I appear to have hit the February lull with birding. The initial enthusiastic rush in January which ended with a reasonable total of 127 species, is now over and the reality of life and in particular work, are now getting in the way. Today for instance could have been a birding day. But no. Child number one decides today is vomit day and cannot go to school. I have to wait in for a new bed to be delivered and whilst I wait I take down the bunk beds. New bed arrives and one tiny piece of engineering ineptitude means I now have to wait until Monday before the replacement part arrives. So I now have bunk beds in pieces in my living room and a half built bed in bedroom 3. Thank the lord for garden birds. My only escape at this time!

My 1st winter male Blackcap’s cap is gradually getting blacker I noticed today as he feasted on the apples I put out earlier. The good thing about this cold snap is that birds are less opposed to visiting my feeders. Of which there are many! Greenfinch numbers have increased. From zero to four. Which may not seem a lot, but it is for my garden! Just had a nice male Bullfinch too. And everything is prospecting for nesting places. The House Spugs are already fighting over the holes in the terrace and males of all species are either chasing females, or one another!

And so to the Patchwork challenge 2015. The targets to beat according to Birdtrack this year are:

Hayle – Species 117; Points 144; Records 2593 and Complete Lists 124.

Gwithian  – Species 90; Points 105; Records  869 and Complete Lists 38.

2014 was not a ‘classic’ by any means at either site, so I’m hopeful of beating both scores. Gwithian failed to turn up any rarities with the only notable birds being Ruff and Chough! I think an exceptional sea-watching season this year might be the event to break the 100 species barrier. As for Hayle, the best bird of 2014 for me was the Bittern on the first day of the year. This species is an extremely rare sight on the actual Saltings and as far as I am aware has never been recorded there. (Ryan’s Field being the closest previous site). I was disappointed to miss  the big flock of Terns in the last week of September. Little and Black Tern would have both been year Patch ticks! I was however, quite pleased with my scarce finds. On a national scale they wouldn’t even register and even on another local site you may not bat and eyelid, but to me they were patch gold. Both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls were found on the estuary but didn’t score me any extra points. Neither did the Cetti’s Warbler, singing from Ryan’s Field, but that’s what Patchwork is all about for me. That Cetti’s was as good as any scarce/semi-rare find. The Lesser Yellowlegs at Copperhouse was probably the rarest bird all year, but Nuthatch, Stock Dove and Firecrest were far more of a challenge! The biggest miss of the year must go to Green Woodpecker. Try as I might I couldn’t pick one up, even on call. And I know they are in the vicinity.

So, January comparisons – At Hayle in 2014 I had seen 68 species from 323 records and 12 Complete Lists. In January 2015,  67 species from 349 records and 17 Complete Lists! So despite putting in more effort so far this year, I have seen one less species. The gulls are to blame, Ring-billed, Glaucous and Caspian have all been recorded so far this year, but not as yet by me!

At Gwithian, however, in 2014 I had only seen 37 Species from 56 records and 3 complete lists. Poor effort! So with a little more effort in 2015 I have managed 48 species from 124 records and 6 complete lists. To be fair I did start a bit late at Gwithian last year and didn’t really get going until March, so we’ll see what the spring brings!