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!