Friday 31 December 2021

Goodbye 2021

 What a struggle 2021 was; visit after visit of tedium and no rewards.  A hand full of full fat patch ticks included a little grebe, marsh harrier and spotted redshank.  A lack of migrants in either spring or autumn left big gaps in the annual totals with not even a yellow-browed warbler gracing any of the patch bushes.  

The year ended on 110 species and 91.67%

Thankfully, tomorrow we all start again.

Well done to Derek Nimmo for winning the mallard and congrats to Seppy for finding a bucketful of quality birds this year (...again).  A blackpoll on your patch is always going to win you Ol' snowy (...again).

Happy days and a Happy New Year.


Friday 24 December 2021

I'm a record breaker!

Evening all, just back from a couple of comedy recording session in the US, but managed to sneak in a few more species to smash the patch year record round here. Previously this had stood at 127 species, but I've come in with a resounding 131. In real money that's 116.27%.

The list of birds is long and glorious, including three full fat patch ticks (Black-necked Grebe, Iceland Gull and Quail), and loads of birds which are not annual (Woodlark, Yellowhammer, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, White-fronted Goose, Goosander, Kittiwake, Golden Plover, Rook, Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Curlew, Nightingale, Cuckoo, Raven, Great White Egret and Wryneck)

I found the Wryneck as it happens, a glorious patch bird here in London, albeit only just about middling compared to the mighty east coast and cheeky south-west headlands. I doubt it will be enough to send Ol' Snowy southbound. But whilst I can't compete on the rarity front, in absolute terms I have had a belter. 

The final two species, #130 and #131, were very speshul indeed, both rare waterfowl and one-day wonders that I had to twitch in a big hurry. The first were a pair of Mandalorian Duck in late November, far less than annual here as they rarely wander from their stronghold of Epping Forest about ten miles away, as evidenced by this being only my fourth record in nearly 17 years of watching the patch. And then last week just before I had to nip to America again a Red-crested Pochard rocked up. There are breeding populations in the south-east and they're perfectly acceptable here even if they do sometimes look like absolute duffers. This is also really rare here, my fifth record ever, and was a patch tick for quite a few of the guys. So if these two are the ones that eventually land the Golden Mallard, itself a perfectly kosher species, I think that would be quite apt. Ideal actually. And then I could tick it on Jan 1st for a headstart. Oh wait I forgot, it won't actually get sent until about May or June.

I would just like to thank Covid for making this possible. And dedication obviously. Without being able to go to the recording studio or radio theatre very much, and with travel being such a pain in the backside, I've spent almost the whole year at home. So have all the rest of the birders that watch the patch, and this is the result. Almost everyone has bettered their previous high scores, and the overall patch list reached the dizzy heights of 145. So to Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron - hats off to ya!