Friday, 6 January 2017

Patchwork Challenge - Just a bit of fun?

Patchwork Challenge (PWC) is a great idea.  I took part for the first time last year and have signed up again for 2017. Many people taking part are likely to treat it as a bit of competitive fun that can be taken part in all throughout the year; recording the variety of bird species that vary depending on the season and where your patch is located. I do also like to think of PWC in this way, however there is also so much more to PWC, including all the data that can be recorded and reported as a result of consistently monitoring a set patch.  You get to compare the birds appearing each year and the times at which they appear, and also the birds that may be missing.

Winsford Flash - my Patchwork Challenge patch

The great beauty about PWC is in the name; patch. Your patch is a set area of land, water or both that you regularly visit and record the birds that you see and hear, but there is nothing stopping you recording all the other wildlife you see there.  This is of great importance, as you learn a lot more about a species and the general habitat if you are regularly visiting/monitoring a set site.  For example, I would never have recorded the Common Terms breeding attempt at Winsford Flash last year if I had not been visiting regularly.

Common Terns with their egg at Winsford Flash

PWC is great because it encourages birders to record and stick to a particular area rather than racing off everywhere in search of new bird species for their life lists; which of course I have no problem with, however more useful data is learnt from regularly visiting a particular site.

Now of course, it's all very well recording the birds you see and updating your own personal spreadsheet with the information, however if you don't do anything else with the data then it really means nothing to anyone but you. This brings me onto another great aspect of PWC. The PWC results spreadsheet has a column that asks whether you have filled out a BTO Birdtrack record for the species you have seen.  This is great as it encourages birders to send their records to an organisation that wants the data and knows how best to break it down and use it.  The more information the BTO receive, the more accurately they can monitor things such as the impacts of climate change on migration.  

You decide when you will visit you patch and how long you will spend there, so there is never any pressure on you, but the more time you spend there, the more you will see and learn. So why not choose a patch and join in; and of course learn more about a habitat close to you.

Here are the links you need:

Register for Patchwork Challenge 2017 here.

Enter you data into BTO's Birdtrack here.

One of the breeding pair of Kestrels at Winsford Flash


  1. Brilliant ideas, keep it up Findlay.

  2. I think that it's a brilliant idea, Findlay. Sadly, however, my 'local patch' has restricted access for much of the summer as it includes fields in which over-active cattle are kept. I have full permission to be anywhere on the land, but I've now reached an age when I no longer have faith in my ability to outrun the beasts when they stampede towards me - I've had a few near misses!

    Best wishes to you and the rest of the family for 2017 - Keep up the good work - - - - Richard

  3. Its a win-win situation for sure -- the chance to take part in a favorite activity/learn more/and share your findings. Citizen Science.