Ballycotton, Co. Cork by Owen Foley

I am coming at this whole patch birding thing a bit late. But with the amount of time I spend at Bally-C I thought I would give it a go.

I have never really "worked" a patch properly before. I tend to work certain coastal routes at different times of year, to maximize the birds I find. But over the past couple of years I have found those routes are taking in Ballycotton more and more.

Ballycotton is a strange site. Some years, there are good birds galore. Others a sparse sampling of juicy tidbits.

Sitting down to work out what I had seen there was a challenge in and of itself. In total I have seen about 195 species in the area. Most years do not come close to this however, and keeping track of what I have seen from year to year was difficult.

The Patch

The patch I work is pretty much the same as what people have always worked. From the cliffs and the famed "Phil's Back Passage", taking in migrants and Seabirds, to the beach and its waders and gulls, to the back bog and its raptors and the marshes up as far as Garryvoe.

This patch should allow for a good mix of species, and is easily worked in a few hours. However the real tricky birds will be those that you would normally not be bothered with on a visit to Ballycotton. Finding birds like Treecreeper will be...interesting.

Working out the past years scores was also interesting for the bias involved. 2011 was a damn good year for American Waders, and I found a fair few on the beach here. This plumped up the average score a fair bit, coming in at 235.7 (This could change if I notice some omission or misplaced inclusion.)

I do not intend to work the area religiously, as other patch fanatics do. There will be times I go nowhere near the place, particularly in October, when I am usually haunting West Cork. Probably madness really, as I would stand to dig out good birds that time of year. Luckily, east Cork often does very well in November for passerine migrants, and I can put in some time then.

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