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...