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Old Wednesday 3rd August 2005, 18:26   #1
I'm younger than that now
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How do you work your local patch?

I'd be interested to know how you work your local patch, and why. Do you prefer to visit as many times as possible for short periods each time, or do you prefer to spend hours there peering into every bush, and investigating every call? Does it depend on the type of habitat at your local patch?

I go for the former, mainly because I don't very often have long periods to spend birding. I try to slot birding into other activities, for example drop my lads off at football training, visit the local patch for an hour, then pick up the lads again. My local patch is a smallish mere and surrounding area, so I can reasonably quickly scan the water and see any unusual waterfowl, or terns etc., though it may mean I miss woodland birds.

Very often I visit my local patch in my dinner break, which allows me only 15 minutes at the place, but I may go three times a day, once on my way to work, once at dinner and again in the evening.

Clearly, the more time you spend at a site, the more wildlife you will see, and I have friends who spend several hours everyday, seven days a week at their local patch who see much more than I do. On the otherhand they spend hours seeing the same birds from one week to the next, until that special bird appears.

I find that by visiting in short, sharp, frequent doses I keep my enthusiasm, which I might otherwise lose by being there all day everyday.

Which do you prefer?

Merseyside (259), St Helens (195) Last self found Buff-breasted Sand(Outer Hebs)
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Old Wednesday 3rd August 2005, 19:29   #2
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I tend to go for about an hour, 2-3 times a week. Its mostly woodland with a small stream running through, its been good for Dipper & Kingfisher this year, and 2 pairs of little owls doing great.

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Old Wednesday 3rd August 2005, 19:33   #3
wibble wibble
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Take it slowly, examine each habitat even if there is a minute difference (eg: diff tyoe of trees). Good idea to have pride in trying to beat the best species total for the year, each month or whatever as it makes you scrutinise every movement and one day it will be a rarity.
Are you listening to the voice that talks in your head while you read this?
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Old Wednesday 3rd August 2005, 20:58   #4
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I love patch watching...
My patch is a Public Golf course...With Mature woodland(mixed in places..) ,a hill, Small 'river'..(more of a stream really).It is dissected by a railway line which cuts the sports fields off from the main ground...All in all I think its approximately 450 acres if I remember rightly..
You really get to know the area and its inhabitants..Not just the birds either...I found my first 'Lords-and -Ladies' this weekend...Common enough I know but this was right beside the footpath...So was very easily seen..with now real effort on my
I spend 4-5 hours walking my patch as often as I can...
This can be two to three times a week ...Either early in the morning(just as the sun comes up) or in the late afternoon(till sunset..).Although to be fair -at the moment I am only doing the 4-5 hours stints once a week..usually on the weekend..(school holidays..)
I also take my young children out to it in the warmer weather for the odd hour in the evening...So my bins come with me...
On the 4-5 hour jaunts I always stick to a designated route around the area..I find this helps me spot anything out of the ordinary easier..I must admit I will do the route clockwise sometimes, anti clockwise at other
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Old Wednesday 3rd August 2005, 21:13   #5
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Depends on time of year!
Spring/autumn, it's a mind-blowing place and takes several hours to even give it a 'brief check', tend to go every second day. Summer, I try to visit once or twice a week and generally spent about two or three hours, perhaps longer photographing butterflies. Deepest winter is best - don't get out of my car, don't bother with scope (and to be honest, sometimes the binoculars too) and takes all of 15 or 20 minutes to do the entire area ...or several hours if car gets stuck in the snow! It's way below freezing, the ice is thick enough that an elephant could do a Jesus impression of walking on water, and the only birds are an occasional Common or Rough-legged Buzzards, a Great Grey Shrike or two and perhaps some lingering Waxwings.
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Old Thursday 4th August 2005, 07:25   #6
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Ian Wallace who is probably one of Britain's best known patchwatchers, has a saying something like: "time in, birds out". I would love to spend more time on my patch and therefore see more, but I'm limited by illness and disability so can only manage short periods there before my energy gives out. Still, as Colin said, short, sharp, frequent visits keep enthusiasm up, and I'm very enthusiastic about my patch.
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