I've just spent a happy hour totting up my 2015 patch list. I had a feeling I was around 80-85, but didn't have any proof either way. So I'm quite surprised to be at the upper end of my guess, especially as I missed quite a few winter species, and have yet to even make the effort to see Little Egret or Tawny Owl. House Martin and Swift are still needed, as is Redstart. Despite this slack attitude, I'm still several species ahead of 2014 at the same date, but of course miles behind my peak year of 2013 when I managed 118.
The last few days have been good, with a cracking male Whinchat on Monday (likely to be the same bird as Saturday), and then today my first Lesser Whitethroat and four (count 'em) Green Sandpiper. Four is a flock, and a big flock at that! I was wandering around with Nick in the SSSI when one of them called. Old Crofty is pretty sharp these days - the countless hours on patch are working - and he called it pretty much instantly. We found the first one in the sky pretty quickly, and were surprised to then see another one with it. Nick's bins are something like 100x magnification and totally enormous, mine are piddly in comparison, however this means they have a somewhat wider field of view and so I found myself counting a third and a fourth bird. This is unprecedented, I've had two before over near the Alex, but four in one hit is ridiculous. Not a bird I expected to get back in clear blue skies after the guys had one a week or so ago in the heavy mist, but the patch always has the ability to surprise.
In other news, the evil crew at Walthamstow have kidnapped Alan, our cute little Partridge, and are refusing to give him back. Somehow he is a patch tick for all of them bar the Prof, which is odd as I've seen one at the bottom of the Lockwood some years ago. If I were a complete dorky loser I'd be able to confidently state that it was May 9th 2007. But I'm not, so I can't.