Saturday, 2 January 2016

Patchwork Challenge 2015 review - the missing Part 1

The missing are quite shocking, Palace first. One thing this shows is that however many warblers and passerine migrants North Ronaldsay gets here on Mainland we see a tiny fraction of those. I guess the explanation would be that everything is very concentrated on North Ronaldsay in a fall whilst here everything that there is quite quickly spreads out across quite a large land area. So I have never seen Whitethroat or Lesser Whitethroat at Palace, indeed any warbler anytime is a bit of a triumph. This year I saw one Willow Warbler, a few Chiffchaff, and one tristis, one Yellow-browed Warbler, three Blackcaps, and the breeding Sedge Warblers. In the past I have seen Spotted Flycatcher, Black Redstart, Reed Warbler and ... er, I think that may be about it! This year I added Stonechat, a species that was pretty much eliminated from Orkney after the 2010 - 2011 winter but is now returning, saw one this morn indeed on the Old Nisthouse patch. But before those winters Stonechats were not a feature of Palace, I think the birds this year will have been dispersing juveniles.
 The Brough from Northside

The missing this year included Manx Shearwater, usually a fairly common bird from Point of Buckquoy during the summer months, not this year! I also seem to have missed out on Fieldfare and Brambling. The Brambling I know is right, can be tricky, but Fieldfare!! Did I just forget to put it into BirdTrack? But I really can't remember one. I dipped on Ring Ouzel too, well done GC, stomping out to the lighthouse on The Brough one spring morning. The missing included Pom, this spring I will watch from The Brough and not Yesnaby (off patch), despite the easier access there. And despite a good effort, and Little Auks being all over Orkney this December, none for me.

On the wader front things were a bit grim although I did manage Little Stint; over and over again. Curlew Sandpiper joined the list too. Missing were Black-tailed Godwit, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers, and no Grey Phalarope.

 Summer plumage Little Stint with Dunlin

 Grey Plover, can be tricky but one crept on to the list in November

One of the high points of the year was the Gull-billed Tern seen at Skiba Geo when I was checking the breeding Arctic Terns in June. A bird I never expected to find, especially here, third Orkney record and recently accepted by BBRC. Three Common Terns were nice too, I think I have seen them on the patch in the past but common they are not. But no Sandwich Tern this year. Gulls were ok too, added Little Gull finally as a patch tick and had very good numbers of Glaucous, including 7 one morning. Iceland finally joined the list in seasonal July. Med Gull was missing.

Ice in July

Nice surprise of the year was Water Rail, a species that was new. Common Scoter is hard to see in Orkney also, but for one or two East Mainland locations. But the missing included Whooper Swan, Brent Goose, Gadwall, and I continued to dip Mandarin, although latest intelligence suggests this is a roaming pet duck. The quacker list would benefit from more scrutiny of the Boardhouse Loch, although there is limited viewing from within the patch boundaries.

In terms of rarity finding the Palace patch does hold the best potential now, if I want to add to my found list. Whilst Old Nisthouse has done me proud the accumulation of several wanted quackers this year means that I'll be relying on some very good luck, rather than hard graft, to get much new. Lesser Scaup would be a reasonable target for there, by searching through quacker flocks, so there is still potential. Of course I would dearly love to nail a Gyr, two this year but neither tickable.

To end on highlights of the year, other than the Gull-billed Tern, the Swift movement was amazing. Smashing the Orkney record for a number seen in a day by a huge margin, slightly worryingly seeing 666 devil birds might be a tad ominous. Bearing in mind in six years I had seen three individuals previously it was a very exciting day.

 BirdTrack records this year were 2,654 for Palace and 7,878 for Old Nisthouse made up of 399 complete lists in total, as well as a pile of casual records. I've been as careful as I could be to add the records as I've gone along and keep up to date (and have just found a list in the notebook, so have added the figures now), hopefully in a small way a useful data contribution.

And for other things, well I ought to do better, more Pan Listing in 2016 would not be a bad resolution.

 Rhingia campestris - Palace, June 2015

Palace, Birsay, West Mainland Orkney (Islands mini-league)  - totals 2015:
Species - 102, new species - 5
Points - 150
Records - 2,654
BirdTrack lists - 106

1 comment:

Nick Carter said...

Great read, wish my record keeping was as meticulous, well done mate!