Thursday 31 December 2015

Seppy's Last Hurrah!

Must admit I've not really being going for it on da patch since November rolled around. Yet today I managed to bang in 2 year ticks without really trying! A family walk down the beach netted only my 3rd record of purple sandpiper on patch ever, whilst a sunset scope of the fields surrounding the lake produced 8 (count 'em) black-tailed godwits feeding with the curlews.

Sadly, all this action still wasn't enough to move up the leaderboard - all it did was make it harder for next year! Bollox!

Reg checks in

Yes indeedy - Mr Absent finally spills da beanz on the last couple of months of patching - his last bird for the year was a firecrest back in November. So no last hurrah for him then.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Noah Strycker doesn't know what he's missing

A bigger Blackdog year list even than Noah Strycker. But my first year ever with no Blackdog patch ticks has helped me limp to a resounding relegation position. But on the plus side, the target average for next year is lower than each of the previous five years. Roll on 2016...  Meanwhile, a few very minor highlights from the back end of the year to show just how dire it has been.


Sunday 20 December 2015

Declaring too early

Well I reckon I'm done in Wanstead. Tawny Owl last week in the night (thanks bladder!) and then finally Woodcock yesterday puts me on 103.60%, which makes my piss-poor efforts last year entirely worthwhile. There's literally nothing left, unless Common Tern comes back very early indeed. There has been a lot of maths conducted by our erstwhile President Seppy, which confirms that a bribe of only £20 million that two more species for Basil will be enough to see the Golden Mallard head to the Mall. So have I declared too early? Will Faulty redouble his efforts? Is Shakey holding back a few? We're getting to the crunch point!

Saturday 19 December 2015


Much as it irks me, recent correspondence with Senor Faulty seems to be indicating that there may indeed have been a wigeon on his patch lately...

A wigeon, yesterday
which is annoying!

Saturday 5 December 2015

Fowl ref!

Wigeon to be exact... one male all on his lonesome on the back end of the lake a couple of weeks back now. I waited before posting this in the vain hope that I might have something else to add... but alas no.

Which puts me on 102.35%... and still, astonishingly, in the lead... waiting for the end-of-year surge from the chasing pack to knock me off the podium.

Other news...? Well, got to hook up with the American Bittern before Seppy. It's always entertaining watching him squirm as he realises he may actually dip. Alas the bittern was still there the following day, giving itself up.

Oh well... you can't win 'em all ;-).

Anywho... cracking bird. Here's a little phone-scoped video... just in case you're not sick of looking at it :-).

Thursday 26 November 2015

off-patch american japes

Was away in Kerry when da news broke yesterday but thankfully the american bittern remained at Castlefreke lake today - it's just 2.7km off patch as the bittern flies but sadly there's a big hill in the way! Still, there's always a chance it might relocate to Kilkeran, and then it would be within patio range...


Oooooof again!

And Ooooooof once more!
what. a. bird!

Saturday 21 November 2015

whoop de whoop

Its been a while since we posted but this whooper swan was the second record for us. It was grazing on some nice fresh green seedlings. Don't tell the farmer.

Friday 20 November 2015

99 not out

Dartford Warbler brings up 99.07%. Wonder if the colder weather this weekend will drag anything in. Should be able to string a Little Auk with a bit of luck

Tuesday 10 November 2015


I got a fieldfare….

The only reason for posting this is that it moves me up the leader board.


Happy days

Wednesday 4 November 2015

More action at Galley!

Yes indeedy - the third patch year tick in as many days was gleaned this lunchtime in the form of a fine kingfisher whanging through the scope as I scanned the lake. Minutes later it whanged back again the other way - result! Just aboot annual here but you can't count 'em till you get 'em, innit!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

More MEGA than Seppy's MEGA cock action

I might have to re-evaluate my opinion of my on-patch lake.

While it is undeniable that it's most remarkable feature is a lack of species diversity (mallard, teal, moorhen, grey heron, cormorant and a smattering of gulls are the only regulars), it has delivered a few stellar additions to this year's tally over the last month or so.

There were the gadwall and coot, of course... and then there was yesterday.

A quick spin to the lake on the bike looking for elusive mute swans resulted in a very distinct lack of swanage... but did throw up a rather splendid green sandpiper down on the lakeshore.

OUTSTANDING patch tickage... taking me to 101.18% for the year.

No pics, obvs... I was on the bike with no camera and my attempts through the bins with the phone turned out to be woeful. So here's one I purloined from Google that looks exactly like it.

Now... it's a toss up between green sandpiper and coot for my best patch find... decisions, decisions!

By Ron Knight from Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom (Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday 2 November 2015


had another lash at yesterdays red-breasted flycatcher in Dirk this am, but nae sign. The siberian chiffchaff  was still spazzing around but bird of the day was a fine WOODCOCK, flushed from the leafy carpet 'neath the sycamores! Fantastic! Only seen a couple before at Galley and they were both back in January 2010 in the big freeze, so this was a BIG bonus! Skillz!

Saturday 31 October 2015

Passed the ton

Whilst busy fondling jack snipe yesterday I managed to scrape pass the 100 mark for the year.

Started off with a short-eared owl that was taking an interest in the snipe roost but managed to avoid the nets.  Then followed a small flurry of year ticks including corn bunting, snow bunting, twite and brambling.  Unfortunately by the time I'd finished with the snipe the weather had deteriorated somewhat and there was no time to check for migs.  Still five year ticks within a couple of hours all from the same spot at this time of year is much appreciated.

101 for the year, still only 80.16%

Friday 30 October 2015

Further adventures with Big Royzah

Yes indeedy, for the fat-fingered fool has been larging it on his patch yet again. This time he's claiming several near-mythical species, namely fieldfare (aye right), bramblingtonfinch (as if), and the biggest load of bollox yet, snow bunting.

If we are to believe this tissue of lies, Royzah claims that all this excitement moves him onto 98.05%, which is supposedly his best score since 2012!

Everyone better go have a lie-down now

Thursday 29 October 2015

A couple more...

Banged in bramblingtonfinch and a fine brace of firecrests (count 'em!) on tues am to slip me over the near mythical 90% barrier - doubt i'll get much higher now...

Boom! Oooooof! etc

Monday 26 October 2015

stagnating in a puddle of dross...

that about sums it up.

A few birds for the year included coal tit, jack snipe and of course a number of yellow-broweds.


I think that's it.

76.19% ffs

Friday 23 October 2015

Phew!... and far between

Well, it's been a sloooooooow summer and autumn... with bugger all to report on patch, truth be told.

I was beginning to think that the year-ticks had dried up as the rest of the field came tearing up the leaderboard (or ambling, in Seppy's case, natch). And then the lake... which is always spectacularly underwhelming... at last started to drip feed a few scores!

Pretty, but generally pretty useless -- the lake on patch

It started with a duck! A gadwall, to be precise... which was a fine patch tick just sitting there on the lake, plain as day as I cruised up on the bike for a quick scan a week or so back. Then a few days ago (the morning after Seppy bagged his) a COOT turned up.
Coot-tastic phone-binned record shot of a patch mega

What are the chances? It's the first coot on patch for at least eight years... which makes it pretty special in my book. The gadwall was a first, but to be honest I'm much more excited about the coot. Not sure why. Could all of this mean the lake is about to deliver a fowl bonanza in the final quarter?

Probably not... but all this recent shenanigans puts me on an even 100% for the year, and takes me temporarily back to the top of the leaderboard, which is nice.

It also means that if anything else turns up it will make next year harder. Every silver lining has its cloud, I suppose.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Midtable Mediocrity

Thats how its looking for this year at the moment! Still, banged in coot and long-tailed tit over the weekend so not too bad - neither annual and its been 3 years since I last had a roving tit flock (if you can say that these days).

Verification of la coot below - still present today! Please park sensibly.

110% Verified, natch

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Still singing!

RB Fly on the patch was a full-fat patch tick as I missed the last one in 1999. Ends 16 years of hurt, though it never stopped me dreaming. Is the Golden Mallard coming home? It's coming home!

Derek's Wanstead Update

Despite trying my hardest to keep the old average down, I've unfortunately still been seeing some birds. Best effort a Yellow-browed Warbler, and although it's a bumper year for 'em, I'd urge all Snowy Owl judges to consider that my ties to the British Broadcasting Corporation mean that I live in London, well inland, that it's a description bird here and mega mega. Thanks for your attention. In other news I twitched a Med Gull, and a bit of vizmigging this morning netted Brambling, Woodlark, and 12 Lapwing (even though I only needed one). This takes me to 108 aka 97.30%, which punts me up the rankings substantially.

Friday 16 October 2015

Top of the league, we're top of the league...

SEO today. Dix Pip & Lap Bunt this week. Good times!

About time.....!

Collieston update for the year!
A reasonable patch total possibly likely, though the score will be depressed by 2013 still.
Total is 159, giving score of 95.07, playing off average of 167.25

Recent additions include Barred Warbler on 7th October, and Coal Tit earlier this week.A Yellow-browed Warbler today was only the second I've had this autumn on the patch.Seem to be missing out from the good conditions further wind at all and barely any rain.

Still, always hope for tomorrow....

Monday 12 October 2015

Royzah, Royzah, show us yer beard

Yes indeedy, for Fat Santa himself has been oot tap-dancing round his fat patch again, and even seeing stuff!

in 1 - siskin

iiiiiiin 2 - lapland bunting

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiin 3 - 19 (count 'em) barnacle geese

and Bully's Special Prize - Bearded tit! Cowabunga man!

Flying up the leader board with his trumpet hangin oot!

Sunday 11 October 2015

I saw yer dix

Richard's pipit breeeeefly at Shite lane this noontime - sun was barely over the yardarm. Also 3 (count 'em) lesser whitethroats - rarer than ybw hereaboots

Tuesday 15 September 2015

All quiet on the Singapore front lately...

Or so it would seem. While the UK and Ireland is gearing up for a mig-fest, what has been going on in Singapore? No idea - I have been away for a month and will be away for another month before getting back mid-October. 

Work has taken me from Iceland via Greenland to Canada and I am now back in the UK for a month. So highlights such as ivory gull, narwhal and polar bear don't count much in this bigger picture.

But before I left, a few species were added to the patch list. The best of these was probably the discovery of a second owl species at a roosting location. This time, Sunda scops owl. After the initial find, a further two were also found in the same area. And the two buffy fish owls were also present nearby. Which was nice. 

Not as unusual, but still counting on the list was my first migrant of the 'autumn', a barn swallow. And then I departed just as migration was really starting. Getting back in mid-October the scene will have changed, and I may have some catching up to do... 

Monday 14 September 2015

Galley on fire!

The madness continued all weekend with Old Spoons finding an Ortolan Bunting on saturday am, which I verified in the pm. I then stumbled into what I think was a different bird sunday am (looked much brighter & fresher, and less streaky underneath) - saw it in Old Spoons garden while he was out too - result!

Banged in siskin and pied fly too - all to play for!

Friday 11 September 2015

The 200 club

Rain all day until a clearance early evnin. Up to Old Spoon's gaff on the promise of a lesser whitethroat. It of course didn't re-materialise but I did stumble into my first ever rosefinch, which sat up nicely looking as stunned as I felt!

A fumbled phone call to Old Spoons meant he was able to come and watch it flying around over his house while his dinner got cold - result! Back down to Shite Lane only to blunder into Mr Faulty's garden warbler from yesterday - only my 2nd ever here - for some reason I just never see 'em! Amayzing scenes ensued!

Finally broke the mythical 200 species barrier with the rosefinch! Marvellous!

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Patch mega!


Image courtesy of Old Spoons, natch

Seawatching Therapy

Last year I spent a total of 30 minutes sea watching and enjoyed it so much thought I'd try it again.  With a brisk north-westerly I was hopeful for a couple large shears or may be a Fea's or two … but alas not.  However, I did break my record from last year and must have spent nearly a whole 40 minutes sitting there watching waves.  Very relaxing it was to, but not really all that productive.  Did bag a couple of full fat patch ticks though in the form Manxie and red-throated diver!... but then, this is a new (ish) patch and I just don't look at the sea much.

The easterlies earlier were disappointing with a scattering of migrants the best of which being a reed warbler (no paddyfields, wrynecks, icky's, shrikes to be seen).  But there's time and I'm off to the patch just now so hopeful for an update shortly.

87 species

Happy days

Monday 7 September 2015

News from Nobby, er I mean Royzah

For it is he, that tap-dancing fool!

Best fill ya in on what happened at Donmouth during the last spell of easterlies, before the next spell of easterlies kicks off!

Basically, the Boy Roy (for it was he) tap-danced his way throughout his sorry patch gleaning 2 (count 'em) wrynecks, 2 pied flys, 3 crossbills, redstart, garden warbler, and 12 (feck's sake, count 'em again!) whinchats! He then added some waders for good measure, notably  ruff, gimpshank, and whimbrel.

He had a barred warbler too, but luckily that was miles off patch - just as well.

Tune in next year I mean week to find out the latest scores on the Donmouth doors...

Saturday 29 August 2015

Oooh Migrants II

Wait 'til Reg posts…

then you'll know what migrants are…

well done to the Reg who spent 45 minutes trying to get a glimpse of a bird just because it went 'tac'.!

Friday 28 August 2015

Oooh Migrants

Been good lately. Couple of Pied Flies, heaps of Spotties. Redstarts galore, friendly Tree Pipits. Just reached the ton, aka 90.09% Any suggestion of taking performance limiting drugs in order to reset my average is strenuously denied

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Migrants at last

It's been quite a productive fall, although more productive for others than me by the sounds of things. Yesterday: redstart, garden warbler (in my garden - well it would be wouldn't it, except it was a garden tick) and greenshank. Today: pied flycatcher, snipe and grey partridge (I know, they're resident, but it was new for the year all the same).

Tuesday 4 August 2015


The sea continues to be very quiet, apart from 1 fea's on saturday am and two yesterday (I missed all of 'em!) However today I weighed in with 5 (count 'em) arctic terns so it wasn't all bad, as that means I leapfrog Cap'n Haddock in the scores on doors. Shame there's so few big shears tho, seawatching is crap without them!

Monday 27 July 2015

kak all at sea

Another lame seawatch yesterday am, with tystie once again the highlight, however a fine sanderling on the beach at Long Strand on the way home was a worthy year tick. Result!

Saturday 4 July 2015

Let the seawatching begin!!

OK so it wasn't quite as red-hot as it looked when I first gawped out the window at 6.00am. In fact it was by and large pish, but pom skua, stormie and sooty all through the crease by 7.30 was ok, plus I then discovered I'd omitted to tick off manxie, swift and iceland gull from the scoresheet so a whopping overall increase of six species!

Cowabunga!, as basil faulty might say...

Sunday 21 June 2015

6 months in…Longhaven

I thought it was about time to post my first post of the year.

not unsurprising really seeing how crap it's been.  Spring passed by without a notable bird to be seen and now we're in the glorious days of mid summer and not expecting much now for another couple of months.

Best bird of the year is a crossbill, of the common variety.

Total 61 species

But expect a better second half performance, or  else I'll start a new patch in Singapore…

Happy Days


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Seasonally adjusted figures

The past few weeks have offered some great highlights of South-east Asian birds and wildlife. Just a pity that most of it has happened off-patch.

Not that the patch has been without interest. The undoubted highlight has been the two buffy fish owls that seem to have taken up residence and are regular at a daytime roost. At 50 cm these are large owls, and a really nice addition to the patch at a time when things have been pretty quiet otherwise.

Meanwhile, Seppy offered me a fiver to not see so many birds. Happy to co-operate, I thought about adding ten to the target for the year, which would make the maths easier. But then I decided to take all the Category C junk off the list. Goodbye to seven species; Javan myna etc which actually feels like a good move.

In other news, a short cross border raid into southern Malaysia connected with rail-babbler among many other quality birds, and served to remind me of just how bird-poor the forests in Singapore are. But not entirely without interest, as I discovered when I was lucky enough to come across a Sunda pangolin (!) in the Central Catchment Reserve a short bus ride form home. That piece of excitement will keep me going for a while.

Friday 12 June 2015

dodgy patch ticks

Far be it from me, Sepp Blatter, to court controversy but there's a calling corncrake on my patch and I'm having it on my patch list, and I ain't even seen it! What ya gonna do? Depose me? Ha! Haven't even seen one in Ireland but I'm having it anyway.

I demand a recount!

Tuesday 2 June 2015

chumpions league winner

Bit late but still worth posting a shot of last years worthy winner Basil Faulty  finally getting his hands (and lips!) on the much-coveted Golden Mallard for which we all fight each year.


Thursday 28 May 2015

Worth fighting for... err... allegedly!

It finally arrived last week -- only five months or so late -- and now sits in pride of place in a dark, little-noticed corner of the kitchen mantelpiece (Sybil flat-out refuses to have it on display in the living room... can't think why).

The venerated Golden Mallard -- finally home to roost

So, I thought now that it's here it might be an idea to go about trying to keep it a little bit longer. A few useful year ticks gleaned over recent weeks are bound to help. Spotted flys are back -- not the ones in / around the garden but one on the far side of the lake does the job nicely. Also picked up a singing reed warbler, which is a handy bonus, as it's more luck than judgement (my main birding strategy, truth be told) getting them on patch.

Then, walking around the north-east perimeter one evening I happened upon the elevated spot where I can see the only sliver of sea from patch. Conditions were perfect -- I could read the writing on the side of a passing container ship clearly with my bins -- unheard of. Then I spotted the tell-tale white flashes as gannets wheeled and dived. Score!

Not sure if I'm forgetting anything -- but gannet pushes me on to 81 species, which in real money converts to 95.29%.

Not bad... but I'm running out of tickable options fast!

Saturday 16 May 2015

Hangin' out there

Back in the blogosphere to update the Blackdog score on the door to a very lower table 69.98% (86 species). The brief sprinkle of migrants a couple weeks back brought a sprinkle my way too but nothing to get in a tizz about. More exciting was an Osprey yesterday (4th here, I think) and to prove that nothing's changed, here's a typical "action" shot.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Maybirds in may... fancy that!

I was on the verge of turning back rather than cycling all the way around the lake. My "really can't be arsed" gene is the dominant one, and wins out more often than not -- but last night something made me change my mind.

And a good job too, because over near the north-west boundary of the patch was a field full of whimbrel. Fifteen of 'em to be exact (I know, coz I counted em). Bingo!

The last few weeks also saw buzzard make it onto a list that's seen painfully slow progress recently, and along with a fly-by cuckoo today puts me on 90.59% -- or, in other words, still trailing the tropics.


Sunday 10 May 2015

Sunday seawatch

Snuck up to Galley whilst supposedly working as there was news of poms past the Old Head - paid off as within 5 mins of setting up I had bonxie, puffin and best of all, a cracking adult long-tailed skua through the scope! Perservered for another hour trying to get a pom but only managed 2 arctic skuas, which wasn't a year tick cos I'd had one from the house this morning!

Saturday 9 May 2015

schpot fly

Managed a hurried 20 minutes at Shite Lane this evening and well worth it too as I knocked a fine spotted flycatcher into the back of the metaphoric net innit.

He shoots, he scores!

Thursday 7 May 2015

Keep 'em coming...

Eyes to the skies for the latest additions. First up, a pair of Asian pied hornbills flew over yesterday. Not sure where they came from or where they are going. Not a migrant, and big enough that they are hard to overlook so where they have been hiding since the start of the year s a mystery. And second, a small raptor displaying over the small patch of remnant forest proved to be a crested goshawk. Not a species that was on my radar but time is beginning to show just how low my expectations were for this site.

Moves me on to 92.22%, which is nice.

In other news, an off patch wander to the former cemetery of Bidadari produced not one but two (count 'em) Jambu fruit doves. Lifer! A pair if you will. Or at least a male and a female sitting within ten feet of each other. Although I don't think the species has been recorded breeding in Singapore (yet). But f they want to, this pair had better get a move on as one of the best birding sites in Singapore is about to disappear under concrete. Progress...

The dove above is the male - a smart looking bird. And I know you have all been waiting to ask . Why Jambu? What on earth does that mean? Well, as far as I can tell it means 'fruit' in Malay (variations on guava). So this is the Fruit fruit dove. Makes perfect sense, no? 


Friday 1 May 2015

banging them in

A quick stumble about on Galley this am produced ringed plover, sandwich tern, and common scoter for the year - not a bad hours work!

Monday 27 April 2015

I'm back...

After a two month hiatus, it is good to be back on the patch. There have been some changes, not exactly a fall of hoopoes but a change of seasons as some of the non-breeding northerners depart and a few new species creep in.

First, what did I miss? Malayan night heron on the patch was gripping and would have been a life bird but was not well twitched. Perhaps more gripping was a blue-winged pitta seen by my girlfriend and her family. And photographed. Poorly. But all the same.

But of the changes, blue-tailed bee eater has been replaced by blue-throated. Arctic warbler in song was a new one to learn. And a few other odds and sods moves the total onto 81...just reaching 90%. It is getting difficult to see where the next ten are going to come from, but that's half the fun.   

Friday 24 April 2015

A steady(ish) trickle of migs

So the massive influx of hoopoe to Ireland's south coast managed to skirt around the edges of my little patch, with nary an exotic interloper to be found anywhere within the patch boundary (no change there then).

Exotic surprises notwithstanding, the steady arrival of usual suspects like blackcap, sedge warbler, whitethroat and (finally) house martin, augmented by the occasional resident like a calling long-eared owl from the garden a few nights back (outdoor nocturnal teeth-brushing still paying dividends)... march me onwards to a respectable 87.06%.

No gropper yet though... which is a bit of a worry.

Monday 20 April 2015

Hoopoe hoopla

Before Shakey gets in on the act here's me highlight of the patch year so far...

Wahay missis son!
Gleaned sedge warbler tonight too. On the up!

Friday 17 April 2015

Whaup's been happening

Been ages since I updated you all on progress on Boghall, and what a lot you've all missed. Migs are back ('ear, 'cap and 'chaff) and there's been a curlew knocking about. Added bonuses included red legged partridge and mallard, bringing us to a stunning 60 species for the year, or 80.36%. Ooh err missus!

Saturday 11 April 2015

Raptors and patch mig gold

Imagine my surprise when scanning the hill last weekend to see a male hen harrier dancing his merry sky dance. Later the same day I caught him at it again, this time with a female for company.

Saw him for five consecutive days during the week... so fingers crossed. A merlin was another useful year tick gleaned while scanning for harrier shenanigans. All good.

Migs continue to arrive on patch with a singing willow warbler down at the lake last Sunday, and a wheatear this evening. Only my third ever on patch... so a tricky one to get. No sign of any of the rake of hoopoes that have hit the West Cork Coast up here yet, but you never know.

For now that puts me on a healthy 78.82%. Roll on that hoopoe!

Saturday 4 April 2015

Monday 30 March 2015

Oooh migrants! Bet they wish they'd stayed in the sunshine

Weather on patch has been piss poor, as has the mood, truth be told.

No birds about -- although a lone singing chiff a couple of weeks back from a sparse little copse at the back end of the patch hinted at a smattering of movement... a suggestion perhaps, that other migrants might be on the way. Not long after that a flyover yellowhammer was a welcome boost after a relatively lengthy year-tick-free patch -- good bird here, only ever seen passing through.

Then on Saturday I spied my first swallow, swiftly followed by two (count 'em) sand martians! So it's officially -- spring has most certainly sprung!

More importantly it puts me back on top of the leaderboard on 74.12%. Which is nice....

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Rarest of them all

Blackdog's rarest bird of the year this afternoon with the first patch Red-legged Partridge in at least eight years (when records to hand go back to). They used to be a little more regular before that when I believe there was a release site at Menie dunes, a few miles north, but Trump was clearly set on cutting off the supply and sabotaging the Blackdog year list. Whose pocket is he in for this?

Anyway, good to see a comeback, with this bird clearly seeking out its familiar natural habitat of fences and chicken wire.

Score update to follow soon....


Tuesday 10 March 2015

I'm n ot dead yet!

After having a year out last year, the Haddock is back. I also want to quash any malicious rumours that Cap'n Haddock is dead, taken up stamp collecting or holed up in a never-ending sex orgy. Or all three.

For those on the watch for these things, I haven't counted last year's total either (I did keep a tally although it wasn't my worst year, and I did find a female surfie too, which is quite good for here given I only ever get fly-by scoters).

Nothing special here so far, although it's nice to see the seabirds returning and skylarks back on patch.

Monday 9 March 2015

bit of a grouse

No blue robins here, and no new species, so just a photo of a grouse:

Thursday 26 February 2015


Thought I would get that one in before someone else.

And before flying out tonight, that left just enough time for a cheeky rummage through the patch that came up with not one, but two (count 'em) Siberian blue robins. A female, and an immature male, which is fortunate as an adult male would no doubt have led to instant disqualification. Here's the female...

Meanwhile, as I prepare to leave and contemplate the things I will miss while away, I saw an advert for this event:

The Prodigy, and Fatboy Slim. In Singapore. Possibly the biggest dip of the year. 


Wednesday 25 February 2015


a bunch of golden plovers flying aboot was a welcome year tick for me, bringin me over the near-mythical 50% barrier innit

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Golden moment

Minding my own business on a brief skive in the back garden (as you do) when I clocked six (count 'em) golden plover booting about in the middle distance.

Waders are always welcome up here in "inland-ville" -- and despite the fact I've had goldies up here the last three years in a row they are by no means guaranteed.

What's better is the fact that they put me back in front... and with Singapore Sling off patch for a couple of months too -- so time to glean one or two more methinks.

Oh the joys!

Monday 23 February 2015

Gong xi fa cai

Chinese New Year is a pretty big deal here. It's now the year of the goat (or ram, something gets lost in translation). And it is a favourite time for firestarting, with some big firework displays. But ultimately I am confused about whether I should start my year list now?

The pitta is still on patch and now coming down to mealworms...otherwise the patch has been a little quiet with little egret and common sandpiper (first shorebird for me on the patch!) both counting the same as the pitta in the final calculation. Hmmm.

I have also been 'off patch' to successfully twitch blue-winged pitta and orange-headed thrush. Which was nice. But things will slow up from now for a couple of months as I have to go to work...

Friday 20 February 2015

Signs of spring

Among the recent happening at Boghall, the highlight is without doubt the return of the oystercatchers to the patch for the summer. But the joy associated with their return is always short lived as they do make such a bloody racket. How are we to record new material with that noise in the background.

Oh, also had a pitta on my patch earlier this week:

Image result for pitta bread

Friday 13 February 2015

Excited. Very excited.

Far too excited to take a good image with my 'phone through the trusty old Leicas. So this is the result. But who cares? Hooded pitta on the patch. Sweet. Etc.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Hot under the collar

Minding my own business in the office this morning when a quick sconce out the window gleaned me a collared dove. Effortless year-tickage... my favourite kind!

Whilst adding the collared dove to the spreadsh highly sophisticated propietary monitoring tool I use to keep my patch tally I found I'd accidentally forgotten to factor in the water rail earlier in the month.

With the data analysis and number crunching done that puts me on a whopping 69.41% -- still a whisker behind the Singapore Sling.

Parp Toot Blare

Never one to blow his own trumpet, so to speak, it is up to me to bring you news from the boy Royzah (for it is he). Yes indeedy, he's been out a-gleaning, and while still smarting from having recently removed from his patch the stretch of river where the harlequin is currently frequenting, he has allegedly managed to see kingfisher, iceland gull, great spotted woodpecker and even stock dove! 

Ooooof indeed!

Tuesday 10 February 2015

None more black

Just happened to be in the area of Glenbeigh again yesterday so it would have been rude not to have another crack off the black scoter innit. Award winning record shots below:


Oooooof again!

Monday 9 February 2015


Booted a snipe from a ditch at the weekend. I reckon the ditch has issues (cartography joke). Had a nuthatch just off the patch (Seppy tells me it was probably Corsican nuthatch, and that if I followed the normal brown envelope procedure he could make sure it gets accepted). And great jackdaw and rook action at the roost adjacent to my patch. Hundreds of 'em. 47 or 62.9%

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Big Lens Barry

Nowt special to report but got a new (to me) 400mm lens today so you'll all be able to be amayzed at my rapid improvements in the photography line!

Behold, i'm the new Nimmo!

House sparrow

Snow bunting

Zebra finch

Boat-tailed Grackles
So there you have it! Very little signs of improvement in skill level but what do you expect?

[EDIT - here's an american robin from today]

American Robin

Monday 2 February 2015

Spoons and splitting hares.

It's been a while since we reported goings on on Boghall. Mainly because we have been touring in Myanmar (ie Burma). The venue turned into a mud bath (well, it was a massive estuary), but we were playing to tens of thousands of waders every day. Black wits, sandplovers, broad billed sands, long toes stints, red necked stints etc. With the odd spoon billed sandpiper cheering us on from the royal box. We noted a fair few nice leaf warblers out there too, including some kwality 2-barred greenish action. But none of this counts to the Golden mallard. But what does matter to him is the collared dove, wagtails, and pink feeted geese that I've added to the patch list. Big numbers of meadow pipits (a change from the recent red throateds) moving about too. But nothing to rival my find of the year so far - a mountain hare which is the first I've ever seen on my patch, and the first in the broader area for 30 odd years. 46 species or 61.61%


Not sure where they have been all month, but both yellow bittern and black-crowned night heron put in a late appearance on the same visit. Add to this a couple of passerines that fall into the "to be expected" category (unless you are birding Girdle Ness in which case ashy tailorbird would be a shock) and the patch is going strong as the new month starts.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Stock taking from the front garden

A quick sconce from the front garden this morning earned a brace of stock doves... KERCHING! First year tick for February, right outside the front door.

Added to a flurry of late January additions, including dabchick, chough, chiffchaff and stonking views (yes views) of a water-rail, that takes me to a grand total of 57 species... or 67.06% if you're counting.

Which I am... naturally.

Had what I'm sure was a distant hen harrier over the hill as I cycled home from checking the unproductive lake this afternoon. Couldn't get enough on it with bins to rule out other (much less likely) options like Monty, marsh or pallid. Booted home to scope the hillside from the garden, but alas the bird was gone.

It will be back though. Unless a farmer shoots it!

Roll on spring :-).

Friday 30 January 2015

keep on keepin on

Been plugging away at Galley (i.e. havin a quick look at Shite Lane on the way back from dropping the kids at school most days, unless its freezing) and got a couple of rewards this morning - 2 (count 'em) chiffchaffs - both calling and looking like regular chiffs - 1st migs of the year! And then, even better, a distant group of 10 or so fieldfares in a far away tree from the patch - one I missed last year so was keen to nail 'em this winter.

Happy days!

Oh and Shakey's been shaking his thang in the kingdom and is now claiming to be in 2nd place! A likely story...

Tuesday 27 January 2015


To date things have been going way better than I had hoped, with good progress towards my goal of 90 for the year. This afternoon I headed out with the year list total on 49, hoping to break the big 50 but without high hopes. I was well rewarded with another 6 for the year. And not just your usual dross, there was some quality there as well.

Perhaps the best was a great look at a red-legged crake family, feeding quite unconcerned out in the open by a heavily used path. I even got my 'phone out for some snaps of that.


Inspired by early success, I then took some pictures of a family of white-breasted waterhens:

And then fortune really shifted into high gear when I met a local 'birder' who showed me the daytime roost of a large-tailed nightjar. Which was nice.

The day ended with a year list of 55. Don't get too excited, it's the tropics and spring is not on the way. Things will slow down sometime soon. And I know Rool 5...

Saturday 24 January 2015

Best Patch Find 2014

Well, despite some inevitable vote-rigging, none of it by me I might add, it would appear that my cracking pintail at Galley has indeed won Old Snowy, with a whopping 60% of the votes too....

er, I mean, Bushveld's cracking little bunting at his new Longhaven patch has won Old Snowy, as the best patch find for 2014. In a fairly quiet year across all patches, this was the stand out find, and one that I'd love to get at Galley (would be a feckin Irish tick for a start!)

Anyway, hopefully Reg will do the decent thing and drop Snowy round to Bushy's gaff soon, and maybe even pose for a photo!

can but hope...


Went back to try to relocate the warbler but it had moved on. All available evidence points at Sakhalin leaf warbler, which is nice. A few more to add to the year list while there, mainly by keeping eyes to the skies for flyovers which produced grey-rumped treeswift, Brahminy kite and red-rumped swallow. Meanwhile, colour was provided by a pair of collared kingfishers busy setting up a nest and a special offer of two for the price of one on dollarbirds. Why are they called dollarbirds? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

New kid on the block

Well, it had to happen. After years of being a nomad without a local patch, following the Golden Mallard Challenge and just wishing I had the chance to compete for such a fine piece of tat, I now have a set of keys for an apartment and a local patch just down the road. Now I can join in the fun.

And it it is perhaps fitting that I am an overseas entrant to the challenge. So while you are freezing your 'nads round Galley or the Don or wherever, mine be sweating around Singapore Botanic Gardens. A small patch of greenery in the urban jungle that is Singapore. It's hard too escape from traffic noise, and harder to escape from people, but even so a few hardy species persist and I'll be trying to find as many as I can.

The year is off to a good start,with about 40 species so far. This afternoon was one of those slightly weird birding moments while watching exotic species such as black-naped oriole, blue-tailed bee-eater, pink-necked green pigeon and a common kingfisher. But there's quality there, so it's all good. And a Phyllosc that I struggled with...and maybe will sort out tomorrow? 

Monday 19 January 2015

What is the point of Gadwall?

Normally not much, but as the only "useful" bird so far on the Blackdog year list, I'm not gonna diss them.
Otherwise, this first posting of the year launches me straight into last place of declared sites with 43 species (=34.49%). The good news is that the new lower target figure for the year (124.67 species) is lower than three of the past four year lists.


Sunday 18 January 2015


Had to attend a recording session in Dubai, goodness me it has changed since I was last there in 1962. The recording went well, but I wish I'd taken the elevator. Back on the beloved patch I've had a couple of fruitful sessions, including catching up with the Horned Grebe that was found while I was away. Other highlights include a Wigeon, and so continues the usual process of traipsing round the place looking for boring birds that I will not bother looking for again for another 11 months. Just Water Rail and Fieldfare to go now, after which I can resume the never-ending tour until about mid March when it gets interesting again.

62sp / 55.86%

Wednesday 14 January 2015


Hey - how come my pintail at Galley suddenly has 17 votes? Don't tell me the voting has been rigged again? FFS!

Monday 12 January 2015

Good start... or false start... only time will tell

Happy new year! Isn't it great when all the gank starts to count again.

On the basis of "attack is the best means of defence", been out and about on patch as much as possible since the turn of the year... and things have been ticking along nicely. Lake is still spectacularly under-delivering on the waterfowl front... but four (count 'em) tufties and a little grebe were good birds to get early on.

Been steadily ticking off the usual suspects, with some, like cormorant, still conspicuous by their absence.

Current state of play, nearly two weeks in, 53 species, or 62.35%. Can't see me maintaining this pace... but at least I won't be gone for four months this year, and I certainly won't be missing the Autumn :-).

Game on!

Friday 9 January 2015

And we're off

Congratulations to Kenny for his blazing score from 2014.

Last year on Boghall was the poorest to date, following close on the heals of 2013 which was the best to date. this means I'm chasing a paltry 74.67 species for 2015. Things are going well so far though, and best has to be the cracking barn owl that was floating about in the half light of pre dawn this morning. A fine way to start the day. This is the third record for the patch, and the best view I've had of one yet. Bring it on.
And apparently this is post number 666 on this blog - cool!