Saturday, 9 January 2016

Getting Started

Here we go!

I've decided to join the patchwork challenge this year. Details of which can be found here. In summary, the challenge is to compete against other keen bird recorders and 'tick' the most birds within your 3 square km patch. Scarce birds score more points, but this does not adjust for local rarity.

In reality though, you're simply competing against yourself. In order to adjust for the differing biodiversity between patches, and hence the varying opportunity to encounter particular species, your in-year performance is benchmarked against your previous scores.

Family commitments and terrible weather meant I didn't get started until the afternoon of 3rd January, and even then the relentless rain kept my camera at home; I hope to include images in future posts. I set out from home and covered the south western area of my patch.

My expectation was that I would quickly tick off the commoner species and that I would finish the day with 40 or 50 birds, none of which would be very interesting. Indeed, that's how things started with robin, blackbird and crow taking the first few places. Quickly though I add golden plover and common gull, the latter I didn't see at all last year. Also making the list were treecreeper and little egret; I was happy to mark them off so early and so close to home.

By the time I got home after a good 2 hours, I'd only recorded 25 species and was missing a huge number of very common birds indeed! Frustrated, I jumped in the car and headed to the northernmost corner of my patch; the grounds and river that surround St Wilfrids. By now, the rain was coming down in sheets and I added just 8 species to the list before I gave up.

So at the end of day one, I have just 33 species and some glaring omissions: house sparrow, starling, tree sparrow, song thrush, collared dove, coal tit and black-headed gull to name but a few! But ever the optimist, I was thankful that my next trip certainly wouldn't draw a blank.

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