of March, and have added sarnie and purp sand in the last couple of days! Just need the easterly wind to drop a bit and there'll be all sorts to find! Old spoons found a velvet scoter just off patch a few days ago too and its still here - just need a calm day to nail it - patch gold!

Friday 5 April 2013

Sandies' return

The abysmal weather finally relented earlier this week. It's still cold, but the sun has been shining, the wind dropping and temperatures slowly rising. At times, dare I say it, it even started to feel like spring.

And so I ventured out for a stroll to the lake on Wednesday evening, and there they were... three sand martins wheeling around overhead. There were a couple of chiffchaffs and a willow warbler foraging in the willows along the lakeshore too, and a small raft of tufted duck out on the water.

That little lot takes me to 63 for the year, putting me on 76.36%, and temporarily floating me back to the top of the leaderboard.

Thursday 4 April 2013


Classy Goose doule-whammy last Saturday; first a Greylag flew over the rifle range and ditched down in a field where close inspection revealed 600 Pinkies also. Then, always a patch highlight, eight Canada Geese - sat on the sea for a couple of hours at least. Both less than annual species.

63 species (=48.84%)


Monday 25 March 2013

Proper Patch Gold

Oh yes, oh my oh my. Local Monster, London gem. Missing half a wing, but who cares? Do I get extra points?

Tuesday 19 March 2013


There's been a few bits on patch - Marsh Harrier and Eider yesterday were useful (missed the latter last year!), but missed out on a fly-by Tufted Duck today - a tricky one to get back. At least I'm ahead of Seppy but still no Wheatear, Firecrest or Sand Martin


Not got much to report as I haven't been out at all.  Best bird recently being a mistle thrush which is a good bird for the patch and usually only get one or two per year but it would be annual except that I didn't get one last year.

Other than that all the usual stuff and still plenty of usual stuff to be got.

I must get out more and would do if wasn't for the local farmer who has drained all the best pools, cut down a load of sycamores and bushes and ploughed up a footpath which is use to run across the middle of the patch and took me to the excellent bushes along the whinnyfold road.  So i've been somewhat uninspired in getting out much.

Still the mistle thrush helps and so maybe I'll pick up the pace a bit.

74 species

(Almost) Happy days


Monday 18 March 2013

merlin the magical puppy

still nae migs here yet (FFS - they is now officially late!) but did glean blip views of a merlin twice on the weekend - its all happnin!

Triple crown

We took advantage of a brief dry spell yesterday afternoon to do Boghall, and were rewarded with a fine peregrine and then a flock of snow buntings in the snow at the back of Caerketton.  Second record of Snobs from the patch, and a fine find for us inland boys. Pleased with that haul we went home to work on some new songs, but better was to come when we looked out of the recording studio window and saw a cracking male goosander haul itself out of the burn that goes through the garden, waddle across the bridge and sit down on the path. It decided that the garden was not suitable for nesting pretty quick though, before we could get any photos. Shame, but a cracking patch and garden tick. 3 new for the year means 75.67%. Bring it!

Saturday 16 March 2013

Coming at ya!

I learned that from the kids on the street. 2 Shelduck on the way to the studio in the week are storming birds for round here, plus I mopped up Kingfisher last weekend. Grey Wag and Bullfinch still missing, and I cannot be arsed to go listening for Owls when I could be indoors drinking. Oh, and did I mention the first Curlews for 42 years? Soon the lead will be mine. Mwah-haha-ha-ha-ha!

Friday 15 March 2013

Notebooks out, plagiarists

200 pink feet flew over earlier in the week. Divided by two, that gives 100 birds, or thereabouts. It's that level of analysis that makes a top patch lister.

Thanks to The Eternal Flame from whom I nicked that gag.

Add 1 LBBG, and we are on 71.6%. Top spot is ours again.