Tuesday 27 December 2016

Scream for me Stevie G

In scenes reminiscent of Steve Gantlett spotting one from the boat as we arrived at Fair Isle, Royzah netted a fine black guillemot (or tystie if we're being nordic) off Donmouth yesterday.

The news was proclaimed via a popular social media app thusly "TYSTIE! Fuckah!" and puts him firmly in 1st place in the Golden Mallard stakes, with just five days of the 2016 competition remaining.

Basil Faulty was left reeling after hearing the news and apart from saying "Bollocks" was unavailable for comment.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

royzah is just short

A busy weekend of drinking for everyone's favourite dead tap-dancer was interspersed with kwality year ticks. Bullfinch was the best of it, and following consultation with several eminent fellow contestants he's retro-yearticking that thayer's/kumlien's  yoke that was knocking about Donmouth back in the winter. So now just half a waxwing short of top spot - major stringing reqd!!

Monday 19 December 2016

Scraping the barrel

It has been a pretty dead year on Boghall this year. Snipe recently brought the total to 75 or a very respectable / average 101.8%. Ya bas - that takes second place !!! I might start trying now for the final few days of the year.

Highlights included a recent trip to Burma but none of that counts. White-browed nuthatch, Burmese tit, Burmese lark, Victoria Babax, but it is all as nothing for this challenge.

Friday 9 December 2016

So good, but not even a year tick...

Back on patch for a week before away for work, again.

Autumn migration is not over, although it more or less is for me. A few birds added to the year list brings me closer to the 100%, but not sure I will be able to find the two more species needed to break through. Seems the effort of last year - my first experience with the new patch - has been very similar to this year.

One of the species that was such a mind-fecker when I first found it on patch is now proving to be a regular migrant, certainly commoner than, grey heron. Still a mind-fecker. Nice to have hooded pitta a short walk away...

Maybe if I spent a whole year in Singapore instead of being away for six months I would do better. At least I would hope so...

Tuesday 22 November 2016

And a couple more

Scored a rather nice merlin (only my second patch record) this weekend and common scoter previous weekend.

Puts me on 105 for the year, which is two more than last years pitiful total.

Still only on 91.30%

Happy days


Monday 21 November 2016

Scaup ya bas!

Woohoo! Just scoped a scaup! over the ton at last! Shots not taken due to fear of recriminations and stitch-ups regarding aythya hybridisation. First scaup on de patch in years! Happy days!

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Wanderly wigeon

I was just pontificating with Seppy the other day about how an errant duck was perhaps my best chance of adding to the patch tally for the year when BOOM! A stray wigeon on the arse end of the lake this morning pushes me to a respectable 102.69%, and gives me the tiniest bit of breathing space.

Getting a wee bit tight on the podium as we head into the closing stages, and history shows that we're bound to see a spate of stored-up-claims from the rest of the field (who couldn't be arsed updating the blog all year) as we head into December. It's wide open!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Another weekend of marginal gains

The lake produced the goods again today. Although the much questioned long-tailed duck appeared to have done a bunk, there were near-krazy scenes on the patio early pm when news broke of a "pintail on patch".

Despite nearly losing it over the piss-poor lack of directions, I was still calm enough to figure out the observer probably wasn't scanning a distant pool near red strand from a random field on patch, as has happened previously, and that the bird was most likely on the lake, and therefore visible from the magic patio. Which it was.

Not an arctic skua

Exhibit A. Only my 3rd sighting on/from patch ever! And photographed expertly too, despite the lack of fone digiscoping equipage. Only one more species needed to break the 100% barrier...

In other news, Boy Royzah scored big today in the form of a lesser whitethroat on his patch, which moves him to within one species of the outright lead.

With Basil Faulty on the ropes and reduced to digging up drainpipes to try & create some better wader habitat, Royzah just needs to string a starling into either a waxwing or a little auk (or ideally both) to make a stout claim on the golden mallard. Of course he may need to get the bus to Wanstead & wrestle it out of Derek's pudgy mitts first...

Basil's new wader scrape

Friday 11 November 2016

Inching closer

A fine long-tailed duck was vigorously diving over the far side of the lake this very am. Indeed, if it wasn't for my thoroughness, I'd have overlooked it! Luckily I didn't. A quick perusal of the rather mediocre records database appears to indicate that this is only my second record on the patch, with the first being in 2013 - see here for more.

Sadly Mr Faulty has not yet furnished me with a fonescope adaptor meaning that there are no record shots to support the record. You'll just have to trust me innit!

Monday 7 November 2016

Whoop, whoop... shovel it!

A week off patch in County Clare at this stage in proceedings is perhaps not the best of plans.

I didn't book it, of course, but in the interest of familial harmony I had to be there. So, with Seppy and Royzah creeping disturbingly into contention, off patch for a week I went.

Scenic shenanigans at the Cliffs of Moher

It was a pleasant enough break. Clare is pretty scenic, all things considered. Dipping a tawny pipit on Loop Head, watching a frantic merlin terrorising red admiral butterflies, and seeing a group of five whooper swans whopper schwans (Seppy enforced "correction) fly over the holiday gaff were probably the highlights. Oh, and squillions of redwings.

When the swans flew over I remember thinking "shame they never fly over my patch".

So imagine my surprise back home yesterday morning when, on my way to the car to buy firelighters (it's that time of year again), I heard a trumpety honking overhead, and looked up to see another five (count 'em) whoppers flying over my garden. What are the chances?

Photo swiped from d'interwebs natch; I tend not to take the camera out to buy firelighters

Add them to the female shoveler that was dicking around with a posse of mallard on the lake the day before yesterday and you have two full-fat patch ticks in as many days... and more importantly a bumped up total of 101.53%.

Which is just as well given how close things are getting at the top...

...and breathe!

Nip & tuck

Chakademus and pliers. Chips and cheese. Add whatever other pairing you like. Royzah & Shakes (there's another one) have been banging them in again. Yes indeedy, Royzah gleaned woodcock & GND to become the second competitor to hurdle the 100% barrier. Shakey strung a Whopper swan. Its all go for the podium!

Tuesday 1 November 2016


Yes indeedy - as I headed from the house to the office mid-morning I glanced at the lake and spotted a schwan. Better check it I thought, though its bound to be another mute. And sure enuff it was....

A whopper schwan on the lake
Woohoo! Cue Krazy scenes, jubilation, air punches etc etc. After snapping a few pics for verification purposes, the obliging creature whooped a couple of times before taking to the air, circling round and heading southwards towards Old Spoons gaff - a quick phone call to alert him and bingo - the brent goose debt was paid off!

Still owe him for that bluetail though...

One step nearer the mallard...

Monday 31 October 2016

Reg checks in at last....

Yes indeedy, with scant regard for the rules of the competition, and with just a paltry 2.75 hours remaining before his Halloween disqualification deadline came into enforcement, Collieston's finest has finally spilled da beanz and declared his current score for 2016.

So he finally leaps from 0.00% to 147 species or 92.02% in real money. A bit off the pace, but you never know what might turn up in the jewel in the crown of north-east scotchland....

All part of the verification process

Yes indeedy, lady luck smiled upon Donmouth's most famous dead tapdancer yesterday as he returned home just as news broke of a possible pied wheatear on his very patch. Which he & others duly verified, thusly...

A reflection of Royzah, yesterday

Reg gets in on the act - photo 731 in a series of 12,345 images
Great bird for the Don, and all the better that Royzah didn't find it, or it would be bye bye Old Snowy for sure!

In other news, Old Spoons found me 9 (count 'em!) brent geese on saturday and a fine woodcock yesterday. Which was nice!

Friday 28 October 2016

ton up

That's me scraped a 100 for the year.

Nothing of note, the best being a lapland bunting.


Happy days


Monday 17 October 2016

Wanstead relocates to east coast

Wanstead is the new Spurn, you read it here first.

- Ortolan Bunting in early September (been busy innit?) was a patch tick for everyone, including for those that called it a Corn Bunting. Luckily my strong work ethic allowed me to come out and verify it.

- Prize-winning alternative to above, a Yellow-browed Warbler did the decent thing and called its head off 2 days after I got off Shetland, naturally I was in the zone, and so can offer the below as proof. Whereas last year's bird wasn't deemed worthy of porcelain tat, this is a clear runner up to the Ortolan Bunting. Wot's the deal with coming first and second?

- Same day as YBW, 15 (count 'em is I believe the required etiquette) White-fronted Geese flew over whilst we were trying to refind the warbler. In the long run these will be rarer I reckon. First, second and third? Ooof.

- Ring Ouzels all over the place but they all count.

Now on 105 which is 94.03%. Still need another 7 species to hit 100% FFS. 6 if you ink in the inevitable Siberian Accentor now.

Saturday 15 October 2016

Old Spoons does the business

Due to parental constraints I was unable to do much on patch this am, so it was up to Old Spoons to find me stuff so I could go and see it this pm. This plan very nearly backfired, as no sooner was he out of his house but he was finding year ticks a-plenty. First he kicked off two lapland buntings, which never came back. This was a bit annoying, but when a 20 minute birding opportunity (tm) came my way mid-morning, I hurried down the track to where they'd been and on the way I flushed this...

A snow bunting, trying not to look blurred and on the huh
This is obviously not being flushed. In fact this was skillfully stalked this afternoon by crawling on my belly up the grassy strip on the top lane. Luckily there was no poo or thistles encountered.

Anyway, I continued on my 20 minute sojourn and bumped into this...

a stoat, standing up
Sadly he wasn't in the sunshine or the shot might have been better, or perhaps not.

So that was that, until the afternoon, when I had to slog round Galley again trying to see this

A ring oozel, nearly anyway. I could photoshop the crescent white, but I haven't
Success! Easy when you know where to look! And I did! Bingo! Another punt for the laps but nae luck, however I did get lucky with a rather fine firecrest loitering in the Dirk Bay fushias, well a couple of them anyway. There's rather too many for my liking down there.

Also scored another couple of flight views of the richard's pipit, from the other day - its still aboot.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

never-ending easterlies

It seems to have been south-east or east winds for just about the whole of October so far, but sadly this hasn't resulted in a whole lot of mig action on Galley. Managed to glean a couple of yellow-browed warblers lately, and yesterday had a very breeef encounter with a red-breasted flycatcher at Shite Lane but apart from that its been pretty dead on patch.

In more exciting news, me and Old Spoons played a blinder last week on a highly successful twitch for this cracker...

the rose-breasted grosbeak, yesterday er last week
Which was nice.

Late edit - 12th Oct - Richards Pipit & Redpoll today - gettin there slowly!

Thursday 6 October 2016

Wading through treacle


That's pretty much how things have been on patch so far this autumn... with feck all in the way of migrants moving through or over, let alone stopping for a rest.

One saving grace was six (count 'em) blackwits winging their way across patch airspace the evening before last.  S - C - O - R - E!

I know, it's just a small flock of godwits -- but waders are scarce on this little sliver of "Fantasy Island". Anything you get is a bonus. And, most importantly, they nudge the annual tally to 98.07%. Yay!

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Been away a while...

It has been an interesting few months, but being in the UK, Greenland and Canada does not add much to the patch list. My return to Singapore has neatly coincided with a burst of autumnal bird activity and the list has been ticking over nicely. 

Among the recent additions has been red-rumped swallow, Pacific (aka fork-tailed) swift and a Siberian blue robin (female or immature). After last year, when the patch was brand new and I had no idea quite what to expect, patterns are beginning to emerge and while the Siberian blue robin was still exciting, it was in one of the spots where I had seen the species last year. Bit like the Bonelli's warbler?!

Off patch, white wagtail has perhaps been the highlight albeit not quite as high as I might have hoped. But apparently the earliest autumn record by about a month. And looming on the horizon is my first Singapore pelagic in a little over a week from now...


Monday 19 September 2016


So there I was minding my own business in the garden last night, when what did I hear but a long-eared owl calling away in the middle distance. First one I've heard on patch all year... which is a bit late truth be told, but hey, I'll take anything I can get at this stage.

Aside from that small bit of late owl action the patch has been particularly lame over the last few weeks. Nothing but the usual suspects turning up time and again, and the lake under-delivering in spectacular fashion once again. I've even been forced to tramp over Seppy's way in an attempt to see something half decent.

Twitched his Bonelli's, which was nice... and then scooted over that way again yesterday in the drizzle for a soggy short-toed lark in a carrot field just beyond his Galley patch (thank f***). Exotic or what?

Seppy's Bonelli's: lovely bird, but traipsing all the way to Galley for anything half decent wears a bit thin!

Anyway... the upshot is that The Mall tally advances to a measly 84 species... which, thanks to its incredible low-listing pedigree, translates to 96.92% on the board.

You mean this short-toed lark?

A darker side to everybody's favourite "friend"

While some of the "Irish" contingent were busy scouring patches for ticks over the weekend, one of our "friends" was doing his utmost to suppress local birding activity. One Mr Ross Geller, who is no stranger to campaigning, took to social media to call for a moratorium on finding birds in Co. Cork.

The reason? He needed to concentrate on a weekend of carousing and canoodling in Clonakilty's many hostelries of dubious repute without the risk of dipping something tasty.

Mr Geller all over the Social Interwebs conspiring to suppress local birding. After the weekend he's had lets hope online is the only place he's got a bit of viral action!

Needless to say real birders simply ignored him and headed out regardless :-).

Thursday 15 September 2016

Not another one!

A good morning on Galley - first up was the new magic bush, which is a big patch of knotweed out on Galley. Today this contained (count 'em) one cracking male redstart, one reed warbler, one blackcap and several willows and chiffs. Nice! Whilst grilling it, a green sandpiper flew over calling - another year tick!

Duly fueled up on migs, I set off round the rest of Galley eager for more. However, there didn't seem to be that much more- a couple more blackcaps, several wheatears and a few phylloscs, when all of a sudden I heard an odd phyllosc call at Shite Lane, sounding like a nasal, high-pitched willow warbler. And then this appeared...

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Shite Lane, Sept 2016
This is obviously the same bird that I had here last year - it must have been here the whole time. Or else it popped back for another visit. Great to see it again!

Monday 12 September 2016


It has been a while since we last updated you on activities. In the intervening time we've spent time dotting around gigs in Sao Tome, Italy, Prague, and Shetland. But all this counts for nothing compared to birding our patch.
Two weeks signed off work with dizziness in mid July was timed to perfection for a decent spell of weather, but all it delivered bird wise was a flock of 75 tree sparrows (pretty impressive we'd say).
Other highlights include an osprey over the patch. A predicted bird, I have spent a lot of time scanning for one, but it was as i left the house to get a bus that Pandion-ia struck.
All this brings us to 72 species, or 75%.

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Story of the Little-Ringed Beauty and the Mutinous Tufties 

                                                Little-ringed Plover at White's Marsh

I hold my hands up, Its been far too long since my last post. Being one of the worlds leading experts in palaeontology doesn't lend itself to much time for blog entries. I also blame my friends who one after the other have fallen into the evil trap that is marriage. The fools! Stags and weddings are good fun though.

Anyhow, my patch has been awesome. Following on from Green-winged Teal and American wigeon, (which I have mentioned in previous posts) I managed to find a stunning male Garganey on the patch. A bird I have always wanted to run into in Clonakilty. I was in duck heaven. But it gets better, much much better. First of all Seppy failed miserably in his attempts to twitch my Garganey. This made me feel warm and cosy inside. Here is the icing on the cake however. In a feeble attempt to piss me off, Seppy sent me a text laced with bitterness saying something like " Pair of Tufties on Kilkeran Lake. beats your Garganey any day". Not wanting to stoop to his petty behaviour I didnt reply. That is until about 2 days later when I found these babies on my own patch.
Ducks betraying poor Seppy
Undoubtedly Seppy's Kilkeran ducks. They Jumped ship, made their way to Clogheen marsh and made this birder very happy indeed. Poetic Justice!

The highlight of the year was definitely the stunning ( but injured) Little-ringed Plover that I found in July. This was a life tick for me. I like to think that it somehow repaired its own wing and flew off to over winter somewhere exotic. I dont like to think about what actually happened to the bird.

Other noteworthy birds on the patch include a lovely Lesser Yellowlegs, Corey's Shearwater and a little gull that I initially thought was a pied wagtail. This leaves me at 116 species for the year.

On a side note I spotted Basil Faulty in Skibbereen last week twitching 2 Olympic silver medallists. The unfortunate O'Donovan brothers were lucky to get away from him. Weirdo!!

Saturday 3 September 2016


I finally managed to catch up with some large shear action over the last few days, as the winds picked up from the south-west.On Tues night a few of us (including infamous patch poacher Ross Geller) caught up with 282 cory's shearwaters, 127 great shearwaters, 10 sooty shearwaters, 4 bonxies and (count 'em) 4 arctic terns, which was almost a year tick, only I'd ticked one on the weekend.

On Thursday the wind picked up again so I took a long lunch break, sans lunch, and knocked in 388 greats, 310 cory's, 41 sooties and a complimentary bag of tayto cheese and onion crisps courtesy of the afore-mentioned mr geller. It was with much fear that I had to drag myself away in order to collect the pesky kids from school. However it worked out pretty well, as while waiting for additional parental cover to arrive back home, I took to scanning the bay for lost large shearwaters from the patio. This paid off rapidly in the form of a common tern feeding close in - year tick!

Returning for another couple of hours in the evening, I happened across a double oaty crunch health bar that had obviously been left as an offering to the seawatching gods by mr geller. You could nearly consider it a bribe I spose. I ate it anyway, and then promptly bagged another 70 greats, 62 cory's and 14 sooties.

Finally, skipping out of bed lightly at crack of dawn this am, despite Basil Faulty trying his best to cripple me with large amounts of soapy beer the previous evening, I made it back to Galley for a spectacular feast of large shearwaters. A bit of a slow start, but greats  and cory's were belting past good style by 1pm when I noticed that there was something smaller going by too, with very dark underwings and bright white underparts - finally, a fea's-type petrel for the year - brilliant! Called it quits after things dried up around half three, with a whopping 1,479 great shears, 824 cory's, 85 sooties, 10 bonxies and a fea's - fantastic!

Thursday 25 August 2016

lamey patch

its been a pretty lamey start to the autumn round here, with the seawatching generally being a bit too sporadic for my liking. Specially as I missed the really good day when Old Spoons strung had 2 (count 'em) of those fea's-types go by.

Anyhoo, bits and bobs have been added - great & cory's shearwaters, little gull, but generally its not been that hectic.

Still, we're limping towards september so that has to be a good thing!

Buzzin' buzzards

Well, it's been dead quiet on patch for the summer. Possibly on account of me being away on holidays and spending most of my time down the beach and generally not getting off my arse and checking regularly.

Since my last missive here in mid May I did manage to add swift to the tally (TFFT) but that was all until this week when, to my surprise a couple of buzzards started hanging around on patch.

I had two single birds high over the house at different times earlier in the week, then a pair soaring together the day before yesterday and another single bird yesterday.

YAY! Check out that patch buzzard action!

This may seem lame to UK patchers -- but you can feck right off because buzzards are still scarce enough in this neck of the woods. Would be cool if they decide to stick around. 

Cool for raptor conservation of course... but with the fringe benefit that a previously tricky year-tick becomes practically "nailed on".

All of which shenanigans inches me up to a respectable 95.77%.

Saturday 30 July 2016

A couple more

Manage to bag some Manxies and a couple of Arctic skuas this afternoon.

79 for the year = 68.7%

Happy days


Sunday 24 July 2016


This turned up on Reg's patch this morning... and he's on holiday

Sorry Reg.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

bit of movement through the crease

Its been a fairly lacklustre spring hereabouts however I am struggling on adding year ticks where I can. Having missed out on verifying Geller's garganey, I managed to turn up a fine brace of tufted ducks on the lake here, plus common sandpiper too. The addition of collared dove  and siskin, plus a smattering of seawatch action in the form of puffin and bonxie keeps thing moving along steadily.

Just shy of 100 species up by mid May is pretty average hereabouts - all to play for in the autumn!

Drip feed of year ticks and the spotted flycatchers are home

See what happens... you don't stop by the blog for a while and suddenly people are overtaking you left, right and centre.

I'd dropped to third in the rankings... FFS!

Still... that was soon remedied when I totted up the recent trickle of year ticks, including a small flock of whimbrel (16 of 'em) feeding in a field near the lake.

Whimbrel on patch... lovely!

Most of the usual spring suspects are now on the list, including whitethroat, sedge warbler and gropper (which I missed last year... so good to get). My spotted flys arrived back last week, and a jay from the car today was the latest addition... taking me up to 81 species, or 93.46% and back into the lead.

Long way to December though, and with swift the only semi-cert I can think of that I have left, it's going to be a long seven months!

Sunday 8 May 2016

Crazy times!

A bizarre week on patch with a fly-by Red-rumped Swallow today, a Great Bustard in off the sea on the 4th and several Pom Skuas through on the sea. A quite ridiculous 90% in what is looking like it could be my best year ever

Friday 6 May 2016

A starter for 10...

This time of year there's not many days you get out onto the patch and score a big fat 10 species for the year!  including a full fat patch tick.

What a beautiful morning, nice calm conditions and hazy sunshine, it wasn't snowing, raining or blowing a gale, so I made the most of it and spent a solid 4 hrs on the patch.

Best of the bunch and a first for the patch were the two sum. plum. black-tailed godwits accompanied with a similar sum. plum. ruff.  The drake gadwall was also a quality patch bird.  Admittedly the rest were either returning migrants, whitethroat, willow warbler, house martin, redpoll etc or just regular birds that I hadn't caught up on this year yet, e.g greylag and sparrowhawk.

The good news is that this brings my tally up to 75 species and 65.22% of my total.

Ahead of Seppy… which is where I intend to remain!

Happy days


Tuesday 3 May 2016

Reg's find

Reg found one of these on Sunday… outside my house!

Photographed from the office!

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Amigeon That!

Warning! Serious Post Alert

Patch birding is amazing. For the last couple of years I have spent days and money gallivanting around the country twitching Irish ticks. Or, bashing the ditches and gardens of Mizen Head trying to route out Northern Parula Warblers and Semi-Collared Flycatchers. But those days are gone my friends.

Ive been introduced to patch birding. Not only does it save money and time and heartache but it also turns up the odd goodie, like this male American Wigeon last Wednesday. 

And while it wasn’t a life tick or even a county tick it was a patch tick and a finds tick. I must atomic finding this lovely duck on the patch along with finding the Great White Egret the week before gave even me more pleasure than twitching that stunning Dark-eyed junco on Dursey last June. It just goes to show what can happen a patch is checked for an hour at least every other day. This is a lot of fun.

I will continue to pishhh myself into a splitting headache on Mizen and yes I will twitch the next juicy yank that ends up in Scott's Garden, Patch birding however has been a revelation. I genuinely cant wait to see what turns up next. And more than anything else I look forward to those jealous texts messages full of unrepeatable obscenities from Seppy when I find the next rarity on my Clonakilty/Inchydoney patch.

Thursday 21 April 2016

settling back in

It has been good to be back on the patch. The non-breeding 'winter' visitors have still be around and have helped to boost the yearlist to a healthy 74. Which makes for a nice and easy 74% since I set a target of 100 for the year just to make the maths easy.

After last year, when everything was new and unexpected, this year has shown that much of what was 'wow' last year is at least annual. Not to say that pittas are not still 'wow', and on one memorable day both hooded and blue-winged were within 100 metres of each other. But I won't be posting pictures and risking an early disqualification. Instead, here is a picture of a lupsup  (local term meaning trash bird) Asian brown flycatcher instead. Memorise and try to find one on a patch near you where it will be anything but lupsup.

In other news; the owls are still present and correct, Oriental pied hornbills are breeding and red-legged crakes are being elusive as usual (but are on the list). And a black spitting cobra added a little frisson to one day, although it was more interested in a swallowing a frog than in me.     

Friday 15 April 2016

Best Patch Find Wrapped Up in April!

As predicted by this blogger last month it is now almost certain that "old snowy" will spend next year in Clonakilty.

My sister Monica and her hubby Chandler live very near my patch at Clogheen. Last Wednesday en route to their house for dinner I landed myself a patch mega! Great White Egret baby!!

I knew the magnitude of my find by the astonishing reaction of one of my fellow bloggers who on hearing the news, bundled his poor kids and dog into the back of his car to twitch this majestic beauty in record quick time.

Barring Basil Faulty's green sand making a return to his patch this year I think it's safe to say that this competition is over!

Ross Gellar

Spring into spring... er... springness

Not a whole heap of surprises in the weeks since my last update. The usual spring suspects have trickled in... chiffchaffs in March, swallows, sand martins, willow warblers and house martins into April, and a smattering of other things... best of which was two (count em) mute swans on the lake.

Not one of the recent patch swans... one from the archives, because well, you've got to have pretty pictures on these things to keep 'em interesting!

A dearth of swannage can be a real problem on patch. Dipped mute swan last year, which may well have cost me the title (can't remember exactly but think there was only one species in it).

Anyway... the springflux of migrants (see what I did there... #skillz) puts me on 83.07% and, more importantly, back on top of the leaderboard. Nothing unexpected yet though... which  doesn't bode well for the end-of-year tally.

Still... onwards and upwards... allegedly.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

spring bonanza

Its been all go on the last few patch excursions - stuff like buzzard, wheatear, yellowhammer, sand martin, swallow and "best" of all three (count 'em) shelduck flying over! Only vaguely managed to year-tick the latter last year, courtesy of Mr Faulty calling up a distant, disappearing white blob as one during a aimless meander about Galley last spring. So that could have been anything, in fairness, but I year-ticked it as shelduck. This year I can be squeaky clean though, as all three were meticulously verified by yours truly.


Sunday 3 April 2016

Over half way there

Due to various work related deadlines I've not managed to get to the patch over the last few weeks.  But then it was March and nothing much happens in March, so I presumed I didn't miss much.  But now it's April and spring is here, so yesterday I ventured forth onto the Patch….

xuck me!!! TWO full fat patch ticks!!!

Ok, so the patch is only in it's third year so may be not so surprising but good all the same.  A pair of fine pintail joined a nice selection of wildfowl and amongst the gulls was a 3rd calendar year Iceland gull.  My first white-winged gull for the patch and so far bird of the year.

A load of other stuff, including the first wheatear brings the total to 60 species (52.17%).

Happy days


Friday 25 March 2016

Snowy Owl to Visit Clonakilty??!!

At every available opportunity Seppy reminds me that I am not eligible to win the Golden Mallard this year. While I am reluctantly coming to terms with this reality I began to think to myself, whats in it for me in 2016? Then while browsing through old posts the Snowy Owl caught my eye. I want it!

Given the crap that has won it in recent years ( Western Bonneli's Warbler and Black Headed Bunting), I am very confident I can win it. Also I am awesome at cnavassing for votes and bribery.

The question is....am I eligible for this prize in 2016?

Thursday 24 March 2016

starting to happen

first few migs on patch the last few days - wheatear, sandwich tern, firecrest, chiffchaffs, blackcaps. it's getting there slowly

slow trickle

not a lot happening yet, although have managed a whopping 4 (count 'em) wheatears and a handful of chiffchaffs, in the last few days. Also tystie (scream for me, stevie G) and buzzard too.

slow going!

Wednesday 16 March 2016

back in Singapore

It has been a long four months or so on the road. Much of this has been 'at work' on board a small expedition ship in the Antarctic Peninsula, with precious little internet access but that does not seem to matter much since there was not much to update. After work  came a short break in Sri Lanka (great birding) and now I am back in Singapore for the next couple of months. 

And back on the patch...


Monday 29 February 2016

wintry gank

Finally managed redwing on saturday, which was nice! Didn't even have me bins with me, which is perhaps rather telling of my enthusiasm for being out on patch just now! Still, the wheatears will be back in a fortnight so soon be time to get in amongst it again!

Sunday 28 February 2016

Gap fillers

Almost the end of Feb,  I suppose I could make the most of the extra day this leap year gives us to find a mega, but won't, cos aside it being on a Monday and i really should do some work, there's also very little doing.

The total to date is 47 species (40.87%).  The best this weekend being great tit, goldcrest, chaffinch etc etc… All simple gap fillers and really not worth my time writing about nor yours reading…

Happy days


Monday 15 February 2016

Seppy entrapment shocker overshadows patch birding

Well, it's been a fairly uneventful month or so on patch, although I have managed to add the occasional year tick to the tally. Nothing overly exciting, of course (this is The Mall, after all). Dabchick on the lake, long-tailed tit by the pub (somewhere I may spend a bit more time during this year's patch challenge... *HIC!*), and a hen harrier from the front garden being perhaps the most notable.

When all tallied up the recent lack of activity puts me on 71.54% for the year. Which is OK, until you realise that there's bugger all left to get until the swallows arrive back. FFS!

Oh, and I almost forgot the green sandpiper I had down by the lake again... which puts me in with a shout of best patch find again this time around :-).

Speaking of which, the more observant among you may have noticed I chose to maintain a dignified silence during Seppy's outburst against my integrity in the wake last month's "vote". But the truth will out, as they say. Here's unequivocal evidence that Blatter was angling for controversy from the get go:

Entrapment! Case dismissed... roll on the next vote.

Tuesday 9 February 2016


Jeez, the mallard was just resting on me mantelpiece until a suitably secure box came into my possession innit

et voila...

A packed mallard yesterday

It'll be with ya before ya know it (defo by June anyway)

Monday 8 February 2016

New Rool

Evening all, just wanted to let all participants know about a new and hitherto unknown Patch List Challenge rool. Quite a simple one, and one we really all should have guessed by now, but I thought it best to spell it out just on the remote offchance that there is any confusion out there.

"No matter who wins the Golden Mallard it will simply live on Seppy's mantle piece for the whole year anyway."

That's it really, nice and simple, no room for doubt.

All the best


Wednesday 3 February 2016

a few bits

bits and bobs being gleaned from the patches - Royzah has hauled his weary *rse to the dizzy heights of 77 species or 57.18% in old money. I, on the other hand have been steadily marching onwards and upwards with iceland gull the other day and a fine kingfisher this very am, which puts me on 67 species or 49.38%. Woah sit down!

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Snowy Owl in Glasgow

OK, calm down any would-be Weegie listers.  Not a real one, but a china one (or was it more than one, judging by its state of repair).  I witnessed it pass to Seppy from Bushveldt making a faint chinking sound as primaries rubbed against its secondaries (that must be worth a note to BB).

Thursday 21 January 2016

Faulty Fits Up Seppy in Vote-rigging Farce

Yes indeedy, folks. It turns out that the Executive Committee has turned up convincing evidence that Basil Faulty may have rigged the recent Best Patch Find 2015 poll! Barely has the dust settled on Seppy's mantelpiece when evidence has reached us indicating that Mr Faulty demonstrated clear intent to twist the voting in his favour. Here he is just after the poll opened talking to Seppy about how Reg's Paddyfield Warbler wouldn't win before hinting that he might be able to alter the result...

The conversation continues, while Basil gets a bit more confident, goading Seppy that his votes are unlimited...

Faulty then gloats that its the perfect crime, since everyone will assume that any vote japery will be all down to Seppy...

With a final taunting jibe at Seppy's powerless er power to stop him, Faulty sends a final taunt er I mean jibe before leaving to put his dastardly plans into action...

Of course luckily this story has a happy ending, as democracy won out in the end. In a bizarre twist of fate, the house beaming Basil's wifi signal to him burnt down just hours prior to the poll closing, meaning that he was unable to vote. Coincidence? Of course! Even Seppy wouldn't stoop that low!

Final patch scores for 2015

Bushveld requested a while back that I post the final league table from 2015, so here it is. As ever, I am only too happy to oblige my loyal subjects where possible. I think a couple of patch scores may not have been updated before Dec 31st due to extenuating circumstances but you get the general idea.

It was all about Nimmo in 2015

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Mallard migration stopover shocker

Called by Seppy's gaff over the weekend and look what I spied sitting on his mantelpiece bold as brass.

I'm sure its just resting there (in the Father Ted sense) among the dust bunnies before winging it's way east to Wanstead.

Sure, it's a long flight after all.

Unfair accusations levelled against new Golden Mallard participant.

Last Saturday promised to be a great day. I enjoyed a 90 minute effort watch from a local seawatching point (not on my patch) with a focus on spotting cetaceans. Although there were no big blows or signs of large whales I did manage to spot decent numbers of Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphins. On the way home I passed through my very ribbon shaped patch ( which will probably be frowned upon by most other patchwork challenge participants..but I don’t really care.)

My Clonakilty/Inchydoney patch includes an under-watched seawatching vantage point near Dunmore Hotel which I have always suspected would be good for divers and grebes. Low and behold on this most faithful of day I managed to spot a stunning adult winter Black-throated diver. Needless to say it was a very exciting moment for me personally. While it wasn’t a finds tick it was certainly a patch tick.

I proceeded to text the news to the "Management" of the (not very reliable) local Bird news Twitter account who also happens to be a Golden Mallard participant. His response was...and I quote directly......"#unverified!!!". This inexcusable questioning of my birding knowledge was completely uncalled for. Its widely accepted (in all 72 countries where FRIENDS was shown) that my birding knowledge is just as acute and sharp as my knowledge of palaeontology.I was devastated. What promised to be a great day enjoying the local wildlife turned out to be a harrowing experience. Being a new participant I was very excited at the prospects of covering my local patch for the next 12 months. Needless to say I have cried into my pillow every night since these accusations were levelled at me..The Horror!!. (The record was later tweeted out by the same Birdnews service proving  its unreliability.)

What made matters worse is that the same participant,who will remain nameless (Sep Blatter), reported a Green-winged teal from my patch a few days previous. No doubt he was trying to root out any potential new ticks for my patch and flush them towards his own Galley head Patch. Surely this type of behaviour can not be condoned??!!

I will endeavour to pick myself up from this experience and bird on like the real soldier that I am, but the scars may never fully heal. I look forward to your sympathetic comments below.

Ross Geller

Monday 18 January 2016

Shaking it up

A visit by Scholesy (remember him?) spurred me to go for a mega walk at the weekend.  He saw a short-eared owl on my patch and I believe that to be a keel-hauling offence.

Still, it meant that I found a nice flock of snow buntings in among the rock pipits and skylarks at Mains of Portlethen (3rd record), and my second ever mistle thrush. Better still, there were eight of them in the flock. Unprecedented. 

This is one of my best ever starts to the year.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Any day you see a peregrine is a good day... per Birdwatch Ireland

Yesterday, apparently, was a good day.

It was dry when I went out... I wasn't dry when I got home... the rain and the hail saw to that. But on the way back from the lake I had a fly-by peregrine, and according to this Birdwatch Ireland tweet from February 2012, that makes yesterday a good day:
Who am I to argue?

Nothing as sexy as a rockin' raptor today yet... but a stock dove over the garden this morning keeps the year-ticks rolling in... which is all good.

61.15% and counting....

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Weekend wonders

A quick stomp around the patch, familiarising myself with all the excellent habitat that there is for birds…

Scored a nice round dozen new ones for the year, including four woodcock and eight jack snipe and, now that I know where to find them, a couple of pheasants.

Moves me on to 33 for the year (28.70%).

Happy days


Monday 11 January 2016

Old Snowy's 2015 Best Patch Find Poll

Yes indeedy - whistle up the dogs and piss on the fire, for it is time once more to vote for the Best Patch Find, with the eager winner getting to have Old Snowy on his/her mantelpiece for a full 12 month (subject to delivery, natch).

Old Snowy yesterday

To vote simply look left I mean right and then click on which ever species you'd most like to find on your patch, if you have one. And if not, then imagine you have a patch and imagine which species you'd most like to find - simple!

If you're on a mobile device you may need to scroll to the bottom of the site & click on web view to see the side bar on the right, where the poll is.

The poll is open for a week.

Just bear in mind that Old Snowy has been trapped in North-east Scotland for the last 5 years and wouldn't mind stretching his wings & trying life somewhere else!

Welcome to the Tufty Club

No... not this tufty club:

Quote of the day: "When you want to go to the ice-cream-van, ALWAYS take mummy with you..." yeeeeeeees! Dopey mammals!

No... what I'm talking about is the three (count 'em) tufted ducks larking about on the lake this afternoon. The coot is back too: another score. Add pheasant, reed bunting and black headed gull and that's five year ticks during a one hour spin on the bike after lunch. Not bad going at all at all!

All of which joyful japes puts me on a resounding 58.84% for the year -- catapulting me into first place. Yay!

Sunday 10 January 2016

New celeb set to join Golden Mallard challenge for 2016

Yes indeedy followers & fans - I, Sepp Blatter, am proud to announce that a multi-million euro deal has almost been sealed, bringing a new famous celebratory to our esteemed competition!

More to be announced in due course, although I can give you this sneak preview...

One of these people will be joining the Golden Mallard in 2016. Can you guess which one?

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Boghall 2016

The pleasing jay continues it's stay. That and other goodies brings us to 34, or 35.79%. The big patch of sacrificial crop in one of the fields is generating finches and bunting (thanks SAC), but as of yet nothing on the little side. But I'm looking.
All this means I take Seppy, and am chasing Portie

Boghall reports

We got a bit distracted towards the end of last year, and have been a bit tardy updating scores. But last year the total was 71 species, or 96.38%. Not bad in the end after what was a poor year. No real good finds, but the whooper swan was a patch goodie, and a jay has taken up residence. But this is probably the best patch record from the last month. One for Seppy and Mr Wanstead.

'ere we go again

Congratulations to Derek, well won.

But who's getting the owl?  Best find?  Should be a free vote to decide, no need for fat brown envelopes these days.  Will it eventually be departing it's perch from the top of my piano and migrate south-west from Collieston? or will it just do it's biennial movement to just down the road?

When you rigging setting the vote Seppy?

Last year was pretty hopeless at Longhaven, not helped by a shortage of visits and a shortage of migrants.  I ended the year on a meagre 103 species, having rather carelessly scored pheasant on New Years Eve.

However, the good news is, now in its third year, the Longhaven Patch total is now more realistically set at 115 species for 2016.  A bit of a stretch to reach but worth a challenge.

And this year so far, a cool 20 species.  which is pretty good seeing that the howling easterlies have largely been too strong to even stand up in and the rain has just been lashing down.  There's absolutely no shelter at Longhaven, no driving around in a car or anything so easy as that, so there's no escaping the weather.

Best bird is, of course, Little Auk… a full fat patch tick and the only reason why I ventured out onto the patch at all.

Here's for some exciting and bird filled patches this year.

Happy Days


Tuesday 5 January 2016

A new year, a new dawn

Firstly, congratulations to Derek on his supreme victory over us duffers.

This year, I start working from home, which could do wonders for my patch list.  Already, I'm off to a flyer, with little auks a go-go (512 in a half-hour seawatch yesterday and a glauc, both of which are 2nd records for the patch.  Mind you, I expect even the Proclaimers will get them half way up the Pentlands the way the winds are at the moment.

Monday 4 January 2016

Victor ludorum es

Well it's not been for want of bloody trying! Five years I've been losing at this, and then I realised why. It was because I was trying to win it every year! The minute you say to yourself "oh feck it" and "I cannot be arsed", that's when you're in with a chance. But then after that you actually have to put in a bit of effort, Turns out I gave it 103.60%.

I understand Basil has been feeding up the Mallard with small pieces of Toblerone to ensure a suitable fat score for south(east)bound migration, and that once Seppy is in receipt of a suitably fat envelope it will be with me by June.

off-patch twitching


A glaucous-winged gull yesterday
Which was nice.

Friday 1 January 2016

Best of the Irish... without leaving the garden

First things first... congrats to Derek... the venerable Golden Mallard is winging its way to you as I type... or at least it will be when I can be arsed getting it to Seppy, and when he puts through the "highly efficient" Oirish postal system.

Should be with you by June bud!

Anyway... despite scouring the patch relentlessly (AKA scanning the lake from the car window) in the twilight of 2015 I was unable to secure the poxy mute swan and well-passed-due kingfisher that would have circumvented the Golden Mallard's imminent migration to urban pastures. I suspect it will dislike the smog, miss the clean West Cork air, and yearn to return in short order.

And so thoughts turn to 2016.

How the feck is Derek on 54% already? (REF!) I don't know. I do know Seppy was out scouring Galley all day to finish on 31.69%. A quick half-assed sconce (Seppy's phraseology) from the garden this morning before heading up to Cork for "family" stuff puts me on 33.46%. So one day in, best of the Irish and third overall, without venturing out of the garden.

I'll take that for starters.

Happy New Year!

Derek wins the Golden Mallard

Yes indeedy folks, it is with huge amounts of aplomb that I can announce that Mr Derek Nimmo has finally managed to win the much-coveted Golden Mallard, after something like his 4th or 5th attempt.

Despite only spending approximately 6 weekends visiting his Wanstead patch in 2015, he has somehow managed to claim to see enough species to actually win the amayzing prize (worth 50 rag on ebay, let's not forget).

Anyway, goodness knows when I'll be able to wrestle the trophy out of Basil Faulty's sweaty and somewhat pudgy mitts, and post it all the way to Wanstead, but I'll see what I can do. A brown envelope would probably help the situation...

Until next time, a bientot et bon chance!