Saturday 31 December 2022

Best of the losers... and farewell to The Mall

 A last ditch attempt to gain a podium place over the last few days all came to naught. While the late addition of Purple Sand and Stock Dove elevated Squince to a heady 103.28%, it wasn't quite enough to oust South Don from the Bronze Medal position.

Tallying up the total for the neglected patch at The Mall revealed I hadn't updated the total on here for a while... so it jumps from last place to a much more respectable fifth, just behind Squince -- for yet another "Best of the losers" finish.

Although, in consolation, I did pick up both Silver and Bronze in the Irish Patch sub-category -- so that's something.

Alas, the close of 2022 is also a death knell for The Mall -- as I'll be focussing exclusively on Squince for the Patch Challenge next year... err... from tomorrow. It's been a solid, if rather uninspiring patch over the years, and I should probably say I'll miss it, but I won't (other than being able to tick stuff from the jax and the washing line... which is always a bonus).

At least Seppy will be out of the running for a couple of years once he factors in this year's ridiculous tally. I might even win the Irish Patch sub-category next year if I try really, really hard.

So Happy New Year to all participants. May your bins fog up and your scopes jam in 2023. 

Game #ON!

Friday 16 December 2022

News from Royzah

 Yes indeedy, for it is he. Since his last missive, he reckons he's added a few bits in the form of little egret, little auk, red legged  partridge, redpoll and tree sparrow. 

All of which has probably pretty much secured him 3rd spot, unless Basil can work some more majik down Squince way

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Hooray for Old Spoons

 Yes indeedy, for it was he who rang this morning with news of an adult yellow-legged gull on the beach at this end of Long Strand, as I sat in my warm(ish) office only a few hundred yards away!

A quick race around the house collecting scope and glasses and off down the road, just in time for the whole flock to boot off! Luckily tho, Old Spoons stayed calm and more importantly on the bird as it resettled on the sea, allowing awesome views as illustrated below:

Full fat YLG on the patch!

Shortly afterwards, he found a second adult in the flock! Score! So that was this mornings excitement - patch list now stands at 222 (Greenshank!) and year list trundles onwards to 145 - my 2nd highest score evah!

15/12 Edit - jammed into 3 lapwings in off earlier moving me up to 146! Is there any more to get?

Friday 25 November 2022

Great White at Galley

 Yes indeedy - blundering around the gaff late morning and noticed some white things in the reeds by the newly flooded fields around the lake - "best check them for whooper swans" I thought - well, one did have yellow on the bill....

A Great White and some smaller sharks this morning

Imagine my surprise! I have been hoping for one for a while, and this is probably the one thats been hanging around at Clogheen Marsh near Clonakilty for about a week, but great to finally get one on patch. Needless to say, I didn't try to get too close to the feeding frenzy, just in case. 

So that shurely sees off any last gasp challenge from Bushveld and co? I certainly hope so anyway!

Sunday 20 November 2022

Record Breaking Bumper Bonus Bonanza

 The end of October ended with a full fat patch tick in the form of a fine fly by Goosander.  Since then November has produced two seconds and third with red-breasted merganser, turnstone and Iceland gull all this weekend. I wasn't expecting those.  

The turnstone today puts me on 126 for the year, a new patch total record and needless to say makes it temptingly close to the run away leader, Seppy.

126 spp.


Happy Day


Monday 14 November 2022

Nearly Done

 Yes indeedy, there can't be much to add to the Galley year list total, but the last few weeks have demonstrated that you never know what might be out there!

To recap:

Having missed Old Spoon's dick's pipit by having my phone on silent, I was out early doors the next day, before it had even stopped raining! Consequently I was back in the car soaked, about 10 minutes after I'd started. Once the rain really had finally cleared, I was out again. No luck with the pipit, but I did bump into this instead...

a little bunting erm, 10 days ago...(calvin's pic)

Quite an unexpected bonus - it showed well and called a lot, and even hung around long enough for Basil to tear over to get an irish tick - all good!

And that really should have been it for the year. Away the next weekend, and so consequently I wasn't surprised to hear that I'd missed long-tailed tits and a globby at Red Strand, viewable from the patch. Bum. Ah well. Unphased, I had a wee jaunt down the beach last Wednesday am, and banged in a fine brent goose instead - another good one for round here.

So thats 143 for the year, and rather satisfyingly, it works out at precisely 110.28%. I reckon I could still get another two species maybe, which would be 145, my second highest patch score but still 4 below my highest ever. Incidentally, I think if I'd been around a bit more in Sept & Oct this year I'd definately have smashed the mythical 150 barrier, but hey ho, something to aim at another time.

Monday 24 October 2022

still grafting

 Yes indeedy, the autumn continues....

snow bunting dug out by Old Spoons early last week was invaluable for the year. A brief mid-week mini-break resulted in me missing both jack snipe and marsh harrier, however, this year missing the odd thing doesnt seem to make much difference. Out early the next morning netted me a redwing (at last) and also a much scarcer woodcock - think only my fourth time seeing one on patch. Things continued to pick up the following day when a red-breasted flycatcher was found at Shite Lane - as with the last one there, this bird was tricky to see well, and was almost always on the move, but over time it was possible to see the key features and thus rule out lightening having struck twice!

Beginning to think I might be far enough ahead of the rest of the pack now....

In other news, royzah claimed his first slavonian grebe on patch in over 10 years last week....

Thursday 13 October 2022

Migrants in autumn -- how novel!

Admitting Seppy is right, about anything, is always galling. However, when it comes to the merit of adopting a coastal patch, I have to grudgingly acknowledge he had a point.

Up at The Mall, nothing changed in Autumn. You just bumped into the same old residents, with perhaps an outside chance of stumbling across an errant raptor passing through, or picking up the occasional non-standard duck on the lake. You'd always be up around the same total come year-end, simply because the same birds turned up, year in, year out.

It was all getting a tad dull.

Squince is different. It pulled in a smattering of migrants in spring, and while things had been slow through most of the summer, the onset of autumn had me hoping for new arrivals. 

Just one of the 4 Yellow-browed Warblers giving themselves up around Squince this morning

A fall of early migs on the West Cork coast in September saw Seppy fill his proverbial boots at Galley, while I was away on holiday. Cavorting around Yell helping him find his Sibe Thrush kept me off patch for another week after I got back. But despite the absences, and a slow start last week, Squince is finally coming up with the goods.

First a fine Lesser Whitethroat kicked off my autumn tally, followed by four (count 'em) Yellow-Browed Warblers, a very welcome Spotted Flycatcher (which I thought I'd missed for the year) and, lo and behold, a treecreeper.

Spot-fly for the year... get in!

Add to that a "seemingly good movement" of Skylark over the patch and a small flock of Redpoll, and that's five year ticks over the last couple of days (or full-fat patch ticks, this being my first autumn on the new patch).

A fall of firecrests in West Cork during the week had me scouring goldcrests to no avail -- christ that's tedious. I'm sure there must be one on patch somewhere.

All of which brings the tally to a more respectable 97.54%. Still in fourth -- but not a million miles off the pace now, so all to play for.

Monday 10 October 2022

Branta Bonanza

 Yes indeedy - el Royzah has once again been bangin' them in on Donside. He even managed photographery too although it is likely to have originated on the internet. Thusly

Barnies on the Don t'other day

More of it, ted

In addition, he's also claiming a fly-by puffin on a seawatch, which all seems a bit unlikely. Still its enuff to push up to third spot, just behind Bushveld.

All this catch-up action has me a bit worried. So much so that I've had to cash in redpoll and a fine lesser whitethroat in an attempt to stay out in front. I need some south-easterlies, pronto!

LATE EDIT: Just remembered someone claimed 3 whopper schwans over Galley earlier today - a quick check of the lake from the majik patio (tm) and boom - two whopper schwanns right there! Fantastic!

11/10 EDIT - just added yellow-browed warbler this afternoon - score!

Friday 7 October 2022


 Barnacle Goose + Long-tailed tit = 120 species = 100%

Long-tailed tit is patch gold with only one previous record exactly four years ago to the day.

Happy days


Tuesday 4 October 2022

What a month that was

 September delivered undoubtedly the best months patch birding I've had at Longhaven.  

A total of 19 patch ticks for the year including four full fats: Barred warbler, Long-tailed skua, Black-throated diver and the Brown-shrike.  Bung in a couple of red-backed shrikes for good measure and some patch bonus birds: redstart, pied fly and the expected yellow-broweds etc and the month was a real cracker.  

October looks like it might not follow the same bird rich vein with nothing so far this month and the forecast of prolonged bird free westerlies on the cards for the foreseeable future, doesn't bode well.

A rather nice 118 species and 98.33% puts me on the podium for now but no amount of effort will get me past the cruising Seppy, so I might as well quit now

Happy September Days.


Thursday 15 September 2022

Hello below me!

 Yes indeedy, these are strange times on patch, with plenty missed and some things seen, and a few other bits in between....

Forgot to add a seawatch update from last week which saw me net a bagful of large shears as well as patch goodies such as long-tailed skuas, pomarine skua, grey phalarope and best of all, two full fat leach's petrels! Which was nice.

Away last weekend and an incendiary Old Spoons enpatch led to me missing a whopping eight (count 'em) year ticks, however I was able to claw back a fine whinchat and connect with an even better redstart on monday to close the missed gap to just the six species. or so I thought. The redstart was good enough to get me over the near-mythical 100% barrier too, which is miraculously early - game on!

However, news of a yellow wagtail  and a short-eared owl on patch on tues, followed quickly by reports of a red-rumped swallow by one lucky observer yesterday am and another report of a hobby by another lucky observer fairly had me gnashing my teeth!

All you can do is get back on the horse though, so out again I went after work, and soon I'd clawed back spotted flycatcher for the year, before stumbling into a showy and lingering long-eared owl (shurely yesterdays reported SEO?) which performed well for the quickly assembled crowds...

Easily my best ever views on patch, with only one previous record from dusk one summer evening in 2012.

All good! Onwards and upwards....

Tuesday 13 September 2022

September Delights

The last two weeks have been a Patch Birding bonanza.  The large numbers of large shearwaters and small skuas reported along the coast tempted me out to join in the fun.  A seawatch on the 1st produced a couple of long-tailed skuas (Full Fat Patch Ticks) but alas no large shears.  Luckily the winds shifted to the east which meant migs...

The 2nd produced a pied fly, the first since 2015! followed by a red-backed shrike on the 3rd.  Barred warbler (another Full Fat Patch Tick) and lesser whitethroat on the 6th. Spot fly, redstart and whinchat on the 7th were blown away when a visiting birder looking at another red-backed shrike found an adult female BROWN SHRIKE on the 9th.  

Unfortunately a case of Patch Poaching occurred on the 8th when a couple of no goods found a wryneck on patch and kicked it hard enough for me to dip.  

Three full fat patch ticks in one month and 11 year ticks puts me on 110 for the year and 91.67%.

Very Happy Days


Tuesday 6 September 2022

banging them in

 Yes indeedy, its been slow and steady on patch the last couple of weeks - not amayzing but just knocking off some regular and not so regular waders and seabirds for the old year list. Wader highlights have involved a single bar-tailed godwit the other evening, plus a few flyover ringed plover, dunlin  and sanderlings. A dodgy attempt to string two distant dark-looking small waders into turnstones was later deemed unnecessary after stumbling across a good 'un thusly...

blurred and on the huh, yesterday

To seabirds then, and while great shearwater  and cory's shearwater both fell back in july/august, I have managed to further glean a total of nine (count 'em) long-tailed skuas, five (count 'em again!) grey phalaropes and a fine 1w little gull over the last couple of days which moves me on nicely.

It must be nearly time for some migs now tho hey?

Thursday 18 August 2022


 Alas, that would be 99 species not 99%.

been a while since I posted any news from Longhaven, largely because there hasn't been much to talk about.

May was steady with 19 species new for the month, which is about average.  Although lacking any migrants, the month did produce the only full-fat patch tick of the year, in the form of good looking hooded crow.  A species that is remarkably scarce along the coast of Aberdeenshire and this bird didn't hang around.  This lifted my spirits and my all time patch total to 169.  Luckily Seppy scored some tree sparrows which are much more worthy of the black scoter.

June can only be described as awful, A month that is always full of hope only delivered a common swift.

July produced a handful of wader species on the Notsogreat pool before it dried out but hopefully some rain this month might return it to its former glory in time for some September rares... er like a ruff would be nice.

This month I've ventured into doing a bit of seawtaching... I've been out twice and scored some nice Manxies and Arctic skua but alas the hoped for large shears haven't materialised... yet.

The patch bird drought continues but it's now autumn mig time and all we need is a sniff of some easterlies and Bushveld will be a happy man.

99 species = 82.50% only 21 more needed for a 100.

Happy days


Monday 25 July 2022

Sea-ing is believing... eventually

The forecast of potentially good seawatching conditions over the weekend resulted in the predictable barrage of text messages from Seppy nagging me to get my arse to the coast.

I've never been a massive fan of sitting on a headland in the wind and rain watching tiny be-winged dots hurtle by, so I tend to ignore him. However, this being my first year with a coastal patch, with reports of big shears and a brace of Fea's past Galley on Sunday morning and The Proclaimers stretching their lead, I figured it was worth a lash for a few hours on Sunday afternoon.

Traipsing out to the most southwesterly point on patch

So off I trundled to a handy wee spot at the south-west corner of Myross Island to stare at the sea for a bit. There were big shears moving through in numbers. I bagged Cory's right off the bat, added Great a few minutes in, picked up a Stormy a bit later, then Sooty. Four full fat patch ticks and not even half-an-hour in. Not a bad start.

Then I spotted something different-looking fly into the periphery of my view amidst a perpetual onslaught of Manxies. It was about the same size as the Manxies around it, but flew more like a big shear. It had greyer upper-parts, a clearly paler tail, and as it banked it flashed a pristine white belly and... f**k me... almost uniformly dark underwings.

It took a second for the penny to drop. I was looking at my first ever Fea's-type petrel.

Amayzing! As it disappeared into the drizzle, I was literally shaking with the adrenalin. A thorough soaking from a sudden squall couldn't even dampen the excitement. 

Sheltering from a sudden downpour post-Fea's

About half an hour later, just as I was calming myself by contemplating the meditative qualities of Cory's flight, I picked up another Fea's... this one closer, presumably pushed in by the aforementioned squall. Epic!

I was still buzzing as I got in the car to drive home. In a productive few hours I'd moved to within 1% of the top spot, racking up five (count 'em) full fat patch ticks, one of them a lifer. The fact Seppy was off attending some inane event at an inland county up the country was the icing on the cake.

Loath as I am to admit it, perhaps Seppy has a point. Maybe there is something to this seawatching malarkey after all.

Friday 8 July 2022

Belated update

 It's been a while but as spring is now long gone, and we are on the edge of autumn, I thought I should add the extreas I've not declared. Highlights include ring ouzel and a fly over tree pipit. Other standard fair such as hirundines brings us up to 78 species or 92.49%.

Monday 16 May 2022

Another patch tick....

 Yes indeedy, and one I was very happy to twitch yesterday morning, as it was a fine 6-year or so breakback on Senor Old Spoons who'd slipped 3 (presumably the same birds, natch) past me one October when I was away for work. Yesterday he was away for work too so it all kind of evens out...

Blurred and on the huh, yesterday

Anyway, the three (count 'em) tree sparrows were a most welcome addition to my Galley list - happy days!

Monday 9 May 2022

Spring Seawatching

 The wind has gone south-west and blustery so think that might be spring done with? We shall see. Anyway, conditions looked good for a skua-laden seawatch this am, but alas it proved not to be. Did manage to bang in 2 bonxies and an arctic skua but that was it on the skua front. Cashed in storm petrel, a couple of sooty shearwaters and two common terns too, which I don't think I saw last year, so a bit of a bonus there. Just about worth a total soaking!

Saturday 23 April 2022

Hoopoe japes and long-staying roller

Sedge warbler today brought up the majik 100 species on the new patch at Squince, and takes me to 81.97% for the year. Happy daze.

Recent highlight along the way has to be a rather stunning Hoopoe I bagged during the week. I'd been thrashing the patch diligently, and had just nailed the first whitethroat of the year. I was happy with that, but felt there was more to be had. I parked up at the south end of the causeway to Myrosss Island, thinking to myself "I'll just check these gardens for a Hoopoe". As I left the car an animated resident waved me down.

"I see from your binoculars you're interested in birds," he was obviously an observant chap. "I've had this strange bird visiting the garden the last couple of days, and wonder, could you tell me what it is?"

He proceded to whip out his phone to show me a shit distant video of what was obviously a Hoopoe. FFS! That was the potential find scuppered. But the important thing now was to nail the bastard.

I checked all the adjacent gardens and drew a blank. So I spread the net a bit wider and... boom!

A rather lovely Hoopoe gave itself up for a spell before flying off. Wonderful!

With news out, the following day all manner of folk descended on patch and it turned out there were TWO (count 'em) Hoopoes. It developed into quite the mini-twitch.

Most West Cork birders managed to see at least one of the available Hoopoes over the next few days, except for Seppy, who somehow managed to dip twice. That's Hoopoes for ya!

In other news, the Proccies roller news honed my observation skillz, and to my surprise and delight I discovered this evidently long-staying roller on patch. Looks like it's here to stay too.

Friday 22 April 2022

Longhaven update

 It's not snowed for at least a week now and the singing willow warbler that greeted me on the 18th, the first warbler of the year, was both music to my ears and marked the arrival of spring here at Longhaven.  Hopefully this will also mark the end of the long drag which is typically the first three months of the year.  Daily plodding around the patch producing few birds and very little of note, indeed there's been no bonus birds the last couple of months with just the regulars trickling onto the score sheet.  March produced 13 patch ticks for the year (11% of my annual target) which is the highest March total ever but was just making up for the lower than normal January and February tallies.  There weren't any highlights last month but I guess if there had to be one it would be stock dove, which are annual on patch but always tricky.

April so far hasn't, as yet, picked up the pace with just six species added to the tally but at least the weather is nicer and May is just around the corner when I'm hoping for an explosion in both totals and rares.

Things are going to have to get better if there's any chance of keeping up with those Irish lads who both seem to be having a good time of things lately and well done to them for their cracking finds.

Currently on 65 species for the year, 54.17% of the total; which is pretty much bang on average.

Happy days


Wednesday 20 April 2022

Faulty turns up the goods

 Yes indeedy. There are benefits to having a fat lad raiding yer fridge and drinking all yer beer on a weekend, and that was basil faulty picking out a fine summer plumage black-throated diver from the Majik Patio (tm) on sunday afternoon. Only my third evah record for the patch, but some of that may be linked to (lack of) observer effort. A few other bits have been added also, including sedge warbler, yellowhammer, and most miraculously, a singing greenfinch this very morning. All of which brings me to 93 species for the year which is pretty good going, considering I still need a good few common summer migs yet.

All to play for....

Friday 15 April 2022

Two tick day at Galley!

And not only full fat patch ticks,but full-on Irish ticks at that! First thing on the morning of the 12th April, a small dark warbler shimmied up a dead nettle stem, spun round a couple of times and dropped back down into cover - the brief but good view was enough to reveal it was a male subalpine warbler, which was just as well, as it promptly disappeared for the next few hours!

However, returning in the evening with a twitchy Basil Faulty proved a good decision, as we managed to refind it again in the same area. After ditching Basil, and getting Old Spoons on the case, the bird finally started playing ball, and gave amayzing views, as well as calling lots too....


 In between looking for the subalp, I managed to bump into another full on Irish tick in the form of cracking winter plumage dotterel in a ploughed field at the top of Shite Lane Hill. Amayzing scenes altogether! 

More of it

Sometimes Galley is totally amayzing! #WhatAPatch

Thursday 14 April 2022

Birdies, Eagles and Bogeys -- sometimes birding is as shit as golf!

 "Look up" is the catchphrase immortalised by everybody's favourite birding pseudo-celeb, David Lindo (The Urban Birder, no less). So I gave it a go recently at The Mall, and lo and behold...

A White-tailed Eagle was circling over the house, much to the chagrin of a couple of local buzzards. Luckily I was out in the garden at the time photographing Siskins demolishing my nuts. I rattled off a few shit shots as the humongous bird wheeled lazily on-high drifting off slowly to the north-east.

News broke, with Seppy scrambling for his scope and making a beeline for the majik patio. He pointed his optics in the approximate direction, and by pure fluke clocked a very large black dot being harassed by a couple of significantly smaller dots.

Bingo! Or was it?

Despite some precedent on this very blog for ticking questionable reintroduced raptors, it turns out my shit shots weren't quite shit enough, and the Irish White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction project lead, on perusing said shots on Twitter, confirmed the bird to be a young male released in Killarney National Park only last August (08/21). Ticking it would be too much of a stretch, even for Seppy.

That just wouldn't be cricket! Or golf, come to that.

Untickable japes aside, it's been steady gains with nothing out of the ordinary on either patch, with the usual spring arrivals trickling in. Squince sits second on the podium with 77.87%, the Mall in third on 68.94%.

Now I just need Seppy to stop dragging me all the way to Galley for Irish ticks (Dotterel and Western Subalp were well worth the spin over, mind you), so I can spend more time trying to find something tasty on my own patch.

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Roll up, roll up.

 Hot news from Boghall where a pair of rollers turned up yesterday evening. Will they hang around and breed, or will our hopes be flattened?

Monday 11 April 2022

The sound of silence

We've been quiet for a while, but we've still been active (a bit like our career really). However, with spring now well under way here we shall share some of our latest material. We had a quine blackcap at the beginning of March, and a fine flock of 50 bramble finches. There were six of these still on Saturday, with the drakes getting their black heads. We had our first willow warbler yesterday afternoon, in a month that has already seen curlew added to the list. All that means 66 species, or 78%.

I know that Tintin or Basil will come straight back at us but we'll enjoy taking the top spot (briefly).

Thursday 31 March 2022

Lesser is more

 Checking the lake again yesterday:

Long staying Ring-necked Duck: Check

Long staying Goldeneye: Check

Long staying Whopper Schwan: Check

And a lovely female Scaup fresh in... or was it? As it approached the tufties, I could see it was small, and had a distinctly peaked hind crown. Could it be? Probably, maybe, possibly...?

Scaup wouldn't even be a year tick... but Lesser Scaup, now that would be a full fat patch tick.

The flock was a bit distant for shots, but I did my best and pedalled the ropey results around some of the well respected "proper birders" in the county. Consensus was that it looked good, but that it really needed a wing-flap or flight shot to clinch it.

So there I was, first thing this morning, back on patch freezing my 'nads off waiting for the irksome wee fucker to flap its wings. Which it refused to do.

Thankfully, just as I was about to give up and go home, a helpful buzzard flew over the lake flushing the entire flock.

Bingo! Bird clinched, new patch tick secured, and who knows, perhaps even a potential contender for Ol' Snowy down the track.

So along with the five (count 'em) Sand Martians over the lake when Seppy turned up to twitch my duck, and the oodles of Manxies (plus an untickable but still very cool Basking Shark) yesterday takes me to a healthy 72.95% for the year.

Almost as good as the Lesser Scaup was the Merlin that dived over the hedge and across the road in front of the car on the way home to The Mall this morning, bringing the tally there to 66.38% and, crucially, knocking Seppy back off the podium.


Tuesday 29 March 2022

Lets get this partay started

 Yes indeedy, its been pretty good at Galley of late, in an "its early but there still might be something around" kind of a way. A burst of south-easterlies 10 days ago brought a wave of 19 (count 'em) bramblings through - it was quite exciting bumping into birds after they'd just dropped in!

some bramblings, er, a week or so ago

Several black redstarts around too, and lots of chiffchaffs and then yesterday, the highlight of the spring so far in the form of a cracking male ring ouzel just outside the office - nice!

a black redstart, day before yesterday

But of course the major piece of skill was spotting that the Owenahincha cattle egrets which have been hanging around for a couple of months now had followed their cows into a field that was at last visible from the patch! I was able to clock them from the comfort of my trusy swaro scope last friday, at a range of approximately 4km off patch - a whole new low! Huzzah! Only my second ever record from the patch, with the first waaaay back in 2008!

4km, last friday

And finally, hot news of two (count 'em) gadwall on the lake this lunchtime - all to play for!

Friday 25 March 2022

Springing up the leader board

I've been surprising myself (and Seppy, I think) with an uncharacteristic burst of enthusiasm. Somehow I'm managing to drag my normally sedentary carcass all the way down to the coast on a reasonably regular basis to check the new patch. It's yielded many of the usual suspects, and a few pleasant surprises to boot.

Highlights include a rather fetching female Ring-necked duck that turned up in January, and is still on the lake hanging out with the tufty flock. She was joined in February by a female Goldeneye... also still there. 

Spring kicked off last week with at least 6 black-redstarts and a couple of fine-looking male Brambling on patch. No wheatears yet, but squillions of chiffchaffs have arrived. Nothing more tasty yet... but not a bad start.

All of which shennanigans takes me to 86, or 70.49% for the year.

Coastal commitments naturally mean I can't be arsed slogging around The Mall much these days. Even so, garden and car tickage is keeping things ticking over (see what I did there?). Best bird, and a full fat patch tick, was a fly-over Ringo a couple of nights ago.

So The Mall is on 51 species, or 65.11%.


Monday 7 March 2022

Just about to kick off (hopefully...)

 Yes indeedy, spring must surely be just about to happen, though its baltic out still, and any wheatear arriving here would quickly regret it I reckon! Anyway, had a quick poke about on Saturday am and managed a nice white wagtail as proof of the concept of spring migration. It was even singing a little bit too!

A white wagtail, yesterday

All to play for!

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Just the usual at Longhaven

 The usual quiet start of the year with few birds of note.  The best of the bunch being a Lap bunt (a 50/50 bird for the patch), which graced a stubble field for a few days in mid-February.  Other notable birds to liven up a typically dull couple of months included snow bunt, mistle thrush and collared dove.  All are annual but always nice to get.

Current total of 45 (37.50%) is slightly below par for the time of year but nothing to be concerned about as there’s loads of gank still to be enjoyed.

Here’s hoping for a bit more excitement in March.

Happy Days

Friday 4 February 2022

Annual trip to the Med

Med gull is becoming more regular at Boghall after the first record in 2017. The appearance of a adult today brings us to 54 species, or 64.03%. That's enough to take the top spot for now. Tintin and Basil can draft along behind us for a bit to get their energy back.

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Another year of unspectacular birds starts

And so another year starts with a no bangs but merely a slightly damp but gentle fart. Three weeks in and 55 species isn't amazing, unsurprisingly, but it is 62.03% and most importantly keeps us just ahead of The Proclaimers in the battle of the average agricultural patches. No real highlights though it was pleasing to see a flock of  dozen or so grey partridges twice in two days, by far the largest group I've had here of a now very scarce bird.

Another year, another list

 So we begin another year. Bog standard fare from Boghall so far, and we are now waiting for the winter to end to get a landslide of spring migrants. While that is still a world away and it will be a while until the fieldfares have gone, hard found progress will be part of every dream.

Anyway, enough of all that. Crossbill has been the highlight so far, and we are on 52 species. That's 61.66%. We are chasing that top spot.

Saturday 22 January 2022

Steady Progress

Been chipping away so far this year and have so far amassed a steady 68 species. The two highlights to date have been two (count 'em!) velvet scoter and three (count 'em again!) purple sandpiper.  T'was only the 2nd time I've scored velvet for the patch, last time being one bird back in 2013. On both occasions the birds have been approx. 3km off patch and I've had to do some careful scanning on a calm day to get them. 

I first ticked purple sandpiper at the same sort of ridiculous range,whilst standing on the picnic table on the Magic Patio back in 2012.  However, I since discovered that they do occur at this end of the beach, actually properly on patch, although I haven't had them here since 2018. T'was good to bang them in again, and I must remember to check those particular rocks again next winter - they are probably getable every year with a bit of effort. Great to still be learning about the birds on the patch after 19 years!

Saturday 8 January 2022

Golden Mallard returns home to join Cat C brethren

In what may be a record-breaking migration, the Golden Mallard (worth at least £65 on Ebay - like food and energy porcelain ducks are subject to inflationary pressures) has already returned south to spend the year in Wanstead. The normal migration strategy of Anas fantabulosa is to hang around doing feck all for a few months before finally heading off in about May or June so this is really quite remarkable and is probably due to climate change. Or the Proclaimers having some kind of bizarre accident.

It has eschewed the normal mantlepiece in favour of a small round table in the loft, sorry, I mean recording booth. It must resemble a nest for the Golden Mallard has already laid an egg. How it squeezed that one out is anyone's guess, and I am keenly awaiting what grotesque lovely species may emerge. Given the abundance of dodgy wildfowl around here I was wondering if it might be something like this, a Mandalorian Duck (worth at least £78 on Ebay ouch ouch ouch). Time will tell. For now the Mallard seems quite at home and very happy, occasionally checking the egg and pushing drinks coasters around. Brexit and Covid should mean that it doesn't go on any trips to Europe this year and can devote all its time to parenting.

Friday 7 January 2022

Announcing the Black Scoter Prize for the Gankiest Full Fat Patch Tick!

 Yes indeedy, here is the inaugural competition for the gankiest full fat patch tick complete with an amayzing new trophy, courtesy of Royzah - herewith....

A black scoter, yesterday

We're going to be awarding the Scoter to one lucky winner shortly for the best gankiest full fat patch tick seen in 2021. The current front runner appears to be Little Grebe claimed by Bushveld on his crummy north-east Scotland patch but we just need to check that no-one else has anything worse....

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Whoop, Whoop!

 An initially scabby-looking juv schwan on the lake this evening raised its head and turned out to be a suddenly much less scabby looking Whopper Schwan. Tickage! Add to that a fine male Teal lurking in the reeds near the shoreline and that takes the new patch at Squince to 61 species... bang on the mythical 50.00%.


Tuesday 4 January 2022

The 'polls for Ol' Snowy have now closed

With the gank Golden Mallard the post and on its way to C lister Derek Nimmo, we must consider where Ol' Snowy will pass the year. There can be only one winner, and rather than endure another 'vote' the consensus is that Seppy takes the prize for Blackpoll warbler. This victory must be all the sweeter for him this year as he actually managed to identify the winning bird himself. So with four in a row, and Ol' Snowy stays put at Seppy's gaff beside all the piles of used bank notes in brown envelopes. It would be good if Seppy could stay at home this year to give the rest of us a chance, otherwise next year we'll be awarding Ol' Snowy to the second-best find of the year. But well done Seppy who saves himself postage, and the rest of us need to up our game a bit. Roll on 2022.

The winning Blackpoll warbler in October


Happy New Year, Happy New Patch

So, here we are at the cusp of 2022, all portentous and laden with promise. For all of about a fortnight, after which year ticks become few and frustratingly far between as usual.

Or maybe not!

Because this year Seppy's incessant bleating about how shit my patch is finally pushed me over the edge, and I've adopted myself a brand new patch down on the coast. I'd like to introduce you all to Squince/Myross Island -- let's just call it Squince for short.

View from/of the new patch.

Here it is on the Googly Maps yoke.

A fine coastal patch incorporating a lake, inlet/tidal estuary, tidal lagoon with marshy bits, gardens, small copses, farmland, etc., etc. In other words, bags of potential for that coastal birding shenanigans Seppy is always preaching about.

For a bit of geographical context... here's where it is in relation to Seppy's Galley Head patch and my current patch at The Mall. It's 12km as the chough flies from Galley, and 8km from the Mall.

I will of course keep checking The Mall (at least from the front garden) while Squince is "getting established", but so far, so good. Based on a target species list of 122 for the patch (arrived at using Seppy's stringent and ludicrously punitive "finger in the air" criteria), things are off to a cracking start with two trips down to Squince so far yielding 56 species or 45.90%. That puts it in second place so far behind... drumroll... The Mall, where a few casual glances from the front garden and one quick look at the lake has netted 37 species or 47.23%.


That said, I suspect Squince has more staying power in terms of year ticks than The Mall, so might hold my interest a tad longer, and being in first and second place simultaneously is quite novel. There have been a few records of rares from Squince over the years, but as far as I know nobody checks it regularly. It's seriously underwatched, which, of course, is unlikely to change, but it does mean I might inadvertently blunder into something good when I am down there. 

The downsides? Well, it's a drive away (about 12 minutes -- 16 if I stop in the garage to pick up a breakfast roll on the way), so I can't just roll out of bed and look for year ticks from the jax window. That might also mean I check it less often than I should, and will miss heaps. The other problem is that it gets gulls (ewwww) and waders (urrrrrghhhhh) and is likely to involve a degree of seawatching at some point *SIGH*.

Waderly shenanigans: Seppy was doing his damndest to encourage me to string this Common Sand into a Spotted on 01 Jan (presumably so he could call a Stewards Enquiry and ban me from the competition at a later date, the cad)

So there we have it... a new year, a new patch and all to play for. Same old (shit) birder though. Ah well... them's the breaks I guess.

Monday 3 January 2022

Nimmo wins Mallard with gammy wildfowl shocker!!

Yes indeedy, as exposed on this very blog a mere week ago, Derek Nimmo (for it is he), has claimed victory in the 2021 Golden Mallard Patch Challenge, with two highly dubious wildfowl claims to move a few vital percentage points ahead of Shakey, just as he was at the metaphorical clubhouse bar ordering a couple of celebratory pints and two brandy chasers, no doubt.

Still, its only a couple of dodgy ducks hey? So I guess we'll have to let him have it!

Here for posterity, are the final scores from the 2021 competition...

Some scores,yesterday

In a further bizarre twist of fate, third place went to T2006, which is all the more surprising as it spent much of the year polishing its large back catalogue of Genesis records in its underground bunker.

So there you have it. Mr Nimmo is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Golden Mallard (worth at least £50 on ebay) for only the second time in his lifetime! The Proclaimers have promised to pack it carefully and send it forthwith. Shakey has ordered another round of drinks in the Clubhouse bar. T2006 has just popped Side 2 of "Selling England by the Pound" on the turntable. Normal service has resumed...