Friday, 4 January 2013

The Challenge

In November of last year, Mark Lewis & Ryan Irvine decided to set up a patch birding challenge across the UK & Ireland for 2013. The general idea being to get birders out & about, putting more time in on their patches, finding some good birds and entering the records to BirdTrack.

'Patch birding' entails working a familiar route or site on a regular basis, thus gaining an in depth knowledge & feel for the birds that inhabit or pass through it. A patch may constitute any type of habitat with popular choices including coastal walkways or headlands, lakes & marshes, farmland & woodland, suburban parks etc.

Whilst a large number of UK birders have signed up to the 'Patchwork Challenge' set out by Mark & Ryan, just a small number from Ireland have decided to take part (no doubt due to the fact that there are far fewer birders in Ireland). As such, the Irish Mini League was born with six coastal patches from Antrim, Wicklow, Wexford, Cork, Kerry & Mayo having answered the call so far, all of which bring something different to the challenge.

A points system has been devised which ranks species from 1-5 (i.e. common-mega) with extra marks going for any 3+ point species which you find yourself. Contestants work out a comparative score based on previous patch year lists, thus giving a milestone to reach (and hopefully surpass). Finally, each patch can be any shape as long as it covers a max area of 3km². These rules are designed to ensure a level playing field. As such, everyone is competing against themselves as much as as the other contestants, trying to get as high a % score based on their previous patch year lists.

A full breakdown of the scoring system & rules can be found here.

This blog has been created to showcase the exploits of those taking part in the Patchwork Challenge Irish Mini League. Updates on participants visits to the patch, notable sightings, pics etc. will be posted here on a (hopefully!) regular basis. The main Patchwork Challenge blog will provide more news on the competition as a whole across the UK & Ireland so be sure to check in on it regularly.

Finally, if there is anybody else thinking of signing up an Irish patch for the challenege then get in touch with the lads at for details on how to take part or myself (Niall) at if you wish to contribute to the blog.

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