Saturday 19 December 2020

Breaking records but no prizes

 It's been a while since I last posted anything and Seppy has been on my back asking for demanding an update.  The problem being is that there's not been much to say.

November brought in another four patch ticks for the year, the best of the bunch being a long-eared owl caught and ringed.  Since then I've managed another two long-ears, two short-ears and a few barn owls.  

My few attempts at sea watching have proven fruitless aside from eider, which are usually got in January.  A snow bunting on the 1st November is less than annual on the patch, so a bit of a bonus bird and great spotted woodpecker is also less than annual and a species during late summer and early autumn, so I thought I'd missed it for the year.  

The woodpecker was my 125th species of the year, my highest ever total.

Since the end of November a dawning realisation has crept over me and acceptance that the mallard would be off to pastures new (or a recording studio) and the six species I still need to get in order to avoid the inevitable just ain't going to happen.

I've been stuck on 125 for over a month now and 111.01%

Happy days


Thursday 3 December 2020

Golden days

As with Derek, Tintin and many others, restrictions means we have spent much more time on patch this year. We are at it pretty much every day, and as a pished man once opined, "don't look, don't find". And so it was we found ourselves at the furthest reaches of our patch late on Sunday afternoon as a GOLDEN PLOVER flew over. Full fat patch tick, even if not as impressive as WFG or crag martin (hats off, chaps). I've had big flocks just off patch before when I've been off patch too, but this is the first on patch. This effort brings us to an all time record 91 species in one year, which is 116.17% of previous three years. 28 days to get nine species to break to 100 might be a bit of an ask though, but happy to break 90.

The scene of the find on Sunday just after golden plover flew over. Photo: photographer's own

Monday 30 November 2020

Dedication's what you need

I'm a record breaker! Late morning I took a break from session comedy and wandered down to the local lake to find a White-fronted Goose. There have been stragglers all over the south-east so I felt quietly confident. Needless to say I returned empty-handed. As soon as I got back from the most distant pond on the patch I was sent a message to say that there was a White-fronted Goose there. Gah!! Shurely shome mishtake? With time even more severely against me that my prior visit I resorted to my bicycle and raced back. And sure enough, galling though it was, there was WFG floating around on the pond. Don't ask me as I just don't know. I would like to think that if I was specifically looking for a WFG that I wouldn't look straight through a WFG, but stranger things have happened....

Photo by J Heal, my recording engineer

But why am I a record-breaker? Well, this little Russian goose is species 119 for the patch this year, eclipsing by one my previous record set way back in 2013. Unbelievably this is only just good enough for a podium place in 2020, bloody Crag Martins, and I remain quite worried that Seppy is going to spend December bribing local birders to release yet more rare wildfowl on the lake behind his gaff....


Saturday 28 November 2020


 Might be my last year tick of 2020 but if so a fine one to sign off on and bring up my highest total since 2012 of 109.37%. A county first but more importantly a full fat patch tick...


Monday 19 October 2020

Lets shrike this

 Lots of slog for not much reward this weekend - did bang in redwing & fieldfare on fri & sat and then yesterday grabbed a red-backed shrike out of the dying embers of the south-easterlies - my fourth one on Galley and my first since 2013.

Had brief views again of the shrike this am before it seemingly dizzolved in the rain, which was a bit irksome. A black redstart was a bonus for the year though, which was nice.

Still a bit too far off the podium for my liking - not sure I'm going to get much closer though!

A couple more...

 Squeezed in coal tit and fieldfare this last week.

trying to keep the pressure on the Procs but even if I get the few remaining regulars and jam a few bonus birds, it just isn't going to happen.... bugger.

Happy days


Thursday 15 October 2020

Oh, Canada


Continuing to record at home, we were sat on a video call this morning looking out of the window, paying full attention when we noticed nine Canada geese flying over low. They must have come in on the easterlies along with all the redwings that have just arrived. This full fat gank patch tick was later blown out of the water by jack snipe, flushed from the side of a field. If flew off low, but just when I went for a second look, the local farmer resumed muck spreading - jack shit in that field now. 90 species (all time patch record for a year) = 114.9%

Wednesday 7 October 2020


What with rare birds occurring on every blade of east coast grass over the last week, I've been spending a bit more time than usual stomping around the patch.  Thoughts of Ol' Snowy returning to it's favourite perch on top of my piano have, unfortunately, faded as there was absolutely nothing worthy of its return.  However, I did squeeze in a few patch birds for the year with a total of TEN year ticks:

Ring Ouzel
Mistle Thrush
Lesser whitethroat
Wood warbler

Quality birds all of them.  Although wood warbler was a FFP tick and it was only my second ever crossbill.

Still no rares though and I'd rather have been with Roy Castle clearing up Shetland...who wouldn't?

The good news is that, for now, there is hope that the Mallard could remain where it has been for the last couple of years.  

119 species

Happy days

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Wandering tits

 Its that time of year on Galley when you can bump into a load of tits of all shapes and sizes pretty much anywhere. And so it was this morning, as I wandered down into Dirk hoping for a yank. A distant possible long-tailed tit call gradually came closer and turned into nine (count 'em) of the wee blighters frolicking in the sycamores. 

I gleaned another two kwality year ticks on Sunday, in the form of my first stock dove since 2013 down Marsh Lane followed by two (count 'em) or a brace if you'd prefer, wigeon on the lake. 

Exhibit A - A stock dove

I would still rather be on Shetland though.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

The prodigal son returns

Well I'm back. I noticed mutterings that I needed to post, partly due to totally erroneous claims that I was threatening the top of the  leaderboard. Clearly I've not been anywhere other than in my (non-Covid) fevered mind and clearly it's not been the incredible patch birding that has kept me away from here. 

Following the pleasing return of green woodpeckers in April, the spring progressed with typical migrants appearing including wheatear (which according to my very poor records may have been a patch tick), and residents such as hard to find grey partridge and barn owl, which were both squeezed out of the woodwork in April and May. June and July were tedious tick free months before August appeared and delivered the goods with a tree pipit, a patch tick but probably only through  previous piss poor ornithological skills and oversight. 

Slithering into September teal reappeared on my beloved newly flooded field before a very welcome pair of golden plover briefly paused on the barren, lifeless wastes of the arable field next to the house. 

The list now stands at 101.19% so in no way threatening The Proclaimers, or anyone else for that matter, except possibly through actual numbers of species, but then we'd both be miles behind any of the coastal ponces, struggling as we do on our birdless agricultural wastelands. 

That do you? Really wasn't worth waiting for was it?

Monday 28 September 2020

Weekend Roundup

 Yes indeedy, folks have been banging in the year ticks all over the gaff over the last few days, none more so than Big Royzah who after nailing a brent goose and a great northern diver, even turned his hand to a spot of seawatching, scoring his first sooty shearwaters in 13 years! Oooooof!

I was out both days of the weekend, and although it was generally pretty quiet, I did manage a fine coal tit at the Lashers and another, more showy garden warbler on saturday, and then on sunday I bumped into my first yellow-browed warbler of the autumn, as well as a pied flycatcher and the garden warbler again.

A coal tit, yesterday

Getting there slowly....

A threesome at Boghall


We should have been on tour on Shetland right now but we decided to cancel all gigs for the good of the public. As we have a hole in our diaries  we decided to do some seawatching yesterday evening. Things started well, and we saw the sea. It got better when gannet was added to the list. It got a bit hazy after that, and we failed to get any sooty shearwaters. However, turning our trusty Meopta S2s elsewhere we noted a good flock of peewit in the regular peewit fields just off patch, and a flock of teal on a nearby pond, also just off patch. Both are near annual on patch, but good to see them fall. These goodies bring us to 88 species, or 112.34%. We hear Tintin is close on our tails with tales of golden showers plovers.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Nice and Jay - Z does it every time

 News from Big Royzah (for it is he), of a fine full phat patch tick in the form of one of the greatest rappers of all time, Jay - Z.  

Royzah takes up the story himself "Just had a full phat patch tick...Jay! [Z obviously - Ed] Majik! On the path between Royal Aberdeen and Murcar."

When asked why a famous American rap artist was in the vicinity he replied "I think there's jays at Scotstown Moor now, so could be from there, its not far as the crow flies"

a proof-of-life shot supplied below:

A Jay (Z) yesterday

I think I'd better leave it there....

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Grape Lover

 I've been grafting away on patch over the last few days - a slave to it in fact. Persistance is paying off though, particularly with waders, including such wonders as a flyover, calling (tho unseen) spotted redshank and just yesterday a fine grey plover on the deck, courtesy of Old Spoons....


Monday 21 September 2020

It was a Baird's sand.

 It's been a while since I posted anything but alas there's been very little to report.

A very distant Baird's sand' yesterday on the Not So Great Pool was frustratingly too far away to absolutely nail it well enough for submitting to BBRC.  It got flushed by a couple of crows and flew south before I could get across the fields for a closer look.  But it was one, that I am sure.

A grey plover yesterday was a full fat patch tick but absolutely no consolation for the departed sandpiper.

A few other birds trickling through included an Osprey on 12 August which was also a full fat patch tick.  A yellow-browed last week and regular lap bunts in the stubble fields are the best of the meagre pickings.

Still hopeful for a spell of easterlies to bring in some birds but at the moment the patch total for this year stands at 109 species and 96.80%.  Another 13 species would put me in poll position and in some fantasy world of mine it is definitely doable.

Happy days



Thursday 17 September 2020

Right place, right time

Got back to the patch after work on friday in time for a quick squizz at the seaweed patch on the beach, in the hope that there was a rare american wader hopping around on it. Unfortunately this wasn't the case, but there was a good sized flock of black-headed gulls frolicking in the surf.  One of them appeared to have a very grey neck as I casually scanned through them from the car, so I jumped out to get the scope on it.

By the time I'd wrestled the tripod legs up, there was no sign of it in the flock. I walked down to the end of the slip and scanned through the flock again - nothing but BHGs. And then I noticed a gull further offshore, on its own. A quick scan with the scope and bingo - there it was! 

Although it kept disappearing behind the waves, the grey hind neck really stood out, and although it was on its own, it looked small. The "cheek spot" seemed larger than on BHG, and the white outer primaries were bordered on the rear edge by a neat, thin dark line. The white tail contrasted strongly with the grey mantle and neck, which I thought looked a shade darker than BHG. The black bill was noticeable too, when it turned side on. All the while the bird was flying slowly away from me, into the wind, out into the bay, occasionally landing on the water where it would disappear behind the waves. After eventually losing it, I scribbled a few notes before checking the Collins app before texting a few folk that there was an adult winter Bonaparte's Gull on me patch! Amayzingly lucky to get on it, really.

Since then, there's been a few bits turning up in the run of south-easterlies, the best of which has been reed warbler, and only my 3rd evah garden warbler on patch! All still to play for

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Lack of updates = lack of enthusiasm

 I haven't been on here for a while, largely due to the patch being dead and me failing to drum up enough enthusiasm to overcome my inertia.

Seppy bleating on about how he'd sailed past me on the leaderboard was enough of a catalyst, and a quick check through the list this morning revealed some regulars I'd failed to count, like Spot Fly, Gropper and Swift, along with a couple of notable (for this patch at least) waders like Whimbrel and Blackwit. I also had my first goshawk on-patch over the summer, which was nice (seen on two separate occasions over the course of a week).

Recent storms and the resulting floods around the lake yielded a green sand and a coot to round things off.

Those additions bring things bang up to date as we head into autumn -- putting me in fourth place behind the front runners. Precious little in the way of certainties left though, so improving on or even retaining that position will be a challenge. 

Still, I'm back ahead of Seppy... which of course was the main focus of this update.

Back to sleep....

A few bits

 Been oot and aboot a wee bit over the last few days gleaning the odd year tick here and there. A fine green sandpiper over the gaff last week was eagerly ticked off on the year list while a reed warbler on Sunday was my first on the patch for 3 years. With a hint of south-easterlies and drizzly pish last night I was out again this morning nailing a fine pied flycatcher at the Lashers, with spotted flycatcher, blackcap and a chiffchaff as the supporting (non-year tick) cast.  

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Trivialis pursuits


Well, its all go in Lothian right now. We nipped down to Hound Point on Sunday for a bit of shearwater watching, and the way it is looking we scored two Scottish ticks at once. I'm sure this image will make a useful contribution to the identification discussions, especially regarding separation of Scopoli's from pieces of driftwood:

We also tried a wee bit of busking but on playing ‘Flower of Scotland’ we were told firmly there was only one Corries.

But before that on Saturday we had a few good fly overs. As well as curlew and greylag over the garden (neither annual here), we had a tree pipit flyover. That one was hard work – we were sat in the sun, strumming away and having a coffee when it flew over calling away. Get in – full fat patch tickerooo. This means 85 species, 108.5%, and a patch list of 104.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Fea's Fun

After last years total seawatch flop, this year has been slow enough to start but finally got going over the last couple of days. I managed a wee warm-up 10 days ago or so, with a distant cory's shearwater, arctic terns and a storm petrel but things definately improved yesterday with a bit more movement through the crease. The morning was slow enough, with just a single great shearwater, a couple of sooty shearwaters and a bonxie, but by the evening session things were definately happening, with 48 (count 'em) cory's, another great Shear, and a pomarine skua through.

Seawatching off Galley this am
Fast forward to this am, and a truckload of rain. I kept my eye on the Met Error (tm) rainfall radar though, and decided to chance a start at 8.30, when the vis was beginning to lift a bit. By 9 am I'd had 3 cory's and a single great shear, when all of a sudden, out of the gloomy horizon I noticed another "large shear" coming in. This quickly turned out to not be a large shear, and as the bird banked I could see the distinctive dark underwings and bright white underparts of a fea's-type petrel!! The bird continued to work its way west, banking and gliding, but unfortunately didn't come much closer, but still, it was tremendous to get another one - my first since July 2013, so its been quite a while! Majik!

Cory's  and great shears continued to pass for the next hour and half, along with 5 bonxies and a juvenile long-tailed skua, which sneaked through in a rain shower and was most welcome for the patch year list. A great morning's work!

Count 'em! Greats on the left, Cory's on the right

Friday 31 July 2020

Ton up

Scraped past a 100 species this week, with a bonxie during a sea watch.  

All very quiet on the patch, but a cuckoo hanging around the quarry for a few days was a full fat patch tick and is the only highlight during a long spell of nothingness.  

Just need 24 species to match last years total, which isn't going to happen.  But the autumn is almost upon us and I still live in hope that it will be a cracker.

Happy days.


Thursday 23 July 2020

Holidays in the sun

Yesterday evening had a Mediterranean feel to it on my our patch. Third record for the patch and the first for this year. No sangria though.

A gull yesterday (moulting from first summer into second winter plumage.) 

A flock of crossbills flew over recently too, chip chipping into the distance. All this sums to 84 species, which translates into 107.7%

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Off-patch japes

Two full fat lifers in a week but neither of em on patch - disgraceful behaviour but just happened to be in the area for the first one, and just happened to have to go for the second! Luckily I managed pants photos of both birds for your delectation!

A Pacific Golden Plover last week

A Brown Booby earlier, before it was taken into care
That'll probly do me on the tick front for a while! Did manage Common Sandpiper from the majik patio the other night so autumn is upon us at last!

Monday 15 June 2020

When T2006 strikes....

After years if not decades of almost full dormancy, the T2006 (for it is er, it), has finally landed a big wan on its own patch. Whilst barrelling along the western perambulatory corridor of the Bridge of Don at near terminal velocity, whilst lasering unaware pedestrians, its internal voice recognition software assimilated strands of a putative Blyth's Reed Warbler from the central island of the River Don, below the bridge.

At almost the same time, other circuits on board this frankly awesome piece of electronic tin-cannery, were placing repeated voice calls to a certain dead tap dancer who resides close by, who was at this time feverishly clutching the controller of his gaming device in his pudgy fists, determined to slot yet another virtual goal past the vanquished losers on his virtual fifa champions league final and emerge victorious, blissfully unaware of the brown bonanza nestled only metres away from his fat ass on the sofa. or something.

Eventually, after celebrating winning the final with the usual shirt-over-head, arms-windmilling-furiously, cat-scattering jubilation, Big Royzah (for it is he) remembered to have a look at his phone, where he saw the 9 missed calls from the T2006, and reached for his bins.

With the bigs guns assembled, it was only a matter of time before the afore-mentioned Blyth's Reed was fully assimilated, grilled, nailed, and papped by the gathering masses. The rest is, as they say, is history, and Old (ahem, New) Snowy could be winging his way back norf after two years resting on Seppy's mantelpiece - we shall indeed see.

Here's a snap of a snap of a snap that someone else took of what is presumed to be the Don bird....

A blyth's reed warbler, yesterday (Thanks to the photographer for the photo)
As if to add insult to injury, the T2006 further upped the stakes this very morning, by claiming that its digital circuits have also recorded wigeon, greylag goose, arctic tern and cuckoo of late. Frankly outrageous!

Monday 1 June 2020

Unprecedented Times... Desperate Measures

Well, there goes May and what a waste of time that was.  A lack of any migrants has meant that I've done more sea watching this last month than I have in total over the last six years.  Not that it's done me too much good.

The few highlights of the month were actually a couple of full fat patch ticks in the form of a singing grasshopper warbler on the 18th and a 1st summer little gull on the 29th.   A couple of Canada geese on the 17th were only the second record and a great northern diver on the 10th was only the third.

A few waders during the month included a total of five wood sands and similar numbers of ringed plovers, but little else.

But the good news is that all those passerine migrants that haven't turned up yet are still to be had in the autumn and the patch total is still a quite respectable 95 species but is unfortunately a good few percentage points lower than this time last year at 84.37%.

Happy Days


Friday 22 May 2020

Don't look, don't find

And with all tours cancelled, we have a lot of time to work on new material (lucky you!), and keep an eye on our patch. Last week we had a spotted flycatcher in the garden of the recording studio. We were sat outside strumming away, writing tunes when we picked it up. Then on Wednesday our ears picked up the sound of a calling quail. Second ever for our patch, which was nice (got a message from a mate nearby yesterday telling us he too had one so it might be a good quail year). That and swift takes us to 81 species, or 103.85%. It's going to be a long, long six months now.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Going cuckoo under lockdown

Another full fat patch tick to report from Boghall - a long overdue cuckoo Yes, it should be annual and indeed it is just off our patch, but we've never managed one on the patch. That changed yesterday afternoon. That takes us to 101.28% before the middle of the year. Its going to be a long slog from here on in.

Friday 8 May 2020


Record shot, almost, of Wryneck on patch today. 94.09% and already ahead of last year. Taking full advantage of a low average after two shit years

Monday 4 May 2020

Ton up

Yes, jay and grey heron over the past few days have resulted in the magical 100%, or 78 species, being reached at the beginning of may. This reflects the additional effort going into the patch this spring, and does make the next 7 months rather daunting.
But I know that Shakey and Tintin are not far off the pace.

Monday 27 April 2020

Suppressors Heaven

Thankfully dog walking and daily exercise are still allowed and I've been walking my dogs and taking my daily exercise on my patch almost every morning for the last six years and very isolated place it is to.

The good news is that in these new times it would be very irresponsible to put out any bird news from the patch, unfortunately though there hasn't been anything worth putting the news out for...  But I live in hope...

March and April have been fairly quiet the best of the bunch being a White-fronted goose, of the Greenland, variety in amongst the pinkies on the 12 April being only the second record of the patch (the first being in October 2016).  A trio of black-tailed godwits on the not so great pool the day before are always a good patch bird.

A scattering of summer migrants over the last week brings the total to 76 (67.50%), which is three species fewer than this time last year.  But the weather is looking sweet towards the end of this week so hopefully I'll soon be finding something which I won't be able to tell you about.

Happy days.


Monday 20 April 2020

more of it

The cold easterlies continued over the weekend, which kept the mig diversity largely limited to willow warblers, wheatears and a smattering of blackcaps.

However, saturday morning was livened up considerably with a cuckoo calling and flying around the gardens at Shite Lane! Checking back in the annals reveals that a whole 8 years have elapsed since my last cuckoo on patch, which was part of the big fall of 1st May 2012, which you can read about here!

Sunday morning was quieter, with no cuckoo, but Old Spoons usefully dug out a grasshopper warbler, which allowed me to stroll down and casually bag it for the year, easy enuff, bringing me over the 70% barrier for the year.

'ear we go! #blurredandonthehuh


Yes, for it is not just Tintin and Snowy who have recently had green woodpecker on patch. Yesterday morning we had one yaffling away too from the garden of our recording studio. It spoilt the recording too as we both stopped playing and singing as it called in amazement as this was a full fat patch tick for us. They sued to breed just at the edge of the patch back when we were kids, but this is the first since we started doing this (semi) seriously. Add to that a house martin seen whilst painting the studio at the weekend, and you'll find us on 90.02% for the year. I know Tintin will be right back out there with Snowy chasing us to re take top spot. He's like that

Saturday 18 April 2020


Philpstoun continues to chunter along surprisingly at the top of the chart with some of the usual migs arriving but also a few quality birds. A gadwall who thought he was a wigeon was a long awaited patch tick on the rapidly drying ponds in March where snipe also made a welcome reappearance. At the same time a coot popped up on the adjacent canal, a rare species in these parts though I think they once bred.

Another hard to get species was a song flighting linnet, a surprise to me as I didn't even know they made song flights (the shame of this ornithological ignorance was tempered by learning that The Proclaimers didn't know Isabelline wheatears made song flights which made Snowy feel better). Finally this morning, on a pre-breakfast dog walk, a green woodpecker was yaffling away. According to records I've not had them here since 2008 so a pleasing return.

Friday 17 April 2020

More Albifrons fun!

A good few common migs around Galley this am, with c. 30 willow warblers, 11 wheatears, 2 blackcaps, 2 whitethroats and a chiffchaff knocking around, but couldn't find anything more exotic.

A late breakfast proved productive when 3 (count 'em) black-tailed godwits flew past the window - more non-numenid wader action!

And then major excitement this afternoon, when positively confirming a suspected common tern, I accidentally found 2 little terns! On patch! Full Fat! I've missed at least one before on a seawatch but they are not easy anywhere in Cork these days, so to finally nail them on the patch was tremendous!

Thursday 16 April 2020


The year list tally continues to trundle slowly on at Galley - the stiff & cold NE breeze isn't really helping but did manage 3 (count 'em) whitethroats this am, which was new, along with 2 blackcaps, 3 willow warblers and at least 10 (!) wheatears, which weren't.

Strolling back to the office after lunch, I set up the scope to scan the lake, and as luck would have it, picked up a mixed numenid flock in the lakeside fields - imagine my surprise when I clocked that two of the birds werent numenids at all, but were in fact bar-tailed godwits! A scarce visitor to the patch, and one I didn't get last year!

Rattled off a quick proof-of-life phone-scope body of evidence shot and rushed to put the news out herewith!

Non-numenidic evidence
Onwards & upwards!

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Patch reduction

Morning all. A brief report from Wanstead where my patch has reduced from 2 square miles to my garden. I am talking social distancing very seriously - other local birders insist that daily exercise means birding the patch from dawn 'til dusk, more fool them. As such my list is probably going to take a bit of a beating as I'm not going to get Ring Ouzels and Redstarts on my lawn am I now? However those lost birds can be replaced by noc-migging records can they not? As in ones where I'm awake listening, not ones where I'm asleep and the sound recorder is doing all the work. Although with the T2006 how would we know?

Anyhow, like the rest of the UK/Eire I added Common Scoter last weekend before I went to bed which was a full fat patch tick, and I've also recorded Oyc and Tawny Owl which had I not been snoring my head off indoors would have been new for the year....

Skywatching is also de rigeur these days, and so for my second full fat patch tick I've added Raven, all of which nonsense takes me to 75%.

Ouzely the best find on Boghall

We are well used to social distancing, as our legion of fans have been staying away from our gigs and indeed record shops for many, many years. The transition to working at home has been quite easy for us, especially as it means our daily exercise (separated by 2 m) is a walk around our patch. This has resulted in the standard flurry of seasonal migrants including chiffchaff and willow warbler, and the less usual such as osprey flying over the garden. Friday we had a very early silent whitethroat hopping around a hedge, and Sunday really delivered. First it was long overdue swallow, and then up the glen a bit wheatear, with another later away from breeding territory.
We had stopped a couple of times on the way up the glen to listen for ring ouzels, just on the off chance that one was singing on one of the heather and scree slopes. This was much more in hope than expectation as we’ve never seen ring ouzel on our patch, whether in 12 years watching since we adopted it, or in a multitude of birding trips into the area as kids. But further up we heard a rather familiar and exciting chack noise. Could it be? A quick scan indicated it was indeed a fine male ring ouzel hopping around. Patch tickeroooo. They are quality birds wherever and whenever they are, whether in Seppy’s garden or on the hill.
Much buoyed, we returned and in celebration have recorded an acoustic version of Isolation by Joy Division. Ring ouzel - at last.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Not many swallows about

There's been very little of note happening on patch recently. While the 19-CORVID lockdown means IN THEORY there's more time dossing about and plenty of opportunity to thrash the 2km radius around the house, Sybil is similarly restricted, so there's an inevitable list of  "The Jobs" to get through.

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week, for example, putting up a new greenhouse and building some rustic shelves out of old palletes to hold trays of seedlings.

I don't have any bird pictures to share, so here's the greenhouse

Couple that with a limited level of enthusiasm for traipsing around patch for hours seeing fuck all and there's not much to report. Still, Seppy has been bleating on about updating the blog, so here you go.

Despite things being as pedestrian as expected, the arrival of the first swallows and sand martins, blackcap, chiff, willow warbler, an early sedgie, finally nailing dipper for the year and a few "undeclared" bits and bobs nudges the tally up to 78.88%.

That's me (temporarily) back on the podium then. Happy days!

Thursday 9 April 2020

Bonus Y-fronts

Skiving around in the office yesterday pm with the door open letting in some spring air, when I heard a big honking and general commotion. Rushed out to see five (count 'em) goose-types pitching down into the grass a couple of fields away. Geese are reet scarce at Galley, so it was back into the office to hastily grab a pair of bins before they decided to do a bunk.

Happily they settled, and were still around today - 5 Greenland White-fronted Geese, only my third record for the patch, all in the last few years. Got some one better, closer shots today too - see exhibit A below...

One half of a pair of y-fronts, yesterday
Its still quiet on the mig front, although willow warbler and swallow have trickled through in the last couple of days - onwards and upwards!

Saturday 4 April 2020

You can't touch this

Been a bit slow on Galley of late, although I've still been getting a trickle of year ticks in the form of Collared dove, chiffchaff, blackcap, while a cracking male Ring Ouzel on the patio railings two weekends ago has been the migrant highlight of the spring so far.

A bonus encounter with a yellowhammer during the week was a stroke of luck, as they no longer breed on Galley and I failed to get one last year. Even managed a proof of life shot...

Hammer time
Aiming to keep up the daily stroll within 2km of the house for as long as I am allowed, so hopefully might even manage to get a few more migs in on these south-easterlies....

Monday 9 March 2020

February - Thankfully over

Phew, there goes February and another month of monotony.

The highlight of the month was, no doubt, the flyover Greenfinch on the 6th which was a full fat patch tick.  Aside from that moment of patch magic there was very little in the way of anything interesting so I won't waste your time, nor mine, trying to find something interesting to write about.

The month ended on 52 species, 46.18% of the total.

Happy Days.


Sunday 16 February 2020

Another random patch check

Yes indeedy, I notched up a visit to my 5th different patch already this year, with a random spot check at Boghall this very afternoon.

As the proclaimers often proclaim, there were few birds on patch. Although they tried quite hard, they couldn't prevent me from picking out a couple of tree sparrows, which was nice.

Much of the visit revealed feck all, while the proclaimers regaled me with tales of where they regularly find such wonders as chiffchaff and willow warbler.

Ignoring some stonechats, I was quite surprised when the proclaimers proclaimed "stonechat!" quite excitedly. Apparently its good to get them in the fields in January, as they are normally up on the hill later in the year. I was certainly relieved not to have to go anywhere near the hill, so that was a bonus.

All too soon, the spot check was over. All appears to be in order. I could find no evidence of percentage fixing or erroneous claims.

Until the next time!


Thursday 6 February 2020

2,228 days

After 2,228 days of patch birding at Longhaven ... GREENFINCH!!!

Happy Days


Wednesday 5 February 2020

January... Dull

Thankfully January is over and done with for another year.  A few visits onto the Longhaven patch produced the usual winter fare.  Best birds of the month were collared dove (annual but scarce) and barn owl, which was enticed into a net one dark night and ringed as was short-eared owl.

The total so far is a modest 37 species (32.86%).

Still, the joys of February to look forward to now!

Happy Days


Tuesday 4 February 2020

Confused of Boghall

We were delighted to encounter a singing redwing on Sunday. Yes, in a voice far sweeter than ours this thrush did a great job in brightening up a driech day. Top work redwing - my first nomination for the Top Find award.
Other stuff brings us to 48, or 61.53%. Closing on Tintin again.

Monday 20 January 2020

Take that Tintin

With reed bunting, tawny owl (oh yes, take that Seppy) and a nuthatch (last weekend while repairing a fence), together with padders, we are now back in third place. Who will win in this battle of the Lothian patches?

Friday 10 January 2020

Roaring into third place

A typically undramatic start to 2020 has pushed Philpstoun up to third in the table (albeit several players yet to post scores). With 50% of last two years total (getting more legitimate!) seen already in 10 days this means that the excitement of adding ticks is already on the wane. Only 355 more days to see another 42 species and I'll be on 100%.  To add to future tedium I've already had two of the best birds I ever see here, waxwing and nuthatch.

Thursday 9 January 2020

New is the new old!

Happy New Year... same old humdrum.

After a dismal finish at the arse end of the leaderboard in 2019, a flurry of usual suspects in the first week of 2020 (including Jay, which is nice) sees The Mall roaring back to an inevitably temporary sojourn at the top of the table.

The second week is turning out to be predictably shit, on patch at least. Finished 2019 on a paltry 78 species, or just 89.31% -- ooooooof! On the plus side that means I'm chasing a target of 84 species this year, and picking up c.1.2% per species in real money.

Off patch, twitching a Brown Shrike in North Cork with Seppy on two successive days this week (dipped on the first attempt -- NAILED it on the second) was a welcome little January boost. Of course that's a huge chunk of 2020 birding brownie-point credits cashed in early -- but who gives a f**k... it was a Brown Shrike!

Monday 6 January 2020

New Year, new reality

The stark reality of 2020 is we are chasing 78 species from a small patch of farmland and moorland in Midlothian. Its going to be a tough task, but the last year in which the monster year of 2017 will haunt us. Woodcock in the dying days of 2019 brought our total to 76 species, or 97.85%.  Woodcock has fallen already in 2020, thanks to a nighttime wander a few days ago. Snow Bunting on 2nd January was a good bird for our patch, and perhaps the only bird that will be of interest to other birders this year. All this with other stuff brings us to 34 species, or 43.59%.
It'll be a long year.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Ol' Snowy

Rather than subject you all to a vote I suggest we follow the example of recent years and just award the best find to the bird that is the obvious best find - red eyed vireo Galley. Savi's is a notable second, but I think we would all rather find a REV than a Savi's. If no one disagrees, then for the first time ever there will be no movement in either the Golden Mallard or Ol' Snowy.

There goes 2019...

Well, there goes 2019 and what a cracking year it was on the Patch.

Although I visited the patch infrequently during the end of the year I did manage to scrape a few more species, with a Snow Bunting at the end of October and both a Barn Owl and Woodcock on the 21/12.  This meant that I eventually finished the year with a ridiculous patch total of 124 species and a whopping 116.98%...

Best bird of the year was undoubtedly the Savi's on 23 April and again two weeks later; this being only the third record for mainland Scotland.  Highlights during the spring included a stunning summer plum white-billed diver, a drake garganey and a couple of red-backed shrikes and bluethroats.   The 'not so great pool' actually produced decent variety of waders including knot, green sand and a couple of Temminck's stints, all first's for the patch.

Over the course of the year there were 11 full fat patch ticks including, after six years of searching, Canada goose.

There were plenty of birds 'missed' that could and should have been got if only I could be bothered spending anytime looking at the sea, which, if I had, I reckon would have produced at least half a dozen additional species, with the likes of red-throated diver, common scoter, long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser and Arctic skua all absent in the 2019 total.  Birds like Fieldfare, garden warbler and pied fly would also have boosted the yearly total. Luckily though all this means is that I've a chance to do better in 2020, which of course I won't but with my target based on the last three years now standing at  112.6 species, I still reckon there's a chance of retaining the trophy for a further year.

Happy New Year to you all and Happy days


2019 all wrapped up

Well, Bushveld has done it again. With an absolutely mahoosive total too. Thats back to back consecutive wins achieved for the first time for the Golden Mallard. If he manages three in a row though, I'm calling an enquiry!

In their first year in the competition, Tintin & Snowy managed a fine second place - just as well it wasn't top spot, or we'd be embroiled in yet another steward's enquiry.

The Proclaimers fought their way to third place on the podium, but finished a good bit off the pace of the two front runners, not even reaching the majik 100% barrier. Keep trying, boys....

Mid-table mediocrity for Royzah and Shakey, while the much-hyped return of the T2006 failed to live up to the er, hype.

Here, for posterity, are the 2019 final scores:

Some scores, yesterday
So there you have it. Basil Faulty is in last place, for the first time ever. This means he now gets 1.2% for every species in 2020, which is, quite frankly, outrageous! 2019 was my worst year ever on patch, however, I still only get 0.79% per species. Arse.