Thursday 2 February 2023

One Month Done

So that's January done. I feel like I've missed almost a third of it, but I doubt my Patchwork Challenge totals would have been vastly different even without the man-flu.

Bridport North - 50 species/52 points

Best 'expected' bird: Dipper. Best unexpected bird: Firecrest.

West Bay & Eype - 63 species/78 points

Best by far: Leach's Petrel. Little Gull also excellent. Firecrest, Goosander and Cetti's Warbler very pleasing too.

Both patches have been a joy to work, and produced one or two nice surprises. Neither is exactly romping away numbers-wise, but I am quite happy to plod along at a modest pace.

Failing at Woodcock bothered me briefly. I wondered about trying dusk watches, or even asking to borrow Tom's thermal monocular, but soon realised I don't really care enough. A big species count isn't that much of a motivator for me, but rather the unknown potential, the surprises I might encounter while birding somewhere that I've largely neglected. I suppose I'm not much cut out for a listing competition...

My points target for each patch is 100 and 215 respectively. I'll be pleased if I achieve or get close to them. In the meantime, let's just see what comes along...

Felt a little better this afternoon, so risked a walk around West Bay. A total of four Purple Sands was my best count yet, and a nice surprise. Also, the femalest of the female-type Black Redstarts was by the slipway.

Purple Sand at the end of the harbour wall - one of four.

Black Redstart - much less of a poser than this pic would have you believe. It was in almost perpetual motion.

Almost no white at all in the wing of this one.

Naturally I looked at Rock Pipits. There were at least nine on the field behind Rise restaurant, though four flew off, and none let me get close. Typically these birds are difficult to approach, and take flight quite easily. I struggled to get any photos at all today. Just a handful at range, like these two...

Same as the closer bird in the photo above. Could be littoralis...or not.

A little later I came across three more on the rock armour of the harbour wall. These were far less shy. Was that because of the habitat? Or because they were petrosus? Or because they were littoralis on a wind-up? Who can say? Anyway, I got decent photos of two of them.

Slowly I am building a pictorial library of West Bay Rockits. Like the Burton Freshwater birds I spent time with last year, I would like to work out how many individuals I am playing with here. Whatever comes of it, I know it will be fun...

This one is the first I've noticed with a pinkish base to the bill.

Same again. In this shot the flank streaking appears to coalesce into a messy dark patch. Compare with photo above.

And again. A distinctive little notch in the tip of that inner right greater covert.

The second bird. A more typical yellow bill base on this one.

Same again.

On a completely different note, I'm currently revisiting a BB paper on a massive fall of migrants that occurred many years ago. I was six years old when it happened, but reading the account makes it hard to believe that I was alive at a time when there were actually that many birds. One thing is for certain: it will never happen again in my lifetime. Scratch that. It will never happen again, ever. Hopefully this mind-boggling event will make for an interesting NQS post soon...


  1. Hi Gav - Rock Pipit eggs are variable (no where near as much as Tree Pipit) so it would be possible to trace females. I’ve done this successfully with Tree Pipits, tracing them a year later back on the same nesting area

    1. PS Josh - can’t comment I set my account for some reason

    2. Great, thanks Josh. I'm looking forward to finding out how many pairs we have here... 👍