12th May. Go Jonny Go

Back in late December I foolishly threw down the gauntlet to Pugneys stalwart Jonny Holiday for a self-found patch challenge throughout the coming year. He and I both finished 2012 equally matched on 138, so it was obviously going to be a close fight, or as least I thought that would be the case.  As we stroll into the second third of the year I'm getting a metaphorical arse kicking, recent calculations indicate that he is at least a full 16 species ahead. I shouldn't be too concerned it's still early days, but my list is in need of a severe amount of luck or a change of strategy.  Luck is certainly something Jonny has had no shortage of for example: On Wednesday sighting classic 'clag' conditions I put in a last minute leave request. Jonny sensed a comeback but I had no such luck spending a total of seven hours on site (5:15-7:00, 08:45-13 and 18:00-19:00) for the sum highlights of  4 Common Terns and 3 Dunlin - it was that good at one point I fell asleep on a bench. Jonny, on the other hand had a similarly early visit but scored big in the evening with a ring-tail Hen Harrier (a real lowland mega in these parts). Along with a self-found Lesser Scaup, which netted him a full 12 points in the Patchwork Challenge, it would seem that he can do no wrong.
This Tree Pipit is as good as it's been over the last couple of weeks.

I recently discovered that my early morning boost
has laxative properties!
Patch birding so far this year has become a total addiction, where I've taken every available opportunity to get out, missing only one day in the last seven weeks! With the persistent cold weather it's not been easy and birds that I should have found have simply not appeared yet, such as Reed and Garden Warbler, frustratingly they can along with Sedge Warbler - very rare on my side of the Rother - be found just 100 metres or so from the patch boundary.  I've missed a few key species too, Little Egret and Hobby (both of which I've failed on in recent years).  The early starts and the very early starts are mostly proving unrewarding, with the evenings being better. The problem with Orgreave is that no time is particularly better, in fact you are just as likely to see movement at lunchtime as you are at 5am, but without the need for copious amounts of caffeine. For now I'll just have to grit my teeth and hang in there, there's still a good few weeks left of the spring and time to give Jonny a few scares... a proper BB rare is overdue and would be most very welcome at the moment..

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