Wednesday 30 January 2013

superzoom scope scoop

Scanning distant hedges this pm for any kind of year tick at all netted me 7 (count 'em) fieldfare -usually tricky enuff this early in the year - good to get 'em oot de way!

Tuesday 29 January 2013


A glaucous gull graced me patch this morning - tad damp tho, as the following record shot will verify!

A wet glauc earlier
Another handy for the year tho!

Monday 28 January 2013

I'd rather Jack / Saxicola – it’s the real thing

A bumper weekend on the patch. A good thrash on Saturday started with a stonechat that must have been pushed to lower altitudes by the snow. Mr Hill from Burnt Island spoilt the moment rather by texting me the news that he was watching waxwings on his beat, but that just drove me on. I spent the next hour targeting the exposed wet flushes which had stayed open, and were covered with a wee bit of vegetation. My thrashing paid off as I flushed a jack snipe from one of the many bogs of Boghall. A full fat patch tick, and the first patch tick for a while. I enjoyed it so much that I went and flushed it again to get another brief view of it. Take that Mr Hill, (and watch and learn Jerry Wilson who’s been searching his patch for this one recently). And to add icing to the proverbial cake I had a flock of waxwings over this morning. I didn’t have them last year, but the bus stop appears to be a regular spot otherwise. All this and mallard takes me to 47, or more importantly 63.51%.

Thursday 24 January 2013

pissing on shakey's chips

Not one to be outdone by an overweight and over-hyped 50's throwback, I too have been pushing the patch envelope as it were, by finding my own patch tick in the form of a fine female long-tailed duck on de lake, and from the comfort of my own patio too! I give you Exhibit A:

A long-tailed duck yesterday

Cute eh? Only me 2nd in Cork I think - rare bird on the south coast and all that! First patch tick of the year, but hopefully not the last. I too am currently doing better than last year - 10 species better in fact!    And last year was a record year!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Patch gold

A bit of cold weather (by our southern standards anyway) this week has yielded two new species for the site - Jack Snipe and Egyptian Goose (record shot below). Doing better than last year at 43.14%

Monday 21 January 2013

Working Birding

Not got out on the patch much recently as I've been bogged down with work.  However, looking up from the dreaded computer screen got me a rather nice merlin busy scaring thing shite out of the finches on my bait site which also has a number of brambling frequenting it.  Scored a scaup from my front room during the week and a single only need the one!

Too cold for patio birding but four patch ticks all from the house.

A mediocre 57 species, 36.63%


Coffee table birding

Birds seen while drinking coffee is one of my favourite lists, and included gems such as Lammergeir, Sandhilll Crane and Aberdares Cisticola. Thus, it was with great pleasure I added brambling to the birds seen on the patch in 2013 while drinking coffee list, quickly followed by great spotted woodpecker.2 patch ticks without even putting my boots on. So inspired I went out and flogged the patch, but to no avail (other than loads of fieldfare, a fluffy fox and a few roe deer). Still, the garden haul takes me to 40, or 54.1% as it equates to round these bird starved parts. Also, it takes me above that patio birding king Seppy. Those of us without a patio strike back !
Still no reed bunting though.

Sunday 20 January 2013

New Additions

After giving up a week of skiing in Aspen I've made a couple of wintry visits to the patch in recent days. One or two new additions including Waxwing, Dark-bellied Brent Goose and this morning a nice Woodock have taken me a smidge over the 50% mark with 73 species to date.

Local residents recognizing i'm not getting any younger have been most kind over the Christmas period leaving both a mattress and a rather fetching leather armchair at key locations on the patch presumably in the knowledge that I may need to take a rest occasionally. I am eternally grateful and will ensure they are thanked in my next Oscar speech.

I have moved myself into the third spot in the table on the basis my name starts with a K which comes before S in the alphabet.

through the 50% barrier

Two very valuable scores yesterday on patch - first up was an unseasonal coal tit at the top of Dirk. Normally restricted to the occasional one in October, and definitely not annual, this was a definite "punch the sky" moment!

And then, not to be outdone, the patio duly provided this afternoon, in the form of a kingfisher sitting around in the sun! Another tricky species at Galley, and one I probably only get every two years, so all in all, a most productive day!

Over the 50% barrier too - good goin for January! And ahead of the proccies and in 3rd - even better!

Saturday 19 January 2013

This little piggy

Scanning the scenery from the garden this morning bagged me a peregrine going hell for leather, seemingly in a hurry to be somewhere else. Also had lovely views of a soon-to-be mummy fox not far from home (must remember to lock up the chickens early from now on) as I tramped around the patch in search of the aforementioned "dead cert" reed bunting.

Fieldfare practically vermin proportions -- at least 8 million on patch at the moment, outnumbering the redwing about 10 to one. Literally couldn't lift the bins without clocking at least a dozen of the blighters. Bloody foreigners!

Reed bunting though was proving a tad more elusive.

A sudden squeeling from a nearby reed bed was good news though; either someone was surreptitiously slaughtering baby pigs, or I had water rail on patch... and several of them. Reed bunting duly gave itself up too, bringing up the magic half-century, and taking me to 60.61%.

Happy days! Almost made up for having to power wash the patio when I got home!

Friday 18 January 2013

It's a lot less bother with a hover...!

Had more or less given up on patch year ticks today when a Kestrel from the car on the way home from Skibbereen this afternoon added to the tally. Great stuff this patch birding. Keeps me within a dead-cert reed bunting of the top spot. Will have to go thrash a bit of boggy scrub in the morning.

patio party continues

Two more year ticks this morning from the comfort of the patio - lapwing and a dodgy distant scope-zoomed sparrowhawk perched in a tree for about two hours, which could have been anything but I'm having it anyway! With over 60 species seen from the patio already this year, is there any point in trying anywhere else on the patch? Green veined white still here too.

Snowy Blast

Quick blast round the patch in the snow produced Woodcock in exactly the place I expected to find one, two Common Snipe exactly where I thought there would be Common Snipe, and my first Fieldfare of the year. Who said patch birding wasn't exciting?

57.49%, and my latest Fieldfare EVER - by 17 days funnily enough....


Wednesday 16 January 2013

more scores from the patio

Siskin and 1st w med gull were today's offerings - gratefully snapped up too!

A green-veined white yesterday...

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Nosing ahead!

A dismal weekend patch wise and a slow start to the third week sees me surging into the lead. Well, OK, stumbling inadvertently to the front then....

Didn't think I'd get out on the patch at all today, but an opportune trip to the post office gave me the chance to take a detour around the far side of the patch to the lake on the way home. Nothing new... just a couple of cormorants and the ubiquitous teal. Out of luck I headed for home and nearly took out a female sprawk as it hurtled across the road after a song thrush. A dipper on the little stream added to the tally... both without having to get out of the car. Bonus!

That's 47 for the year... or more importantly 55.76%... nudging me in front for the first time. It's quite a nice place to be... guess I'd best savour it while it lasts, which inevitably won't be long.

Sprawk photo is from last year in the garden... but enough of a tenuous link with this post to use it I think.

Monday 14 January 2013

green-veined white

Was having a casual check on the gadwall situation this morning when, lo! A male green-winged teal swam past! Ker-chow! Only my 2nd at Galley - first was in Dec '05, lingering into Jan '06 so its been a while! And then grey heron finally fell too! 67 species - dizzy heights!


Nothing like gadwall yet, but still picking up the standard gank that fills my patch. Tree sparrow from bed was a good start to Saturday, and followed that up with sprawk. I managed it up onto the hills proper for the first time this year and with the snow and all I could have been in the Alps. Quality red grouse (2 prs) but no perg or raven yet. They will fall though.50% on the schnez.

Sunday 13 January 2013

sunday scores

Actually had a walk round Galley today! First time this year! Amaze-balls! Got 8 year ticks too, cashing in such goodies as whimbrel, goldcrest, raven & grey wag. Still, have to get them some time! However, back on the patio things livened up considerably when 2 (count 'em) gadwall were noticed on the edge of the lake reeds by my good self - kwality patch score! Think thats the 4th record in the last 5 years so they is very nearly annual! So now 65 species up, which is one better than the whole January total for 2011 and 2012 - and I'm back in the medals in 3rd place - good going!

Friday 11 January 2013

Steady as she goes

No patch birding per-se been going on the last few days... but that doesn't mean there hasn't been progress.

Well, progress of a fashion, but hey, they all count. A lesser redpoll at the peanuts this morning and a small flock of linnet overhead keeps things ticking over and keeps me within 1% of the top spot on 52.12%.

Off patch all day tomorrow though... anything could happen! And probably won't.

Thursday 10 January 2013

355 days to go...

I was stuck on a phone conference this afternoon.  So spent the time profitably by looking out my front window...

To kick off a short-eared owl on a fence post, followed by another, then another... These were followed by a fine drake goosander, pintail and pair of whooper swans all on Cotehill.   Not sure what the outcome of the phone conf was but four nice patch ticks made it.

So after ten days the patch total goes on to 52 species and 33.42%.  Somewhere mid-table.

Happy days


Good game II, and peewits

A weekend spent down the coast boosted the year list, but did nothing for the patch. A drake pheasant from the garden on Saturday gave me one patch tick (the dipper that I could hear singing whilst lying in bed was not new for the year - sorry to grip ya, Basil). Then a flock of 40 peewits were notched up while at the bus stop. 41.89%, or third place asit is known around here. This weekend will bring some dedicated patching.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Ticking the velvet

Slow start continues but Velvet Scoter is useful (had to wait until December for one last year). 30.72%. Cold spell forecast, could be interesting.

Banging them in

Breezed round a small portion of the patch last week and picked up Firecrest and Nuthatch, 53% bang on. Still seeking - Kingfisher, Peregrine, Lit Egret, Grey Wag, Tawny Wol, Bullfinch and Woodcock.


Tuesday 8 January 2013

Good game, good game....

First day of sunshine for 2013, so used my New Year Resolution to be more active as an excuse to take the bike for a spin around the patch. Dipped on dipper at Cononnagh for the second day running, nothing new along the river, no raptors hanging out at the little disused quarry, flat calm and empty lake.

It was all looking a bit desperate until the squeeky front brakes flushed a male pheasant out of some scrub. I knew lack of maintenance on that bike was the way to go. Ganky game bird it may well be, but that pheasant takes me to 42 for the year and up to 50.90%, just 0.3% off the top spot. Oooohhhhh!


First day of the year when the sun came out! Chanced a quick look in the top fields and cashed in skylark & dunnock, however 4 wigeon on the lake were semi-decent for the year - not quite annual and I have missed them occasionally in a year so good to nail 'em.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Good days ahead

The Blackdog patch list is growing with an exponential function. Look at that r-squared value - can't argue with that now. So although the golden Mallard might not be flying my way soon, running the model forward, the 200th species will come in 2014 and, by 2018, I'll be topping 220.