All about the patch, no twitching

The earth has passed an arbitrary point on its orbit around our sun – it must be the New Year! For birders, with the dawning of a new year comes the resetting of the year list. Your local birding patch becomes invigorated as all species once again become firsts – at least for given value of “first” in this context! As I’m always feel I should do more biological recording, I’ve taken on two patch based challenges.

Firstly I’ve signed up for Patchwork Challenge (PWC) . There are various mini-leagues, prizes and above all its friendly competition. In Cardiff, four of us have even put a curry-based wager on who will do the best. Who said birders weren’t competitive?


My PWC patch.

My patch is, well, Cardiff Riding School. I’ve racked up a respectable (?) 65 species at this inner city location. Nothing too out of the ordinary – the more unexpected species I’ve seen there are nightjar and common snipe.  A nice number of migrants go through too – lesser and common whitethroat, redstart and spotted flycatcher so who knows what else could turn up with a little more effort.  As patches for PWC can be up to 3km I’ve added in other parts of the park in which the riding school sits. This should give me scope for a few more species – med gull and common sandpiper being two. My year target (for the curry bet) is 60 species. My riding school year list rarely exceeds 55 so I’ll have some leg work to do before I can lift a lamb bhuna in victory.

The second patch challenge is more personal. I’ve recently bought my first house, and with it comes that most desired of things – my own garden. So my own patch challenge is to see how many species I can record in my garden in 2015! The rules are simple – planted species don’t count, but anything attracted to them does!

So six days in to these challenges, how am I doing? Well I’ve yet had time to visit my birding patch but I’ve managed to add 16 species to my garden list – 14 birds and two molluscs… Luckily there are 329 days left to go.

Oh, and Happy New Year!


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