Wednesday 27 December 2017

The gift that keeps on giving

And that gift is Boghall in 2017. We were out last night on a nocturnal patch tour when we flushed a woodcock. We got it in the beam of our Stupidly Bright torch as it flew off. That makes 83 or 114.74%. The next few years will be tough. Five days to go - can we maintain our lead?

Friday 24 November 2017

A "Tern" for the better in Clonakilty

Apologies for being slack with the posts. Its more a case of getting under Seppy's skin rather than sheer laziness. Although laziness has also played a large part in it s is clear from my spelling and grammar,

So the year started off pretty slowly with Cattle Egret and Ring-billed gull being the only birds of note in January. I moaned pretty constantly until April about how crap my patch was with Garganey and a Tufted duck the highlights until then. The only thought that kept me going was "at least i dont have Bazel's horrible inland patch"!

Then in April everything changed. As I looked out in to the bleakness that is Muckross Estuary during in spring, there shone a shiny beacon in the middle of the sand. One lone tern. and as it lifted from the mud and hawked its way towards me I knew straight away (well after at least two phone calls at least) that it was a Gull-billed tern. A rarer occurrence in county Cork than Grey-cheeked thrush i might add! The bird stuck around for a few weeks and there were reports of both Seppy and Basel pleasuring themselves as it they observed it hawking up and down the estuary. Disgusting behavior.

This was followed in very quick succession by a coot ( patch gold) and a find tick in the form of a cracking male Green-winged teal (which should never ever be lumped).

A hat-trick of yank waders got me through the autumn. The highlight for me was a White-rumped sand which was a lifer. This was followed by a lovely Baird's sand and a Semi-P Sand. Tinged only by the fact that I didnt find any of the yank waders ( Except for the semi-p kinda but that a whole other story).

That brings me to 126 species for the year so far and 106%. "Terns" out my patch is actually pretty awesome.


Tuesday 21 November 2017

Enjoying a big J

Yup, while getting out the car to head out birding at the weekend we had a jay in the garden. We've had a couple close to the patch of late but this is the first on patch for the year. That brings us to a rather embarrassing 113.36% (or 82 species).

And the dippers have started singing in the garden again too - nothing like  breakfast with a dipper soundtrack. Far better than any soundtrack we've produced.

Happy days indeed.

Thursday 2 November 2017

The enquiry begins...

Arrived at Boghall and made some preliminary enquiries regarding the infeasibly high percentage score claimed by the Reid brothers. Nothing incriminating uncovered yet...

Monday 30 October 2017

Boghall strikes back

They say two eyes are better than one. Which means eight eyes are even better still. But it was the deployment of a the trusty Meopta S2 (similar to that pictured here) and one eye that really provided the goods this weekend. Having been inspired by a birdless trip to Gladhouse Reservoir, we headed out onto the patch with scope. We don't do this often but perhaps we should. Soon we had added mute swan (patch tick) and gannet to the list. More work delivered teal and lapwing just off the patch on a boggy patch of land, while another scan delivered 5 greylag geese in flight. Added to the snipe from a couple of weeks back brings us to 81 or 111.98%. Stunning (unlike the birds)! Can more be added before the year is out? Who knows but we'll keep pushing. A quick look this morning indicated that the yellow-breasted buntings were still around.

Friday 27 October 2017

Another crazy day on Galley

Stumbled out to the office in the dark this morning to do a tiny bit of work pre-birding and was almost instantly rewarded by a flyover calling brambling for the year - result!

Headed out around 9 am with the intention of just doing a reasonably quick hoof round the likely spots on Galley. Bumped into Old Spoons at Shite Lane and we headed off to do Dirk - 6 more flyover brambling and killer views of at least 4 firecrests. A tour of the fields next, and, since it seemed quiet, a quick cup of tea chez spoons before hitting more fields, Marsh Lane & then home.

As I walked in my gate at lunchtime Spoons rang - "Little bunting above shite lane" - straight back out but no luck. Nipped home for food and got a lift back to Shite Lane just in time to hear one of the strangest calls I've ever heard - like a hyper curlew "Cloo-eeeet Clooo-eeeeet" - what the hell was that? 5 mins later, Spoons texted the answer - "flyover American Golden Plover!" I checked Xeno-Canto - Bingo, a perfect match for what I'd heard! Another full fat Galley tick - shame not to see it, but great to finally hear one - won't forget that one!

The rest of the afternoon was spent traipsing about hoping to bump into Spoon's Little bunting, but it was not be. Did bag Fieldfare for the year though, so all was not lost. A long tiring day of hoofing about, but was just not the day for sitting about at home!

Thursday 26 October 2017

Another Grey-cheeked Thrush!!!

Still reeling!

Grey-cheeked Thrush, Red Strand


Just off-patch, and only 1.25km from the Dirk Bay bird, and about 6 km from the Ross Pier bird! This one has no warts on its feet though so looks like a new bird! Amayzing!

Almost as amayzing was ticking a hawfinch dug out of Dirk this am by Old Spoons. And three (count 'em) Glossy Ibises flying past the window when I was eating my lunch! Old Spoons found a fourth one at Red Strand this pm. Thats two Full Fat Patch Ticks in one day! And the small matter of finding another Grey-cheeked Thrush! Its been quite a day!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Big Roy's Autumnal Arsebag

Big Roy has been in touch to say he's been bangin' them in oop north, as they say. Recent additions include ruff, black redstart, ring ouzel to name but a few. Moves him up the langerboard towards the podium but not quite high enuff to be troubling anyone for a medal just yet.

Sunday 22 October 2017

a dose of thrush

Its been good at Galley of late! Firecrests galore, with at least 6 (count 'em) knocking about, pied flycatcher, red-breasted flycatcher, yellow-browed warbler and, best of the lot, a rather fantastic looking Grey-cheeked Thrush, which Mr Faulty and myself managed to stumble into again today with the resultant award-winning shots (all basil's I may add)


Oooooof again

More ooooofage
Cracking bird - and delighted to get great views today after only 8 seconds on it in the p*ssing rain on thursday afternoon! Forgot to add that Grey-cheeked Thrush is of course a patch tick for me, which moves me up to 201  for Galley - first patch tick since Rosefinch 2 autumns ago I think! Awesome!

Amayzingly, Old Spoons found another Grey-cheeked Thrush on Rosscarbery pier on Friday - only about 5km away. What are de chances? Amazeballs!

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Odious warbler

Blundered into a hippo on Sunday morning - flew out of the Shite Lane sycamores and into the maize field, and that was that for the morning. By the afternoon the bird had returned to the trees and we were reckoning it was an icky. However, subsequent scrutineering of photicular material resulted in questions being raised over this ID, and its now reckoned to be a melodious warbler. Fair enuff, can't win them all, though personally, more time looking at the bird and less time trying futilely to get shots would have been a better way to go!

Here's a couple of shots courtesy of Old Spoons anyway, so you can make yer own minds up!

fat lumpish jizz etc
Still, its a good bird for Galley, even though we did our best to stuff it up! Spot Fly for the year too - Bonus!

Thursday 21 September 2017

Hang out the bunting

Thanks to SIC, we have re identified some Emberiza that have been hanging about our patch of late. What a find! Apparently there is one on Shetland too. If I (Craig) were to walk there and back it would be 500 miles, and if Charlie did it, it would be 500 more.

Monday 18 September 2017

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Full Fat Patch

With never ending south-westerlies it doesn't look good on the patch, but at a risk of not meeting some  rather important work related deadlines I strolled onto the patch this morning and scored a very nice Icky, which is a full fat patch tick.  Accompanying it was chiffchaff and a tree pipit flyby which were new for the year.

So happy days for me.  But still need 20 species before the years end if I'm to catch those annoying Proclaimers.

Happy days


Monday 4 September 2017

What it all means

It has been a busy few weeks on the patch. The dotterel has perhaps been the highlight but a quick review of recent weeks identifies some other highlights including raven and peregrine. Barn owl was added a couple of weeks back as we sat on the sofa in our recording studio and one flew across the garden. Now that’s our kind of birding.

But this weekend highlights include a notable wader passage of curlew over the patch on Saturday followed by cormorant yesterday. This one was riding a thermal (who knew the did that!) It was only a matter of time before that one fell but it brings the patch list to a cracking 99, and my year’s total to 75, or 103.69%. Over the ton.

Sunday 3 September 2017


Been on the road again, but picked up Spotted Flycatcher as well as Redstart and Tree Pipit that I missed in spring due to a heavy recording schedule. 103 - count 'em. That said, not many simple ones left, and don't talk to me about waders. No travel until October and no Shetland.....

Friday 1 September 2017

waders on da move

been a few bits going through Galley lately - managed dunlin and black-tailed godwit yesterday, and then had 7 (count 'em) sanderling on the beach this am. Back ahead of Bushveld! Result!

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Catching up from the front

Just popping in here to see what's been going on after a subtle nudge from everybody's favourite bent football official. I see The Proclaimers are adding splendid patch ticks like dotterel to their 2017 tally.

Well done the lads!

Nothing quite so grand at The Mall... natch, but a barn owl as I staggered back from the pub a few weeks back, plus some utterly inane forgettable gank before that (can't for the life of me recall what it was... but it's down on the spreadsheet, which is what counts) means that after crunching the numbers puts me on 93.10%


Monday 28 August 2017

Patch tick-a-roo!

Following  a tip of from the fleet footed Lachan (he has no pseudonym), we nipped up onto our patch earlier today to see a fine dotterel. Patch tick! Just a shame I didn't find it, rather than being beaten to it by some bloke out for a run. But its on the last - I'll update the score once I work out what it all means.

Sunday 20 August 2017


two greenshank on the not so great pool this afternoon.

one more to the tally puts me ahead of Seppy... which is what counts.


Tuesday 8 August 2017

Big Royzah goes seawatching

Indeed and he did. And so did I. and we did all right too, considering. And we certainly did all right for gin. and large shearwaters. And we even jammed a wilson's petrel, courtesy of Old Spoons and his incredible watery-but-all-seeing eye. Which was nice.

Seppy, Royzah, Old Spoons & Basil post-wilson's sunshine
Best of all, I added heaps of year ticks to my tally for this year - huzzah!

Monday 17 July 2017

The Proclaimers on tour

Had the pleasure of the Proclaimers in Wesht Cork for a few days last week - they were over doing some random patch invigilation to ensure that all Wesht Cork participants were playing by the rules.

A good time was had by all, although Craig (or was it Charlie?) fairly got stuck in to the sause on a quietish Galley seawatch...

Things took a turn for the worse when Charlie (or was it Craig?) started looking at ducks on the lake...

No ducks please, its July
All too soon the tour was over, however, its rumoured that a certain dead tap-dancer may be making the rounds next...

Friday 7 July 2017

Well done Bushvelt

Well done to Bushvelt, and the happy finger of Reg, for the swift. Amazing find.

It has promoted us to update our scores on the doors. Not Done so since March, but very little has happened since then. Highlight without doubt was singing lesser whitethroat back in May. patch tick that i then suppressed. Not that anyone would have cared. But it did bring patch total to a whopping 97 species in total, 66 this year making 91.24%.

Sunday 2 July 2017

Friday 19 May 2017

Spring seawatching

When the wind went SW and picked up on Monday morning my thoughts turned to the sea. Naturally I didn't actually do anything until I heard that a few poms and a long-tailed skua had been seen off Toe Head to the west. So I shuffled out to the head and had no sooner sat down than 3 pomarine skuas flew west - fully spooned - cracking! I managed another group of two and a single in the next two hours, also cashing in year tick gank such as puffin, bonxie, sooty shearwater and storm petrel. Five seawatching year ticks - just like that!

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Blue-headed wagtail !!

Another quiet morning round Galley though I didn't have long. I've been checking the few cow flocks on patch for associated wagtails the last few mornings with no luck but on my last stop before home this morning I struck lucky! A cracking blue-headed wagtail was in amongst the cattle, although it didn't make for easy photography...

hiding in the grass

out in the open

amongst the cows
Good record for Galley - yellow wagtail is tricky enough here, and this is my first flava-type on patch!

Monday 8 May 2017

Putting Bushveld back in his box

Far be it from me to be getting boastful, (particularly this spring!), but even without much in the way of migrants I've managed to get back ahead of Bushveld!

Yes indeedy, even this weekend with very limited free time on patch I managed to glean swift, siskin, mistle thrush and a fine brace of tysties! All very welcome I'm sure you'll agree.

All this excitement keeps me firmly ahead of Bushveld, although my spring is winding down while his is probably only just getting going. Lets hope for a nice run of westerlies for the next few weeks ooop north hey?

To finish, a wee snap of the showy grasshopper warbler that has been frequenting the field by shite lane crossroads all week. Not as close or obliging today as the other night when I didn't have my camera, obvs!

A gropper yesterday

Happy days


Sunday 7 May 2017

Keeping Seppy in his place

Seeing that Seppy bagged a few birds during the week I thought I'd best give the patch a bit of a grilling before he gets too carried away.

Bagged a few dunlin and a common sand.  Those with a few regular migrants puts Seppy back in his place.

74 species at 69.16%

Happy days


Friday 5 May 2017

Royzah blows his trumpet

A missive from Senor Royzah the other night (for it was him), leads me to update the blog. He's been blawing on about the first Shoveler for five years and also bagged a bar-tailed godwit on the weekend. Plus wheatear and willow warbler and bits.

As for Galley, well, I've been slogging away for a few bits - barwit for me was good, while wood warbler last weekend was even better - only my second here, and this one was a finds tick! However, the worry now is as we head into May that the North-east is just about to wake from its winter slumbers, while down here its nearly almost over fir the summer...

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Garden birds

Found this hanging around my front garden yesterday afternoon.

A patch bird for Reg...

A wee cracker that I thought worth sharing

Sunday 30 April 2017

Patch birding at its finest

What a months end...

who needs red-winged blackbird when you've got patch birding?

With the winds turning south-easterly it was definitely worth stretching ones legs around the patch.  My efforts were well rewarded with three mega rares on the patch in the space of a couple of days.

The first, a fine pair of GREY PARTRIDGE, skilfully flushed I think you'll find from some deep cover near the cliff tops; possible migrants I thought? But then... I didn't really care as they were most definitely full fat patch ticks.

Still delighted with my find, I wandered off down to the 'moat' where there's some nice bushes for some nice migs (sometimes).  Ten minutes later with only a willow warbler added to the year list,  two mallard flew off from the moat and behind them, scuttling into to edge of the bank, was a MOORHEN.  Would you believe it? yet another full FFPT... awesome.  What a bird it was.  I sat and admired it, whilst looking forward to the golden mallard winging its way to me at the years end.

Today was bit of let down really, but the pair of mute swan on the great pool were the first ones since 2014...BONUS

What an end to the month.  Although, on reflection, I do think I'd rather have a red-winged blackbird...

At the end of April, patch total of 69 sp, 64.49%

Happy days


Tuesday 25 April 2017

late in getting started...

It has taken me a while to get round to this. I could claim I have been busy, what with work in Antarctica and Melanesia but it is really just about priorities.

And the competition this year has been a low priority of late, in part due to an impending divorce. Yes, I am separating from my patch. It has been a good affair lasting nearly three years, but we are moving apartments, the current five minute walk to the patch will be a distant memory and I will be in search of a new patch.

Not that the patch has been without interest. The year list has moved on to a respectable 72 and includes four patch ticks (count 'em). Oriental dwarf kingfisher, orange-headed thrush, dark-sided flycatcher and brown hawk owl. The best image I have is of the dullest of the additions...

Add to this the regular presence of hooded and blue-winged pittas, red-legged crakes with chicks and changeable hawk-eagle a new breeding species for the patch; and life has been good. I will be sad to leave it but new pastures beckon. Well, it won't be a pasture as grassland is more or less non-existent here but...

Wednesday 29 March 2017

slow start to the spring

its been slow enuff round these parts of late - banged in willow warbler, golden plover and a fine black redstart in the last couple of days but still no wheatear! Whats going on?

Still, back ahead of Bushveld so happy days!

Tuesday 21 March 2017


Well... not really.

Once extremely scarce in this neck of the deforested Irish countryside, buzzards have been pushing steadily south. In fact I now have it on unquestionable authority that they are classed as "regular and increasing".

Seppy dispensing his ornithological wisdom with characteristic generosity and aplomb

 AKA "gank", except of course when they occur on Galley Head.

Still, they all count... so the one I glimpsed circling over a hillside in the middle-distance yesterday afternoon is duly in the bag, nudging me to 63 for the year, or 72.41% in real money.

Roll on the swallows!

Monday 20 March 2017

Spring has sprung

The first wheatear of the year was early by North-east Scotland standards and very nice it was indeed.

Better still... A full fat patch tick in the form a of a collared dove got me punching the air with delight and got me singing Tick-a-dee-doo-dah, tick-a-dee-ay.

Happy days



Singing away this morning. Great work. And more bad news for Basil is, due to a cycle related injury (a small girl cycled into me, taking me out), we'll be working from the recording studio at home for a few days. More ticks to follow.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

He's a **** like that....

There isn't much that will galvanise me into action these days, but news this morning from Seppy that I was slipping down the rankings saw me scrambling to update the blog. The result: devastating news; after tallying my backlog I'd still managed to slip into second place!

Only one thing for it, I thought: a lunchtime pasty up by the lake.

It was a great plan, especially as the tuna and sweetcorn wrap I'd made for lunch had disappeared before 11am. But I digress... what's important in this context is the splendid common gull that was bobbing gently amidst the usual raft of herring and lesser-black-backed gulls. Keen to push on I scanned the rest of the flock, and made a lame, half-arsed attempt to string a ring-billed out of an immature herring gull... but Seppy was having none of it. He's a **** like that.

Still, the "legit" common gull sees me leapfrog the Proclaimers (no mean feat in itself) to reclaim the top spot on a blistering 71.26%.

Bring it!

About choughing time!

Well, it's been a busy while on the home front. On the bird front... not so much.

Cybil-induced renovations mean we've moved out of the house, so I've been living off patch for the last month or so, only getting out to check it sporadically. Nevertheless I've manage to pick up the odd tick here and there... stellar stuff like stonechat (yes!) and most recently chough (finally... FFS!).

All of which keeps me just about in touch with everyone's favourite bespectacled Scotch pop icons at the top of the leaderboard at a dizzy 70.11%.


We won't be back in the house until early May... which is a massive pain in the proverbial. Who knows what might slip through the net during my enforced springtime absence (cue Seppy pointing out that loads of stuff inevitably slips through the net when I'm present)?

Still, at least it means I get to check out a new area this spring... which is nice. And look what I found waiting for me on a small lake near my temporary coastal gaff....

Now trying to work out a legitimate way to trans-locate the pair of them up to Corran Lake so they become tickable.

Monday 6 March 2017


Its been fairly busy on Boghall of late. We've been hard at it and have been reaping the rewards. Recent additions include oystercatcher, lesser black backed gull and house sparrow, Yes, house sparrow. It's a bit of a rarity round these parts. I blame the tree sparrows myself. No doubt Seppy will be asking for a description of it. Oh, and we had another Mediterranean gull on Sunday (see image below). Next stop wheatear.

And so we take top spot with 70%

Med Gulls yesterday

Saturday 18 February 2017

Easy birding

A slow start this morning after a trip to Cloisters bar last night. But efforts were rewarded with a fine brambling in the garden of our recording studio. On the coffee list. That adds another to the score sheet.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Mediterranean weather

Horizontal snow is not what comes to mind when we think of the Mediterranean. Neither do images of soggy fields covered in freshly spread muck. So what was going through the minds of the two mediterranean gulls that were sat on Boghall on the 11th? Not that we cared as, after 8 years of checking gull flocks in winter on Boghall we had finally found this white winged wonder. Probably the last patch in this challenge to do so too. The partying went on right up until England ran over for that last try against Wales.

[Edit by Seppy - I requested photographic evidence to support this highly contentious record, but have to admit that the resulting image more than substantiates it. Well done to all concerned!]


Monday 23 January 2017

Dodgy Bustard wins Old Snowy!

Yes indeedy, in the quietest and least controversial votes in years (mainly cos me & Basil forgot about it until it was too late) Shakey's ridiculous & unverified claim of a fly-by Great Bustard "in off" at Samphire Hoe has won the much coveted Old Snowy trophy for the Best Patch Find 2016.

Here are the final results:

the poll result yesterday
Yes indeedy, only nine votes were cast, which is less than the number of birders that even do the poxy patch challenge! Obviously Basil's lack of canvassing is to blame.

Sadly the result means I'll have to patch up and pack up Old Snowy for the long trip to Kent. Any day now I'd say, honest.

Several careless owners! FFS!

Thursday 12 January 2017

Bronzed off

Third last year. Will we ever win the challenge? No is the clear answer, all things considered but off we go again in 2017. A few excursions around the patch have resulted in a flurry of standard fair. but it's good to get grey wagtail early in the year. We've also been enjoying the roost of c 2000 jackdaws and rooks that occurs each night just off the patch. That count is approximately 1900 more than the number of people who bought our last album.
39 or 53.9%

Monday 9 January 2017

2016 Final scores

Just so they don't get lost in the mists of time, specially if Basil starts talking p*sh about how narrowly he lost by again, here are the full 2016 final declared patch scores....

Some scores, yesterday
I guess I really should have edited out Nimmo's score for 2015 prior to posting - he's bound to start reminiscing and waxing lyrical about his finest hour etc etc blah waffle drone...

Wednesday 4 January 2017

2016 champion gets straight back out there

Yes indeedy, a missive from Royzah concerning his New Year's mission to retain the Golden Mallard was received this very am - he's banged in 59 species already for a whopping 43.7% score. This includes such patch crackers as Bullfinch apparently. Oooooooof!

I've been slightly less enthusiastic, limiting myself to a one wee toot off the patio of a morning, but I've already had two (count 'em) unseasonal shelduck and, even better, three (count 'em again) whopper shwans in off, as it were.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Off to a solid start

After last years pitiful performance; ending the year most definitely in the relegation zone and, after the most awesome autumn for years, no patch rares.  I think it's about time I did something about it.

This is my fourth year with the patch and so now have an adjusted target based on a full three years of data.  So I start 2017 full of enthusiasm and predict Longhaven winning the double!!!

Better still... started 2017 with two full fat patch ticks! a couple of turnstone grovelling around the base of the cliffs and a fine 1st year glauc gliding by.  Awesome.

With 42 species and 39.25% off to a solid start.

Happy days and good patch listing everyone.


Monday 2 January 2017

Cockfest gets New Year off to a flying start

First thing's first... congrats to Royzah on his epic 0.5% victory for 2016. Here's hoping there's room for the vaunted mallard on the mantlepiece amongst the trumpets and horns. If past form is anything to go by it should reach him sometime around mid September.

And so to 2017. A couple of sunny days kicked off proceedings, and I managed to somehow dodge Cybil's insistence on "family time" and sneak off around the patch, bagging a whopping 50 species. Highlights included 3 (count 'em) woodcock this morning, and a lingering mute schwan in the cow field behind the lake (always good to bang one in early, as they say).

So in real money that's me on 57.47% for the year. Good enough for starters -- although it is a tad worrying how quickly things move from "everything counts again" to "fuck all new about".

Sunday 1 January 2017

Royzah emerges victorious...

Yes indeedy, after a truly epic battle, Big Royzah has finally won the Golden Mallard challenge, although obviously it could take some time for it to arrive all the way from Wanstead. He should have it by next week though, provided Nimmo gets his finger out.

It was heartening to watch Basil Faulty go to pieces as he let the mallard slip through his hapless fingers for the second year in a row - what a patch!

Still, I'm sure he'll bounce back - he's probably claiming the 2017 lead already!