Wednesday 31 December 2014

And the 2014 winner is....

Hearty congratulations to Senor Basil Faulty of West Cork for winning the prestigious Golden Mallard trophy for 2014!! Although offpatch and overseas between August and November, none of the rest of us clowns could get it together enough to actually see any birds on our respective patches, and so we are left muttering about it being a crap autumn while he waltzes off with the main prize (worth a whopping 50 rag on ebay don't forget!)

Fortunately our roving reporter was there yesterday to record the moment when Mr Faulty heard the news of his big win...

An ecstatic Kenny Rogers yesterday!!
Final Scores for 2014
As I can never remember what everyone gets each year (purely for verification purposes), here are the full final scores for 2014:

Basil Faulty aka Kenny Rogers: 100.79%
Statto: 96.57%
Shaking Stevens: 95.03%
Reg Hollis: 91.48%
Roy Castle: 91.43%
Sepp Blatter: 90.28%
Derek Nimmo: 88.95%
Bushveld: 86.92%
The Proclaimers: 74.47%

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Not enough of the ruff stuff

Well, that's another year pretty much done.

A couple of fly-by common gulls over the last week knocked the overall tally up to 85 species for the year... or (the far more important number) 100.79%. Welcome addition -- as I only ever get them on patch during winter, and then not every year.

Best find on patch... and a full fat patch tick... was a flyover blackwit (hardly earth shattering, but waders are a scarce commodity up here in dairy land). A probable ruff, flushed from the muddy farm track over the back wall during the week, would have easily been the bird of the year-- but I didn't get enough on it, and Seppy's assurances that it "wouldn't go far" and "would probably be back" turned out to be bollocks. The one that got away!

So, after four months off patch, and missing the Autumn entirely, I find myself still ahead of the posse. I half expect someone to post a dozen species they've been holding "in reserve" tomorrow and oust me from the top spot.

Wow! Looks like the first challenge of 2015 will be persuading Sybil to make room on the mantelpiece for a fine new piece of tat decorative art.

Happy New Year y'all... and remember, the day after tomorrow they ALL count again!

The last post...

The last post of 2014 from the new kid on the block.

Longhaven hardly shook the patch listing world but still made it's mark.

Highlights of the year being hobby, Dicks pipit and a little bunting.  Also missed a few with red-backed shrike and red-breasted flycatcher both occurring and a fine honey buzzard just off patch.

Surprisingly few waders and wildfowl recorded even with a large flooded field easily 'scopable from the patch.  Still think the patch has potential, even though the final tally for the year is a mere 113 and 86.92% of my estimated total made 12 months ago.

Hoping to win that golden mallard one year, but really going to have to put a lot more effort into 2015!

have a good one

Happy Days


Shakey shakes it

After another subtle hint Shakey admits that he's "picked off some late gank", which has increased his score. He doesnt divulge what this gank consists off, but I'm sure it is all legal & above board!

Monday 29 December 2014

Reg Declares

News from Reg tonight that with only 2 days left & even after stringing a goshawk the other day, he doesn't think he'll get any more additions. Thusly, he slips in at fourth position overall, just 0.05% ahead of Royzah, as things stand. which is annoying. he's a twat.

Update: And he forgot to add mistle thrush. twat.

Monday 22 December 2014

Blowing Mr Castle's Trumpet

Some news at last from the dead fat trumpet tootler of South Don - he managed to find a quiet hour at work today and update his spreadsheet - imagine one day he may be able to set up google drive on his mobile and be able to update his spreadsheet anywhere (like in the jacks at work)!

Anyhoo, between the jigs and the reels, I can't remember what he's claiming to have seen lately (maybe jack snipe or something) but he's reached the dizzy heights of 128 species or 91.43% - annoyingly at least 2 species ahead of me! The git!


Monday 15 December 2014

last gasp at Galley

Been pulling out all the stops (i.e. stringing) to try and get some last minute additions to the year list - its paying off too as I managed a little auk on a 1 hr seawatch yesterday am, whilst today vigourous scanning of distant off-patch fields from the comfort of me garden (on-patch) successfully netted the frankly embarrassing missing mistle thrush. So thats over the 90% mark at last but can I catch Shakey?

Wednesday 10 December 2014

quite garralus

Whilst off work last week due to  man flu, I dragged myself out for a slow saunter about the patch. And scored with a full fat patch tick: jay, flying low along a hedgerow. I recall Ali Miller (some might remember him?) telling me they were regular at a site 10 km away in the 1980's, and I recently saw one while driving to buy plumbing supplies about 2 km from the patch. But all this counts as nothing as it's now on the patch. Thumbs up for corvids.

Monday 8 December 2014


Blackdog has entered something of a Groundhog Day phase - and it is a day with no birds. Whooper, Redwing, Brambling and Short-eared Owl in second half of October and then Snow Bunt and Greater 'pecker in early November kept old Statto in the running but since then there has been stalemate. Is four more needed to nudge the top spot too much to hope for now?

Oh, and take a look at my 'pecker:

Statto (122 species, 96.57%)

Friday 5 December 2014

Stone mad and back in the game!

Finally back after the EPIC trip and astonished to find myself still ahead of the posse despite being off-patch since the end of July. Imagine that!

Great to be out around the patch on my own again. Four month's with Sybil is more than enough for anyone. Even better was the pair of stonechats around the back end of the lake yesterday morning.


99.61% and only a few weeks left in it... it's good to be back!

Monday 24 November 2014

Its not all beer & dancing you know

Quick update from the lads in the field in the Gambia - Royzah gleaned 85 ticks on his first full day out there, the fat tart that he is!

All the other contenders (T2006, Shakey & Reg Hollis) playing it too cool to divulge their off-patch tickage.

Interrogations have also revealed that Shakey has added woodlark recently (wonder what that really was? The Girdle Bird pers comm) and has moved to 2nd place ahead of Statto and Nimmo & his squashed fingers.

So thats all the news so far

A bientot

Wednesday 12 November 2014

whopper with large fries

one whopper swan gleaned from the jax window while having a pee has been the only highlight lately.

*Update* - just checked the lake (from the patio, not the jax) and there's a fine female goldeneye ensconsed there - puts me ahead of royzah I think!

Monday 27 October 2014

Bog all at Boghall. Still

Boghall is dire. Nothing of note for months but lots of goldcrest and redwing this weekend. It's been a good autumn off the patch though, including the joint charity gig we did on Shetland with Derek and Royza (and Seppy, on the fiddle as always). Progress has been hampered by a broken toe which mean that Boghall is, literally, limping along.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

News from Shakey

Some news from Shakey - not only has he been to the pub this lunchtime, he also managed to calculate his accumulated score for this year and is even in third place too! This is a bit of a bugger, as I only asked him for an update as I reckoned I 'd be safely ahead of him! Ah well, can't win 'em all!

Sunday 19 October 2014


I've been very busy this, a hectic recording schedule (mostly abroad). So my visits to the wondrous patch have been few and far between, and definitely have nothing to do with the three year average rule. Languishing well under 100 species until last week, I've been on a bit of a bender and clocked five new ones in the last two weeks, including two full-fatters - Woodlark and Lapland Bunting contained no repetition whatsoever. So this takes me up to 102 for the year with the winter season to come. The recording schedule continues apace however, with panel game shows in Tenerife, Morocco and the UAE to come. Oh, and Glasgow.


Thursday 16 October 2014

more of it

Yesterday was hard work but eventually managed to pin down two yellow browed warblers as well as adding redwing, black redstart, and ring ouzel to the year list - think I may be ahead of Nimmo!

Wednesday 15 October 2014

struggling on

The October dearth of birds finally ran out yesterday as I successfully netted (football parlance, not ringing parlance) a yellow browed warbler at Shite Lane and then a tree pipit over - the pipit is about my 6th here I think - rarer than ybw! Anyhoo, together with siskin and redpoll, these are the only year ticks so far this October. Puts me back into 5th spot, just ahead of Bushveld for now. Hoping for a bucketload more this arvo when the rain clears...

Monday 13 October 2014

Thrashing the Patch

A good spell of easterlies brought in a few migs

best of the bunch being a rather nice little bunting at Bullers of Buchan and is currently bird of the year for me.

Other birds included a flighty Richards pipit, a long over due yellow-browed warbler and some Lapland buntings.

There's been so many year ticks I can't remember them all but in total an additional 12 year ticks on the patch since my last posting…. Awesome

With some easterlies this week and a touch of rain on Thursday should bring a few more in

108 sp

Happy days


Sunday 12 October 2014

Having a Barnie

It's been hard work - the mig-fest last week did bring lots of Robins, Song Thrushes and Goldcrests but only a handful of other stuff and a single Yellow-browed wasn't a year tick. Three bread-and-butter birds added this week, though, all overdue, with Grey Wag, Siskin and Barnacle Geese - all southbound.

Now on 116 species (=91.82%)


Saturday 4 October 2014

It's been a while...

I've been waiting a while to post an update on the blog in the vain hope that I'll have some interesting to say.  Unfortunately I don't.

Since the first mig of the autumn in the form of garden warbler on 12 August.  There's been precious little to report from Longhaven.   You would have thought that there's been enough birds in the region and there's definitely enough habitat to have kicked something up at Longhaven, but alas not.  To make matters worse The ol' bill Reg and Roy the boy scored an R-B Fly on the patch (poaching bastards) and there's been a yellow-browed.  Both of which I dipped.

The best of the picks so far this autumn have been:  Tree pipit, Bullfinch, L. whitey, whinchat, chiffchaff etc etc.  So all in all… all rather uninspiring.

Totals so far -  96,  73.85%

Happy days (sort of).  

Thursday 2 October 2014

last lap

Checking Dirk for rare american passerines this am really paid off when 2 lapwings flew over! Hell Yeah! Year tickage baby!

Quiet on the american passerine front tho, sadly...

Sunday 28 September 2014

Who says Penguins can't fly?

This one was maintaining a good height over the patch a few days back.

Alas, it was trailing has what appears to be jessies so must be regarded as of dubious origin. Is anyone up on Penguin ID? If I know the species, I can phone around the zoos to see who might be missing it.

A few things have made it on the list, though. A Redstart came in the the dreg end of the mid-September migrant arrival.

And then a 4 year-tick day on Friday - with, first, Coal Tit as an overdue addition. Then duck bonanza - Scaup, Shoveler and Goosander.

 So, now on 113 species (=89.45%). And full-time birding, unencumbered by the limitations of working for a living, starting in just a few days.


Saturday 20 September 2014

Gargantuan effort needed

Totted up the figures and leapfrogged back into second. 2 x Y-bW, Spott Fly and Blackcap all onto the list this week but not such a haul as some places up and down the coast.

Anyway, with a clear lead over the chasing pack, and Basil out of action for the rest of the autumn, perhaps this is my best ever chance to go for glory. I need to throw absolutely everything at it. To make the ultimate sacrifice. Total commitment. So I'm leaving my job in just over a week to devote myself 100% to the task in hand....


Friday 12 September 2014

wader day!

Maasseeeeeeeeeeve flock of waders on Long Strand this am, mostly dunlin and sanderling, the latter of which was a year tick! Also gleaned a fine (and tricky to get) bar-tailed godwit for the year, plus 2 knot, 3 turnstones, 6 ringos and a curlew! Kwality!

Wednesday 10 September 2014

unsound approach

Had a flyover little stint er, fly over the gaff the other day. Calling away it was, which when I checked the old campo rojo website confirmed it, innit. Garden tick no less (From the house list now 144), and only my 2nd on/from patch, although I'm not sure I really saw the first one from the patch - may have been off it. Lost in the mists of time in 2006  - its declared here anyway. Up into 3rd place too! Crazy scenes!

Saturday 6 September 2014

Away with the fairies

Well, I haven't checked in here for a while. Being some 17,000 KM off-patch puts a bit of a kibosh on the notion of a patch challenge. Some decent birds here in Oz though... and more to come in SE Asia, no doubt.

Noticed I forgot to add the juv LEO calling out by the lake the day before I left... so on 98.42%... and that's where I'll stay until early December.

Luckily autumn is normally pretty shit on patch... so I probably won't miss much while I'm away, and there's always the chance of a few winter ticks when I get back to keep things interesting.

Enjoy autumn!

Sunday 31 August 2014

Second migrant of the autumn...

Found one of these yesterday

But alas …. not on the patch

Happy Days


Friday 29 August 2014

making an arse of it

Good seawatching yesterday eve, banging in 366 cory's shearwaters and 112 great shearwaters, which was nice! Also had an adult skua which I first picked up with a couple of great shears - I actually thought it was a great shear at first, but then it turned into a skua and then I was arsing about with it, starting with arctic, before then going for long-tailed (without the streamers) - and I was getting quite into this idea, prominent dark cap & pale cheeks, very little white on the wing etc, but then I remembered I'd first seen it with great shears and it couldn't be LT on size and "look, how deep chested it is" etc. So plumped for pom. Twat. The bird was a lovely chocolate brown from the lower chest down to the vent, pom or arctic would have big white chest & stomach. and pom would most like have had a breast band!

so. ad long-tailed skua then. And some homework needed! still. they all count!

On a brighter note, saw a balearic shearwater off Galley tonight - someone else pre-verified it so no doubts with that one! and well ahead of the proccies now!

Tuesday 26 August 2014

ooo wader x 2

Just had a sconce at the lake, and while perusing a common sandpiper, my razor-sharp hearing detected a wader call - on the third call it finally clicked - turnstone! And they were, both of them! Just one more species needed to leapfrog Boghall into 4th spot! All going on!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

ooo wader

Green sand on de lake edge! Boom! Never guaranteed, its always a kwality wader to get on de patch! Plus bonus tufted duck on the lake this evening. Its all going on!

Tuesday 12 August 2014

First mig of the autumn

First mig of the autumn goes to….

Garden warbler!!!!!!!

Happy Days


Saturday 9 August 2014

the seawatching

Woohoo! Finally got to grips with cory's & great shearwater this pm ya bas! Happy days!

Monday 21 July 2014

Coot ya bas!

All right! The long lean summer drought of year ticks is over! Yes indeedy its all go for year ticks once again! Seawatching to date has sucked, with only a sooty shearwater to add, but marvel of marvels, on a recent family cycle down by the lake I noticed a moorhen/coot type just skulking into the reeds close-at-hand. No bins but waiting patiently and out it came revealing its white shield - Coot! Score! Once back home, I set up the scope on the same patch and bingo! There it was for the year! 1st record since 2011 too so very nearly bird of the year!! (so far).

And back ahead of Bushveld! Happy Days!

Sunday 13 July 2014


I seem to have spent the last 2 months anywhere but the patch. You name it, I've probably been there, but such is the life of a internationally renowned radio game show panellist. Anyhow, in a number of short spells in the country I've secured a Common Tern whilst watching a cricket match, a Hobby whilst working from home, a Reed Warbler on a family bike ride, and an outright filthy twitch of a Sedge Warbler just because I felt like it.

I am still debating whether I have enough to write a credible description of a Hoopoe, seen incredibly briefly at the same cricket match as the Tern. If I do, I'll slap it on, although that would partially defeat the whole object of this year, which is obviously to bring my average down as far as possible. Ahem.

Monday 7 July 2014

Caught up eventually

Well, after having to uninstall Office, re-install it, uninstall and re-install again, finally got the old 'puter back up and running and updated the list. Given the lack of very much at all out of the ordinary in recent weeks, was amazed to find I've bounced up to second on the grid at 75.99% (96 species). Still a few easy ones to go to, so maybe a good autumn and the Golden Mallard could be in sight.

And for a random blast back to spring, here's one of a flock of three Rouzel-douzels on the rifle range back in April


The tooth-brush strikes again!

Two-and-a-half minutes is not a lot of time... but in the time it takes to brush your teeth of a night-time you'd be amazed what you can hear... and occasionally see.

So far this year night-time-tooth-brushing has secured me whimbrel and blackwit -- both patch ticks -- and most recently barn owl -- caught in the beam of the quite astonishing little LED Lenser P5R.2 torch. I was sweeping the field opposite for foxes when out of the gloom a ghostly white shape emerged, drifting slowly across the field in front of me before disappearing over the hedge.

Essential Patch-Birding Gear

 That puts me on 97.24%. Out of action / off patch from the end of July to the start of December... so the pressure is on. Missing the Autumn is a real blow. Will I still be in contention when I get back on patch in December? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Friday 27 June 2014

Swiftly passed Derek Nimmo

A slew of quality birds over the past couple of weeks have secured us a place rise. Most amazing perhaps is the first house sparrow for a couple of years. yes, bloody amazing. perhaps the species is bouncing back. I think they are breeding in Lyn's house. Other additions include a curlew, a good few 'arse martins and swifts galore. Apus-tastic.

Bring on the autumn!

Da procs.

Monday 16 June 2014

swiftly past Seppy

A few swifts and a lone canada goose puts me on 89 species and 68.46%.

More importantly a whole percentage point a head of Seppy.  Always makes a posting worthwhile.

Happy Days


Thursday 12 June 2014

Close-up Daffy

Crikey - two posts in a week.

Daffy showed better today than ever before and appears to be........a Common Scoter. Nice close Surfie too. Still need to sort out the score,


Tuesday 10 June 2014

Something to shout about

Despite last-minute stats collation in readiness for the World Cup, that's no excuse for the radio-silence of late. But tonight I have something to shout about - a Hobby - first full-fat patch tick of the year. And, better still, Daffy Duck is back :-)

Cue well dodgy photos...

Will catch up with and update the list soon.


Monday 9 June 2014

Come on, come on, do the locustella with me

FFS - Boghall has been dire of late. Garden warblers are lacking this year, no swifts yet and no house martins either. Things were looking grim, but just got grimmer with a wee flock of feral greylag flying about the place. I could do without that kind of thing. But I did notch up a grasshopper warbler the other day there, which brings us to 66 or 70.21% (all things are relative after all).

Sunday 1 June 2014

Plodding on towards the ton!

Haven't been on here for a while as nothing really interesting has been happening on patch. That said a couple of "bankers" have turned up since last time I posted -- a couple of swifts over the lake, VERY distant gannet from the one elevated section of patch with a sliver of sea visible, and finally the a late-returning spotted fly.

Which brings the tally to 96.05%

That's a good thing... because I'll be leaving the patch from the end of July until early December. That's right... I'm going to miss the Autumn. Yikes!

Thursday 29 May 2014

A raptorous day!

Last Monday I watched a falcon. It was about 600 metres away and it was flying like a hobby, it looked like a hobby and I thought that it probably was a hobby.  But the views weren't great and there's kestrels nesting near to where this hobby was, so I didn't count it.

Today, there was a hobby, it was about 50 metres away, it flew like a hobby, looked like a hobby and was a hobby.  So I ticked it.

Bird of they year so far.

My first sea watch of the year produced the expected Sarnie terns but now't else.  However, two new birds for the year aint so bad.

Now, when deciding upon the patch boundaries, there's an area to the south-west which is largely just fields, but then so is the rest of the patch.  I, for some random reason which I have long since forgotten, decided not to include it in the patch as it was unlikely to get any birds and should the land owner ever find you on his land he was liable to shoot you.  Such is the way of the gentile folk up in this neck of woods.


As I was driving away from the patch a honey buzzard flew past me at about head height and about 20 metres away.  Would have been well and truly on patch if I'd included that left out south-west corner.  Even after the fastest u-turn ever many in the history of  Landy Defenders and top speed back the 500 m onto the patch I couldn't relocate the bird.

but still it was a honey buzzard… which is pretty damn good.

must revisit those boundaries at the end of this year! increased by two.

and frustratingly 66.92% and behind Seppy


Happy days


Alas poor bushveld...

OK spring has generally been pants at Galley but did manage to add sarnie tern, spot fly and blackcap over last weekend so still just ahead of bushy!

Also managed to tick a cracking (unringed) male blue-winged teal the other night - just off patch but ya can't have everything!

Happy days!

Monday 26 May 2014



A storming three species since my last posting with house martin (ok i forgot about them), corn bunting (an increasingly rare bird and not one I'll likely get very often in the future) and a migrant spot fly. pulls me a head of Seppy by a whopping 0.10%.

85 species


Happy days


Wednesday 21 May 2014

What's rockin' at Longahven?

Not much as it happens…

But steady going with new birds each visit.  Today scored with a fine drake gadwall and a less fine greylag.

Last weekend produced bird of the year so far with a blue-headed wagtail skulking around a damp patch and very nice it was to.  Other highlights include a male pied fly at the beginning of the month and a stock dove overhead.

Next two or three weeks are the big ones for migrants and with the winds sniffing around to the east over the next weekend there's sure to be something half-decent… the problem is I've got to find it.

Current tally 82 species, 63.08%

Should pass Seppy over the next couple of weeks!

Happy Days


Tuesday 20 May 2014

May doldrums are looming!

Struggling on here - have added collared dove  and arctic skua in the last week but its been feckin slow! Still plenty gank to get but its looking like I'll have to wait till the autumn for it! Still, at least I'm back in 4th spot ahead of Reg, until he gets round to updating again!


Tuesday 13 May 2014

Jay walking to hear a throaty singer will drive you cuckoo!

A tramp around patch yesterday yielded an unexpected jay on the back road around the lake -- good score for the patch. Then a singing whitethroat sitting on top of a blackthorn tree at the back end of the lake added another year tick to the tally. Bingo!

Then this evening something unexpected happened. I stepped out of the front door for a quick look around from the garden... and heard a cuckoo!

Wowser! That puts me on an unbelievable 92.49% as we head towards the second half of May. Not a bad place to be, all things considered.

Monday 12 May 2014

slow going

Struggling on here - feck all migs to speak of but gleaned bonxie and sarnie tern over the weekend.

Ho hum

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Late night brushing -- the new patch-birding secret weapon!

That little known birding strategy of venturing outside to brush your teeth late at night yielded another patch cracker the other night.

Fly-over call... several times... several birds. Definitely a wader, definitely not the whimbrel I had during another late-night tooth brush session recently. But what could it be (we don't get many waders up here, so you'll forgive me for being a bit rusty on calls)?

Checked through a few likely suspects on the phone and BINGO -- black-tailed godwit. A new bird for the patch taking me to 88.94%.

The latest essential hi-tech patch birding gear!

Monday 5 May 2014

Duck games

So called spring continues to drag by on Boghall. Willow warbler and swallow were misplaced harbingers a couple of weeks ago, while mallard have undergone a population explosion on the patch, and are on every bit of water they can find. But highlight has been the very welcome return of whitethroats - welcome back boys, I've missed ya. All this bring us to a paltry 64, or 68.1% to those who can do maths (that's you Statto).

Monday 28 April 2014

3rd, how dare you!

Been a bit remiss, and whilst I've not been patch-twitching (lowest of the low lows) I've been picking up a few bits and pieces mostly on my daily commute to the studio. The latest being a crafty commuting Yellow Wag from the 308 Bus Stop. It arrived before the bus did. Probably got to wherever it was going before the sodding bus did as well.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Its mostly foggy here

(Shamed by Seppy into action)
During a haar cloaked 5 days, a few brighter periods resulted in a range of migrants being seen ranging from Brambling to Lesser Whitethroat on a number of occasions. Ring Ouzel was unsurprising yesterday. All good for the year. Best was to come today when once the sun came out a smattering of good stuff was revealed including more Lesser Whitey's, a Black Redstart and a glorious Hawfinch which I was got onto when a local told me of the the strange bird in their garden. Very community spirited round here. Funny that I have seen all my 3 Collieston Hawfinch's through someone else's window..the last two through Cotehill's finest.
Total for the year now 108, or 64.58%
Here's a picture...

Hawfinch, Collieston 

Friday 25 April 2014

"Marshy Reedy Bit" strikes again

I went back to the marshy reedy bit again earlier in the week looking for sedge and grasshopper warblers. No sign of the groppers, but there was a sedge warbler in singing away. Thank you very much.

As I was leaving I thought I heard a reed warbler singing. A bit of patience and it showed itself... brilliant! Full patch tick!

A visit back to the same spot yesterday morning yielded a particularly confiding grasshopper warbler. Then last night I popped outside at around quarter-to-one to brush my teeth... as you do... and bingo -- whimbrel calling overhead -- another patch tick.

Then this afternoon I had the first house martin of the year over the lake.

So, not a bad week, considering my patch is crap for migrants.

Brings the tally of 87.75%. 

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Spring? not 'ere yet

So the winds are from the east and it's spring time.  One would have thought that this would bring a few nice summer migrants through Longhaven, but alas not.

A few visits to the patch over the last few days has produced few birds.  Some swallows and sand martins and couple of wheatears holding territories are the only sign that it's not winter.

Best of the bunch being a raven this evening.

Total now at 62

And still no warblers…

Happy Days.


Monday 21 April 2014

duck season

Despite it being spring, there's feck all proper migs at Galley but did net these two today (not the little egret!)

Fool's (patch) Gold!
4th ever gadwall record & 2nd ever shoveler (for me) - Oooof!

Thursday 17 April 2014

A small bit of black and some white gold!

Well, unbelievably things are still turning up slowly but surely. A wander down to the marshy reedy bit (technical habitat term here in West Cork) on patch in search of sedge and grasshopper warblers the other evening proved fruitless (any day now though, I can feel it), but there was a male blackcap singing his little guts out from the top of a rangy willow tree... kerching!

Then this morning I was scanning from the front garden with the bins when I clocked a skein of about a dozen birds over the big hill that dominates the northern aspect of our view. Too far away to ID with bins... dived inside for the scope... but by the time I got back out they'd dipped below the ridgeline and disappeared... ARRRGGGGHHHH!

Undaunted I scanned west towards the dip where the lake is. We can't actually see the lake from the house, more's the pity, but I can see the airspace above and around the lake, which can be very handy. A lone white bird rose into view. Ninety-nine percent of the time a flash of white breaking the skyline around here is a gull. But this had a distinctly herony look about it.

Little egret... kerching! Only my third ever on patch and a tricky bird here.

All of which takes me to a respectable 80.64% for the year -- and it's still only April. Happy days!

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Hunting for the hidden gems of Lothian

Well don't look in Boghall, that's for sure..

I lost my data, so it has been a while since I updated you all on the patch, but I have located the fiel again and I can report that I'm on 59 species, or 62.8%. This includes some nice migs in the past couple of weeks - chiffchaff and blackcap from the garden, and wheatear back on the hill where they breed every year. In addition to these bankers I had a good run at the weekend which produced red legged part ridge, peregrination falcon and raven. Then I got back to my garden to find a stonking common redpoll feeding on the feeder. It was so white I had to look twice at it. That would have been a good find, but it was clearly not from the far north.
So back on track, albeit the road to nowhere.

Da Procs.

Monday 7 April 2014

Drip feed migration

Painfully slow on patch but a few of the early "usual suspects" on the spring mig front are keeping things ticking over. A singing willow warbler (most obliging), the first swallow of the "summer", and a sand martin past the front garden yesterday -- which added to the dipper from a couple of weeks ago that I forgot to mention takes my tally to 78.26%.

Still ahead, amazingly, but always dodgy to pin down migs on this little inland patch... so expecting to be reeled in rapidly over the coming weeks. Ho hum!

Onwards and... well, onwards anyway....

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Longhaven is CRAP

It's official…

Longhaven is CRAP.

there's three black redstarts in the region and not one at Longhaven.  A couple of redwings and a puffin don't add up to much.

Oh well,  may be next time

Happy days


Thursday 27 March 2014

a trickle of migs

Despite the freezing winds, I was out giving it loads today, and was duly rewarded with not one but two (count 'em) singing chiffchaffs innit. Out again late pm after a big shower went through and discovered 7 (count 'em) wheatears had been grounded - hoping for a rouzel tomorrow!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Spring into spring with a song!

Out for a routine walk around the patch this morning when all of a sudden from a nearby hedgerow came the "chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff-chiff" of... you guessed it... a chiffchaff. First of the year -- clocking up 72.33%.

Migs at Longhaven!

Full of hope and excited anticipation, I visited the patch this morning.  Dreaming of G.S. Cuckoos, early Alpine swifts or the regions first serin.  It was all going to be there in this yet undiscovered gem in N.E. Scotland.

Nor was I disappointed with two fine migrant song thrush in the coastal gorse bushes.  Awesome.

So that's nearly six whole weeks of working the new patch.  Patch ticks every time.   Although not quite living up to expectation the best patch bird being short-eared owl (which have been few and far between this winter, with none at Cotehill).  So a good bird for the year and plenty more to come.

Scores on the doors:  49 species, 37.69%.

Happy days


Tuesday 11 March 2014

Early gold for the patch... but no spring migs

All very slow on patch lately... but a fly-by flock of eight (count em) golden plover last week was a welcome addition to the 2014 list, and takes me up over the 70% mark (71.15% to be exact), so all good.

But, seems Seppy is already bleating about the arrival of wheatears at Galley Head he'll be racking up the scores and creeping up the leaderboard -- as will all the rest of you high-mig locale patchers.

No sign of spring migs up here. In fact I still have winter migs, in the shape of fieldfare and redwing flocks, dashing about the patch. Consolation there is that Seppy still needs both for the year -- every cloud, and all that.

Monday 10 March 2014


Yippee! Its migtime! First ear of the year fell this arvo - and here he is!

'ear we go!

Also gleaned common scoter over da weekend - moving on.

This fella was also beginning his long migration north this weekend. Where will he end up next year?

Off to Reg with ya!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

breaking news - Shakey in chinese pond heroin addiction shocker

It has come to our attention that a certain Mr S Stevens from Kent has become addicted to Chinese Pond Heroin. Almost every morning he can be spotted hanging around a dodgy housing estate frequented by shady characters in cars all trying to score the Pond Heroin. There are often arguments about whether Indian or Chinese Pond Heroin is better, but all seem to be agreed that Squacco Heroin is shite.

In a lame attempt to fund his "hobby" as he calls it, he has taken to trying to sell dodgy heroin images from the internet, thusly

Exhibit A - some pond heroin yesterday
Exhibit B - would you pay 5 pounds for this heroin?
Our intrepid reporter can now reveal that Mr Stevens has even had the audacity to actually tick this Pond Heroin, claiming arrogantly that "Yep, its on my list. Haven't seen any evidence of it being an escape", "Martin says its OK" and also "I ain't spending 10 years in the chokey for anyone" BLAM!!!!

The only silver lining for this cloudy tale is that it wasn't on his Samphire Hoe patch so he can't be trying to muscle in on the best find for 2014 or anything.

Monday 24 February 2014

nuffin but a puffin

A quick skove around de patch yesterday pm produced a singleton puffin belting wesht past the Galley. Onward and upward!

Thursday 20 February 2014

Out for a duck

It's been miserable on patch for what seems an eternity -- storms, rain, wind, more rain, storms, floods, more rain, sleet, hail, wind, storms, more rain, mud, fallen trees, wind, more rain... you get the picture.

The countryside around about is a mess -- trees flattened, hedgerows blown assunder. It's carnage out there, and birds, along with sensible birders, have been taking cover and staying out of sight. So it's been a tad quiet, and I haven't been out around patch half as often as I would like.

Some tufted ducks -- two drakes and a duck in fact -- visiting the lake for a couple of days was a useful year tick (less than annual on patch), and a great black backed gull, also visiting the lake, keeps me ticking over on 69.96%.

All my ducks in a row -- record shot of the tufties at high ISO in very low light = ropey as

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Monday 17 February 2014


I've seen some stuff too.

But not very interesting stuff.

But stuff nonetheless.

I've heard some stuff too.

tawny owls everywhere and had four lads called Les R Reg Poll on the bird feeders.

Col Lard Dove called in, but best of all the oystercatchers are back. A sure sign of spring.

I'll update my score when I can find my score sheet. But I'm quids in.


Sunday 16 February 2014

Cotehill update

63 species


sparrowhawk today

and that's about it.

Happy Days


Sunday 9 February 2014

Purple patch

Woohoo! Scored a fine brace of purple sandpipers today on de patch, although only one features in the following snap


Just happened to be in the Ballycotton area this pm for this fella too!


My Patch is Shrinking least the part above high water is. This old WWII ringing hut was hidden under the dunes until a couple of weeks ago and now stands well out onto wave-washed sand.

A few bits and bobs in last couple of weeks including some useful almost-but-not-quite-annuals; Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare (missed last year!), Water Rail and, today, a Med Gull. Last weekend brought at least 4 Little Gulls dancing in the surf.

And a patch first - a new species of wader offshore:

Now on 54 species (=42.74%). Several easy-peasy ones left before spring kicks off.


Longhaven update

So, that's a whole week with the new patch and two visits, both of which were in gale forces winds so far from ideal .  But, then a new patch does increase one's enthusiasm and it's given me a chance to look for all those small pockets of rarity habitats that will need to be checked in a few months time.

But for now the list stands on a whopping 27 species.

Best of the bunch are Jack Snipe and Woodcock.

20.77%   A steady start.

Happy Days


Friday 7 February 2014

kumliens on da patch

Ok so in this competition you don't get any bonus points for finding fancy-dan races or subspecies or the like but here's a coupla snaps of a 1st winter kumlien's gull at Galley this very am

Look at the primaries on that!

Wednesday 5 February 2014

New Patch on the Block… LONGHAVEN

New Patch on the Block… LONGHAVEN

Tired of the same ol’ same old…
Tired of sloppy seconds after Reg…
Tired of bumping into other birders on the Patch?

Time for a new start!

Welcome to the Longhaven Patch

Longhaven Patch…'ere be rares!
 Situated on the coast between Peterhead and Cruden Bay, Longhaven is one of those quick stop off points where North-east birders looking for migrants dip into as they trawl up and down the coast during autumnal easterlies.  It’s an easy quick win site with two small sycamores, a few wind blown stunted willows and some rosebay all within 30 seconds of getting out of the car.

It hasn’t got a great track record but then is it properly worked?  

Longhaven and Norway
Total area 1.40km2

278 miles from Norway

The coast is high exposed cliffs with loads of Geos for rares to tuck themselves into and there’s large areas of damp, rough sheep grazed fields for rares to hide in.  There’s a large disused quarry providing shelter for more rares in the sheltered weedy vegetation and scattered patches of gorse which are invariably useless for rares and a pain to work.

Although there’s been no major rarities there (that I’m aware of), it does get migrants with a greenish, firecrest and yellow-browed all in the only two sycamores last September.  So the site has potential.

To the south of Longhaven and the southern end of the patch lies Bullers of Buchan.  A small village that again can hold a migrant or two.  It once had the region’s first Hume’s yellow-browed but nothing much before or since.  But it’s not checked much and I’m sure will hold the occasional bird. 

The patch stretches only a small way inland to capture one of the few areas of trees along this stretch of coast.  I don’t think anybody has ever looked at them so I thought I’d squeeze them into the patch… you never know.

Is this a good patch?

I’m not sure, but it’s new and quite exciting in an area that I’ve only occasionally been to, so worth a year or two of patch listing.

I’ve no idea what the annual tally will be but I guess will be lower than Cotehill, probably around the 120 -125 mark.  But as all new patches invariably underestimate the total in the first year, I’ve set a target of 130 and will see how I get on. 

I’m still keeping Cotehill Patch going as that’s where I live and it does always hold a strong potential for the Best Find even if I will never be able to keep up with Robo Cops (aka Reg) birding intensity.

Happy Days