Friday 31 January 2014

Happy New Year

It is if you're Chinese…

Now that January is over and done with, we've got the pleasure of February to look forward to… Fan F*^king tastic..

Some ok birds this month seeing that I've hardly set foot in the patch.  The best of the bunch include the long staying ring-necked duck on Miekle.  But good patch birds which are annual but tricky include a Iceland gull, mistle thrush, snow bunting, hooded crow and a goosander.  All good stuff.

Plenty of gaps but hardly busting my (ever expanding) gut on the Patch so far this year.  The weather has been truly awful and looks likely to stay that way.  But a few hours out there should push the total up nicely.

However for now 57 so far, 37.75%.

puts me somewhere near mid-table which is where I usually am.

Happy Days


Thursday 30 January 2014

we're halfway there (living on a prayer)

Yes indeedy - i've seen 50% of my patch target total for 2014 (thats 72 species, factfans) - AND i appear to have leap-frogged the prockies & Mr Nimmo into 2nd place! Definitely a reason to play some Bon Jovi (not).

Latest two were buzzard and razorbill, gleaned just yesterday. Only another 50% to go!

Sunday 26 January 2014

Tits and cock keep things moving

Very quiet on patch on the bird front... but then I have already got most everything I'm likely to get before spring. Still marching slowly in the right direction though.

A flock of long tailed tits down near the lake last week, followed by a woodcock over the garden a few evening just begged for a witty and suggestive post title, and more importantly take me to 67.59% for the year.

Had a much more exciting, if untickable encounter on patch this week though. I bumped into a couple of otters fishing in the stream that runs along the western patch boundary. Luckily I was downwind, and managed to follow them upstream for around half an hour or so. At their closest they were no more than 20 feet away from me.

It does zero to increase my patch tally -- but definitely counts as my most amazing wildlife encounter "on-patch" -- and up there with the best of them.

Unfortunately it was a "grab the bins and go" sort of morning... so the "proper" camera was left sitting ont the kitchen worktop. I was left juggling the mobile phone and bins and managed this record shot to mark the occasion.

Happy days!

Monday 20 January 2014

Tickled pink

Whilst lying in bed thinking about the wonderful up coming BOU conference on upland birds (, I heard a flock of pink-feet fly over. Takes me one ahead of Seppy, and always good to get this true grog bird.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

quiet enuff

not a whole lot to shout about lately - 4 year ticks over de weak-end: sparrowhawk, wigeon, peregrine and grey heron. Nearly caught up with the Proclaimers tho -  whoop!

Sunday 12 January 2014

Banging 'em in early!

A break from the rain and a glimmer of sunshine yesterday saw me sidle off for an amble around the patch mid morning. I'm glad I did.

Curlew, merlin, and collared dove gave themselves up one by one... all tricky birds on patch, so great to get them early in the year. A bullfinch on the way home added to the tally, and skylark from the garden takes me to a none too shabby 65.22% -- and we're still not even half way through January!

Seriously running out of regular stuff already though... I imagine it's going to be a struggle from here on in.

Friday 10 January 2014

Seppy in Tiny Patch Shocker

Since the good people at Google redid their satellite google maps of Wesht Cork, I've been meaning to double-check my patch area, just to ensure that I'm squeaky-clean as far as adherence to the rules is concerned. When I did this ages ago using graph paper, a pencil, a window and a calculator I think I discovered that the patch was a bit over 2 km squared, however when I did it the other night using the map tools I made an interesting discovery...

Eat this! Never diet again!

No, I mean this bit...

The area in blue is my whole patch, and I was pretty generous in some areas, as there's bits included that I've never walked over at all. And its still only 1.605 square km! So now I'm wondering which bit of adjacent land to include - if I took in the lake & Rathbarry woods I'd get coal tit & jay every year, and treecreeper would be a patch tick. Or I could run a bit out to Red Strand and then be able to count rosy starling & pec on the patch list as I've seen both there. What to do, what to do...

Wednesday 8 January 2014

lakeside scores

Wind finally dropped to nothing today, revealing teal, 2 med gulls, lbb and a first for me - black guillemot on the lake - score! Scream for me, Stevie G(antlett)!

Tuesday 7 January 2014


loads of gulls around today, sheltering from the gale - best of it was a huge glaucous gull which hung about for a while & dwarfed some black-heads. Also had a couple of schnipes too.

he's a big lad!

Stocking up

Wasn't out on the patch for a few days what with the storms and everything, but an obliging stock dove from the front garden yesterday took me to within a whisker of 50% for the year.

An hour hoofing around the patch this afternoon added another six species: snipe, pheasant, hen harrier, water rail, reed bunting and peregrine... along with the discovery that I'd forgotten to add starling and lesser redpoll to the list... takes me to a grand total of 59.29%.

Only one week in... am I peaking too soon? Only time will tell I guess!

Sunday 5 January 2014

Nothing to grouse about

After a day enjoying the delights on offer in East Lothian yesterday, we were back on home turf today. A coffee looking out of the window produced a sparrowhawk, while a good bash about brought me up to 45.33%. The fieldfares mentioned last time had moved well up the hill to 300m. Rockin'

Friday 3 January 2014

Garden gold

Just when I thought some langer had trapped all the goldfinches on patch and sold them into the black market pet trade, one turned up on the feeders this morning. Didn't get out on patch at all today, so a welcome year tick from the kitchen window to keep things heading in the right direction.


Who stole the flock of fieldfare that have been around for the past month?
After being off patch for the first couple of days, we are back and soaked already. 25 sp (dipper was the first) or 33%.

And well done Reg for doing the double.

Da Procies with nockies

Who stole all the Chaffinches?


Thursday 2 January 2014

Another bash

Gave it another lash late morning and cashed in another 10 sitters - still nothing of note aside from yesterday's kingy - running out of possibilities too & its gonna be windy as, baz for the next while. Won't be out till it calms down a bit!

All wet... but all right too!

Out and about again today for a while on the bike -- no sign of dipper or kingfisher, but did rack up some more "inland gank" as Seppy likes to call it. I got caught in a deluge half way around patch -- luckily I'd had the foresight to put the waterproofs on, but still not much fun riding through the rain, peering through raindrops on the bins.

That's Irish birding in January for you!

When I finally arrived at the lake the juv mute swan and a little grebe I ended last year with were still there -- RESULT. End of day two and I'm on 47.43% -- with a fair few "sitters" still to come.

Going to run out of options soon though, so good to get a healthy early lead in.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Ready... steady... go!

Another year... and the start of another patch challenge. Yay!

Didn't manage to get out of the garden today except to head "off patch" for a walk on Long Strand late in the afternoon. The beach extends onto Seppy's patch on Galley, where I graciously pointed out a kingfisher sitting on a post to help his year list along a bit ;-).

A pretty "invigorating" afternoon on Long Strand...

Despite being "confined to quarters" for the day I did rack up the occasional species to finish the day on 32.02%. That's none too shabby for a first day tally, and with a bit of luck I should get out on the patch proper tomorrow. Tally ho!

1st of jan japes

Out with the usual 1st of Jan spring in my step this am but didn't get anything particularly unusual. Best of it was a kingfisher,  courtesy of Senor Faulty - saw it a couple of times last week, but a good one for the year - they ain't around every winter!

New Years Resolution

I will post more often this year, promise. Bit surprised with how 2013 went to say the least.
2014 kicked off with some interest in the shape of a possible intergrade gull or maybe, very atypical, 2nd Year Kumlien's at Cransdale which was somewhat suggestive of Thayers initially. At least, to my inexperienced eye.
This was probably the bird reported on the 28th as a Kumlien's. Thanks to all who commented today including Mr Cotehill and Statto himself.

Intergrade or 2nd Winter Kumlien's Gull? Cransdale Head 1.1.14

2 Iceland Gulls still present as lets call it 14 species mostly seen at Cransdale, Tree Sparrows in the garden best of the rest. Average for this year right up to 166.75(gulp), so 8.40% just now.
Happy New Year everyone, and hope you all have a great birding 2014.
3W Iceland Gull, Cransdale Head

Final Scores for 2013

Just to keep a record of everything transparent, here's the final scores for 2013 (wouldn't want to be accused of being a maniacal despot with fascist score-keeping tendencies, and a penchant for bribery and corruption!)

2013 Scores on Doors
Collieston - 109.78%
Boghall - 106.76%
The Mall - 106.67%
Wanstead - 105.99%
Newbiggin - 102.10%
Galley Head - 100.70%
Folkestone - 100.00%
Blackdog - 98.45%
South Don - 96.5%
Old Portlethen - 94.59%
Cotehill - 93.19%

And the best finds of 2013:

Med Gull -- The Mall 28/10
Brown Shrike - Collieston 28/9
Greenish Warbler - Blackdog 25/8
Icterine Warbler - South Don 22/8
Surf Scoter - Old Portlethen 21/8
Monty's Harrier - Cotehill 2/6
Stone-curlew - Wanstead 24/3
Fea's-type Petrel (3) - Galley 31/7
Jack snipe - Boghall. Jan 2013

I figured Reg finding the Brown Shrike, only the 1st for mainland Scotland, was the best find of the year, and this was agreed with most contenders, so went with that. Its the first time anyone has done the double! Well done Reg!!