Friday, 3 March 2017

Patchwork 2017 - February Update

Species 79
Points 85

Additions this month: Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, Woodcock, Redshank, Curlew, Coal tit, Barn Owl, Mistle thrush, Feral pigeon, Oystercatcher, Jack Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Linnet, Stonechat.

I had expected February to be pretty dry if I'm honest, as I was away the first two weekends, but a few early evening visits and a full 8 hours on patch on the 19th meant a mega 15 additions were made this month! A lot of these were easy ones that I hadn't picked up in January, like Fieldfare and Greenfinch, but there were a few unexpected ones in there too...

Fieldfare and Reed Bunting came first on a quick visit to look for roosting Whooper Swans (without success!) on the 3rd.

An evening ringing session on the 7th resulted in Woodcock being flushed in the darkness, as well as several Snipe and calling Redshank were heard too. Another Redshank was seen on the 19th, feeding on Blott's pit most of the day. Woodcock are often around but not always easy to catch up with, so I was happy with that one,

Another evening visit on the 14th, after working nearby, resulted in my first Barn owl on site since 2015, and a flyover Curlew was a nice early addition to the list. Incidentally another Curlew was present most of the day on the 19th too, perhaps the same one?

The 19th was a mega day, as I clocked up a personal record of 64 species on site (8 year-ticks), after a mammoth 9.5 hours on site. The morning was spent leading a volunteer work party in which we put up around 30+ snipe (including a flock of 23, which were later seen at Netherfield), as well as 2 Jack snipe, another bird that must be present all winter, but is rarely picked up. Also around were the aforementioned Redshank and Curlew, as well as a Shelduck. The afternoon was spent wandering round, being filmed for a NWT film about Skylarks Nature Reserve. This resulted in more species being clocked up, including only my 2nd ever Stonechat for the site.

A good session on the last weekend of the month failed to produce any late additions. There are still a number of 'easy' targets to go for, such as Siskin, Little grebe and Skylark, but with a few unexpected birds this month, I'm pretty pleased, and well ahead of my usual score for this time of year.

March sees the first proper migrants, obviously, and perhaps there's still time to pick up on a few wintering birds before they disappear for the summer. Looking at my calendar, it looks like I'm pretty busy again which will limit my visits, but at least those evenings are getting lighter!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Patchwork 2017 - January Update

Species 64
Points 69

Not a bad start to my 4th Patchwork Challenge year at Holme Pierrepont. I didnt get on patch until the 14th, due to a busy start to the year (and terrible weather on new years day), but it was a good first visit, with a Great White Egret patch-tick to kick things off.
The next weekend bumped the numbers up considerably, with the Sibe Chiff and Smew helping things along nicely, as well as some interest in the form of a wintering Common Sandpiper and an early Shelduck.

My final visit to the patch (only 4 visits this month!) was last Sunday morning, which was a rare treat as I actually got to go out first thing. A decent session, starting with another Smew, and another (presumably the same) Great White Egret, back after a 2 week absence. Only 3 additions to the yearlist however, which was a shame, but it was still a productive morning. The downside was later in the day, hearing that 2 Tundra Bean geese had dropped in with a Pink-footed goose. I had mentioned Bean geese in my previous post, but sadly I was otherwise engaged. Its all part of patch-birding though, you can't see it all, even if you wish you could!

I think with a few extra visits, I could have ended with a better total, but its still the usual mid-60's mark I have come to expect by the end of January. Still plenty to go for, including some easy ones like Little Grebe, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Reed Bunting. I'd say i could get close to 100 before the spring migrants return, but it all depends on how much time I put in during February, and as I am away for the first two weekends, things aren't looking great!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

2017 begins

Not had a bad start to the year at HP so far, apart from not being able to get down there properly until the 14th, when a Great White Egret was found and reported about midday. I had planned to be there by about then, but a management meeting about the nature reserve went on longer than i expected, so i didnt get down til mid-afternoon. Luckily the egret was still there, a long-overdue patch tick, but too late as they have been demoted to a lowly 2 points! 

Aside from the egret, it was good to get on patch but not a great deal else of note was seen, but a gulling session on the A52 Pit was nice, although there were no scarce gulls but all the commoner species were seen. A volunteer session the next day added to the weekends total which ended on a reasonable 47 species.

This Saturday, I gave the patch a good 3 and a half hours, knocking up a decent day total of 54 species, including a patch-first Sibe Chiff (a handy 3 points) and the sometimes elusive Treecreeper. A Redhead Smew finally gave itself up on the eastern edge of the A52 pit and an early Shelduck was also present. It was nice to get the wintering Common Sand again too, taking my running total to 61 species, so pretty good really. Only one weekend to go this month, but hopefully there will be time to knock a few of my pre-spring targets off, and who knows maybe more birds of interest - a nice Bean Goose or some scarce duck would be nice...

Thursday, 19 January 2017

2016 Patchwork Review

Owing largely to a bumper spring and autumn, mainly in terms of waders, I managed my best yearly total again in 2016 at Holme Pierrepont. It has got better every year, I think because of more familiarity with the site, coupled with more effort on my part and habitat improvements on certain parts of the site. 2014 saw me getting 106 species on site, whereas 2015 was much better, with 115 seen. This year I ended with a reasonable 128 species, totalling 147 points for the Patchwork Challenge. (EDIT - Actually 129 species/149 points after a re-count!). A good number of scarcer birds gave me a good few '2-pointers' whilst a brace of Temminck's records gave me a nice 3-pointer for the year (alas without the finders' bonus!)

A bonus of regularly visiting the patch means that I've continued to accrue new species for the patch, and I added 18 species I hadn't previously seen on site. Again, more knowledge of the site and more hours spent on patch have really paid off and meant that I can start ticking off some of those scarcer species. A few were even notts ticks for me and there was even one lifer in the shape of a Purple Sandpiper, so its been a good year.

There's plenty still to play for too, as the final tally for the site in 2016 (as far as I can tell) was 155 species, meaning I missed out on 27 species. There were several records of Whooper Swan and Common Scoter, but they eluded me, and other relatively 'easy' species I missed included Wheatear, Garganey, Red Kite, Arctic Tern and Barn Owl, plus a few tougher ones.

Here's a quick round-up of how I did.

Species - 67

My best start to a patchwork year, with 67 species seen. Highlights included a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls, a Treecreeper early on (a surprisingly scarce species on site) and a patch-tick in the form of 22 Golden Plover.

Species - 73

A bit of a quiet month, which started with me discovering the Starling roost at the old Skylarks reedbed. Quite a spectacle and a popular one too, I was definitely late to this particular party. Only six additions this month, but a very distant speck of a Goosander over the A52 pit on the 19th was nice, my first record in a few winters. Some of the wintering Redshank on site finally gave themselves up to me this month too, as well as the first returning Shelduck.

Species - 83

A decent month with 10 additions. Highlights were a trio of patch-firsts. A Curlew on the 12th kicked things off, and the next weekend a Grey Plover decided to stick around all day on blotts pit. Finally the weekend after got me a Stonechat on the fenceline on the neglected East side of my patch. Otherwise some early migrants such as Chiffchaff, Sand Martin and Little Ringed Plover found their way onto the list, as well as some of the other common residents i hadn't previously seen.

Species - 103

As expected, the species list shot up in April thanks to a good number of migrants moving through, even with a week away in portugal! The month started well with a couple of scarce locals, Grey partridge and Nuthatch being added, as well as some early migrants. A couple of Lapwing begun nesting on site too, the first breeding waders of the year. After returning from portugal on the 15th, I then proceeded to add a number of waders to the list, notably Whimbrel and Avocet, while passerine activity increased too, including small numbers of Yellow Wagtails (but nothing on the mega passage of 2015). A Cuckoo and Grasshopper warbler provided some interest at the end of the month.

Species - 113

10 additions in May, including some good quality birds. 4 Ruff got things going nicely before an influx of Black Terns over the weekend saw over 50 being seen on the A52 pit on the 8th. I got in on the action but only managed to see a few, as I was viewing into the sun with just my bins, making for difficult viewing, but I could certainly appreciate the number of birds involved!
A good week for waders across the county followed, and a rainy day mid-week lured me down in the hope of picking a few bits up, and a personal site-record count of 18 Redshank was made even better by a Turnstone and a summer-plumage knot with them. 2 Temminck's stints proceeded to have a 6-day stay on blotts pit later in the week, before things went a little quiet, with just a few commoner species being picked up throughout. Another Avocet on the 17th (the 5th bird of the year) kept things going.

Species - 115

Things just ticked over quietly in June, apart from a couple of additions. A June Black-tailed Godwit was nice - perhaps an early returner, or just a hanger on? who knows? The only other addition was a pair of Black-necked Grebes which only stayed a couple of days. Otherwise, numerous Hobby and Cuckoo sightings kept things interesting. The waders had a tough time, with lapwing and oystercatcher nesting, but all getting bothered by crows, foxes and even nearly getting trampled by territorial swans. Its hard to say whether any fledged, but well grown juveniles of both species were seen. Strangely, no known LRP nested successfully this year.

Species - 116

As can be expected, July was reasonably quiet, although wader passage kicked off again, and I missed two decent species, Sanderling and Wood Sandpiper. I recorded up to 5 Black-tailed godwit this month, as well as a few Greenshank, Green Sandpipers, and a few other bits. The only addition was a Red-legged Partridge, heard near the Grange whilst ringing there.

Species - 121

Some quality additions this month. I spent the 1st week away in Scotland and missed another Wood Sandpiper, as well as a Knot, both of which stayed a few days. Luckily I got back in time to catch up with a Little Stint that spent a few days on Blott's Pit. The increased footfall on site due to the Stint resulted in more eyes looking for birds, and as a result a Purple Sandpiper was found on the evening of the 16th, a nice lifer for me and one which drew even more birders to the site. On the same morning that was found, Mark Dawson found 5 Sandwich Terns on Blott's, a decent summer record. Luckily, I was working near my house that morning, and checked facebook before leaving the house, so managed to get down in time to see all 5, before seeing 4 fly off a few minutes after arriving. The remaining singleton stayed most of the day.
A good number of other waders provided a supporting cast to all this chaos, including up to 4 Greenshank, several Ruff and Black-wits and many more. It was a great couple of weeks.
I also added Bittern and Tawny Owl this month.

Species - 121

No additions this month, which was a shame, and I missed Garganey (despite searching several times) and a brief Spotted Redshank. I didn't spend a great deal of time on the main part of the patch this month, but did plenty of dog-walking over near the watersports centre, allowing me to attempt to see some passerine migrants, but largely failing - other than lots and lots of chiffchaffs! The undoubted highlight of the month however was when I was failing at seeing the Garganey, moaning to myself about a lack of decent birds, when a group of 18 Grey Plover flew in from the west and circled Blott's pit for a few minutes. Probably the highlight of the year for me. A peak count of 14 Little Egret was decent too, though I think there were up to 25 on site at some point.

Species - 126

Another visit to Scotland, ringing on the Isle of May, meant less time on patch, and again I struggled to get out regularly apart from walking the dog. I did manage a few new species though, including a Peregrine over the watersports centre while out with the dog. A Slavonian Grebe was found on the A52 pit on the 22nd, though I didn't end up seeing it until the 28th, after missing it a on the 26th (but picking up a Woodcock in the process). I also got a lucky Raven flyover when briefly ticking the Slav on a speedy visit before work one morning. I also managed to grip back a Spotted Redshank, after missing one in September. The only regret is missing a Yellow-browed Warbler early in the month.

Species - 128

An addition of a Med Gull in the pre-roost on Blott's pit one Sunday evening was what I thought to be my only addition this month. However in going through my records, it seems I forgot to add Jack Snipe, after one was flushed, along with several Common Snipe, during a work party on Blott's. Otherwise, it was a relatively quiet month, although I mainly spent time on the Watersports Centre side of the patch. Here I had decent Mute Swan counts, peaking at 147, and up to 8 Little Egrets on the Ski-tow along with reasonable numbers of wildfowl. A few wintering Chiffchaffs added some interest too.

Species - 129

Another quiet month without any exciting wintery additions, but with only a small number of brief visits. I was away most of xmas so couldn't get down, and a final visit of the year on New Years Eve didn't get me any last minute points. Some interesting sightings included a couple of Dunlin mid-month, more wintering Chiffs and a Common Sandpiper that seems to be wintering around the Ski-tow and Skylarks lake.The only addition was a Yellowhammer, my first on site since I have been properly patching - I used to see them when I was an irregular visitor several years ago, but in the last few years I just don't see them... strange!

So there we go, a decent year, with 129 seen out of roughly 155 species seen on site. I think a little more effort in the last 3 months could have got me a bit more, but life sometimes gets in the way! Looking forward to another decent year on patch, and hopefully i'll finally find something decent of my own.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Patchwork 2017

As expected, I quickly lost interest in doing my patch updates on the blog last year. Managing to get to May was quite a surprise, but as usual, being too busy to get on the computer and blog was my downfall again. I kept meaning to do my updates, so I will do a little yearly review when I get some time and then try and keep it up again.
I actually mapped out the area I cover this year, i remember doing it ages ago but forgot how it looked, and it was quite interesting from my point of view. The green area is everywhere I regularly go either on foot, car or bike. I do occasionally go onto the A52 area while ringing, and do sometimes view from other areas, but its basically that shape. Birds are counted from anywhere within the green area and also birds that are seen outside the area whilst I am in it, so birds scoped on the A52 pit are countable!
Last year was my best ever - 128sp, 147points... it keeps getting better every year (though my coverage was pretty intense last year). I doubt it'll be as good as this year as there was just so much to see, but i'll just have to wait. I haven't even been on patch yet this year, looking forward to the weekend!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Patchwork Update - April/May

It has to be a double-month update this time round, as I've been struggling to get to the computer to do anything for the last few weeks.

I'll start with April.

Species: 103
Points: 110

Additions this month:20
House Martin, Blackcap, Swallow, Nuthatch, Grey Partridge, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Swift, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Avocet, Whimbrel, Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler (...phew!)

As hoped for, I managed to get my 20 species for the month, leaving me on a par species-wise with 2015 by the end of the month. A lot could be said for April on the patch, but I won't drivel on too much. In general it was decent, but felt a little sluggish in comparison to last year, with numbers of scarcer migrants seemingly lower and the early passage of waders being quite slow.

Highlights included some patch firsts, such as the long-awaited Nuthatch, as well as some more exciting stuff such as Whimbrel, Avocet and Gropper. The usual spring stuff came in as expected and the only disappointment really was the comparatively low numbers of Yellow wags, and the fact I missed several wheatears, so I'll have to hope for some autumn birds later in the year. 

And May...

Species: 113
Points: 123

Additions this month: 10
Ruff, Black Tern, Turnstone, Knot, Temminck's Stint, Greenshank, Dunlin, Coal Tit, Lesser-black-backed Gull, Hobby

May started out pretty well, with some proper nice birds finding their way onto the site. A group of 4 Ruff one evening started things off nicely, before the weekend saw a load of Black Terns invading the county, and I saw the beginnings of a spectable of over 50 on the A52 pit, one sunny Sunday afternoon. The week that followed saw lots of waders passing through the county, and a particularly miserable couple of days had them dropping in to inland waterbodies. Holme Pierrepont got a share of the action, as I came across a group of 18 Redhsank, with a turnstone and Knot in tow. The same week saw 2 Temmincks Stints on the reserve, which stayed for 6 days and drew plenty of birders onto the site.

I managed a few 'expected' additions too, including some Hobbys, the first of which I saw whilst leading a guided walk on the 15th.

After this however, things quietened down. An Avocet on the 17th provided some variety, but with little else passing through, my visits started to dwindle, coinciding with becoming a little busy with work and life to visit the patch reguarly. In the few times I did visit the patch in the latter half of the month, the onlt things keeping it fresh were the Lapwing and Oystercatcher chicks which have been raised on site.

So there we go, not a bad couple of months, but with an expected lull in the weeks approaching June. Some missing birds (for me) inlcude Wood Sand, the godwits, and Sanderling. Perhaps the autumn will provide some decent stuff. i'm reasonably happy with the points total however, and I'm easily going to match, if not surpass my 129pts of last year, without too much effort.

I only added one bird last June and by that time I was only on 105 species, so not really sure what target to set, except to get down there as much as possible and to hopefully pick up some early summer specials before the autumn passage begins again next month!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The good times continue...

Tuesday night saw me popping down to the patch, hoping for a Sanderling, with all the records this time last year, it can only be a matter of time before one drops in, but I was unlucky this time round. However the Avocet that was reported earlier in the day was still present, the 4th record on site this year, and 3 Dunlin were present.

I also added several new birds for the year on Sunday, during a guided walk which had a poor turnout. A coal tit, singing near the carpark, 2 Lesser Black backs and 2 Hobby.