Monday, 21 December 2015

Patchwork Challenge

So here we are, easing towards the end of yet another year. As I get older, this annual inevitability takes on ever greater significance. For example, thinking back to my first visit to Scilly in 1984 gives me some very vivid memories, yet it was a massive 31 years ago. In 1984 my younger son hadn't been born and the roads were still full of Maxis, Metros and Marinas. If, as a ten year-old boy, I had asked my grandad what he was doing 31 years earlier he would have reminisced about the year 1938 when he was a career soldier stationed in married quarters on Malta with his wife and small children, little knowing what was coming their way in June 1940. Now that is pukka history with a big H - the kind of stuff entombed in musty old books illustrated with black and white photos - and for some reason I find this pretty sobering. Yes, time marches ever onward...which is why it's absolutely crucial that I get involved with the Patchwork Challenge before dementia gets me.

I did it once before, in 2013 I think, on the dump of a patch that I was saddled with back then, but now I have a nice new patch. Here it is, all neatly shaded in green...

The Cogden Patch, all 1.164 km² of it
Life recently has been rather full, and I've noticed the birding urges are a bit feeble. So I'm hoping a fresh challenge based on the friendly competition that PWC provides will get me out and about a bit. I am looking forward to January 1st.

Of course there is always the possibility of a nice find. The next pic was taken (by me) less than 25 miles from Cogden, and I can only imagine the adrenaline rush experienced by the birder who stumbled across this beast, perhaps during a casual stroll around his/her regular patch.



  1. Sticking to one's own patch is for me the ideal way to wildlife watch. Mine continuously for the last 30 years, has been The Swale NNR here on Sheppey. 26 years as a Vol. Warden until the post was stopped and since then as an honorary part of the management team. Like anything, it can get a tad boring at times, but that special moment when you find a rare bird, insect or flower, on your own, on your patch, makes it all worthwhile.

    1. And, for me, one nice thing about those special moments is that they will come. You might have to wait a while, but the unpredictable dynamics of the natural world pretty much guarantees a few (or more) every year.
      Another thing about a patch is that it's all about context. One of my best finds on the Seaton/Axe patch I had until recently was a Corn Bunting. I think it is still the only local record this century!
      Cheers Derek.

  2. A Corn Bunting that rare - amazing.
    My best finds on my patch were Collared, Oriental Collared and Black-winged Pratincoles.

    1. Very nice, Derek. I was always magnanimous enough to leave the serious rarities for other people to find...