Monday, 1 November 2010

The 2010 Bardsey Autumn Birding Tournament
Week 13: Competition Review and Results

The penultimate week of the tournament was frequently hindered by poor weather, but the resultant seawatching-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-do produced more loons than Broadmoor, as well as a few other decent sightings. Richard Brown – accompanied this week by Giselle Eagles –, Richard Else, Ben Porter and Steve Stansfield were all present, and the observatory guests were a group of regular visitors with Steve Hughes and David Beattie in charge of finding birds.

The week kicked off in fine, calm and largely bird-free conditions. Steve Hughes scored the first point for a drake Eider flying past the north hide and Richard Brown soon drew level with a Great Northern Diver. Richard Else found an unusual Chiffchaff at the farm but, as it refused to utter any diagnostic calls, it wasn’t quite claimable as a two-point Siberian bird.

The next day started well for everybody. Steve Stansfield scored two points for a flock of Long-tailed Tits at Cristin before adding another point for some Ring Ouzels. Steve Hughes found a couple of Yellowhammers at Nant, Else happened upon a Hooded Crow in the lowlands and, only a minute or so later, Porter flushed a couple of Short-eared Owls (1 point) from nearby. The day’s most unusual sighting though, earning three points, was a trio of House Sparrows at Ty Pellaf that took Brown back into the lead.

The 25th began with two Bullfinches in a mist net earning Eagles her first point of the tournament. Brown soon found another Bullfinch (1 point), and then another (1point) to extend his week’s lead. Else found a Treecreeper at Ty Nesaf (2 points), followed by another Treecreeper (2 points) and yet another Bullfinch (1 point) during a productive amble around Nant. Stansfield thought that he too had managed to cash in on the mass arrival of Bullfinch points when he heard a soft whistling call at Ty Pellaf, but was disappointed when the maker of the call turned out to be the drab Chiffchaff from earlier in the week – handing two tristis points ex post facto to Else instead.

The 26th was a birdless washout and the following day was hardly better, although Else found a Great Northern Diver (1 point) and some Red-breasted Mergansers (1 point) from the hide and Porter found a Bullfinch (1 point) in the withies. The 28th was also extremely poor, with Porter scoring the day’s only point for an Arctic Skua.

As winter approaches, Great Northern Diver is rapidly becoming the new Wigeon – a point-scoring staple for anybody willing to stare out to sea for long enough. Else was first to find one on the 29th (1 point), with Steve Hughes spotting the next one later in the morning (1 point). Hughes then pulled out the best bird of the week in the form of a Long-tailed Duck in Solfach, an excellent find worthy of three points. If Great Northern Diver is the new Wigeon, then Bullfinch certainly seems to be becoming the new Reed Warbler. Else and Porter both found Bullfinches (1 point each) on the final day of the week, while it was Brown and Stansfield who collected a point apiece for the day’s Great Northern Divers.

It wasn’t such a terrible week overall in terms of the competition, with Richard Else ultimately finding enough one- and two-point birds to rack up a winning total of 12 points. Richard Brown finished in second place with 7 points and Steve Hughes was close behind on 6.

As the long tournament nears its conclusion, Stansfield’s lead looks more and more unassailable. A good week for Else has closed the gap by but a fraction and, with just one week left, it is now surely impossible for him to make up the remaining 23 points on the warden. The real excitement in the final week will be the continuing neck-and-neck battle between Brown and Porter for third place, with Porter now having just a two-point advantage.


  1. What about the long tailed duck?

  2. What about the Long-tailed Duck?

    Hughes then pulled out the best bird of the week in the form of a Long-tailed Duck in Solfach, an excellent find worthy of three points.

    Was it an escape?