The Patch Competition

This section is all about the local patch competition that is running between a few friends of mine, they are (in alphabetical order): Ashley Beolens (me), Mark Wilson, Seth Chapman, Simon Nichols and our newest member Steve Blain. The idea is that we each watch an area local to us `our patches` and tally up the species we see. The person with the highest total at the end of the year is the winner (although the winner doesn't actually receive anything). It was started at the beginning of 2002, when myself and Simon both started watching areas near to our homes and a friendly rivalry over who had found most commenced, we later invited the others to join us so as to have more of a competition. One of the best things about the competition is that the locations of our patches vary so much, while myself and Simon are both based in Milton Keynes, Steve is in Bedfordshire, Mark in Leicestershire and Seth is in south shields.

The Protagonists

Ashley BeolensName - Ashley Beolens
Age - 27
Status - Married with 2 children
Best patch bird - Black redstart
Dream patch find - Ring Ouzel

no imageName - Mark Wilson
Age - 30
Status - Engaged
Best patch bird -
Dream patch find -

no imageName - Seth Chapman
Age - 30
Status - Married
Best patch bird -
Dream patch find -

no imageName - Simon Nichols
Age - 30
Status - Married with 1 child
Best patch bird - Red-rumped swallow
Dream patch find - Black tern/Little gull

Steve BlainName - Steve Blain
Age - 24
Status - Single
Best patch bird -
Dream patch find -

Unfortunatley Steve has moved to Ecuador! Simon, and Mark are chasing county year lists and Seth has lost interest, so no more competition.

The rules are pretty simple, they are:

1. The area you choose to watch must be within walking distance of your house (this doesn't mean that you always have to walk).
2. Any birds count, whether they are feral or possible escapes (within reason, they have to be native or likely to be seen wild somewhere in the UK).
3. UK400 species count (this just means there are more we can count)..
4. Records do not have to be verified by any committees (we trust each other to be honest).

Although the rivalry is important and fun, it is not the only good thing to have developed due to the competition, in fact Buckinghamshires 1st red-rumped swallow was found by Simon thanks to his dream of beating me! It has given us all a much deeper belief in local birding, and the virtues of patch work.

Right enough of the details, here are each persons Site names, Patch totals, 2002 & 2003 totals and 2004 running totals.

NameSite nameSpecies total2002 total2003 total2004 total
Ashley BeolensOuse valley Park93828676
Mark WilsonPitsford Res.10978*10769
Seth ChapmanPriors Park11410336
Simon NicholsFurzton Lake98866012
Steve BlainWarren Villas152126
* = Newton Linford (Marks old patch).

We have still to arrange a handicap system as some of us have far better sites to watch than others (Steve Blain and Seth Chapman) and to keep the game fair would benefit us all.